Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Simply Observations

There's two stories in today's news which gave me a few minutes to think and pause over.

First....out in Oklahoma....there was this guy on a motorcycle....who came around a corner....and there was a bull in the middle of the highway.  Black bull, of course.  This occurred at night....so other than a pair of eyes gazing at him....the motorcyclist probably had a 2-second moment to ponder what that was in the middle of the road.  The guy is in serious condition.  The bull?  Dead.  They didn't give the speed, but you'd have to think the guy was doing at least sixty there...with no lights showing around the road.

I'm guessing the farmer has gone out to view where the bull jumped the fence, and discussed things with the guys down at the local gas station.  The guys will ask where he bought the bull, and if he was a tough critter when he unloaded him.  Then they will ask how he handled the disposal of the bull upon daylight.  This always is a heavily discussed topic with local farmers.

Lawyer involvement?  Well.....yeah, there might be some lawyer trying to dump blame on the farmer for a weak fence or a difficult bull.  There's not exactly an insurance policy to cover things like this.....you know.

The second story?  There's a guy up in Union City, Tennessee....who the cops noticed him driving a bit erratic.  So they turned on the siren.  Now....you have to understand.....the guy was doing no more than 20 mph before the siren came on.  And after the siren came on?  He was still doing 20 mph.  So this chase developed.  The guy never got any faster than 20 mph.

When things finally got to a stopping point....the cops walked up and noticed that the guy was nude.  Naturally, this brings up the Bath Salts drug situation.  No real discussion here....the cops don't argue at all.

So he will be charged with several crimes....lewd behavior will be one of course.  Jail time?  I'm guessing the judge will note that he never got over 20 mph and likely limit him to sixty days in jail.

This makes a guy from Bama pause.  We don't get too many nude drivers around Bama, and this might be a trend which stirs up local Baptist folks a bit.  You'd hope that it only attracts guys....but I'm willing to bet that women end up in this situation, and it just becomes a big mess in the end.

New York Taxi Story

I sat and looked over Sandy damage in NY City, and there's this one shot. Taxis....under water.

Every single one of those.....have to be condemned, and dumped.  They ought to be crushed....but I'm willing to bet that trucks are going to be brought in and these will be repainted, and shuffled out to Mississippi or Alabama....to sell as cheap cars with high mileage.

Yeah, there's going to be some illegal stuff about this.  Yeah, there's likely to be a fair amount of rust noticed after six months.  Yeah, there's bound to be a funny mildew smell with the car.

The question is....would you spend $1k for a former New York taxi....just as a junker for a year or two?  A guy from Bama would pause and spend two minutes thinking about this.  It'd be hard to pass up the deal.

National Park Discussion

The National Parks folks have come around and finally admitted that sequestration....if it occurs on 2 January....will take out around 8.2 percent of it's current budget.  Their commentary?  Out of the 398 parks throughout America....they suspect they'd have to shutdown at least 150 of those parks.

I paused and pondered over this.  For the big-name parks...it's $25 to enter....per vehicle.  Doesn't matter if there's one guy in the car, or six.

Almost all of the parks will offer a yearly annual pass for around $40, which means if you live within a hundred miles....you could visit once a day for the twelve months.

Camping fees?  They all offer camping and it's generally $10 to $20 per night.  Lodge stays?  Well....at the nicer lodges, it's up around $150 per night (yeah, that's a shocker).  You want a cave-tour with a fancy-pants ranger?  That will run around eight bucks per person.  You want a soda at the grocery on the park? That usually runs around $2.50 per bottle (yeah, Wal-Mart sells it for 99-cents each).

Somewhere along the way, there's tons of money being generated within the National Parks system.  I will admit that Rangers and park employees make more money than what the standard was in 1976....but there ought to be point where profits support the vast amount of the park support.

So I come to this odd topic out in Arizona.  The state would like to take over the Grand Canyon National Park.  Hell would have to freeze over before the National Park Service would allow their crown jewel to slip away.  But the truth is....the state and local area around the Grand Canyon park now greatly depend on it's survival as part of their economic system.  People drive up to Williams and spend a night in the local hotel before entering the park and spending all day there....then end up in Flagstaff for their 2nd night in a hotel.  Gas and food?  Folks tend to spend at least $150 for their single day visit at the Grand Canyon as they pass through.  If they spend a week there....they will spend $1000 easily on the local economy.

What would happen if Arizona took over the Grand Canyon?  The park rangers would be let go and a newer team would likely arrive....working for twenty percent less than the current group.  There would be two hundred cabins erected around the park and folks would be charged $75 a night to 'camp-out' in semi-old surroundings.  The clean-up crews?  They'd be locals or from the local Indian tribe, and it'd be a contract deal.  A fancy restaurant or two would be added to the park.

Yeah, it wouldn't have that National Park theme that we are so used to....but the truth of the matter is that everything now has a cost.  We didn't think about that in 1977.  We didn't really care about the entry fee other than grumbling that $25 is a bit too much to pay for one guy in one car.

I'm not saying every single park needs to be turned over....but I think the National Park Service is about to face a serious reality...if sequestration occurs.  It might be time to accept some radical ideas.

Being Redundant

This is page one of a brief note to UBS employees who showed up this morning in London....to find out that they'd been let go, terminated, fired, or laid-off.

It's a nice letter....basically saying that you will not be required to attend the office anymore.  Yes, you are on "special leave".  You have become.... redundant.

You can imagine yourself.....looking at this letter on the big door to the building.  You check you email via your cellphone, and find this nifty note there.  You figure...what the heck....and go over for a number of ales at lunch, and spend the day with the other redundant chaps.

I sat and pondered over the note.  It's almost Shakespearean in nature.  You wanted to convey some awful harsh situation, but in a nice polite British way.  There are ten thousand UBS employees who will be made redundant.  I'm certain that few will find themselves back in the banking business.  There's just not a need for that many folks to fall back into a job.

The British have a way about things like this.  Stiff upper lip.  Hardy men.  Never give up the ship.  Being redundant.....is better than being laid-off, at least in my book.  Men might aspire to such a lofty position...such as this.  I could see a Peter Sellers movie being made out of this.....if he were still alive.  Maybe bring back Chauncey....to be made redundant.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Just Observations

It wasn't surprising....the afternoon talky-talk show.....Anderson Cooper....cancelled after dismal ratings. About a year ago....I caught twenty minutes of the show and kept thinking it wasn't much to watch and maybe it was meant just for housewives.  Replacement?  Don't know.

It came out today....that the Fiat management folks are discussing the movement of both Jeep and Chrysler to Italy.  You probably won't see it mentioned on CBS or ABC....but it's out in the business news.  The Italian government will give them a huge export deal.  The feeling within Jeep and Chrysler circles?  I think they are a bit shocked, and wondering if they might be given a chance to learn Italian and move to Italy with the team.  The advantage of saving Chrysler back four years ago?  I hate bringing up this topic....but if they'd gone through bankruptcy court.....the Fiat guys might not have gotten their hands on Chrysler   The odds that China will end up with some part of Jeep?  I'd wager it's a pretty good chance.

The President came out in some speech today, and said he'd have a Secretary of Business...in his next cabinet.  I kinda scratched my head.  He says that the business world needs someone in the cabinet to connect to and make requests to change things.  Course, you'd think that the Secretary of Commerce would be the same thing as the Secretary of Business.....but apparently, this just isn't possible.

This Libya business being a cover-up?  Well...it ought to take three days for some independent Senator to find out the real truth, and then things ought to be settled.  That hasn't happened.  Both parties are charged up and unable to act in a decent fashion.  So the public is left to wonder....true or false?  You just don't know.

Slow-Mo

It's a bit unusual to watch a hurricane arrive in slow motion.

Since the middle of last week....we've kinda known here in the DC area that Sandy was coming.  Folks have had five days to prepare.

The real hurricane starts to arrive on Monday night and runs through most of Tuesday.  But there's a bunch of rain and wind to come tonight (Sunday), and run through all of Monday.  So the federal government finally came out late today and said Monday will be a off-day.  They won't talk about Tuesday....but you can figure it'll be worse than Monday, so it'll be a off-day.

The METRO guys?  Here on Sunday evening....they finally came out and said they just won't run anything for Monday at all.  Absolute shutdown as of midnight tonight.  They probably won't run anything on Tuesday either.

The electrical companies have called far and wide for reinforcements.  They had to admit that several of the neighboring states won't provide anything because they expect trouble too.

For roughly thirty-six hours.....folks are now going into wait-and-see mode.

Why America isn't Run by Children

I sat and watched a video clip today.  It was an odd piece.  A bunch of children standing, and singing.  The tune?  Didn't really matter.  The words?  It was a fairly lame piece over how these children of the future....are suffering under the actions of a President Romney.

At the end, it kinda concludes....don't let this happen.

For about sixty seconds....I pondered over the piece.  Done in black and white....wordy and creative....comical in some ways to the naive audience who might watch it.

At some point....there was some Biblical verse that I remembered from decades ago....so I went back to First Corinthians...13:11.  "When I was a child....I spoke like a child....I thought like a child....I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways".

