Biden, politicians, politics, social media, stupid people, Trump

Apparently, $1.89 gas is really all that matters to some people…

Last night, just before I fell asleep, I noticed a “purple” friend of mine who was watching the January 6 hearings on television posted a provocative status on Facebook. His comment was,

“Man! $250 million buys a lot of gas.”

At the time when I shut down for the night, that comment only had a few responses from people who are decidedly not Republicans. But by the time I cracked open my eyes this morning, that post had blown up. At this writing, it has over 100 comments, and was only just dying as I was getting up. As I write this post, it’s about 2:00 AM on the East Coast of the United States, which is where a lot of my friends live. I suspect that thread could resurrect in a few hours, as the hearings continue, bombshells drop, and more people express polarized opinions about the state of the United States today.

I was interested in what my friend’s friends had to say about his comment, so I actually took the time to read the posts. Sadly, one of the more entertaining posters has me blocked. I don’t remember why, although his name is familiar. Based on responses to him, he appears to be liberal. He must have caught me on a day when I was feeling irritated by the perpetually “woke”. That’s right, folks. I do vote blue now, but sadly, it’s not because I think Democrats are without issues. There’s actually a lot I don’t like about liberalism. However, I think at this point, I am so utterly disgusted by conservatives and their policies that I simply can’t vote for Republicans anymore. Quite a few of them are hopelessly mired in a fantasy world and, I’m afraid, are stuck on ideas that can’t and don’t work. One such idea that I think is long over and done with is cheap gas.

One of my friend’s commenters– a guy who appears to be from the western side of Virginia and, in spite of his protests regarding Trump worship, is clearly a conservative– wrote this:

Hey yall voted for this! All the experts said if Biden is elected we’ll see gas prices and inflation like never before! Hope all the Biden supporters are happy now!! Smh

Once again, I can’t help but shake my head. Does this person really believe that Joe Biden controls gas prices and inflation? Has he ever heard of the rest of the world? Inflation and high gas prices are global issues. A whole lot happened before Biden got into the White House that has affected the situation we’re in right now. Is Joe Biden the best president we could have had? I don’t think so. But I also don’t believe that Donald Trump would have handled this any better. In fact, it’s pretty clear that Trump did a lot of lying, cheating, and stealing when he was our POTUS. He is not an honorable man. That fact is becoming more and more obvious by the day.

My friend responded somewhat calmly, saying that he felt that a point was being missed. He explained that Donald Trump had raised $250 million from his followers to fight the election results. But it turns out the money was never used for that purpose. Instead, it went to his hotels and his cronies. Basically, Donald Trump, yet again, defrauded his base and ripped off their money. He has a long, long history of ripping people off– it dates from the 1970s. But some people refuse to see it and won’t face facts. They’re focused on cheap gas. And indeed, that’s what my friend’s conservative friend wrote in response:

…at least it’s going to America!! Both Biden’s making money left and right off other countries including Ukraine and China and we steady sending them money over there and buying all their high priced resources! At this point i really don’t think anyone cares what Trump is doin with his money if he can get us back to 1.89 gas, normal grocery, house , car prices and restores our all the foreign relations that Biden has ruined!!

Many of my friend’s other friends piled on this guy, who was gamely responding to everybody. It appeared that as the evening wore on, he was getting more and more desperate to deny the clear truth of the matter. He was delivering the usual conservative talking points– blaming the Democrats for shutting down the Keystone Pipeline, wanting to protect the environment, wanting to stop COVID from killing another million people, taking Christianity out of schools (really?)… the only point he didn’t hit is abortion.

I only contributed one comment to this thread, since it was dying as I was waking up. The point I did make was kind of inflammatory, and that’s that I can’t fathom how so-called “Christians” can champion a man who has sexually assaulted and harassed so many women. These supposed God fearing people don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a president who admits to molesting women, whether they want him to or not. These “sober” Christian folks don’t care that Donald Trump, if he were a “normal”, rank and file person, would never qualify for a security clearance. This man had our nuclear codes. And yet he’s been bankrupt multiple times, has had two foreign born wives (from formerly Eastern bloc countries, no less), and consorts with dictatorial types like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Un. But to hear or read comments from some Trumpers, he’s just the greatest person ever for America.

I get being conservative. I understand why some conservatives dislike liberals. But I don’t understand why conservatives don’t want someone who is truly decent to run the country. I mean someone who is honest and noble, and actually cares about people. What is so fabulous about Trump and Trump-like people? The truth is coming out about what really went on over the four years he led the country. The people who supported him in the White House are now explaining what really happened. Why are so many people still sticking their fingers in their ears, squeezing their eyes closed, and screaming about how Trump was robbed? He so very clearly wasn’t robbed. He was doing the robbing!

This morning, I read an interesting editorial on CNN. It was titled “The surprising reason for Joe Biden’s low approval rating”. The author of the piece, David Masciotra, explained his opinions as to why conservatives are so strongly wedded to their candidates, while liberals seem to be a lot less loyal. He introduces the idea of “fan fiction leftists”, who are so far left that they have the effect of strengthening conservatives’ loyalty to their party. I enjoyed the whole piece, but I especially identified with Masciotra’s last paragraph, in which he writes:

The Democrats certainly have flaws. They are rhetorically passive, disorganized and seem to base their strategy on how not to lose rather than how to win, which usually guarantees failure. The party is also worthy of harsh criticism for taking a bashful approach to punishing Trump and his allies for insurrection. Despite sizable weaknesses, they do have the advantage of not being racists, sexists, homophobes or hostile to the foundation of democracy. Residents of the real world should vote accordingly.

