Thursday, 31 October 2019

How Many 'Russian-Assets' Do Exist Now?

It's an odd question.  Three years ago, you would not have asked it.  Now with Hillary, various journalists, and maybe a quarter of the Democratic-voters hyped up on this....you have to ask it?

A dozen?  A hundred?  A thousand?  Ten-thousand?  One-hundred thousand?

You just don't know.

Just in Washington DC alone....might there be seven-hundred Russian assets? 

Could Joy Behar from the View be a Russian asset?

Could Rachel Maddow from MSNBC be a Russian asset?

Could half the staff at Fox News be a Russian asset?

Could the mayor of Chicago (Lori Lightfoot) be a Russian asset?

Could Trump himself be a Russian asset?

Could four actors from the Marvel series be Russian assets?

Could Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook be a Russian asset?

Could the weather guy from Huntsville's Channel 31, be a Russian asset?

Could that kid who made up waffles for you this morning at the Waffle House....be a Russian asset?

So I suggest that we all need to have a signal to convey to each other (secretly of course)....that we aren't Russian assets.  Upon meeting someone....moving your right hand up to rub your left shoulder, and if the guy greeting you responds in the same way....then you can be sure they aren't a Russian asset. 

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Eating Out

I sat down the other night and was calculating how many different restaurants and cafes I've eaten at....in my 60 years of life.  I would calculate that it's up between 3,500 and 4,500 total.

You have to remember, I've traveled around 70-percent of Alabama, around thirty-two states in the US, Australia, Iceland, Panama, New Zealand, Singapore, Dubai,  South Africa, and twenty-odd countries in Europe.

I've eaten at some absolute terrible places...not worth mentioning.  I've eaten at some airports that I left three-quarters of the meal on the plate.  I've been served French hamburgers that were only 50-percent done (yeah, I left it on the plate).

But along the way, I've eaten at some rather fine places, so this is the list of the top five that made the list.

1.  A mom-and-pop Italian shop in Vittorio Veneto, Italy....that was mostly hidden away and just a doorway leading to a long walk to this shop with just ten tables, run by Italian women all over the age of sixty.  The place had ceiling fans running, and the paint-job was something out of the 1960s (this was 1995).  Everything they served was rich and zesty....freshly made in the past hour.  In the background was some Italian opera music, and the ladies waiting for the slightest hint of something being just a tad wrong.  I was there for just seven days, and ate every night at the same place.

2.  A couple of years ago, I went off to Vienna, and one evening....I really wanted something a bit different, and this thing showed up on Google.....'The Blue Donkey'.  It's way off the street and just about impossible to find.  But here's the thing....they served ribs, the old-fashioned way.  Heavily marinated and cooked over a outdoor grill.  A big patio area was the landscape, with the grill smell in the air, and these ribs ended up being the best I'd ever eaten.

3.  A number of years ago, I went on a trip to the heart of Bavaria and ended up one night eating at a place in Ramsau....deep in the Alps....at a place called the Gasthof Oberwirt.  It's a combination hotel and restaurant.  I ended up with this gravy-dish with big chunks of marinated beef, and dumplings that made your eyes water.  Afterwards, they brought out this desert plate (a heaping of some apple dish) with freshly home-made ice cream on top.  There in this beer-garden area, in the midst of summer, you could gaze off at the mountains and appreciate a great moment.

4.  In my period in Tucson, Arizona....down the street we had this grill operation called 'Jacks'.  Jacks bar-b-q'ed in some hut around the back of the building, and had some secret recipe for everything.  They did chicken, ribs, and briskets.  They made some kind of charged-up beans with a spiced-up taste. You'd look at the building and think it'd marginally pass any health inspection.  They would actually mount each inspection paper on the wall and always had near 95-percent for the grading.  You'd almost think that nothing had changed in the building since 1955 (this was 1990).

5.  Finally, there's this place on the road road through Athens, Alabama for catfish....called the Catfish Cabin (maybe number II or III).  Between the five star  tea (all you can drink), the hush-puppies, and the catfish....it's one of the few places left in the world where for $15, you get a fantastic dinner.  Rustic?  Well, yeah, that's probably the flip side of my choices.....I never select fancy dining places.

The Doug and Nancy Story

If you follow Alabama Democratic politics right now....there's a 'war' brewing over the state agenda, and has impact upon the 2020 Democratic convention.

So the head of the state Democratic Party is Nancy Worley....who has a history going back to the state teacher's union.  At age 67, she's the one voted into office as the party chief, back in 2013.

It's safe to say that Worley has a particular view on how Democrats in the state need to proceed.

Along came Jones (a catchy title), Doug Jones, who won the staged election for Senator in November 2017.  Doug believes that the Democrats need to go in a different direction.  Doug has the backing of the national apparatus.  So Doug's people have issued 'orders' to Nancy on how to proceed.  Nancy said no.

An election came up for the Democratic 'head' of the state party, and Nancy won yet again.

Doug's people laid down the 'ace', and cut off national funding....figuring that Nancy would give up, resign, and Doug's people would rebuild the party.

Well....Nancy said no.  She won't resign, and the money be damned.

Now? The national folks say if Nancy doesn't correct all the actions....they will decertify the party, and they can't enter the convention of 2020, or represent the state.

Where this leads onto?  Well....Super-Tuesday is not that far off, and there's some suggestions that it might get real messy for Democrats in the state.

What this really cuts into?  It would appear that Nancy wants Alabama Democratic politics to stay regional, and not have some national influence or anchor attached to it.  Doug's crew wants the national trends to be the focus for Alabama Democrats.

Here's the odd factor....both Nancy and Doug are dragging alone various black political groups and they are staging fronts against each other in the state.  It's entirely possible that come November of 2020.....you could see half the black vote in Alabama....which ought to go to the Democrats entirely (say 90-to-95 percent)....simply stay home because of Doug and Nancy's little war.

Kinda funny to admire.  But all of this really hurts Doug's chances. 

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Smoke Tray Story

Several months ago, we picked up the new Audi A5 at the factory.  Four months prior to that, to make the order complete....you had to go down this list of options.

For the A5, there's roughly seven pages of options.  The wife did most of the selections on this.  Frankly, I didn't care.

So she selected this one option....an cigarette lighter/ashtray.  Neither of us smoke, and I didn't really think much of this.   The lighter device could be used for the GPS device power 'box', or this small refrigerator unit that we carry with us on one single trip a year.

So the car arrives, and there is this hard rubberized container, with a fancy aluminum Audi-symbol top.  Really nice item, and at first I thought....it must be for soda cans or such.

Well....no.  This is the cigarette ashtray, which would fit in the drink holder along the center of the car.

If you finished up the smoke.....you could just drop the butt into the can, snap the top closed, and thats the end of the smoke business.

I shake my head each time I look at this container.  This option, with the cheapo lighter power device, and this hard rubber container....was around 45 Euro (roughly 50 dollars).

Friday, 25 October 2019

Changing Times

There's a piece that came out this week, from an interview that was done with Bruce Springsteen....suggesting that President Trump doesn't understand 'what it means to be an American'.

I sat and read over the interview, and pondered upon it for an afternoon.

The problem that Springsteen has....is a Bob Dylan lyric that easily fits here...."...the times, they are achanging".

It's not 1984/1985 anymore, and Springsteen's America has slipped away from the pier, set sail, floundered a good bit, was hopelessly lost at some point, and some lighthouse suddenly came up in the past three years, and jacked up the beacon 300-percent to bring this boat back into port.

Once NAFTA arrived, and a million-odd jobs disappeared over a decade....Springsteen's America was dissolving away.

Then you had China take over industrial jobs, and import products into the US....with politicians like George Bush and Barak Obama claiming those jobs would never come back.

Then toss in the banking crisis and the real estate mess in California and Florida.

What people felt over the past thirty years was a demoralizing effect, a loss of respect for both political parties, and a disbelief in fundamental values. When you (the general public) say that 95-percent of people have some level skepticism...from a marginal level to a maximum level....on the news media, something's wrong.

My advice to Springsteen?  Pack up your truck, and go take a 90-day drive around the US....talking to regular working-class people.  Go talk to blacks, truckers, barbers, and farmers.  Don't start your conversation about 'what it means to be an American'....but with 'how do you feel today'.  Don't let the optimism freak you out.

