Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Words of the Weasel Part 49

Bipartisan  (n) or bipartisanship (adj).   Noun or adjective.   Generally perceived as a "good thing"  or at least the pol using the word hopes that is what the voters perceive.  At it's strongest, bipartisan is a code word meaning vote for my bill.  A weaker form of the word means I will talk compromise with my political opponents rather that just yelling at them.  
   If a pol has nothing better to offer than bipartisanship,  you ought to vote for the other guy.

Secretary of State

I hope who ever Trump picks can manage the State Dept, a goofy bureaucracy stuffed full of democrats, know-it-alls, and peaceniks.  They all have snivel service protection against firing.  Many of them are scattered all over the world where it is harder to keep track of, and ride herd on them.   Flinty old John Bolton might be able to handle them, but  I'm doubtful of Romney, Guiliani, and Corker.  Petraeius might be tough enough.
  As it is, a lot of 'em are getting ready make leaks embarrassing to the incoming Trump administration,  and the MSM are sitting up, wagging heir tails,  and begging for some dirt to print.
   Although the secretary of state cannot fire them, he could announce a policy of unaccompanied overseas tours in unpleasant places for State Dept leakers.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Do we really need a law against flag burning??

Burn a flag in most places and you WILL get punched out.  Which is one reason why flags don't get burned very often.  Why make life more complicated by passing laws? 
   And for the Supremes who have opined that flag burning is free speech.  It ain't speech, it's action.   Some how we have nine lawyers, men of pure speech, who don't understand the simple things in life, like the difference between talk and action. 

Publicity for vote recounts

  I doubt very much that any number of recounts will change the election results.  But one of the minor losing candidates is calling for them, and the MSM are giving her, and the recounts, as much publicity as The Donald ever got on campaign.  (And The Donald got a lot of publicity from the MSM) 
   I wonder why the MSM is pushing this issue.  Do they think it will weaken the Donald after inauguration?  They are all so locked in to doing election stories that they want to stretch the election out some more?  They are all so brainwashed that election stories are the only kind of story they know how to write?

Who to send to Fidel Castro's funeral?

How about Al Sharpton and that football player Colin K-something-or-other?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dark History: Vikings by Martin J. Dougherty

It's almost a coffee table book,  nicely printed, nicely illustrated, if it was a few inches bigger it would make the coffee table class.  The author is, or is writing for, Viking re-enactors or gamers, he doesn't write like an ordinary historian.  It reads well, and tells the story of the Vikings the way most histories tell it, you can quote from the book and nobody is going to challenge your ideas.  He talks about the famous names, Ragnar Lodbrog, Sven Forkbeard, Hrolf Ganger, Lief Ericsson, Harald Hardrada, Eric Bloodaxe.  Nice discussion of things like clothing, farming, the gods of Asgard.  I am enough of an amateur historian to have heard of most of the things in the book, but it's a fine introduction for folks unfamiliar with the Viking age.
   Dougherty introduces us to the modern Russian historical controversies without taking sides.  Viking traders on the way to Constantinople penetrated most of what is now European Russia.  It's clear that the Viking culture had influence upon the lands and peoples of Russia.  Modern Russian historians are reluctant to allow that Vikings are the founders of Russia.  They like to emphasis the native slavic genius and downplay the influence of the Vikings.  Since the relevant sites are all deep inside Russia, only available to Russian archeologists, there is little that Western writers can say with much authority. 
   All in all, a good read.  It would be better if they gave some provenance to the numerous and lovely illustrations.  They range from photos of ancient rune stones to a nice color illustration that I recognized from National Geographic magazine years ago.  Giving the name of the illustrator and a date would add interest to the illustrations. 

Who will become Secretary of the Air Force?

