Monday, 30 September 2019

That CIA Dude

In a normal country (like the UK, or France)....if it came up that their version of the CIA or NSA was spying on the President or his actions....there would be the chief guy for the agency brought in, and fired.  Then the federal cops would fan out and locate the people involved.  You could expect to get twenty years in prison.

So you turn and look at this CIA guy, and his 'dossier', and you start to wonder how he can continue to roam free at work, or perform his regular 'duties'. 

If I were his boss....there would be a full-time supervisor over the guy, and every minute of his day documented.  I'd make sure he was kept busy and lacking any idle-time. 

Punishment?  No....but you can't have some guy walking around in the CIA with the attitude that he can spy on the President. 

Omar Speaks

I sat this afternoon, and was reading through commentary by Rep. Ilhan Omar.  She has this new idea.....she would like to fix all the public/private student debt in America.....with a $1.6 tax on Wall Street transactions.

Who would end up paying this?  Well, after you think about it.....the consumer himself....not Wall Street.  Which consumer?  Some with college debt....some without any college debt.....some without any college at all.

Selling this as resolving the issue?  Once you lay the whole thing out.....most people will start laughing and asking why limit it to college debt?  You ought to include free housing and mortgage assistance for millions of Americans with the same gimmick.  You could make a college tax where kids attending college should pay $88 a month to support mortgage debt. 

Then we could make another tax, on top of another tax, on top of another tax.

There is a college debt issue, but if you'd just limit a kid to $10k of a loan per year....you'd resolve this fairly quickly, and downsize the number of kids attending four-year universities. 

The Ukraine Question

Is there anything illegal with the whole Hunter Biden episode?  Well....so far, no.

The 1.8-billion dollars of a US 'gift' to this Ukraine company?  It's the ONLY company in the Ukraine which does natural gas development.  The fact that it's run by a oligarch?  Nothing illegal.

The fact that this company quickly turned (within one day) to hire Hunter Biden, and an associate to be on the board?  Nothing illegal.

The $50k a month salary for Hunter Biden?  Nothing illegal.  The guy lacks any background or experience, but we can admit that the company could hire four blind Thai barbers if they wanted to be on the board.

Movement of money via two banking systems in Europe known for money-laundering?  Nothing illegal proven yet.

Hunter Biden declared all income for taxes? One assumes that, so nothing illegal proven yet.

Unethical behavior?  Well, that's the problem here.  Between the Obama/Biden White House, the handling of the money, hiring some guy with zero background, and maybe money-laundering....it all looks pretty unethical.  But stuff like this happens on a minute-by-minute basis in Washington, and there's probably 200 billion tossed away into some unethical pit each year. 

How many kids of Senators are sitting on boards because of 'daddy' or 'mother'?  It's best not to ask that.

That's the curious story with no end.  Just a lot of bad ethical behavior. 

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Corruption Story

Over the weekend, I read through this corruption article out of China (Danzhou).....where cops arrived and did a search warrant on the former mayor of the city.

So there's this secret vault area in his basement, and what they found was this.....almost 14 tons of gold (you can figure that it adds up around 700 million dollars). 

On top of that....268 billion Yuan.  That comes out into the range of 37-billion dollars.  Cash?   Yep....in cash.

What'll happen to the guy?  He'll be dragged into court...lectured....and a week later executed.  In this case, you have to wonder....why keep the money in China?  He should have shipped it out and quietly left the country one day, with some luxury condo in Cyprus. 

The Senators Who Were At Clinton's Impeachment

This is an interesting topic.  You have to go back to 19 December 1998, when the impeachment hearing ended.....with it being a pretty long time ago. 

The Senators who are here now and can remember the episode?

Enzi of Wyoming (R), Murray of Washington (D), Leahy of Vermont (D),  Reed of Rhode Island (D), Wyden of Oregon (D), Inhofe of Oklahoma (R), Collins of Maine (R), McConnell of Kentucky (R), Roberts of Kansas (R), Grassley of Iowa (R), Durbin of Illinois (D), Feinstein of California (D), and Shelby of Alabama (R, note he flipped from Democrat to Republican four years prior to the impeachment). 

These thirteen remember the episode, and how dramatic things became.  The pressure compared to 1998?  I think it's intensified more than triple of what happened in 1998. 

An added question that I saw in the past week....if you had any of the Senators pass away in this impeachment period....what would happen?  Well....the impeachment rules have no features to cover that.  Logic would dictate that they'd suspend the impeachment for roughly ten days, during which....the funeral would occur.  The replacement Senator?  No one says if they'd allow the guy to be seated, or if they'd delay his entry until after the impeachment ended.  This might be left to McConnell to direct or make a decision over. 

If some Senator had a heart attack or stroke?  No rule covers that either.  Could a Senator vote from his bed?  No rule.  Could the Senator miss the entire hearing while in bed, and still vote?  No rule. 

This Hillary-Runs Scenario

This past week, it's been brought on a couple of fronts that this whole impeachment business may lead to Hillary Clinton coming out of the shadows, and ending up as the Presidential candidate after the Democratic convention.  So let's examine the scenario.

First, take into consideration that most all Democrats in DC are existing in a bubble at this point....watching CNN and MSNBC and attending parties with like-minded people, believing they will impeach Trump....it's just a question of the timing.

So you come to Pence being President (in this Democratic fantasy).  With no one organized to run a campaign in the start of the primary season....Pence would be it, and without any real funding.  In this fantasy....Pence can't do much and would be a 2-star candidate against the Democrats.

Then you come to the vote being divided enough for the Democrats....that no clear winner exists at the beginning of the convention.  Hillary would walk in, and declare herself. 

Hillary would be fresh, and able to quickly assemble cash-flow for campaign funds.  Hillary would only have to campaign for two months, and then get elected in November.

Problems:

1.  Hillary turns 72 in October of 2020.  Whatever health issues she had in 2016....are still there and likely intensified.

2.  Trump would be standing there at the end of the impeachment, out of office, and likely sitting on 1-billion dollars of campaign funds.  He can pick any replacement person and bump them up in a matter of 24 hours.

3.  There is potential that in this impeachment hearing, Hillary's name might come up and some connections back to the Ukraine might occur. 

4.  Finally, CNN's value to the Democratic message will be firmly dissolved by the end of the impeachment hearing.  If you think viewership numbers are bad now....just wait.

It's a lousy scenario and only works if you can find 20-odd Republicans in the Senate who'd be crazy enough to cross the line.  Frankly, I suspect that Hillary would be unable to get the same number of votes that she got in 2016. 

Saturday, 28 September 2019

How Many Hours of TV Action for the Impeachment?

You go and do the math.

You need House hearings, with analysis by the networks....so go figure that six hours a day of House hearings for at least six to eight weeks, with analytical time each evening to tell a story via one network.....adding up to 300 hours possible.  Then you add up CNN, and the other dozen possibilities....so there's another 200 hours out there.

Then it goes to the Senate.  Some people think this would conclude in ten days.  I tend to disagree and think it will go up to around six to eight weeks.  You figure six hours a day, with analytical time by the networks....it's up around 1,000 hours of time between the House, the Senate, and networks. 

People tired of this impeachment chatter?  It's a safe bet, by the end....it'll be a tremendous let-down for the pro-Hillary people. 

The 'Free' Deal

Sometimes, people say things, and I'll sit there for twenty minutes trying grasp how they meant this.

Today, Bernie Sanders said something to the effect, that his $16-trillion dollar Green 'climate-change' plan....would basically pay for itself. 

I tried to imagine this.

It'd be like me talking to the wife and suggesting that a $4,000 gas grill unit.....would basically pay for itself. 

It'd be like my brother buying a $250,000 Lamborghini and saying over and over....it'd basically pay for itself.

It'd be like the New York Yankees signing four of the best pitchers in the major leagues, for a price of $33-million each for a five-year contract, and suggesting that it'd basically pay for itself. 

So I'm not really sure if Bernie knows what it means....'to pay for itself'.  If this was all 'free'....just say it and blink once or twice.  Write down in ink.....'free of charge'.  But I got this feeling....he's just never done any financial planning. 

What You Ought to Know About the Senate in an Impeachment

There's not a lot of rules on the handling of an impeachment once the House hands the paperwork/charges over to the Senate, but you might want to brush up on how this episode will go.

The head of impeachment (the judge) is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Roberts).  During this 10-to-30 day period....there's probably not going to be any business conducted at the Supreme Court (shocker?).  If Roberts disallows anything....where it goes?  That's not entirely clear....it could go to the Supreme Court, but with only individuals to decide upon it....it'd be split.

The House will designate members to be a prosecution-team and present the case.

The President, or his lawyers, and Senate members can present opposing evidence, and pose questions upon the prosecution-team.

Will the prosecution-team be made of House members?  The law doesn't say it has to be that way, and there's some suggestion that it may be non-House members in this case (professional lawyers).