At the end of the day....this video clip is some childish piece of political maneuvering   The sad thing....in twenty years....most of these kids who participated will wonder how they got dragged into this and probably wonder about the political motivates of the childish adults around them.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

My Predictions

Occasionally, I will make predictions.  This time....I'm predicting the environment around us in 2016.....the next election.

First, tens of thousands of people are now in serious trouble on repaying their university loans.  The parents who co-signed with Junior?  They are social security age and discovering everyday that if Junior doesn't pay....you don't work out a payment deal yourself....then your social security fund is attacked and $500 pulled monthly to cover the payment.  Naturally, these people are upset and living on the bare means of survival.  Most still work at some grocery store...even into their seventies because they can't survive off $800 a month after the college loan money is deducted.

This group will be demanding government intervention.  It'll be hard for the President (either guy), or Congress to just forget about this in an election year.  So they will give away tens of billions in loan money that was supposed to come back to the US government.  We will slip deeper into debt, with a lot of folks standing around with French literature degrees.

Second, between 2013 and 2016, a number of kids and parents will wise up and say "no" to four-year universities.  They will opt for a two-year program at the local community college.  I will predict that college enrollment by 2016 is down by six percent across the nation.  Naturally....the four-year universities are furious and on the borderline of finance issues.  Professors with tenure....will be told to retire and be forced out.  Weekly meetings will be held with your state senator to figure out a way to bring the students back.

Third, after cutting seven percent of the government civilian work-force in 2013 and 2014....the facts are that most of the people who left were in the junior or lesser grades.  You've now got a over-balanced situation with more managers than desired.  The government experts are suggesting to hire 100k civilian government workers in 2017....to give the current managers....people to manage.  No one much believes the logic, and it never occurs.

Fourth, for the 2016 Senate race in Nevada....Harry Reid is 76 years old and frankly....would like to retire.  The problem is that no one from the Democratic Party in the state is a obvious replacement.  So Harry runs again.

Fifth, no less than thirty books are written in 2013....describing the inside workings of the Obama White House between 2008 and 2012.  They all tend to show an organization that was screwed up internally, and could never get moving in a forward direction with any true agreement.

Sixth, and final.....at least two thousand dead people will have been found to have voted in the 2012 election.  Officials in all fifty states are at a loss to explain how some....even dead for a year.....still voted.  A Senator will put forward a vote to declare dead people lose their voting status within twenty-four hours after they expire....however....there isn't enough votes (60) in the Senate to approve the bill and push it onto the House.

My Neighborhood

Saturday night turned out to be an interesting deal in DC.  Around 8:45 that evening...a METRO bus (the #64 route in DC) was going down the street, when some Cadillac appeared out of nowhere.  The Cadillac ...was apparently being chased by DC cops.  No one is saying why....but I'd assume the car was stolen or the driver was acting weird.

At some point, the Cadillac ends up hitting the rear end of the #64 METRO bus.  The impact was such.....that the Cadillac ends up doing some kind of twist and turn...into the other lane.  And at that exact time.....the other #64 METRO bus (number two on the scene)....going in the opposite direction....runs smack into the Cadillac.

Cop reports indicate the ambulance folks were fairly busy....toting off at least ten passengers from the two buses.  None of those folks are bad off....at least the cops hint that.

The Cadillac driver?  Well...he's got a broke leg and I'm guessing a concussion.

The interesting thing is that a special unit of the DC cops come out, and spend a fair amount of time with the blade-unit to saw pieces of the Cadillac up so they can get to the interior.  I'd be guessing a search for drugs.  The Cadillac driver?  He's fairly doped up on pain-killers right now and just resting.

Statistically....the odds of hitting the eastbound #64 bus and the westbound #64 bus?  It's a one in a million deal.  But this is DC....so it's probably closer to one in a thousand.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Just an Idea

Over the past month, I've continually gone back to look at updates over this Libyan episode where the ambassador was murdered (I know....none of the big news guys ever use this word, but if you were a governor in Iowa and they bombed your house with mortars ...most folks would say "murder").

I've come to this opinion.  There probably was something that the CIA or the US military could have done.....but it would have taken Presidential involvement to get them to cross that stream.

So I've come to this opinion.  We need six guys hired up to be President of the United States....on a swinging shift arrangement.  I figure eight-hour shifts, with two to three days off each week.  We'd have the guy sitting in a national strategic command-post, where he'd see events unfolding and could make minute-by-minute orders.  As President one's shift ends....President two steps in and keeps things going in the right direction.  If it lasts longer than his shift, then President three steps in.

Now, the negative is that you'd probably also need another group of six guys doing the same thing in the White House....doing mostly PR-work.  And I'd need a third team that goes around the country to view flooded canals, tornado damage, and shaking hands with former Green Bay quarterbacks.  I'd also need another team that handles only relations with the House and the Senate.  And finally, I'd need another team of Presidents who handle international affairs, funerals in Paris, and Colombian hooker episodes.

Altogether, I'd need around thirty US Presidents.  And toss in thirty VP's as well.  Yeah, the pension costs and Secret Service detail would be huge.

But this is the only way that we'd finally get some President at the right place and right time....to do the right thing.

I admit....elections would be difficult if 300 guys were running for President, and the Electoral College would have to be changed a bit to allow thirty guys to win.  Yeah, it might confuse the Today Show hosts to remember all thirty, and it might be a hassle to arrange the schedule so that some guys get time off.

The issue is that we've come to expect alot from the President, and I kinda doubt that the system works like we think it does.

Old is New

The idea is simple.  Ford opened up this deal to bring back the body, and only the body, of the 1940 Ford Coupe.  $11,900.

No, you get nothing other than the body.  No engine.  No lights.  Nothing else.

Who buys something like this?  I would imagine at least 100k guys are looking at the advertisement and making a call to order theirs within the next month.  By the end of the year....another 100k guys will order it.

They pull the body into their garage, and will spend the next two years....working on the various pieces to customize their own version of the 1940 Ford Coupe.  Their wives will be furious at first, but later find that it's kept their husband busy and out of trouble.

The success of this will lead to several folks thinking over the idea of twenty other classic vehicles....to include (my humble opinion) the original Volkswagen Bug, the Edsel, and even the classic Willys Overland.

My belief is that something is going to occur here which drives the big three car-makers to examine the idea of bringing back classic bodies and putting modern engines and technology into them.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Just the Way It Is

The kind folks at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)....have started packing and intend to be in America in twelve days to view and watch over our election.

Currently, Texas has hinted that if they get closer than 300 feet to the polling stations....they could be arrested.  Most other states have been quiet over the matter.

I sat and pondered over this topic.  A bunch of European folks....showing up in your town....watching the election unfold and trying to stand within twenty feet of the clerk's table to view issues.

In Bama, it would turn into an interesting event.  I grew up in a small town where most folks know each other, and a unknown crowd of European folks would suddenly attract attention.  You'd naturally wander over, offer a handshake....introduce yourself and Aunt Emma.  You'd ask if they were lost.  They'd explain their job in life.  You'd comment on their attire and if they felt comfortable in those Italian shoes.  Then you'd invite them over to the local grill for a hamburger steak and fries.

The OSCE folks would be kinda shocked at the friendly nature.

At the grill, you'd chat about the county road being redone next year, someone's septic tank overflowing this morning, and how the economy kinda sucked but you were making the best of it.

They'd ask you about corruption in voting, and you'd comment that it's hard to squeeze more than one vote out of one person.  They'd ask about illegal counting....hinting on the Florida episode of 2000.  But you'd counter that things in Bama tend to be simple and uncomplicated.  You did want the city to go "wet", which takes sixteen minutes to explain in detail that they are in a "dry" town right now.  Things are complicated on this wet/dry issue because of the Baptist Church in town.

By now, the grill gal would offer up a peach cobbler slice of pie, with a big scoop of fancy vanilla ice cream.  The European folks would be shocked at such desert.  Then the lady would top off their ice tea glass with another refill (their third), and mention that it's all free (something you'd never get in Europe).

Lester would stop by the table and mention his cows are out and ask if you folks could come over and help herd them back up.  So you and the European guys would ride out to Lester's place to help.  Two or three hours later....the cows would all be penned up and Lester would offer shots of some fine Jack Daniels to everyone.

Night would come and the European guys would travel back to the lodge and admit they had a mighty fine time and just didn't observe any deceit or evil intent in the election poll business.  In fact, these American folks are pretty good folks to know.

They'd travel back to Europe and be dumped on by their associates.  The Americans took advantage of you....they twisted you around.  They wanted to deceive you.  The returned Europeans will find no one wanting to believe their stories.  The sad thing is that....three dead folks did vote in the town election, and seven folks voted in other states.

The Final Twelve Days

This is my last political comment over the election prior to voting day.

Basically you've got a race between candidate A and candidate B.....and any hope of either saving the economy of America is virtually zero.  If either had full control of their party and were to take the necessary edge in the House (at least half) and Senate (60), then there might be another minor changes to convince industry and business that things have turned around.  The odds of getting enough of your guys to win both the necessary numbers?  Zero.  

Our marginal and stagnant economy is likely to continue on for at least another decade.

