Trump Keeps Ford Focus Jobs from Going to Mexico (They’ll go to China Instead)

Ford had planned to move production of its Focus to Mexico until Donald Trump stepped in to save the day during his presidential campaign. Candidate Trump criticized the decision to move production to Mexico, and Ford backed off. It cancelled plans to build a new plant in Mexico to produce the Focus, but it slyly did not promise to keep production in the United States.

Instead, Ford has announced that it will move Ford Focus production to China. The Chinese plant will then export part of its production to the United States. If the plant had moved to Mexico, the United States would have benefited, because Mexico buys most of its imports from us. The Chinese buy very little from the United States compared to what they sell to us.

Only two other western cars are manufactured in China and exported to the United States: the Buick Envision and the Volvo S60. Those cars were never manufactured anywhere other than in China. Ford’s decision, taken at Donald Trump’s prodding, will be the first one to move the production of an American automobile from a plant in the United States to China.

Perhaps Americans should think twice about buying Ford products. Perhaps they should also think twice about voting for anyone who supports Donald Trump.

Donald Trump was Right! I am to Blame

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump warned voters that if we voted for Hillary Clinton, the White House would be involved in endless criminal investigations. Did I pay attention? No! I stupidly voted for Hillary Clinton, and now the country is paying the consequence. The White House is indeed involved in endless criminal investigations. I wish I could undo the harm that I brought upon the country, but it is too late.

Trump Digs Himself into a Hole

it is commonly believed that when a person discovers that he is digging himself into a hole, that person should stop digging. Despite the attempts of Trump advisers to take the president’s shovel away, he continues to dig.

A few weeks ago, former FBI director James Comey confirmed that President Trump was not under investigation. Now he is. Who triggered the investigation? A man named Donald Trump did. By firing director Comey, he raised suspicion that he was obstructing justice by trying to stop the investigation into ties between the Russian government and members of Donald Trump’s campaign team.

President Trump increased that suspicion by admitting that he fired Comey to impede the Russia investigation. The results? A special counsel has been appointed, and Donald Trump is now under criminal investigation. Donald Trump drew attention to himself by making it look as if he had something to hide. Donald Trump himself triggered the investigation into his possible criminal activity.

Now, the Trump legal team is floating the trial balloon that Donald Trump wants to fire special Counsel Robert Mueller. So far, that trial balloon has failed to gain altitude despite support for the idea by Fox News. By launching the trial balloon, Donald Trump and his team increase the suspicion that Donald Trump is trying to hide some criminal act.

The latest argument for dumping Mueller is that that Robert Mueller is unqualified to conduct the investigation, because he a friend and former colleague of fired FBI director James Comey. It is true that the two have a history of working together. However, even senior Republicans such has Senate Majority Leader McConnell have expressed confidence in Mueller’s ability to conduct an impartial investigation. I do not think that most influential Republicans would take kindly to further Trumpian attempts to interfere with a criminal investigation.

It does no good to remind President Trump that he is his own worst enemy. His staff has repeatedly tried to convince him to stop sending out bizarre tweets, but to no avail. Donald Trump continues to shower the world with tweets that damage no one but Donald Trump himself.

Will Donald Trump fire Robert Mueller as well as Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein? That would be an incredibly stupid thing to do, which makes me believe that Trump will indeed fire them. Donald Trump is infamous for his inability to act logically. If he does fire them, it could  be the step that finally convinces Republican members of Congress that Donald Trump is a liability for the Republican Party and cause them to move toward impeachment..

Do you want to better understand the Trumpian mentality? I wrote a novel about a Trump-like character who ran for president and got elected. At the time I wrote the book, I firmly believed I was writing fiction and that Donald Trump would not succeed in his campaign. For more information, click on the Running for President book-cover image in the left sidebar of this blog.

Cancel Brexit?