Yeah… that’s pretty much why I have abandoned conservatism. I don’t want to align myself with the ugly values of the Republican Party, in which the only thing that matters is money and maintaining power over minorities, women, and anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the Protestant variety of Christianity. My friend’s friend… the one who says he doesn’t care what Trump does, if he can “get us back to $1.89 gas”, doesn’t seem to realize that there’s a huge price to be paid for cheap gas. Also, I think going back to $1.89 gas is a pipe dream. It’s not because of “the liberals”, either. I think fossil fuel is probably going to have to be replaced with another energy source. Car manufacturers have already noticed. When we toured the Volvo factory in Sweden, back in 2019, our guide– a Chinese woman, since Volvo is currently owned by a Chinese company– told us that very soon, Volvo will only offer cars that run on electricity. I think she gave us an actual year when this would happen. Of course, that was before COVID-19 fucked everything up for two years.

Guys like my friend’s friend– the $1.89 gas guy– don’t seem to realize that a global pandemic will fuck things up. He seems to expect everything to be like it was ten years ago. Well, a lot of shit has happened since 2012. And the pandemic is a real thing that has affected the whole world. When people are forced to stay home to avoid a virus, there will be issues with supply and demand. When people learn how nice it is to be able to work from home, avoid sitting in traffic (burning more gas, no less), and enjoy the flexibility and convenience that affords, there will be some people who will demand to have that option. Twenty years ago, I had a boss who let me work from home. When I brought up that possibility in job interviews, I got scoffed at. But now, it’s a reality for many people. I knew it would be eventually, and now some American workers are demanding it. That means a dramatic shift in how things are going to be done from now on… and that also means we have to adapt. Adapting takes time, but it’s inevitable that things are changing… and even though conservatives are trying so hard to prevent change, they are eventually going to fail in that effort.

But try to tell $1.89 guy that… This is what he says:

mmm mmm mmm. I’m not a Trump supporter, I just didn’t want Biden bc of exactly what’s happening! U don’t see the big picture! It’s all coming down to 1 world government and 1 world money system! We were the last hope to fight that! Now with Biden and his puppets in office….its a done deal! We’ve totally been sold out to the world! U think it’s bad now, u just wait!! So thank u and all these other idiots that have supported this party that have drastically sped up the process! I suggest u go dig deep in REVELATIONS and find JESUS!!!

Holy crap. Now he’s bringing Jesus into the discussion? What does Jesus have to do with people like Donald Trump and the “very fine people” who follow him, like Jim Bob Duggar and such? But he continues:

See that’s the problem right now, any other religion or belief can say what they want to anybody and we’re just suppose to deal with it!! But stand up for God or Christianity and OMG, no no no they’re a terrible person!! Enough is enough! More Christians need to stand up and quit tolerating this crap! This party traffics children, kills children, wants to kill babies, supports Changing ur gender and wants to take God out of everything in this country! I didn’t make these rules so don’t be mad at me….its God rules! But everyone wants to bend and stretch them…smh

This poor guy obviously hasn’t expanded his world view beyond small town Virginia. He thinks Christianity is the only religion, and Republicans are the only political party, because they are in bed with Christians. But he doesn’t seem to get that there are plenty of terrible Christians out there… people who use religion to gain money, power, and dare I say it? Pussy. And they vote for people like the “pussy grabber”, because that’s what they want for themselves. They don’t seem to understand that Trump doesn’t care about them at all and will happily take whatever they will give him and just throw them a few crumbs as a reward.

$1.89 guy thinks that no one wants to work. He thinks everybody’s on welfare. He seems to think that asking for, or even DEMANDING decent pay and benefits, as well as time off to live life, should not be reasons a person won’t take a job. He’s all about the business owners getting richer and richer, while the working class has to bust their asses in unsafe, unpleasant, and unhealthy work environments. Like a lot of conservatives, he doesn’t question why people should have to sacrifice their health and happiness just so someone like Donald Trump can make more money.

…create jobs!? Ur kidding right!? Most businesses are closing or not operating all days bc nobody wants to work!! There are literally hiring signs on every other business u pass! U hv bought into this media crap so bad that ur completely oblivious to the real world!! Smh

Guy… yes, there are people hiring. But they want to hire people as cheaply as possible. After two years of having a home life, many Americans are realizing that they’ve spent too much time wasting their lives sitting in traffic, being paid as little as possible, for crappy benefits, and for employers who don’t give a shit about them and would dispense with them in a heartbeat if it would save them a few beans.

And $1.89 guy also doesn’t believe in science, either. He thinks COVID vaccines are useless, even though it’s been proven that people who have been vaccinated are staying out of ICUs at a much higher rate than unvaccinated people are.

I believe in vaccines that work!! Not the COVID vaccine or the boosters! They even came out and said later on ur natural immunity will fight it better anyway! Smh…. (tell that bullshit to the families of people whose anti-vaxxer loved ones died miserable deaths saying that COVID is a real thing after all)

There’s more I could add to this post… $1.89 was quite stubbornly insisting that we’ve all been duped. But I think I have to stop now. I’ll add one last parting shot, though. $1.89 guy also threw out the theory that Mr. Biden has “dementia”…

u voted for a president that can’t talk, can’t walk up a flight of steps, literally cheated through college, has taken credit for speeches he never wrote and pretty much has dementia……but we’re the idiots!! Lol 🤣…. Doesn’t take much common sense to figure out who’s the idiot here!! Smh

I think, of all the negative points people make about Joe Biden, the claim that he has dementia is the most offensive to me. The VAST majority of the people who have said this are not, in any way, shape, or form, qualified to determine if someone has dementia. I have seen people with dementia, and they don’t look or act like Joe Biden does. Moreover, if we’re gonna talk about cheaters, Donald Trump fucking wrote the book on it. Or, actually, he had someone else write it and simply took the credit. That sounds about right for Mr. Trump… and all of his narcissistic brothers and sisters. But if we point this out, we get accused of having “Trump Derangement Syndrome”.

