Believe Every Word!

All we’re doing is passing our savings on to our client base.
It’s a proprietary strategy. I can’t go into it in great detail.
But take my word for it, for the most part
you can ignore those market swings.
Bernie Madoff responding to his clients, 2001

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Lesson 1: Why lying well or sounding truthy can be self-nurturing and very lucrative. I am not saying that one needs to be a conspiracy theorist 24/7. What I am saying is that much of the time you need to stay sharp and not take everything at face value, especially when it is all dressed up looking and sounding pretty. Here are four more examples that beg for fools and fun, or painful trouble, depending on which side of the result you’re on.

  • In order to become old and wise, you must first be young and stupid.
  • The most dangerous animal out there is the shy, silent man.
  • Wouldn’t it be great to have a six-month vacation twice a year?
  • Cinderella is proof that a new pair of shoes can change your life.

The art of verbal flatulence is alive and well today. In all honesty, it has been quite well and thriving for many centuries and likely several millenia. Only today, it is sometimes dressed up and symphonious then other times so audaciously in your face and eccentric that the gullible audience begins to consider “Well, maybe it IS true.” Take for another prime example last evening’s State of the Union address to Congress.

Thanks to the Poynter Institute’s commitment to excellent journalism and its unparalleled non-profit service in providing a resource for anyone who aspires to engage and reliably inform all citizens. They serve 21st-century democracies, around the globe for people who honor all human rights, self-government, and freedom of expression (speech) coupled with a speaker’s or writer’s ownership of truths or lies. They also provide the invaluable Pulitzer Prize winning fact-checking website PolitiFact.com.

Here are some of [President Trump’s] comments [during the SoU address], fact-checked or with additional explanation or context. This report includes information on three accurate statements and 12 claims that are inaccurate, exaggerated or lack context.

Because 25% (to be kind) is such a horrible score at telling the truth, I am picking eight of Trump’s 12 wrong, overblown, and lacking good context comments to illustrate that not every word can be believed by Bernie Madoff President Donnie Trump.

On the Economy

President Trump:  “Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades.”

Wages are indeed rising, but they began their upward trajectory under President Barack Obama, and wages actually rose a bit faster under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

One common measurement of wages is median usual weekly real earnings for full-time wage and salary workers 16 years and older, an inflation-adjusted figure.

During Trump’s presidency, this figure has risen from $351 to $355, an increase of 1.1 percent over the better part of two years.

But the current wage increase began in earnest in the second half of 2014, when Obama was still more than two years away from leaving the White House. Overall, wages increased by 7.5 percent over that period, from $330 to $355.

This rise in wages wasn’t as steep as the country saw in the 1990s. Between the fourth quarter of 1997 and the first quarter of 2002, wages rose from $314 to $341, an increase of 8.6 percent.Louis Jacobson

President Trump:  “African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded.”

This was accurate in 2018, but is out of date. Unemployment levels for each group reached record lows under Trump’s watch.

African-American unemployment fell to a record of 5.9 percent in May, and is at 6.8 percent as of January. Asian unemployment fell to 2.0 percent in May, and is now at 3.2 percent. Hispanic unemployment reached 4.4 percent in December 2018, and is now at 4.9.

But these trends began under former President Barack Obama, and economists say presidents don’t deserve either full credit or full blame for the unemployment rate on their watch.Manuela Tobias

President Trump:  “Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence and not government coercion, domination, and control.”

This is a variation on misleading attacks Republicans repeatedly made on Democrats during the 2018 midterms.

The narrowest definition of socialism is where the state owns all the means of production. Democrats have not called for the government to take over business.

American politicians such as U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., or U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have used the term to call for a dramatic expansion of the social safety net, including already available health care programs. They typically propose much higher tax rates to pay for the programs.

That resonates with the systems in place in Europe, not Venezuela.Amy Sherman

President Trump:  “We have created 5.3 million new jobs and importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs.”

Trump is close on overall job creation but less accurate on manufacturing jobs.

The United States has added 5.3 million jobs since Trump was elected in November 2016. Counting from when he took office in January 2017 makes the figure a bit smaller, at 4.9 million.

As for manufacturing jobs, the number rose from about 12.4 million in January 2017 to 12.8 million in January 2019, or an increase of 454,000. We should add that the increase in manufacturing jobs under Trump followed a rise under Obama that began in 2010, when the worst of the Great Recession had passed.Louis Jacobson

On Foreign Policy

President Trump:  “For years, the United States was being treated very unfairly by friends of ours, members of NATO — but now over the past couple of years, we have secured a $100 billion increase in defense spending from NATO allies.”

This could [might] be true two years from now.

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said that’s what the European members expect to spend, and he credited Trump’s “clear message.”

“By the end of next year, NATO allies will add 100 — 100 billion extra U.S. dollars for defense,” Stoltenberg said on Fox News Jan. 27.

