The American Nightmare

Putin gloatingI suspect that Donald Trump and his Republican cronies will not be pleased by the cover story in the latest issue of The Week.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin is publicly gloating. “Thank God no one is accusing us anymore of interfering in the U.S. elections,” Putin said in a recent speech. “Now they’re accusing Ukraine.” No wonder Putin and the Russians are laughing at us.

The remarkable aspect of this is that the historically tough-on-Russia Republicans have totally let their guard down and are, instead engaged in a virtual hug-fest with Putin. Trump has embraced Putin’s disinformation campaign and requires that his cadre of loyal Republicans also embrace it. The Ukraine conspiracy theory has become “Trump’s white whale,” and his obsession with it is the main reason why his impeachment is moving forward at such a rapid pace.

Jennifer Rubin, a columnist at Washington Post, wrote, “By spreading Putin’s propaganda, the Republicans’ “useful idiots” are “aiding and abetting a hostile power.”

New York Times journalist Charles Blow suggested that Trump knows exactly what he’s doing. With the evidence leaving “no remaining doubt” about his guilt, he’s doubling down on the Ukraine theory and “eroding truth and bending reality among those who support him.”

Another New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd wrote that Putin sure did “hit the jackpot with Trump.”

There’s really only one way left to alleviate this insanity foisted upon us by Putin, the master manipulator, and that is for the Democratically-controlled House to impeach Trump and for the Republican-controlled Senate to convict him and remove him from office.

Unfortunately, due to extreme partisanship, that’s unlikely to happen, and at daybreak, this American nightmare will continue.

Written for these daily prompts: Word of the Day Challenge (suspect), The Daily Spur (guard), Ragtag Daily Prompt (hug), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (rapid), Your Daily Word Prompt (alleviate), and Daily Addictions (daybreak).

My Two Cents Worth

1B2F97CC-7148-4EDE-B828-6847001B1CF1I read this post, Let’s Ban Pennies, today from Marilyn Armstrong in which she bemoaned being sent to a collection agency for underpaying her phone bill by a penny! Seriously, a single penny.

Her post reminded me of a post I wrote back in June of 2013, titled “My Two Cents Worth,” on my now defunct blog. Since Marilyn raised the topic of pennies, I thought I’d jump on her bandwagon and share this six year old post.

Did you ever hear the tale about Moishe and Hershel, two aging, Jewish clothing manufacturers in New York City’s garment district? They were complaining about how rotten business was. Hershel says to Moishe, “I lose fifty cents on every pair of pants I sell.”

“Oy vey, Hershel,” Moishe responds, saddened by this news from his old friend. “How do you stay in business?”

Hershel shrugs his shoulders and replies, “I make it up in volume.”

Of course, this was way back before virtually all of our clothing was manufactured in Asian sweatshops.

And that brings me to the topic of this post: pennies. Over the years I have accumulated lots of pennies. Whenever I make a cash purchase, which is becoming rather rare these days, and get a few pennies back as change, I put the pennies in my pocket. When I get home, I take the pennies from my pocket and drop them into a glass jar that once held instant coffee, peanut butter, mayonnaise, or dill pickle slices.

Once the pennies reach the top of one jar, I screw the lid on it, put it on a shelf next to a lot of other change jars, and start over with a new jar. Now I have a dozen or more glass jars around my house filled to the rim with pennies. What the hell am I supposed to do with all those friggin’ pennies?

Is it worth the time and effort to lug these heavy, penny-filled jars to the bank to exchange them for paper money? Not really. The bank doesn’t want them any more than I do. And to accept your penny collection, many banks require that you put them in paper coin wrappers that hold 50 pennies each. Yeah, like I don’t have better things to do with my time.

Or you can go to one of those ubiquitous Coinstar machines found in just about every large grocery store. These machines will gladly take your pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters and turn them into coupons you can redeem for paper money. Of course, you have to pay for that alchemy to the tune of 10 pennies on every dollar.

A Penny For Your Thoughts

7EF0800E-3911-42C8-9842-13D2D831ECB2But the real question is what good are pennies? When was the last time you bought any one item for less than a nickel? Hell, how about less than a dollar

Think about the look you’d get from the cashier if you handed her 25 pennies instead of one quarter, or worse, 100 pennies instead of a dollar. Even retailers don’t want pennies. Most these days have a little tray near the register labeled “Leave a penny, take a penny.”

So I found it interesting when I came across an article that pointed out it costs our government approximately two cents to produce and distribute each penny and more than ten cents for each nickel.

Given that the U.S. Mint generated 5.8 trillion pennies and just over one billion nickels in 2012, the difference between the cost to produce and distribute these lowly coins and their face values resulted in a loss of $109 million dollars. Your tax dollars at work.