On election night, one side loses....and will get all upset.  This negative view of how things went.....will last on....until the next election.  Doesn't matter which candidate is the winner....we the public....get stuck with a continued daily mess of election hype, until 2016.  We might all wise up and refuse to watch these idiots pout....but it's going to be a daily event that makes us laugh.

On candidate A....I'm continually amazed that a Hawaii-born guy, who spent a couple of years in California  Columbia University in New York City, a year or two at Harvard University, and then years in Illinois....has mastered this wonderful fake southern accent.  As far as I know....other than swinging by a golf course or campaign stop in the south....he's never spent a day there.  At a drop of a nickel, he can dump the southern accent and suddenly become neutral voice.

On candidate B.....folks need to slap themselves silly to grasp that this is the only Governor in American history to deliver state-run medical care to a heavily Democratic-state.  Now he says.....that he will unplug Obama Care...if elected.  Course, he'd need sixty senators and half of the House.  The odds?  Zero chance.  Other than the Supreme Court still acting to dismantle pieces, or the House refusing to fund various pieces of legislation to support Obama Care....it will continue on.  If the IRS doesn't get the funding to be the chief agent of money around it....it's doomed.

All these Hollywood or political-chat 'dogs' that came out to voice support for Candidate A or Candidate B?  Frankly, your opinion don't matter to most Americans.  Most folks don't care if you like this brand of oil in your car, or prefer this salsa over that salsa, or sip Diet Mountain Dew.

Finally, we come to sequestration.  About a week after the election....a bunch of folks will sit down and find that there's hostility being the "loser".  The only useful conclusion by mid-December is simply to extend the mess into March of 2013.  If Candidate A wins.....he just won't deal with the House or any effort to limit new taxes.  Sequestration will fully occur, and he'll naturally blame the Republicans for the terrible woes that he inherited...letting George Bush finally off the hook.  If Candidate B wins....he'll find that the President has zero interest in fixing sequestration for the remainder of the year, and wants it as a nuke for the new incoming guy.  Amazingly enough....no one has ever asked Senator Harry Reid where this sequestration idea came from (Harry admits, he put it into the system....but he just isn't smart enough to create things like this).

We probably deserve better than this.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Ten Additives to Life

I paused today to reflect upon the top ten things that I think complimented and improved life since 1980....the beginning of the Reagan era.  My list will be a bit odd and different....but for the right reasons.

1.  The mute button.  I've come to use my TV remote minute-by-minute, and that mute button is used around 150 times a day.  To be honest, I just don't listen to commericals now at all.  There are fair chunks out of the news shows at night....when the topic isn't worth listening to, and I just mute the TV.  The Today Show?  I watch fifteen minutes of it, but eleven minutes are mostly muted while I'm looking at news over the internet.  In my mind, the mute button is absolute gold, and society has greatly benefited from it being on all remotes.

2.  Duc-tape. I just can't imagine how society survived for all those years...without the stuff.  Mankind needed it, and it's probably been one of the great things we've used to help survive in difficult times.

3.  Streaming video.  It killed off the video-tape era and the DVD era, and destroyed Blockbuster.  Frankly, we are all better off now....able to watch Danish cop shows, English drama, and instructional videos on how to install a septic tank via YouTube.

4.  GPS.  Frankly, a guy doesn't need a map atlas with him in the car, and can drive from Mississippi to some street in Nashville where some gal gave him her address to meet for a liaison ...even though he's never physically met her before.  Guys don't drive in circles no more.....trying to admit they know where they are (to the wife), but can't find the right street.

5.  Wal-Mart.  It was barely in existence in 1980, and over the last two decades....has become our essential stopping point after work.  Need bread?  Need shotgun shells?  Need a $9 white shirt for a funeral?  Need a $66 gift for your girlfriend?  Wal-Mart has added much to life.

6.  Computerized warning on cars.  Your car has the ability to tell you that it's got serious problems but can survive for 200 more miles.  You can pull into the mechanic's shop....six minutes later....he's describing the piece you need and how it'll be at his shop by noon tomorrow (from Iuka, Miss), and he'll have it back running in less than twenty-four hours.

7.  Cellphones.  It's amazing.  A guy can be half-way to work and the wife can call to say that Gunter (your dog) is all sick and needs emergency attention at the vet.  You stop in the middle of the road, and haul-ass back to save Gunter....telling your boss that your wife is the one sick and you will be in around noon.  You can track your kids, call your secret liaison gal, and ask the Baptist minister to pray for you because you flipped out and woke up in the cornfield.

8.  Listening Tapes.  An entire segment of society, has progressed to a highly educated state of mind....by using 60 minutes of tapes or CDs on the way to work.  These folks know fusion, the difference between light and dark meat, what triggered the Vietnam War, and why women faint so easily when you jab a fishhook into your arm.

9.  Five-hour Drinks.  To be kinda honest....at 2PM.....when you used to be low....these five-hour drinks are a miracle.  Course, I know they are loaded with caffeine and probably are not that good for you....but they have helped society manage a low-point in the afternoon.

10.  Seinfeld.  Frankly, you'd think a show about nothing would amount to nothing in life.  The truth is....we all came to view life in New York as a blessing, and just wish we could sit down with George and absorb some of his luck and manhood.  We'd also like to be neighbors with Kramer.  And that Elaine gal?  Well....she's a nine on the ten-scale.

"Yes" or "No"

Across the river from me....into Maryland....this election season....there's like eight or nine key measures that are "yes" or "no" on the ballot.  Some are worthless for most residents to answer....some are important.

In recent weeks....there's a barrage of ad's that run from 4AM to 7AM on the morning news.  You need to vote "yes" on measure seven, "no" on measure eight, or opposite.

The ad's have become so generic and so misleading....that you really have no idea what the measure is about....except at the end.....vote "yes" or "no".  This morning....some guy spent twenty seconds talking about West Virginia....before getting to the "yes" part of the vote deal, and you suddenly realized it was a Maryland measure.

I suddenly came to realize this morning....for the common man....there's no way of remembering these, and folks are now likely to vote "no" for all eight measures just because it's so damn confusing.

If you asked nine out of ten Maryland folks to describe in one sentence each measure....they'd respond that they just can't do it.  They know one measure has something to do with gay marriage, but I doubt if a majority can remember which is which.  And they know one measure has to deal with casino gambling, but they have no idea what the intent really is in the end.

Yeah, in a democracy....things can get kinda tangled up.  You'd like to be able to hire legislature folks to do the work....but they just don't want any trouble with voters....so they dump it back on those folks to mess with the tough business.   And they've tried to make this simple....."yes" or "no".  No maybes.

Its Just the Way It Is

I tried to make some sense out of this.  There's a special on the National Geographic Channel in ten days....two days before the election....on SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden.

It's supposed to be a docu-history piece, which naturally stars President Barack Obama as a major planner in the mission.

Well.....as the director got the documentary organized and developed.....he also had this brief moment where candidate Mitt Romney would have said he was against the raid.  Naturally, this has never been said, and it's more of a fictional moment....than a historical moment.

The CEO at the National Geographic Channel then stepped in and said he just wasn't going to have propaganda on his channel (shocking, I know).

So this brief one-minute piece over Mitt Romney got cut.

I paused and pondered over this.  There are dozens of documentaries produced for the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and the National Geographic Channel....each year.  Sadly, most of them have a bogus or highly-interpreted piece to them.  The alien shows, the bigfoot shows, the fake moonshine shows, and even fake gold-mining shows in Alaska.....all have bogus pieces to them.

Heck, you could have thrown in sixty seconds of Karl Rove, Mitt Romney, and George Bush all sitting at a bar in Idaho and discussing the cancellation of the Ossama mission.  Then you could have run sixty seconds of Fidel Castro talking over raid with some retired guy from General Motors who happened to bump into Fidel at a Havana bar.  Then you could have had a moment where six illegal aliens are discussing the impact of the mission on immigration reform.

The truth is.....most Americans aren't going to watch the National Geographic Channel special.  We got Ossama....we don't need to know too many details, and we've got NCAA action or some John Wayne movie to watch instead.  If you had thrown an alien or UFO into the special....we might have watched it.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Just Observations

For about a month, I've been closely watching this Lance Armstrong stuff going on.  Most of his titles are gone, and the big guys have noted Lance as a "doper".  The problem?  There's still not a single test that they can cite or show....where he doped up.  None.  Oh, there's plenty of people saying that Lance was their friend, and they know he was doping.  But no test results to back that up.  So you are left with something that makes you wonder.  Maybe Lance is wrong.....but it sure would help to have just one test result to back up the words against him.

This comment about the President (from debate #3) over bayonets got plenty of talk yesterday.  Here's the thing which most of these media guys kinda skipped over.  Every single Marine is still trained to use bayonets, and each single Marine is still issued a bayonet.  Marines used bayonets in almost every single war that they've been involved in.  The folks who manufacture bayonets?  They might not be selling a huge number....but their number one customers....the US Marines.....still buy them on a regular basis.  That kinda says something.