Almost a year has passed since the residents of the United Kingdom voted by the slimmest of margins to exit the European Union. At the time of the referendum, few people understood the consequences of the vote. In the intervening year, inflation has increased, the value of the pound has fallen, and international companies are looking for a new country in which to locate their European operations. It has also become apparent that the British government has no coherent plan for negotiation Brexit with the other 27 members of the European Union.

Now that the British people have learned about the difficulty and negative consequences of leaving the European Union, I suspect that many regret having voted to do it. I believe that if the British were given another chance to express their opinion in a public referendum, the majority would see the wisdom of staying in the European Union and the negative consequences of leaving. There is only one way to find out if that is true: hold another referendum.

Inside the European Union, the United Kingdom has a strong voice in setting the policy of one of the world’s strongest political and economic blocks. Outside the Union, the UK will be a small, unimportant island nation.

Now that the British people have become more educated about the negative consequences of leaving the European Union, it is appropriate to give them another chance to express their opinion. The British government should schedule a second referendum on Brexit as soon as possible. It is not too late to undo the damage that the prospect of Brexit has caused. The other 27 euro countries would welcome the UK back into the fold.

Is it Time for McCain to Go?

John McCain has been a senator from Arizona for many years, but it became apparent in yesterday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing when he was obviously befuddled during his questioning of former FBI director James Comey. He referred to President Trump as Mr. Comey several times, and he obviously did not understand the difference between the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for government business and the investigation of the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to the Russian government.

Senator McCain has never been an intellectual giant. During his 2008 presidential campaign against Barack Obama it became painfully obvious that Senator McCain had no grasp whatsoever of economics. His choice of Sarah Palin, as his running mate was not an intelligent decision.

Senator McCain’s cognitive abilities seem to have declined even further in the intervening years. It’s time for him to step down. However, how can we make Senator McCain aware that he is in cognitive decline? Almost anyone in that situation denies it, just as I convinced myself that I wasn’t becoming hard of hearing.

Senator McCain won his sixth term in 2016. Because senators serve for six years, he will not be up for reelection until 2022. That is too long to have a senior senator from my state of Arizona in office while no longer having the mental capacity to do the job. We can only hope that Senator McCain himself becomes aware that he is no longer mentally fit to do the job and retires.

 

 

Europe Trip Wrap-up — June 2, 2107

There is not much to tell about my journey from Paris to Phoenix yesterday. The two flights — Paris to San Francisco and San Francisco to Phoenix — went smoothly. This entry is about my last full day in Paris, the day before yesterday. I was far too tired to write anything yesterday evening after my long trip home.

I walked from the hostel to Montmartre and back. Montmartre is the highest hill in Paris and is topped by the stunning Basilica of the Sacred Heart. There is a funicular which one can ride to the top of Montmartre, but I chose to walk the steep steps and staircases. There are also streets that lead to the top, so if you’re feeling particularly lazy, you can take a taxi or drive a rental car up the hill. By the way, Monmartre is also the location of the Molin Rouge, the once-scandalous theater where young women danced on stage to the music of the Can-Can and kicked their heels so high that their knee-length bloomers were plainly visible under the layers of skirts and petticoats. It is said to have created quite a scandal in its day.

I’m told the show still goes on as a tourist attraction. Montmatre is reputed to have once been the scene of sex shops, prostitution, and drugs. I’m also told that those activities also still go on but have moved to one of the streets at the bottom of the hill. I guess I took the wrong routes up and down the hill, because I saw no evidence of any of that. I did see the Molin Rouge itself on a previous trip to Paris, but this time I gave it a pass.

I snapped the photo below as I was just beginning my ascent, because I was impressed by the apartment building at the end of the street.

Soon, the more gradual slope of the streets gave way to a series of steeper staircases. The young woman seated on the steps was engrossed in her cell phone. I also got the first glimpse of the Basilica, which you can see in the photo at the top of the stairs.

I took the following picture of the Basilica when I reached the summit. The church is really immense. I felt that I had visited enough churches, so I didn’t go inside this one. By not doing so, I probably missed something spectacular.