The good news, though, is that the U.S. Mint is making a mint on higher denomination coins, such as quarters and half-dollars, which more than offsets the deficit it experiences with pennies and nickels.

Is It Time to Kill the Penny?

Eliminating the penny would cause havoc in the retail sales world, where everything cost some dollar amount plus 99 cents. We are conditioned to think that if you pay $49.99 for some product, you’re getting a deal because it cost less than fifty dollars! Oops, don’t forget the sales tax.

When it comes to gasoline, which is always priced down to 9/10ths of penny, don’t you just ignore the 9/10ths of a penny when looking at the price? If the gas price is posted at $3.59 and 9/10ths per gallon, which is, for all intents and purposes, $3.60, our brains see $3.59. And we zoom into the gas station because it is selling gas for under $3.60 a gallon! Well, one-tenth of a penny under $3.60. Don’t spend your windfall all in one place.

78B5C61B-17E6-49C4-972B-6A21B79EAC56Admit it. The penny is almost worthless and pretty much useless. Now we learn that it costs double what each is worth to produce them. So what is the rationale for continuing to mint pennies? It is time to put the penny down! Australia figured this out in 1991 and got rid of its pennies. The Royal Canadian Mint stopped distributing Canadian pennies to financial institutions this past February.

I say let’s follow the lead of Australia and Canada and kill the U.S. penny.

At least that’s my two cents worth, which, as Moishe and Hershel might have said, is worth bupkis.

Weekend Writing Prompt — I Know Plants

9B6E4CB7-B420-4AAF-8941-0CB4345B81ED“I thought you’re a biologist.”

“I am.”

“Your card says morphologist.”

“Morphology is the study of the structure and form of animals and plants. It’s a branch of biology, and that’s my specialty. Ergo, I’m a morphologist.”

FF63EC7C-3B89-4354-81EC-BFADB7E8EBE3This educational and informative post was written for Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt, where we are challenged to write a poem or piece of prose using the word “morphology” in exactly 37 words.

And, for what it’s worth, the only thing I know about plants is how to make them shrivel up and die.

SoCS — A Shady Story

Shade trees in front yard“I’m so excited to show you this house I found,” the real estate agent told John over the phone. “I think it checks all of your boxes and, best of all, it’s below your max budget.”

“Great,” John said. “Text me the address and Jessica and I will meet you there in an hour.”

When they pulled up to the house, Jessica said, “Oh John, this house has wonderful curb appeal. And I love those two big shade trees in the front yard.”

“I just see a lot of raking to do every fall and easy ways for squirrels and other critters to get onto the roof and maybe into the attic,” John said.

“Oh my God, John,” Jessica said. “We haven’t even gotten to the front yard and you’re already throwing shade at the place. You need to check your bad attitude at the door, sir.”

Anne, their realtor drove up and got out of her car. “So good to see you two,” she said to John and Jessica. “How about we take a look inside?” Anne found the lockbox, pulled out the house key, and opened the front door. She motioned for John and Jessica to step inside.

“Oh wow, John,” Jessica said as they walked into the house. “Look how big this is living room is.”

“It’s a large room, but it seems dark to me,” John said.

“For crissake, John, you still have your shades on,” Jessica said.

John took off his sunglasses. “It still looks dark.”

“That’s an easy fix,” Anne jumped in. “I’m sure you can find a color that is a shade or two lighter, which could really brighten the place up.”

“And you can see the neighbors from those windows,” John said, pointing to the windows at the far end of the room. “And the neighbors can look right in and see us, too. There’s no privacy at all.”

“John, stop with the negativity,” Jessica snapped. “We can always put up shades or blinds over the windows.”

As they proceeded to walk through the house, John continued to be hypercritical. “The kitchen is closed off from the living are,” he said. “The master bathroom has only one sink. The kids’ rooms are both a shade too small. There’s no place for my man cave.”

“Wait until you see the backyard,” Anne said, trying to change the subject. “It’s huge.”

“I admit that it’s a big backyard,” John said, “but where are the trees? There was that one enormous tree in the front, but there’s nothing back here. This is Austin, Anne. It gets damn hot in the summer. Where are the shade trees that will make being out here in the backyard bearable?”

Anne shook her head and shrugged her shoulders. She looked plaintively at Jessica, seeking some guidance.

“Keep this on the short list, Anne,” she whispered to the realtor. “I’ll work on him behind the scenes, if you know what I mean.”

Written for today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt from Linda G. Hill. In case you couldn’t figure it out, Linda gave us the word “shade” as the prompt.