Conviction?  You need a supermajority.....two-thirds of the Senate.  67 Senators.

Odds of getting 67?  There are 45 Democrats and 2 independents.  From the two independents, one is Angus King (professional lawyer) who has leaned on occasion to the right.  So you might be able to count 46 guaranteed votes, and you'd need 21 Republicans to slide over.  It's anyone's guess but I would imagine five will flip, and those five are probably going receive enough heat that their Republican membership might be finished at the end.

Could the President's 'team' take up three weeks to counter the charges?  That's a real possibility.  You can figure with the opening day, and the prosecution summary....around eight to twelve work-days will be wasted.

The wild-card in this Senate meeting?  I would suggest three characters to watch: Graham, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee.....all lawyers.  I expect all three to be correcting Roberts on a daily basis, and make his job miserable.

Handing this over to the Senate in late October, and running it to Thanksgiving week, and then starting back up the week after?  Well, that's the significant problem in this timing.  It would have been smarter to start this in mid-January.

The odds that the President might be in non-Americans and present a broader case against former VP Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, and members of the Obama White House?  There's nothing hindering that and making this into a massive-firing line.  The Ukrainian former AG giving testimony?  Yes.  Money-laundering experts talking about how Hunter Biden did his business?  Possibility.  You might even have foreign operatives come in and lay out their relationships with the DNC in 2016.   In terms of messy politics, this would dissolve a lot of trust in the current system.

So Trump wins?  More than likely.

The losers?  CNN will broadcast this live, and probably carry three hours prior to each day with hype, and conclude the day with another three hours of hype.  Most viewers will be burned out after a week of this.

Joe Biden?  I don't see him being active much after this event.

Hunter Biden?  It's hard to see him avoiding some legal challenge to drag him back to the Ukraine to face charges.

Voter frustration?  That's really the central theme to this.....no one will be happy over politics in general, for the next ten years.

Friday, 27 September 2019

'Gone Rogue'

It's an expression that most people have never heard used....except on TV news or in some Rambo movie.

So I'll define 'gone rogue' for you.

It's like some farmer who has been told that normal farming is X, Y and Z....but you show up one day and they got a book on Japanese farming techniques, and various neighbors are stopping to remark that 'Walter has gone rogue'.  It means he's not following tradition, normal rules, established procedures, or public doctrine. 

It'd be like you buying and sipping corn whiskey all your life, and one day....the neighbor shows up and you've gone and mixed the moonshine with strawberry syrup, and put a cherry into the glass....doing 'gone moonshine rogue'.

Or it'd be like you being a single guy all your life....up to age 60....suddenly getting into a relationship with the Dairy Dip gal (Wendy, age 18). 

Or it'd be like you smoking unfiltered cigarettes for forty years, and just stopping all the sudden one day.

Or it'd be like you to attend a local Methodist Church each week for twenty-five years, and suddenly....you join up with some South Korean Baptist group.

Or it'd be like you to wear Red Wing boots to work daily, then suddenly you start wearing Italian-made sandals to work each day. 

It's not that 'gone rogue' is bad....it's just a sign that maybe you lost your way, or got knocked in the head. 

2020 and Senator Jones

I spent nearly an hour this morning, gazing over the 2020 election period, and looking particularly at one single election that will come up.....from my home-state of Alabama....Senator Jones (D) has to run again.

It's an odd polling listing when you go out and examine this.  Two of the polls that you'd typically use....say it's a toss-up.  One poll would suggest a lean-to-the-right-slightly (Jones losing).

Here's the thing....there are presently eight individuals from the Republican Party declared for that Senate seat.  Yes, our 'loser' (Roy Moore) does say he intends to campaign and run again. 

But on top of that.....there are another eight individuals (including the Governor herself (Ivey)).....who are gazing at the idea of running.  Yes, sixteen folks.

Out of this group, there are five household names, that a majority of Alabama voters have heard of and would consider.  At the top of this list?  Tommy Tuberville (former head coach of the Auburn football team). 

So is the polling a 'dud'?  More or less.  I admit....if the 'loser' were the one to face Jones....Jones wins.  There is no doubt.  If you picked from any of the five others with name-appeal beyond the 'loser'?  It's probably a 60-to-62 percent win for the Republican (even the football coach-turned-politician).  How I base that number?  Trump took 62-percent in 2016, and most of the elections that Sessions took were in the 790,000-plus range within the state, and with Jones's past election of 673,000 votes....it's just not enough unless you put a true 'loser' up.

This senate seat flipping in January 2021?  No doubt. 

The Necessity of Nancy Pelosi's Health for the Next 75 Days

Basically, it's a fairly stressful period for the House Speaker for the next 75 days.  If at any point, she has a stroke or heart attack.....the whole impeachment process goes into a tail-spin, and the Democrats in the House would have to go and find the replacement Speaker. 

Questions would come up and you'd have to wonder....can Nancy come back?  Is she out for six weeks?  Who could do a stand-in job?  Could the Democrats come to agree on someone that easily? 

So I think the Speaker is under a fair amount of pressure and stress.  If you wanted to make this whole impeachment process into a bigger mess than what it is....having Pelosi wheeled out of the Hall from a sudden stroke would be it.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

What Is Accomplished Over the Next 120 Days?

Looking forward to October, November, December and January.....what exactly will Congress be able to achieve?  More or less nothing?

For the bulk of 2019, and then adding this 120 day period onto it......if this impeachment thing fails, then the record for the House members going home in summer of 2020 to campaign looks like crap. 

If they fail on this impeachment, will they go and find something else to impeach upon?  My guess is that you might actually see a second impeachment (if round one fails in January) by October. 

All of this will lead voters to question working ethics and achievements....then likely vote a hundred Democrats out of the House. 

Can you blame this upon Pelosi?  No, she's stuck with the players in the House, and it's their agenda....for better or worse. 

After Reading the Whistle-blower Complaint

Basically nine pages.....highly organized, and in a manner of a PhD thesis (something I found odd).  To write in this manner?  Well, something like this would have taken a minimum of forty hours, with proof-reading required. 

So, three basic observations:

1.  Almost all (I'd say near 98-percent) is second-hand information.  He heard it from so-and-so.  He heard this from another so-and-so.  So to me, as the IG over this....I'd just be shaking my head.  It's basically worthless, unless you forced each single first-hand individual to come in and give testimony.  The IG won't go to that extent unless there was something of value stolen or someone threatened. 

2.  The guy writes this a great deal.....'these events happened, but I don't know why'.  Again, that takes away any value to the complaint itself.  Maybe he should be President, and let others second-guess him?

3.  He has classification authority, which most mid-range or lower-ranking folks would not have.  But you have to ask the question.....the info that he took....he seemed to spend a lot of time on research.  I would be guessing over the period in question....he must have invested a minimum of eighty man-hours in writing and researching the entire 'event'.  So it begs the question....what exactly is this guy's full-time job?  I certainly (when working in the Pentagon) would never have had so much free time to do something like this. 

Value?  Well....it sounds politically biased, and I have to wonder if he's capable of working for the President.  Maybe he's one of those folks who should just get a job with Google, write code, or run a car-rental shop at the airport. 

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

What Do Polar Bears Eat?

It's an unusual topic and I spent around 90 minutes today reading up on Polar Bears and their 'dinners'.

So lets start with an odd fact which few people grasp....Polar Bears don't eat Penguins.  Why?  You'd think some type of relationship thing?  Well....no.  Penguins only frequent the South Pole region.  Polar Bears only frequent the North Pole region (to include the US, Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Russia, Norway, Sweden, and Finland).  So they never meet up.  However if a couple of Penguins did meet up Pete, the Polar Bear....they'd likely be a mid-day snack.

Polar Bears do like the taste of Seals, along with various Whales and Walruses.  Geese and bird eggs?  Yes....that's on the list as well.  Fish?  Yep, and various types.  Rabbits and mice?  That's on the menu as well.  The various berries that might grow in the northern 'circle'?  Polar Bears will go for that, but it's not worth the low calorie count.

So here's the thing, if you go and read summaries by guys who spend weeks out in the wild and observe Polar Bears....their primary source of food is Seals (adults and pups).  If you subtract Seals or hunt them out of existence....then you got a problem.  Whales and Walruses, down on the list?  You are mostly talking about the caucus of Whales, that might accidentally end up on some beach.  The Walrus thing is a good number two source of food for Polar Bears. 

So if you have a Polar Bear standing in front of you and looking 'sickly'?  Well....it's fairly good odds that he's in the same age group as those old sickly lions that you occasionally see on Mutual of Omaha shows, and toward the last year of his life. 

If you wanted to wipe the Polar Bears out?  You'd have to go and hunt the Seals and Walrus populations down to nothing.  Presently, no one seems to have that agenda on their list. 

Bernie and His Registry

I tried to make sense out of this....Bernie Sanders came out yesterday and said that America needs is a “national wealth registry.”  You make over X-amount....you'd be on this registry.