To quote our very erudite and intellectual $1.89 gas guy… SMH.

Standard
complaints, rants, social media

Things Americans “know” about my life in Germany…

I got into a brief discussion yesterday with people from my hometown of Gloucester, Virginia. One of my high school classmates posted a picture of what she’d spent at the gas pump. If I recall correctly, it was about $125 or so… and that certainly is a mind blowing figure. While I didn’t expressly state it, I was initially sympathetic. I left the first comment on her photo, which was that [gas prices] have been like that in Europe for years. In fact, they’re even higher here than they are in the United States. I had originally meant the comment to be matter-of-fact, but it kind of blew up a bit.

A funny note someone left at a BP gas station near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, about twelve years ago. It was just after BP’s oil tanker started leaking in the Gulf of Mexico.

Last time I checked, which I will admit wasn’t super recently, gas in Germany was about 2 euros per liter. There are 3.785 liters in a gallon. A quick Googling tells me that gas prices near where I live are still at about 2 euros per liter, thereabouts. My trusty calculator tells me that a gallon of gas near me would cost about 7.57 euros. One euro is currently equivalent to $1.05, so that means a gallon of gas is about $7.96. If you’re driving a honkin’ big truck that holds 20 gallons of gas, it’s going to cost you about $160 to fill up in Germany. But that’s not unusual here. I remember it being very expensive here when we lived here years ago, although it wasn’t that expensive. I think it was the dollar equivalent of about $2.65 per gallon back around 2007 or so, which was still expensive for us spoiled Americans.

A few hours later, a woman from Gloucester whom I’ve never met, left me kind of a snarky comment about how everybody in Europe lives in houses that are the size of a U.S. house’s kitchen. Then she went on a rant about how much Europeans pay in taxes (she claimed 58%) and compared them to socialists. She finished her comment with an orange angry emoji… to which I laugh reacted, because her comment was so full of misconceptions and falsehoods that I was kind of flabbergasted.

The front of my current house in Germany. It’s bigger than a kitchen.

I added another comment. I wrote “I live in Germany, and I assure you that my house is bigger than your kitchen.” Indeed, the home we live in now is on three levels, has three bathrooms, three bedrooms, a large, finished basement with a granny apartment, and a fenced in backyard. There are also two large balconies. The one thing this house doesn’t have, that I wish it did have, is closet space. Most German houses don’t have closets. Our first German house was an exception to that trend. It was built by a man who had worked for IBM and was familiar with US houses.

At that point, another person from Gloucester, but living in Arkansas, left a lengthy, but basically polite comment, explaining that she knew Germans had nice homes, but they don’t have to drive much, because of the public transportation available here. She wrote me a tale of woe about life in rural America, and how the high gas prices are a real hardship. She wrote her comment as if she thought I was from Germany, which struck me as funny.

While it’s true that there’s a lot of public transportation here, not everyone uses it, nor is it necessarily convenient for everyone to use in every area. If the usual traffic on Autobahn 3, which is very near my house, is any indication of how many Europeans are driving, I’d say that lady is a little out of touch with how things are over here in Germany.

I do understand what life in rural America is like. I lived there myself for many years. So I commented, “I’m an American, so I know how it works,” adding a winky smiley. I know… that’s a little snarky, but I have to admit I was a little irritated that this person felt she needed to explain life in the United States to me. Especially since I never indicated that I didn’t have any empathy for Americans having to pay a lot for gas. My initial comment was simply that gas prices have been high in Europe for years, not that my friend needed to “get over it”. But after reading a couple of comments from obvious conservatives who blame Joe Biden for the price of gas, I was starting to feel like my countrymen were whining a bit and could use a perspective adjustment.

Then the first lady came back, still seemingly a little pissy, writing that she doesn’t want to spend $10 a gallon on gas, and she thinks taxes are too high in Europe. I was still left with the impression that she had no idea about what she was writing. So I responded with something along the lines of, “Okay, but you’ve made some comments about life in Europe that are not grounded in reality. Germans do pay a lot of taxes, but they get a lot for the money they pay. Most of the Germans I’ve known live perfectly nice lifestyles. Yes, gas is expensive here, but other things are much less expensive, like healthcare, education, and food. And Germany also isn’t a socialist country.”

I also added that here, one doesn’t have to go to college to have a hope of getting a “good” job. In fairness, people don’t necessarily have to go to college in the United States to get a good job, either, as long as they have a useful talent or skill. However, here, the emphasis is on people being able to find work so they can pay their bills. Young people don’t get saddled with humongous loans that will take the rest of their lives to pay off, and workers have rights. In the USA, it can be very difficult to find work that pays enough, even if one went to college, or even graduate school. And vacation leave is pretty stingy in a lot of jobs. You’re lucky if you get two weeks, unpaid.

