The Sky Is Falling!!! Brexit Woes

Well, the UK voted to leave the European Union the other day about 52% to 48%.  To be honest, I was a little surprised that the results went this way.  I figured it would be about…52 to 48 to remain, with the usual (and probably accurate) accusations of shenanigans and hijinks at the polls to seal the deal for the “remain” crowd.

First, I’m happy for the UK.  The EU has turned into a bureaucratic nightmare that seems intent on turning Europe into nothing but a large economic unit based on vague universalist ideals – the spread of neoliberalism.

It seems like the EU has been a case of trying to make everyone happy (or at least “function”) and making no one happy.   Everyone has some complaints about the arrangement, big or small.  Instead of “preventing another world war” as they always say, the EU seems to have created a lot of divisions between the members – the “core” vs. the “periphery”, the pro-Turkey vs anti-Turkey factions, North vs. South and various smaller interests vs. smaller interests of other countries (i.e. British working class vs. Polish economic migrants).  I don’t think there would be anywhere near the animosity between say, Greece and Germany as there has been over the past couple years if there were no EU – where would they have the flashpoints?

Although I think Britain walking out of the EU is a good thing, great thing even, for the UK I still don’t think it’s as alarming in practice as many people have made it out to be.   Despite Great Britain’s current dysfunction (and I say that lovingly as an American anglophile that considers Britannia as my/our “mother country”), it’s still a large and important economy and political player in the world and will continue to be so.    There’s no. fucking. way. that the suckers still hanging around the EU will cut off business with the UK or magically find a replacement for such a large market.   Believe me, both parties will find a way to continue business as usual.

I would really like to think that this means there will be a shift towards nationalism and traditionalism in the UK, but realistically they’ll probably continue more or less down the same path politically.   I consider this a defeat for neoliberal labour/conservative party mainstream politics, but it would take more than this to simply move the UK out of that paradigm.    When liberals around the world were pussyaching over “xenophobia and racism winning”, realistically the UK will continue the same kinds of immigration/multicultural policies that they have been although I think this really could signal to put the brakes on it somewhat.

Will this act as a catalyst to spur other anti-EU sentiments in other countries?   Yes, I’m sure it will spark something and create some major headaches for the EU.   The real question though is were those sentiments already there in other places before the UK jumped first?   Certainly.  If say, Hungary, decides to say it’s not you it’s me to Brussels, no one can say with a straight face that they weren’t already thinking that before the UK left.

I also think it’s funny that this is portrayed as some drastic move that will throw the UK into uncharted territory….like 1997.  Remember those dark days?   Ha!

I do wonder if it will cause the UK to look more abroad rather than to Europe.   There’s always been the strong Anglosphere connection between us, them, Canada, Australia, NZ and to a lesser extent South Africa.   Maybe it will cause a little more of a realignment with Britain’s traditional allies but I doubt it means a complete shunning of the continent.

Now let’s talk about the reaction to the vote from the left.  It just shows how out of touch some of these people are with the “commoners”.   While some people benefit from cheap labor and interesting restaurants that immigrants bring, others see their neighborhoods transformed and labor undercut.   Everyone knows my thoughts on these kinds of things, but even if the left/elites do not agree with their “uncouth” countrymen, it’s bullshit that the idea that people can say that they don’t want certain people to come and live amongst them is just written off from the start without any consideration.   All I hear is “that’s racist/nativist/xenophobic” and no real discussion beyond that.   This factor deserves more discussion and the “common people” deserve to be heard on this one because more often than not it affects them/us the most.

I like the fact that the liberals have made the connection between the Brexit and Donald Trump’s campaign in the US.    This was in the works way before DJT came into play across the pond, but I believe there is some synergy in the world against neoliberalism/globalism and I like the fact that the kinds of people who want to see the world as nothing more than producers, consumers and two-party voters are starting to shake a little bit.   Nigel Farage says it’s time to GTFO of the EU, Trump says we’re not going to “sing the false song of globalism”.    Vladimir Putin is still going strong, Viktor Orban in Hungary is railing against the EU and there are nationalist parties gaining momentum across Europe.  Hell, even some of the populist leftist movement, including Bernie Sanders here, Podemos in Spain and…some party in Italy that the name escapes me are even examples that people are sick of the current status quo.