What's the purpose of the IRS?  Well....no matter what amount you make, you kinda have to fill out paperwork and let them know how things are. 

Is Bernie even aware that the IRS exists?  I don't know.

But after thinking over this....I have this better idea.....a national nutcase registry.

When the cops or some judge says you are a certified nutcase....your name goes on this registry.  No matter where you move, or live.....folks could look you up and feel good that you aren't on the list, or bad if you are on the list.

But I guess that my registry idea won't take off. 

Greta and Evangelist 'Kids'

After watching the UN clips of Greta Thunberg, I turned off the sound and watched the animation of the speaker.

If you've ever been in the south of the US for an extended period....particularly in the 1960s and 1970s.....especially in the heat of the summer, there are revivals.  Around one-percent of these will include Evangelist 'Jimmy Joe' who was typically 12 to 14 years old, and some teenage kid who'd gotten all Jesus-energized, and started quoting scripture (mostly all from the New Testament). 

After he'd impressed his parents and relatives....some minister would hear about 'Jimmy Joe' and come over.....getting some hyped-up feeling over this kid's minister actions.  Then he'd convince 'Jimmy Joe' to come to a revival one evening to preach.

They'd put out the word in the community, dozens of extra folks would drive five to ten miles out of their way, to hear this 13-year-old evangelist to preach to them.  Maybe a two or three dozen young teens would show up....who typically wouldn't be at some revival. 

'Jimmy Joe' would put the emphasis into his speech....slaming the Bible down, talking trash on Satan, praising John the Baptist as if he were a uncle, describing angels as if they were from the Dallas Cowboys, and trying to touch people (usually the adult minister would try to correct him and avoid that fakeness) to rid them of demons. 

A dozen folks would come forward at the end of the 'show'....confessing their sins, and they'd all hustle on Sunday to be baptized. 

Most 'Jimmy Joes' would last around five years, and half the time....they'd get burned out or emotionally strung up to such a degree that they needed to be sent off to a rehab unit in Bessemer or Ozark Springs.

I look at Greta and I basically see the same behavior, and the same 'saving' at work.  'Jimmy Joe' characters always believed they were doing God's work, and Greta believes she's saving the Earth. 

At some point, she'll go over the line, and say something that will bother the social folks of Sweden, and they will come to suggest to the parents that she's either burned-out, or emotionally unstable.  My guess is that they will swiftly remove her from Sweden and find some country where they don't grab folks for forced rehab. 

But I'll say this.  There's nothing wrong with 'Jimmy Joe' people being evangelists and carrying on this 'save-your-soul' business.  If it makes them happy.....fine.  I generally believe the same for Greta, and her save-the-Earth business.  If it makes her happy, fine.  But there is this fine line where you are burned-out, and I would suggest Greta is about half-way there. 

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Me and Global Cooling

In the midst of the summer of 1974, going from the ninth to the tenth grade, Time magazine produced it's wonderfully graphic report on the approaching ice age.  The title?  "Another Ice Age".

I was at the book store in Florence....saw the cover....and impulsively bought the issue.  I was mostly a regular reader of Reader's Digest, Argosy and National Geographic.

I read through the article at least three times over that summer period.  As the new school year started, I used the meager and marginal library at the school to read up on the topic....discovering that this ice age business was slated to start between 2020 and 2030.  The Time piece?  It only said 'maybe' and that it might be a couple hundred years. 

Trying to discuss this?  Well....no other juvenile associates read Time, and the school librarian suggested that it might not be all that bad (she hated hot summer weather). 

Around fifteen years would pass, and I kinda noted one day via another Time article....that the glacier age thing was long gone, and 'heat' was now the worry.  Facts were facts, I was told.  It bothered me....the facts were lined up with an ice age, and then it just disappeared?  How was that possible?

Around twenty-five years ago, I came to the realization....doomsday 'chatter' sells magazines, TV news, and newspapers.  It also pays for college professors and various research foundations.

So I'm sitting back and wondering....from the kids around in the summer of 1974....how many of them were like me....hyped up on doomsday global cooling, and then let-down on the glacier period never occurring.

How I See This Biden-Trump Thing Going

Without thinking much over the landscape, there's probably a hundred Democratic House members who think they have the magical element to go onto impeachment now.  This shouldn't take more than three months to gather the evidence and issue the impeachment paperwork to the Senate.

So what's this landscape going to look like?  Trump calls the PM of the Ukraine, and asks for Hunter Biden's details on money-laundering.  US law?  It's pretty harsh on money-laundering, and yes....it's illegal. 

When the Senate gets the impeachment paperwork....once opened, it's really a discussion about Joe Biden's son and his bad behavior.....accompanied by the step-son of John Kerry.  Yes, they set up shell companies, and shifted millions into the US (clean money). 

The deeper you go into this mess....the worse-off it looks for Hunter Biden and his relationship with the IRS.  Just in legal fees to pay off the IRS and avoid jail....I'd be guessing between half-a-million and a million. 

The impeachment ending?  How can you prosecute some President for carrying out US law?  The sad thing is that Joe Biden himself....didn't have anything to do with this stupid act by Hunter Biden.  Oh....well....yeah, he did call and put pressure on the Ukraine government not to investigate his son.  I guess that would violate some ethical things.  In the end, this type of impeachment would just dissolve away, and everyone shaking their heads on how stupid Hunter Biden was, and trying to just forget about Joe Biden's moment of bad ethical judgement.  Trump clean?  Unless you can show Hunter Biden donated half-a-million in cash to the Trump-2016 election campaign....that's about the only wild suggestion that would hurt Trump. 

How to Properly Money-Launder 'Bad' Cash

It came up in the banking news about eighteen months ago....ABLV, a Latvian bank....was noted for serious money-laundering.  This involved not only Russian money-laundering, but also cash for North Korea.

The US had a serious meeting with Latvian leaders and kinda hinted in a serious way.....they needed to correct some serious problems.

The odds that ABLV was the only Latvian bank doing this?  That's a curious question.

But that wasn't the only problem....Latvian was allowing shell companies to be staged and operated, without much control.  You'd just show up....file some paperwork, and 'X-to-X' would be created.  It might amount to be strictly a mailbox where 20-million a year would flow into, and out....seemingly on paper to be legit but mostly non-existent.

So after the money was cleaned in Latvia, it'd move onto Cyprus....where another company would be created....another mail-box scheme.  Here, you could show enormous losses or business deals being made (at least on paper), and then the money could flow cleanly back to the US.

That's how Hunter Biden accomplished the whole game.  Some Ukrainians gave him money, which he shifted to Latvia....cleaning it.  Then he flipped the money to a fake shell company out of Cyprus, and then delivered it back to the US. 

So there's this curious part of the story....around a year ago (Oct-Nov of 2018)....Cyprus got all heated up and dumped 20,000 fake business accounts....to show they were 'serious'.  There is no evidence that Hunter Biden's fake account was in the 20,000.  So it's probably still existing today.

Any of this reported to IRS?  No, but they might now be interested.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Stranded Story

It is front-page news today in Germany and likely to remain there for the next seven days.  The Thomas Cook travel group....is now bankrupt. What journalists say (from this weekend) is that about 150,000 Brits are stranded somewhere, and around 300,000 Germans are in some vacation situation and no way back.

Airline tickets?  Worthless.  Hotels will be asking you to check out.  One source today said that in Tunisia....hotels were holding vacation folks 'hostage' and you couldn't leave the country until you provided a paid bill to the hotel. 

Coming up with alternate methods to return?  You could be talking about a whole week before seats are available on some plane to return to Germany, and this cash required comes out of your own pocket. 

NBC, Guilt, and Reality

NBC, in the past week, has started up some series on their news episodes....where they go and ask regular Americans to 'confess' and admit their own personal guilt for climate change. 

Around a decade ago, I read through two books on Martin Luther.  There are a couple of central themes to the life and accomplishments of the German Lutheran priest.  Most of these lead back to the Catholic Church and the need for Catholics to continually feel guilt.  It's not a modern thing on this guilt business....the church was built with a base of guilt. 

Letters of Indulgence?  Martin Luther came to be amazed over the Catholic Church introduction of the letters and the need of Church members to continually 'buy' the letters to avoid 'hell'.  So in period, you'd go and confess your sins to the local church, and they'd sell you letters to absolve you of your sins, and ensure you felt good, and guaranteed you a spot into heaven. 

The NBC gimmick here?  More or less the same thing.  You announce your sin, and the NBC guy gives you a verbal 'we can forgive' message, which leads you to feel better.  The fact that it's a free 'we can forgive' you message?  No one can argue about things that are free. 

How long will the news series last?  I'm guessing for a year or so.  Might it end early?  Maybe.  If you had a guy answer that he doesn't flush if he urinates, or that he urinates in his parking lot (not in the house).....that might convince the bosses to end it early. 