In case you’re wondering why I would take a photo of a white van, this one belonged to Apple and was taking panoramic photographs of the streets. I’m a bit addicted to Google Maps, but those of you who are Apple fans may soon see Apple’s new photos of Monmartre. You may even see a picture of me! I imagine the van photographed me when it passed, just as it photographed everything else in the streets.

From the top of Montmartre, I had to take a picture of the view of a section of the City of Paris, of course. From my vantage point, Paris looked a bit smokey. However, I suppose the fact that I live in smoggy Phoenix gives me no right to complain about pollution in other cities.

I descended Montmartre by the steps shown below. Plenty of tourists were coming up the same route, which parallels the funicular. About half of the tourists seem to be speaking either Chinese or Japanese. I suppose that if you fly all the way from Asia to Paris, there are certain sights in the city that you must see, and Monmartre seems to be one of them.

I think the picture below is only the second selfie that I have inflicted upon my blog readers during this trip. I couldn’t resist posing with the Basilica and the green grass in the background. I was about halfway back down the hill when I took this. I admit that the picture would look better if I weren’t in it, but 20 years from now when I am too decrepit to do things like this, I will be able to look at the picture and remember the good old days.

At the bottom of the hill I came across this six-story (including the basement) retail outlet called the Marché Saint-Pierre that sells nothing but cloth. There were bolts of cloth outside along the sidewalk, and in the upper stories I could see nothing but cloth and more cloth. It calls itself the royaume des tissues or the kingdom of cloth. According to the store’s website, http://www.marchesaintpierre.com/ in French, the store has been around for 60 years and serves clothing specialists, stylists, and internationally-recognized decorators. I had no idea that there was enough demand for retail fabrics to support such a large establishment.

Am I glad to be back in Phoenix? Quite frankly, I wish the trip had lasted longer. I like living in Phoenix, but I also love to travel. My next trip will be August 1 to September 1 in Portugal and Spain, and I will almost certainly be blogging the trip daily on this site. In the meantime, I’m already contemplating a winter trip.

Paris, France — Wednesday May 31, 2017

I left the hostel on foot yesterday morning as has been my custom since I’ve been back in Paris. My goal was to walk to Notre Dame Cathedral, but I got distracted on the way and didn’t make it that far.

One thing that is hard not to miss when one walks through Paris these days is the large number of heavily-armed police officers walking the streets and roaming around public buildings such as train stations, usually in groups of three or more. The residents of Paris feel, of course, that another terror attack could happen at any moment. How effective the police patrols are in preventing attacks is open for debate, but they may give the citizens a sense of security. My impression is that the French government is pouring a lot of resources into security but without much organization.

What distracted my attention on the way to Notre Dame was the Church of Saint Laurent, pictured below. It was constructed in the Fifteenth Century in the Gothic style, but it is the third church of that name to occupy this space.

Inside, there were a number of people praying, most of them of African origin. If you click on the following photograph to enlarge it, you will notice that the figure of Christ above the altar is also black. As I was still in the church, a white priest appear on the altar to begin mass.

I would like to know what makes this church so special to Catholics of African origin. Everyone in the church maintained total silence, so I was unable to get into a discussion with anyone to find out.

Below is one of the many stained-glass windows of the church. The image is somewhat blurred due to the shaky hand of the old man who was holding the camera.

After I left the church, I decided to catch a subway train back to the neighborhood where the hostel is located. After reached my destination station, I used my ticket to pass through the exit turnstile and, thinking it was now worthless, tossed it into the trash. That was a mistake. There is a tunnel leading from the metro exit to the street, and in it were three agents checking tickets. What could I do? Would I be fined? I told the agent who stopped me that I had tossed the ticket not thinking that there might be a ticket control afterward I had exited the turnstile. He let me off with a warning, telling me to hold on to my ticket next time.