Here’s the other question that this brings up…   So they always said the EU was there to prevent conflicts in Europe and they keep claiming that the rise of people like Trump, the Brexit, nationalist parties, etc. meant a return to WWI & II era militarism.   Is this true?   I don’t see it happening like that.   I see the kind of internationalism and the steadfast commitment to vague ideals (well, when it suits our interests…) as something that creates the conditions for conflict.    I see absolutely nothing but love and support between genuine  nationalist factions of the various countries.    Do you think that someone from Alternative For Germany and Golden Dawn in Greece would point fingers at each other as far as who’s to blame for whose problems?  I doubt it.

 

At any rate, congratulations to our cousins across the pond on their new found quasi-freedom.   Make the most of it and be a shining example to the rest of the world.

 

 

 

Trump’s 1.3 Million vs. Hilary’s 43 Million

The Media is making a big deal out of Hilary having raised $43 million dollars in some specified period of time while Trump only raised $1.3.   Let’s look at this….

First, a lot of people are guffawing over this as a sign of Trump’s campaign being dead in the water.   These same people have said “it’s all over for him” about two dozen times already this campaign season and of course have been wrong.  I really think there’s a lot of wishful thinking involved in this.

 

Second, if anyone believes that Hilary’s $43 million came from kindergarten teachers, senior citizens and “working families” writing $50 checks to the war chest, you’re absolutely fucking delusional.    This is pretty much all “big money” – people expecting favors in return.    As far as I know, Trump doesn’t have any significant “big money” donors (well, besides himself) so Trump’s money probably came from the sale of Make America Great Again hats and the small time donations.   He hasn’t actively solicited funds from his supporters yet.

 

Third, some of the same people who complain about “big money in politics” and pussyache about the Koch brothers are the same ones applauding Hilary for having funds and laughing at Trump for NOT going after big time donations.   Funny how that works out.

 

Lastly, and most importantly Trump is doing a lot of what he does for little to no money.   This guy has the media clamoring to put a camera in his face and whatever he tweets on his smartphone has a bigger impact than the 30 second prime time ad of yesteryear.   I don’t think a lot of people have really grasped this yet that through social media (and manipulating *the* media) he’s getting himself across while others are still stuck on outdated paradigms.

At the end of the day, this guy knows how to get a good return on his money.    Does Hilary?  We’ll see what she does with her $43mil compared to Trump’s paltry $1.3.

Microbusiness Chronicles part 2: Initial Financing

When we started filing out various paperwork here and there to have a small business, we started seeing a lot of ads for small business loans and various “resources” here and there to get loans.

I definitely see the role of traditional loans to start off a small business if your costs are fairly high.   If you start a brick and mortar store, you need good enough inventory so people don’t show up and say “this place sucks, they don’t have shit” and write you off.   If you need special equipment or whatever, that can be pricey.   If you need enough to run at a loss for a little while until you can pick up momentum, that’s fine.

Fortunately for us in the microbusiness model, our startup costs weren’t huge and honestly we could’ve started a little smaller.   We spent about $1000 on tea from a wholesaler and about $1500 on various bulk herbs to start.   We needed about $700 to come up with a tent, tables and banner for the farmer’s market.   We needed $150 to pay for our first three dates at the farmer’s market.   Insurance is $500 a year.  We spent a few bucks on business cards, a couple hundred dollars on packaging and a couple hundred dollars on labels.   We had a few hundred dollars in various other expenses, such as filing fees, equipment, etc.   While I guess it’s not technically a business expense, I upgraded my laptop to a macbook and spent a little on some video editing software.    Then there’s a few bucks for web hosting and all of that.

Honestly, it came up to a little more than I initially planned once the ball gets rolling.

Some of it came directly out of my pocket, which is probably how most microbusinesses start.   As I’ve said before, part of the reasoning behind starting a small business was to bring in some extra money since the past couple years had been a little dry financially so the idea of taking *all* of that money straight out of my pocket was a little hairy because I might need it for other things or just to feel a little more secure at night.