Play Dylan's tune in the back of your mind.  We are simply not in 1984 any longer....we've moved on.  And those times are achanging.

Thoughts On MREs

In 1990-1991 timeframe (within the Air Force), we had a total of a dozen MRE 'selections' (combat rations) for eating purposes.  Most people will tell you that they could do the MRE thing for about a week max, and then their patience, bowel movements, and desire for food began to cease.

There were only four of the twelve that I considered decent (the corn-beef-hash, the ham slice, the beef stew, and the spaghetti with meat sauce).  Note, the spaghetti package needed to be warmed up...otherwise, it was like a cold can of Chef Boy-R-D.

The chocolate fudge bar?  This always came with the ham slice dinner, and it was regarded as 200-percent fudge....meaning that you needed to drink something with it....to get it down your throat.  The fudge bar tended to be the bowel movement blocker, and usually packed you up for a minimum of two days with no toilet visits.

The maple nut cake (it's hard to describe as an actual cake) was something that usually suggested that it was five years old and marginally edible. 

The pack that usually got dumped by people the most?  The tuna and noodles.  This included some kind of nut-cake that was marginally edible and really only worked if you could get a can of Coke to go with it (almost never happened).

The thing I came away with from those MRE experiences, was that you really didn't want to be in a situation where this was your only choice of food for more than a week.  I think most people would admit that after three days....they'd just start eating less and less food via the MREs.  After this....anything that the chow hall offered, as marginal of quality that it might have been....was a four-star meal.

Three Simple Lines

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

-- First Amendment, written by James Madison

It came up in news this week that a majority of Americans would like to rewrite the First Amendment.  They aren't exactly clear on how it'd be worded, or if it could be contained on four lines.  They just seem to think that you need more control, than you need rights.

What I always admired about James Madison and the three lines is the compact nature, blunt wording, and limited focus.

In those days leading up to the 1780s....you had no television....no radio.....no internet, and very limited news via regional newspapers.  So after you'd eaten for the evening....you likely sat on a front porch or by a fire....with someone who'd dropped by and engaged in a two-hour conversation.  A beer or whiskey was shared, and deep thoughts exchanged.

These conversations were way beyond anything that we'd talk about today.  You would talk about the thrill of religion, or the sermon from last weekend, and then you'd dwell on the aspects of freedoms around religion.

Then you might pick up the topic of newspapers, and how they were careful to say things but often picked on simple things like some horse-buggy going into a river, or barn-fire.

Conversations went on and on, and you would dig deep into the crust of  what was free and what ought to be prohibited.

Imagine over an entire decade....five-hundred of these conversations with like-minded people.  So when someone stepped up to your porch and asked for the basic freedoms to write into the Constitution.....you knew the compact solution and it was not that hard to write.

Today?  If you gathered forty people and asked for prohibitions, limits, curbs, 'fences', liberties or rights....this could get complicated.

You could end up on day ten of this exercise with 3,000 lines, instead of four.

You might go and create a truth-seeker under a congressional mandate who dictates what is truth, and what is not truth.

You might go and suggest a license for 'press' must exist, and that only the federal government, not the state government....could manage such a thing.

By day thirty of the exercise, some of the forty people assembling the new 'rights' would come to realize that you can't have a 3,000 line first amendment, and you start to chop on this.

By day sixty, you wake up as the key member of the forty 'writers'....to realize that you are now back down to just five or six lines, and almost identical to the original words of Madison.

What made America different from almost every nation that existed at the beginning?  It was rights written into the First Amendment....not limits.

Analysis Free of Charge

The US Army went out and paid this team to study bowel movements under a normal diet, and under a MRE diet  (the combat rations package).

I know....it's a total waste of time and I could have told them that.

So the study found (using 60 people) that that those who ate a normal diet....had typically one additional bowl movement a week, than the MRE group (eating at least two MRE meals a day).

I would offer this analysis....having done the MRE business a couple of times in my life.  If you get the MRE packet with the fudge bar 'desert'....it's pretty good odds that you can go a minimum of two days without a bowel movement, and maybe even three days. 

This packet, typically the one with the beef stew 'delight', and the peanut butter/cracker....combined with the fudge bar...would create a 'log-jam' of enormous proportions.   If you can imagine eating five of those over a three-day setting, and feeling all stuffed-up....it's not a pleasant experience. 

The Mexican 'delight' packet?  Oddly enough, this would slide through and you might be able to do three bowel movement in a single day (this had the beef taco, the fruity 'thing', nut and raisin 'bar', and cheddar cheese spread). 

What this all led to, is that you had to balance out your diet, and eat things that you typically didn't like....in order to maintain some type of semi-ordinary bowel movement situation. 

I could have told these folks the analysis without all this testing business. 

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Congress and This SCIF Action From Yesterday

Having built a SCIF or two in my life, I found this discussion of the Republicans and Democrats kinda interesting.  So the basic story....to keep all the hearings hush-hush....the Democrats moved the interviews to the basement SCIF of the capital building.  The Republicans got tired of the 'game' and stormed the SCIF.

So after looking at this, there's three observations I can make.

1.  Normally, the use of a SCIF is tied to use of Top Secret material.  Is there anything about this Trump investigation now deemed Top Secret?  The answer is no....unless this is really faked-up badly.  So the SCIF is being used in a bad manner?  More or less.

2.  Then we come to recording in a SCIF.  You can't record with any device.  So either they are taking hand-written notes, or they've broken the rules by bringing in a recording device.

3.  SCIFs are by design....fairly compact work areas.  You might have a single conference room big enough for 20-odd people.  Rarely do you find anything bigger than that.  So, is this just for a very small group?

For some reason, I've this funny reason that various hearings will be stamped Secret or Top Secret, and the impeachment paperwork will be deemed partially classified.  If this occurs, the public will never get a clear picture of the charges, or the statements by various people.  In simple terms....it's a worthless impeachment.

Mayor Pete and a "Handful'

Yesterday, Mayor Pete came out of one of his presidential campaign talks, and admitted that he'd used marijuana 'a handful of times' long ago....just barely hinting it was in his youth. 

So, what does 'handful' really mean?

Some folks would say more than twice, and less than ten times.  Some folks would say more than five times, but less than twenty times.  And there's some folks who'd go and say it's more than twice but could be less than two-hundred times.

I had a German neighbor once, who was a more-than-a-handful marijuana smoker, and probably smoked an average of five times a day, and had been doing that for a minimum of five years.  The math here, would suggest 9,125 occasions with a 'puff'. 

What I think of Mayor Pete's 'handful'?  I hate to say it, but he seems to be a pretty low-key and low-intense guy, and it's hard to suggest him being even more mellow than what he is already.  He's probably one of those folks who'd drink half-a-beer, smoke a joint and then fall asleep for twelve hours. 

Me worry about the comment?  No.  But this will scare Warren enough that she'll rush out in the next week to admit she smoked a handful as well....along with Bernie, Booker, and Robert Francis.  Only Joe Biden will continue on...saying his body is 'pure'. 

Hillary Chatter

If I were Hillary and thinking of a weakened field of candidates....then why not make a run at the last minute?

Winning the Iowa Caucus?  No.  In 2008 and 2016, she failed miserably with their system.

In fact, with NH, SC, and NV....I can only see getting into the NV primary.  But with Super-Tuesday that follows the first four....yes, it'd make perfect sense for Hillary Clinton to get back into the system and campaign. Odds of winning big in Super-Tuesday?  I think Hillary could easily win seven states minimum on that single day.

The question comes up....if she doesn't win more than twenty-five states....can she win in the Convention?  And is this all related to Donald Trump being either kicked out or weakened by the Impeachment?

If the Convention choice is Hillary or Warren....is that really much of a choice?

If Trump is removed, Hillary knows that she'd have the clear path ahead and no Republican could possibly beat her. 

So I don't think the Hillary era is really over (when it should be).  But if impeachment doesn't work....this is all wasted effort.

Meanwhile, Warren has to be sitting there at night....nursing a beer or two....wondering if she's got real competition brewing. 

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

The 'Lynching' Comment

After President Trump made the comment on 'partisan lynching'....a whole bunch of folks got all hyped-up because it's a forbidden word to use unless talking over blacks being lynched in the period after the Civil War (well over 150 years ago). 

