Saturday, 31 December 2011

2012?

2012 will end up being this fascinating year where nothing is accomplished politically.  No significant bills will be passed.  No fixes to the budget.  We end up with a do-nothing political year.

The election?  Nothing much.  Newt wins the convention but it really doesn't do more than McCain accomplished four years ago.  Obama walks through the election without a lot of interest but he's just competing against Newt, which helps in the end.

The financial year?  I don't see housing and the mortgage business improving.  If you wanted a cheap $150k house in Phoenix....you've still got an opportunity for all of 2012.  Wall Street will stumble along and probably be slightly on the plus side by the end of 2012.  Unemployment will go down one percent, but no more than that.

Some Hollywood folks will fall.  Some college football coaches will be pointed at for child abuse.  Lindsay Lohan will be arrested again, and again.  Katie Couric will reinvent herself and find another job....then discover that no one really cares to watch her anyway.  Someone will write another Hitler book.  Some gal will accuse Herman Cain of having an affair with her for forty years.  Some Congressman will admit that he thought he was gay, but he's not.

More or less....2012 is just 2011, but just a bit more fancier.

I am curious how Occupy really does end.

I'd like to know if Bama can beat LSU to be number one.

I suspect that some American guys will be put up on charges in Mexico for Fast and Furious.

I'm betting that Obama's citizenship episode comes back up one more time.

And I think that the disapproval rate for President Obama will be around sixty percent when he's re-elected in November.  We may be all unhappy, but we really don't have much in the way of options.  So we suck it up and just move forward for four years of severe negative activity.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

The ID Saga

Around the US....almost every week, there's this arguement going on....over voter ID. The Republicans want a standard ID check at the door as you come in.  The Democrats don't want any ID involved, because most poor American lack the ability to get a standard ID....so they'd be unlikely to vote (or this is often used as the best argument).

A hundred years ago....some guy with a funny accent could show up at the county office....simply swear he was a local resident and citizen.....and they'd let him vote.  To be honest....nobody in America ever had a standard ID until driver's licenses came along.  GI's had this paper type ID with their serial number (not their social security number) and that didn't really flip into a picture ID until the 1970s (thanks to those kindly Kodak Instamatic guys).

I found it fascinating that after I joined up with the Air Force.....they issued out a second card to me....the meal card.  With this fine piece of cardboard ID....you got a free meal at the chow-hall.  Without it.....you paid.  Later, the Air Force introduced me to the line-badge....which meant I could drive out on the runway.  Then they introduced me to the Air Force driver's license.  Later, there was a security badge to enter secure areas.

Today, the only way I can operate a US military computer....is with a nice chip-like card which I insert into the keyboard.  Without that card, I don't get access.  If I forgot my billfold?  Well.....I might as well turn around and go home.

I've been conditioned in various ways to accept ID cards for just about any and all reasons.  The more you associate yourself with any act of public trust.....you end up having to accept an ID.

So I come back to voting.  Any idiot could register in five different states today and vote five different times.  My humble guess is that well over 100k Americans vote in multiple elections.  As for illegal voters?  I'd be guessing well over 200k illegals vote throughout the US.  We've accepted this as normal.  Some folks would like to dismiss the problem without fixing it.....but it just wouldn't be fair (so the Democrats would say).

The comical side of this is that you ought to be showing some kind of ID to enter a hospital or to get a narcotic, but you never hear that argument much.  Same for opening up a bank account or cashing a check.  The same ought to be clear for getting a credit card via someone.

Europeans?  Well.....if you show up at any election building.....you have to show your national ID card, period.  No exceptions.  The cost?  Typically around $20 and it usually lasts for ten years.  If you were pretty poor off....you'd get a certificate from the welfare folks and you get a free card (typically).

It's mostly all a game.  A bunch of illegal voters vote, and it's best that we just all accept that.  Eventually, the illegal voters will tend to vote Republican, and then you can bet that we hear some big words on the necessity of fixing the issue.  But you have to wait on this.....patience is the key.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

My Political Forum Questions

Back in 2008, in the heat of the election period....I wrote 63 questions which I thought any guy running for President ought to answer.  Frankly, these ought to be pulled out and used for the Republican guys running for President right now.  My guess is that they'd prefer my questions stay hidden.

1. Can you name all fifty states and their capitals?
2. Explain the concept of the bill of rights.
3. Name any neighbor who borrowed stuff but never returned it.
4. Identify five presidents since 1900.
5. Are you saving energy by using twenty-two times the amount of power that a normal American family uses?
6. What should you do when bitten by a rattlesnake?
7. Who won WWI and WWII?
8. Isn't Brittney Spears the most beautiful woman in the world? (Yes or no only)
9. Should Lance Armstrong run the 2009 Tour de France?
10. Hank Williams or Elvis, who was better in the end?
11. The Pacer, was it the worst car ever made?
12. Should Zombies be declared authorized voters?
13. Should Brittney Spears play Joan of Arc for Mel Gibson?
14. Is Elvis truly dead?
15 If you made any public speeches....were any directed toward circus folks, dwarfs, Texans, or abstract art?
16. Have you ever been in Memphis, New Orleans, or St. Louis (negative points if you have)
17. Do you keep at least six guns in your house or car? (bonus points if yes)
18. Do you believe in Bigfoot, Loch Nessie and aliens? (bonus points if yes)
19. If you had to dig a septic tank, would you call a cousin or a neighbor for help?
20. Have you ever paid more than $19,999 for a car? Cite the model and brand if yes.
21. Would you pay $350k for a $240k house? (negative points if yes)
22. Would you toss out forty percent of your paycheck to cover a mortgage?
23. Would you buy a $300k house with only $30k in down payment?
24. Who was the best Bond?
25. Have you ever been in a Wal-Mart? (Negative points, if no)
26. Explain in detail any speech that Alan Greenspan has given (positive points, if you can't)
27. Where is Gitmo?
28. Show a 8x10 photo of any tatto on your body or your wife's body (in color please)
29. Provide all of the names of your dogs that you've owned since 1988.
30. Describe on a plain piece of paper your feelings toward Tonga.
31. Do you know anyone from Red Bay, Alabama?
32. Provide a listing of friendships and girlfriends, since 1978. Use red ink if they are former friends now.
33. Which weighs more? A ton of bananas or a ton of peanuts?
34. Which Star Trek commander would you prefer to be Janeway, Kirk or Picard?
35. Have you ever shopped QVC?
36. Have you ever watched wrestling?
37. Have you ever forgotten your wife's birthday?
39. If you lived in a dry county, would you honor the laws of that county?
40. If your minister was a nutcase, would you be willing to say that in public?
41. If a bunch of union cars and US car makers came up to you and asked for $50 billion...would you ask why they can't make cars that folks want or just hand them the $50 billion?
42. Does it bother you that the car union guys get $17 million a year in Viagra, which is built into the cost of every single car made?
43. Do you have a problem with burning leaves in October in your front yard?
44. Have you ever bought a mower that you felt very dissatisfied with?
45. If Tab was the only drink left on the face of the earth....would you accept it and drink it?
46. On a hot day...cold beer or cold wine cooler?
47. Whats your belt size?
48. Can you cook up your own breakfast?
49. If a bunch of Harvard/Princeton/Yale/Colombia business school graduates came to you and said they had bankrupted America...would you halt the entire business school program at these four universities?
50. How many times should a guy be allowed to vote on election day in America?
51. Do you know any hippies?
52. Do you mow your own grass?
53. Are there any true explanations to putting a septic tank in the front yard instead of the back yard?
54. Is Keith Olbermann of MSNBC a dope?
55. Give five good reasons why any guy should stay 30 years in the Senate.
56. Have you ever dated a deranged man or woman?
57. When was the last time you attended a county fair?
58. Do you know any women who wears a blouse a size too small?
59. If you needed help...who you would not call and why?
60. If you had to talk real personal to someone....would you do it on the front porch or the back porch?
61. Why do most Democrats take money from bankers and most Republicans from oil companies?
62. Can you point to Mongolia on the map?
63. Are you a forgiving kinda guy or a revengeful kind of guy?

The truth is that a guy who can answer all of these honestly.....ought to be the President....no matter what party he is stuck to. The sad thing is that most of my questions would be avoided at all costs.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The Underwear State

Alabama is one of these odd places where political folks meet in Montgomery and come up with varied ideas for laws.....which tend to rub folks in the wrong way.

This past week....a Democratic figure came up with the new bill....going after punk young guys who wear the pants several inches lower than their underwear.  It is the fashion....throughout the US.  But in Bama, it's started to bother folks.  You just don't want to see some 16 year old kid with pants about five inches lower than his underwear.

