Trump Can’t Be Serious…Can He?

Let me say right upfront…out loud and with no pretense. I don’t particularly like Donald Trump. Never have. I find him to be a rather pompous, self serving, oft times ridiculous caricature of a capitalist blowhard doing whatever it takes to advance his own absurd agenda, which frankly I’m still trying to understand.

Trump3

This is a man who wants to be known as the world’s greatest businessman. A self made tycoon of immeasurable success and stature. Sounds great. Too bad it’s not quite the true story.  Trump’s father was instrumental in Trump’s early successes and though it is true that his personal wealth has ballooned in recent years (more due to his TV show and other investments rather than his real estate acumen) his Dad was a successful builder in New York City. He built housing projects in Brooklyn and Queens (many times with government support) and made his company worth hundreds of millions. He helped the young Trump get rolling with money, influence and connections. Had my father backed me with a few hundred million dollars, and a name known to many in the finance and construction world could I have been equally successful? Maybe. Maybe not. But I think my life path probably would have been a whole lot easier on my way to wherever.

Trump1

Trump likes to make it seem like he is the perennial winner in an arena of losers. He never seems to mention the various companies he has been heavily involved with that failed…he’s gone through bankruptcy four times. He borrowed massive amounts of money and then saw several of his big deals go bust, most notably the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. He is quite skilled at working the system. That’s fine. The laws were created to protect individuals and to keep businesses growing. But this image of his career and life as a perfect, unblemished smooth sail to unprecedented wealth and success is more fairy tale than reality. Basically he did what he had to do to succeed in his various endeavors. Once again that’s fine. He is a shark amongst the mackerel and he survived. Are these the qualifications for running the country? Maybe. Maybe not. In the first few weeks of his fledgling campaign, what has he done to give anyone the idea that he might be fit and able to run the country?

Nothing.

Of course that’s not counting insulting Mexicans and Hispanics.. Or having an “I’m richer than he is” contest with Mitt Romney. It could be calling one of his opponents in Lindsey Graham “an idiot”. Or his amazing attack on John McCain, denigrating not only McCain’s military service, but basically anyone’s service who was a POW. Trump asked the question, “He’s a war hero because he was captured?” Then he answered his own question. “I like people who weren’t captured.”

Trump2

Wow. Very Presidential.

He sure showed me.

I always try and see all sides. I have my biases and opinions like anyone but I want to be fair and balanced to borrow a line from FAUX NEWS….but my word, what could Trump possibly have been thinking when he made these absurd remarks? And what’s even more distressing is that thousands of people have put Trump at the top of the Republican polls for President in spite of them. I guess his successful “tough guy” businessman image has some people thinking he can somehow straighten out all of the country’s problems. Trump 4

But a businessman can straighten out the country you say. I think there is a basic flaw in this thinking. Businessmen play by a different set of rules, a different mindset. When the most important goals are increasing profits and the gathering of wealth, decisions are made in business on a daily basis that simply cannot be extrapolated to running the government. In business it’s survival of the fittest. It’s dog eat dog and damn the torpedoes. How does this apply to the government? Government is beholden to millions of people with a million different viewpoints, needs and wants. Government must provide a myriad of complex services to the people. Most businesses have a very narrow scope. They provide a few products. Maybe a few different services. Maybe both. But in the event a product or service is not generating enough income it is eliminated and replaced with another profit inducing scheme. Business turn on a dime because they are “governed” by a small group of like minded people. What the many problems facing the government from defense spending to social programs, eliminating or enacting programs becomes a monumental job because so many people, not of a like mind, are involved in making the decisions, each with their own small agenda. No one man can control all of the parameters and variables. Trump might have been able to negotiate and navigate his way in business…business that HE OWNED. No one owns the government but the people…and Americans have a rich history of not being controlled by anyone or any one thing. Cut the budget, cut the services, cut the taxes are the mantras of people like Trump. But one man does not rule the government with an iron fist the way CEO’s run their companies.

