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Can We All Agree – 9/26/15 Edition

September 26, 2015

Filed under: Can we all agree — Tags: , , , , , , , , — admin @ 10:22 am

Too bad there wasn’t much going on this week. Where to start?

Can we all agree, that Pope Francis has done very little to diminish his stellar reputation during his visit this week?

Can we all agree that even when he’s made statements you disagrees with, it’s tough to argue?

The Pope In Philadelphia - LATimes photo

The Pope In Philadelphia – LATimes photo

Can we all agree that, even excluding John Boehner, he will have a major impact on the social and political debate long after he has left?

Can we all agree that many Californians are still confused about why he would want to wade into the debate over Juniperro Serra by making him a saint?

Can we all agree that while Speaker of the House John Boehner, credits, at least some of his decision to step down to The Pope’s visit, it was more a question of timing?

Can we all agree that Mr. Boehner’s decision really won’t change much?

Can we all agree that we will be having the same conversation about a government shutdown later this year?

Can we all agree that The President’s ability to get Chinese leader Xi Jinping to announce a cap and trade plan for China increases the pressure on Congress to actually address climate change? As if he Pope’s comments were not enough?

Can we all agree that we will all remain a bit skeptical about Chinese promises to end hacking of commercial websites, until we can confirm the practice has ended?

Can we all agree that US businesses should not relax since there are many countries who are more than willing to continue the assault?

Can we all agree that it was nice to see that The Pope was at least able to keep Donald Trump off the front page for a few days?

Can we all agree that we didn’t even know that controversial Kentucky clerk Kim Davis was a Democrat? The GOP is welcome to have her.

Can we all agree that while The Pope’s visit back East was nice, this weekend’s visit by India’s Prime Minister is a much bigger deal in Silicon Valley?

Can we all agree that regardless of who you root for, Yogi Berra’s passing is a sad day for baseball?

Can we all agree that it’s nice to know we can all sing “Happy Birthday” whenever we want and not be forced to pay royalties.

Can we all agree that we are slightly incredulous that VW thought they could sell 11 million cars with software that deliberately deceived everyone, but felt they could escape detection?

Can we all agree that even in a capitalist society 5000% price increases for medication is not a good move?

Can we all agree that no one will miss Scott Walker and his campaign for president?

Can we all agree that this was a good week for presidential candidates to announce controversial decisions, because no one is paying attention? Like Hillary opposing the Keystone pipeline project?

Can we all agree that if you are a federal employee worrying about identity theft, things got a lot worse this week when the government announced that fingerprint records have also been stolen?

Can we all agree that it’s nice to know President Obama will meet with Mr. Putin, but we’re not sure how much good it will do? Have we seen his soul yet?

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Coming to America

September 24, 2015

Filed under: observations,Sharing economy — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 9:47 am

Took my car to be serviced this week, so I used BART to get back and forth to the dealership. I just needed a short ride from my home to the station and back. I used a cab inon e direction and Lyft in the other.

The result was two distinct views of America.

Note to self: It’s no longer good to ask a cab driver, “How’s business?” – my standard line, rather than just sitting in silence.

The cab driver, who was Indian and spoke with a typical accent, launched into what was probably a frequently repeated refrain about Uber and Lyft.

“Those drivers don’t make any money,” he told me. “After paying for their cars and insurance and gas they lose money, every day they drive.” he continued.

I asked how long he had been driving and he proudly said, 23 years, although he wasn’t sure how much longer he could continue. “Business used to be good, but now, sometimes I make less than $100 in a day,” he told me.

I asked if he had tried driving for one of the new competitors. “Why, I wouldn’t make any money.” Then he added, “The government will have to do something.”

My driver back to retrieve my car turned out to be a young Afghan immigrant who was a translator for the Army near Kabul. He’s been in the US for two years and has been driving his 1-year-old Prius for several ride-sharing services since last December.

He was able to come here with his wife and two children, but left his brother and mother behind. It took him five years to get a visa and he realizes how lucky he is, pointing out that another 10,000 translators may never be granted permission, despite assurances from the US government that they have priority status.