USAF has a bunch of  problem areas right now, pure Air Force issues that a new Tramp administration Air Force secretary will need to cope with.  The on going and worsening cost overruns and schedule slippage on the F-35 fighter program.  It's gotten so bad that Canada recently bailed out and will buy F-18's instead.  There is more slippage and over runs on the KC-46 tanker program.  ust starting up is a new strategic bomber (B-21) program.  And a new air launched ground attack missile to serve as a penetration aid for that bomber.  And the fighter pilot mafia keeps trying to kill off the A-10 program over the protests of the Army and the Marines.  The creeping paralysis overtaking all new programs.  In WWII we could move a new fighter from paper spec to mass production and into combat inside of a year.  The F-35 program has been running for twenty years and the plane still isn't combat ready.  Right now the gun won't fire, and the engines catch fire if the plane pulls more than 5.6 G. 
   New Air Force secretary has his work cut out for him.

I wonder how long it will take for the MSM

To find something, anything, to talk about besides the election.  It's been two weeks and all they can talk about  is the election.  Will this last til New Years?  til next Christmas?  Who knows? 
   Part of the problem is the newsies know so little about anything, so they find it hard to write about just about anything.  The election is simple to cover.  All they have to do is read to polls over the air and then do some pontificating about the meaning of it all.  They don't have to get out of their cushy offices, talk to people, take notes, find stuff out.  That's hard work.  Easier to just pontificate about the polls.
   Could it be that nobody is left in the MSM  who can write a story about anything except the election?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Alcohol Mandate

Carl Icahn wrote an op ed in the Wall St Journal decrying the use a and abuse of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).  These are some kinda chits that concern the addition of alcohol to gasoline before it is sold at the pump.  I didn't fully understand Icahn's explanation of how the scam on RINs worked, but he claimed it was driving the smaller refineries out of business and leaving gasoline production to the majors and the big service station chains.  Icahn is in the business and probably has it right.
   More to the point, the entire alcohol in gasoline program is a scam.  Beloved of greenies, who think it  saves the planet, and of farmers who see a huge market for their corn, in actual fact, the program just raises the price of gasoline.  Growing the corn and distilling it into alcohol consumes more gasoline and diesel (energy)  than the alcohol provides.  We would get more gasoline for less drilling if we just refined crude into gasoline and sold it. 
   Back when the alcohol in gasoline scam got started, the greenies were told that raising corn and distilling alcohol would save on crude oil production.  So all the greenies, and Congresscritters who thought they could snare some greenie votes fell in line.  And all the farmers who correctly saw that massive alcohol production would skyrocket the price of corn got on board, and between the two they had enough votes to slide the mandatory alcohol in gasoline program thru Congress.  That was years ago. 
   The truth is, making alcohol consumes more gasoline and diesel than the alcohol conserves.  And the bulk of us motorists  (in America everyone is a motorist)  are stuck with a program that raises the cost of gasoline.  We ought to abolish the whole thing, RINs and all.   Maybe the Trump administration will do something about it. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

All the News that Fits we Print

The media doesn't admit this, but they really blew their credibility in this election.  The bulk of the real citizens no longer believe what they see in the MSM anymore.   And, the media wants to keep it up.  I hear the word "normalization" passed around.  Apparently this means getting off Trump's case for at least a day or two.  I hear voices decrying "normalization" by which they mean staying on Trump's case, trashing him, and causing him as much trouble as they can.   Somehow, I don't think this is going to rebuild the media's credibility with voters and citizens.  At this point, the only media I believe in much are the Wall St Journal and Fox News.  
   Newest anti Trump tactic seems to be finding offensive ideas on social media, or just inventing them out of thin air,  attributing them  to the Trump administration, and then running a story about them, or asking Trump or Reince Preibus if they support said offensive idea.  The 21st century version of  "Have you stopped beating your wife?" question.  Let's hope the voters and citizens are intelligent enough to detect the malice in these stories and discount them. 
   The purpose of a free press is to inform the citizens so they can vote intelligently.   Now that the media have discredited themselves with the public, the public is turning to Facebook, the water cooler, and just plain rumor.  Not good.
   Part of the media's problem comes from the sheer incompetence and ignorance of their staff.  They are all journalism school majors, the sort of people who cannot change a light bulb.   