Back at the hostel, I cloistered myself in the guest’s kitchen to eat a late lunch and then spend a few hours writing the novel that I am pretending I will publish some day. I do that every afternoon, and every afternoon there is an actor’s workshop in the park outside the window. There are usually two actors working on a scene with a coach sitting on a park bench making corrections and giving advice.

I can only write so long. When I started to feel as if cobwebs were filling my brain, so in the late afternoon I went out for a walk and snapped the following picture of a church steeple.

In Phoenix, I have the habit of getting up very early and heading out on my bicycle before the heat gets too oppressive. That means I also go to bed early, and I continue Ben Franklin’s habit of early to bed, early to rise when I’m traveling.

My two roommates, an Argentinean and a German, both moved out yesterday, and in the afternoon I became a new roommate, a Frenchman from the north of the country who told me he was in Paris to attend a play. He has trouble walking and maintaining his balance.

He came from the play just after midnight while I was asleep, but I was soon awakened by a loud crash. I ripped off the eye shade that I wear to bed while traveling and found the Frenchman on the floor. He had fallen heavily and didn’t seem to be able to get up.

I asked him if I could help him, and he said he needed a moment. He reassured me several times in English, “It’s not angry.” I had no idea what that meant and asked him to say it in French. “Ce n’est pas sévère.”  Ah, that I could understand. “It’s not severe.” He wasn’t badly hurt. His English is at least as bad as my French. I think he felt humiliated that I had seen him on the floor and preferred not to accept my offer of help to get up.

After a few minutes, he got up, and I went back to sleep.

This is my last blog entry from Paris. Tomorrow morning I have to leave very early to walk to the station and take a train to the airport. The flight from Paris to San Francisco is almost 12 hours, and after a few hours’ layover there, I’ll have a short two-hour flight to Phoenix. Perhaps I will be awake enough to upload the trip wrap-up entry during my layover in San Francisco. If not, I will upload it sometime Friday afternoon. I will be too beat when I get home tomorrow evening to bother with the Internet.

Paris, France — Tuesday May 30, 2017

Today and tomorrow are my last full days in Europe. The day after tomorrow, I have to leave very early for the airport. It is cloudy out this morning. I hope that doesn’t mean rain.

Yesterday morning when I returned to my room after breakfast to get ready for my morning walk, I noticed a group of people doing Thai-Chi in the strip park behind the hostel. When I am home in Phoenix, I do Thai-Chi twice a week, so I was interested in watching this group.

I intended to walk all of the way to the Eiffel Tower, but after I walked a little over five miles, I decided it was time to go home and do some writing. I saw some interesting sites on the way. The building shown below is the National Academy of Music, located fittingly enough on the Place de l’Opèra. I wanted to get a clear shot of it, but as I raised my camera, that **(# bus pulled in front of me, and the driver seemed intent on staying there for awhile.

As you can see, I did get within eye-shot of the Eiffel Tower. The obelisk in the foreground appears almost as tall, but of course the Tower is much farther away. This is the 3,000-year-old Luxor Obelisk, originally located in Luxor, Egypt but now standing tall in the Place de la Concorde at the opposite end of the Champs Elsyée from the Arc de Triomphe. The Place de la Concorde is the largest public square in Paris. However, it is not a tranquil place. Heavy traffic passes through the square, and all the drivers seem to be in a rush. I have always felt that I was risking my life to cross the square, even with the help of pedestrian walk lights. It turns out, my fear is not unfounded, as you will see in a moment.

Below, a medic from the Paris Fire Department gives first aid to a portly woman who was apparently struck by a car while in a crosswalk just where the Champs Elysée exits the western side of the Place de la Concorde. She can’t be seen in the photo, but she was sitting on the ground with a bloody face and leaning against the post behind her. As is usual at such scenes, there were many more firefighters and police agents present than can be seen in the photo. Most of them seemed to be doing nothing to help the woman nor serving any other useful purpose.