I sat for a while and pondered over the historical aspects of this.

If you study colonial history within the US, and history of the west....lynching isn't exactly a blacks-only 'thing'.

Between 1882 and 1967....almost 1,300 whites were lynched (I admit that well over 3,000 blacks were lynched in the same time period).

If you lived in Texas or any of the frontier states, and were caught cattle-rustling, stealing a horse, or possibly suspected of murdering someone's kin folks.....your skin color didn't really matter.  It was a race by the Sheriff to find you....before the lynch mob did.

Just in California alone, there are a minimum of 120 Mexicans who were lynched in the twelve years prior to 1860.

If you use the Johnson County War of 1890....there were a minimum of 25 individuals either out-right shot, or lynched....over a four-year period.

Predominately black from 1900 on?  More or less.  But if you were using the comment 'partisan lynching'....it details out to a political topic....not a public execution.  It means you get no judge, no jury, and no rights.  In this case, 'partisan lynching' has no connection back to the 'death execution' chatter of the 1800s. 

It's silly that politicians and journalists both wander into this topic, and hijack it for other purposes. 

The 'Kit Kat' Candidate

At the conclusion of the 2016 election business....I kinda figured that it'd take about six months for Hillary Clinton to disappear from the spectrum, and not really be noticed by any news organization. 

I say it from this prospective....Hillary Clinton just wasn't this awesome alternate political candidate for President. 

If you'd had an election grouping with Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete, Robert Francis (Beto), and Elizabeth Warren in 2016....there's zero chance that Hillary would have been number one or number two, heading into the convention.  No one would have held more than 35-percent of the primary votes (Bernie might have been lucky to win 20 percent in that group).  I'd even suggest a Mayor Pete of today, in that type of primary....might have pulled five points more than Hillary Clinton.

In this alternate world of speculation....the public would have had real choices, and found limited-energy Clinton campaign could be easily beaten.  Look at Bernie in 2019....he's not even getting real attention like he did in 2015/2016. 

So why bring up Hillary into conversation in late fall of 2019?  Why hype her with this Hawaii Democrat....Tulsi Gabbard? Why get conversations of Hillary on front pages of the news?

On my list of the worst chocolate bars to consider, even on a low-energy afternoon....I always look over the big machine and the two rows of bars available.  I'll rate them, and it's always the Kit Kat bar that I will avoid.  The Mars Bar and Cripsy Crunch will follow that.  Along the way, I'll skip Pay-Day, and maybe that crappy Bounty Bar. 

So I equate the Hillary hype to 'Kit Kat'.....I'd rather go and find something more preferred from the alternate list.  Sadly, the news people fail to grasp that. 


Millions and Millions of Russian Spies

If you use the Hillary Clinton-logic....there are Russian spies around every corner in America.

When you stopped at Starbucks this morning....that kid who served you...might be a Russian spy.

The Piggly Wiggly clerk who argued with you about discounted hot dogs.....might be a Russian spy.

The postal delivery guy who asked about your lawn....might be a Russian spy.

The librarian who noticed you were reading quiet a bit of Steinbeck....might be a Russian spy. 

The veterinarian attending to your dog's bowl movement issues....might be a Russian spy.

The transmission guy who says your Dodge is 'shot' and requires a $1,100 job....might be a Russian spy.

Even that Russian neighbor guy who has been telling you for eight years that he's a Russian spy....might actually be a real Russian spy. 

Heck, let's be humble here and even suggest that Bill Clinton himself....might be a Russian spy.  That'd be a shocker for Hillary. 

Monday, 21 October 2019

Mayor Pete's 'Path'

For Mayor Pete to accelerate and win the nomination....he has two major things that must be accomplished.

1.  He has to move ahead of Biden and Warren....to win the Iowa Caucus, and the Nevada primary.  The NH and SC matches don't really matter.

2.  Then you arrive to Super-Tuesday (14 states).  Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia.  He has to win seven of these (my humble opinion), in order for the path remaining (at least ten of the remaining states).

Odds in southern states like Texas, Alabama or Arkansas?  ZERO. 

I think he has pretty good chances in Minnesota, Virginia, Colorado and California.  Maine and Massachusetts are 50-50 shots.  It's hard to say how people would view him in states like North Carolina or Utah. 

In a Trump-Mayor Pete election?  Southern Democrats and blacks in general....will shy away from Mayor Pete, and lessen their showing at the polls in November.  I won't say it's a guaranteed loss for Mayor Pete, but he'd have to work people into a frenzy to show up and vote, and he's just not the Obama-type of candidate to accomplish that. 

A TV Series That I'd Like to See Come Back (In Different Form)

This is what I'd like to see come back:

The Addams 'Couple'.  Instead of bringing the Addams Family back....I'd like to rewind the clock and have this moment in college where Gomez meets Morticia.  Yes, I'd have the younger version of Uncle Fester there, but minus the other characters. 

I'd do the whole thing in black and white, set in some college.  I'd tell the story of the early days of this passionate love affair, and how they were simply love-struck from the first minute of their meeting. 

For background characters, I'd add a British butler for Gomez, a retired Taiwanese General as a neighbor, Morticia's room-mate (a Doris Day type), and a mildly insane professor who has been paid by Gomez's father to pass the kid....no matter what happens. 

Mayor Pete and His 35-Percent Corporate Tax Rate

To help make Medicare-for-all a possibility, and cover the cost impact, Mayor Pete's idea is that you'd raise the corporate tax rate to 35-percent (currently, it's set at 21-percent).  So you'd see a 14-point rise on the corporate world.  The feeling is....they'd just give 14 points of their profit, to make this happen, and everyone would be happy.

Is this a realistic assumption?  No.

Once companies are given the 14-point rise....they merely insert that into cost, and it's passed onto consumers.  If you made a product that went overseas....you'd likely stop production in the US, and quickly move production into Mexico or Brazil. 

So that new US-made truck that you were going to buy?  You can figure that it's going up by $1,000 minimum.  That $900 refrigerator?  It's going up by $50 to $70. 

You, whether you like the idea or not....would be paying for Medicare-for-all....all by yourself.  Corporate would simply hand you the bill, and you'd pay it. Eventually, some idiot with the car industry would figure out that it's cheaper to make cars in Mexico, and they'd shift a lot of production there.....destroying US jobs, and raising the unemployment rate.

But hey.....this is the reality of Mayor Pete and how he promises you such a good deal. 

Explaining This Obama-Trump Jobs Chatter

Over the last month or two, several news groups have been hyping up the jobs situation under President Obama as being better than President Trump.  Oddly, even the NY Times and Washington Post jumped into this with charts and hyped-up enthusiasm for what President Obama did. 

So I spent two hours this weekend look at the past twenty-five years.  Oh, I know....I should just be talking about only the Obama and Trump period, but there's this odd story laying out there.

Back in early 1994, NAFTA came along, with unions telling President Clinton and these Republican and Democratic political figures that hundreds of thousands of jobs were at risk. 

Around a decade after NAFTA came in, the numbers were mostly verified....it just under 1-million US jobs lost.   Those were the direct jobs.....so the secondary group probably was in the 250,000 range. 

No one ever talks much about those jobs which went to Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.  I had a high school friend who had a decent $12 an hour job in that 1995 period, and he watched the company fold up and move off to the Dominican Republic.  Because of zero commerce growth in this period.....it was fairly rough time for him.

But that's not the only crippling action.....a number of new products led back to the manufacturing stage in China.  You can argue that five to ten million jobs that should have been within the US.....were now in China instead.

So then in 2008/2009, we had the banking crisis.  From the first year of Bush, the unemployment rate was 4.2-percent By the last year of Bush (end of 2008), we now had 7.8 percent unemployment.  Hundreds of thousands of people were put at risk with their jobs and stability. 

Based on Team-Obama's effort....at the conclusion of the 2016, they had been able to reduce the unemployment rate to around 4.7 percent. 

Corporate profits during the Obama period....they went sharply up, compared against the Bush period.....almost doubling. 

So what's the difference between the Obama numbers and Trump numbers?  What Trump is carving into....has nothing to do with the banking crisis.  It's more to do with China manufacturing and NAFTA.  Industrial jobs.