In constant dollars, NATO member defense spending has gone up about $24 billion since 2016. In current dollars, the amount is $48 billion. While we don’t know Stoltenberg’s starting point, $100 billion requires a steep rise, and we won’t know if it comes true until many months from now.Jon Greenberg

On Abortion

President Trump:  “Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth.”

This distorts the circumstances covered by the law signed Jan. 22 by New York governor Andrew Cuomo.

Previously, women in New York could only get abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy if their lives were threatened. Under the new law, women can also get an abortion after 24 weeks if their health is threatened or the fetus isn’t viable.

The law codifies for New York the same standards established by the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision.

Jen Villavicencio, an ob-gyn in the Midwest who provides abortions, told PolitiFact recently that late-term abortions are rare and usually due to medical crises. The Guttmacher Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both report that slightly more than 1 percent of all abortions occur after 21 weeks.

“Abortions are not performed at 40 weeks on healthy, viable pregnancies,” Villavincencio said. “Overwhelmingly, abortions that occur at this point in pregnancy are pregnancies where lethal fetal anomalies have been diagnosed.” —Jon Greenberg and Ciara O’Rourke

On Immigration

President Trump:  “Year after year, countless Americans are murdered by criminal illegal aliens.”

We can’t specifically document how many U.S. citizens have been killed, because there is no national database on murders committed by immigrants in the country illegally. There also is no national data or study tracking the nationality of the victims, experts have also told us.

And while some immigrants here illegally have committed murders, research indicates that immigrants are less likely to engage in criminal behavior than the native-born population. —Miriam Valverde

On Energy

President Trump:  “We have unleashed a revolution in American Energy – the United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world.”

This is mostly accurate. The United States ranks first in both, but that’s only new for crude oil.

In 2017, the United States ranked first in the total production of petroleum and other liquid fuels as well as natural gas. Within the subset of crude oil production, the United States edged past Russia and Saudi Arabia in the summer of 2018, according to the Energy Information Administration, the federal office that collects energy statistics.

But the United States has been the world’s largest oil producer since 2012, and the largest natural gas producer for years.Manuela Tobias

Lesson 2: Lying better and sounding sensational doing it can also be very self-nurturing, very lucrative, and somewhat bumpy stepping on and over the many imbecile suckers in your wake of destiny. To the patient, experienced critical-thinker the minute you have to embellish, to sensationalize, hype it up and (try to) push people’s buttons and triggers… you are showing all your cards. Game over. But not everyone understands the con-man’s, showman’s game. Otherwise this man would not be in the White House in the first place.

That said however, Americans are not hard to figure out. The Land of Capitalistic Opportunity” or anything goes unless you get caught does enable the massive egos of the clinically psychiatric to thrive. Many Americans love (are obsessed with?) a great bombastic rebel. Our national history is without a doubt replete with them.

Fyi Nan, the clip is only 2.5 minutes. 😉

To read the rest of PolitiFact.com’s fact-checking on President Trump’s February 5th State of the Union speech, click here. It deserves noting too that the immediate Democratic response to the President’s speech by Stacey Abrams was also without context and more specific facts — hence, leaning to rhetoric and propaganda.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Look Deeper for Your Own Good, Please!

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To’ak: Cacao of the Gods

At only $270 to $375 for a 50-gram bar, or just over 1.7 ounces, you can savor the confection which is fantastically unique, crazy delicious, and the rarest chocolate made on the planet today. It is unadulterated pure chocolate with a small dose of sugar cane.

The Ecuadorian To’ak Chocolate Company (pronounced Toe-Ahk) produces the luxury bar from the extremely rare Arriba cacao or Theobroma cacao, a tree previously thought extinct. Theobroma means ‘food of the gods’ in Latin and this tree only grows naturally in the tropical regions along either side of Earth’s equator in South America or West Africa. Connoisseurs describe this particular variety of cacao as having rich extravagant flavors and floral hints than any other known varieties. To’ak Chocolate, however, is not only eaten, but can also be made to drink from their finely ground powder.

cacao drinkThe To’ak method of production is to ferment the cocoa beans for at least two-years or more. The Vintage 2014 edition was aged for three-years in 50-year old French oak cognac casks. To’ak has also aged their dark chocolate in Laphroaig Islay whisky casks. As part of their growth model, the Ecuadorian chocolate company has partnered with Washington State University researching tannins. And if you think you might visit, see it with your own eyes, smell the aromas with your own nose, immediately taste with your own tongue, then do so while staying on the cacao tree-farm at Finca Sarita up in the trees for only about $15/night. But do not wait too long. A witching hour is afoot.

finca sarita treehouse

Finca Sarita treehouse, Ecuador

Witches’ broom is a fungal disease that attacks the T. cacao tree and like many waves of ecological problems and devastation, humans brought the disease onto these rare trees. In order to maximize bigger mass production of cocoa beans in the early 1900’s, industrialized nations and their titans of industry transplanted enormous monocultures of the T. cacao trees onto plantations in South and Central America. Unknowingly and unscientifically this put the trees at risk with unfamiliar pathogens to its immune system.