The problem I see in this guilt business is that bulk of Americans don't have that kind of guilt problem.  These are people worrying about their mortgage, their hot-water heater, where the $50k will come from for the daughter's college, the transmission that seems to be failing in the Buick, the neighbor is shooting heroin in the backyard, or their NCAA football team is all crapped-out.  I suspect that if you did the numbers.....climate change guilt won't be anywhere on the top hundred worries of most Americans. 

So having a show to let you admit guilt and get absolved will sell?  I have my doubts. 

The Biden Story

When you gaze over at the Hunter Biden discussion, there's three things that stand out.

First, Hunter Biden is an expert on absolutely nothing, yet some oil/gas folks in the Ukraine hired up this guy to be a 'talker' or 'face' in their organization.  One news source say $50,000 a year was part of the deal to sit on a board.  Another says that there was a regular job attached, with thousands a month involved.  All of that reported to IRS?  I would assume that he reported (as required), and took the tax credit for overseas income.  Course, maybe he was fairly stupid and only reported one of the jobs.  Are there jobs like this where regular Americans get hired to be on some foreign board.....without any expertise at all?  I'd like to get a job like that.

Second, when this came up as a topic in the Ukraine....the prosecutor wanted to understand how this occurred, and if there was anything illegal.  He was more or less 'let-go'.  Why?  No explanation is given.  Some say that pressure came from the US.  Proof?  There simply isn't any.

Third, it is kinda funny.....Trump is asking the Ukrainian government to research and provide a Hunter Biden-dossier....which is exactly what the Obama administration did to Trump four years ago.  The Trump-dossier was supposed to be embarrassing and factual.  This Hunter Biden-dossier is probably set to be embarrassing and factual.  Instead of some James Bond-type character writing the dossier....it'll be some Ukrainian crew. 

Just me looking at this, but I think Hunter Biden better start looking for a new occupation, and a tax-lawyer.  I would suspect that various funds just never got reported to IRS, and someone will have to bail the guy out. 

Friday, 20 September 2019

Trump and the Wad of Cash

Yesterday, some photographer (from Reuters) got a picture of President Trump and what appeared to be a 'wad' of cash in his back-pocket.  Later, journalists came up to ask Trump about it, and he admits....'yes', that he carries cash on himself all the time.  How much?  That's not clear.  Maybe it's ten twenties.....maybe it's forty twenties.  The purpose of the money?  Tips at the hotels that he stays at. 

Several decades ago, I worked with an Air Force NCO who carried a thousand dollars on his person....on a daily basis.  In those days, it was a significant amount of money.  It was always neatly arranged in ones, fives, tens and twenties....with a couple of hundreds toward the rear of this collection.  His 'excuse' was that he'd find some deal at a flea market or garage sale (he was a habitual shopper), and swing the deal immediately.  He would go and claim to flipping the item within days or weeks, and yearly....bragging about making several thousand dollars in profit from this habit.

If you bring up this topic today, around most folks.....no one except the guys over sixty might have a habit like this.  Some younger folks will tell you that they carry on a charge-card or two, and maybe ten dollars in cash for sodas or coffee throughout a week. 

Another oddity about Trump?  Maybe, but you can also make the case that he tips well (if it's twenties that he hands the maids). 

Course, if you were anti-Trump, you'd say that people are sneaking up to him and offering him cash for 'favors'.....paying him in loose twenties. 

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Five Examples of Doomsday Predictions (That Never Happened)

One of my five off-off-the-top discussion topics (besides phobias, political corruption, Andy Griffith show characters, bad hotels, drunken behavior, and German customs).....is doomsday predictions that simply were great to hear, and never occurred.

I think people in general....want to badly believe in something, even if it is bad news, a hoax, or just crazy. 

So onto the first example.  Way back....roughly 2,050 years ago....in the 'Holyland'....there was this group of characters who lived in solitude.  Their lead character...a guy by the name of Simon ben Giora, came up with this great doomsday prediction for the group.  He said that this great battle was going to occur in Judea....with the Romans being wiped out.  Shortly after that....the Messah would arrive.  Naturally, to celebrate this upcoming doomsday, he had the group stamp coins to commemorate the upcoming battle and victory.  For the record, the people of Judea, did end up with two campaigns against the people of Rome, and Rome won both of them.   The coins?  No one ever brings up this topic.

Second, Hans Hut.  Hans grew up in Germany in the late 1400s, and became this traveling book-dealer of sorts.  At some point around 1526 (36 years old)....Hans got extremely active  in ministering to people. In southern Germany, he made a name for himself....mostly for hard doses of Christianity.  In the early part of 1527, he predicted the end of the world would occur on 28 May 1528.  Naturally, this got around, and triggered a lot of aggravation and anxiety among the public.  Toward the fall of 1527, Hans got picked up by some folks and accused of various crimes....which led to interrogations and torture.  He would die on 7 December 1527.  As you might imagine, the 28th of May came the next year, without much of a problem.

Third, in the early 1960s.....Jim Jones told his folks of a nuclear war coming in 1967.  In preparation for it.....he moved the family to Brazil (based on a news article that said it'd be a safe place in a nuke war).  At some point, he dropped the nuke war prediction, and moved the family to California.  This was the same Jim Jones who moved the family out of California, and helped to kill every member of his sect.

Fourth, Charles Manson...upon hearing the Beatles record.....spoke of a great race war coming in 1969.  It never came.

Finally, you come to Stephen Nelson.  who works in the science department of Tulane University....officially a fairly smart guy.  He's come out with his own prediction, with some factual background.  He points out that roughly every 100 million years....a significant 'rock' (asteroid) hits the Earth of a noticeable size.  The last event?  Around 66-million years ago, so by his prediction....in about 34-million years....the next asteroid of significant size ought to hit. 

On four of these predictions, it was simply a hoax.  But with Nelson....he has a doomsday prediction with some slight evidence. 

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Age Limits Idea

Why he brought this up....is a big unknown.  But former President Jimmy Carter made public news by suggesting that you need a age limit rule established for Presidents.  He kinda suggested '80' ought to be the limit.

It's one of those thought-provoking things. 

If '80' is good enough for Presidential limits....why not the same for Senators and House members?  Oh....well....that might be interesting to watch.  Presently, five US Senators are over the age of eighty.

But why limit this to eighty?  Why not seventy? 

Are there differing factors for folks, where age and mental-thinking are shot by age sixty?  I've worked with some folks who were already showing age problems at sixty, and couldn't handle complicated matters or stressful moments. 

I'll admit that health concerns for political folks over the age of sixty ought to be a big factor in electing them.  I saw John McCain being in that way, and he should have been retired a full decade before his death.  The former Mississippi Senator, Thad Cochran, was in very fragile shape for the final five years in the Senate, with his chief of staff working hard to hide that issue. 

Maybe this will provoke some thought and trigger something in DC....but I doubt it. 

The Bernie Plan

This morning, I picked up the Bernie Sanders plan on housing.

The basic idea?  $2.5 trillion would be spent along two paths.  One path would be around $400 billion....which would involve two-million mixed-income social housing units.  He doesn't say the time period, but it's probably over ten years.

The second path?  $1.5-trillion (yes, with a T), over ten years, to build 7.4 million houses that he says in some way....will eliminate the gap in affordable housing for low-income folks.

So then he said the magic words....that Americans ought to have the fundamental right to "safe, decent, accessible, and affordable homes".

How this would be paid?  A new tax.....called the 'wealth tax'.  After looking at it....it'd likely only affect billionaires in the US....aiming at the top one-tenth of one-percent of folks. 

The problems with this idea?  I admit....it is a noble idea, and would appeal to low-wage people in a big way.  But lets be honest to ourselves in analyzing this.

First, this fundamental right for housing doesn't exist.  If you deem that it does exist, then why doesn't a fundamental right for affordable, safe, and nice cars exist?  Or how about a fundamental right to cheap and well-packaged cable TV?  Or how about a fundamental right for reasonably priced groceries?  Some druggies would say that meth ought to be a fundamental right, and it should be priced cheaper. 

Second, state by state, the landscape differs on low-wage people and their housing issues.  If you live in a highly urbanized area like Dallas or Portland, it's likely that you'd have these 'Bernie-units' built.  If you lived in Pulaski, Tennessee?  You probably don't have a need for the units.  So this would be a urban plan for the most part, and miss around 70-percent of the rest of the nation.

Third, if you built all of these, and within five years....then you had drug or crime elements in these Bernie-neighborhoods, so they were unsafe.....would you dump them and go build more elsewhere?  It's not really explained how you would make them 'safe'. 

Fourth, would some cities put up a fight and demand certain characteristics of the Bernie-housing, inflating the price by 30-to-50 percent?  This might be a federal program pushed 'downward', but one could see states and counties making rules which push the unit price upward in the end.

