Saturday, 31 October 2009

My Bio Can

It is an amusing episode. Here in Germany, you end up with four required ways to dispose of paper, regular trash, plastic, and bio materials. So there is this revolving schedule every Friday of putting out one can or two. Thursday night, I put out the bio can for the truck to empty....Friday afternoon, it's gone.

So today, I wasted an hour walking around and looking over via the neighborhood. The can is marked on top and on the side....so it's strange that someone else grabbed it. It's nowhere to be found.

So I sat and thought about this. You have two choices with bio material. You can pay $70 a year and have a can which is picked up every two weeks. You toss leaves, left-over cooking items, and cut grass into the can. Or option two, you run a compost operation in your backyard and keep the items for your spring garden.

I contemplated my can and the fact that five houses are next to where the can was standing when the truck emptied it out. All five have trees and a garage. None of these guys have a bio can....all do the compost episode. Typically, fall leave collections amount to a pretty big effort.

I'm now guessing one of these five neighbors....have kidnapped my bio can....and in two weeks, it'll appear on the street....full of leaves. They save their $70 by doing a compost effort, but they are totally overwhelmed with fall leaves and tree limbs. So they've got this can in their garage and filling it.

Poor manners....in my imagination....but you can't walk up to a guy and accuse them of garbage can rustling.

How Glenn Beck Does It

For the past two months....I've probably watched an average of 45 minutes of clips per week of the Glenn Beck show. Call it the best of Beck or just what I'm interested in....I've come to analyze the show and the message.

First, without much doubt....he's drilling down into the pit and giving you an absolute map on the topics he discusses. As complicated as Time or Newsweek pretend to be....or those wonderful folks at NPR or CNN or MSNBC....Beck is taking complication, and dissolving it. A farmer in Iowa can grasp some subject in a simple 15-minute Beck clip that CNN will waste weeks and weeks trying to explain in five-minute bit segments here and there.

Second, there is this whiteboard attempt to lay the whole story out in simplicity. These boards, the pictures, the simplified graphics....nothing overwhelming....nothing involving a $80k work station and massive graphics.

Third, every single segment is designed for a soccer mom, a farmer, a fireman, or a flea market entrepreneur. It's for the common guy on the street.

Fourth, at the time slot it shows....you'd think the guy would do a lousy audience....but frankly, he's probably drawing more people to that time slot than Fox News ever imagined. The interesting thing is that it's folks from Iowa, Bama, and Texas....who are taking an hour off to listen to the guy. And if they can't listen....they tape it.

Fifth, Beck is making you ask questions. In most cases.....he's easily telling seventy-five to ninty percent of the whole story. Even if he only covers seventy-five percent of the story....you can locate the missing parts quickly and assemble what remains. For a NPR story.....if you are lucky....you get fifty percent of the real story....and may spend an hour or two trying to find what they intentionally missed. Same for Time, same for Newsweek......they all give you barely fifty percent of the story.

The problem for 2010....is that elections are staged and Beck just might have an influence on the heartland vote. A million switched votes? Yes, I'd readily predict that Beck will influence and switch a million votes that Obama or the Democrats took in November of 2008. In fact, I would wager that in six southern states....he will likely taken down a number of Democratic congressmen and toss at least two Democratic senators out of their race.

So, if the White House was ever serious in its judgment of Beck being a threat.....well....they'd best start right now in taking Beck down. But frankly, I think it's too late and Beck is likely to be a major problem for them to overcome.

Yes, all this madness about Rush being the threat....was just wasted hot-air. Beck is the guy to worry about.

Gitmo Observation

In case, you were wondering...yes, the Pentagon guys will offer up the H1N1/Swine Flu shot to all the Gitmo boys.

I thought this was awful kind to them. In fact, I came to realize that they actually have 4-star medical care....free of charge...and they didn't require 1,900 pages of text to provide it to the guys there. In fact, the guys don't pay taxes...didn't even ask free health care...and don't even know Nancy Pelosi.

Just an observation.

An End to the Saga of Honduras?

I sat amused yesterday....by reports from CNN and NPR over Honduras. Briefly, around five months ago, the political powers in Honduras decided that the President was becoming a major problem. He was in the last twelve months of his four-year appointment.....and wanted the constitution changed so he could run a second time (forbidden in Honduras).

So the President decided that he wanted the people to shift the constitution around and allow a guy to run as many times as he wanted. The problem though....was that only senators in Honduras were allowed to change the constitution....not a public vote. You'd meet one day and make a constitutional change vote.....if it passed, then you waited twelve months and made the same vote again....and if it passed a second time.....it was changed.

The President....Zelaya....decided this basically took him out of the running, so he wanted a public vote. The senate said no. The supreme court said no. And finally, Zelaya went out and published ballots to make this a possibility, with the military running the vote. Amusingly enough, the ballots were made in Venezuela....not Honduras. You might ask questions on why printers in Honduras weren't used but I think you know why.

So the military was ordered to hand out the ballots and the general refused. Things kinda fell apart quick....and the Supreme Court asked the military to just kick out the guy....rather than make a big mess out of a court situation.

At this point....every country in Latin America with a dictatorship....from Venezuela to Cuba....got all upset. Then President Obama came out and said this wasn't right, and Honduras basically stood alone.

