Pending Post: Saudi Arabia’s Bond Sale, Terrorism, and US Obligations

petroleum-and-gas-companies-in-saudi-arabia1I want to write my thoughts about the $17.5 billion in bonds that the Saudi Arabian government has just sold to the international community. I’m going to seemingly conflate the subject with the verifiable evidence that terrorism has come from that country, as well as the way that the Kingdom treats women, LGTB folks, and others.

I’ll attempt to argue that this is one of those “Hard Choices” that Hillary Clinton would have to wrestle with. It’s not going to be a simple post, so it may take a while.

Thanks,

I. C.

The Clinton Emails

spyI respect The Atlantic and their lengthy, well-researched reporting. I see them as fair. Objective. Going out of the way to make sure they consider all angles to a story. Here is what Russell Berman has to say about the latest Clinton emails from the Wikileaks hack, which I have no time to read for myself:

How you react to the emails will almost certainly depend on how you already felt about Clinton. A diehard Bernie Sanders fan who sees Clinton as a corporate Democrat driven by expedience will find confirmation in her vacillation over what kind of Wall Street reform to support, her backing of the Bowles-Simpson plan that would have cut spending on entitlement programs, and her musing in a paid speech that “you need both a public and a private position” on policy. In mentioning the dual positions, she was making a comparison to Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and the unsavory political machinations Honest Abe had to undertake to achieve ratification of the 13th Amendment.

Those who view Clinton as hopelessly liberal, craven, and corrupt will seize, as the Trump campaign has, on her stated “dream” of “a hemispheric common market with open trade and open borders.” They’ll smell conspiracy when they read hints that a Clinton campaign spokesman who formerly worked for the Justice Department got a heads up on a court hearing related to the release of her State Department emails. The Trump campaign said it was evidence of “collusion” between the campaign and the Justice Department, but notice of the hearing would have been public information.

The most common thread in the Podesta emails, however, is that they show a political candidate being political. Not much more, and not much less. Clinton is a mainstream Democrat who admires “moderates” and pragmatism. And yes, she did move to the left to defeat an insurgent liberal opponent.

“And yes, she did move to the left to defeat an insurgent liberal opponent.”

We knew this. We celebrated it. The loudest argument that Bernie put forth in the end was that Clinton and the DNC had adopted 90% of his left-leaning positions. This was politics. Horse trading. A carefully constructed campaign. Something that has always been – until Donald Trump.

At least the Trumpster is being consistent in leveling accusations of collusion and fraud against the Clinton campaign, as he did against the RNC and the final ole’ college try of the Cruz/Kasich campaigns that utterly failed in the end. The difference here is that Clinton won and they didn’t.

Do I want it to be different? Sure. Do I want all news to be objective? No. No I don’t. I appreciate objective news, as I also appreciate subjective news. Opinions help me form my own opinions, just as facts bolster those opinions. In today’s 24-hour subjective entertainment-news climate, it’s up to me (and everyone else) to be careful what we parrot, making sure we validate everything we read with the facts.

I understand that when I say “the facts,” people will retort, “But what if the facts are fed to you, but aren’t really facts?”

We live in a new age. What is done in darkness will be brought to the light. For that, we have Wikileaks.

“Holy Shit, The Donald Has Scored!”

51gsrq4zt3l-_ac_ul320_sr202320_By now, everyone has heard that comment from Billy Bush on the infamous 2005 recording.

“Holy Shit, The Donald has scored!”

It is clear that Bush is referring to Arianne Zucker, who is seen wearing a purple dress, and quite uncomfortable with the entire exchange. But The Donald hadn’t “scored.”

To “score” in popular culture, means to get the girl. Whether one is talking about a quick shag betwixt the sheets or even just a wink and a nod in your direction. I’ve given my wife a high five when she has scored an enviable triple-take from a lovely gentleman. In short, there is a definite connection between both parties.

Except, in this case, there wasn’t. Donald and Billy Bush were sitting on the bus, behind windows that were painted over, clearly unable to be seen from the outside. They saw Zucker walking up to the bus and Bush uttered the word “scored.” I’ve seen this phenomenon before.

“I’ve gazed upon, I liked, and thus it was my right to have.”

I have a dear friend in Arizona that plays the Russian roulette game of OK Cupid and other nefarious dating sites. As a woman, she gets the pleasure of being introduced to every filthy assault that men can throw at her. But one in particular always gets to me: The perceived right for a man to be acknowledged. And it isn’t just that the man demands acknowledgment. It’s that he feels that, if he gazes upon the woman and likes what he sees, regardless of his intentions, he deserves to be vetted.