Fifth, on this wealth tax.....what if Congress 'accidentally' created little ripple-credits which brought some billionaires chances to save $20 million here and there, and suddenly it wasn't the ultra-wealthy paying for this, but the secondary group which weren't originally affected?  How would they react, and would they go to Congress and arrange tax rules to be altered for them as well?  It's been done in the past.....so there's no reason to think it wouldn't be done now.

Sixth....why the round number cited by Bernie in the speech of $2.5 trillion total?  It would be curious how he arrived at the numbers, and if it relates to something. 

Seventh and final....if you lived in Omaha, Nebraska and word came out that forty acres next to your house was going to be a Bernie-neighborhood.....would your attitude be positive or negative?  Would you assume it was a potential slum-neighborhood? 

I could see something like this working on a much smaller scale, and relating more to tax credits for low-income earners.  It does bother me that some people are designing their lives that at age eighteen....they are flipping burgers and making minimum wage.....while at age thirty, they are still in the burger flipping business, and around age forty-eight, they are still flipping burgers.  This attitude now is something that didn't exist in the 1960s and 1970s.....that you could be minimum wage for your entire life, and never progress beyond that point. 

Maybe Bernie ought to be packaging up one year of free community college, and jump-start people to improve their lives and avoid the low-income route for the bulk of their lives. 

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

This Drone Threat

When you go and analyze the attack on Saudi Arabia.....it starts to bring up an unusual scenario which might scare some Americans.

So you go and imagine 25 Iranian-made drones being sent in pallets and pieces....disassembled....to Columbia. 

You mix the pieces and parts in different shipping crates, and forward them onto California's port.

Then you arrange for six Iranian technicians to hike over the Canadian border where they'd be taken by van over to a eastern state....where their twenty-five drones lay in pieces. 

They spend three months assembling the drones, and then prepare for X-day.

Each of these drones can carry four RPGs.  So you have a hundred RPGs to use on various targets.

On X-day.....within 500 miles of DC, you arrange the drones on an old runway, and they take off at daybreak.  By lunch, they've launched their RPGs on targets in DC, and all hell breaks loose. 

Even with minor damage, and less than a thousand dead.....how do you react to ensure the safety and security of the nation?  And the threat of drones?  It's way more than people think.  Dams, electrical plants, bridges?  They could all be on some stupid target list.  Even Yankee Stadium could be on a list. 

So, we've kinda crossed a boundary today, with this drone attack in Saudi Arabia.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

The Stein-McMuffin-Johnson Factor

In 2016, the number three, four and five candidates in the election took home nationwide....6.7-million votes. 

Compared to 2012?  1.85-million...more or less.

Compared to 2008? 1.4-million....more or less.

Compared to 2004?  1.0-million....more or less.

The last time, you had a serious run with other 'candidates'?  1968, with George Wallace (alone) who had 9.9-million votes.

So I'm going out on the limb and predict that number three, four and five candidates in 2020.....will not be able to pull more than 1.5-million votes.  So this 5.2-million standing there?  Depending on what state they are attached to....I think you could see more than two-thirds of the group align with Donald Trump. 

This is what the Democrats really have to worry about.....this optional 'other' candidates not affecting the 2020 elections for other individuals. 

States like New Mexico, Minnesota, and New Hampshire that were marginally won by Hillary Clinton?  Now easily within range of Trump. 

Just something to think about. 

Sunday, 15 September 2019

My Humble View of the Felicity Huffman Episode

Basically, you had a parent with tons of money in their pocket and a non-productive kid who just wasn't that remarkable in high school.  You went to the folks in the middle, laid out the cash, and did what probably 10,000 parents across America do each year.....you bought a 'chair' in some educational enterprise, and gave the unremarkable kid a free degree. 

You can look around today at literally thousands who've passed through this system, and become a noted personality or political figure....who are not really gifted or bright, or remarkable. 

The system caught up with Huffman, judged her....and passed a hefty fine with two weeks in some jail.  So in 2019, you caught and judged one parent of the ten-thousand.  No big deal.  The system continues on. 

Drones, Oil and Saudi Conflict

If you go and follow the latest, there was a drone used to 'bomb' a Saudi oil processing facility.  Damage?  The Saudis say that 50-percent of production is temporarily shut off for a while.  Location?  It's about 50 miles west of Bahrain, and fairly deep into the landscape of Saudi Arabia. 

Accusations?  Well....Saudi Arabia has been on an aggressive front with Yemen (to the south) for a full year.  The rebels down in Yemen have had serious Iranian backing, and there's some belief that this drone.....was a Iranian drone.  If true, it's likely the Shahed 129-model.  A one-way mission for the drone?  It's believed that once in flight, and on a one-way mission....it could cover just over 1,000 miles. 

You can go and measure the range from Yemen to Buqayq and it's easily within the range. 

So what happens now?  I'm guessing a number of Saudi executives and VIPs are fairly angry.  This reduction in oil production comes at a bad time.  The Saudis are in desperate need to sell, and it hinders their production....maybe for three or four months.  Blame shifting to Iran?  If they prove it was a Iranian-made drone, there's going to be thought-process required....how do you pay back Iran.

The Iranian Abadan Refinery site?  It's likely to be the response target....easily within range of the Saudis. 

The problem with this business....once you start retaliation, they counter-retaliate, and then you get a counter-counter-retaliation situation.  You could see a whole bunch of oil facilities shut down within a sixty-day period, and gas suddenly going up to $7 a gallon. 

Drawing the US into this?  If this were George Bush, it's virtually guaranteed.  But with Trump?  I have my doubts that the US really wants to get involved.  But you have to ask this question....if the Saudis got peeved enough and blasted the limited gas production capability of Iran....where the Iran-consumers simply didn't have gas for any car travel....how quick would this whole Iran-Mullah business unravel?  A civil war created in a matter of two months?  That's how this could fall apart and make things into a bigger mess.

So settle back and watch the 'show'. 

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Seattle Idea

So I noticed today that Seattle has a politician who is now pushing the idea of setting up a city-fund....where you'd go to a homeless guy, and offer a one-way bus-ticket.  You agree to leave....we pay for your ticket.  I'm guessing you might get a box-lunch deal out of this too, but that would just add $7 on top of the $50 one-way ticket.

The odds of this affecting people living on the street in Seattle?  I would take a guess that fewer than 200 people might take the deal.  Why?  Well....if you are homeless in Seattle.....it isn't that much better to be homeless in Salt Lake City, or Dayton, or Birmingham, or Chicago.

In fact, if you figure weather and pro-drug attitude....Seattle, Portland, LA and San Francisco win easily over the next 300 cities beyond the west coast.

But what would prevent some small group with an agenda from placing two or three fake homeless guys into the Seattle community, and just having them talk continually to forty homeless folks on a daily basis....promoting and selling them on the idea of leaving Seattle for LA?

Propagandists?  Yes.  Imagine these three guys just selling five people a day into moving to San Francisco or LA, and in a year....you've decreased the homeless population in Seattle by 1,600 people.

Unethical?  Well....yeah, that's a possibility that the accusation might come up.

But let's be honest, nothing else seems to really lessen the number.  And that cost-factor of roughly half-a-million seems to be very reasonable if you consider you'd need to spend ten times that amount if you just kept the 1,600 in the city.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Last Nights Debate

All total, I've probably watched around 70 minutes of last night's Democratic debate.  Some of it early this morning....some of it later in the day. 

So I come to three observations:

1.  Joe Biden is about ten years beyond his prime, and this attempt to put his name up in the primary period is failing.  Maybe the Joe of 1999 was capable of the situation, but this Joe of 2019 simply has run out of 'pep'.

2.  Beto, I think, came away with the drama statement of the evening....on the AR business.  Beyond that, I didn't see anything else that Beto could do much.  Pretty weird.....a one-scene act for the whole evening.

3.  Finally, maybe it's just me.....but after the 70 minutes of clips and the two hours of thinking about it....it seemed like a Saturday Night Live 'special'.  Beto was playing Beto.  Joe was playing Joe.  Booker was playing Booker.  Yang was playing Yang. Warren was playing Warren.  Maybe it was the way I pieced the clips together, or just their talking.....but it just seemed like a comedy. 

I kinda hope it improves by January, because if it doesn't get better....it's a pretty pitiful race for 2020. 

Beto and His AR Comment

".....a weapon designed to kill people on a battlefield...."

There yesterday, Beto laid out his plan to exercise some type of executive order to go and offer a chance to turn your weapon in, or have the cops come later to take it.  The key phrase above....was where he left you and your imagination.  The problem here....virtually every single weapon you find for the past 500 years....was originally developed for some type of battlefield. 

None of this 'chance-business' or the cops-coming-later is really detailed out or explained to the general  public.  It was good for the audience, but beyond that....it's really left to your imagination on how this would work.

Bows and arrows were designed originally for the battlefield....would they eventually come for them?  It's a big unknown.

Sabers were designed for the battlefield....would they come for them?