These are the jobs that both Bush and Obama said were permanently gone. I highlight that key word because both spoke to this issue on numerous occasions, saying that they could never come back.....mostly because of the global market.  Under Trump, the phrase has never occurred. 

In fact, in every occasion that Trump found unfair trading practices existing....he's put his foot down.  Either it's a level playing field, or we will call it a foul.

In the spring of 2019, the numbers say around 5.2-million jobs created in the US since Trump arrived.  Those jobs dig into Mexico, Europe, and China.  If Trump stays on to 2024?  I would imagine almost 10-million jobs will have been created by that point. 

About a week ago, I noted out of my home state (Alabama), that unemployment had fallen to the lowest level of fifty years...3-percent unemployment.  In fact, in the Huntsville area....in August of this year, it got down to 2.3 percent unemployment.  If you simply wrote a 5th-grade kid-type resume, put on clean clothing, cleaned-up your drug habits, and simply applied yourself....you'd have a job within a week or two within Huntsville.

On occasion, I admire the writings of the Washington Post and NY Times, but on this one single story.....they basically told only half of the entire story.  For both of them to do the same thing?  It has to have a political purpose behind it, and be of a biased nature. 


Friday, 18 October 2019

The Bubble Within a Bubble Crowd

At different stages of my life, I lived around or worked around, with people who lived in 'bubbles'.  You'd be standing there and in some state of confusion why so-and-so really didn't grasp the events going on, or why their logic was so flawed.

I sat this week and watched a campus-demonstration video, and some kid....probably around 20 years old....was in some moment of a 'fit'.  It was the kind of 'fit' that you'd suggest of a 8-year-old kid who was hyped up and unable to control himself.  The 20 year old....supposedly in college, was trying to convey the massive 'evil' confronting civilization, and how people needed to take to the street to rebalance society.

Twenty years ago, without YouTube, you would have never seen this type of behavior, or witnessed something this 'stupid'.

I look upon alot of these wannabe adult characters of today, that just seem to be living in a bubble 'of a bubble'.  They can't associate with regular working-class people.  They can't agree with regular people.  They can't work in some company with regular people.  I doubt that they could even attend some church with some regular people.  In an emergency situation, they could not be depended upon for team-effort.

In some ways, they seem to be on some mental trip to 'save the world'.   Some have decent intentions but just haven't assembled all the information to make this trip, or to understand the gravity of what they are talking about. 

As for some maturing likely to occur, and a sudden wake-up situation developing?  Maybe, but I'd hate to be standing there where they realize how far they'd fallen and the extent of their massive 'failed' agenda. 

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Juvenile Journalism

I must admit....I've reached a level with watching CNN now....that 15 minutes is typically all I can stand before I hit mute.  If they leave Trump-news and do some worldwide 'minute', I'll flip it back on. 

So in the morning....they had their day-program on with John Berman and Alisyn Camerota. 

They wanted to hype a CNN slant on the Turkish invasion into Syria deal, and go bitter negative on Trump.  So they pull up the letter that Trump sent to Erdogan (the leader of Turkey).

They pull points off, in what you'd typically call Trump-language, which is blunt-talk....the stuff you'd hear on a street in NY City.  It's what regular people would say. 

Berlin turns to CNN correspondent and says basically: "We have this letter with this language that isn't exactly at Ph.D. level."

At that point, I hit the mute button.

What kind of journalist says something like that?  An intellectual type.  But then you kinda wonder....is Berman a PhD type?  Well....no.  Is Camerota a PhD type?  No.  I would imagine the White Correspondent was also a non-PhD type.

So you got CNN's 'best' telling you that whenever something is written to any leader, it needs to be in PhD-speak?  Amusingly enough....yes.

When the CNN team addresses the President at some press conference....do they speak with respect and PhD-speak?  Well....no. 

I'm guessing Berman sits around and collects this Trump themes, and just throws two or three out each day....to get his points, and show his loyalty to the network.

But behind all of this....it just makes CNN look like a bunch of juvenile high school kids.  Why would you watch something like this? 

Why Enthusiasm in Presidential Primaries Matters

Back in 2016, the Democratic primary resulted in 40,000,000 people coming out for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton (between the two of them). 

The 2012 Democratic primary (with strictly one candidate) had only 6,000,000 people out.  He didn't need the enthusiasm, but it hurt his situation for the House and Senate members who were running.

The 2008 Democratic primary?  It had roughly 35-million folks show up (I should note, on pure numbers....Hillary had around 300k extra votes in that primary).

The 2004 Democratic primary? It had 14 to 15 million people show up for the primary election.

The 2000 Democratic primary? It had around 14 million people show up for the primary election. 

Some people now believe that you need 'hype' or enthusiasm going on, to attain the bigger vote in November.  All of these debate forums and 15-plus candidates on the party platform....was supposed to deliver more people showing up and attaching themselves to the November election (2020).

Well, here's the thing, if Warren is settled upon by late February as the only viable candidate from the group....meaning Bernie and Joe are out entirely....then the dismal numbers will appear at Super-Tuesday, and Warren probably won't top more than 15-million votes for the entire primary (more than enough delegates to win the convention). 

A bad formula for the November election?  Yes.  But this is how strange the 2016 and 2020 elections are constructed.  The odds of ever constructing another Bernie-Hillary primary season?  I'd say it could take another thirty years to get that much hype over two entirely different candidates, from the same party.

So I'd advise you to watch the Super-Tuesday event with the 12 states involved, and the likely scenario that you only get 50-percent of the voters showing up....compared against 2016.  If this is the occurrence.....you can forget the chat or hype business, and give Trump another three or four states more than the 30 states he won in 2016. 

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

A 'Brief' Story

It's basically a three-line story. 

There's this tourist type island in the Philippines called Boracay Island.  It's three miles long (north to south), and maybe at the thickest point, three-quarters of a mile.  It's where people go for a decent price, with cost savings involved. 

If you can imagine beautiful white sandy beaches, luxury hotels, palm trees, and coral reefs just yards away from the beach....it's almost paradise. 

So last week, some Taiwanese lady showed up on the island with her boyfriend.  She unpacked, and pulled out her beach gear....dressing for the boyfriend to admire, and then they strolled out on the beach. 

Her attire?  It was enough to worry the local Philippine folks, and they called the authorities. 

They show up....look at the attire, and then arrest/apprehend the lady....giving her a fine for a string bikini that they called “inappropriate.”  2600 Pesos, which is around $50.

So I kinda wondered, with fashion such as it is.....how do you rate as inappropriate with a bikini?    Various news sources carried the story but left this to your imagination.  This is one of the things I hate about modern journalism....they leave you with more questions.

But finally, one Brit paper had the picture.  So in Alabama lingo, the critical part of this lady's bottom bikini would have been measured in three strips of hay twine.  Its safe to say there wasn't much left to imagine.  Luckily, she was a Taiwanese lady and of small build....had this been a regular Texas gal....the three strips of hay twine would not have been sufficient. (note for Alabama folks: we aren't talking about the part going horizontal, this was the vertical part of the bikini) (also note: Alabama folks are always clever for coming up with measurements for things which you typically never hear about)

But this brings to the topic of vacationing in foreign lands, the modesty or lack of modesty while on vacation, and how people tend to push the envelope. 

Having traveled around the world, and having sat on beaches in Greece, Australia, Denmark, Germany, and Spain....it's to say that I've seen public acceptance pushed to the maximum.  Women get the idea that it's a vacation resort, and what is done there....isn't going to be seen by their friends or neighbors.  So they push things.

This Taiwanese gal is probably a bit embarrassed about the incident and will probably burn the bikini upon arriving back home.  But you have to wonder.....was this a yearly production item, and if 40,000 Taiwanese women bought the ultra-thin bikini, and this is just the beginning of a problem year on beaches. 

Last Night's Debate

After watching around 40 minutes of clips from the Democratic debate last night, I would offer four observations:

1.  Joe Biden's denial of anything 'wrong' with his son and the Ukraine business....probably was true.  On ethics of Joe in the deal-making, yeah....Joe's ethics are fairly tainted.  He did a decent job to explain his piece, but it's a one-star minute of chatter. 