This green car seems to be the one that struck the woman. Although it doesn’t show well in the photo, the windshield is smashed on the passenger’s side. The woman standing beside the car puffing on a cigarette appears to have been the driver.

I had no problems crossing the Champs Elysée for the first time in the many years that I have been visiting Paris. The westbound lanes were closed to traffic, and the eastbound lanes were at a standstill. The police officers present paid no attention to the fact that I was jaywalking.

Here is another picture of the Eiffel Tower taken from almost the closest point to it that I reached. In my defense, I will assert that I was closer to the tower than it appears in the photograph. I don’t want you to think that I turned around before reaching the Tower out of pure laziness.

Before I ended my walk and decided to hop the subway home, I passed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building. The people working in that building have to figure out how to deal with our president.

I left the foreign workers not only trying to deal with Donald Trump but also with Vladamir Putin, who arrived at Versailles just outside Paris yesterday afternoon on a state visit. I suppose I’ll read more about that visit today on French news sites.

Paris, France — Monday May 29, 2017

This morning the sky is blue and cloudless, but yesterday it was overcast, and there were occasional very light rain showers that were barely sufficient to dampen the pavement.

One of my goals on this trip was to make some progress on the novel I am writing, and I did, but I also got out and about in the morning and visited the area around the Arch de Triomphe.

I took the following photograph just after I emerged from the subway station. The Arc de Triomphe is located in the center of a huge traffic circle at one end of Paris’ most famous street, the Champs Elysée. The Arc de Triomphe is second only to the Eifel Tower as the most famous Parisian tourist attraction. If you click on the image to enlarge it, you may see that there are people on top. For 12 euros the equivalent of $13.40 in US currency, you can go to the top and survey Paris from a great height. However, there was a long line waiting to do that, and there was also a TSA-style security check. I am not a patient person, so I passed on seeing Paris from the top of the Arc.

You don’t have to run through the heavy traffic that circles the Arc de Triomphe to reach it. If fact, you might be arrested if you tried to do that. There is a tunnel leading under the streets from one side of the traffic circle to the other with stairs in the middle going up to the base of the monument. I took the following picture from underneath the Arc looking up.

France’s unknown soldier from World War I rests beneath the Arc de Triomphe. Here is a picture of his tomb. He is still honored, and the flowers surrounding the tomb are frequently replaced.

I took the following picture from the traffic island where the Arc is located. The broad street at the far side of the traffic is the Champs Elysée. There were so many large tour buses circling the Arc that I had to wait for a break in traffic to snap the photo.

After writing in the afternoon until my brain was in a fog, I took a walk and returned to the hostel to find the final stage of the Giro d’Italia bicycle race, an individual time trail, on TV. The Colombian rider Nairo Quintana was in the leader’s pink jersey at the start of the time trial. By the end if it, he was second. Quintana is a great rider in the mountains, but this time trial course had a number of 90 degree turns, and he didn’t navigate them well. He lost time on each one. The Dutch rider Tom Dumolin won the overall classification.

Everyone else here seems more interested in the French Open tennis tournament. How can anyone be interested in a junk sport like tennis when they could be watching cycling?

Later I did some reading. I finished the Gabriel García Márquez autobiography Vivir para contarla over a week ago and am currently reading Kommant in Auschwitz, the memoirs of an SS Officer who was one of the commanders of the Auschwitz death camp during World War II.

Paris, Sunday May 28, 2017

It rained a bit during the night, but now at 8:30 am Paris time, the streets and sidewalks are already almost dry. The sky is mostly cloudy. Perhaps the rain and clouds will alleviate the heat. I perspire constantly. It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago when I first arrived in Paris, the weather was chilly enough to require a jacket. Of course, I shouldn’t complain. In a few weeks I will be back in the inferno of June in Phoenix.

Yesterday, I went out walking from mid-morning to early afternoon and then returned to the hostel to spend a few hours working on the novel I am writing.