I didn’t add that in Germany, new parents get generous paid leave. In fact, they also get generous guaranteed vacation time every year, which allows people the chance to rest, and to recover when they get sick or injured. We pay for energy by the year, and it’s less than we’d spend in the United States. We pay for heating oil every year, so we don’t have to worry about getting an unexpectedly high bill every month. Bill and I don’t pay German taxes for most things, because we have SOFA status. We pay US taxes, which are admittedly lower than German taxes are. But the United States makes every citizen file a tax return and pay taxes, no matter where in the world they are living. Most other countries don’t do that. Granted, if one makes under a certain salary threshold, there is a US tax exemption. Whatever one makes over that figure is taxed.

Then the second woman wrote that she didn’t check my passport before assuming I was German, and apologized. It seemed like a snarky comment, but I chose not to respond in a snarky way. I wrote that I grew up in Gloucester, so I know the pain of commuting long distances in the United States. I also know that a lot of people, some of whom have never lived anywhere but Gloucester, and many of whom have never so much as visited another country, assume that the United States is the best country on Earth. I’m here to tell them that it ain’t necessarily so. Even if they did think Gloucester was the best place ever to live, after having experienced living in many other places, that wouldn’t be every person’s opinion. As my Italian friend Vittorio would say, “Tastes differ.”

At this point in my life, I’ve now lived in several countries. No place was ever perfect, but the other countries I lived in had their pluses and minuses. Even Armenia, which was really developing when I lived there in the 90s, had some aspects of life that I later missed. The beautiful produce at the shukas comes to mind… as well as the fascinating churches, amazing art and music, and interesting cultural traditions. It was also a very CHEAP place to live… much cheaper than the USA or Germany is. I was definitely ready to leave Armenia at the end of my Peace Corps service, but that was mostly because of a situation I was dealing with at the time that could have happened anywhere. I also missed Armenia when I got back to good old Gloucester, where I was stuck living for two years post Peace Corps.

Anyway, when I left my original comment about how expensive gas is, it was to the original poster. It was neither a positive nor a negative comment. I just wrote that gas prices have been high in Europe for years. The other people were the ones who made it negative, and then added a bunch of hooey about life in Germany… something about which they clearly know very little, or next to nothing. I probably should have just rolled my eyes and moved on… people are going to complain, and some will continue to blame the president for something he can’t, and doesn’t, control.

Personally, I would rather pay higher gas costs and know that if I get sick and need to go to a hospital, I won’t go bankrupt. Of course, we could probably use the military hospital in Germany, but I wouldn’t conclude that’s ideal, except that we would be more likely to get decent pain relief. One of Bill’s co-workers, who is American and a retiree, sought care at Landstuhl for his wife, who had colon cancer. The military hospital couldn’t accommodate them in a timely manner, so they called up the local hospital. They got a same day appointment. She went in, and over about a year’s time, they treated her for the cancer. She’s now in remission. When all was said and done, the whole thing cost about $13,000, which was entirely paid for by her health insurance. Try doing that in a US hospital, even with insurance.

The United States truly does have some great things going for it. I do love my country, and I even miss it sometimes. But there’s PLENTY of room for improvement in the United States. And to be honest, high gas prices are not what I would be focusing on right now, when children can’t even go to school without being afraid for their lives. Yes, it sucks to pay a lot for gas, but I’m afraid the days of cheap gas are coming to an end for many people. It’s not just because of the political situation in the United States; this is a global issue. Maybe instead of whining about high gas prices, American people might invest in more fuel efficient vehicles… or push for better and more extensive modes of public transportation. There’s a high price to be paid for living out in bum fucked Egypt, where there is no bus or train system.

But most of all, I wish ignorant, all-knowing people in the United States would stop trying to tell me how life is where I am actually living. This isn’t the first time it’s happened, and it really drives home why so many non-Americans think so many Americans are so insufferable and arrogant. As an American, I didn’t see it so clearly when I lived in the US, but I can see it plain as day now… and folks, as the “orange hero”, Donald Trump, would say– it’s not a good look.

Standard
controversies, disasters, technology, the environment

The latest viral post…

Yesterday, I noticed a couple of my friends shared the post that serves as today’s featured photo. The quote has been attributed to the author, Marguerite Quantaine. Although I am an avid reader, I’m not familiar with Marguerite Quantaine’s work, so I’m not sure why I would be influenced by her over anyone else. Nevertheless, she (or her social media “person”) makes a pretty good point about individual choices most of us have the power to make as the costs of gas and other products rise. I saw her post being shared by different people on my friends list, who had also seen it shared by their own friends. In reading the comments on her original post, I noticed that Quantaine’s comments were actually made by a “cyber-liaison”, as Marguerite herself has been “indisposed” since October 2021.

However, while I agree with Quantaine’s statement about what we can do to mitigate high gas prices, I’m not so sure the higher gas prices can only be attributed to the war in Ukraine, at least not in the United States. Gas in the US mostly comes from sources other than Russia. Now, here in the European Union, it’s a different story. A lot more of the gas supply comes from Russia. But people over here are used to paying a lot for gas. That’s not to say they like to pay so much for gas, but at least there’s a trade off. For instance, generally speaking, it costs much less over here to get medical treatment than it does in the United States.

I clicked on one the posts that was shared by someone who apparently shared from Marguerite Quantaine’s page. There were a few dozen comments there. The very first one came from a man who is clearly a conservative voter. I just went back to the original post to re-read what the guy wrote, only to find that the post was apparently “cleaned up”. The “hater” comments were deleted. So I decided to visit Quantaine’s page, to see if there were any similar comments. There were, but none that made the statement that inspired me to write this post today. I’m going to have to rely on my memory. Fortunately, my memory is still pretty awesome, in spite of my wine habit.