When Beto talks about the 'cops'.....which cops?  Most state cops are going to decline the order to go out and confront people....unless there's twenty cops in the group, and it's clearly understood that you may have to kill a dozen people today, in order to take a dozen AR or AK type weapons.

Would this be left for federal cops to enforce?  I'm guessing various state law enforcement groups would just decline the directive.

But this all comes back to an election, and if the one and only topic of the election is anti-gun strategy.  Could you mount a national campaign in 2020....strictly on this one single topic?  I have my doubts.  Could you even convince a majority of Democrats to go along with this idea?  Well....in states like Tennessee or South Carolina....I would suggest that at least 50,000 Democrats in both states own AK or AR type rifles.  They probably would not agree to this idea.

So I come to the theatrical side of this.  There's some folks who suggest that Beto is purely a drama-queen now, and as bad as Trump might be.....they really don't want a drama-queen as president.  They may have a point there.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

How Much of the Impeachment Chatter Involves a Schedule?

Well....99-percent.

I'm one of those people who've spent a fair amount of time studying the idea, and how it would fall into place, and later, how it would ultimately fail.

So to the schedule business.  Basically, the House needs to wander around and reach the paperwork hand-off to the Senate around June (preferably the end of the month) of 2020.  Why?

During this build-up and bluff period...there's the primary period, and the big-name media types (CNN, Washington Post, NY Times, NPR, etc) will harp that even if they vote for Trump....he'll be impeached.  The Republican Convention?  Well....in 2020, it's 24-to-27 August.

Will the Senate pick up the impeachment at early July?  I'm not convinced of that.  There's supposed to be a summer period of recess that would start around the last week of July, and go for an entire month.  So you'd have to start this in early July, and conclude the thing by the recess period. 

The odds that Jeb Bush will be pulled up to be the alternate 'fix-this-mess' candidate in the month prior to the convention?  I'd say it's near 60-percent.

The outcome?  I anticipate this impeachment routine to run around five weeks, with the Senate voting down the impeachment.  Hurting Trump?  I'm not convinced of that.

And if the impeachment fails, with Trump winning in November....then what?  This is a empty sheet of paper for the Democrats in 2021, if they fail.  The House could fall back to the GOP, and Trump would have two years to really reshape his situation.

The schedule matters....but it's a one-star schedule with no great ending.

Vape

If you follow the Trump-news of the day....there's an interesting development going on in the past day or two....involving e-cigarettes.  Basically, he's going to sign the Executive Order to ban 'flavors'.  Will the Democrats challenge this?  I have my doubts.

A year ago, while visiting a city here in Germany....I stepped by a shop that was now a vape-shop.  I stood there for a couple of minutes...gazing at the various flavors listed....with probably over two-hundred different flavors. 

Banana flavored?  Kiwi flavored?  Milk and cookies flavored?  Cheesecake flavored?

Really?  Did we really need these? 

Where did the milk and cookie ingredients come from?  Is there anyone really monitoring this?

Whiskey fudge cake?  Cherry cola?  Coffee flavored vape?

So the question to ask after he signs the paperwork....will drug dealers pick up the business, and start selling Kiwi-flavored vape? 

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

60 Days with an Audi A5

So it's been roughly two months with the new A5 and I have these eight observations:

1.  It drives like a tank.  Yes, it feels like some tank on an open road.  Over-sized and with plenty of pick-up-and-go....it's got the feel of some cruise boat in terms of maneuvering.  It's not negative but it's just the feeling you don't get with most vehicles.

2.  This cut-off-engine-technology-stopping.  Frankly, I would deem this a total waste.  Luckily, there's a button on the dash, and you can flip it off.....but you have to do this each time you start the engine.

3.  Parking is a pain.  It has to be backed into the carport parking spot, and you end up with three inches of space on the passenger side, and maybe 18 inches on the drivers side.  Even with the video-assistant, it's just too big for the carport.

4.  Perfect passenger seat.  You can lay the seat as far back as you desire, and snooze easily.

5.  Crappy gear-shift-assistant.  It wants to tell you when to shift up to 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th gear.  If I'm not paying stringent attention, the wife wants to gaze over and remind me that it reminded to shift up a notch.  At various times, it'll even tell me to skip shifting to 3rd, and go to 4th gear instead.

6.  Always looking for the cellphone connection.  Once you get into the car, and it sees that your cellphone is almost dead....it's talking to you and wanting the phone charged because that's its way of communicating back to Audi HQ.  What kind of data is being shared?  I'm never quiet sure.

7.  Clearly, the map and update function is superior to anything out there, and it updates your path ahead....minute-by-minute.  So when it suddenly tells you to exit the autobahn and take a winding piece of country road for 30 minutes....it's doing that help you avoid some accident on the autobahn and traffic jams.  I have to admit, it's a major plus-up.

8.  I would easily compare it to a Crown Vic in terms of handling and feel on the road.  I think you could drive 600 miles a day in this car, and never feel tired.

Congress and Hotels

The Air Force had to go and get a investigation going over how their folks got the idea of staying at a Trump hotel.  They were on a cargo plane mission....landed in Scotland and then used a Trump hotel there.  Yes, it is a bit silly.

After looking at the facts, the two key things to look over....was it the lowest priced hotel within a certain distance of the airport.....and did the aircrew pick it or was it an independent authority?

The pick of the hotel?  It wasn't the aircrew, but a contracted person who is responsible for mission planning.  So far, you don't know if the person did it to trigger some mess, or if it was legit. 

As for the lowest priced sequence?  Right now, it's proven that with the government-rate....it was the lowest priced one.  Now I will admit this.....hotels in Scotland generally cost an arm-and-leg.  They aren't cheap.  Add to this....a fair number of hotels in Scotland are fairly old, in marginal shape, and may charge a chunk of money.  You don't want to put some aircrew into a crappy place where they get zero rest for 24 hours. 

Years ago, I was sent TDY to Italy for seven days.  My job was training and installation of a hardware system.  The base hotel was full.....the local hotels around town (six of them) were also full.  So the base folks went down the list (this is at 8 PM), and eventually gave me a reservation for a hotel.  Accompanying me was a contractor who had about a hundred words of Italian in his vocabulary. 

As things were set, then came the directions to reach this hotel.  I was driving and the contractor was reading off the instructions.  It bothered both me and him that this was three-quarters of a page long.  That was our first problem.

It was dark, late October, and none of the instructions made sense.  Over the next 50 minutes of driving....we must have made at least sixteen turns.  At one intersection, we sat there for three minutes....there were twelve signs and none really agreed with our instructions. 

We eventually reached this hotel, to find it being a 5-star deluxe hotel.  Breakfast was included with the deal, and it was outstanding.  I added up the cost level and this was near $200 per night.  I questioned this, but figured we'd go and re-confirm this in the morning. 

The next day....the base hotel folks said there was no problem.  This was the only hotel within an hour's drive that still had open rooms.

So as the Congressional demand for an investigation concludes, I think it'll all turn out without any problem.  However, it does bring up this issue.....when Senators and Congressmen travel.....are they staying in five-star hotels, and what are they paying?




Monday, 9 September 2019

Sanford

Imagine that you'd done well in life, and by age thirty-five....you'd gotten yourself elected into the House of Representatives from your district. 

Imagine that you ended up serving three terms (six years) and gotten some notice by people, all before age 45.

Imagine that you'd decided to travel back to your home-state at that point, and run for governor.  After a tough race, you were elected.  After four successful years, you'd built up some strength....gotten yourself noticed around the state, and even around the nation.

Imagine that you came up for re-election as governor, and won yet again....another four-year term.

In certain circles, your name is thrown around....possibly as a Vice-President candidate....maybe even as a Presidential candidate.  At this point....mid-spring of 2009, you might have been on a short list of candidates for the 2016 election campaign as President. 

Everything is balanced out and all you have to do is show up for work.....make a speech every week....praise the Republican Party, and not do anything stupid.

But then you got some kind of paramour situation going on, with a gal who lives in Argentina.  Then one day in the spring of 2009, you make this one stupid decision to go visit the paramour gal in Argentina.....without telling your wife, your governor's staff, or anyone. 

Yep, you fly down via Delta, and kinda think no one will figure this out.

Somewhere along the way, you screw up, and some reporter figures out things.

Your response to the staff and news media....you were 'hiking in the Appalachian Trail'. 

At that point, the one single candidate that could have gone into the 2016 GOP primary and likely beaten the whole group (and Trump)......was finished. 

Well.....Mark Sanford has chosen to attempt another run now, in the primary of 2020, against Trump.

It is a bit amusing to think about this.    The guy had 'image'.  The guy could give a decent speech.  The guy was generally bright and clever (even had a MBA).  The guy had avoided scandal all the way up to 2008 (start of this affair business).  But this week of fun in Argentina, and the comment 'hiking in the Appalachian Trail' dissolved everything at that point. 