There's this talk that Donald Trump will release the divorce paperwork between the Obamas, which occurred back around 2000.  How Donald got the paperwork.....is a question mark.  I'm guessing he found the right county official in Chicago, put $100k on the table.....and the documents were handed over.  How does it change the election?  Well....folks voting for Obama will just get more angry, and vote twice as hard.  Independents who are still undecided?  I doubt if it matters for them.  It'll give folks on the weekend talk circuit something to discuss....but frankly....who cares?  Apparently, whatever issues existed....got cleaned up.....and life went on.

Yesterday....we had this Manassas, Virginia gal.....end up with charges.  She was up around the entrance of Bethesda Naval Medical Center (Maryland), when all heck broke loose.  She crashed car into another car, then tried to run over the security officer at the gate.   From what cops say....the civilian security guard got all excited, and pumped a round or two into the window of the gal's car.  Then she takes off and runs into a construction site nearby.  Cops then grabbed her.  At some point, someone noted that they saw her eating on a bar of soap (or it appeared to be a bar of soap).  As the cops yanked her out of the car....she was yelling "Jesus, Jesus" (she'd probably been at a revival recently).  Right now....cops say she will be charged with first-degree assault and reckless endangerment.  It's enough to get at least a year in a Maryland jail....if you ask me.  The possibility of drugs being involved?  I'd say 100 percent chance, but the cops never tested her, and we shall never know that answer.  As for the brand of soap she was munching on?  Don't know.....but it's probably Irish Spring.

Finally, I tried to sit and watch an hour of CNN news last night.  It felt like some cheerleader-run episode of political discussion.  Some gal tried to talk you into thinking something....which was about about ninety percent bogus.  After about twelve minutes of this....I just gave up.  Anyone wondering why CNN has lost so many viewers?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Rest of the Story

This was the odd picture that came up months ago....after the termination of Ossama bin Laden.  There were two things about the shot often puzzled me.  This week.....someone in a news commentary told part of the story which hasn't been spoken much about.

There were two occasions prior to this raid....where things were planned, and after briefing the President...a decision was made a few hours later to cancel the raid.

You can imagine a bit of anger among the players who know when you have things lined up.  The cause for the cancellation?  Never clear.  There is the adviser to the President....Ms Jarrett, who some think might have suggested to cancel the raids.

So, this odd event occurred.  According to the news commentary....Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta apparently shuffled through his memos, and found this note where he had the authority (only he and the President apparently), to approve raids.

Leon then proceeded to allow the third planning episode, and approved the raid.  As the choppers crossed over into Pakistan...as the story goes....Leon called the President, who happened to be golfing at the time.  The President had just enough time to jump on his chopper....ride over to the White House....quickly walk into the 'big room', and watch the raid occur.

Normally, the President would have been at the head of the table.....but in this case....he got there so late....dressed in golfing gear....that this was the best seat for viewing the action.

My humble guess is that after the event....the President called up Ms Jarrett, informing her of the demise of Ossama bin Laden.  She probably went into a daze....thinking....who authorized this?  Perhaps Leon got a stern lecture at the next staff meeting....but I'm guessing Leon mostly grinned, and just said nothing.

True or bogus?  That's what you don't know.  None of the major news organizations will pick up a story like this because it begs questions.  The plain truth is....Ossama is dead, and the episode is finished.  Maybe Ms Jarrett wanted Ossama killed the week before the election and everyone would have been overjoyed and voting for the President.  You just don't know.

Training Story

Across the river from me.....over into Maryland territory....there's this county which shall remain nameless.  The county commission has met and there is this topic on the table.  Crimes....especially robberies at night at convenience stores....has gone up drastically.  So the county wants to require stores who have folks working late at night....mandate training for the employees.  The type of training?  How to handle a robbery, or in plain English....how to be robbed properly.

I sat and pondered over this.  Some county guy will run a special seminar....basically telling you to quickly hand over the cash and fall to the floor.

In Bama....we'd eyeball the robber for about five seconds.  Without a gun in his hands....you just don't see a reason to take him serious.  So you pick up the baseball bat or the 2x4 piece of lumber, and you just whack the heck out of the guy.  No sympathy or pity.....just hit on him as hard as you can.

What I imagine will happen is that forty or fifty guys will sign up for the class, and most will all be wanna-be robbers who want to know insight on how to properly rob some store.  Later, the county commission will figure this out, and dismantle the whole mess overnight.

Positiveness and Negativeness

I stayed around this morning, and actually watched the Today Show.  Their lead?  A bunch of statistics on different slides....which showed the positiveness and negativeness of President Obama and Governor Romney, on various issues.  Twenty-five years ago....no one in the news business would have wasted your time on some statistical display like this, and tell you how the President was 52 percent positive on foreign affairs versus 48 percent positive on energy affairs.

So this brings me to a pondering moment.

Do guys stand around and do a positive versus negative scale on their barber?  Do you rate Gus positive on sideburns with 44 percent, while giving Gus barely 32 positive numbers for magazine material?

Do women stand and rank the positiveness and negativeness of Piggly Wiggly?  Do the PG carts rate 58 percent positive because Randy steam-cleans them each Saturday morning?

Do kids rank gym coaches, with a 74 percent negative ranking on locker rooms.....because no one ever cleans the gym locker room?

Do you sit around the house and rank the local TV station weather guy with a 44 percent negative ranking because he uses a lousy map?

Does Grandma rank her newspaper guy with a 55 percent positive ranking....mostly because he pulls up and tosses the paper into the carport?

Do you rank the local Dunkin Donuts shop with a 88 percent positive ranking.....mostly because Wanda wears a open blouse and bends over when you pull up to pick up a order at 5:30 in the morning?

Do you rank your car mechanic with a 52 percent positive ranking....mostly because he sprays a new car smell into the car each time he hands the key to you?

Do you rank Fox News with a 66 percent positive ranking....mostly because that handsome and brilliant Karl Rove guy from Bama appears almost nightly?

Positiveness and negativeness scales worthless?  Yeah.  They are mostly worthless.  It's possible in 1927 that some idiots in New York City would have rated Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig as only 62 percent positive for the New York Yankees.....yet forty years later.....most folks would rank them as 99 percent positive.

So when you flip over to the Today Show or Good Morning Bama (GMB)....and they start tossing up positive ranking slides....it's best to start a eight-minute break in the kitchen and cook up some pancakes.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Smelling Trouble a Mile Away

Thirty years ago....you never brought up voter fraud, and no one ever mentioned it on TV or the radio.

Today....we've all heard the comments.  Most of us don't know anyone....who'd be that stupid.

How bad is the problem?  You just don't know.  Over the past eight years...you have a couple of cases which pop up.  Several folks have gotten jail-time (they were shocked just how serious this is taken).

Some folks feel that it's nothing much to worry about.  The problem here is that folks have free time, and databases that they've forced the county clerk to hand over.  So they spend weeks analyzing columns and eventually find a dozen guys in their town....who are registered a state over, or a county over.  They call the prosecutor....and this turns into a mess.

Fear?  You would think that a year in some state prison would put a heck of a lot of fear into you.  You'd think that a fine of $8k might scare you.  You'd think of lawyer fees being near $15k to save your butt....being enough to keep you sane.  But folks seem to enjoy that second vote.  It just ain't worth it.

My prediction is that hundred of folks will be looking over data and find at least five hundred folks who were double-voting.  By the end of January, the authorities in various states will be asking folks to come down and explain some issues to the local judge.  Your cousin will suggest paying off the local Democratic judge, or rigging up a $2k bag of money for some Republican prosecutor ....to get out of trouble.  Grandma will be praying for you.  And your uncle Karl (life-long Democrat), will ask how you could be that stupid?

The sad thing is that the last thing on your mind in 2016....will be voting.  You probably will never vote again.

The "Peace in Our Time" Opera

The curtain rises.

There is this moment of history...in 1938...where history played out like a opera.

With various tensions in full swing around Europe, and the likely attack by Nazi Germany to take Czechoslovakia because of the German citizens who resided there....the threat of war existed.

England was greatly worried, and newspapers continually pressed on the terrible woes of such a grab, and how war had taken the great will of England back twenty years prior.

So the Prime Minister....Neville Chamberlain had his staff work up a treaty of sorts, which would prevent war from coming.  The Munich Agreement would bring "peace in our time" (the catch-phrase for Chamberlain at the end).

The deal was that Nazi Germany would agree not to invade Czechoslovakia.  In mid-September, Chamberlain was invited to the Eagle's Nest in Bavaria, as the place where he and Hitler would discuss this matter.

The Eagles Nest....if you've never been there....takes a bit of driving from the local town....winding roads and up mountainsides.....to reach a point where you have to enter an elevator.  You rise up to the top of a mountain, where a stone "cabin" of sorts exists.  The cabin....the size of half-a-basketball court....has these huge windows which look out across a vast range of mountains.

If you were ever wanting a place to impress and press someone....the Eagles Nest is such a place.

For roughly three hours....Chamberlain and Hitler talked and talked.  Near the end....there are various signals that Chamberlain came to realize that nothing much was ever going to be agreed upon between the two.  

Over the course of the next two weeks...various talks were held by various players in this whole effort to prevent war in Europe.  It became a comedy of sorts because it was mostly a press affair where each side would mouth off over the terrible threats, that war was terrible, and that peace could surely be reached.