For the past several years I’ve been putting into a cash value life insurance policy where I’m able to give myself loans at relatively low interest rates.   The book “Become Your Own Banker” is all about this method.   Without going too much into this, it has the tax benefits of a Roth IRA and a lot more flexibility.   Since I figured eventually I would have some kind of small business, I had been putting quite a bit into it over the past few years.    As of now I have a fairly sizable sum in there to the point where I have access to a lot of cash for something like this AND if we needed new vehicles or something, I could basically finance it myself through this.

One of the best things about these kinds of loans is that you keep the principle, so your investments are still there and you just loan against it (at low rates).   A lot of my money in this account is in guaranteed return funds from the insurance company that pay about what they charge in interest.

Anyways, the payback structure is really flexible, you just do it when you want to (of course the longer you wait, the more you pay).   We’re probably a couple dates at the farmer’s market away from being able to write a check to pay it off and at that point I’ll consider us basically “in the black” or at least well on track to getting there.

At that point we *should* have enough cash flow to cover our basic operations and if all goes well, we will have made enough to pay the taxes, ramp up for next year and of course pay ourselves, which is the whole point of this.     But it is nice to know if we ever need a few thousand dollars to do something to take us to another level, I just have to make a phone call and a few days later check my mail for a check.

 

 

Microbusiness Chronicles Part 1: Why?

So Red Dragon Herbs is under way and we’re starting to pick up some steam.  I’m going to talk from time to time about some of the brass tacks things we’re experiencing and rationale behind some decisions in order to clarify our business plan to myself and maybe help others.

 

So let’s discuss “why” we’re doing it, which seems to be one of the first questions we get from people close to us.

 

First, the past couple of years have had a lot of changes for both Mary and I.   I have one of those rare high-paying industrial jobs but over the past four or five years I’ve seen my wages pretty much flatten out.   As the way I get paid is kind of complicated based on piecework and other factors, it seems like we’ve been getting nickeled and dimed here and there coupled in with a notable drop in business, which has caused a lot of brief shutdowns amounting to several weeks of pay over the course of a couple years.   We’ve also had a simple administrative change in the pay period which took us from getting a paycheck at 36 hours one week and then 48 the next (so 8 hours of overtime) to getting 42 hours a week (so a cut in overtime with no change in actual work).     Then we had our schedules changed to 40 hours a week doing the 8 hours a day five days a week thing.

So now I feel less financially secure with my job than I did a few years ago…and now I have each and every weekend free (well, there’s the possibility of mandatory overtime)

Mary had a job as a waitress at one of the fanciest restaurants in town, so it’s probably one of the best gigs of its type around.   With my schedule change, we would have to get a baby sitter for both of us to work and after running some numbers on the back of a napkin, it didn’t really amount to much for her to work after extra expenses.    So at this point we decided that it would be good if we could find *something* to bring in extra money.   Overtime at my job was out of the question.   She will occasionally fill in as a dental assistant here and there but that’s sporadic and not something she really likes doing.   I guess I could get a part time job, but that’s honestly a last resort thing because I figured we could find something of our own.

I’ve always wanted something of my own, business wise.   Early on I was influenced by reading Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad and The Millionaire Next Door by….I forgot.  Oh, and the biography of Alex Spanos, which was a good one about a guy basically starting from nothing and building a multimillion dollar business.  I read these books when I was in my late teens and pretty much just had life knock my on my ass right off the bat.  I knew it was time for some lifestyle and mentality changes and these books along with some other observations helped me a few years later in life when I was ready to buckle down and “adult” as the kids call it these days.

These books stressed the entrepreneur mindset and the idea that not many people become successful by simply collecting a paycheck.   Millionaire Next Door is big on this, the difference in mindset between the small business owner and the employee.   I definitely come from a worker bee background (i.e. my dad held the same job from the time he was about 19 until retirement) so the idea of risk is a little…risky to me.

I *think* I’m fairly creative.   I get all kinds of ideas on what I should do with myself all the time and like a lot of great ideas, usually that’s about as far as they get.  So sometimes I need to temper what comes into my head with reality.

I am happy (enough) at my job.   I have no plans to quit, there are some good things about staying there.   But I know I want *something* of our own in order to have a little extra security financially and some of the tangible benefits of being a small business owner.    I also want/am enjoying some of the intangible things, such as being able to share information about things I’m passionate and knowledgeable about, which is something that’s lacking in my day job.    I also want the challenge of building something…and so far we seem to be on the right trajectory.