2.  Warren's explanation on how money comes out of thin air for "Medicare for all"?  The wealthy and corporations will be the tax target, which she says in blunt language.  Will the wealthy and corporations simply pass this cost along to the regular consumer?  Yes.  She avoided that topic, but regular people will pay for the cost factor....whether they like that idea or not.

3.  The 'criminal in the White House' quote.....over and over?  What charges?  Surely by now.....almost three complete years in the White House, you could have forty Democratic lawyers-pretending-to-be-political figures rig up charges.  Yet, it's mostly just hot air and theatrical stuff. 

4.  Winner of the evening?  Probably Warren, with Beto and Mayor Pete clobbering each other over 'courage' being the real laugh of the evening. 

Personally, I'd prefer to halt the whole debate thing, and just end the torment on Democratic voters.  Admit Warren is the only potential candidate for the primary season (still 120-plus days away).  Get on with it. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

DNA Story

If you up a Pacific map, gazing at the northern coast of Australia....there above it are these islands....literally thousands of them, from Papa New Guinea to Tonga.  This region is referred to as 'Melansia'...which mostly means in the local terms....land of the black people (generally describing the darker color of the tribal groups).

So there's theory of how they came to be there, and the idea revolves around African people who somehow sailed eastward, across the Indian Ocean area, and later into this tropical paradise.  Time frame?  40,000 to 100,000 years ago. 

Some people suggest that if you go past the 12,900 year frame, the water levels were 300 feet less than they are today, and most of the islands existed as a land mass, rather than a island mass.

So why bring up this topic?

On my DNA business from two years ago, there's two groups at the bottom of the scale, which are a .1-percent each situation for me. 

One group was the Melansia group, and the other an Indian-Pakistan group.  So, you are start looking at 100,000 years ago, and ponder upon the idea that some ancestor didn't walk out of Africa....he probably floated out in something....making his way to what was India, and part of his group continued on....heading to Melansia, and the other main group settled in India.  And at some point, they migrated westward into Russia and the Nordic lands. 

It's an interesting travel story, and you have to wonder how well the guy planned for the trip, or if this were one of those 'lets see where this path leads us' situations. 

Sunday, 13 October 2019

The Worst Ethics and Correction to Bad Ethics That I Ever Witnessed

I could probably write a 300-page book over ethics and it's destructive capability, but I'll lay out this 50-line story which I think drives home the problem and the corrective mess it can trigger.

Three decades ago when the Berlin Wall came down....the city of Berlin decided that the three airports in use at the time....simply weren't up to the dynamics approaching.  So they decided that Tempelhof would immediately close, and they'd focus all efforts on building the 'mega-airport' (ready in roughly 12 years) and close the two remaining airports a year or two after that point.  On paper, it made sense.

So they opened up the bidding.  The city had the basic plan and they needed a company to build/operate it.  Two groups would come into play.

The two groups, using various corrupted means (probably to include bribes along to different elements of the political spectrum in Berlin)....came down to the end.  One was declared the winner, and one the loser.  An appeal occurred.  A judge stepped in, and found that the city really didn't do an good ethical job of deciding the winner.  No one was arrested, but the winner/loser thing was thrown out.

After this, these two groups met privately.  Neither wanted to focus on corrupted matters to do a second bid.  Instead, they did this rather odd thing.....they threw out the book on bad ethics, and simply combined the bid as one single group.  A win-win by most standards.

The city?  All shocked.  They couldn't imagine any idiot would figure out the game and cut bad ethics totally out of the bid.

The city tosses the bid process, and instead  choose to build on their own.   

No, they didn't hire competent managers for the project.  No, they didn't inspect by the book.  2011 came....the project was said to be finished.  It wasn't finished.

Literally thousands of things were screwed up.  The list went on and on.  Escalators were ordered, delivered and ready for installation.....then the team would discover that the top section went three to four feet above the actual top floor.  Or you'd have electrical cable laid out with no identifying markings for x-or-y circuits.

Ready to go in 2020 (9 years after the original date)?  Maybe.  Another two or three billion spent by then?  Probably.

But all of this bad ethics.....led onto more bad ethics, and you compromised the reputation of German skilled labor.  And for what?  


ISIS to Surge Back Up Now?

No.

I sat and read through various idiots who wanted to hint to you that ISIS will come back in Syria, after the American military leaves.  There's a problem with this 'hint'.

First, they would need money from their former capitalists who were funneling them the money before.  For some odd reason, I don't think these people exist anymore. 

Second, the funny support that they got from various Saudis in the background?  I would suggest that this war in Yemen, and the problems with Iran....now consume their interests.

Third, for ISIS to make a comeback....they need manpower.  Between what Assad, the Russians, the Syrian Army, and the US did....there's a whole bunch of them buried six feet down or sitting in Syrian prison camps.  Getting folks all hyped-up in Europe for another round of recruitment?  No, I wouldn't count on that.

Finally, for good recruitment.....you need some success story out of the past five years in Iraq and Syria.  Is there anything that you can openly brag about? 

So no, I don't see ISIS making much of a comeback.  They'd need to retire the 'brand', and open up a whole new vision of their sales job. 

Saturday, 12 October 2019

A Short Thirty Year Story

Back in 1992, some business folks analyzed things in the Americas, and noted that Venezuela was now classified as the third-richest nation (out of 35).  Oil, natural gas, tourism....were all booming.

Five years later, an amazing thing happens.....the Ford F150 pick-up picks up purchase steam, and is the number two vehicle purchased in Venezuela. 

You could have sat there and grinned...being a resident of Venezuela, and felt that life was getting a lot better.  The middle-class was growing, and things looked great.

Around 2001/2002, the word 'inequality' starts to be used by various political groups.  There's unfairness being discussed by the public.

Around twelve years would pass, and now you have opposition political leaders arrested or detained on a weekly basis.  The country is in turmoil.  The economy is wrecked, and just getting enough toilet paper for daily use....is a big deal. 

Within three years of that point, the Constitution is suspended, and elections, while discussed, are a forbidden action.

'Equality' now?  It's a pretty sure thing.....everyone is now equal, and living in a third-world country....suffering economic woes, and everyone agrees that they made it as equal as possible.  No one wants equality now, but they can't find the way back out of this maze. 

Kinda funny to think how it was in 1992, and how far things have fallen. 

Me and the Pronoun Crowd

First, let me be honest and just admit up front, there are a hundred pronouns that tend to be accepted in the English language.  Even 'whoever' and 'whom' fit within the pronoun listing of the hundred.  To quickly assemble a thought for a stranger, you go to that hundred....assemble your sentence structure, and prepare to receive their comeback, which hopefully will make sense and resolve your problem or question.

But then you walk into a room with a gender-maxed group....say seven of them.  Each different from the other.  Basically, I don't know them, and in my case....dealing with strangers....I really don't want to get into some hour-long introduction phase where I need to know their personal issues and emotional woes. 

In this case, I need to convey a comment and resolve a issue.  I'm going to the standard hundred pronoun list.  The minute you stop or hinder me on my problem or question....I'm discarding you as an effective answer-person.  I'm going to the next person.  And I'll repeat that if necessary.

For me, it's simple....I divide people into three categories.  First, there's strangers and I really don't need to waste time on knowing strangers.  Second, there's associates (typically people I work with, or people that I have to deal with once a day).  For associates, it's nice to know their hobbies, their passions, and their general background.  For emotional woes or sexual interests?  No....associates aren't in that category.  So finally, I come to friends....where some personal woes or great personal battles in life can be explained in detail. 

It's safe to say I don't have a thousand friends, or for that matter....even a hundred friends. 

For the pronoun crowd, I'm a problem because I really just want simple communication to occur.  For their agenda to work, I need to be on a friend-to-friend level, and that's just not going to happen.

To be honest, looking around.....I kinda suspect that the vast majority of people operate with the system I've described.  So selling another 300-odd pronouns is not going to be easy or simple.  If I choose not to get into your personal business....it's my own personal choice.  I don't need to waste 30 minutes learning your pronoun path to happiness...to reach the point of asking about information on buying a vacuum cleaner or a dishwasher. 

I'm sorry if that seems harsh. 