So the proposed bill says there would be a fine of $25-$150, if some law enforcement figure came to find you in such a condition, and gave you a ticket.  You can imagine this scene....wannabe Barney (your town's one and only cop) gets this ruler and starts to chase after seventeen year old punks.....to measure their pants-display.  With all the possible crime in the world.....he'd waste his time with folks displaying their underwear.

The problem with youth today....is that they want to do something that makes them odd and different. If a bunch of old guys started to wear their pants five inches lower than their underwear.....then they'd have to do something different....probably wear women's underwear instead, or wear green turtle-neck sweaters.

I see this likely passing and becoming a law.  The Republicans could stand up and fight it.....showing they want folks to have the right to wear pants five inches lower and that the government has no right to regulate underwear display (Ron Paul would say this).  The same guys would then want to regulate tube tops for women because too much is being displayed.

I see 2012 being an exciting year in Bama.  Guys will figure out that you just don't wear underwear and show off a lot of skin instead.  Then the state will have to mandate that all Bama men must wear underwear.

At the end of this mess....we end up with a reputation across America....as the underwear state.  It sure was a lot better when we were just the cotton state.

If it's not one thing.....it'd be another.

Monday, 26 December 2011

65k Problems

The Army came out late last week, and admitted that maybe around 65k graves at the Arlington Cemetery might be "wrong".

It's one of those odd deals that you'd only admit to around Christmas time and hope that everyone was missing the story.

The jest of this story is that they've had a lot of problems and they felt they needed to really check out the entire cemetery.  So they pulled out the paper records, and then walked the entire cemetery.  There's some problems, but they just aren't sure about them.

A paper record might indicate that the guy's day of birth was X, when it was Y.  It might indicate a middle initial of T, but the stone says "J".

How many man-hours might be needed to sort through the 65k cases?  I'd be guessing that five guys could spend the next ten years sorting through this.  Some cases date back to the Civil War, so it'd be an interesting detective episode to get into.  The amount of paper records wrong?  You just can't tell.  The stones wrong?  Well....it might be fifty percent.  New stones?  Well.....yeah.....there might be a bunch of new stones made up.

All of this is going to worry the old GI's who had this dream of being buried off at the cemetery.  They might actually decide that being buried in Red Bay or Ripley, is good enough.  You sure don't want any wrong info chiseled into some stone and have your buddies come up to visit.  It get back home that your middle was "C", when for all those years.....you kept saying it was "A".  Guys will sit around the bar for years....wondering what the C stood for, and wondering why you never claimed "C".  Naturally, they will assume it's some oddball name like Clovis or Chipper.  It's the kind of reputation that you'd rather not get.....especially after you've passed on.

A House Loan

I've been in Germany for over a week, and the big news episode.....is this odd loan deal with the German President....President Christian Wulff (note, he's not the Chancellor).

A couple of years ago.....he comes up and wants to buy a 500k Euro ($700k) house.  He needs a loan.  The banks have no issue with the deal but they have to make a profit.  Some rich millionaire's wife, who is a friend of Wulf, with almost no percentage points.  You could call it a free loan of sorts, or a heavily discounted loan.  They fixed up the papers, and the house was bought.

Well....this all has gotten out and folks are determined that there is some corruption here. So far, they can't find much of anything.  Even the state prosecutor admits there is no law to prevent such a loan, and no law to stop a political figure from taking such a loan.  So the news folks continue to chat about this daily, and how unethical this all appears.

Adding to the mess....there are lots of folks from various parties who aren't talking about this at all.  My perception is that they really don't this to take off because they have the same kind of loan arrangement.  The banks are kind of peeved because they don't want folks to get any funny ideas about personal loans for large sums of money.

Disgrace?  Well, if the political figure hasn't done anything illegal, then it's not much of a disgrace.  As for being unethical?  It's kind like sitting at a bar and having some guy offer to buy you a drink, and you might be the mayor or the city council guy for the town.  Where do you draw the line?  A drink?  A golf game?  A meal?  A trip over to Vegas?  A house loan?

The comical side of this is that he has to go into some bank....work up a quick loan to cover the house, and pay back millionaire's wife.  You can imagine the bank guy sitting there and grinning for ten minutes before even starting a discussion.

Friday, 23 December 2011

A Different Ending

I watched Castaway with Tom Hanks for the sixth time.  I have to admit, it's one of my top ten movies.  I have this one problem though with the movie....the ending.

The end is where Tom realizes his wife became his ex-wife and moved on.  Tom is in a pick-up in the last three minutes....trying to deliver this one package left from his island experience.

This scene at the crossroads of some rural area in Texas is a heartbreaker.  You are pretty down because of Tom and his wife breaking up.  Tom delivers this item to the house that is unoccupied and leaves.  He drives back out to the crossroads, and is pondering his direction in life.

This gal drives up and they talk for about a minute.  There's something in the air.  You see this one glimmer of hope in his life.  They part.  He stands there for thirty seconds, and then drives off in her direction.

Frankly, I wished that they'd toss in another two minutes and show Tom and gal sitting on the porch as the sun goes down across Texas.  It would been a better ending.  Instead, you end up with a five-star movie, and wishing it could be just a little bit better.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Just Observations

The new version of the Apple I-Phone.....is not really selling well in Europe.  Various excuses being given, but it's probably going to be discounted rather quickly and dumped to secondary sales companies within a few weeks.  You can blame the financial crisis or just plain value of the 4S.....doesn't matter.  I sat in a German phone shop on Saturday and noted that almost no one was asking over the I-Phone.....most were looking at the various android phones.

It's a curious episode to note out in LA.  The city has spent millions on the Occupy crowd downtown....from clean-up to increased cop protection.  The mayor finally came up this week and hinted that cuts had to be found in the normal budget.....to continue to cover Occupy costs.  No one is much saying anything yet....mostly because it's just a chat situation presently.  You'd think that they'd pass a tax on the Occupy guys to pay for their increased cost.....but no one wants to suggest that.

Finally, the cops down in Louisiana got called out to the local Wal-Mart.....couple of drunk guys had taken over the disabled scooters that the store kept......and were playing bumper car.  They ended up arresting a guy or two over this.  For years, I've been waiting for an episode like this....because there is simply too much temptation.  Imagine Saturday night coming up.....you've had several beers, and you'd like to have some fun.  You drive up....with Gus, and take over the scooters at the store, and drive around for thirty minutes.  Wal-Mart ought to be charging for this opportunity.....and make some cash off their scooter operation.

The British

I'm taking my Christmas leave off in Germany again, and the big story of the week involves the British and the potential fall of the Euro.

Several weeks ago, there was this mass meeting of finance wizards from various European countries.  They came to this agreement at the end.....with the exception of British.  Things kind of dissolved quickly, and the British got labeled in some fashion as a dimwitted kid on the block who didnt' grasp the big picture.  The British kind of labeled everyone else in Europe as the idiot of the group who didn't grasp the mess at hand.

So this week, it got out that the British are putting together this massive rescue plan to bring one million British citizens out of Spain, when the Euro collapses.....and another 50k British citizens from Portugal.

The thought here is that these retired British all have accounts in Spanish banks, which are in Euros.....not Pounds....and that they will be left without any funds.  So planes, trains, ferries, and buses are being put onto a chart and somehow....though the graces of God and the Queen.....these one million Brits will be saved from dire circumstances.

I sat and pondered over this mess.  Frankly, these one million Brits are all fifty and over.  They are retired, living off their pension or their disability.....and frankly, they've gotten use to consuming good cheap Spanish booze, and lounging in nice warm temperatures.  Some have been in Spain for over twenty years and can't imagine a single day in England ever again.

So here is some British government guys who are planning this "rescue", where the double-decker red bus pulls up in some Spanish village....loads up 35 senior citizen Brits.....gives a few Brit ales on the way back....dumps them on a ferry, and then lands them on British shores.  There, they will be bused to some refugee camp in the middle of the highlands....where they will dine on soap and biscuits for weeks and weeks while ten thousand British government guys contemplate where to house them permanently.  Who pays for this?  That is the curious question.

How many British from the million would accept this deal?  I'm guessing less than ten thousand.  That's the insult of this entire plan.  Tens of thousands of man-hours put into building up a massive rescue, that the vast majority will refuse.

Somehow, I see this Monty Python movie coming out of this, where Gus, Henry and George are all activated in some Walsh village to bring some bus down to Spain, for a rescue.  They get lost and eventually end up in Italy where they accidentally rescue some Germans instead, and get into serious trouble with the British foreign office because they did the wrong kind of rescue.