Gary Johnson’s Prospects This Election and Libertarians

Gary Johnson, the perennial Libertarian Party candidate stands to come up with some big numbers this year in the election due to the sizable number of Republicans who can’t bring themselves to vote Trump (cucks!!!) and the probably larger number of left leaning people who can’t bring themselves to vote for Hilary.

Although this will probably be the Libertarian Party’s biggest year ever by far, I think they’ve ran a really, really shitty campaign.

I think the glaringly obvious thing is that although they’ll wind up with a relatively large number of votes, they will have very, very few “converts” to their worldview.   In fact, I would say that they’ve had a lot of people drawn away from them from both Trump and Bernie.    This is a huge contrast from 2008 and 2012 with Ron Paul where the campaigns lived on ideologically past the election cycle.

I see a lot of what the LP has been putting out and what people are saying about them.   So far the best they’ve come up with is “Trump is a pussy”, a video where Gary Johnson calls Trump a pussy because Gary rides his bike and climbs mountains.   While it had some traction with the pathological Trump haters, it really had the aura of a jilted prom date saying “he’s not so cool!” and completely failed to sell the libertarian party as anything other than an alternative to Trump if the democrats are out of the question.

That’s just it – they haven’t done anything to really distinguish themselves as anything BUT a protest vote and it seems like they’re completely yucking up the idea that they will wind up with a lot of votes.  There’s lots of quantity but not much quality.   The people who will vote for them in November will probably forget about them immediately afterwards and hope the next time they have a chance to vote for a Republican or Democrat they will be more palatable.

I think the Libertarians have a lot of people nodding along with them on social issues – live and let live, but I think beyond that their platform gets to be a tough sell to the point where sometimes they don’t even seem like they buy their own bullshit.   Still, they haven’t done a good job of contrasting themselves with the candidates in a meaningful way to the voting public – and as can be seen by the numbers of people willing to vote Libertarian, they’re passing up a great opportunity to really build their ranks instead of pandering to get a high number of votes that will still be meaningless at the end of election day.

I think part of the problem for them is that Trump (and maybe Bernie) have really stolen their thunder from the kinds of people on the political fringe that would normally vote Libertarian.   By basically saying “fuck you” to the mainstream GOP and media, Trump has become an alt-media darling and it’s hard to say that he isn’t a real “outsider”.   Hell, even libertarian kingpin Lew Rockwell seems to have a real soft spot for him, even though he acknowledges they wouldn’t see eye to eye on a lot of issues.  Bernie has probably charmed some people who would normally gravitate to the libertarians on social issues and has certainly given a lot of people outside of the center left/center right paradigm someone to vote for.

Although the LP *should* be edgy and aggressive at the grassroots level on social media, they don’t have much going for them.   The “Trumpkins” are running circles around everyone with “dank memes” and the “Bernie Bros” pretty much run the comments section of relevant media.    Do you remember in 2012 when there could be an article about damn near anything and it seemed like every third post was something along the lines of Ron Paul?   They’ve got NOTHING like that going for them this year.   I would say that Bernie has even outdone Ron Paul in this regard.

Maybe more important than simply “how to run a campaign”, I think another thing we’re learning from this cycle is that although I think the libertarians have a lot of support on social issues, the rest of their platform is hard to swallow to the point where sometimes it doesn’t even seem like they believe their own bullshit.   I would say that the enthusiasm for the libertarians and Ron Paul in previous elections was mostly driven by the belief that our current politicians are corrupt, uncaring and/or incompetent and going that route was the best way to run interference on the current system.   People had a hard time with some of the economic policies, open borders immigration and so on.   It gets easy to poke holes in libertarianism with the standard “but what about the roads?” and “should we just legalize crack?” and many other theoretical queries.

Do people really like the ideal of libertarianism or does that start to go out the window when we really feel like the decisions are/will be made on *our* behalf and in *our* interests?

Both Trump and Bernie are far from libertarians, but both probably have drawn away people who would’ve voted/supported them last time around with a clear conscious.   I put myself in this category – I caucused for Paul and ultimately voted for Johnson.   This year?   Trump and only Trump.