Friday, 11 October 2019

Quitters Quit

I sat yesterday reading a business report.  Someone laid out the statistical data.....roughly 50-percent of millennials (people born between 1995 and 2005) and three-quarters of Generation 'Z'ers' (those born in the 2000 era or later) have had to quit jobs because of mental issues.

Why?  All that is really said is pressure and stress.

I sat and pondered upon it.  If you were a kid who'd grown up in the 2005 to 2010 period.....you were used to having your way....getting soft work assignments in high school and college, and probably arrived to face your first boss, and stiff schedules/deadlines.

Toss on the fact that the boss didn't really take your BS excuses, or 'blame-game' suggestions.

So the boss resorted to criticism, mandated requirements, and written expectations.  Then you retreated....quitting.  The second job?  The third job?  They likely went the same way.

Where are these winners living now?  In dad's house?  Are we saying that four years of college and $50,000 was wasted on an education where you aren't capable of taking orders or managing simple program?

I was sitting there and wondering if even Burger King and McDonalds were facing a crisis....where they couldn't get enough kids to flip burgers?  Can you imagine these kids quitting BK and going home because of stress issues at flipping burgers?

So are we talking about an entire generation of kids....who are basically quitters always on the verge of quitting? 


Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Hunter Biden and His Ukrainian income Tax Rate

While it never comes up.....the top level for income in the Ukraine is 18-percent.  Hunter Biden....with 50,000 dollars a month coming to him as a board member...would have had 9,000 a month going back to the Ukraine.

Did Hunter pay that?  I would assume so.  If the company provided an apartment for Hunter?  Well....that's compensation and there would have to be something on paper for the IRS in the US.

If Hunter didn't pay the 9,000 a month?  Well....he has a problem brewing with Ukraine.

Added note: After Hunter paid his Ukraine taxes....he's done....right?  Well, no.  The first $103k of income overseas would be 'free' from the IRS.  After that, even if he paid Ukrainian taxes....he'd still have to face state and federal tax back in the US.  So it's hard to say if he really made much money from this deal after everyone got finished screwing him over. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Seats Flipping in the 2020 Senate?

It's 13 months out but I'm going to make the following four predictions:

1.  Alabama's Democratic Senator will lose in this election. 

2.  Michigan's Democratic Senator (Peters) will likely lose.

3.  New Hampshire's Democratic Senator (Shaheen) will likely lose.

4.  Virginia's Democratic Democratic Senator (Warner) will require an awful weak Republican in order to win.

Republican losses?  At this point, the points appear more in their favor to retain all seats.  Odds here?  At least three gains....maybe four. 

Monday, 7 October 2019

Should the US Leave Syria?

The plan put out today is that the US troops would leave rather quickly out of Syria, and Turkey would be taking the ISIS prisoners, with the likely plan for Turkey to exercise control over this extreme northern region of Syria (the Kurds operate this zone). 

Anger by the Kurds?  They kinda want their own independent area, without Assad or the Turks, and the US 'protection' was the only way to achieve that. 

How many US troops?  No one really says.  It might just be in the 1,000 to 2,000 range. 

So what happens now?  First, you have to wonder about these ISIS prisoners, of which around a thousand are European prisoners, and Trump wanted all of them returned to their native lands.....which most European countries said 'NO'.

What will Turkey say?  I'm guessing here, but I think they will put them on a raft with clean clothing and drop them as refugees on some Greek isle, and a month or two down the line.....some Greeks piece together that these are all former ISIS folks....getting highly upset.  The Turks offering to take them back?  Maybe, but for a price.

As for this Kurd influence continuing in northern Syria?  No....that will end. 

It wasn't the war for the US to be in, or change dynamics.  Go back to Senator McCain's visit in 2013, and ask about his connection to the ISIS players at that meeting.  A bunch of people felt they were helping....in bringing civil war to Syria.  In the end, they just made it more miserable for everyone in Syria.

Reforger 2020?

Back in 1969, the US went and held a major military exercise in Germany...which was coined 'Reforger'.  The key to the 1969 exercise was that it would involve all of the US Army troops in Germany, and transport ships/aircraft would bring thousands more. 

Through the years, all the way to May of 1993, there was a Reforger exercise (there are a couple of exceptions in this period, but it was almost yearly).  Most Army guys would describe it as three to four weeks on the go....either to get to the play area, to participate in the 'gaming', and then to return to home station. 

At the conclusion of 1993 exercise, that was generally it.  No one felt an urgent need to do some massive exercise of that size.  Well, up until now. 

What the exercise was mostly about?  That's an amusing part of the story....typically there's no bullets fired or cannon rounds involved.  The 'teams' move from point 'A' to point 'B', then move to point 'C', and onto 'D'....with some end-of-exercise announcement.  It's mostly to say that you could move thousands of troops in a matter of days across the Atlantic, and be prepared for some conflict. 

Today, the US and Germany announced that in the spring of 2020.....37,000 US Army troops will participate in another massive exercise.  They will gather in Germany (via transport ships and aircraft, along with present-day assigned US troops in Germany) and make their way to Poland and the Baltic region.   Both countries kinda admit....they haven't done anything like this in at least 25 year.  I would go and suggest that it's the most massive exercise since 1993. 

Just the US and Germany involved?  No....19 members of NATO will participate. 

Problems? 

Well, let's start with the general hub for the US tank and APC vehicles will be in Luneburg.  That's the hub point.  It's roughly 30 miles SE of Hamburg....the capital of radicals, extremists, and revolutionaries.  Every single group in Hamburg will be focused on Luneburg, and thousands of German police will be required to 'keep the peace'. 

Anger by the Green and Linke Party membership?  Yes, they will voice some concern, and likely call for Germany to leave NATO.  I expect half of the SPD Party membership to agree with that topic.

Harsh journalistic criticism.....that Germany doesn't need these type of exercises?  Probably so.  Public TV networks will do forums over the topic.

The potential failures of the German Bundeswehr to cease movement or operations because of maintenance issues?  That's guaranteed, and I'll even wager that a quarter of all German tanks are red-lined by the 10th day. 

The Greta-kids and XR-kids demonstrating against the military exercise?  More than likely.

So if this ends up as a massive 'goat-rope' (the US term for a 9th-degree mess).....you can look across the German spectrum and identify all of the problems and suggest that Germany is unable to participate in NATO because of maintenance issues, money woes, and public frustration with radicals.  Politically, it would be a thorn for the 2021 national election in Germany. 

The Gate and Security

In early August of 1977....late into the evening, our bus from the San Antonio airport had pulled up to Lackland AFB for boot-camp.  It was one of those moments that you kinda remember.  SPs at the gate getting the Ok by the military guy escorting us (forty of us on the bus) to enter.  The gate-guards?  All armed with a pistol.  There was a sign or two, but you couldn't make that out (too small of font).

As the months and years went by, you got use to the gate procedure, and eventually one day....I stood close enough to the stupid signs to read them.  You actually need to be within eight feet to read the small font.  It basically says there's significant security on this military reservation, and either 'force' or 'deadly force' is then uttered.

It's hard to say if there's any difference between 'force' and 'deadly force'.  Either way, Airman Cindy has a pistol. 

After 9-11, all that 'deadly force' stuff ramped-up and the guards all started to hold M-16s and if you did something really stupid....you were going to be shot dead.  Along the way, they installed the flip-barriers, which take around two seconds to come up enough to stop all vehicles.

So this 'accident' at Warner-Robins AFB, Georgia on Friday evening interests me.  Some car speeds through.....never showing an ID, and the SP guard hits the button for the barrier to pop-up. With the high speed of the car, and impact....two guys are immediately dead and the third will die at the hospital.  Oddly, all three lacked an ID, and two days after the accident.....no one apparently knows the ID of the three.  Teenagers on the run?  Maybe, just a bit odd.

Failure to read that stupid sign business at the front-gate?  Well....maybe if they'd read the sign and realized that Airman Jimmy wouldn't hesitate to hit the button, or shoot-out the car, all three would be alive today. 

Sunday, 6 October 2019

The 'Joker' Worry

This week, there's been a lot of hype over people worrying about the new movie 'Joker' and the violent content related to the storyline.

Lets be honest here....the Joker is a fictionalized character, who has been around for more than sixty years.  It's just that someone finally asked the question....how did the mortal human eventually turn into the Joker.