And while all of this is going on.....the Euro just continues to stumble along.  That's the funny part of the story.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Tree

Years ago, in my youth while in the Air Force....some guys over the weekend prior to Christmas had decided to go out and procure a Christmas tree for the barracks.  I figured they would venture down to the BX and pay $20 to buy some small tree on the Boy Scout lot.  I was wrong.

They came back with some "wild" Spruce pine that they had cut down within the base.  It was a nice enough tree, but I kept looking at it and wondering about where they had found the tree.  They'd done this all at night and nothing much was said.

Monday came around, and there was this observation made within Civil Engineering over the weekend.  Some pine tree which had been in front of the wing headquarters....had been removed.  Various folks were upset about this....mostly all senior leadership.

I came back that afternoon to the barracks and viewed the tree.  It was probably the headquarters tree, but you couldn't be sure.  Around the middle of the week....the First Sargent came around for an inspection and viewed the tree. He probably knew it was the tree too....but kept quiet.

The day after Christmas....a couple of the guys took down the tree and removed all evidence.  Nothing was ever said again about the episode.

The comical side of this is that if the tree had been figured out.....people would have gotten disciplinary paperwork and been punished in some fashion.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

My Neighborhood

We have this oddball comical affair going on in Arlington.  The city is trying to buy a seven-story building (the Thomas building) around on 14th Street north.  It's a business-related structure.  Talk over this purchase has been going on for weeks.

The problem with the issue is that the county only intends to use five of the stories for business-related efforts.  The other two stories are supposed to be renovated and made into temporary apartments for homeless folks in Arlington.  You can figure it'll house around 100 folks.

Once word got out....everyone in this neighborhood got furious over the city's intent.

The cost?  Well....it's been sitting on a $25.5 million offer for a long while.  The present owners just aren't happy about the offer, but frankly, they apparently haven't been getting many other offers.  Adding to this mess is the idea that the city may launch into eminent domain to acquire it, and just end all this negotiation business.

The locals around this neighborhood are getting into their own legal situation....trying to stop the purchase and prevent this all from happening.

Arlington is this odd area for homeless folks.  Property values are such.....and apartments rent for so much....that you can't find a structure for someone who is pulling in $1k a month in this area.  You need to basically relocate outside of the region or head down to Richmond.  So if you did draw social security only, or some disability payment, or some military pension.....you just can't survive or find a place to call home in Arlington.  It's that simple.

I can understand the charity side of this, but frankly....thrusting homeless folks into some high-cost neighborhood, and thinking locals will accept having homeless folks standing around their condo area or some restaurant....just won't work.  You can gaze over at DC, and see how they've attempted this and screwed up.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Christmas Ornaments

I get my old hometown newspaper....from Bama.  This past week, they had a front-page story.  The local library makes up Christmas ornaments which they sell each year.....to mark something special about the community.  Folks buy these for around $8.  In Europe, it's a traditional thing there.  Usually, there's scenic things like some chapel, or a Christmas tree, or some kids by a fireplace.

The ornament featured in the paper?  It's the old city jail from around 90 years ago.

I tried to make some Christmas sense out of this.  City jail?  For Christmas?

There are a couple thousand possibilities for a ornament, but the city jail wouldn't be on my list.

Friday, 16 December 2011

The Republicans

We are a couple of weeks away from the primary season, and I will make my one and only prediction blog over this mess.

Newt wins Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire.  From that point on out.....he wins another twenty  states.  He'll stumble a couple of times, and Romney will pick up around twenty states.  Ron Paul might actually win one state.

They meet off at the convention, and Newt barely wins.  Independents aren't exactly happy over the choices, and some idiot in the spring of 2011 might come out with a third-party attempt.  I'm not sure who, but the fact is that most independents just aren't happy over Newt being the choice.

I'm predicting Bachman as the VP, sadly....and the stage dance become McCain version 2.0 as far as most people are concerned.

Other than interesting debates with the President....I dont' see Newt winning more than forty-eight percent of the national electoral college.  Obama will carry sufficient votes, and walk into a second term.

Most folks will be happy over the Republicans picking up another five Senator spots, and still holding the House.  Life will be the same....nothing changes.  The President will face four additional years of lousy legislative work accomplished, and most folks become whiners over the Washington crowd we have in place.

I realize it's a lousy prediction that might disagree with most.....but things all have this scent of McCain and Palin....which, frankly, doesn't go too far.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Baseball

I rarely ever blog over baseball....ever since the whole steroid episode occurred.  Two topics came up over the past week....and I thought I'd make a comment.

Barry Bonds is for his sentence tomorrow.  The comical side of this is that it's simply for lying to a grand jury, and not really for taking the steroids or doing all the home runs while juiced up.  The prosecution wants Barry to spend at least one year in prison for lying.  The defense thinks Barry ought to have some walking-around probation time, some fine, and community service...nothing more.

The truth is that we've got prisons full of plenty of bad characters, and we don't need to waste time with some loser like Barry Bonds sitting in a federal prison and wasting our time or money.  I'd give Barry home arrest for two years and not allow him to do anything outside of the home except medical appointments or rehab meetings.  Put a ankle monitor on the dimwit, and just let him roam his house for two years.

The sad thing is that he twisted up baseball completely and laid out a home run record which is mostly all bogus.  Up until age thirty....he probably was doing natural home runs, and after that point....you just don't know.

The second topic is this contract that Albert Pujols signed with the Angels for ten years and $254 million.  There might be six baseball clubs in existence who might be willing to spend in the region of money that Puljols wanted, but almost every club would pass on this deal.

The problem is that you lock a guy in, and seventy-five percent of the time....there's an injury or some motivational episode....and you get stuck five years later with some overweight loser that you'd like to dump, but you can't.  With Albert, you might have an exception, and the Cardinals were willing to make a fair offer.  The problem is that St Louis just isn't a club that makes tons of money.  In a really successful year, everyone is smiling....but that only happens fifty percent of the time.

About twenty years ago, you started to notice clubs passing on contracts that went past four years.  You'd notice guys with major issues, and three years still left on their contract.  Dumping the guy wasn't practical, and you couldn't trade the guy away.  So you started to see this amusing act of one club swapping a loser to another club, for another loser....just to freshen up the lineup and get someone different.

Albert will arrive in California, and my guess is that for most part.....he delivers, brings in millions of extra fans throughout the ten-year period, and maybe helps the club win a world series along the way.  He might be worth the money.  You can only hope this all works out.

The Story Behind the Story

Lindsey Lohan ended up in the news a couple of days ago.  To be honest, I don't really follow the gal too much and think she's mostly one of those folks without any talent and just hanging on for the initial ride.

The story?  Lohan flies out to Hawaii, for some kind of party or such.  She loses her purse, which happens to have $10k in cash.  She finds the purse eventually, without the $10k in the purse.  She was all upset about this, but was lucky that she had ID's left in the purse so she could make the flight back to the mainland.

So why would any idiot walk around with $10k in their purse?  Simple.  Drugs.

If you want some cocaine or speed.....you got to pay in cash.  The National Enquirer and the rest of the press didn't really want to tell the whole story.

The comical side of this is that she ended up in Hawaii at some big party....and didn't have any cash to buy drugs for herself or her special friends.  It probably turned into an embarrassing episode.  She had to beg for a bit of drugs off people that didn't normally buddy-up to Lohan.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

My Neighborhood

This is a pretty simple story of how one stupid thing will encourage an illegal thing.

Across the river, into the land of the "District" (DC)....a mighty council has sworn to defend the city from the invaders....chief, cars.

To park in the mighty land of the "District", you have to buy a $338 parking permit.  This fee allows a mere mortal to park in residential areas or campus areas upon the streets of the protected kingdom.

So for years, this mighty council has protected the "District".

Across the "District", we have had this invasion for years and years, mortals from other lands.  These young men and women have come to several different campuses, to engage and improve their intelligence.  They've talked their parents into paying a $100k for four years of nifty upscale learning.  And the young punks would like to bring their cars up....while they learn.

So the mighty council has come to decide that the out-of-district punks.....will not be allowed to buy these $338 permits at the end of 2012.  No permit....no car parking.  It is that simple.

What the mighty city council of DC has decided....is to entice the wealthy parents to come and discuss the matter with them.  Perhaps money....even $500 on the side....would help to motivate the city councilman into doing something.

My prediction is that a dozen guys will figure out this brilliant scheme....buy excess city parking passes, and then sell them to the punk kids.  Figure a fifty dollar fee somewhere in this mess, and you've got this great money-making venture that even some fifteen year old kid in DC might take advantage of.