The Fake News campaign drives the fake Obits off my Facebook

I haven't seen a fake obit (famous celebrity has died) posting to my Facebook page for nearly a week now.  They used to pop up everyday.  Has the anti Fake News push scared them away or what?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Bern and Chucky the Schumer

New democratic Congressional leadership.  They were on TV news today.  Saying that they would cooperate with the GOP on issues they believe in.  As opposed to bucking everything in Congress on general principles.   Which makes sense.  They gotta pass a federal funding bill shortly or the whole government shuts down. Some time in early December. That will take some Democratic votes. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Electoral College

Democrats have been complaining about the electoral college system since last Tuesday night when Trump pulled ahead of Hillary.  It's in the Constitution, right up front, unlike some of the other things judges have invented from the bench.  It's the way things have been done since George Washington's time which makes it legitimate in the eyes of most.  It works like this, each state gets votes (electors) equal to its Congressional representation, one vote for each rep. and one for each senator.  Voters get to choose the electoral college votes (electors) for their state.   After the election (sometime in December) the electors get together and vote on who shall be president.   The founders originally thought that the electors would be solid citizens who be free to vote for the most worthy candidate.  But the parties came up with dependable party men who believe in their party and have always voted a straight party ticket to stand as electors.  Which makes the selection of president more democratic than the founders had planned upon.  
 The other effect of the electoral college is to level the playing field between big states and small states.  As a citizen of New Hampshire, I like the electoral college system.  It gives my small state more influence in national politics than it would otherwise have.  Without the electoral college, the hordes of democrats in California would out vote the rest of the country.  I'm not ready to be californicated.  

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Demographic Imperative for immigration

To be a superpower, you have to have a large population.  The reason the United States surpassed the British Empire during WWII is fairly simple.  The US boasted a population in those days of 100 and some million, compared to Britain's 40 million.  That turnover was peaceful due to close historical ties between the two countries and Winston Churchill who clearly saw that an Anglo American alliance, which he succeeded in creating, could win the war and impose a Pax Americana on the world. 
   Lesson to be digested.  To remain a superpower we have to have a large population.  Especially today when we have 320 odd million as opposed to China with a billion, and India with nearly as many.  To maintain our position in the world, we must maintain and grow our population.   And natural increase is failing.  To just maintain a population, to say nothing of growing it, each woman needs to bear 2.1 children in her lifetime.  As of today, America's women are just breaking even, and it looks like they will fall further behind in the coming years.  Continental Europe and Russia are already far behind,  in Russia the figure is down to 1.4 children per woman, and the population of Russia will sink by half in a generation.  Which might explain Vladimir's rambunctiousness on the world stage today.  He wants to get his licks in while Russia still has the population to do it with. 
   America has an advantage here.  We have created the freest, wealthiest, and most pleasant to live in country in the world.  Everyone would like to move here.     We have a tradition of welcoming and assimilating newcomers, the old melting pot idea.  And, immigrants coming from our south are good Catholics and hard workers. Compare with France and Germany, where the immigrants are low grade Islamics who have not  assimilated at all, they are trying to make Europe over into the Middle East. 
   To maintain our population we ought to admit each year, immigrants equal to 1 or 2 percent of the current population.  Say 3 to 6 million immigrants a year.  And since everyone wants to come, we can be picky and admit people who will do the country good.  Young, healthy, loyal, educated, and law abiding we need.  We don't need more elderly, more unemployed, more gang members. 
   We already have a lot (10 million?) of illegal immigrants in the country.  They are picking crops, roofing buildings, waiting tables, probably all for cash under the table.  But, many of them, most of them perhaps, are fitting in, finding work, raising their children to speak English, staying out of trouble with the law, paying taxes.  Which kinda defines a good citizen in my book.  I'm ready to grant to legal papers to good citizens cause we need more good citizens, and in these cases we know who has been good and who hasn't.  I don't really care if they slipped into the country illegally.  Given their circumstances I probably would do the same thing if I had the guts. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thank You Paul Ryan