You could see over the past three years, this twist and turn with the Gotham series, and how Jerome Valeski transformed himself....week by week....into crazy nut-case with an agenda to 'fix' society.  Except the movie version has gone to the ninth degree, and this Joker is crazy serious about resolving the woes of society.

Worrying about fictional character hype?

Should this crowd have said something when Breaking Bad came out and you were introduced to Walter White and Gus Fring?  Most of us came to respect both guys. 

What about Hannibal Lecter?

What about Saruman the White from Lord of the Rings?

What about Lord Voldemont from the Harry Potter series?

What about that Annie Wilkes nutcase gal from Misery?

There are a thousand bad-guy fictional characters out there.  Some of them are just plain nut-crazy....like that Alex character from Fatal Attraction, the psycho nutcase  who probably has damaged over 10,000 American guys after they watched the movie and got permanent damage from it.  Those guys will never marry or have a true relationship.

So I don't see what the heck these idiots are warped-up about.  Fake worry?  More or less.  Like fake news. 

"Romney Never Knew How to Win"

Trump made the Twitter comment today, and I sat and reflected upon it.

The 2012 election cycle was one of the more comical episodes in Republican history. 

You basically had Mitt Romney (who marginally had public appeal), Ron Paul (for the oddball Republicans), Buddy Roemer (for southern Republicans), Jon Huntsman (for the intellectual Republicans), Rick Santorum (for the church-going Republicans), Rick Perry (for Texas Republicans), Herman Cain (for the Republicans just wanting a wild card in the election, and Michele Bachmann (for northern crowd who just want something really crazy to happen).

I think most Republicans out of the south just laughed over the convention win by Romney, and marginally felt compelled to vote for the guy.  He was for all purposes, the convenient 'loser'. 

Could Mitt have won?  He would have had to go aggressive and really say a lot of criticism over President Obama.   It wasn't going to happen.  Trump?  He didn't hesitate President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and just about anyone who dumped on him (include some Republicans).  He pushes back....something that you haven't seen a Republican do in fifty years.

'Nice guy' status for Romney?  Well....that's the odd thing.  He was always cut-throat on buying cheap companies and cutting them up to resell later, with no heart for the employees.  But he couldn't bring that same cut-throat attitude to the political scene. 

On this, Trump is right. 

Crimes, Misdemeanors, or Bad Moral Judgement?

As all this Ukraine business unfolds, it's worth standing back to admire what happened, and if anyone really committed a crime.

Is Hunter Biden guilty of any real crime?  If he walked in and told Dad (then the VP and chief of handling Ukraine special projects) about his company being formed and getting an inside to the Ukraine natural gas industry?  That's not a crime. 

If Hunter Biden's team was successful and part of the reason that the Ukraine folks had a $1.8-billion 'gift' from the US to do exploratory drilling?  That's not a crime.

If Hunter Biden got a seat on the board of this company, while being unqualified for the role?  That's not a crime.  I admit....it is stupid on business practices. 

If Hunter Biden was paid $50k a month to be on the board?  That's not a crime.

As long as Hunter Biden paid US taxes on that and any substance-allowance while in the Ukraine....that was not a crime.

If none of the money was really used for gas exploration?  That's not a crime, unless the Ukraine itself wants to say something about the lack of progress.

If Hunter Biden did 'wash'  any funding before transferring it back into the US?  That might be a crime. 

For Joe Biden to arrange the $1.8-billion and his son got awarded the board job as part of this?  Unless there's an email to say he knew the son would get the job if they paid the money, that's not a crime.....but it very poor moral behavior on Joe's part.

If the Ukraine Attorney General tried to look at the company, Hunter's role in it, and got fired because of Joe Biden's pressure?  That's not a crime, but it's serious poor judgement and bad moral bearing.

If Nancy Pelosi's son had a business, and he got into the Ukraine natural gas business....that's not a crime.  If Nancy helped in some fashion to get him that role?  That's not a crime, but it's bad judgement.

So here's the thing....if this all get dragged into some impeachment process....unless these 'kids' did something stupid and conducted money-laundering or never reported their income correctly.....they will all skate free.  For the parents?  It's poor judgement, but I doubt if anyone can be called into court.

Onto the $10-million given to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.  The money actually came from a Ukrainian Oligarch.  Anything illegal about this money?  No.  It does suggest some funny connection and beg questions, but the guy was free to donate to the Foundation. 

The final question left....was it a crime to ask the Ukrainian government to investigate how this all occurred?  There is no law that says you can only talk/discuss x-matters between a President and some other international figure.  If Trump wanted to call and discuss his favorite Lego 'gift', the shape of women's boobs, or the Mexican Wall with the Pope....he's free to do so.  Bad moral judgement?  Maybe, but then you'd open up a can of worms on a dozen things that President Obama did, with bad judgement as well.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Bernie, Health, and the Question Over Replacement

First, Bernie isn't in dire health condition.  Bernie has a blockage, and had two stents 'installed'.

Doctors will say that stents are a simple procedure now, and you might walk out of the hospital on the same day of the procedure.  Generally, most people then get this lecture by a doctor that they are either eating in a way that is not healthy, smoking, drinking too much, or living a lifestyle with too much stress.  It doesn't mean the lecture is BS or worthless....it's just how doctors treat this.

The fact that Bernie is 78 years old?  Well....here's the harsh reality.  Bernie doesn't smoke, and I would assume that he's mostly a coffee or soda guy.  So the suggestion here is that this presidential election stuff is triggering stress that he really doesn't need. 

Him retire?  Zero chance of that. 

The stents simply telling you of a future problem with more chest pains?  Maybe.

If he were to have a heart attack and resign or be unable to act as a Senator?  The Governor does not have the authority to appoint someone.  He has the authority to call an election....within 90 days of the seat being empty.  The current Governor?  A Republican. 

The odds of this scenario playing out?  In a normal political year, I'd say less than 10-percent chance.  However, the last twelve months have been weird in the US, and it wouldn't shock me if suddenly you had Senator with a heart attack, and some race on to replace the guy. 

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Priorities That Changed

Having grown up in the South during the 1960s and 1970s....it's an odd thing to admit today that you never thought much about a defensive posture for your farm or home. 

Among my top ten worries in 1975 (being 16)?

1.  Snakes
2.  Lightning storms causing a tree to fall upon the house
3.  Another 1973 gas crisis
4.  A hailstorm destroying the crop of soy-beans
5.  Ministers going beyond noon on some hyped-up sermon
6.  Tornado watches
7.  Tornado warnings
8.  Wild dogs
9.  Mad bulls
10. Brakes going out on the 20-year-old farm truck

Nowhere in that list, do you see a reason for anyone to worry about meth-heads, home break-in's, home invasions, paranoid schizophrenic folks, or physical violence (other than the mad bull thing). 

After the 1990s, when I'd come to visit or just look at news reports from the region....you'd notice this unusual event, or this meth-head attacking someone.  Murders started to be noted for crazy reasons. 

So in this past decade, people evaluate their situation (even in a rural setting) and they go to be armed.

Cops like the AR-15.  Private citizens also like the AR-15.  Chief reasons?  It's light, effective, easily to reload, and doesn't fail.  I emphasize the 'doesn't fail' term....because if awakened at 2 AM....if confronted, you just don't want a weapon to fail.

Shotguns?  We've gone in the past thirty years way beyond the standard double-barreled shotgun.  Eight shotgun rounds in a pump-action shotgun?  More than enough.

You look at the crazy story from central Georgia from August....three young gentlemen at 4 AM, on a mission to do a home-invasion routine.   All three dead now.  The story on helps to sell more weapons.

Whether the political agenda folks grasp it or not....the landscape is simply not the 1960s or 1970s.  It's a rough world, and some people are living on the last twenty-four hours of their life, whether they like to admit that or not.  If you had a juvenile or two in the house and running a bit on the wild side....you might want to have a last prayer for the kid each morning.  Things have changed. 

Subtracting Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders From the Race

Based on Bernie's health stuff and Joe Biden's Ukraine problem....I would suggest that both are 'gone'. 

We are four months out from the Iowa caucus, which has some impact on the whole race.  If you remove those two....it's really a different race.  It's mostly all Warren. 