“They have stopped issuing any more visas,” he told me. “And since the Syrian refugee crises, the whole system has stopped.” He admitted that the rest of his family lives in fear because the Taliban know that he worked for the US Army, but, he says, his mother and brother probably will never get out. He speaks with them regularly via cellphone.

Despite that, he says that he is doing very well. His wife is taking English classes and he is studying to get his GED, although he has an IT degree from school in Afghanistan.

“I need to have something to show people. I have nothing from my home.” he says.

While he speaks with an accent, his English is near perfect and it was clear that getting a GED was just a formality. When he first came to this country he worked for a Fremont company testing file servers.

“They paid me $15/hour, but the job was boring, so I tried driving on my days off and found I could make $300/day in 6 hours, – so I quit.” he says. “Now I drive 4 hours a day and study and if I need extra money, I can work on the weekend and make $600 a day.”

Is it any wonder  so many people want to come to the US.

 

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Can We All Agree – 9/19/15 Edition

September 19, 2015

Filed under: Can we all agree — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — admin @ 6:31 am

Scroll down for my special debate edition of CWAA. I thought I’d reserve this one for the real news of the week.

Can we all agree that the war in Syria is taking an ominous turn as Russia apparently stations fighter jets inside the country? At least the US and Russia have agreed to military talks.

Can we all agree that Fed decision to keep rates unchanged was this week’s biggest non-story? Just don’t tell the markets, which tanked on Friday.

Pope Francis is coming _ Washington Post Photo

Pope Francis is coming _ Washington Post Photo

Can we all agree that the slow motion disaster that is the EU response to the refugee crises will continue as long as there is open warfare or until the country is simply empty?

Can we all agree that it looks bad when a car manufacturer (VW) installs software deliberately meant to avoid accurate emission readings?

Can we all agree that GM might have gotten off easy with ‘only’ a $900m fine for failing to cooperate in the government investigation of failed ignition switches?

Can we all agree that as long as Congress continues to waste time on bills that have no chance of becoming law,  they will be blamed for the expected government shutdown on October 1?

Can we all agree that with the appointment of Eric Fanning as Secretary of the Army we’ve come a long way from “Don’t ask, don’t tell?”

Can we all agree that, of all the tragic stories coming out of the California wildfires, you really have to feel for firefighters on the front lines taking phone calls from loved ones evacuating their homes which are about to burn to the ground?

Can we all agree that the idea of an LA to Las Vegas express train might make sense to Angelinos, but the fact that it might be  built in part by a Chinese company, gives everyone some pause?

Can we all agree that, with the Pope in town,  next week might not be the best time for a quick visit to Washington DC, New York or Philadelphia?

Can we all agree, speaking of travel, that making it easier for Americans to reach Cuba is just the next step in normalized relations?

Can we all agree that, whether you’re a big beer drinker or not, the thought of having one giant multi-national making most of the world’s beer is enough to, well, make you want drink, of something?

Can we all agree that with the number of uninsured American dropping like a stone, it gets tougher and tougher for any politician to call for getting rid of the Affordable Care Act? Although most of the hardcore repealers never let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

Can we all agree that an anti-muslim bias played a large part in the arrest of a 9th grader who brought a home-made clock to school to show his science teacher? Can we all agree he’ll have his choice of jobs, once he finishes school?

Can we all agree that, if it weren’t talking about nuclear missiles,  North Korea’s attempts to make itself the center of the world are really getting pretty desperate?

Drawing of LA to Las Vegas train - LA Times

Drawing of LA to Las Vegas train – LA Times

Can we all agree that an announcement that the Sierra snow pack has hit a 500-year low, really has no meaning for most people? Who measured 500 years ago?

Can we all agree that when a major country such as Australia, changes leaders overnight, it’s a bit disconcerting?

Can we all agree that Vanessa Williams’ apology from the Miss American Pageant sponsors was nice but really, it was about 32 years late?

Can we all agree that very few people can even name pageant winner since Ms. Williams?