It was a big mess....all triggered by Zelaya.

So the deal from Thursday? The one that CNN and NPR failed to grasp?

The current guy kinda steps to the side, and Zelaya is allowed to retake his office (there won't even be a swearing in, because he is the president, you know). Then the senate agrees to take up a vote to allow him to run a second time. Neatly packaged in this understanding is that the currently planned election in roughly five weeks....will take place no matter what. All charges against Zelaya will be dropped....even the corruption charges.

Zelaya's expectation is that the senate will vote and give him his option of running in the election....thus fixing this whole mess.

What NPR and CNN failed to tell you....is that they haven't modified any part of the constitution....there is still vote one, and a year later, vote two. Zelaya is standing there and even pretending to himself to think this two-step vote is dismantled and he got a sweetheart deal to make his dream happen.

I laughed through the NPR 2-minute update. They really didn't grasp any of this.

Honduras wouldn't have agreed to any of this....unless they were pretty sure of the senate vote. My guess....less than twenty-five percent will go for Zelaya's change in the constitution.

Most of these guys are in the heat of the campaign period and really don't want to settle on this guy again anyway.

So as the senate vote occurs.....and Zelaya realizes nothing changed....it'll be a remarkable moment. He wasted six months fighting this entire mess....got this entire deal to return....and basically gets five weeks more of being President, at best.

The other fools in the opera? The Latin American countries that all piled onto the anti-Honduras game? They are forced to play along now and most approve of the elected new President of Honduras in a few weeks. The US? Well....they will activate the cut-off funding and the special status of Honduras.....and pretend everything just got fixed.

It's a remarkable saga....of how things can fall apart, then fall together again....and then, just dissolve at the right moment.

Larry Langford


Outside of Bama....almost no one knows Larry. This week...Larry, the mayor (now former mayor) of Birmingham, finally got convicted. Sixty charges, which all passed the jury as guilty. These are bribe and corruption charges. No one is sure about the sentence yet....but most folks are thinking a minimum of twenty years....which he might be out by twelve if he is cooperative. I'm guessing Larry might even offer to turn over bits of knowledge that he knows....in hopes of getting eight years trimmed off his sentence.

So this blog isn't necessarily about Larry but how this game works.

There are two groups at work in life....the folks on the inside, and the players. Basically, you have a political figure or group of political figures....who know the system and rig up various expenditures or property deals. They know how things are going not just one year out....but even five to ten years out.

The second group....the players....are guys with money who can make various deals happen. They are gambling-minded folks. They will bring up a syndicate of ten guys.....each putting $100k to millions into a pot to make a deal happen. They have a "friendship" with the political figures and help with re-election efforts or rig up special real estate deals.

So I'm going to give you a deal in progress currently in Bama.....although I'm not going to tell you what town this is.

This is a town on a river....an old established town. There are two bridges crossing this river, to another well-established town. So with our original town.....at one end, there is a swamp of magnificent proportions.....well over 3,000 feet across.

At the edge of this swamp, on the city side, is an old dilapidated part of town....as poor as you can possibly be. There are probably two hundred homes in this region. The town can't extend any further in this direction.....because of the swamp. So for years, they've talked about building a bridge, but never had the capital.

Quietly.....various people have worked up deals to buy up the cornfields on the other side of this swamp. They lease the land to the previous farmers and get some cash off this, but the real owners are these guys in business suits....the players.

So along comes this political opportunity......stimulus funding. And someone had the design package drawn up and had been waiting. Someone within the city hall.

So the bridge will start construction soon. At some point, the mayor and council will agree that the street where this bridge empties out into.....must be completely bought up. So they will find at that point.....compliments of the syndicate who bought the cornfields.....that the same group likely owns the houses. They probably paid less than $40k per house. So the city will eventually work up a deal to buy these houses....compliments of the inside guy on the council or the mayor....for probably $65k each.

The syndicate makes money on this side of the swamp and the other side where the corn fields lay. By the time you figure in business establishments and upscale neighborhoods in the corn field.....tens of millions could be gained on this deal.

These relationships often help in various ways. Lets say that you are a poor mayor....barely making $150k a year, and there is this syndicate deal....costing $500k for each slot....over a four year period. The end result? Probably around $1 million payback for each slot. The mayor might have $200k of this $500k necessary, but he needs a loan. So the syndicate guys work up a 4 percent loan (as low as possible), and just loan it their "friend". The boys all wait the four years out till the big deal occurs....then the mayor pays back his loan with interest, and walks away with $400k profit out of this deal.

Across America, this happens all the time. Each time a mall is built.....it is preplanned for a decade and several syndicates might be at work with different portions of this deal. These are people who aren't working for a lousy six to eight percent profit. They expect a minimum of fifty percent profit, and usually have hopes of one hundred percent profit or more.

So Larry....who was a player and a inside guy for his entire life....has finally screwed up and will spend time in jail. His buddies....the other insiders or players? Well....they are hard at work in Birmingham....on the next deal. Even in prison.....Larry might be part of the syndicate and helping to motivate some insider to help the syndicate in some fashion. Larry might actually get out of prison....wealthier than what he is today.

This is sad part about our world today.....and you can't stop it.