Robert Francis (Beto) is spinning his wheels, as is Mayor Pete (forget about blacks voting for him).  Booker is running out of money, and Senator Harris hasn't really thrilled that many Democrats. 

So what started out in the spring of 2019 with almost 20 candidates....we are basically down to just one single serious candidate?   Yeah.

It's bad enough that some strategists are putting the idea out there that former NY mayor Bloomberg....might announce something in November, and suddenly get into the race.  The fact that he'll be 78 years old in Feb 2020?  Well, that is another minor issue.

Unless something happens to split the vote up....I think by the 3rd of March....Super-Tuesday, it's finished.  If Warren wins all of these, there's not much need to get excited or thrilled over the primary season.  Fewer voters turning out after 3 March?  That's my prediction.  This will hurt in states like Ohio and Florida. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

The Numbers Matter

I like statistics because they often tell a story. 

If your neighbor was brutally killed in 2018.....he was five times more likely to die from knife attack, than a rifle bullet.

The FBI put the statistics for 2018 in the last couple of days, and it's an amazing story.

1,515 people died from knives in America....while only 297 died from a rifle round, for all of 2018.

In fact, if you use 2017 data.....almost a quarter of rifle round victims were carved off the 2017 situation compared to 2018. 

So here's the real shocker.....more than a hundred more people died by baseball bats/blunt objects in 2018, than by a rifle round.

But let's dig deeper.  If you collect data and look purely at metropolitan or urbanized areas....there were 14,428 murders or manslaughter episodes out of the total across the entire US of 16,214.  Wanna look at the two other areas (small towns, or rural areas)?  711 murders were in small towns, and 899 in rural areas.  So if you live inside the beltway of some urbanized area.....your odds of murder go up.

Murders in Alabama for 2018?  Just two qualified for outright murder....both by pistols.

Murders in Idaho total for 2018?  32.  But only 16 were by rifle or pistol.  Four died by knife, and one by fist or kicking of feet.

From California?  24 died by rifle, but here's the shocker....252 were by knives.  Ten times the number as rifles. 

So all this anti-gun chatter focused?  No.....it lacks focus to a great extent.  It'd be more effective to prevent murders in highly urbanized areas by having stop-and-check police blockages, and ask people to step out of the car while we examine the contents.  Confiscation of knives in public places?  Why not? 

Our total focus, based on the numbers....ought to anti-murder. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

The Red Matters

I sat and looked this afternoon at the new Trump 'ad'.

Here's the thing which few journalists ever chat on.  Of the 3,007 counties in America....Trump won roughly 95-percent of them in 2016. Hillary, on the county map....less than 5-percent.

So what Trump is basically saying....with RED making the statement...he's not running against Warren, or Sanders, or Joe Biden.  He intends to run in 3,007 counties and 435 districts.  He's playing the game to take a massive win in the House.

The added issue for Democrats?  You see those blue counties?  They generally have two unique features.....black and Latino voters. 

If Trump were to take 50-percent of black male voters (now possible), and half of Latino votes....half of those counties that went to Hillary.....would flip. 

A billion dollars in money, and plenty of impeachment chatter to talk about?  He's got a bigger and more bold plan than people imagine. 

'James Bond' Brennan

It's an odd five-line story that popped up today.  During the Obama period....2016...the CIA chief...John Brennan, goes and travels to the Ukraine.

Normally, it wouldn't really matter.

But he did this with a fake passport....fake name.  All provided by the State Department.

Why?  Unknown.

Who he met?  Unknown.

Reimbursement for the hotel and expenses?  Probably so, but if you asked the CIA to dig this up....it's going to be confidential, and under the fake name. 

Secret-agent guy?  American-style James Bond? 

Well, you don't know.  This is all reading like some Hunter S. Thompson 'James Bond' epic....written while on a booze and weed period while vacationing in Cuba. 

What happens if impeachment occurs, and Brennan gets dragged to the stand under oath.  I think he has a story, but what he has to worry about.....it's possible that the Ukraine secret police, or some Russian KGB group....taped his conversation and they've decided to hand the tape to Rudy G, and Rudy has Brennan sitting there and listening after telling his fake story. 

You just have to shake your head....a lot of people made decisions that were unwise, and just kept thinking.....no one will ever dig this stuff up.  Yet, here we are. 

The Thing About the Source and Reliability

One of the ten-thousand little things that I gained out of my two decades in the intelligence field....was this reliability scoring of intelligence. 

Years ago, some smart guys sat down and surveyed the human intelligence collection business, and they came up with two categories that you had to view....when you wrote a report.

The first category was source.  The levels went from A (highly reliable), to E (highly unreliable) and F for source unknown.  This meant that you had to have some kind of record with the guy telling you the story.  Maybe he was a guy that you'd known for five years.....maybe he was the coffee shop clerk that had told you five stories over the last year, with only one single story being reliable. 

The second category was information reliability.  The levels here went from 1 (confirmed by other sources), to 5 (improbable, meaning you had other sources who told you something different), and 6 being no valid trust (you could prove anything). 

Here's the thing.....you always hoped on having a 'A' or 'B' rating on the source, and a minimum of '3' (possible true) on the information.  Things that were 'D4'....were in simple terms....crap. It was worth keeping in a folder because one day....it might lead to a better source and maybe improving this intelligence to B2.

So I look back at this dossier by the CIA guy on Trump.  He's basically telling you something that comes from a dozen-odd sources.  He fails to validate or assign a score to any of them.  Curiously, they all work in the same work environment as him....so you'd think that he'd say they were all 'A' or 'B' on trust. He didn't do that.

So I look at the second part of this....information reliability.  He should be able to note this as a minimum of '2' or '3'.  But he skips that and hints that it's all a '1'. 

Why not score this in some fashion?  My gut feeling is that this is some rookie CIA guy....maybe less than seven years in the service, and probably has never scored HUMINT in any way or shape.

Value of the dossier?  Well, you'd have to out and assign a number of FBI and CIA folks to score the stories, and how reliable they were.  The fact that you were willing to accept second-hand information?  Man, that opens up a whole can of worms, and promises to tie down people for a year or two.  In the end, most of these dossier items are probably going to be a D3 or D4....meaning they might be useless in a court or impeachment process. 

Pretty Crazy

This is simply something to sit and ponder upon.

Folks in San Francisco's Mission Dolores neighborhood.....on the NE part of SF....finally got fed up with homeless drug addicts camping out in their neighborhood.  So they put their money up into a bundle and bought these rocks to place along the street and sidewalk....basically to keep tents from being placed. 

If you go and look at the rocks....they are fairly big 'chunks'....maybe two to three feet long, and at least one to two feet thick.  On the 'big-rock' scale....I'd give them a '3'  to '4' at best. 

In the beginning....this worked well in the first couple of days of placement. 

So, as you might imagine....the city steps in.  No....the residents didn't ask the city for permission.  Public Works stepped in....upon a city order....to remove the rocks this week.  Why?  Well....an inspector looked at the rocks and said....'they weren't big enough'.  He kinda noted that some of the rocks had been pushed out into the street (yep, they were small enough for several homeless guys to push them around).

What the city says now?  They will do a review and come to two decisions....either 'bigger' rocks or some type of landscaping that prevents tent placement.

So you look at this and shake your head.  The amount of time to review this?  I'll bet on this taking a minimum of one year.  Residents will be shaking their heads because this ought to take less than five days to plan out, purchase the rocks, and place them. 

These city planner people will hire some special 'rock-expert' (probably in the $60-per-hour range), who will list out the size and type of rocks to use.  I would imagine that these will all be non-California rocks (coming out of some Minnesota rock quarry and shipped by truck to SF).  Each truckload will probably cost in the $150,000 range to be delivered.  People will be amazed to watch this convoy of forty trucks going across the US....loaded with SF boulders.  Then it'll take a specially-trained team ($40-an-hour for work and members of the boulder-union) to place the rocks, with a rock-certified guy ($90-an-hour for his expertise) to sign off that it was safely placed and secure. 

Then as the initial special rocks get put in place....more neighborhoods will demand that they have the same rock placement, and eventually....some rock-department will be created, and bean-count each rock.  Around 2038, someone will discover that over 144,000 boulders now exist in San Francisco.  At that point, the anti-boulder agenda will be started....to cease the boulder epidemic.