The following is a typical conversation:

Male (2:07 PM): “Hi.”

Male (2:08 PM): “You look hot.”

Male (2:34 PM): “Fine, you racist cunt!”

Again, I look at this one-person interaction (which is exactly what it is) and see that the man has claimed a sort of ownership over the woman, at 2:07 PM. Not 2:34 PM. 2:34 PM is when he decides that his victim has not performed the correct master/slave ritual, and must be put in her place. This man sees he has scored, by simply happening across the woman’s online profile, and thus can require the woman to prove why she should not be owned by him, if but for a little while.

Billy Bush and Donald Trump are like these men. Arianne Zucker looked pleasing to them, thus they had “scored.” Arianne Zucker’s desires, independence, and most importantly, her inalienable and equal set of human rights, was removed from the equation, the power given to the leering men.

No, Billy Bush. The Donald had not scored. Quite the contrary. As he was filling his face full of minty-fresh Tic Tacs, preparing for a sexual assault, a talented young woman was strolling toward history, holding in her being every right to knee a billionaire in the balls.

Dunn Bros Coffee Shut Down in Farmington, MN

Farmington-3I’m sad. Actually, I’m very sad.

When I was 19, my uncle took me to a lumber yard. Scherer Bros, to be exact, located in Northeast Minneapolis, Minnesota. All I remember about this yard was that my uncle suggested I partake in the forbidden elixir of coffee from the burnt sludge corporate pot on the counter. I grabbed a styrofoam cup and poured an ample serving, lifting the hot drink to my lips, and fell in love.

That was my first real coffee experience, as well as my last for a week or so. When the sober period ended, I found myself walking downtown, past an old building with a Dunn Bros Coffee sign on the front. Knowing that the rest of the world drank Starbucks and that vile Minnesota brand of Caribou Coffee, I wanted to be different. So I walked up the steps and entered the rest of my life.

When we bought our home in Farmington, there was a Dunn Bros Coffee shop at the edge of town. Excited as I was, and many a dollar spent there, I knew it wouldn’t last. It received very little business on a day to day basis, something that would maybe support a single-employee, independently owned shop, but definitely not a franchise.

And so it closed. And I was and am sad. In its place is now Blue Nose Coffee, an independent venture. The interior still smells of paint, their coffee selection smaller than their shelf of bottled Gatorade, and really nothing much to draw me there on an early Sunday morning. The one thing going for this place is that the cup feels good in my hand.

I’ll miss you Dunn Bros. But really, can we get a few Tim Horton’s down here?

When you do something awful, own it

The word “awful,” in the title can be changed to “stupid.”

Social media, for me, is an extension of my brain. I barf my thoughts out on Facebook all the time. When one barfs, mixed in with all the delicious contents of what was the previous 12 hours of feasting – is bile. And, at times, I create bile.

When I do, my friends tell me so. I then have many choices, three of which are to apologize, ignore them, or defend the legitimacy of my words. Being that some of what I post are unfinished thoughts, defending my words turns into a bit of a learning experience, welcoming many different angles of thought, and honing my own set of beliefs a bit more.

But not Donald Trump.

When The Donald makes a boo boo, he stands by it, even if he initially had egg on his face. He may pretend to be remorseful at the outset, but just wait a few moments and his parishioners will start whispering in his accolade-thirsty ears, and he quickly flips to the name calling of those that call him on his shit.

Don’t be Donald.

Please Donate a Little to My Heart Walk

I have previously written about my bride’s heart issues with AVNRT:

My Bride’s Awful Heart

My Wife is at Mayo, Undergoing Ablation

The Doctor Just Called: My Bride is Doing Well

That was nearly a month ago and she hasn’t had a heart episode since. She is pretty much in the clear and considered completely healed. The team of heart doctors of all stripes, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota are second to none.

Now, my wife and I are leading a team at the 2016 Twin Cities Heart Walk. We’re trying to raise $500 and, as of this writing, are $150 toward our goal.

Heart issues are kind of important to us and the research has come a long way, specifically with AVNRT, previously considered “Housewife Anxiety Syndrome” and ignored. But now, having taken the issue seriously and pumping money into research and solutions, Kristine, my wife, is a new person today.

Please go to her personal walk page and donate or just leave a note of encouragement.

Thank you in advance.

–  Joe Sands

 

Some Days, I Despise My Daughter

Laura is the most intelligent child we have. She’s 12-years-old, which hides the fact that her inquisitive and far-reaching mind is decades more mature. Life is like a game of chess to her and she’s always seven moves ahead of me. I try to keep up, confident that I am smarter, but quickly realize that intelligence is much different than being smart.