McCain 1

I have had my ups and downs with John McCain over the years but I have long respected his commitment to do what he thinks is right. His battles to keep money from corrupting our political system are to honored and celebrated. He did what he could. But politics aside, this man was held in a tiny, filthy prison cell and tortured on and off for five long years. Why? Because he refused early release by his captors in return for being complicit in propaganda beneficial to the North Vietnamese. How in the world can Trump, or anyone make these kinds of statements about John McCain? Could anyone expect anything but a loud, disgusted reaction from fair minded people? Trump is the classic example of why the GOP has little or no chance of winning a national election in the near future if they persist in selecting candidates with truly twisted views..

Trump is following in the footsteps of so many other divisive politicos. People who gather their own strength by dividing the people, misleading the people and enraging the people against some imaginary enemy with strong, loud and controversial remarks. This sort of thing always appeals to the lowest common denominator. Let’s make the Mexicans our enemies by referring to them as drug dealers and rapists. This way he rallies support with anyone who has strong feelings about illegal immigration. I do notice that not once has he come up with a reasonable plan to deal with this problem except to say he’s against “those” people.

Let’s paint John McCain as a make believe hero because he didn’t do enough to help veterans. And what exactly is Trump’s plan to help veterans?

With the majority of the Republicans running for President denouncing Trump’s remarks, his campaign may be doomed with failure before it even gets off the ground only to be remembered as a strange anomaly in this already strange political landscape.

 

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THE BATTLE OVER THE FLAG

When I first started writing this blog I was more inclined to discuss heated political and social issues. Seems like as a nation we’ve become so polarized, so divided, so nasty  (for lack of a better word) that I’ve tended to steer clear of things that inflame the senses of the various competing political and ethical camps. Maybe I was afraid of the repercussions. Maybe I was just tired of trying to explain simple positions. It does get old defending what seems to be the most pure and logical assertions from the barrage of criticism and fired up vitriol. Everyone has an axe to grind! Thus I have kept my comments and analysis to my gardening, sports and music.

The recent controversy over the flying of the Confederate flag over state capitol buildings begs a comment or two.

Confederate Flag

Honestly I never have understood why it was necessary to somehow glorify an obvious symbol of a long gone era. An era in which human beings were routinely bought and sold in a country that espoused freedom and liberty. It was a paradoxical time in the history of this great human experiment we call America. It was a time when many of the simple truths this country was founded on were being shaken to their very core. Ultimately many thousands of men would lose their lives over these fundamental issues and in the end the Union was preserved.

Apparently there are many people in this modern era who have fostered an almost mythic reverence for the ways of the Old South, that in their eyes, has sadly been lost forever. The representatives of the southern states who have persisted in flying the flag (and their supporters) like to point out that their doing so is a simple homage to their brave ancestors who fought and died for their beliefs on the battlefield and not to glorify that world view. That would seem like a reasonable explanation but if one digs a bit further into the actual events of the time, and the comments made by the combatants as to the real reasons for the Civil War, it becomes crystal clear why the continued presence of this Confederate symbol on state grounds is such an affront to the African American community and many other people with a conscience.

 

In his famous “Cornerstone Speech”, then Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander Stephens attempted to clear up any misunderstandings about what the Confederacy stood for and why the Civil War was inevitable.

 

Accordinging to WIKIPEDIA, Stephen’sspeech explained what the fundamental differences were between the constitutions of the Confederacy and that of the United States, enumerated contrasts between U.S. and Confederate ideologies and beliefs, laid out the Confederacy’s causes for starting the American Civil War, and defended slavery.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I’d like to thank my old and dear friend Paul “Broke” Brokaw for bringing this speech to my attention. Though I was a Civil War buff as a child, I guess I never fully grasped the magnitude of Stephen’s oratory until just these last few days. Stephens made this speech a few days after Lincoln was elected President.