Imagine Johnny Junior, twelve years old, and going down to the city office to buy ten $338 permits with his life savings.  No one will question Johnny Junior about this....mostly because it's DC.  Johnny Junior will put up a stand on some street corner and sell his ten permits for a $500 profit.  The next day.....he buys another ten and sells those.  Over and over, Johnny Junior does this.  A year passes, and the DC city council is told that some punk twelve year old kid owns two-hundred parking passes in the "District".  Suspicions arise, and eventually....the cops come to question Johnny Junior.  You can imagine Dad almost weeping here....the brilliance of Johnny Junior, and the cops wanting to cart him off to jail for illegal parking permit profit.

You just can't make stuff like this up....that's the sad thing.

Not a Nice End

If you have twenty minutes, there is an outstanding article over at FT.com which discusses the possibility that America just might not recover on the jobs market.

If you live in the heartland....you know that TV production in America left in the 1980s.  Laptops and printers are mostly all manufactured overseas today.  Your coffee machine?  Likely made in a foreign country.  Your lamp over the desk?  Foreign country.  The brake pads you bought last week.....likely made in a foreign country.  Your t-shirts?  Probably a fifty-fifty split.

The truth is that we got the logistical price of shipping down, and then turned shipping into an art.  A guy running a Dollar General store in Mississippi can forecast the amount of liquid soap he needs each week, and some distributor sitting in Texas can put a case onto a delivery truck for the guy within thirty minutes.  The liquid soap manufacture could be sitting in Mexico, and just drives a truck across to the warehouse in Texas every other day.....to meet the quotas.  This all helped to cheapened products and lessen storage requirements and overhead.  The sad thing is that it helped to get rid of ordinary jobs that most Americans filled.

Here's the thing that ought to worry you.  We are getting smarter on this manufacture business, and there's just much of a reason to reverse this whole trend....unless some massive earthquake occurs in China and destroys the TV manufacture business.  That might shift production....but it's a "if".  Otherwise, we are heading toward a nation that simply doesn't manufacture much of anything.

Your buddy, Karl, who barely graduated from high school?  He won't go into some plant and manufacture TVs.  Your buddy Dave, who wasn't that smart in school.....won't be out there manufacturing brake pads for Chrysler.  All of these guys will be stuck with almost no occupation except making pizza or picking up your trash.  It's not a pretty picture, if you think about it.

Just a Simple Opinion

Congress did pass a budget bill last night......234-193....last night.  It'll go to the Senate now.  The issue with it....is that it contains the language that the Keystone oil-pipeline project will go through.  If you remember the President's comments a month ago.....he won't allow any decision to be made on the pipeline until after the 2012 election (twelve months away).

The senate will get this, and I kinda expect this to be close.  They would need sixty vote to pass it.  There aren't enough Republicans to get past the fifty point.  However, there might just be ten Democrats who want to see the pipeline start up.

So there is this threat in the next three days of the Senate passing this....and the President having to veto a jobs-creation situation.  A shovel-ready jobs-creation situation, I might add.

There's virtually nothing the President can say here to make any sense.  Come the week after the election of November 2012....and he announces that he'll now approve the Keystone project.....it'll make him look fairly foolish.

Frankly, I suspect that the Canadian company involved in this mess, simply aren't going to wait around.  They will likely find another way to export the oil out.   The 18k jobs that would have been created?  It'll upset a bunch of folks to watch all this happen, and unemployment being forced to continue on.

I'd hate to even suggest this.....but even Jimmy Carter would have likely approved the Keystone project.

And if the Senate does pass it, and the President vetoes it?  No budget, and we enter this pretty bad week where a bunch of Senators have to sit around Washington when they had plans already made up in their home states.  You just can't make stuff like this up....that's the sad part to the story.

Well.....Yeah

Not that it really matters much....but around eighteen months ago....as the economic crisis was thrilling Americans and some Congressmen decided to save America with a stimulus package....there was this one little piece of the stimulus....destined for Washington DC.

There's this local company....Fort Myer Construction Corporation....which eventually got around $425k-approximately....to spruce up and fix up this nifty park in the middle of Washington DC.  We are talking about an area between one and two acres.  The water fountain was going to be fixed....new trash cans puts out....new fencing....new light poles, and fresh new sod.

The park? McPherson Square.  A block or two north of the White House.

Well, yeah, this is the park where the Occupy guys have taken over.

Well, yeah, the sod has been completely destroyed.

Well, yeah, the garbage cans are pretty much trashed up.

Well, yeah, the whole park will have to be renovated from top to bottom when Occupy finally leaves, and it will cost a minimum of $500k to fix.

Well, yeah, it is forbidden by National Park Service rules to camp out....period....at McPherson Square.  Even homeless people are forbidden from camping out there (they can sleep on the benches, but that's the limit).

Well, yeah, no one from the National Park Service can explain how Occupy got around the rules that usually work for 99-percent of Americans.

Well, yeah, some Republican congressman finally did figure out this mess today and asked the National Park Service to explain how all this came to be.

The sad thing is that you just can't make stuff like this up.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

It's Just a Game

I sat and watched the big fight at the end of the Cincinnati-Xavier basketball game....several times.  You rarely see a fight in basketball...mostly because the ref's keep things under control.  This was the end of the game, and ref's were barely keeping control of the game.

In the aftermath now, there are prosecutors talking about charges against players.  State charges.  You could get time in jail, forced anger management episodes, or possibly a fine.

I'm guessing the NCAA has a guy reviewing the tapes and discussing some excessive punishment to be dished out.  The universities involved.....have tried to preempt that and dish out some substantial punishment.  I'm guessing that the NCAA bosses might want to make an example out of this, and maybe toss on another five games of suspension.

The problem that I see is this "gangsta" type attitude that some players in the college ranks have taken.  Disrespect is openly discussed....so retribution has to be part of their game.  Frankly, in the college ranks...this won't work.  A number of fans will be turned off and probably identify certain teams as thugs only, and not basketball players.

In the end, the game isn't a sport anymore....it's just entertainment.  I suspect no one wants that.  But how you turn this behavior off....just isn't as obvious.

Monday, 12 December 2011

The Cost

Some folks sat down and looked a Rod Blagojevich and the eventual cost to the nation.  As he runs off to prison....we (regular tax payers), will pay $25,378 a year to safely tend to his sentence in prison.

We end up with a bill for at least a quarter of a million....to feed, house, and guard Blago.

At some point in six years....we also end up paying him $15k a year as his pension for being a congressman.

The sad thing is that it's a waste of time and money.  It would have been simpler to just send Blago off to house-arrest and mandate he stay in his house twenty hours a day....no public contact, no speeches, no travel.  Instead, we simply increase the prison population by another body, and feed the guy three square meals a day.

It would have been just as fair to just force Blago to quarantine himself for a decade and not speak to reporters.  But we can't cross the line to realize the type of characters that ought to be in prison.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Truth Issue

Months ago, my brother had updated me over local town issues back home in Bama.  The town council, the mayor, the one and only policeman, the auxiliary cops, and the citizens of the town were in a uproar.  The meetings became lively and entertaining....which most folks were thrilled with all the animation and accusations.  Hostile feelings were laid out, and fears of vast crime waves were discussed in open dialog.  You would have thought you were in the midst of Memphis or Atlanta with all the crime talk.

Eventually, the auxiliary cops were released (fired would have been the more appropriate word), the one and only cop left town to be a problem for some other town, and things settled back into the regular dull stuff that you'd expect.

The truth is that across America....more and more folks are being drawn into political confrontations.  Maybe it started with Rush, Oliver North, and Fox News....but with Time, Newsweak, MSNBC, ABC, and the Huff-a-lot Post....lots of folks are prepared for a fight...just in their local towns of 500 residents.  Neighbor against neighbor.  Cousin against cousin.  Minister against minister.

This week....and it won't appear in your local news or the national news....a town out in Rhode Island has crossed the next boundary in this political fight business.  The North Providence town council has determined that it'd be real helpful to make everyone speaking at a town council meeting.....to swear to tell the truth, before they can speak at the meeting.  There are two divisions here.  There's the business side of the council meeting where this truth requirement will be enforced, and toward the end of meetings....there's this open forum where you can just stand up and get your couple of minutes of open speech, without swearing on the truth.

The hint here is that when you come up for a business license or to stop a business license....you have to swear to tell the truth.  If you want to rezone your property....you have to swear to tell the truth.  When you want a permit for a parade, you have to swear to tell the truth. Then when the end of the meeting comes around and you want to talk about stupid cops or drunk teenagers or wild religious events occurring in the woods around town....then you don't need to worry about the truth.