So this guy, who appeared to be a “boomer”, basically wrote that all he cares about is being able to buy affordable gas. And he thinks that we should just exploit all of the resources we have in the United States. Another poster shamed him, reminding him that fracking and drilling will ruin what little is left of the natural beauty in our environment. The guy came back and wrote that the damage would be “minimal”, and he would be able to run his car.

I had a look at the guy’s profile picture and noticed that he appeared to have a family. There was a woman with him who appeared to be his age, and several attractive adults and kids. It looked like he loves his family very much. Unfortunately, the first thought that came into my mind, was that he must not actually love them that much, if he’s not concerned about the state of the environment and our dependence on fossil fuels. He’s only concerned about what’s happening right now. He probably won’t be around for that much longer, so the lasting damage to the environment likely won’t affect him too much. But it will definitely affect those grandchildren of his. He seems to love his grandchildren, yet he’s not concerned about what lies ahead for them.

I’m going to turn 50 in June. As winter is ending here in Germany, I’ve thought a lot about how different the climate is in 2022 compared to what it was like in the 80s, when I was a teenager. I remember back in the 80s, some people were concerned about the environment. I even remember there was a 1989 episode on this topic on the hit NBC sitcom, Family Ties. In the episode, “Rain Forests Keep Fallin’ on My Head”, the character, Jennifer (Tina Yothers), is studying ecology in school and gets fixated on making changes that would protect the environment. She encourages her family to adopt more Earth friendly lifestyle choices, to the point of being very annoying. But ultimately, she gets very depressed and has to see a counselor. I watched that episode maybe a year or two ago, and remembered how Jennifer’s family tried to console her. Now, 33 years later, that episode seems very prescient.

A couple of days ago, I noticed a picture an acquaintance posted on Facebook of her little daughter. The girl was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. It’s not even mid March yet. I remember when I was a child, March was still a pretty cold month, even in Virginia. I asked her what the temperatures were in North Carolina, where they now live. She said it was in the 80s.

Here in Germany, I’ve noticed there’s less snow that there was even fifteen years ago. The winter in Wiesbaden was rainy and chilly, but not particularly cold. When we lived here the first time, I would not have dared go outside with bare feet in the winter. I could and did go out barefoot sometimes over this past winter. Granted, I don’t think Wiesbaden gets as much snow as Stuttgart gets, since it’s not as elevated. But I would have expected at least one good snow in which there wasn’t immediate melting. We really didn’t get any of that this year… or since we’ve been here. I’m pretty sure this is global warming in action. The guy who made that comment about not caring about anything but gas prices probably denies it exists. But how else can we explain why the weather has been so much warmer in recent years?

I do understand that Quantaine’s suggestions in her viral Facebook post might not be feasible for everyone. I’ve had the experience of living in parts of the United States where public transportation is scarce. I’ve worked at jobs that required lengthy commutes. Moreover, I am not a fan of “preachy” Facebook posts in the form of memes that can be passed around like a plate of stale hors d’oeuvres. I guess it just shocks me that so many people are self-centered to the point at which they brazenly state it outright. The guy who was enthusiastically responding in that post really came off as a selfish asshole. And yet, it’s easy to see that he’s a much beloved person, with many family members who evidently appreciate him.

In another example, I noticed a thread by a friend who is also former fellow Epinions writer. This person has a lot of people on his friends list that are no longer on mine, for whatever reason. He posted a statement about how the United States can be more energy independent by encouraging people to buy fuel efficient vehicles and vote for using more renewable resources. He got a lot of responses from other former Epinions members. One response came from a guy I used to have a lot more respect for than I do today. This guy is one of those “me and mine” types– as in, “I’ve got mine, and that’s all that matters to me.” I unfriended him several years ago after his relentless pushing of his conservative views became too obnoxious on my page. This guy had a habit of shaming me for being pro-choice or having opinions that were progressive. I used to refer to him as “Papa Smurf”, because he often tried to act like everyone’s daddy and lecture them when their views didn’t align with his. It got to be very annoying. In fact, I believe my parting words to him were, “Fuck off, Phil.”

Anyway, I noticed that Papa Smurf posted a response to my friend’s suggestion that everyone should use more Earth sustaining vehicles and adopt practices that preserve the environment. Below are his comments, which I think kind of echo the entitled “fuck you all” attitude I noticed the “boomer” stranger had shared on Marguerite Quantaine’s post.

We used to have a RAV4 ourselves. It was a good car, and we kept it for 13 years. But I wouldn’t say it was particularly fuel efficient.

The above comment isn’t as bad as others I’ve seen him make. Like I said, there was a time when I didn’t see the conservative “boomer” side to his personality. I liked him fine when we could just talk about travel. I got a first inkling that he was kind of a jerk when we happened to be at an Epinions social event and he was openly talking about undertipping the wait staff because he had to wait for his dinner. Then years later, we’d clash on Facebook when I would be snarky and “tasteless” (in his opinion) in my comments about certain current events and political ideals. He would chastise me on my own page, which is a “no no”. You ain’t my daddy, Papa Smurf.