The picture below shows the modern building where the hostel is located where I am staying. It’s futuristic design has been successful in attracting yuppies to a neighborhood that is otherwise declining. The building is home to such business as Bob’s Bake Shop and the General Store.

Hostels used to be called “youth hostels” and still are in France (auberges de jeunesse), but today the clientele consists of people of all ages including middle-aged and older people traveling on a budget. The advantage of staying in hostels is the ability to meet people from all cultures and of all ages. For example, when I arrived the day before yesterday, my dormitory companions were a young man from India and a retired Algerian who now lives in Vancouver, Canada. Yesterday, my companions were a giant of a man from Argentina in his middle ages and a young American.

Below is a photo of the outside of the General Store. Businesses designed to attract urban professionals often sport English names. Like a “general store” in a yuppie shopping center in the USA, this one tends to sell items such as coffee, baked goods, beer, wine, etc. Smokers tend to sit outside, and people who are allergic to cigarette smoke, as I am, sit inside. Notice the beach chairs to the left designed for those who want to sit in the sun and work on their tans.

Others may prefer the Champs Elysée or the Eifel Tower, but I am attracted to bike and book shops. Book shops are in decline everywhere (although Paris’ famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore continues to do a brisk business selling books in English), but cycling is quite popular everywhere including on the traffic-choked streets of Paris.

The picture below shows a typical residential street of Paris away from the broad boulevards of the tourist area. Almost all Parisians live in apartment blocks like those shown in the picture. Rents are sky-high, so you have to be well off to live in this city or to have purchased an apartment decades ago when prices were lower.

There are very few really tall buildings in Paris. Most buildings are four or five stories tall. They were built, of course, before elevators were common, so the height of the buildings was limited by how many flights of stairs the residents were willing to walk.

That reminds me of an online story I read on a German website a few weeks ago. It claimed that many elderly people in Germany are stranded in their apartments, because they are no longer able to walk the stairs to reach the street. They lead isolated lives and depend on relatives or care-givers to do their grocery shopping.

I’ve often thought that I would like to have a second story added to my house if I had the money to do it. Perhaps I should rethink that. I am already 74 years old, and who knows how many years it will be until I, too, am unable to walk a flight of stairs?

Saturdays seem to be flea market days in this neighborhood. An elevated train, part of the metro system, runs just a few blocks from this hostel. Under the tracks, merchants set up improvised stalls and sell anything imaginable from vegetables to clothing, to nick-knacks to household appliances. The photo shows just a small part of the market. It stretches on for many blocks in both directions.

I have only a few more days left in Europe, and I plan to divide them between sightseeing and writing. One of the objectives of this trip was to get some writing done. Otherwise, I have a complete lack of responsibility, and I am not looking forward to getting back to the hassles of everyday life in Phoenix. Luckily, I only have to endure the hardship of a normal life for two months until my next trip to Europe.

Incidentally, the European press was quite critical of President Trump’s visit to Europe. One German news site mentioned that during a speech by the Italian president, delivered in Italian, Donald Trump did not have his headset on and therefore couldn’t have been listening to the English translation. Did Donald Trump suddenly learn Italian, or was he simply showing his lack of interest in anyone’s ideas but his own?

As the NATO leaders were lining up for a group photo, Trump is shown in a video shoving the Montenegro prime minister to one side so that Trump could get to the front of the group. Another head of state seemed to criticize him for his rudeness, but he reacted to her comment with a dismissive gesture.

Trump also has the habit of a grade school boy when shaking hands with a foreign head of state of squeezing the other person’s hand hard and not letting go as if trying to humiliate the other person before the cameras. He made the mistake of trying that trick with French president Emmaneul Macron, but President Macron squeezed back until Donald Trump turned white in the face and backed off. Maybe our president will now realize that his childish games don’t always work out to his advantage.

by Jack Quinn, Phoenix, Arizona USA paybay1(at)mosmicro.com