 

The new Constitution has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions—African slavery as it exists among us—the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away… Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the idea of a Government built upon it—when the “storm came and the wind blew, it fell.”

Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.

 

The Confederate flag therefore is the banner under which thousands of people fought and died to promote and defend this outmoded and universally rejected ideology. They were trying to reshape the world to perpetuate their own racist order. Can there be any more compelling reason to forever retire this symbol of white superiority to the museum case and eliminate it’s presence from the halls of state governments?

 

It has been said that if American slavery had existed, and the Civil War and been fought 1000 years ago, then perhaps the pain and suffering of those many innocents would be a distant and detached history lesson, dulled by the passing of time. That is simply not the case. In the discourse of the 21st century there many citizens who have had grandparents and great grandparents who were the victims of the crime of slavery. Must we continue to fly a flag that serves toremind them of a time when they were considered no more than property? To be bought and sold like cattle?

 

 

Removing the Confederate flag from government should not be seen as a political battle between the left and right but rather as a move toward greater understanding of all our people’s feelings. It’s a step towards bringing greater decency to our society and healing some of the wounds that still remain after 150 years.

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Talking About The METS Makes Me Tired…

Talking About The METS Makes Me Tired….

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Talking About The METS Makes Me Tired…

I am so TIRED of talking about what the METS could do…should do…won’t do…have to do…do do do do do do…ehhhh I’m sick of it. Year after year…the same BS.  This year the MEts seemed to have an outside shot at a wildcard playoff run.  Then in typical Mets style, a Flushing curse of huge magnitude descended upon them with swift and dire consequences.  Wheeler…out for the year.  Parnell not ready until recently…Wright…out indefinitely…Murphy in and out…Cuddyer bangs up his knee…Edgerin out indefinitely…Vic Black out indefinitely…travis D’Arnaud out indefinitely a second time!

I get it.  Injuries are part of the game but are The Mets playing football or baseball?

Mets logo

I was listening to Mike Francesca. He being the well known WFAN afternoon host and Yankee fan. He has had his moments with the METS for sure but in a recent discussion of the many woes out in Flushing, Mr. Rant and Rave laid out the simplest and most perfect plan for the Mets to make a run in 2015 and bolster the team for future years.

1-Platoon Duda and Cuddyer at first. They are both stinking it up this year.  Let he with the least stink have the job the rest of the year.

Cuddyer

2-Go get a slugging outfielder and put him in left (or in right and put Granderson in left)

3-Put Murphy at third (if he can stay healthy long enough)

Murphy2015

4-Put Tejada at short.

5-Put Flores at second.

Wilmer Florees

So simple it seems almost impossible but is it? There are going to be plenty of bats available as teams begin to fall out of contention. The problem that the Willnots, uhh I mean the Wilponzies, I mean the Wilpons WILL NOT pull the trigger on a deal that would give the team a chance to contend THIS YEAR because they won’t, don’t, can’t spend the money needed to make this happen. And so we are once again looking at next year. I’m tired of looking at next year. If these were the Yankees we were talking about Gee would have been traded, Niese would have been traded and a bat would have already been signed. I’m not asking for miracles. Just get a couple of MAJOR LEAGUE players on the roster. This ragtag bunch of Double A guys is a joke of an offensive lineup. Everyone knows it from Alderson down to Terry Collins down to the bat boy. Look at the numbers.I’m too tired to talk it anymore. The numbers are a disgrace. They are averaging 1.3 runs per game or some ridiculous thing like that. And don’t tell me they are still in the race, just a few games back. The Nationals are poised to make a run and when they do the 2015 Mets will be just another after thought.  I’m sick of this crap. If my kids hadn’t given me Mets tickets for Father’s Day, it would have been another season of me staying away. But I will enjoy my time at Citifield. The bats may be cold as ice but at least so is the beer.

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Tomatoes & Peppers..Summer Can’t Be Far Behind!