For killing the attempted revival of earmarks.  Congressional "earmarks" were a shadowy system that allowed Congresscritters to direct spending into their own districts.   For worthy purposes like getting themselves reelected.
    Republicans killed the earmark scam when they took control of the House back in 2010.  Caused a lot of squealing from the democrats and RINO's.
    Somehow the Congresscritters thought they could slip earmarks back in during the lame duck session.  By all accounts they had the votes to open up the earmark black hole again.  But Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, somehow managed to stop the stampede to the feeding trough.  The whole matter will be put off until the next Congress in 2017.
  Thank you Paul Ryan for saving us taxpayers from yet another money sink.  There is a least one honest man serving in Congress.  

Words of the Weasel Part 48

Racist:   That's what progressives (democrats) call anyone who disagrees with them.  Its gotten to the point that the word is loosing its insult value. 
Sexist:  Same as above. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fake News on Google, Twitter and Facebook

The Wall St Journal has run stories about fake news on page 4 and page 1 of the business section for two days in a row.  They deplore it. 
   My Facebook has been running fake celebrity obits for a week now.  I have been informed of the death of Clint Eastwood, Angelina Joli and three or four others.   All fake.  Which has pretty much destroyed my confidence in anything else I might see on Facebook.  I use Facebook to post snapshots for my widely scattered children and friends.  Nothing more serious than a seven year old's birthday party, or autumn leaves in NH.  But after all the fake obits,  I don't trust anything more serious from Facebook.   Dunno about twitter, I don't do twitter, although maybe I ought to start to catch some of the Donald's rants.  Haven't seen anything fake on Google, yet. 
   Was I running any of these web sites, I'd clamp down on fake news, just to retain the ordinary user's confidence in the site. 

The Economist really doesn't like The Donald

For the November 12 edition, they ran 10 pages about Trump.  They repeat all the nasty things the democrats said during the election.   A ten page hit piece.  Let's hope this rant lets off their rancours and they can go back to reporting, as opposed to flaming. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Infrastructure, useless frills or needed engineering?

We need more infrastructure is the cry resonating from media to legislatures and back.  The pols like infrastructure because it means money spend in their districts.  Motorists (most of the population are motorists) want potholes, bottlenecks, narrow and bumpy streets to be fixed, to make their drive to work faster and easier.  The clueless media cheers for infrastructure. 
   Except when the money is spent on frills.  The drive up to my place is I93, running from Boston to St Johnsbury.  I have been driving this stretch of road for 60 years to go skiing, I know it well.  New Hampshire has maintained the roadway in pretty good condition over the years,  much better than anywhere in New York state for example.  But over the years, we have wasted money on mileposts.  They put in  shiny new mile post signs every 0.2 miles.  They are so close together you can see from one to another.   We drove I93 safely for 50 years without all those expensive little signs.  Then they funded a bunch of very fancy electric signs that just stand there flashing cute slogans like "Arrive Alive" and "One for the road gets trooper for chaser".  Really necessary those are.   And then there was the great rock blasting of the 1980s.  As you can imagine a New Hampshire highway needs a lot of rock cuts to get the road thru the granite hills.  When I93 was first built, back in the 1960s, all the rock cuts were made, of a generous width (interstate standards).  And traffic flowed nicely for twenty years.  Then in the 1980's they decided to spend a lot of money and widen every single rock cut, from the original generous width, to really ridiculously wide.  Years of drilling and blasting and well paid contractors ensued.   When the work was finally done, and the last "Construction" sign taken down,  the road worked just as well as it had before.  Mega money was spent to accomplish nothing, except giving a lot of well paid work to contractors. 
    Each one of these boondoggles was a 90% Federal 10% State money deal.  If the Feds are paying for 90%  of it, who cares how much money is spent/invested/wasted?  Betcha that bunch of thrifty Yankee state legislators in Concord would never have approved these boondoggles if they had to scrape up the money for them. 
   Principle.  He who spends the money should have to raise the money.  This business of the feds pay for it and the staties spend it is just asking for waste fraud and abuse.  To straighten things out, we ought to shut down the entire federal highway fund.  The states will raise the money for truly needed infrastructure, and they won't find the money for boondoggles. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Went to the dump today.