Anyway… to me it’s just a reflection of a tragic attitude some people have regarding the environment. They don’t seem too concerned about how today’s practices and policies might be paid for by tomorrow’s adults. Once again, I’m glad I didn’t manage to have children. I look at my husband’s daughter’s adorable son and daughter, and think about the little boy who will soon join them. I worry about what it might be like for them… and I’m glad my life is likely at least halfway over. This war in Ukraine, coupled with the coronavirus, are probably going to change life as we know it… and likely not for the better. Not unless we work together to come up with ways to mitigate the damages done. I think humans are technically capable of adapting our practices for the better… but unfortunately, selfishness and greed often get in the way.

I’ve noticed that electric cars are increasingly popular in Europe. There are a lot of places where one can plug in their vehicles. When we bought our Volvo in 2019, we were told that very soon, Volvo will stop making gas powered cars. I have been giving some serious thought to making my next car a hybrid or an electric. But I rarely drive much anymore, anyway. Unfortunately, I think it will take more time for electric cars to catch on in the United States. They are expensive, and it’s a concept that may be hard for some people to embrace. People tend to like to stick with what they know. For instance, it took me a long time to switch from Windows to a Mac. 😉

I do think, though, that if our species is to survive in relative comfort, we’re going to have to make some changes. And while I don’t think the higher gas prices are entirely caused by the war in Ukraine (the pandemic also contributed), I do agree that at this point, those of us who aren’t in Ukraine are lucky… for now. However, I also think that this thing could actually turn into yet another global event very soon if something lasting is not done about Putin. He’s gone much further than people thought he would… perhaps he sees this stunt as a way to ride out of this world in a blaze of glory. Frankly, I wouldn’t be averse to that… as long as he makes an exit from the world stage soon.

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politics, rants, religion

“Christians” who complain about gas prices have missed the plot…

Last night, my former tenth grade homeroom teacher, now serving as president of a Christian university located in the American South, posted a shoutout to people who live in his community. My former homeroom teacher– a truly awesome guy and inspired leader, by the way– shared the news that a local gas station owner had announced that he still had gas priced at $3.68 a gallon. The gas station owner was encouraging people to fill their tanks while the “cheaper” gas was still available. As soon as the next shipment of gas arrived, the gas prices would have to go up.

Naturally, a lot of people were commenting about that, because Americans aren’t used to having to pay so much for gasoline. One person wrote a bitter complaint about the high gas prices, ending her rant with “Let’s go, Brandon.”

Before I knew it, I had responded “That’s not his fault.”

A minute later, she dashed off a response to me, as did someone else. I’m pretty sure there were a couple of “laughing” reactions, too. I didn’t bother to read the comments the people left, because I had a feeling they would be snarky and argumentative in nature. It was time for bed, and I didn’t want to get charged up over politics before trying to go to sleep. Also, I really respect my former tenth grade homeroom teacher, and I didn’t want to get involved in an argument on his Facebook page. Especially since I know he’s a devout Christian, and I have a tendency to be salty sometimes. Particularly when it’s later in the evening. 😉

I know I should have probably kept scrolling… because these folks have made up their minds about Joe Biden, and they truly believe he’s the cause of everything wrong in the world. There’s nothing I can say or write to change their minds. They think Joe Biden is responsible for the high gas prices, even though they are just plain WRONG.

I don’t think Joe Biden is the most charismatic leader we’ve ever had, but I do think he’s basically a decent person who cares about others. That’s a lot more than I could ever say about Donald Trump. And– before anyone points this out to me– I want to make it clear that I never thought Trump was responsible for everything bad in the world, either. I think Trump is an inherently bad person because of proven bad things he’s said and done, not because of his so-called political party. I don’t believe that all Republicans are evil. I do think quite a lot of them are selfish, ignorant, narcissistic, and completely out of touch with other people. But I know that not all of them are that way, and in fact, many Democrats are just as out of touch. I think today’s Republican Party, on the whole, is a bastardization of what the Republican Party used to be, years ago. A lot of people identify as Republicans and don’t think twice about it. They just keep aligning with the party they’ve always aligned with, even though quite a few Republican leaders are truly reprehensible people. But again, there are some truly crappy Democrats, too.

But anyway, I didn’t want to get into a political argument on my old teacher’s page, so I removed the notifications that the people prompted for me, turned out the light, and went to sleep. However, before I fell asleep, I noticed that an Epinions buddy from Texas, a man who is a doctoral level Christian minister who seems to really practice what he preaches, shared today’s featured photo on his Facebook page.

I thought about it for a minute and shared the same photo on my page, with a reminder for Christians in the United States who are bitching about gas prices. Right now, in Germany, gas is the euro equivalent of about $8 a gallon. Gas has always been significantly higher priced in Europe, which has much better public transportation systems and higher taxes than the United States has. I can remember being shocked when I heard that Germans were paying the equivalent of $5 a gallon. Of course, over here, gas is sold by the liter. Someone pointed that out to me on my page, and I explained that I had put my comment in terms of gallons because I’m addressing Americans, many of whom don’t travel abroad and have no concept of the metric system. My overall point is, gas is expensive in a lot of places, and that’s not Biden’s fault.