As discussed in the last episode, this past week we prepared the soil for the tomato bed and then this weekend we planted the tomatoes and peppers.

homegrownSanMarzano  planting tomatoes 2

 

tomatoes  IMG_0784

Another warm weather crop is the eggplant. We usually plant these at home because the farm plot suffers from small black mites that eat the leaves of the eggplant down to a stud. By planting at home on our composite deck, the plants roots stay toasty warm and there are no mites around here to damage the leaves.  This year we planted a Japanese variety (ichiban) two black Italian types and a purple variety.

Eggplant

We did some research with long time farmers and we found that these nasty little dudes morph into a flying insect of some sort and are usually done by mid June. If you don’t have a convenient deck to grow your eggplant, just wait till the middle of the month when they are gone before you put your plants in the ground.

Time to plant your peppers as well.  We like to plant our larger growing vegetables in plastic containers with the bottoms cut out.  This serves to collect the rain water,  and the water from our hoses, in a concentrated area above the roots making sure the plants get a good soaking drink.

Peppers

While the warm weather plants are going in now, there are some of the earlier cool weather crops reaching their prime time.  The lettuce has been great this year and the snow peas are getting larger everyday.  Peas will be appearing withing 10 days.

Lettuce  LETTUCE

 

MESCLUNGREENS  MesclunGreens:Garlic

Snow Peas

It’s important that you keep your vegetable plants well watered during the warmer months. It is best to soak the plants early in the day or later in the afternoon after the strongest heat has subsided. This gives the water a better chance to soak into the ground rather than evaporate.

This year we planted Dinosaur kale,  an hierloom italian variety that tastes great in smoothies, in soup, salad and in a pan with garlic and oil.  It’s a cool weather crop that keeps rolling along when the summer heat arrives.

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NEW YORK METS REPORT – A June Swoon or a Hot Summer Season…?

NEW YORK METS REPORT – A June Swoon or a Hot Summer Season…?.

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NEW YORK METS REPORT – A June Swoon or a Hot Summer Season…?

Mets logo

I predicted the New York Mets would win 86 games this year. That’s 10 games over the elusive .500 mark. I thought that might be realistic considering the great pitching and the improved lineup. So far I’ve seen an epic winning streak and a few nasty slumps here and there.  Maybe 86 wins was a bit optimistic but maybe not. 86 wind would probably put a smile on Sandy Alderson’s face but I think they team needs to find a more consistent groove if they expect to reach that level.

Alderson

Of course no one can ever accurately account for the injury bug. The 2015 version of the DL mosquito has bitten this team in a major way this year.

Wheeler gone for the year.

Zach Wheeler

Still waiting on Parnell.

Parnell

Black and Edgerin in limbo.

Dillon Gee has missed time.

David Wright

David Wright out indefinitely with an assortment of weird ailments.

Dilson Herrera comes up and promptly hurts himself.

And it hasn’t been all injuries. When the pitching is great they don’t hit.And when they hit the bullpen blows leads and games. And as much as I like Terry Collins, he continues to make more than his share of head scratching moves.

Wilmer Florees

And what’s the deal at shortstop? Sure Mr. Flores whacks the ball pretty darn good but can you catch a ground ball and make a good throw to first? Eeeeeesh. With this pitching staff the Mets need quality middle infielders. Maybe someday that will happen. I guess the ultimate plan was Herrera at second and Flores at short. Who knows if that’s the answer or not. I like Murphy but his glove just ain’t gonna cut it.  I still think they should have brought in a major league shortstop.  And just this week Reuben (what position do I play?) Tejada became the third baseman in David Wright’s absence.  REALLY?  When you think about it what else can they do?  The Eric Campbell experiment has proven to be a flop.

I have a feeling as the season wears on this team will find a way to hang around (which is a whole lot more than they’ve been giving us in recent years)  but I’d be surprised if they make the playoffs, and if they do, I can’t see them getting too deep into serious October baseball what with pitchers held to pitch counts, a questionable defense in the infield and erratic offensive performances..