[Witches’ broom] has since spread throughout the Neotropics. Ten years after first being spotted in Bahia, Brazil, nearly 75 percent of the native cacao trees have been eradicated.

[…]

Witches’ broom disease is named for the abnormal, broom-like outgrowths that appear on infected trees. The disease cycle begins when spores of the fungus, which are dispersed by wind and water, enter the stomata—the pores of a tree’s leaves—or lesions on a tree. With high humidity and moisture, the spores germinate, and the tree undergoes severe physiological and hormonal changes, which divert the plant’s energy from normal growth to the production of the brooms.
New York Botanical Garden Science Talk: https://www.nybg.org/

cacao moleculeAs of 2015 there is no cure for Witches’ broom.  Consequently, the T. cacao variety might very well go extinct in a decade or two. Cacao farmers and botanists led and funded by their corporate executives have attempted to develop genetically modified, WB-resistant cacao trees with a cultivar named CCN-51. But it was unsuccessful in the end causing the cocoa to taste like rusty nails or dirt, if you know what that tastes like. Hence, this is the purpose for doses of sugar, vanilla, and/or cream. In To’ak’s fermenting method, whiskey and cognac divert any bitterness lingering in the beans. From To’ak’s webpage:

As chocolate-makers who also appreciate both wine and whisky, this struck us as an interesting concept. Winemakers and whisky distillers have been using the phenomenon of aging to their advantage for centuries. In the world of chocolate, the concept of aging had never been thoroughly examined prior to To’ak’s aging program. Starting in 2013, we initiated the world’s first-ever long-term aging program for dark chocolate, with some of our chocolate currently in it’s fourth year of aging. Since that time, we’ve consulted winemakers, enology professors, sommeliers, molecular scientists, conducted phenolic analysis in partnership with the enology department of Washington University, and experimented with twelve different aging vessels in countless different forms and conditions. Every year, we release to the public our finest expression of aged chocolate as one of our Vintage editions.

Would anyone reading want to go in maybe 50/50 or better, 80/20 with me on purchasing some of the finest dark chocolate and cocoa powder on the planet, probably in the universe? If I can’t get down there to visit and sleep up in the trees, I might just have to stop torturing myself, break open my piggy-bank and experience this Chocolat des Dieux.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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‘Twas the Twilight of Reckoning

dragon-cats-eyeRecently on another blog I follow (here), a friend Jim and another blogger I follow John Zande unwittingly (or not) inspired my slightly twisted side to compose a swift, somewhat dark version of a popular poem. It was made in haste so please forgive the lack of poetic eloquence that one or two of my other dear blogging friends who are poetically gifted, like this one, seemingly and effortlessly write every day while sipping tea with their sticky buns would choke and give me a boot in the buttocks. Pffff. (with a smirk & rolling eyesAs you all take your seats for tonight’s festivities, please enjoy this musical prelude:

If you are unaware, several of my blogging friends know of my… umm, darkside, my unconventional ways of… expression and its many, MANY forms. This is one of them. Here goes… It may not be everyone’s cup-a-tea. (maniacal laugh)

‘Twas the night before Hallow, when all thru the forest
Creatures were a growling, even Tyrann Osaurus.
The chains were hung from the ceiling with care,
In hopes that wickedness soon would be there!

The Munchkins were all about snug in their threads,
While nightmares of monkeys danced in their heads.
And Dorothy in her tight dress, and soon much less,
Had all settled in unaware their pending wild mess.

When off in the distance there arose such a screech,
They sprang from their slumber trembling but couldn’t speak.
Then up above in the darkening sky, came creatures grabbing,
Tearing and snatching, the dress ripped, ’twas Dorothy’s undoing.

The full Moon welcomed them as they lifted their catch,
Lil voices screaming crying “Please don’t defile my snatch!”
Then what to their eye’s terror the room they arrived,
The clanking and swaying these chains and locks contrived?

“Now please oh please Evil Professor,” wee voices begged,
“We are mere Church-goin’ folk, small snacks and no legs.
Just take HER the prudish nun, the one doth protest way too much,
You’ll have much more fun cuz she moans to the touch.

We Lil Munchkins should know,
Cuz everyone in her faith behind doors closed,
Are really deviant animals
Without the least bit control!!!

Thank you all for coming. Now, for your listening pleasure as you depart, we’d like to leave you with this…

Funny what you can unveil when you back ’em into unsavory corners, huh? The primal nature and appetite are never too far and easily wakened if you know how and where to look. (evil grin)

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Live Well — Love & Lust Much — Laugh Often — Loose the Libertine

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