You can imagine this scene.  Some fight has erupted over the three cops in town, and everyone coming to talk business over the failures of the cops....having to swear to tell the truth.  A truth czar in the corner of the room to monitor truth?  Or maybe some vast limit to the discussion because no one....even the city council....knows the truth?

I can see the first problem coming up where some guy wants to talk about business licenses, and then tells the city council that he's of a religious sect that cannot be forced to swear.  Some smart guy on the council will then ask if he can "honor the truth"?  The guy will tell the councilman that this sounds like swearing....while trying not to grin.

I would imagine that eventually....there will be a limited audience to town council meetings.  You get the council and maybe twelve folks allowed in the room.  You can watch the meeting on some closed circuit TV deal, but no other participants allowed.

The problem is that we've become kind of confrontational.  Just accepting bad town management won't work anymore.  Just accepting corruption with the Mayor hiring his cousin to manage the town parks department....won't work anymore.  Just accepting dimwitted wannabe cops won't work anymore.  Just accepting poor judgement with the volunteer fire department chief....wont' work anymore.

So the next step here....is just force people to tell the truth.  It's merely buying twelve months of time until you realize that folks are lying on a daily basis.  And then what?

My suggestion?  Open up town council meetings with free beer for everyone but you have to drink a cup of beer every ten minutes....while the whole meeting is done as the audience is standing.  If you can't do the ten-minute cup, you have to leave the room.  I figure around forty-five minutes into the meeting....things will turn interesting.  And no one will remember much of anything the next day.  The bad part is that most everyone in town will want to attend these meetings....for the free beer.  But this is America, and maybe this is the best way for democracy to work....cup by cup.

Only in America.

Simply Observations

A minor story of sorts has been out for a few days.  Qaddafi's son apparently tried to hustle up a entry visa into Mexico.  Several folks were involved, and at some point....I imagine the CIA folks kinda knew what was going on and just called up their Mexican counterparts, and then laid out the whole mess.  I sat and pondered over this.  What if they hadn't screwed up, and Qaddafi Junior arrived in Mexico.  My guess is that he had this stash of ten million dollars in cash, and within six months....he would have attempted this crossover into Texas.  You can imagine this scene.....down at the Quicky-Mart....here's some Latino-looking guy who speaks mostly lousy Spanish.  You buddy up to him and even introduce him to your cousin Wanda who is a trailer-trash gal and desperate for a husband.  Months later, you discover he's Qaddafi Junior, and things are pretty messed up then.

Yesterday, some Senators in DC finally woke up and gave their blessing over the snow plan for DC.  It's a comical episode.  From ten months ago....we had this weird frontal system that suddenly shifted and around noon at the Pentagon....the weather guys freaked out and announced that serious snow was coming by 4:30PM.  So there's this order given throughout the Capital region.  If you lived far off....leave at 1:30 in the afternoon.  Everyone else was supposed to leave by 2:30.  Well....half the folks left on schedule, and the other half waited till 4:00.....which was naturally too late by that point.  The new plan is that when they say leave.....you leave....or you stay in place until your normal time to leave (5:00PM typically).  The Senators were all happy over these greatly changed plans.  I sat there and just kinda laughed....basically, nothing changed.  People will leave when they want to leave, if snow is approaching.  The comical side to this is that the Senators wasted lots of time listening to this mess, but won't do nothing over taxes or the budget.  Go figure.

Finally, it was announced that a movie will finally be made on former DC Mayor Marion Barry.  Today, Marion sits on the city council....and is fairly cleaned up.  Back in 1979, he was destined to be mayor of DC for life.  He couldn't be knocked down....no matter what he said.  He had found the perfect ratio of votes in the district....which was to guarantee him a lifetime situation.  By 1990, he was burned out....sipping heavy on alcohol and doing cocaine daily.  He was busted by the cops, and his lifetime mayor situation dryed up.  In 1995, he decided to come back.  Curiously, within weeks....he discovered the city budget was non-existent and that he'd have to beg money from Congress to survive.  He did one term as Mayor....finding all this extra work as exhausting, and then retired to be a city councilman (where he still stands today).  Who will play Marion?  Eddie Murphy.  A comedy or a drama?  That's the problem here....it ought to be a bit of both.  Curiously, Marion has been trying set up a slam-dunk recently for Marion Junior to step right in and occupy his council seat.  The odds?  Actually better than sixty percent chance that it will happen.  The thing about DC....is that it needs a guy like Marion.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Phallic-Advice

A couple of years ago, I stumbled across this Muslim advice column.  It was run by some Muslim cleric in Europe who mostly took questions from his audience, and prounced how Muhammad would handle a certain problem.

Typically, some Yuhab dude would ask what he should do when his twin sisters are wearing bright-colored shoes.  The cleric did his "Marshall Dylan" type stance....try to reinforce the general rules of simple colors.  Then some guy from France asked what he should do when he had funny feelings when showered with the guys after a soccer game.  The cleric would come back and suggest that it would be better if he went straight home after the game and avoided the locker room.

For a month or two, I hung out weekly reading this advice.  It was stuff like Ann Landers, and frankly, I can understand why some naive guys needed advice like this.  You can't run off to Dad or Mom to ask stupid questions like this.  And you can't talk about this kind of stuff with your cousin.

This week, someone happened to run into another cleric column, where there was this bit of advice given. The advice was: Islamic women ought to stay away from bananas, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, and phallic-shaped vegetables.  For those of you from Boaz, phallic-shapped means kinda like the shape of a man's special tool.  The reason given for this advice?  Well....if an Islamic woman saw these items....they might suddenly think of sexual things.

Naturally, this advice got out today, and tens of millions of folks read it.  Some folks who are moderate Islamic-types....kinda got offended.  It's suggesting that you need to dump bananas, which is a pretty serious thing, if you think about it.

Now, I grew up in Bama, and I could actually imagine advice like this being given out via Baptist ministers I had around in the 1970s.  Women shouldn't mow grass with push-mowers, because of the vibration they give.  Women ought not sit in the middle of a pick-up which has four-on-the-floor because the shift knob might bump them and vibrate at the wrong time.  Women shouldn't watch Burt Reynolds because that musty hunk of man might make them daydream of Hollywood star guys.  Sadly, it was always advice geared toward women....while the advice toward men was mostly...don't drink or cuss.

I can understand the cleric's advice here.  He probably got it from his cleric when he was twenty-one.  His cleric back in the 1920s....got it from his cleric who was born in 1875.  This is probably some kind of advice that has been around for 1,600 years.  The sad truth is that maybe a quarter of all Islamic men have never allowed bananas or cucumbers in their house ever, and they daydream about having a nice green banana all day at the office, but can never come home to find one single banana on the counter.

My advice here...if this is the biggest thing that you worry about.....you really don't have much of a life.  I'd suggest you hook up the U-Haul trailer, pack the family up, and move to Memphis.  You need some adventure, and there's some pretty lively action going on nightly.  Bananas, cucumbers, and zucchinis ought to be the least of your concerns.  Get a life.

The Secret Answer

We had another shooting here in Virginia yesterday....down at Virginia Tech.  Cop shot after pulling a car over.  At this point....no one is sure about motives.

Adding to this....some guy was seen walking along the interestate....south of Arlington yesterday.  State cop pulls up, and attempts to talk to the guy.  Confrontation occurs, and the cop attempts to push him into the back seat of the cop car.  Things go out of control....both the cop and the suspect end up getting shot (we still don't know where the gun came from or if it's the cop's gun).

Shot rung out yesterday over across the river at the Anacosta Metro station.  No motive, no suspect.  No one injured.

Commentary early this morning is strong about the need for gun reform in the United States.  I noted a couple of British papers already talking about the out-of-control situation that we have.  Guns need to be maintained and locked up.  Most Europeans and a fair number of Americans want to point out how so few Europeans die from guns.  We could do more, by observing the European model....the hint tossed out.

I've spent almost twenty years of my life in Europe.  I came to note this one odd difference between Europe and the US.  Drugs.  On any given day in Frankfurt, if I gave a random drug test to 1,000 people off the street....it'd be an interesting result.  My guess is that twenty-five percent would show some weed usage.  One percent might show some cocaine use.  And twelve folks would show LSD usage.  When you observe these numbers....it says something.

The same test in the US?  I'd be guessing around thirty-five percent of the folks would show weed use.  And then you'd find this odd ten percent group who would show PCP, Meth, Crack, Cocaine, or some heavy-duty drug usage.