Laura loves to tell tall tales. She’s so good at them. Quick on her feet. If you’re sitting down with her, reviewing her grades from 6th grade, and find a missing assignment that was due several weeks prior, she will have a perfect story, rolling off her tongue immediately. It’s believable too, except it isn’t. Just like an email phishing scam, there’s always one little typo that raises an eyebrow and makes you wave your mouse over the email link, revealing a shoddy website address.

Such is it with her stories.

*The phone rings.*

“Hello,” I answer.

“Hi Daddy! Guess what I just found! You’ll never believe it!”

“What!?”

“A 10 dollar bill on the sidewalk. I was out rollerblading and found it. So I went to Kwik Trip and bought a bunch of candy for you. I’ll give it to you when you get home.”

Something was weird about that story, but I couldn’t figure it out. She sounded excited, but there was an oddity to the way she was relating it. She was home sick with strep throat and just happened to be rollerblading instead of resting. Finding a penny is common, a paper bill, less so. In fact, many a person will go through their entire lives without ever doing so, excepting those times where you put on your old winter coat and find a Benjamin in the pocket, along with a few unused condoms.

Sure enough, the next day, Renaya, our 14-year-old, announced she was missing $15 from her purse.

But Laura also uses her intelligence for good. She is wonderful at teaching concepts to the younger ones, highly inquisitive about even the most simple of subjects, and never stops asking questions to answers she already knows. She simply doesn’t forget what she learns, highlighting her disinterest in certain subjects (science) when she receives poor grades. She is also extremely talented in gymnastics. She started as a beginner a month ago and has already graduated two levels to intermediate. Her coaches are shocked that she has had no formal training. Laura is just that good at what she puts her mind to.

Laura is also my daughter. I love my kids, regardless of their faults, even if I want to jump off a bridge five days a week. Unlike a bad cup of coffee, causing me to never buy that brand again, Laura can hoodwink me every single day of her life, and I will see through it as a sign she would make a great politician and an even better capitalist (though she is very empathetic). Thus, I don’t reject her and put her up for adoption.

Which brings me to Prince:

Yesterday, Prince died. The announcement swept through my social media and at work. The reaction to this man’s death was the closest thing to ubiquitous love that I have ever experienced. Even when David Bowie died, I didn’t feel this. The sentiments transcended generations. Young and old alike, wept openly, dug their old albums from dusty drawers, finding buried CD players, just so they could hear Purple Rain again in its original burning. Minnesota stopped in its tracks, quickly scheduled dance parties, and turned everything purple. Corporate meetings devolved into longing conversations of times past, remembering the days one attended a concert of this short man in heels and makeup.

And yet, I told everyone, honestly, that I didn’t know the man. I didn’t know his music and I didn’t have any appreciation to what he meant to the art form. I was fairly public about my ignorance, which meant that I began to receive links, audio clips, and videos of Prince’s music in my inbox, through text, any number of messaging apps, and even comments on this blog.

While that was all well and good, I don’t appreciate singers by just listening to their music. I study them and enjoy their music as an extension of who they are. As such, if someone’s music is an alter-ego to who they really are, I don’t get as much appreciation from it, no matter how talented.

Prince is full of contradictions. He sang about sex, very graphically, and later in life, became quite religious. The spirituality showed in his music. He discouraged people from using vulgarities, and had morality arguments that lined up quite nicely to the Religious Right. Yet, at his concerts, he would sing all of his songs, including what would be considered anathema to a Jehovah’s Witness, to which faith practice he was a dedicated member. He believed in chemtrails, spouted conspiracy theories about American antipathy toward religion in the public square, claiming other countries celebrated religion openly. Yet he was a loud mouthpiece for fairness in the music industry. He was a vocal opponent to America’s version of unbridled capitalism, even going as far as claiming that the common folk are still “on a plantation.” And he talked a lot about Jesus, yet had a disregard for the feelings and needs of others.

In short, Prince was a gentleman that I would give a wide berth.

Yet I look at the messages of his music, interpreted in a myriad of ways by his millions of fans. I look at how he touched their lives in very palpable ways, especially the lives of my ex-fundamentalist friends who used his words of encouragement to “just be themselves and screw everyone’s opinions” to help get out of the bondage of hen-pecking religious types who wanted to keep them in the fold. I see people using his earlier admonitions to “fuck” as a way to remember to enjoy intimacy with their partners when life goes to shit. I also see how his music, just for the sake of good music, is capable of “getting people through a day.”

And so, just like my daughter, I will not reject the man.