Course, neither Nazi Germany or England ever involved Czechoslovakia to any degree in these talks....the nation that was to be affected.

Naturally, you'd ask questions here why the chief country under the threat was never actively part of the opera.

On 30 September 1938....Chamberlain was again in Nazi Germany, and finally worked out a meeting with Hitler where Munich Agreement was finalized.  Chamberlain flew back to London to huge crowds who clapped and approved of "peace in our time".

Within sixty days....it was apparent that the Munich Agreement was worthless.  The trigger to the war was set into motion.

By the spring of 1939, Nazi Germany had invaded Poland to expand out on their strategy.

In the spring of 1940....Neville Chamberlain resigned as Prime Minister.  Six months later, he died of cancer.

On the whole of things....Neville Chamberlain ended up looking like an idiot....simply a stage prop for the Nazi apparatus in 1938.  For any positive thing you could say out of the career of Chamberlain....it's mostly zeroed out after signing the treaty.

The stage is quiet now, and the curtain is falling upon a darken stage.

Around noon today...the New York Times finally conveyed it's private news gathering efforts....that a treaty is about to conclude between the US and Iran over the nuclear episode. The White House tonight denies any deal is in the works.

The sad thing here is the Times is rarely if ever wrong on the information it gets from it's operatives in the White House.

My humble guess is that we've become 1938 Britain, so worried about the previous war, that we'd conclude just about any deal....to bring "peace in our time".  And in the end.....a nifty opera is the only way to tell some sad woeful tale.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Third District

It won't appear in your national news, your local newspaper, or anything much that you read.  Across the river from me....is Maryland, and there is a nifty congressional district that they've created.  The third district.

So you look at the map and find the dark areas, and then you start laughing at the twists and turns to make the third district exist.

Who is responsible for this?  The state legislature....which is run by the Democrats currently.  Once you start a district on paper....it has to continue to touch all parts of the region, which this does....with the exception of a coastal area to the south.

The media?  Well....it has been observed and mentioned in Maryland papers....to a minor degree.  The Washington Post came to mention the comical side of this district in today's paper.

The purpose of the twists?  Well...you get the right people voting in the right elections.  It's that simple.

US-Iran Nuclear Treaty

What does a US-Iran nuclear treaty change.....if it were to happen....let's say in the next two weeks?

Well...it gives the news guys almost an entire day of no election topic except this magnificent treaty that the administration was able to conclude and save the world from yet another war.  Kissenger can crawl out of the closet and give a dozen interviews.  All of the former Carter-era foreign policy experts will get at least an hour or two with the big news networks.  Hillary Clinton can probably find enough time in one afternoon to do sixteen interviews.

It helps the Obama administration on the foreign policy issue.  It helps people feel a perception that peace may have been found...in our time.

On the other side of this scale...it's basically a fake treaty of sorts for Iran and merely buys them another three years to keep working on what they have in the secret underground research facilities.  The Israeli folks will be disturbed over lack of any knowledge with the treaty being worked out.  And most foreign governments will be amused over what looks like a Chamberlain-moment (1938), where a treaty merely led to World War II.

The odds of such a treaty occurring?  A month ago....I would have said one-percent.  Today....probably a eighty-percent chance.

So as next week flows through.....expect somewhere around the last week of the month for this huge announcement of a treat with Iran.  Don't bother watching the news....just skip over to ESPN and watch the sports news.  There's not much you can grasp out of this....except it's stuff written on a piece of paper.

My Local Neighborhood

Here in Arlington, we have a couple of malls....one of them is the dying mall over at Ballston Common.  I call it dying because there's just no real business left in this place.  It has a multi-plex theater up on the top level, an ice-skating rink, and maybe sixty stores around the place, with a dozen places to eat.  The key to the mall is that it's got four levels.

Well...two days ago....this guy was up around the top level, and apparently dropped a Molotov cocktail down down into the food-court (the absolute bottom to the mall).  It starts a pretty minor fire but that was put out quickly, and it didn't hit anyone (there aren't that many folks who eat there anyway).

Cops got alerted.  They eventually find this guy (who I shall keep nameless).  What they can say is that he's an geeky engineer guy who has been unemployed for a couple of years.

So far, there's some charges mounting up.  There's even one federal charge....arson.  I'm guessing that he might be sent off for at least five years.

Explanation? None.  You get the impression that he was a nutcase....just waiting for the right time and right place.

So now, I need to worry about Molotov cocktails on top of the forty-four other things that could happen to me.

Bedford Falls and Pottersville

Normally, I wouldn't say anything....I'd just read the story and move on.  This bothered me.

Ken Burns....the guy who produces various documentaries for PBS....came out in the last day....to voice up support for President Obama and his campaign.  I don't fault any guy for taking any position.

What Ken wrote about though....was this vision from Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life", with Bedford Falls.  The alternate world that Jimmy Stewart fell into....was Pottersville.  If you remember....Bedford Falls got renamed because George Bailey wasn't there to protect the city.

America is headed to Pottersville....by Ken Burn's account....if you vote for Romney.

Once I read this comment of trying to use Bedford Falls in this context....it came to bother me.  So let's pause here to think over the wonderful Bedford Falls that could stay under the present administration.

They’d regulate businesses to the point that most would close down, and move off down the road to the next town.

Bedford Falls would have a crisis with the local banks because they might have money, but because of regulations...they really can’t loan money out unless you have outstanding collateral (zero risk is the hint here). 

Bedford Falls would be trying to lure energy companies to relocate into the town and provide set-up capital...only to find each company failing within a year and carving out the set-up capital as profit. 

Bedford Falls would tell you that 30 man-hours a week is the new full-time level (not forty hours). So you’d flip your employees over to 28-hour weeks to avoid any unnecessary new taxes that Bedford Falls created. 

Bedford Falls would have a problem in functioning beyond the mayor’s level. Out of the nine-man city council...the mayor just won’t talk to four members under any condition. So the mayor kinda runs the city by his orders. To be honest, Bedford Falls hasn’t had a real budget agreed upon by the full city council....in three years.

Bedford Falls has the highest pension level of any city in the state, but can’t possibly ever sustain that pension.  Folks ask stupid questions about this, but the city just says it can't fix it.

Bedford Falls has high priorities for the school and library in the city...to the point that it’s consuming a huge amount of the yearly revenue collected.

Bedford Falls has a great relationship with the union guys who run the garbage business, the sanitation business, and city operations.  They all see continual positive trends in cost, which the city always agrees upon.

Bedford Falls has empty houses, which the banks can’t get rid of, and they sit mostly empty.

Bedford Falls would like to fix it's budget situation, but it generally means raising property taxes on the wealthy folks of the town.  As the mayor says....you need to pay your fair share.  After two or three rises in the property tax over a couple of years....the wealthy saddle up and leave town.  The houses get flipped over....all losing money in the process.  No one in the mayor's office can explain why property values are sinking.

Yeah, Bedford Falls might have been a neat place to live years ago...but this modern-age Bedford Falls is Detroit, and it’s crumbling around the edges of society. End of story.

Ken Burns had one great four-star series back around twenty years ago.  Since then, there's one three-star series with baseball.  Otherwise, he hasn't done much of anything else worth talking about.  PBS keeps him active and I'd take a guess that they'd fund just about any documentary that he'd want to produce.  For Ken to pick up Bedford Falls and twist it around....well....he might want to think about America today, and just forget about Bedford Falls.  It was imaginary to start with, and it's still imaginary today.

Against the Law Now

This week....some folks down in Louisiana discussed the idea of a law against folks appearing in public....in pajamas.

The parish?  Caddo....Shreveport territory.  Having been stationed in the local area before....I can say this for the locals.  They tend to be fairly nice, courteous, and give folks an ample amount of space....yet be a bit on the conservative side.

Based on commentary, you can tell that some folks have been talking to the county commission members, and it's a major topic.  So they discussed it, and voted 8-3 to ban public wear of pajamas.

The general feeling in that area is that you could be just about anywhere....Piggly Wiggly, 7-11, some gas station, or even a bar-b-q shack, and there would be someone in pajamas.  In a public setting....it just doesn't work.

On the other side of this....one commissioner voted against it because he felt the government can't solve the problem.  Course, you could say the same thing about cutting the budget, taxes, consumption of alcohol, crime, murder, meth, or packs of wild dogs in your community.  The government probably can't solve any of those problems either.

My gut feeling is that someone will want to test the system now and get arrested in pajamas.  No one has mentioned the fine, but I'd take a guess of it being near $100.  Some fancy-pants lawyer will take the case, and fight this off to the Supreme Court.  All nine of the Supremes will privately say that this is the most stupid case they ever took on, and yet....they will have to take it into consideration.

For you folks who have to parade around at Piggly Wiggly in pajamas....my humble words are simple.  You look like you just fell out of bed, and accidentally forgot to change clothing.  Even jogging pants would look better.  I know you can buy a fancy pair of pajamas at the Dollar General store for $7, but it's meant for home use.  I would be agreeable if you mowed your grass in pajamas....as long as you stayed on your private property.  But don't go public at the Dixie Queen, or Mandy's Muffler Shop with pajamas.