Although I love Ron Paul, lately he’s been posting a lot of “hey guys, Donald Trump is bad” on Facebook.   Understandable position from him, admittedly.   The response he’s gotten for this kind of material has been overwhelmingly negative, maybe even the worst he’s ever gotten from people who are actually receptive to him.    Although it would be cool, the whispers floating around the internet that Trump would put Paul in as Secretary of the Treasury kind of give a nod to the idea that many of Trump’s current supporters were “Paultards” last time around.

Another big loss for libertarianism was Rand Paul’s flop.   Everyone knew he wasn’t his dad, but he was supposed to be “close enough”.   While the internet security issue is important, he seemed to pick that particular one up as his baby and unfortunately it just wasn’t tangible enough for MOST people to really care about, at least as a key issue.   I think if anyone could’ve beaten Trump, it would’ve been him with a better campaign.   Still, I think a lot of people were kind of let down that this big “Ron Paul Revolution” with so much metapolitical momentum fizzled out the way it did.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that we can tally up the libertarians to collateral damage from Trump’s campaign.   He didn’t directly go after them, but seemed to tank them anyways.

As for me personally, I’ve realized that while I’m libertarian on social issues (“fuck it, doesn’t bother me”) everything else was more of an issue of just not liking the people in charge and the system they’ve created.    I still have some affinity for them so I wouldn’t mind at all seeing Ron as Treasury Secretary and even Rand as VP, or even the magical meeting between Ron and Trump that was daydreamed about on the internet.   Gary Johnson?  No thanks.  After actually getting to see what the guy is like, he strikes me as a John Kasich that might be likely to walk into a gay bar or smoke a joint and nothing more.   Either way, enjoy watching a good opportunity slip through your fingers, Gary.

Reporting Hate Speech Hijinks

The other day while I was at work I was scrolling through the comments section of a Facebook post from NPR about Donald Trump, which has become a favorite pastime of mine.  I love watching, well, NPR people (mostly privileged upper middle class liberal white people) freak out over the prospect of a ‘Drumpf’ presidency or even just the fact that people outside their ivory towers like the guy.    I have a feeling that on election night in November I’m going to stay up all night reading people’s meltdowns and laughing hysterically.

Every now and then I’ll post something to poke the bear.  I never really try “arguing” with these people because it’s a waste of time – no one’s mind is going to be changed.  I just like to do things like turn what they say against them, take it out of context, etc.

Some lady posted a very typical paragraph or so about how bad Trump is, and when she spelled his name somehow replaced the “R” with a swastika, making the ever-omnipresent “Trump is like Hitler!” comparison.

Being the good citizen I am, I thought that even if this girl’s heart was in the right place, that swastika could be triggering to some people.   So I reported her and filled out the short questionnaire that Facebook has in these situations, all while guffawing to myself.

About half an hour later (after I forgot I did this) I get a message from Facebook saying that they reviewed this post and deleted it.  Plus she would get a scripted message saying that what she posted violated Facebook’s hate speech guidelines. I laughed.

I picture this woman going apeshit when she gets a “nastygram” from Facebook basically accusing her of being racist.   I just looked up her profile and it’s basically nothing but constant “Republicans are bad!” article reposts (with very few “likes” or interaction, meaning everyone is sick of hearing from her), rainbow profile pic changes and pictures of her cats.   Looks like a pretty sad existence, really.

Although it’s just a fun, simple way to push someone’s buttons who needed to be pushed, what I wonder is that if it will make *someone* somewhere talk about free speech and the whole “trigger” culture thing going on, if a lady posting something that clearly was not meant to be threatening, racist or anything of that nature gets an e-slap on the wrist for just having a swastika in the context of associating a presidential candidate with those ideals.  Will she say to herself (or her cats??? Ha ha) that the political correctness culture has gotten way out of hand after this experience?  Who knows.

No One Wants To Hear The Truth About Terrorism

This weekend fifty people were killed at a gay bar in Orlando with about as many wounded. The shooter was the son of Afghani immigrants and was reported to have been influenced by ISIS/radical Islam and to have shouted “allah akbar!” during the shooting.   I heard he also called the police in the middle of the shooting and said something along those lines as well, but I don’t know if that’s been confirmed.

Before it was announced that his name was “Omar”, the comment section for the NPR link I saw was going apeshit assuming it was a “Christian fundamentalist” and/or a “Trump supporter”.   I had a field day soliciting apologies on behalf of white males from some of these people – nothing like waking up on a nice Sunday morning to pancakes and trolling!