If I inflicted PCP, Meth, Crack, Cocaine or heavy drugs on ten percent of Germany's population.....the yearly murder rate would escalate significantly.  It might not equal the US rate because of their gun control.....but these folks would find sledge hammers, knives, or just a golf club to kill someone with.

When you look at the murder numbers in Iowa in the 1960s and compare to today....it has barely moved up a notch or two.  When you look at Detoit, Memphis, DC, or LA.....the drug boom since the 1960s goes hand in hand with the murder rate in these cities.

The cops really don't want to drug-test these murder episodes when they catch the guy because it simply adds another layer onto the legal defense.  The dimwit can blame the drugs and get a lessen sentence because everyone feels sorry that the idiot was doped up on PCP when he shot five people in a 7-11.

So when the European stands up and wants to really stomp down hard on gun control.....ask them if drugs make any difference in behavior.  He'd like to just skip over that topic, and regain control of the conversation.  The truth is.....if we didn't have the serious drug problem.....the murder results would diminish overnight.  

The Nut

For months, I've been watching the Bradley Manning case develop.  He is the punk kid, who got into the Army, was accepted in the intelligence field, was given a clearance, and eventually downloaded tens of thousands of classified messages which he turned over to the Julian Assange crowd (WikiLeaks).

We are edging closer to the Army court case, where Bradley Manning will likely face justice.

This week however, the defense team and the media have kind of laid this list of problems with Bradley.  Frankly, he was a "nut" from day one, and the Army should have seen this, and never allowed him beyond basic training.

At some point before the whole WikiLeaks episode pointed off to him.....he started to unravel.  His unit actually sent him to a post psychologist for an eval. The kid was so unbalanced, that the psychologist recommended that his weapon be taken away, and that he relieved of night-shift duty. With the same stroke of the pen, he recommended that the kid be given low-stress work because that's all that he could handle.

The Army documented several episodes where he attempted to assault someone or actually did assault an individual.

At one point, someone attempted to revoke his clearance, but it appears that it just didn't happen.

On the face of various comments made, it's obvious that he should have been put out of the Army when the mental issues started to surface.  At the very least, his security clearance should have been automatically revoked.  But it never occurred.

Years ago, I worked in an office where we had an individual who displayed a huge amount of mental and emotional issues.  The individual was classified as suicidal and required a huge amount of Air Force mental health attention.  With the aide of prescription drugs (maximum amount that could be prescribed), the Air Force forged ahead and simply refused to engage the idea that the person was "nuts".  As a contractor at at that point, all I could do was observe.

From start to finish, it took almost two years to finally kick this individual out of the Air Force.  The final effort?  The supervisor decided that since emotional issues and being crazy were totally acceptable.....he merely documented the person's weight issues, and in three simple months....had the sufficient reasons to kick the person out.  Again, no one would revoke the security clearance or stand up to declare the individual a nut.  They had no issue in training the individual on weapons or allowing them to handle classified.

I'd likely make the case today that well over 2k folks reside within the Department of Defense (my numbers and not theirs), who are mentally unstable and ought to be kicked out.  For the most part, we are simply waiting in a stand-by position....refusing to acknowledge they are crazy.  It's acceptable, and that....is really crazy.

Lying and Misleading

There was this episode in DC yesterday....concerning the Fast and Furious situation. The Attorney General had been called down to explain things to Congress.

Representative Sensenbrenner: “Tell me, what's the difference between lying and misleading Congress, in this context?”

Attorney General Holder: “Well, if you want to have this legal conversation, it all has to do with your state of mind and whether or not you had the requisite intent to come up with something that would be considered perjury or a lie," Holder said. "The information that was provided by the February 4th letter was gleaned by the people who drafted the letter after they interacted with people who they thought were in the best position to have the information.”

It's hard to corner the average American citizen and ask them to explain the difference between lying and misleading.  The guy at the local used car lot....misleads on a daily basis.....he never lies.   The Mayor of your local town who is trying to explain why he spent $100k of city funds on fancy artwork for his office....always misleads, and never lies.  The guy caught driving 90 mph in a 60 mph zone, always misleads, but never lies.  Your local weatherman on Channel Four, always misleads, but never lies.

Your Senator is never lying when he tells you that he is representing you in DC....but he is misleading you because he's also representing four Taiwanese billionaires, a Texas oil company, the Ford motor car company, a Brazilian beer company, sixty-two millionaires spread out through the US.  Your Representative is never lying when he says that he's working for tax reform, but he is misleading you because he writes tax code every week to help some American special interest group get more tax credits.

You can never go to jail for misleading people.  There's no law on the books for misleading.  You typically can't be fired for misleading.

Lying is special and different.  The problem is.....when you ask a dozen people off the street....they just can't really explain the difference between lying and misleading.  That should tell you something, which Attorney General Holder can't really talk about.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Spanish Problem

I read British newspapers almost daily.  Occasionally, you come across one of those oddball stories that you need to analyze a bit.  The Telegraph featured this story.

There's a Spanish county out there....which has gone over its school budget and they are frankly in a worried state of mind.  So much so.....that they need to cut back on some things....to ensure a balanced budget.  So one of the things they picked out....was excessive use of toilet paper by kids in the school.  So they've come to issue a limit on consumption.  You, as a student, get approximately 80 feet of toilet paper use per month (actually 25 meters, but it comes out pretty close to 80 feet).

I did some checking.  A standard quilted Northern double roll has 352 two-ply sheets and runs about 117 feet long.  So you'd get approximately three-quarters of a roll for the whole month, or around 240 sheets (more or less).

That means over the course of twenty days of school.....per month.....you'd get 12 sheets per school day.  My guess is that the average kid uses double that....typically. Some adults might even use forty sheets a day.

I see two possible solutions to this.  First, you could just say adios to the school providing any toilet paper and force everyone to bring their own rolls to school.  Course, then everyone would be sharing, and tossing various diseases back and forth as they shared their roll.  It'd be kind of comical as you asked Johnny Junior each morning if he had a fresh new roll of toilet paper in his backpack, and then dad would eventually add up the excessive toilet paper being used by the whole family.

My second solution would be to add some items to the diet of the kids.....so they didn't use the bathroom but once every two days.  Course, you can imagine some 4th grader sitting in the school bathroom for sixty minutes with a pretty complex problem bothering him, and the teacher wondering if he'd ever come back to class.  The positive is that he'd cut his toilet paper consumption in half.

Hopefully the Spanish folks don't get around to analyzing their water bill and figure out that Johnny Junior is flushing twelve times before he leaves the bathroom.

The 51 Percent

For weeks, there's been this continual mention with the Occupy folks and the media over the term "99 Percent" and "1 Percent".  The Occupy guys are wanting the public to side with them in this media war of sorts....in that 99 percent of America are the regular people who ought to be running America.

I came to realize something last night....the real percent number to pay attention to.....is fifty-one percent.  That's the magic number who determines your Senators, your Representatives, your City Council, your Governor, your President, and even taxes.

It take fifty-one percent to win any election, so it's pretty simple.  Your entire life is determined by this magic fifty-one percent....and it has been that way since the day you were born.  Tax payers don't vote (check out Wal-Mart, Pennys, and Texaco).  Citizens vote....including wealthy citizens and poor citizens.

The sad thing about fifty-one percent is that the Occupy guys probably don't fall that many times into that category.  It's true in 2008 with President Obama, but after that point.....the fifty-one percent crowd went into a vastly different direction.

I'm guessing around November of 2012....some Occupy guys will come to discover fifty-one percent and how it really fits into life. Then the Occupy guys will go home.....get jobs with Pizza Hut or the local parks department, and go back to trying to pay off their $70k loan to the government for those stupid college classes they took.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Entitlements

Over the past two months.....I've noticed this one odd thing with the media and with the Occupy Wall Street crowd (Occupy Washington fits just as well).  Almost every time they get drawn into a long-winded discussion....they want to talk about "entitlements".  It's a weepy moment....over folks being entitled to education, college, free loans, free pensions, free healthcare, and a dozen other odd things which they feel are simply an entitled thing because they are Americans.

There's this odd group of Americans who never uttered "entitlement" or "entitled" over their entire life. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Meriweather Lewis, William Clark, Robert E Lee, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Buffalo Bill, Andrew Jackson, Eisenhower, Kit Carson, Chief Joseph, and Ben Franklin.

Somewhere out in the heartland.....people are gazing over the Occupy folks and wondering if they missed a history lesson or two....or perhaps a vast history lesson....where people didn't stand around and wait for their entitlement.  If they had.....it probably was already too late to find your place in life.