The sad thing here....is that political folks actually had to waste time on this topic.  Heck, they could have outlawed dogs riding in the back of a truck.


This Little Guy

We are days away from the election, and whatever results come out of this.  There is this odd factor that you have to consider.

The little guy in America....really doesn't care for words spoken over MEDICARE....either it works or it doesn't work.

The little guy in America....doesn't care about Romney paying taxes or not.....he just wishes he didn't have to pay so much in taxes himself.

The little guy in America....doesn't care about the President's energy policy....he just wants cheap fuel and natural gas.

The little guy in America....doesn't care about debates....mostly because even a fool could stand up and talk for three hours and look like John Wayne but be totally bogus.

The little guy in America....doesn't care what Hollywood stars say about their political hopes....mostly because he knows they live in some fantasy-land and usually doped up or flipped-out on something.

The little guy in America....doesn't care about the Chevy Volt....mostly because it's a Chevy and Dad was a Ford-guy, and said never to buy a Chevy, period.

The little guy in America....mostly watches his local 5AM news....leaves home at 6AM to be at work at 7AM (driving 52 miles)....and might see some real news on Sunday morning.  He doesn't care what happens in Brazil, France, Greece, or Tonga.

The little guy in America....owns a gun or two, and if some idiots are about to bust down his door....he won't waste time calling the cops or worrying about the pursuit of life and liberty by dimwits at the door.

The little guy in America....doesn't know where North Korea is on the map, and frankly doesn't care if they threaten all out attack on America.  He knows that the US can press one button and dump forty nukes on the country in nine minutes....ceasing any issue.

The little guy in America....shops at Wal-Mart, Piggly Wiggly, and the Dollar Store.  If you tried to sell a $16 plain pair of underwear to him....he'd just laugh and ask why you didn't shop and buy the five-bagger of underwear at Wal-Mart for $7.99.

The little guy in America.... reminisces about watching Barney Miller, and how Dietrich was as brilliant as Einstein, then he's brought back to 2012 and realizes the vast number of idiots around the nation.

The little guy in America....has a priority system: (1) mow grass on Saturday, (2) take Monty to the vet for deworming, and somewhere around number 399, there's fact-checking CNN's fact-checking folks.

The little guy in America....doesn't much care about TSA games at the airport.  So he's drawn a circle and limits himself to 500 miles and a drive to the destination.

The little guy in America....trusts his barber....more than his Senator.

The little guy in America....hasn't read 2,300 pages of text since he graduated from high school forty years ago, but he finds it odd that his Representative voted for the Obama health-care bill without having read a single page.

The little guy is voting in a few days, and the truth is....he might not have watched a single negative TV ad, and just base his vote on the price of gas down at the 7-11 shop.  It could be that simple in the end.

Friday, 19 October 2012

The Bearded Guy

It probably won't be discussed much on major news networks....but there's been a fight brewing in court with the Fort Hood shooter....the Muslim Army major who shot and wounded a number of US Army personnel back in 2009.

The fight?  Well....the major says that he ought to be able to retain a beard now....as part of his Muslim religious episode, and appear in the court-martial with the beard.  Naturally, the military judge in charge of this....said no.

The major's defense team is pushing the issue higher....basically spending a fair amount of time arguing this and delaying the case....over a beard.  In a way....it's become a comical side of this pretty dramatic court episode.

The problem here....is that the major spent his entire career in the Army, with a shaved face....although he was a Muslim for the entire time. The pay-back so far in delaying the case?  Well....the Army dumped a $1k fine onto the Major....six times now.

I don't think the Major cares much about the fine....or the beard....and this whole thing is about delay tactics only.  Final judgement?  Most Army folks want him put into an execution situation because thirteen Army personnel are dead because of his terror tactics.

It might be another year before the case is finally wrapped up and some judgement passed down.  The Army will admit they'd like a speedy situation, but this has become anything but that.

The Sixth of November

Six November is less than three weeks away.  The evening of Six November will prove to be a difficult moment for political side over another.  Based on polling data, there is a swing in play now.  It's a feeling that some felt in 1980 with Jimmy Carter.  Things kinda fell completely apart for the Carter team in the last two months, and there was almost nothing they could say or do to reverse the trend.

Some will say that media elites will mostly fall silent by eleven PM that evening and not be able to handle explanations.  By the next day.....economic experts will start to appear on various channels and note the terrible woes of the incoming presidency and how they will be unprepared for things, and unable to make their policies work.

My humble guess is that VP Joe will take the seventh of November off.....probably open up a case of beer and talk NFL football, NCAA bowl choices, and the best clam chowder you can find in Delaware.

Secretary of State Clinton?  She's quietly leave the office by mid-day and mostly avoid discussions with anyone over the results.  I think she will see so many screw-ups by this administration as leading up to the loss, and she would have ran a totally different campaign.

Fox News?  They will move directly to the cabinet choices and who fits into what role.  I doubt if they even waste a minute to trying to explain how something happened or how one campaign failed to capitalize on results.

The Hollywood crowd?  I would imagine they fall into a disbelief moment.  Everyone they talked to....was voting President Obama....how else could he lose?

How do you slip like this?

There are three simple explanations.  First, in the first two years....it should have been three factors on the table....the economy, jobs, and budget cutting.  Everyone should have focused on bringing trust back into the heartland, and stabilizing the economy.  Maybe in the third year, focus on a small health-care improvement law and a small immigration reform act. You'd still have full control of the House if you had prioritized like that. Things would be better today.....and more independent voters would have recognized that.

Second, the speeches laid out in 2008....made this lofty projection of where we'd all be in 2012.  Well....those predictions were way beyond belief, and dragged folks off to expect too much.  At best, the administration probably accomplished one-third of what they talked about in 2008.  It's ok to aim high....but in this case....it was beyond belief.

Third, you basically had the luck of following George Bush.  To be honest....you had all these great media folks projecting everything you did of 'solid-gold'.  As the anti-Bush, you were given lots of free passes.  You got the Nobel Peace Prize for following George Bush.  The truth is.....that was like turbo fuel running through your administration.  You had to show results after the Bush period, and it just wasn't working that way.

The Native Show

I have an addiction for one particular TV show....which usually shocks folks.  South Park.

Last night was a fresh new episode....which I came to view as one of the three best episodes they've delivered.

Butters has demonstrated some behavioral problems.  The school is on the verge of suspending him.  His parents come over and view Butters, then request that Butters be let out for several days to "fix" his problem.

The parents come to reveal to Butters....that they are not like regular people.  They are "natives".....of Hawaii....thus being different than regular people.  And the time has come for Butters to go back to Hawaii....for a ceremony of becoming a man.  Course, no description is ever given for any of this.  Then they hand Butters their Hawaii 'rewards' card....which gives every 'native' a discount.

Somewhere in this event of travel....Kenny is the one to go and travel to Hawaii with Butters.

As we come to find out....a bunch of white Americans have come into Hawaii over the past decade....all claiming some native status....all having a discount card....and pretending to act Hawaiian...when they aren't.  They take Butters in and will introduce him to 'native-status'.

Kenny is viewed as an outsider, and is barely allowed to stay.  Trouble brews....when the discount card business is suddenly terminated, and the natives get restless without it.

Then Kenny is tasked to perform in some manly Hawaiian function, which he fails, and is washed away.  Butters is confused but accepts Kenny's fate.  A war then erupts between the Americans, and the 'natives'. Naturally, things go bad for the Americans, then bad for the 'natives'.

Kenny eventually returns....saves the day....and all the natives are happy.

The true moment of the show?  There are two moments when Kenny is writing back to Stan and the gang in Colorado...using a British-like voice and writing like Graham Greene or Joseph Conrad (Lord Jim).  For a brief moment....it was a five-star writing experience, and you could only wish that the show would last an entire hour.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Screwed

This story popped up today....government news....and I read through it.  If I had stayed in Europe....gotten a GS job after my contractor period.....I would have joined the 2k folks affected, and owe $50k to the US government.  So here is the story.

If you come to Europe to work for the Department of Defense as a contractor.....you can work for the company for a while, and then apply to be a regular GS employee for the government.  Less pay....less benefits....better stability.  You get offered a $24k a year housing allowance, which covers your rental property and utilities.

Well....there's also this little rule.  If you came into Europe and worked for company number one, then flipped three years later to company number two, then a month later, flipped to a government job, then you aren't eligible for housing pay as a government employee.  Congress wrote the law.  A second or third or fourth job?  You lose the entitlement.  You can still work as a GS employee, with base pay....but no housing (a loss of $24k a year).

This funny rule?  Who knows about it?  Apparently, not a lot of government HR folks.

So last year, some government employee had wanted to use an option.  He had done his three years and volunteered for a fourth year.....which means you get a free trip to the states.  The local HR shop reviewed his records.  Yes, he was eligible for that.  However, they found that he'd worked for at least two contractor companies before arriving at the government job.  He needed to pay back the housing money they'd paid.

Naturally, the guy got upset....got a lawyer, and eventually....lawyers at Stuttgart (for EUCOM)....got involved.  The general eventually asked how many government employees in Europe (England, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, Germany, etc)....were affected.  The HR guys fanned out.  2k total.