Got rid of an entire Buick trunk full of campaign yard signs.  All in good shape.  Used only once.  Seems a shame to chuck 'em, but who has the space to keep 'em?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Pre existing conditions and 26 year olds on their parents health insurance.

Trump was talking about "modifying"  Obamacare repeal to preserve these two Obamacare benefits.  I'm not agin the idea, but Trump ought to do it this way.
1.  Have Congress pass, and he sign,  a simple one page bill repealing Obamacare root and branch.  Just to make a point.
2.  Promise to sign a preexisting conditions law and a separate 26 year old children law, should Congress get its act together and pass them some time in the future.

If Trump allows "modification" of Obamacare, the special interests come out of the woodwork, all bets are off, all sorts of "stuff" will get packed into the "modification".  Better to kill the whole thing, and require Congress to pass new legislation from scratch to pass out any goodies to the voters.  Make sure to record the names of Congresscritters proposing and voting for such laws.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Post Mortem, which minority group tipped the election to The Donald?

The American Pundit Class has been crying in their beer since Tuesday night.  They didn't want The Donald to win, and they had predicted that he wouldn't.  Now,  they are upset to find The Donald will be President of the US in a couple of months, and they are scrabbling around for an excuse for their failed predictions.
   They talk about the Hispanic vote, the black vote, the LGBT vote, the college educated vote, the White Working Class (now sporting a new acronym, the WWC) vote, the millennium vote (was that the name of a Star Wars spaceship?), and every other minority group they can invent.  Or they are blaming the pollsters.
   Little to no talk about the women's vote.  Women are half the population, vastly larger than all the "minority groups" put together.  A couple of internet postings mention in passing that Hillary got 54% of the women's vote.  They didn't give The Donald's share of the women's vote, but let's just assume any women who didn't vote Hillary voted Trump, which would give Trump 46%.  And a difference of 8%.   From a  women voting population of 123 million, 8% is 9.84 million more women's votes for Hillary than for Trump.  Are there that many Hispanics or blacks in the whole country?  Given The Donald's crude remarks about women that came out in the campaign,  that 8% margin for Hillary is understandable.  The Donald can be very offensive when he sets his mind to it.
  The real question about the election results is how The Donald managed to squeak out his victory over that 9.84 million women's votes against him.  He did, somehow, and that's impressive.
  Next time, the Republicans need to think about doing something about that ginormous number of women who didn't/won't vote Trump.  Next time the Democrats will have stronger candidate, nearly anyone with a pulse would be a stronger candidate than Hillary was.
   I wonder why the pundits aren't talking about the women's vote?  