This invention of entitlements...was a pretty nifty idea.  The problem is that you can't explain it.  Should toilet paper be an entitlement?  Should zero percent car loans be an entitlement?  Should fresh orange juice be an entitlement?  Should foreign language be offered in your school.....as an entitlement?   Is fresh air an entitlement?  After a while....it'd be best to go off and think over just how this whole conversation comes up....and maybe you might want to pause and ponder a bit.

A Netflex Stumble

The postal folks came out today and said that they've started making plans to turn next-day delivery....into 3-to-4 day delivery.  You can imagine the millions who locked themselves into the Netflex experience....thinking over how this will work to their advantage in the future.

The odd thing to this postal announcement is that we are actually going back to standards that we had in the 1970s.

Postal changes in the year 2030?  I'm thinking we will retreat even further and that 12-day delivery service will be the norm by 2030.  You mail a letter to someone on the 5th from Bama, and it arrives in Texas on the 16th.  You will ask how and why it takes so long.....and some postal guy named Gus responds that it takes that long to go all the way from Bama to some sorting complex in Chicago, and then get trucked all the way to some small town in Texas (call it Star-Route-XXL).

I'm guessing the Netflex guys will sort through this deal, and finally come to admit that mailing is going to fall apart sooner, rather than later.

Twenty Years Too Late?

I noted over the weekend....that the NFL Super Bowl folks have signed up Madonna for their half-time show.  For me personally....I don't care.  I haven't watched a half-time show since the early 1980s.  The odd thing for this selection?  You've got a singer who is twenty years past her prime and this was the best that the Bowl guys could come up with.

You won't find any teenager who listens to Madonna's songs today.  It's mostly folks over forty who can name five top Madonna songs.

I'm guessing she bent over backwards to get this gig, and the NFL got all excited over the possibility of signing her to the show.  You can imagine the meeting....five or six guys over fifty years old.....all former NFL guys in some capacity....and getting excited over meeting "the" Madonna.  They went home that night bragging over the meeting and deal worked out....while their 18-year old son kept wondering who this Madonna gal was or if she was some Latino singer from Brazil.

The problem with the NFL guys who run the business side....is that they've pretty much locked themselves into a time-machine and stayed 1980s.  They will talk for hours about Reagan, the Love Boat Show, and sports facts from that era.  So in the weeks to come....we will get a mega dose of Madonna one more time and try to relive some 1980s experience.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Dirty Harry @ Occupy?

There is a report out of the San Francisco Gate (from the folks at the Chronicle)....that LA cops used a dozen-odd undercover guys to check on and spy over the Occupy LA camps before the raid this week. The report suggests that this spy effort went on for several weeks and that it was simply to learn of the Occupy intentions...nothing more. The undercover cops weren't supposed to sleep over at the camp...just blend in and listen to the chit-chat.

This would likely make a great Hollywood script.  LA cop "Joe" meets up with some dimwitted divorcee from Portland, and falls in love with the gal.  Undercover cop "Karl" meets up with some yoga Marxist guy who stays mostly doped up and gives great advice on home repairs while spouting off some Marxist quotes. "Joe", the undercover guy who is six months away from retirement....meets up with a Vegan gal who owns a honey business in Idaho and decides to marry her but he can't admit his work over the past forty years....so he keeps telling her that he was some American Sandinista guru on the run for the whole time.

You have to imagine this crew of twelve guys.  They dress up in funky clothing at the locker-room at the station.....then get dropped off blocks away.  They walk around for six hours....mostly drinking coffee and eating donuts.  They listen to some dimwits talk about the bad economy, who often blame Bush, and wonder about the $88k they owe on college loans.  Then the cops return to the station....report everything they heard...mostly all crap.  The bosses at the station are just sitting there and wondering why the Occupy guys won't go out and get a job.  And the Mayor is sitting in a pit of worries....if the Occupy guys ever figure out the spies are in the camp....he'll never be able to stand up in front of Democrats ever again.

It's a five star movie...if ever made.  And of course, I'd want Clint Eastwood as one of the undercover cops.  You can even imagine his talk with the 21-year old kid...."Listen punk.....you work and pay taxes like everyone else.  Don't get any funny ideas about playing Karl Marx and lounging in Dad's basement the rest of your life.  Clean your ass up, put on some decent clothing, comb your hair, and grow up.  If you want to be some commie....go to Cuba or North Korea".

Saudi Conclusions

Hidden in the news.....and you certainly won't see it mentioned on the NBC nightly news, or your local newspapers....there was this little item from Saudi Arabia.

The smart guys from the Saudi religious council (Majlis al-Ifta’ al-A’ala) did a bunch of analysis and eventually draw up a conclusion.

The facts were laid out that if the king was stupid enough to repeal the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia....this would eventually result in few, if any, virgins.  This lifting of the ban on women drivers would bring this massive surge in hookers, gay activities, and divorce.

I've tried to find the entire documentation and find the attributing conditions to this case....but they just didn't cite any piece of history that delivered on related facts.

Did women drivers in America bring on increased prostitution, gay business, or divorce?  Not really.  If you go back to the late 1800's.....we had a pretty thriving hooker business in America, and it likely relates to the same numbers today (in proportion).  The same is likely true for gays.  Divorces might be on the higher side, but we've created a pretty huge legal system to go hand-in-hand with this.

So guys are worried in Saudi Arabia.  Just suggesting that the male population might shift over their affections to other guys.....worries folks.  The idea of a thousand hookers suddenly showing up in Saudi Arabia?  Well....to be honest....they likely already have a thousand hookers....so they'd just double the hooker population.

All in all....this kinda reminds you of these think-tanks in America who make dire predictions about global warming, evil Republicans, nuclear energy, the issues of peanut butter, cuts in Medicare, corruption by Democrats, union thugs, and the recovery of the New York Yankees (it would tear apart the eastern division).  Yes, life would be so much better if women just stayed at home, watched QVC, and made muffins....while the Saudi guys worked hard at the office and just wanted to walk in the house and sip some tap water and discuss writings from the Quran with their wife when they got home.  Yep....that's the dream.

My Neighborhood

From across river, in DC....this is what we know....both the FBI and the IRS came to the home of DC city council member Harry Thomas Jr.  Months ago, it came out that Harry arranged for a charity to be created in his name, and then turned around to ask the city council to dump money into that charity (city tax revenue money), and they complied.  Then Harry took $300k in funds to pay for some personal items (an Audi SUV, vacations, assorted items, etc).

Eventually, someone figured this out.  My general guess is that some other members of the city council over the past twenty years....have done the same thing and gotten away with it.  Harry was just unlucky, in my humble opinion.

So the agents searched his house in DC for a number of hours on Friday.  They took boxes of documents and computer hardware.  Then they brought in a tow truck to his personal motorcycle, and his Chevy Tahoe.  Harry's lawyer came over, and spent most of the day watching them....which I imagine that he'll charge Harry several hundred bucks for this "make-me-feel-better service".

Once Harry got caught in the scheme, he eventually came around and agreed to pay the city back.  It would appear (based on several media reports), that he has yet to admit any guilt on the issue.  In public, he generally comments that it's an ongoing investigation and we will eventually arrive at the truth.

There are a couple of observations here.  First, the IRS is involved because Harry used the charity money in some illegal fashion and he should have paid taxes on the money that he used for personal use.  While true in that he is paying back the money to the city.....that's his money going to the city.  The original bucket of cash.....will be be determined in some fashion to be taxable.  So there's likely another $100k that Harry will have to dig up somewhere, on top of the $300k he's paying the city.....for federal taxes, along with fees.

Second, it kind of amazes me that the feds only come to his house....several months after the fact.  Harry should have been bright enough to shred every piece of evidence in his house, by the end of the first week when this whole story came out.  If they get anything out of this search....it'll because Harry wasn't bright enough to clean up his own mess.

Third, after this mess came up....Harry ended up dumping this Audi SUV real quick.  It was like a bad tattoo....which you couldn't show in public.   So he bought the Chevy Tahoe.  I'm guessing that he used the Audi as a trade-in....so the IRS will want to confiscate that as part of the deal.  He probably won't get Tahoe back.  Somewhere in the government sales business...in about twelve months (after the court case)....this Tahoe will be sold at a public auction.  With low mileage of driving around DC.....this might be a pretty good deal, if you just knew where the sale was to be held.

Fourth and final....other members of the city council, plus former members....are likely sitting there in some pain right now.  They probably have some issues in their closet....fake charity operations, bogus expense accounts, etc.  If the feds dig into Harry and find connections back to them.....then this starts to get real messy.