Of course I’ve been wrong before and I hope I’m wrong again.

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The Veggie Garden 2015-continued

It’s beginning to look like the 2015 growing season is going to be another excellent year! It’s been a little dry in the early going which has resulted in more trips to the plot to water, but overall the plants look really strong and healthy.

So far we’ve picked about 70 asparagus stalks. We’ve let some of the stalks grow to full size to insure that the plants are strong and healthy. Can’t just keep cutting and cutting! Eventually the plants would become week and not produce as well.

Asparagusbushes

This week several of the plants in the plot have really popped. Here we see mesclun field greens on the left and healthy growing garlic on the right.

MesclunGreens:Garlic

Sweet potato vines are starting to show some growth too.  First time we’ve ever done them.  I’m told they’re easy and we love ’em so I guess we’ll see how they turn out.

SweetPotatovines

The weather has now warmed to a point where next week we will put in the tomatoes and peppers. But the ground has to be worked before you can plant. I ran my tiller through the area and then added Tomatoes Alive…an organic fertilizer I get from the company Gardens Alive.

Tomatobed

I also mixed in some horse manure that the town provides, and some leaves collected last fall. Once the ground has been worked we water it down, cover it and let it sit until next week when we plant.

Tomato bed after tilling

We’ll see you when the next batch of plants go it.

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GET THOSE VEGGIES ROLLIN’ ! – PART 2

GET THOSE VEGGIES ROLLIN’ ! – PART 2.

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GET THOSE VEGGIES ROLLIN’ ! – PART 2

Lettuce, beets, kale, mesclun greens, snow peas, cabbage and other cool weather crops should in the ground now. The tomatoes and peppers are still in the hardening stage.  They’ll be ready in about 10 days. Here are some shots of what’s doin’ in our veggie garden.

The town supplies us with wood chips, mulch and horse manure. I brought manure over to our plot.

MANURE

I stacked it and wet it down. You need to be careful. Manure that is too fresh can harm fragile plants. I like to let it sit in the sun and wet it every so often for a few weeks before I use it. And I use it sparingly until the plants are larger and robust. Once the plants are strong manure helps them grow quickly.

MESCLUNGREENS

Here’s a shot of the mesclun lettuce coming up. We did seeds and this mix is so easy to grow ANYBODY can do it and it tastes great!

ONIONGRASS

This is onion grass…a perennial herb that gives delicious mild onion flavored leaves in abundance. You just cut off some handfuls of leaves and toss it in your salad or stir fry. Yummy!

 

 

 

ASPARAGUSGROWING ASPARAGUS

We have an asparagus bed that we created 3 years ago…17 x 5 feet. Asparagus is also a nice perennial. It’s only May and we’ve already harvested over 50 spears. This is going to be a great year for asparagus! The plants send up numerous spears (which if left un-cut) will grow into leafy frilly bushes. It’s best to allow some of the spears to go to seed so the plant stays strong and healthy and you can keep picking spears all summer to eat.

GARLIC

The garlic we planted last September is doing very nicely now and getting taller every day. This was a really tough winter on Long island. We were concerned about the plants but they came through in great shape. We will pick the bulbs around July first. You let them dry out in a cool dark place or hang them in a netted bag. After a few weeks when the greens shrivel up, you cut them off and you’re left with delicious home grown garlic.

LETTUCE IMG_3840

We planted 18 heads of lettuce about 3-4 weeks ago and as you can see we are getting ready to take some this week to eat. Love that red romaine! The little dude is a common toad. We usually have 2 or 3 in our 20 x 40 plot each year. They are organic pest controllers…eating their weight in bugs! In areas where farmers use poisons to control weeds and bugs, you won’t find too many of these critters. They are not immune to poison!

Next installment will deal with planting the tomatoes and peppers.

Don’t forget to water! It’s been pretty warm here in Huntington and you don’t want your baby veggies to dry up and blow away! ;-)

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