Needless to say, this wasn’t the first time a Muslim has committed some act of terrorism against westerners.   *I* think it’s safe to say that we have a problem that we need to talk about but not everyone agrees with me and most of the ones who do agree with me will agree with what I have to say about the problem but I think if we would reframe this issue in the way I do, some kind of progress can be made.

I think we need to acknowledge that our societies are antagonistic to each other.  For some reason we just can’t admit it to ourselves.   One side of the dichotomy wants to believe that these acts are just isolated random incidents, the fault of gun culture, racism, etc and that it’s pretty much impossible that people wouldn’t like them.   The other side can’t even entertain the idea that maybe we’ve stepped on some Muslim toes over the years and that’s why they want to blow us up.   Seriously, suggest that the US/West is anything other than complete perfect angels and innocent little lambs to these people and watch the ensuing “how dare you!” fireworks.

If we can have a frank national discussion about *why* they hate us, maybe we can decide if we really want to give some of these things our stamp of approval.   Would most Americans approve of the petrodollar system and our alliance with the Saudis if we knew the moral price of it?   Would we be so enthusiastic about our backing of Israel if we understood both sides of the story?   Would we be so willing to “teach the towelheads a lesson” in Iran if we knew our history meddling in their affairs?  If we decide collectively as a nation that it is worth it to pursue the policies we’ve been…pursuing in the Middle East, then we have to acknowledge that it would come at a price – and since they can’t effectively field an army against us, they’re going to use terrorism as their equalizer.     We would have to try to reduce tensions/animosity towards us in the Middle East by taking various measures OR we would accept acts like this as a consequence of war.

I think reframing it that way eliminates the “Well, white people do bad things too!” and “Not all Muslims are bad!  I know this good one…” retorts.

Unfortunately, we’re probably just going to continue to get bullshitted about how they “just hate our freedoms” while politicians like Obama and Hilary spew lofty universalist thoughts while supporting policies that cause mayhem and destruction in the Arab world…and they’re already good at pissing in their own pool without our help.

A few other observations

  • it’s funny how when something like this happens, the left gets really vague with who the culprit is the closer it gets to shattering their worldview.    What I mean by that is that if it was a guy who attended a Trump rally, they would be howling about white males, Republicans, Christians, Trump, guns, etc. forever.    Since it was a Muslim, it’s just “bigots”, “religious extremists”, “hatred”, etc. that’s to blame.   I’m not sure if this comes from a desire to genuinely protect minorities or a sense of narcissism about the superiority of their worldview that there’s no way they would acknowledge that maybe this open multicultural society thing isn’t working as planned.
  • Like I hinted to earlier, it really pisses me off that words mean more than actions when it comes to the Middle East.   I was 100% against Syrian refugees coming to the US…but I’m also 100% against our destructive meddling in their backyard and genuinely feel for these people.  In a Lewellin administration we would bury the hatchet with Iran, work towards a viable Palestinian state, GTFO of Syria’s business and reduce our interactions with Saudi Arabia to just oil transactions. Donald Trump is a bad guy for saying that we should have a moratorium on Islamic immigration and he’s Satan/Hitler reincarnate.   Obama can preach tolerance and acceptance of Muslims while bombing the shit out of all kinds of places in the Middle East to the point where it’s hard to even keep track of who the bad guys are anymore.   Hillary’s fingerprints are all over all kinds of death and destruction in Libya, but hey, she says the right things.
  • I still don’t understand the left’s enthusiasm for Islam.  They’re pretty much cutting their own throat.  We’re already seeing it in Europe to some extent, but I’m not sure how these people think they’re going to maintain certain minority rights (tolerance of gays, etc.) WHEN the populations of these democratic societies tip towards being majority-Muslim and no longer reflect the ’68ers neoliberal values.   When these German girls hold signs that say “I’d rather have refugees than racists”, well, at least they can have a discussion and some sort of understanding with the “racists” since they come from the same cultural background.   At any rate, good luck with all of that.