I would imagine that Harry is sitting there and wondering how this whole thing will play out.  Just invoking the IRS....has cost him another $100k in taxes, plus another $30k in lawyer bills.  He needs that city council position to last out another five years....just to pay back these bills.  This corruption game can really add up.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Dear Ginger

After a week of watching the Ginger and Herman show....I've come to this observation.

For thirteen years....Herman was apparently paying Ginger for something.  It might be rent money, business support money, whoring money, fix your transmission money, or perhaps even beauty shop money.  We just don't know.

Ginger wanted everyone to know that she was having this affair and having hot lusty sex with Herman.  Although she really doesn't mention the hot lusty sex now.  She just keeps uttering "affair" and you keep thinking hot lusty thoughts with her wearing a waitress outfit, or a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader outfit, or perhaps a pizza employee outfit.

Ginger always avoids telling you how much she made each year....which the IRS might be curious about if it goes over a certain amount (gift money has a limit....you know).  Ginger never mentions the hotels where they stayed....or the fancy booze she consumed.

So you are left with an enormous empty spot for this fantasy of Herman and Ginger.  It'd be nice to imagine Herman lounging around a Vegas pool with hot lusty Ginger tending to him....but you just don't get that little piece of fact mentioned by Ginger.  I'll keep waiting but I suspect that Ginger will wake up in two weeks....realize no more cash from the networks or her Democratic helper, or Herman.....and then start searching for a new rich honey-boy. Maybe some retired NFL quarterback will fill the void, but I kind of doubt it.  

A Hundred Days Away

It really won't appear much in your newspaper or your nightly news....but Detroit is on the verge of something rather unusual.  The governor of the state of Michigan has sent word to the city....he wants to review their financial books....now.

Over the past six months....Mayor Bing and the Detroit city council has been on this path, to bankruptcy.  The Mayor has been brutailly honest...they've got funding to continue on for about four months.  At that point, the city will default.

The Governor has already drawn up his plans....approved by the state legislature....but it involves this city manager being put into place and a bunch of very usual powers. This city manager can't raise a dime on taxes....but he can fire employees, change the labor contracts without negotiations, sell anything the city owns, and change the entire budget, if he desires.

Naturally, this has upset the city council greatly.  They can't imagine any 'outsider' coming in and spoiling what they have running.  One gal on the city council wanted to compare this to Rosa Parks being forced to give up her seat on the bus.....but she couldn't or wouldn't explain how this bus would continue to run....without this emergency city manager in place.

There's a lot of fear now.  The unions are actively coming to meetings and willing to chat over contracts.  They might be willing to shift to a cheaper medical plan and possibly take a pay cut of some type.  The Mayor is still optimistic, but with a hundred days left.....he has to move mountains, and I doubt that the city council will agree on his ideas on methods.

So my prediction.

Around mid-April....this guy will arrive in Detroit with several state troopers as his body guards.  He'll have a list of a dozen impressive people who work for the city and collect salaries of $150k or more a year.  They will be offered three minutes to consider a $20k pay-cut.  They will refuse, and so will begin the massive cuts.

The forty-nine fire houses in the city?  I would imagine that the engines will be shifted around and less than twenty-five fire houses will remain in the end.  Some houses will burn to the ground with this new concept....but basically....they just don't have the money to run the size and scoop of the current fire department.

The 2,770 cops in town?  Overtime will be canceled immediately, and several officers with no real job in life.....will be brought in and get notice to retire or quit.  They might be lucky to have 2,400 cops by the end.

Vast areas of town will be auctioned off for $100 here and $1000 there.

The city council will meet nightly and complain about the terrible city manager.  After twelve months.....most folks in town will notice a serious change in attitude.  They might even ask why they need a city council.  Maybe Detroit can change.....but it will be forced change....no matter how you slice it.

How Things Work

I work for an organization in the Pentagon, which shall remain anonymous.  It's safe to say that they have a headquarters above them....elsewhere (not in the Pentagon).  Our little group of three hundred odd folks....require a couple of support agreements with several organizations....to operate and live in the Pentagon.

Yes, we 'rent' a spot of space, which we have an agreement with the Pentagon folks.  This agreement provides space, cool air, water, repair folks, and all the things in life to survive.  It's a simple agreement....couple of pages....nothing complicated. Real simple.

The other agreement (I handle both of these)....involves telephone service, which we receive via the US Army's little telephone organization in the Pentagon.  They write up this simple three-page document, and it comes over to me.  I bless it.  My commander blesses it.  Then it goes to our headquarters.  Well....this year, there were problems.

It's a rather simple document and everyone in the Pentagon, from the Marines to the Coast Guard....from the Air Force to "Leon" (the big guy)....all sign their agreement, and life goes on.

My headquarters came back in August, and had problems.  The telephone folks didn't really want to modify much of anything.  Everyone signs their agreement without issue.  The old agreement ended on 1 October.  So naturally, there ought to be a new agreement in effect.  There isn't.

So we are at the 2nd of December.....with numerous suggestions by the headquarters to modify this contract.  They even sent me a template and suggested what the Army telephone guys had to change.

Well.....nothing much is moving.  This morning came this odd event.  Our organizational agreements lady calls me up and she just had the headquarters office chat with her.  They've got this big 'red' spot on their deadlines list.....the telephone agreement between my organization and the Army telephone office.

I listened to her a minute....then realizing which agreement this was, and I asked what exactly she wanted.  She wanted me to know that the headquarters folks were disturbed with the pace of things.

I reminded her that spring would likely occur and no agreement might be signed.  As long as we pay our bill.....which we do....I don't think the Army telephone folks will move an inch to change their support agreement.  In fact....we might go all the way to 1 October of 2012....without an agreement.  "Oh my" was her reaction, but she kinda knows that I might be right.

You've got a bunch of folks who want to move the world.....and some Army telephone folks who want the world to stay contained on three simple pages with twenty-odd other customers from the same building.  As long as we pay the bill....life will continue on.  I just wonder if my headquarters might be stupid enough to withhold money eventually....to test the waters.

So, this is basically how things work in the Pentagon.  Folks moving imaginary mountains, and folks stabilizing imaginary mountains.  And somehow, I survive in the basement.....sipping tea, and wondering if "Leon" has problems like this on a daily basis.  

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Simply Observations

I've watched the "Ginger-episode" unfold with Herman Cain over the last week.  She had his phone number and some texts, although she hasn't really put all the texts (13 years worth) out there.  It is kind of strange that she wanted to rush out and admit everything....just to feel better. To be honest, she has yet to admit why she had to come out.  My only question....would Ginger be willing to put her banking business out there and share with everyone the deposit info on a check or two in the last month?  I'm guessing she had to be encouraged, and there's likely a $100k check sitting there.  She stands to collect an additional $100k from various interview gigs over the next two weeks.  As for the factual part of her story with Cain? I suspect it's a 50-50 shot at this point.  At the very least, Cain is a mighty naive guy who just ran around helping different folks, and he financially helped Ginger in some matters.  At the most....Cain had some 13-year affair with some Ginger gal.  You have yet to get to the bottom line.

Back around 2006, Congress decided it needed to regulate and stomp out the horse-slaughter business.  You can describe it as an other opportunity to regulate things and have more laws on the books.  Over the past year....the government discovered that this merely created the end of the American side of the industry.  From both Canada and Mexico.....they simply doubled up their slaughter business to make up for the business that the American industry lost.  In a comical way, it just added more problems and abuse on horses....having to be shipped out of the US, for the butcher industry.  So quietly, Congress and the President got around to a spending bill last month that restored the entire the American horse-butcher industry.  It wasn't front page news, and I doubt that more than two thousand Americans even noted the huge change in regulations.  As for the re-establishment of the American industry?  It probably will take five years to bring things back to the 2006-levels. Then you come to the curious scenario....did a dozen odd lobbyists show up in DC for Mexican interests....to get some dimwitted congressmen to write a law.....shutting down the US horse slaughter industry, in 2006?  Stranger things have happened.

Finally, what you really had to expect....another Bama episode with a foreign guy and their immigration law.  Naturally, it wasn't a Latino.  It was a Honda manager from Japan.  Apparently, this all occurred down in the Lincoln area of Alabama.  At least in this case.....they didn't arrest the guy....but it turned into another curious case.  Some wannabe cops set up a roadblock (a growing trend in Bama) and caught the dangerous Japanese manager.  The only reason he avoided the arrest?  He was carrying his Japanese passport and actually had an international license with him.  At this point....it's two out of two.  I've yet to hear any arrests with Latinos.  I suspect within a year.....most of these international car companies in Bama will come to the governor's office and let him know that they have a problem.  It's hard to say if the Governor will admit that they screwed up or not.