Can we all agree that Egypt didn’t do their still recovering tourism industry any favors when they gunned down a group of Mexican tourists traveling through the desert?

And last but not least:

Can we all agree that the Ig-Nobel prizes always give us something to think about, seriously…?

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Can We All Agree – Debate Edition

Filed under: Can we all agree — Tags: , , , , , , , — admin @ 6:23 am

 

The GOP lineup

The GOP lineup– with Jeb Bush on his toes

Can we all agree that three hours was just too long for a debate – whether you’re wearing wing tips or high heels?

Can we all agree that CNN strategy to encourage ‘debate’ between the candidates was a disaster?

Can we all agree that it pains many Americans (including me)  to admit that Fox did a better job as a debate host?

Can we all agree that it’s tough to take any of the GOP candidates seriously until they really focus on addressing major issues such as immigration, climate change, income inequality or a host of others?

Can we all agree that if there was a ‘winner’ it was probably Carley Fiorina?

Can we all agree that the other 10 candidates were determined not to let Mr. Trump control the debate? They failed, but at least they were ready.

Can we all agree that Ms Fiorina will now face new scrutiny over her tenure at Hewlett Packard?

Can we all agree that this debate may signal the high point for the Trump campaign as he begins a long slow decline in the polls?

Can we all agree that at least three of the folks in the two debates will be gone before the October 28th debate in Colorado? Or is that just wishful thinking?

Can we all agree that with five more debates planned, the GOP is in serious danger of creating election fatigue?

Can we all agree, that real facts were is short supply? The fact checkers have had a field day with almost every candidate?

Can we all agree that Jimmy Fallon’s interview with Hillary would have been much better if it wasn’t quite so self serving?

Can we all agree that for Twitter fans, the highlight of the evening might have been Bernie Sanders snarky debate commentary?

 

 

 

 

 

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Can We All Agree – 9/12/15 Edition

September 12, 2015

Filed under: Can we all agree — Tags: , , , , , , , , — admin @ 5:46 am

Can we all agree that whatever California  Governor Jerry Brown decides to do with the assisted suicide bill now on his desk, will have a major impact on what happens in the 45 states without such a law? I’m not sure what I would do.

Can we all agree that Rick Perry’s departure from the GOP presidential sweepstakes is just the first in a long line? I guess the new glasses didn’t help.

Can we all agree that, despite her loss on Friday, Serena Williams is still the best female tennis player in the world?

A Syrian refugee child in Spain - Washington Post photo

A Syrian refugee child in Spain – Washington Post photo

Can we all agree that President Obama’s willingness to accept 10,000 refugees from the Mideast, is embarrassing, given the size of our country?

Can we all agree that the only thing more embarrassing is the continuing treatment of the refugees on the Serbian – Hungarian border?

Can we all agree that the election of a Socialist to lead Britain’s main opposition party, will be another boost for Bernie Sanders campaign?

Can we all agree that the GOP far right is delusional if they think they will not get blamed for their planned government shutdown over funding for Planned Parenthood?

Can we all agree that most Californians are shocked that Governor Jerry Brown lost a legislative battle – even though his opponent was the oil and gas industry?

Can we all agree that apparently as far as blood pressure is concerned 120 is the new 140?

Can we all agree that automobile industry plans to install auto-stopping technology on new cars is just the first step on the road to driverless cars?

Can we all agree that every football fan will be happy when TV announcers can get through a full New England Patriots football game without mentioning deflated footballs?

Can we all agree that it will be a long time before Roger Goodell will be making another decision in an NFL disciplinary case?

Can we all agree that the AG Loretta Lynch’s decision to ‘crack down’ on white collar crime comes abut 7 years too late?

Can we all agree that nothing on Stephen Colbert’s opening night was as good as his interview with VP Joe Biden?

Can we all agree that about the only person who’s not happy that Queen Elizabeth is now the longest serving English monarch is Prince Charles?

Can we all agree that we probably should not have been surprised when  the United Airlines CEO was forced to step down over corruption charges involving an New Jersey political figure?