Trump ought to do Income Tax Reform ASAP

The income tax, both personal and corporate, is killing the economy.  Taxes are too high, highest in the world for corporations.  No wonder American corporations are leaving for overseas, the taxes are lower overseas.  And too damn complicated.  Ever since income tax was invented way back in 1913, every special interest has been adding little loopholes to the tax code to let them skate free.  Big companies and rich people who can afford enough lawyers can figure out ways to avoid taxes. Ordinary people just get soaked. 
    Carly Fiorina had the right idea.  "Close every loophole, lower every rate."   Gaping loopholes needing closure:  Mortgage interest deductions, depreciation of real estate, capital gains, loss carry forward, carried interest, electric car subsidies.  And lots more.  I only know the income tax code well enough to do my own taxes, with an assist from Excel.  The real tax dodger lawyers, and for that matter The Donald himself, know of plenty more.  Loopholes favor the big and the wealthy, finding them or making new ones gives big money to the lawyer class, and  it makes people and companies pour money into things that don't produce wealth, they just dodge taxes.  We would be better off without loopholes.   I'd trade my loopholes for a couple of percent lower tax rate any day ( or any tax year).
   We ought to have just three tax rates, one for the very wealthy, one for ordinary citizens, and one for the truly poor.  I do believe the truly poor ought to pay a little something, just so they feel some hurt every time a new handout is voted in.  The "breakpoints" between truly poor, ordinary citizen and very wealthy ought to be indexed for inflation.  Otherwise Uncle Sam gets an automatic tax hike every year as inflation pushes everyone up into the next higher tax bracket.
   Ignore the Democrats who will claim that tax cuts are "for the rich".  Right now half the population pays no income tax.  Tax cuts only help those who pay taxes.  The way Democrats say it, if you pay taxes you are a member of the evil rich.  Ignore this malarkey.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Facebook and Fake News

Facebook has been running a series of fake news articles.  Each one announces the death of a celebrity (Clint Eastwood, Angelina Joli, and the like).  In actual fact, all these "victims" as still alive and well.  Facebook really ought to shut this down. It ruins the Facebook reputation. 
   Right now, I don't believe any news posted on Facebook.  If in doubt, I go to good old reliable InstaPundit or Drudge.  If it ain't on either of those, then it didn't really happen. 

Does the Pentagon Need an Acquisition Chief??

Title of an article in Aviation Week.  They have one now.  The incumbent, Frank Kendall, claims that cost overruns were 51% before his time and he has reduced them to 5%.  His job is on the line, latest Senate defense authorization bill would remove it and replace it with two lower ranking slots, one for R&D and one for "management and support"  what ever that might be.  Pure paperwork perhaps?
  Acquisition is a serious problem at the Pentagon.  Look at the F35 program, a decade late and zillions over budget.  There was a new Marine One helicopter program that got so far out of line that Obama had it canceled.  The KC-46 tanker is years late and under attack by nit pickers.  I don't follow the new programs as closely as I used to back when I was a serving Air Force officer.  So there has got to be more grief out there.
   Success or failure (cost overruns and delays) rest with program management.  Take F-35 for example.  It's problems can be laid at the feet of F35 program management.  Extra layers of Pentagon paper pushers have nothing to do with it.  
   Every military officer in program management needs to know that his Officer Efficiency Report (his future promotion chances)  rest upon program success.  Bring the program in on time and under budget and you get ranked at the top.  If the program is late or overbudget, you get ranked at the bottom.
   Program management needs to have input to the specification writing.  Many program disasters result from ridiculous specifications, spec that called for unobtainium, or faster than light, or other things impossible to actually make.  Or, gold plating the project with nice-to-have but not really necessary expensive gadgets.  I'm thinking of the Tactical Situation Display in the old F106.  It never worked, and the plane flew and fought successfully without it. Or the C-5 program which sank under the weight of impossible to make requirements.  Or the F35 burdened with an airborne digital networking system, and Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) systems neither of which are needed in a fighter.  Fighter planes are expensive and should concentrate on air superiority, shooting down enemy aircraft and attacking enemy ground troops.  We have recon aircraft, drones, and satellites for ISR.
   Then program management has to iron out the myriad boggles and whoopsies that come up during the program. Specifications almost but not quite met.  Subsystems that just don't work.  Program management must be prepared to accept small shortcomings when the cost of fixing them is high.  And be prepared to just dump subsystems that aren't working.  And accept cost reduction suggestions from the contractor. 
    Trump needs a good, intelligent defense secretary to sort this stuff out.  The current secdef, Ash Carter isn't bad.  John McCain would be good, he at least knows the issues and knows which end is up. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trump ought to cancel Obamacare ASAP