This week....a note went out to highlight where exactly this mess stands.  It worries folks.

EUCOM would like to find a way to let folks keep the money that they got paid, for housing.  The law didn't mention a waiver.  So they'd have to write a waiver, and get the four-star to sign, then forward to the Pentagon, and get them to sign off.  No one went out to cheat the government.....so it makes sense for everyone to sign....but it could take months before they agree on this.  That's waiver number one.

Then you come to this odd situation. The law dictates that you can't have housing pay under these circumstances.  So EUCOM wants a second wavier that would allow folks to get (even if they aren't supposed to get the housing deal)....another twelve months of housing money.  Course, they'd lose the money after that, and they'd have to make it off their base pay.

Folks are a bit upset and talking lawyer-talk.  Class-action suite?  Yeah....maybe.

Me?  If I had stayed....I'd be worried because I''d owe over $40k at this point.

Folks thinking of leaving?  Out of the 2k....I suspect that 500 are talking a good bit over leaving by early spring.  The delay in signing off wavier number one might be enough to worry folks.  Coming back?  Well....you'd have to stay twelve months in the US....before you could apply for another job.

Affecting only Europe Americans?  Well....no.  I did some checking and there are lots of Americans in the Pacific theater who have the same problem.  So any waiver that they think about....has lots of other implications.

What they might get out of waiver two?  If they were considering a mass pull-out of GI's in Europe....this second waiver would buy them the time before that occurred.  The odds of a mass pull-out?  Well....until sequestration came to be discussed....there wasn't much talk.  Now?  There might be some massive draw-down which fits into this mess.

You just don't know.

I worked around twenty folks who all got GS jobs in the last three years there in the Ramstein area. Half are affected by this.  I'm guessing they are adding up the cost and how they could make it off strictly the base pay deal.  The final result?  I'm guessing they'd each say....screwed.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Non-Existent $330

I'm the guy in our military organization, who monitors the GPC....the Government-Purchase-Card (our fancy VISA-card).  We get a budget each year in October, and have until the end of September to spend that budget.  On 1 Oct, whatever remaining on that card.....is mostly lost....it no longer exists.  That's the way that the federal government works.

Well....a funny thing happen this week.  The US Banks folks....who run our GPC....came out and gave a rebate of $330-odd bucks.  They gave it to us on 10 October.

I thought....great.  We need to buy some pens and paper, and the real FY2013 budget has yet to clear up.  So we have $330 on that account that could be spent.

Not so fast, says the budget gal.....that's all old money, and it no longer can be used in the new finance year.

I sat there...in shock.

Thousands of organizations have this GPC, and an account.  They all got a rebate around the first week of October.  Some might be ten bucks....some might be a thousand bucks.

As the money flowed in....it's non-existent.  I can't use it.  The US government can't use it.  You can't even buy toilet paper with it.

There's millions of rebate money that we could use....but you can't use it.

I sat there...thinking....there are a thousand things wrong with the federal government.  If they'd given me the rebate money on 25 September.....I would have spent it.  They didn't.  They just held it, and it disappeared.  I can't even give it back to Congress to hand out as a free gift for unemployed people in America.  That's the sad thing about this.

The Debate

There are three observations I can make from last night's debate.

First, after thirty minutes (I did keep flipping back to the Tigers-Yankees game every six minutes....I admit that)....I came to feel like the positive attitude that the President demonstrated (180-degree improvement)....sure did look like a guy who gulped down a couple of Five-Hour containers of caffeine. The President looked all peppy and totally different from the first debate.  Either he was on downers for the first debate, or on some caffeine enhancement drink for this episode (a six-pack of Mountain Dew works too).

Second, Candy (the moderator).....did the best she could.  Thirty years ago....there was a hundred great journalists in America who could stand at the podium and mange these two guys, and slap down the Republican guy without looking like an idiot.  Today, I doubt if there's more than five journalists left in America with the talent of taking on Romney or Ryan, and acting like a real journalist.  We've accepted weaker journalism as part of CNN or the New York Times.  Candy was doing the best that you could expect, and it just wasn't worth discussing afterwards.

Third, pound for pound....I thought Romney was mostly even with the President.  No obvious winners.  Except for the Detroit Tigers.

What's left?  One debate....which the President would have to give a five-star performance to flip independent voters into another direction.  The whole mess now is tied to independents, and I think they've been shocked over how much weight their vote will carry in this election.  Oh, and the Tigers?  They are whipping the New York Yankees and their mighty $100 million line-up.  The better show was actually with the Tigers last night.  

Our Economic Anchor of Reality

Generally....socialism is valued in Europe, and tends to the mechanism of almost every single government there.  Most will admit....it's a socialism-lite model that they use....simply carving off the a few pieces and trying to appease the public with "free stuff".  The public in Europe likes this concept and generally never  complains.

This past month, you can view various problems going on in Europe....between Greece, Spain, Italy, and France.....and there's some discontent. The socialism lite model....probably has burned up as much fuel as it can, and there's no map or direction for political folks to head toward.

So you come to the five significant issues around socialism-lite.

First,  if you as a society or government....start talking legislation as a vehicle to crank up prosperity, and you start with the idea that the wealthy has to give up measurable amounts of their prosperity, for society to move....it's a virtual guarantee of failure for your legislation.  With the exception of Robin Hood....there's no point in history where society cranks up prosperity by starting with the rich as part of the problem.  Do your research, but there simply isn't such an example to discuss.

Second....when you assign a value to work....say "X".....then someone has to earn it or make it....for it to exist.  When you dictate "X" has to be divided up amongst two folks....it means that one guy made up "X", and the other guy didn't.  If you have ten folks making up "X", and twelve folks enjoy "X" in the end....someone wasn't in the process or helping.  Folks tend to stand around after a while and notice this.  It's hard for someone to convince folks for the long-run....that your "X" has to be shared out.  Eventually, they will ask questions and make demands over how sharing will work.  Sharing....becomes a harsh reality at some point.

Third....to share out profits of society....a government has to eventually take from someone, in order that someone else can receive it.  This generally works as long as you make each "taking" a small minor issue. A cent or two on a gas tax, a cent or two on some registration fee, or some cents for temporary-add-on tax......you don't notice it and it's simple to convince you to accept it.  Four years later, you start to notice that you are $75 less a month on money in your pocket, and just don't know where that $75 went. As long as people don't notice each little money-game....sharing out the profits is simple.  Eventually, people start to ask stupid questions.

Fourth.  Briefly, if you had a wealth of $100....it cannot be multiplied in any fashion, by dividing it.  Economic professors will stand there for hours and tell you over and over....a $100 is a $100.  You cannot make it more, unless you take risks and invest it.

Fifth and final....once you broach the fifty percent point on taxes to the wealthy or middle-class....they will eventually ask why bother with their efforts or risks?  It might take ten, twenty, or thirty years.....but a guy who works, and gives up more than half of his income....won't see any incentive to continue.  So the government who thinks significant taxation....even on the rich....has no impact....are simply lying to themselves in the end.

To some degree...almost every single government in the world has moved onto a socialism-lite model.  Even the US has some features of socialism-lite in existence today.  Some societies might tweak it and run lighter than usual.....some heavier than usual.  The inherent problems are like an anchor....it limits life to some degree.  If you like the limits.....keep going.  If you want something extra out of life.....you might have to look at change.

A Squirt or Two

Cops came up in Connecticut....noticing someone driving with issues apparently.  They pull the gal over, and eventually arrest her. DWI.

The thing is....which she admits....she had gotten drunk off hand sanitizer.  Yep, the stuff you buy at Wal-Mart or Piggly Wiggly.....in fear of getting germs at work and you constantly rub your hands with the stuff to kill bugs.

The alcohol content?  It's roughly seventeen percent.  The cops figure she had about half a bottle.....to get into the state of drunkenness that she was in.      You can generally buy a 40 oz bottle of the stuff for roughly $4.  A bottle of Jack Daniels?  You can figure around $18.

The TV station that related this story (the WTNH folks).....figured up the consumption level, and she had roughly 32 shots of booze, for $2.

A guy could look over this event and ask some pretty deep questions.  Just how safe is hand sanitizer to drink?  Will it destroy your gut?  Should we card folks who buy the stuff?  If real alcoholics figure this out....could they destroy the value of booze throughout America....by buying $4 bottles of hand sanitizer?

Years ago....I had to go off to Gulf Storm, and a general rule was issued.....no booze in the war front.  It was a shocker to a number of guys who suddenly flew into a place and they couldn't have the daily six-pack of beer or half-a-bottle of Jim Beam.  The Air Force had to immediately start rehab (while at the deployment site) for dozens of NCOs.  At some point, it was commented that some guys had figured out the use of gargle, or mouthwash.....would give you a buzz.  Course, it was also quickly pointed out that it'd mess up your stomach big-time.  That didn't really stop guys from using the stuff though.

The comical side of this is that some minister will read this story, and make a whole sermon up this weekend that parents need to observe their kids, and their potential use of hand sanitizer.  It might be a terrible thing to abuse.   Heck, you might end up on Doctor Phil one day....admitting to your use of hand sanitizer.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

My Neighborhood

We had another "death-by-METRO" today.....guy over at Farragut North Station....around 11AM....just plain jumped in front of the oncoming subway car.  Cops won't say much....except he was from Maryland.