Can we all agree that Hillary is about 6 months late in apologizing for her private email server?

Can we all agree that we really don’t need to hear anything more from Kim Davis?

Can we all agree it might be tough for a Baltimore jury considering charges against police officers, not to be swayed by the $6.4 million settlement reached in the Freddie Gray civil case?

Can we all agree that we are thrilled to know that the human family tree has a new branch?

Pieces of a skeleton of Homo naledi -NYT photo

Pieces of a skeleton of Homo naledi -NYT photo

Can we all agree that Pope Francis probably does not have many fans in the conservative wing of the Catholic church, but everyone else is thrilled with the changes he continues to announce?

Can we all agree that the fight over the Iran nuclear deal is over but the House doesn’t seem to realize their symbolic votes are irrelevant?

 

 

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Can We All Agree – 9/5/15 Edition

September 5, 2015

Can we all agree that Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who decided that jail was better than doing her job, is misguided and receiving terrible advice?

Can we all agree that the GOP candidates who have come to her defense have proven, once again, that they are ill equipped to lead the country?

Kim Davis - NYT photo

Kim Davis – NYT photo

Can we all agree that the continuing rash of baseball fans injured and dying at baseball games must lead to more protective barriers and higher railings?

Can we all agree that new figures showing smoking in the US is at its lowest level ever, probably means tobacco companies are just more focused on countries where it’s easier to hawk their products?

Can we all agree that Pope Francis’ decision to welcome women who repent after having abortions, back into the Catholic church is a remarkable and welcome departure from past papal announcements?

Can we all agree that Roger Goodell totally mishandled the Tom Brady, Deflategate episode? (As a life-long Patriots fan, I feel it would be cruel to say any more.) But it may lead to major changes.

Can we all agree that the refugee crises in Europe was born out of the same ill-conceived agreement that created the EU?

Can we all agree that, as some commentators are saying, Europe has now found their own ‘Donald Trump’ in Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban?

Can we all agree that the stock market has officially entered the realm of irrational depression when 173,000 jobs are added and they worry about something (a rate increase) that they know has been coming for months? (I repeat, the stock market is not the economy.)

Can we all agree that renaming Mt. Mckinley to Denali – something even GOP senators in Alaska wanted –  makes sense to everyone except the Ohio Congressional delegation? I’m sure taking 1o feet off the elevation was a bit of a disappointment to Denali supporters.

Mt. Denali-Washington Post photo

Mt. Denali-Washington Post photo

Can we all agree that the President’s trip to Alaska to boost his environmental street cred,  seems a bit ill timed, coming just months after he approved oil drilling in the Arctic Circle?

Can we all agree that any 62-year-old who can survive 9 days lost in the Sierra’s – with a broken leg – deserves some kind of award from the AARP?

Can we all agree that Sony Pictures’ decision to alter the script of a movie about concussions to avoid angering the NFL is just one more black eye for a company already having a very bad decade?

Can we all agree that Hillary Clinton may be the luckiest Democratic candidate in 50 years as her favorability ratings drop while the GOP continues to self-destruct?

Can we all agree that while Mr. Trump will be the main event the September 16th GOP debate, Carley Fiorina will be a great undercard?

Can we all agree that the GOP establishment and Jeb Bush have finally woken up to the fact that they need to do something to stop The Donald? If not, he could set the party back about 150 years.

Can we all agree that we have no idea what’s going through the minds of Chinese leaders who stage a military parade as a TV event, while announcing a cut of 300,000 troops, and send a ships to the Aleutian islands while an America president is touring Alaska?

Can we all agree that while the eventual fate of the Iran nuclear deal has been decided, there will be plenty of political maneuvering for the next few weeks while Congress debates the treaty?

Can we all agree that the Trump loyalty pledge to the GOP party is not worth the paper it’s printed on?

And finally, can we all agree that California’s decision to limit the use of solitary confinement should have happened long before some inmates spent 30 years inside 8×10 foot rooms?

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