Yet here we are.....with him talking of running now against Trump. 

Sunday, 8 September 2019

CNN Story

I watched clips of the seven hour CNN townhall over the Democrats and climate change.....there's no way that I could physically bring myself to endear that much 'hype'. 

Someone brought it up today....that in the middle of this seven-hour piece, for advertising....which I never saw/observed....they ran a couple of Golden Corral steakhouse advertisements. 

It's a bit comical because they ran hype against eating meat, and even got a couple of the Democrats to tell folks that they'd already converted over to non-meat diets. 

A bit cynical?  Well....here's the thing.  It was probably awful hard to get the management to agree to seven hours of this stuff, and then convince advertisers to come in and buy time.  I'm guessing the Golden Corral guys talked it over and eventually got advertising time for 50-percent of what they would have paid back in 2005 to 2010 with CNN.  The same Corral guys then figured that a whole bunch of Democrats were sitting there and laughing over the non-meat chatter.....then watched the Corral advertising and said.....let's pack up the car and go for dinner now.

The problem I see with this Democratic position is that once you get beyond urban cities like Seattle and San Francisco.....small-town America Democrats just don't buy into this non-meat business, and just start laughing. 

Out of these final ten Democrats in the running, it is curious that most of them are carving out this non-meat position, and thinking that a fair number of people buy into this.  If anything....it just draws a person to ask some stupid questions and wonder how this ever got to be on the important list of political factors.   

Saturday, 7 September 2019

This Trump-Alabama-Hurricane Business

I've sat this week, and watched at least fifteen different criticisms pop up over Trump, this hurricane-non-threat over Alabama, and the map stuff pop up.  It's a curious thing.

If you go back ten days ago....watching purely Alabama meteorologists (not the national weather folks)....they all had the regular map projecting the hurricane going into Florida.  Then they all verbally said....in pure Alabama-language....IF IT WERE to continue on, it'd come into central Alabama in a weakened state. 

You can go out today and ask ten-thousand Alabama locals about this, and they'd all say the same thing.  They heard it, and frankly.....they didn't give a damn (it wasn't going to cancel out any NCAA football games, so it didn't matter).

Maybe folks around Mobile and Orange Beach have some feelings over evacuation, but the other 99-percent of Alabama just don't get stirred up over such a suggestion.  Maybe some folks might stop off at the beverage shop and buy twelve extra cases of beer, but the other folks will just continue on with their lives.

So this criticism business?  It's mostly comical, and draws upon people to ask why they couldn't be that critical in the Obama eight years.   

Friday, 6 September 2019

Why Isn't Bernie Ahead?

Well....in 2016, it was basically a race between Bernie, Hillary, and two no-name characters.

Here in 2020....you had at least six fairly well known folks, and voters have a real choice....unlike in 2016. 

So Bernie will be knocked out by the end of the 4th primary?  I'm kinda predicting that. 

My Level of Guilt

I noticed that CNN ran seven hours...of guilt TV.  Basically....you were introduced to the ten primary Democrats and then led through guilt pieces to convince you of something. 

Do I have any guilt over my 'immoral' use of air conditioning, air travel, meat consumption, or forty-four other bad practices?

No.

I suspect if you did find a hundred people who watched at least an hour of the piece....the vast majority will tell you that this was some kind of propaganda broadcast, and simply not real factual. 

From the clips I saw....it reminded me of some bleak scenario that was used for the 'Hunger Games', or 'Soylent Green'. 

In fact, if this was agenda....to dose you with seven hours of propaganda....I'd probably make it a month or so....before I had to go and ask for guilt-therapy from some psychological unit or hospital. 

I can imagine myself at the front-door.....telling the white-suit kid that I'm all freaked out, and using too much air-conditioning and eating too much beef.  The kid would ask some questions and then take me over to some compound.  There, I'd get wheat toast for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and three apples for dinner.  Beer?  That's out because I'd also have immoral use of beer on my mind. No AC in the compound...even on a 100-degree day?  Probably so. 

The problem I see....is that via CNN and their method, you might have convinced two-million people of immoral behavior and guilt.  You'd show up at grandma's house for a July Sunday lunch, and trying to convince her to turn the AC off and enjoy the 100-degree temperature.

Or you might be ready to entertain Wanda....the wicked gal from the trailer across the street, and instructing Wanda that you don't want condom-guilt....so you would prefer not to use them with Wanda. 

Or you might be getting Piggly-Wiggly-guilt, and forcing yourself to only buy vegetables and fruit from some open-market in town.

Or you might be getting voter-guilt, and be thinking.....oh, yeah....it's best not to bring up voter-guilt

What kind of idiots run CNN?  The guilty types. 

Hurricane Comment

It's just something you tend to notice from the hurricane damage in the Bahamas, and really going back to Katrina in August of 2005. 

If you live at sea-level....say one to five feet above sea-level, and within a mile or two of a beach-front property.....then you are screwed when the hurricane arrives.

So it begs the question....what idiot would go and live like this, or build a house within a thousand feet of such a situation?  I just don't have any sympathy for you or your dream-home. 

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Power of Mind Stuff

I read over a piece by Marianne Williamson yesterday.  She's hyped up about the power of the mind, and suggesting that you can 'will' something away, if you use enough of your mind-power.

So I sat and tried to imagine her as the President, and we having these 15-minute sessions where she comes on the TV and trying to get people hyped-up to use their mind-power....to make something happen.

This would be like Jerry Falwell-Billy Graham-Pat Robertson-Bishop Sheen-Aimee Semple McPherson-Jimmy Swaggart-Benny Hinn-Jim Bakker-Tammy Faye Bakker all rolled up into one, and carried live by CNN.

You can imagine the CNN journalists trying to entice you to watch the mind-power segment weekly and some pollster trying to convince you that 48-percent of will-power topics are being achieved.

Eventually, Marianne would have the White House put up a blue-dot on the screen, and have people gaze via their TV and smart-phone at the blue-dot....to get rain to drought areas, stop forest fires, and bring Kim to the peace-table.

Marianne-enthusiasts would be meeting at 5 AM to gaze at the sun rising and using their mind-power to achieve national priorities.  Eventually, some doctors would suggest that the enthusiasts are suffering through mental issues, and unable to handle reality.

For me, this would be pure entertainment....and I'm kinda leaning toward Marianne winning this election.  We need relief from politics and I think she'd give us four years of pure entertainment.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Onto Mentally 'Unfit'

So the police in Texas now say...this Odessa shooter was 'mentally unfit'....that the computer system for gun purchases would have pulled this up and denied him the gun.  But he went around this by buying via a private situation.  Will that private seller get into trouble?  It's possible, but legally....he's not forced (at least yet) to validate if the buyer is on a no-sale listing.

But lets talk to the topic of mentally unfit.

In general, you could be mentally unfit based on mental issues (disillusions, paranoid schizophrenia, hallucinations, etc). 

You could also be mentally unfit with an low IQ level (typically described at 70 or below).  The Army will tell you that they don't sign folks up if the IQ falls below 83. 

Around 1984, we had an episode with the US Army in Germany, where this kid was wrapping up his two year contract.  He was processing out in the final six weeks, and the finance person came to discover...that since boot camp (20 months prior roughly)....this 'kid' had never been paid since arriving in Germany.  Nor had he complained about this.

How?  Well....they went to talk to his NCO and found that while the guy was a polite and agreeable character....he was really mentally unfit.  His finance records had gotten lost upon arrival in Germany, and his mother (every two weeks apparently) had sent him an envelope with $20.  With that, he'd easily survived and the Army chow-hall deal provided all the food he needed.  Occasionally, Mama would send a box of t-shirts, socks and underwear. 

The Army added it up....it came out to a sum in the range of $30k.  They called up his Mama and had a discussion over the matter.  The kid was planning to return home (somewhere in eastern Tennessee) and they were going to send the check to her....to ensure things were done right.

How many folks would fall into the mentally unfit category?  If you threw in the whack-jobs, the crazies, the schizophrenic crowd....I suspect that we'd have around 10-million across the US, who would be deemed mentally unfit. 

In fact, in rural Alabama where I grew up....I'd take a guess that 100 such people lived in ten miles of the family farm.  Some graduated high school....mostly just by friendly teachers who gave them a marginal grade for showing up when the guy or gal was simply mentally unfit to be there in the first place. 

Licensed to drive?  Well....that would bring another topic....how they passed the driver's test/exam. 

Should we worry about this?  Here's the odd part to this story.  You might have 250,000 of these mentally unfit characters who currently own weapons. 

Is this something we ought to discuss in Washington?  Well....you might even have a Senator or Representative who is mentally unfit....yet serving there.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

This Seth Ator Guy From Texas

On this Odessa, Texas shooting....there is this one odd part of the shooting guy's personal history.

Back in January of 2018, Ator bought this lot.  It's a suburb that really hasn't been developed, and mostly known to have house trailers. 