 

So this is where I add the obligatory “I don’t hate Muslims…” statement at the end.   I really don’t.   Like I said, I wish there was a way we could reverse some of the shitty things we’ve done to them that has caused so much resentment in the Islamic world.   I really want them to be able to control their destiny in their lands and live in peace and prosperity. I’m just not naive or quixotic enough to believe that this resentment and hatred against me as an American/Westerner doesn’t exist.   They know it exists against them here, even if we do shroud it in “I know a good Muslim” ‘s and calls for tolerance.

So I’m a Businessman Now…

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….Well, only part time, but still it counts.

I’ve always wanted a business of my own.   Sure, I’ll get ideas from time to time about how I should do this or that but I finally nailed something down and started to go after it.   Red Dragon Herbs.  We sell loose leaf tea and make herbal tea blends.   Oh, and we’re going to crack the sprouting seeds market here shortly too.

I suppose necessity kind of dictated it, or at least gave me a strong nudge here.  Immediately after the New Year, my work schedule changed to an eight hour a day, Monday through Friday gig just like everyone else.   Before that it was basically work a couple twelve hour shifts, get a couple days off, work a few more 12 hour shifts, get some more days off, so I had a lot of days (or nights, rather since I worked the night shift) off during the week.

My nights off were the nights that Mary was able to work, so someone would be home watching Henry.   Since I landed a shift from 2pm-10pm every weekday, it made it so Mary wouldn’t be able to keep her job without putting Henry in day care, which we would rather not – for financial and other reasons.   She quit her job in January, except for filling in occasionally as a dental assistant here and there.

So we decided that we should find *something* to bring in some money and decided on this.  We’ve started kind of slow, but once we found out we were accepted into the Des Moines Farmers’ Market, we kicked it into gear and were able to show up on our first market day last Saturday with over two dozen types of tea for sale, with quite a few of them being ones we came up with ourselves.

I had a lot of fun Saturday at the market, despite the unseasonably cold and windy weather.   Although I’m more on the introverted side, I thought I did a pretty good job schmoozing with the customers.   I’ve never worked retail and worked a little bit in sales (which I was terrible at), but I always liked the idea of being in a sales position where you were coming from a position of competency and authority on the material and providing people with thoughtful and honest solutions to their problems.   I think this might be the closest I’ll come to that position.

Anyways, I think our first market day was a success.  Mary did a great job laying out the table and making things look nice – we even had a gay couple tell us that our table looked really nice, which is a feather we’ll put in our cap.   Hopefully as the weather gets nicer we’ll see more customers there and we’ll also learn some ways to get more business coming our way from the 10 or 15 thousand people who come out every Saturday.

General Mattis For President???

Wow, it’s as if someone in a high place actually saw all the “Mattis For President” memes circulating and said “fuck it, why not?”

So the rumor is that some big Republican donors are trying to draft General James “Mad Dog” Mattis to run for president, allegedly because Trump is unacceptable and Cruz, well, it’s not so much that he’s not an “establishment” guy, he’s just kind of a slime ball.   There’s been some rumors that the GOP was seriously considering putting up Mitt Romney and/or Paul Ryan as an alternative to the current two front runners, which wasn’t as well received as they probably thought it would’ve been.

I’m kind of torn on this and a little baffled….

On one hand, I respect the hell out of Mattis.  I served underneath him in Iraq in 2004/5.   He’s someone who will probably go down as a Marine Corps legend of our era and really is an inspiring figure in the way of keeping the warrior spirit of the Marine Corps alive – that’s something that’s really hard to do at the upper levels.   He’s almost like a real-life Chuck Norris joke.

On the other hand, I know it’s a ploy to water down support from Trump…. and it’s a really good ploy too.   I’ve seen/heard a lot of people say something along the lines of “well, this would be a game changer” if Mattis did run.  A Mattis presidency is something that’s been joked about on various military channels of social media, but I think he’s a person I’d go vote for on strength of personality alone.

To be honest, I don’t know anything about his political views but I’m sure they’re almost exactly as you would imagine.  I think he would pull a lot of support from Trump and the thing that baffles me about this is that i think he would even out-Trump Trump.  He’ll make (and has made) off-color statements and hasn’t backed down, intimidate reporters (his knife hand is legendary!) and probably make some, um, pretty bold statements in the way of foreign policy.