Then I thought about it some more, and it suddenly struck me as totally ridiculous that Christians are complaining about gas prices. Where is the outrage over the high prices of housing, food, and medical care? These are basic necessities for every person on the planet. Whenever a politician wants to tackle the high prices associated with basic needs, they get accused of pushing socialism. Most Republicans don’t like paying for social safety nets for people who are in need. Many Republicans assume that anyone who is poor, or sick, or food insecure is that way due to their own fault. They preach about personal responsibility, and push laws that are designed to punish or humiliate people who are in need. They lament the prospect of socialized medicine in the United States that might make healthcare more affordable for everyone. But God forbid they have to pay more for the gas to fill up those monster sized trucks and land yachts they drive to jobs that enrich other people…

I think Christians who are more concerned about high gas prices, than they are outrageous healthcare, housing, and food prices, have extremely fucked up priorities. Christians are supposed to follow the example of Jesus Christ, aren’t they? So if you’re really a Christian, shouldn’t you actually be concerned about people in need? Didn’t Christ care about hungry, sick, tired, and suffering people? Wasn’t Christ humble and gentle? Would Jesus complain about high gas prices and blame the U.S. president for something that is happening mostly due to world events?

Everybody needs housing, healthcare, and food. Not everybody needs to gas up cars. Granted, in the United States, cars are generally a lot more necessary than they are in Europe. However, even though Americans need cars more than Europeans do, they still aren’t necessary for living. I think in the coming weeks, we may all collectively discover why our dependence on cheap gas makes us weaker in so many ways.

What really amazes me, though, is this sudden understanding and affinity some Republicans have for Russia, and for Putin’s complaints about Ukraine. A lot of these people– Trump supporters– have #Pray for Ukraine posts on their social media pages. But don’t they realize that Donald Trump is Putin’s fan boy? Don’t they know that if Trump were still in office, Trump wouldn’t say much about what Putin is doing to Ukraine? Trump and Putin have a lot in common… although I think Putin is a lot smarter and, unfortunately, even more sociopathic than Trump is.

When I was a kid, the 1984 movie Red Dawn was released. I remember watching that movie and thinking– DAMN!– if the Soviet Union ever invades the United States, I will be signing up to fight! I was brave and naive when I was twelve! That movie was loaded with right-wing, God bless America, anti-Soviet propaganda bullshit. It was a very violent film that made Russians out to be terrible people as a whole. In 1984, a lot of Americans were legitimately worried about nuclear war. In the 80s, many Americans openly disdained communist Soviet Union and its people, even though most of us knew very little about the Soviet Union. It was a closed society, so it wasn’t easy to mingle with people from there. But watch television from the 80s, and you will see MANY references to nukes and how awful Russia is… and a lot of that propaganda was promoted by Republicans.

Then came 1991… and the Soviet Union fell apart. A few years after that, I went to live in the former Soviet Union. It changed my life. I now count some former Soviets as friends. I started seeing things from a different perspective. I no longer saw the Soviet Union as one big country. I now see that it was comprised of fifteen diverse republics full of amazing people who mostly want and need the same things I want and need. For a couple of decades, it looked like maybe we could finally be friends with people from Russia and other former Soviet countries. Maybe our governments could cooperate with each other and act for the benefit of humanity. Then came Putin… and he’s acting like a domestic abuser punishing his mate for refusing to marry him. Ukraine doesn’t want to be in a relationship with Russia anymore. Russia won’t take no for an answer and is forcing itself on the Ukrainian people… like an abusive ex who won’t go away. I must credit Bill for providing me with that imagery. Bill understands the abusive spouse dynamic better than I ever could… but when he presented that example to me, it struck me as how insightful it is.

Someday, maybe this ugly Soviet era building will be rebuilt into something more akin to Ukrainian tastes. But for now, this picture represents profound loss and suffering… and people who have lost everything.

I saw a photo of a burning building in Ukraine this morning. I noticed how ugly and depressing that building was. I remember living in a couple of buildings that looked just like it when I lived in Armenia. As I looked at the above image, it occurred to me that someday, that burning building will probably be rebuilt. It might even be rebuilt into something much better on all levels. That will probably take years, though, and for now, the fact remains that this ugly building on fire was home for some people who have now lost everything. And in America, we have a bunch of so-called Christians blaming Joe Biden for the fact that they have to pay more for gas. It’s ridiculous, short-sighted, and shameful. And now, Republicans seem to be on Putin’s side, even as they “pray for Ukraine”. I guess they pray for Ukraine to hurry up and submit so they can get cheap gas again, and the stock market will rebound. Perhaps they think Ukraine should just “make the best of a bad situation”. Maybe Ukraine should just lie down and “enjoy” the rape, as some anti-woman Republican legislators have suggested to sexual assault victims. I think a lot of Republicans are as naive and uninformed as I was when I was twelve.

A lot of these folks probably think Ukraine should also “make the best of a bad situation”. But if Russia invaded the United States, what would they say?

Nobody likes to pay high gas prices. I hate seeing our stock values plummet on a daily basis. It would be so great if things were peaceful and prosperous and the economy was humming along. But that’s not how it is… and the fact that it’s not how it is isn’t solely Joe Biden’s fault. He’s not invading Ukraine. He didn’t cause COVID-19, which also had an effect on gas prices and the economy. And he doesn’t control gas prices. He doesn’t have that much power. So if you are a “Christian” who is complaining about gas prices and blaming Biden, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your priorities. Do you think Jesus would be concerned about filling his gas tank over the pain and suffering of other human beings? I sure don’t.

Edited to add: A fellow American in Germany shared this…

Americans don’t have it so bad when it comes to gas prices.

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Biden, politicians, politics, Trump

“Joe Biden sucks…”

Yesterday, I noticed a complaint on social media about gas prices. It was posted by Republican Idaho gubernatorial candidate, Janice McGeachin. At this writing, according to Wikipedia, McGeachin is currently Idaho’s 43rd lieutenant governor. And based on the gas receipt she posted, and her snarky jab at Joe Biden, she thinks Biden is to blame for higher fuel prices.