Ator didn't have electricity or water running into the property (that's really an indicator of how new the housing development was, and how slow things tend to be at times).

So how did the guy survive without heat or water for the past 18 months?  That's a curious question.

Internet?  No, I don't think you can even establish much of a social media background on the guy. 

I would take this guess that his IQ level was less than 83 (minimum for the US Army).  This leads you to ask....how he ever passed a drivers test, or found employment beyond flipping burgers. 

Monday, 2 September 2019

Visits

There was a news piece out there today, which discussed Jane Fonda.....on some political trip to Pennsylvania.....where she was out in various neighborhoods....knocking on doors, and trying to convince 'confused' folks why they should not vote for Donald Trump.

She's around 81 years old, and the way the article was written up.....I got the impression that she probably visited at least ten houses.

I tried to imagine a trip like this....to Alabama, and on some hot Saturday afternoon....pulling up to my brother's farm and wanting to sit there in the carport to talk to him over his 'confusion'.

He would have been Alabama 'charming' and made up a pitcher of ice tea (the cheap but decent stuff from Piggly Wiggly), with a freshly squeezed lemon and crushed ice.  He might have offered her the rocker, if it were functional....otherwise, she'd have to sit on the Wal-Mart garden furniture.

Then he would have instructed the dog (Dolly) not to growl much at her, and comforted Ms Fonda that it's more of a grin and laugh....than a growl. 

So this chat would have started up and she would give him the 5x8 card list of reasons why Trump is evil and you should convert over. 

He would have asked at this point if Baptist Church folks got her (Ms Fonda) up to this, or maybe some cousin.  She would have assured him that it was totally at random that they pulled his name out of the hat.

Along about twelve minutes into this visit....he would have said that he felt she was more confused that he was.  Then he would have launched into a eight-minute piece on why Trump was 50-percent Clint Eastwood, 50-percent Ronald Reagan, and 50-percent Bear Bryant.  At the conclusion of this...Ms Fonda would have been overcome and almost weeping....she'd been converted over to Trump.

The problem here....is that these idiots never seem to visit the right house. 

Where Did the 6,000 Year Existence of Man Idea Come From?

Well, it is a curious story.

There's this guy....Henry M. Morris, who went off to college (Rice University, Texas), and graduated in 1939 with a degree in Civil Engineering.

It's safe to say that he was a moderately religious guy at this point in his life.  It's also safe to say that men of science around this period (1900 to 1940) generally believed the Earth was a minimum of a couple million years old.

Morris at this point, around 1942....became an instructor at Rice for a short period (up to 1946), and tried his hand at writing.  The topic?  He wanted to take science (at the 1940s point) and try to validate the Bible, or perhaps use the Bible to validate science.  Take your pick.

The work was called 'That You Might Believe'.  It's not exactly a book that you would read today, and I have doubts that it sold more than a couple hundred copies.

After this period at Rice....he went to Minnesota and studied for both a Master's degree and a PhD.  He drifted around for the next decade....with at least three colleges.

In 1959, he arrives at Virginia Tech to teach hydraulics.  In this period, he goes back to his hobby of combining science and the Bible, and that ends up with him as a co-author on the book 'The Genesis Flood'.

One could say that the time and continuing suggestion of new information and theories met up, and public interest in proving Genesis was at some peak point.  So the two writing this book (Morris and John Witcomb) piece together a narrative (best way of describing this).  In doing so, they had to have a date in mind to get people to the conclusion of the book, and their number was 6,000 years (more or less) since the dawn of mankind.

If you go out and question folks, especially in the geology field....in this period of the 1960s....NO one seemed to agree with the 6,000 year estimate.  That was problem number one.  Was either Morris or Witcomb a geology expert?  No.  Witcomb was mostly a minister-type guy and Morris was a civil engineer by trade.

So they were pretending to be experts in something that they really didn't know much about?  Yes, that's the simple side of this story.  But the 'Genesis Flood' was a story told in such a way, that Christian enthusiasts felt that it answered the whole question and attached science to discussion.  Naturally, it pushed out evolution and just pretended that it wasn't part of the discussion.

Within the Christian communities....the book sold.  Beyond that?  No, most scientists were amused by the story, and the lack of evidence.  You had to take the Bible as the absolute source of information and build around it.

Where we stand today (2019)?  Well, most science folks will be on the agreeable side that the Earth by itself is 4 to 4.5 billion years old.  If you go to DNA experts (especially from the past two years)....they will argue that Mom and Dad (version 1.0)....came from 250,000 to 450,000 years ago.  That call by the DNA folks upsets a fair number of the evolution crowd because it really doesn't help them tell their story.

So the 6,000 year thing?  Well, the 'Genesis Flood' business has formed out and created a group often called 'Old Earth Creationists'.  Some folks will go and suggest that forty-percent of Americans are in this belief.  The polling done is suspect and probably not that accurate.  I won't say it's in the thousands or even tens of thousands, but it's a group that generally believes that the flood business is told via the Bible, and that science can back up the flood.

But there is this odd piece of science standing there which might help but disturb the Creationist crowd.  There is no doubt that a glacier stood over North America (mostly over NY state and over to mid-section of the US) around 12,900 years ago.  Among the geology folks, this is a 99.9-percent proven fact.  It's hard not to find someone who isn't on the glacier situation.

But something happened around 12,900 years ago....with the glacier greatly affected, and in a matter of days....a great portion melted (remember, this was between a mile and two miles thick).   We aren't talking of a thousand-year melt....there is enough evidence to say this occurred over days and weeks.  The melted water affecting the Gulf Stream?  More than likely.  The melting water raising water levels across the globe by 300 feet?  Yes, readily proven.  In fact, that water still remains at the flood stage of today.....where it's accepted as 'normal'.

Villages and cities flooded in a matter of hours?  Yes.  So this Genesis story could connect to that flood of 12,900 years ago....with the melt of this North American glacier?  Yep.

What triggered the rapid melt?  Unknown.  This is the part of the story where geologists sit and argue for hours while sipping Jack Daniels.  The solar science guys like to argue this as well....stating that some massive solar flare could have started this. The comet guys will argue that something struck the glacier area and melted a heck of a lot of it.

So that's where the 6,000 idea started up.  It was simply a guy trying to get the Bible and science of the 1940s to agree on something, but limited with facts.

You have to admit....it's a decent story.  But it's like talking over Bigfoot, or the Nessie creature.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

The Real Problem with the Electoral College

From the mid-1800s to 1920s....what you generally counted on to spread the 'message' or sell people on political candidates...was newspapers.

In the 1920s era, came radio.  It took roughly a decade for radio to figure out the 'message' game and how they could make it work.  The FDR era?  They benefited greatly off of radio.

So then came the 1950s, and television.  This was a harder medium to crack.  There were two methods developed and both had problems.  The news folks had worked awful to appear impartial.  So they'd bring special folks who were 'experts' and explained things in a certain way. 

But the second method was the work of advertisements during a campaign period, and how the naive public would take to them or push back.

This all worked fine until you got to the 1990s, and AM radio with it's talk-people suddenly found a new way to connect to people.  In rural areas, just three stations over a two-state area....could connect to 500,000 voters.  People would talk about the topics brought up, and how things were being 'stacked' against them.

Then the internet arrived with the Huff-Post, Drudge, and the rest. 

Finally in the 2010 era....came social media (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc).

The problem you have now is that the two political groups can look over the menu options, and throw out some methods of getting to people.

Social media works great in urbanized areas, and helps the Democrats carry a message.  But social media also helps in rural areas by carry a Republic message.

So we come to the Electoral College.  You need to craft x-number of messages and get them out to various states, and then hope to carry the 270 EC votes.  Right now.....even with a ton of money spent on the top forty cities in America....the Democrats can't get those EC votes lined up.  The Democratic message is failing.

Social media to carry the heavy-load?  Well....it helps the Republicans or Trump just as much. 

TV news people to carry the heavy-load?  The credibility of CNN and the rest of the crowd has dissolved away, and are now more of a burden than an asset.

The Huff-Post and internet crowd?  They can't seem to reach people in the fifty states in sufficient numbers to arrange the EC numbers.

If the Electoral College had been newly crafted, then you'd go through the court system and just say it's unfair.  But it's been there 200-plus years. 

Rigging up the Electoral College to give your state's votes to the highest vote-getter?  That's really the only 'trick' left in the book and this could backfire in a harsh way, if Trump were to get the public-vote numbers this time around.  Imagine a case where twelve states were winners for Biden, but because of the rigged nature....they were all given to Trump because he had 100,000 more votes across the US than Biden.  So you could be talking about Trump having 400 EC votes?  Yes, that's really the humiliating end-piece of this story. 

The problem with the Electoral College centers on the fact that general message system to reach urbanized areas is failing to reach all fifty states in the method devised.  And on the horizon?  There's no new system ready to go....to deliver the message.