Could he win?   Would they expect him to win?  I doubt it.   It would be a way to basically punt until 2020 and not have to deal with Trump or have an ugly loss with Cruz when this guy’s dirty laundry sees the light.   Although we typically revere the war hero turned politician in the US, I think the situation surrounding this one wouldn’t play very well with the other side.   It does kind of have the aura of a South American military coup and Mattis’ blood-and-guts demeanor would probably be a turnoff, compared to say, Colin Powell’s calm and thoughtful demeanor.

With that said, Mattis IS a hell of a leader and an extremely capable guy.   As I excited as I should be about this prospect, I know the only reason they would bring a guy like him into the fray is because they’re afraid of something about Trump.  I guess we’ll wait and see what comes of it.

My prediction:   There will be talk of Mattis for another week or two with no real commitment, but it does enough chipping away at Trump’s support to show *some* fractures.   It’s probably really frustrating that out of all of his “gaffes”, nothing has really stuck.   No one has said “Oh, well, he crossed the line there.   I’m switching to Cruz!”.   The Mattis scare will just show the other side that Trump’s support isn’t 100% solid.

Trump Rally in Chicago Canceled

“Only Donald Trump could turn a placid city like Chicago into a war zone” – someone on Twitter

So as everyone knows, Donald Trump had to cancel his event in Chicago due to protesters.  Apparently he had some trouble in St. Louis as well, an attempted attack in Ohio and some resistance in Kansas City.

From what I’ve been gathering, this has actually been a boost to the Trump campaign.   Although Trump haters got a good chuckle out of it, the majority of Americans saw this and said “Holy shit…” and saw the images of well, America’s potential future worked up into a frenzy.    Although a lot of people said Trump had it coming (which is really racist to assume that minorities can’t respond to things they don’t like in a civilized manner, btw), I think a lot of people were turned off by what they saw and the fact that regular people were attacked for associating with Trump’s views.

It’s also created something of a siege mentality with Trump’s supporters and has kind of fired them up.   To be a Trump supporter has pretty much been groan-worthy socially in most circles from the start, but now that there’s been actual physical assaults it’s just emboldened a block of voters that have been fairly quiet in real life despite the numbers just because of frequent “trump shaming”.    I shit you not, about 1/3 of my facebook feed seems like articles and memes about how terrible Trump is.   He’s always had more support than you hear about just because people usually keep it to themselves…unless they want to step on toes.

There’s also been a jump to get in “the siege” as well, I think.   Rubio and Cruz both said something along the lines of “this doesn’t happen at my rallies” and that’s true – there’s not really anything worth getting worked up over about either one.    The strength and danger of the Trump campaign has probably lured a few people over – do you want to be defiant or kind of flaccid and unassuming?

Speaking of Cruz and Rubio, they probably should have put out some kind of statement condemning the protesters and such because they both actually did lose some supporters over blaming Trump for this.   Although most of their people probably aren’t fond of Trump, they certainly didn’t like what they saw from the other side.    Cruz retracted a bit already and Rubio is already done for anyways.

As far as the protesters, Bernie Sanders is getting some blame.   I have a feeling there’s a bit of a miscommunication here.    I’m sure there were Bernie folks there.   They were probably the ones holding signs and screaming about how mean Trump was.    No big deal, that’s their right.   The ones that were groping women, attacking people, breaking shit, etc. were probably from groups a little further on the left, BLM and/or just thugs.   I wouldn’t blame him for things getting “out of hand”.

And as for Black Lives Matter, it probably just further alienated them from the people who they, well, want to make their lives matter to.    I will give them a bit of a nod because one thing I’ve always thought about them is that they picked soft targets.   Yeah, it’s funny when they disrupt a bunch of hipsters having Sunday brunch but at the same time they know they’ll get absolutely no resistance beyond of a few quivers of “but, but I’m not racist”.    This was actually something where they could get some push-back.

Anyways, it’ll be interesting to see how Tuesday plays out with Illinois, Florida, Missouri and Ohio up for grabs.   I have a feeling that at the very least no one who was planning on voting for Trump when they woke up Friday morning has decided to not vote for him over this.    We’ll see how many people woke up Saturday morning and decided to vote for him though….

Oh, on another note, the idea of making a few disruptive protesters getting shoved around at Trump rallies as a big deal on par with this is a fucking joke.

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