It's about every four to six weeks....some guy does a jump.  METRO is spending money on training station and subway operators how to watch for folks....but to be honest, there's just no way to guess what the guy is going to do.

What happens after this is pretty bad.  A number of emergency guys get a call.  They are there strictly to pick up the bits and pieces of the guy on the track.

There's usually at least a dozen to twenty cops around.... mostly to keep folks far away from the efforts underway.  The cops come from METRO, DC, or the local guys (Maryland or Virginia).  You can figure at least three hours of duty time in this effort.

There's usually anywhere from three to ten METRO guys standing around. It's hard to figure what exactly they are there for.....other than observing and commenting to each other about how this happens every month now.

Toward the end....some maintenance guys arrive....to wash down or mop up the situation.  Somebody has to do it.

Someone will eventually get an ID....go over to the house, and figure out friends and relatives.  There'll be some story to the episode, but we never hear about that in the local news.  We won't know how or why this had to happen.

Most folks have an opinion on this now.....they'd like for the guys to go somewhere far away from people or society and just do it alone.  You don't need to involve the driver, the folks on the platform, the cops, or anyone else.  No one really understands your mess, or how you got so depressed, or who dumped you, or why your four years in college were a waste.

So on we go....waiting for four weeks to pass....and the next person to think 'death-by-METRO' is the answer.

Simply Observations

In less than three weeks, the election will finally be over.  To be honest, I'm fed up with commericals from both parties for a slew of candidates or negativity.  It doesn't matter if you wake up at 4AM.....you still get blasted with the terrible history of the Republicans or the wasted opportunities of the President.  The sad thing?  I get a brief rest for three years, and this cycle starts again.

I kinda noticed that Hulk Hogan is taking up a court case...over this recent lusty video of him and some gal.  The case will center around an ex-friend....who happens to be a ex-wrestler....who offered up his wife to Hulk in some arrangement (at least we are told this)....and the ex-friend video-tapped the passionate moments of Hulk and the wife.  Hulk is pushing for a hundred-million in this case.  You have to imagine the judge getting this will sit there and start laughing.  The whole thing sounds like a script for some movie.

The Feds are investigating Jessie Jackson Jr (Representative from Chicago to Congress) for spending campaign funds in an illegal way.  It would appear that he (or his wife), got into the campaign funds....to spend on some kind of renovation of the DC house....in order to sell it.  The Feds won't say how much was spent.....I'd speculate it was less than $100k.  The interesting thing about this deal is that Rep Jackson is sitting in a mental hospital presently (since July) for bi-polar situations.  He's also running in his district and likely to win, although there hasn't been a single appearance of the guy since late spring in public.  Even if the Feds connect the dots....then what?  The accused just says he's crazy, takes his place in the House, and everything goes on as normal.  You can't charge a crazy guy and expect to win.....but you can vote a crazy guy into the House.

Only in America.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Arlen

Arlen Specter passed on this weekend.  There are various things a guy could say about the ex-Senator from Pennsylvania....but the media turned it over and made some compromising comments.

Arlen, if you didn't know....was the 'great centralist'.....by the journalist's comments, he was able to bring compromise to the Senate.

You have to understand a few minor details here.  When Arlen started out as a political figure for the state of Pennsylvania.....in 1951 as a Democrat.  That lasted for roughly fourteen years (1965), when he found this nifty race existing as the Philadelphia DA.  He flopped over on the party, became a Republican overnight, and shocked the party establishment by winning the DA's race.

Naturally, Democrats around Philadelphia were upset about this.

In 1980....he came to run for Senator for the state, and won the race.  For four terms....he served as a Republican Senator.  So when the Republican Party came around and put endorsements up in 2004 for a real Republican contender to run against him....he was fairly shocked.  He dumped the Republican Party, and ended up running as a Democrat.

Naturally, Republicans in the state were fairly upset by this.

Most folks would examine his record and say he blended more as a 60-percent Democrat....40-percent Republican.  I don't think either party was that happy around Arlen because he was more than capable of flipping on some topic.

So it is interesting now to hear this 'glorious' commentary by news media guys....over the great 'centralist'.   The other side to this story is that he really didn't have that strong point on going out and convincing various people from opposition parities to form up on some topic.

Best Way to Get Rid of Jobs

Starting on 1 January 2013, California will start this interesting episode....charging companies for the amount of greenhouse gases they create.  Some idiot will come around to your company....perhaps a lawn furniture company with one hundred employees....observe what you do to create greenhouse gases, and then send you a bill.  It would be the first state to start something like this.

The interesting part to this is that some other arm of the operation....would be auctioning off a marketable piece of this....thus creating a new "Wall-Street" operation in California....related to cap-and-trade, or greenhouse gases.

The folks directly hit by this?  Power companies.  The cost?  Don't worry....they will pass every single dollar of cost onto the general public.  Your bill, if you live in California, will inch up a couple of bucks each month....thanks to greenhouse gases.

What a logical guy can assume here?  Power companies might eventually get smart, and create less power.....forcing the public to take power from other states, which don't have to comply with the silly rule.  Along the way...various industries in California will assess the cost, and eventually come to agree on relocating some of their operations to Nevada or Arizona.  Jobs?  They will relocate along the way.

If you wanted a mechanism to lessen the population of the state....this greenhouse gas trick....would do the job, and probably chase a quarter of the population out of the state in thirty years.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

A Dividing Number

It won't make into your local news, unless you live in Florida....and it certainly won't make into your national news....like those Today Show folks, or the CBS Nightly News....but the Florida State Board of Education has done something a bit unusual.

The Florida board has come to realize there is some difference in testing results between races.  So they set up a plan of sorts, which has different goals.....for students of different races.  By 2018....ninety percent of Asian kids ought to be reading at or above their grade level.  Naturally, white kids, in the eighty-eight percent range....ought to be reading above their grade level.  Latino kids?  Well....they ought to be reading with eighty-one percent at or above their level.  And black kids?  Only seventy-four percent of them have to read at or above their level.

To make some sense out of this...the board says they had to get a waiver to get around the federal law of "No Kid Left Behind"....and this waiver put them into a corner, so they had to adjust what they could accomplish, and this race thing just plain made good sense.

So I sat and pondered.

They didn't mention Jewish kids.  They didn't mention Russian kids.  They didn't mention American Indian kids.

What happens if you are fifty-percent white and fifty-percent Asian....which category will you fall into?

Are we kinda saying that black kids are in the loser status....compared to Asian kids?

You can imagine yourself sitting in a class of twenty-four kids, and there's some obvious points of division....where black kids can just smile and not worry about much, and the Asian kids are pressured to perform.  Somehow, this state school board has tossed in some methods that will stir up passions real quick.  In the end.....the sad thing is that 100 percent of kids ought to be reading at their grade level.....end of the story.  We don't seem to be aiming very high.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Sprinkling YouTube Magic Dust on Everything

Yesterday....they had this nifty question and answer episode over at the State Department.  The State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland....jumped right in, and went right back to the claim started three weeks ago....that the YouTube video was the root cause of the ambassador being killed in Libya.  Course, over the last ten days....that story got squashed by a dozen high-level government folks who had to appear in front of cameras or congress.  But she went right back to the original claim...after VP Joe this week said the same thing.

A guy could get this feeling of the Paraguay government being more competent than these guys in DC.

So.....this is how this would all work.

A guy could ask how the recession occurred, and be told that some guy started a rumor in California on YouTube of bank failure....then the next day....banks just all failed.

A guy could ask the gov’t spokesperson how Fast and Furious worked, and they’d respond that a YouTube video from upstate Michigan started the whole thing.

A guy could ask how GM came to bankruptcy and fail, and they'd respond that a YouTube video clip from a Ford muffler guy....started the whole thing.  GM never would have failed unless the Ford guy tripped them up on the clip.

A guy could ask how these solar panel companies came to fail, and they'd respond that a YouTube video from some guy name Hung Jung in China....started this whole failure rumor, and collapsed the company.

A guy could ask how 9-11 really occurred, and they'd respond that some Ossama guy from Afghanistan started a YouTube video suggesting planes hit the towers, and the towers collapsed....which started this whole "rumor" of Taliban terrorists.

A guy could ask who got the stimulus money from Congress, and they'd respond that a video clip on YouTube started a rumor of stimulus money, but it's just not true that money ever got spent or allocated like Fox News says.

Eventually....folks would ask if Santa Claus was real, and they'd respond that bogus video clips on YouTube started this Santa rumor, and it's just plain false.

At some point, we'd determine that shutting down YouTube might be in our national interest, then discover that it didn't have much to do with any mess.

Confusing?  Yeah.  It's like asking a Baptist minister if you sipped one bit of whiskey on Saturday night, and if that was enough to send you off to hell.  It's all dependent on how foolish the minister wants to be.  (the truth is....six sips....would cross the line and you'd have to carry a Bible around with you for six weeks straight to get the hell-curse off your back).  But don't go looking on YouTube for an explanation for this.