Um… is Joe Biden really responsible for this? Seems like a cheap shot based on emotion rather than facts.

Now… don’t get me wrong. It sucks to have to pay a lot for gas. Over here in Europe, we’re well acquainted with high gas prices. Here, you pay by the liter, and it’s a lot more expensive than what you pay in the United States. That’s why Americans who live in Europe under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) are entitled to buy gas on military installations and/or use coupons at participating Esso stations, where they get a substantial break on fuel prices.

I remember in the late 90s and early 00s, just before 9/11, gas hovered at around 99 cents to $1.10 a gallon. It was a blessing for me, since I was in grad school and had little money, but had to do client home visits in my car. You’re damned right I’m glad gas didn’t cost then what it costs now, even in the US.

But– can we really blame Joe Biden for higher gas prices? According to multiple sources, the answer to that question is “no”. There are a number of reasons why the price of gas has gone up. One major reason is that the demand has increased as people leave lockdown and go back to commuting or leisure traveling. Another major reason is because there’s less fuel available because people weren’t working. It’s the same reason why, when you go to McDonald’s, you may be facing a skeleton crew and things take longer. People are expecting things to be like they were pre-pandemic. But things aren’t like that, and probably won’t be like that for a good, long while, if ever again. Seriously, though… gas has gone up because the demand is up, and there’s less to go around. That’s got nothing to do with Biden. In fact, isn’t reopening the economy what Republicans wanted?

Aside from that, gas prices aren’t something presidents can easily control. According to the CNN link I posted in the previous paragraph, “the price of gas is determined by four major factors: taxes, the cost of marketing and distribution, refining, and the cost of crude oil. Biden’s enacted policies have not currently had a significant effect on any of these four factors.” It surprises and saddens me that as a lieutenant governor, particularly one who would like to be governor, Janice McGeachin doesn’t understand how this works. I suspect that if she does win the governor’s race in Idaho, she may be in for similar treatment, though. People will blame her for shit she can’t control, either.

Which brings me to the title of this post. Some woman, in response to the lieutenant governor’s post, wrote “Joe Biden sucks, and y’all know it!”

I was feeling cheeky, so I wrote “But Trump swallows.”

The lady wrote back something along the lines of, “Ooh, what a creative response!”

To which I wrote, “I could say the same thing about your comment. Besides, Donald Trump DOES swallow. Especially Big Macs and Whoppers!”

If you think about it, we ALL swallow, don’t we? Unless we have a feeding tube or something. That’s a function of healthy living. Does Biden literally suck? Maybe… although he probably doesn’t suck as much as he did as a baby. But that’s true for most of us, too.

Does the commenter mean Biden “sucks dick”, which is what “sucks” used to mean? I don’t know. But I’ve seen no evidence that Biden likes to suck dick. I HAVE, however, seen plenty of evidence that Trump is a lover of sexual conquests and exotic sexual acts. He probably HAS swallowed, in the nastiest meaning of that saying. But then, he’s in good company with other people who have hung around with the likes of Jeffrey Epstein… Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, and plenty of other rich and famous men. There’s no telling what kind of shenanigans went on back when Jeffrey Epstein threw his wild parties on his notorious, infamous, “private island”, teeming with teenaged girls brought to him by Ghislaine Maxwell and company.

There’s no denying what kind of company Trump keeps… and when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.. (thanks, Mary Beth).
“Donald Trump is the Hugh Hefner of the 90s”… Seriously, he probably does swallow.

But even if he doesn’t “swallow” in the sexual sense, he definitely DOES like fast food. And he clearly does swallow that, based on his “figure”. So what I wrote wasn’t a lie. Saying that Joe Biden “sucks”, is probably more of a lie by most counts.

There’s no doubt that Trump likes his Whoppers… is he also the “home of the Whopper” like the pervert neighbor I used to have? The jury is out. This is so embarrassing for the United States.

Joe Biden has been in office for about six months. I’m feeling somewhat better about a lot of things than I did a year ago– at least for right now. A year ago, I woke up every day feeling dread about what new craziness would be in the press regarding Trump. Now, I worry less about Trump and his embarrassing bullshit, but I do worry that someone else is being groomed to “MAGA”.

I get that a lot of people think Trump’s “awesome” and his polices are “great for America”, as one Trump loving friend (who incidentally lives in Thailand) enthusiastically told me this morning. I wonder what my friend is doing in Thailand. I think he married a Thai woman, and he probably gets to enjoy a decent standard of living there… if Trump was so “great”, though, wouldn’t he have wanted to move back to the States during Trump’s tenure? Wouldn’t he have wanted to live in the USA, basking in all of Trump’s MAGA splendor? And yet, he didn’t. He’s been in Thailand for awhile.

I, of course, live in Germany and managed to miss ALL of Trump’s presidency. I haven’t set foot on US soil since November 2014. I have a feeling that when I do go back, it’ll be a shock. And that will be true, even if Biden doesn’t get pushed out in 2024. Lord help us all.

In any case, allow me to state on record that, so far, I don’t think Joe Biden sucks. I do, however, know for a fact that Trump swallows. But maybe someday we’ll get lucky and he’ll fail his swallow test. Perhaps that will keep him out of our hair so we can make sure no one worse picks up where Trump has left off. I think Joe Biden is a decent man, and I’m glad to see someone decent in the White House. Trump is not a good person who cares about other people. That, in an of itself, makes him unsuitable to run anything involving other people, let alone a country.

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