Obamacare is going broke, insurers are bailing out, and it is a terrific drag on the economy, plus most of the voters don't like it.  First we need to get a simple one page bill  thru Congress that completely puts away the present 5000 page law.  Democrats in the Senate will try to block it, but we ought to be able to stir up public opinion to undermine them.
   After the present law is scrapped pass a few things to help out.  Most (75%) Americans get very decent health insurance thru their jobs.  Obamacare only effected the self employed, and the unemployed.  The big companies have lawyers and experts and they drive a hard bargain with the insurance companies.  Any insurance company will bend over backward for a customer like GM or Walmart.  This makes the company insurance policies the best and cheapest it is possible to write.  All that is necessary is to pass a law requiring insurance companies to sell their best policy to the general public at the same price their big company customers pay for it.  This will let the self employed get insurance at a reasonable rate. 
   Then a little competition is good for pricing.  Pass a law that allows any American insurance company to sell insurance in all fifty states of the Union.   Right now, to sell insurance in a state, the insurance company has to go to the various state insurance commissions, do a thousand pounds of paperwork, kneel on the floor and bang there heads against the bureaucrat's desk.  This is such a drag, that for small or thinly populated states, they just don't bother.  And so, the citizen's of such states (like New Hampshire!) only have one insurance company to buy from.  And ripped off they get.  We could fix that easily.  The insurance companies won't like it, but they don't vote.
   Then we could cut drug prices with a law that allows duty free import of medicine to the US from reasonable first world countries (Canada, Britain, Japan and so forth).  Whether or not said medicine has FDA approval.  If the authorities in reasonable first world countries have OKed the drug for their citizens, then it's good enough for American citizens.  The drug companies and the FDA will hate this idea, but again, they don't vote.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Stock Futures? Investment or Gambling?

First I have heard that we even had a stock futures market.  During the long election night Fox mentioned that US stock futures had taken a serious dive, hundreds of points, as Trump's election victory became clearer and clearer as the night wore on.  But, in the morning when the real stock market opened, everything was hunky dory, the Dow went up a couple a hundred points over the day.
   Why do we have a futures market in stocks.   Futures markets were invented for agricultural commodities, crops, which are in oversupply right after harvest, and become scarcer and scarcer as the once a year harvest gets used up.  Used to be, if you were a farmer, you could get much better prices for your crop if you waited til well after harvest to sell it.  Which takes money for the farmer to do.  He has bills that have to be paid, and he needs the money from selling the crop.  If said farmer has some cash in his checking account, he can wait, but few farmets have that much money in their checking accounts. 
  So, they invented futures markets.  The producer makes a contract with the consumer to deliver a big load of crop, sometime in the future, at an agreed on price.  And these contracts can be traded or sold, along with the crops.  This smooths out crop prices over the year, which is a good thing for the producers.  And as crop prices move up and down, futures contracts offer a way to bet on price movements.  In fact the gambling angle proved so popular that futures markets in things that are not seasonal, like gasoline and jet fuel,  were created.  Southwest airlines was very good at playing the futures market in jet fuel and saved themselves a ton of money. 
   And, so, we now have a futures market in stocks. They are not seasonal, and the real stock market is open five days a week  every week.  Far as I can see, stock futures are just pure gambling.  We ought to tax the hell out it. 

Healing the wounds of the election. Let Hillary off.

I'm gonna offer advice to the incoming Trump Administration, while it is still incoming.  My first advice is to drop prosecution of Hillary Clinton over the emails or any other matter.  She lost the election.  She doesn't hold public office, she will be too old to run again in 2020.  She's harmless now.  Let her go.  You could probably gin up your Justice Dept to prosecute and even win a court case against her.  Don't.  She cannot do you any harm now.  And prosecuting her will really piss off  all her friends and supporters.  Of which there are a lot. People you want to win over to your side, not  kick in the head.  Don't be divisive when you don't need to be.

So what happened election night?

The pollsters had Hillary ahead by a little.  But Trump won.  What happened?
   The short of it is, we voters were given two unpalatable candidates.  One candidate promised to get the country back on the right track.  The other insisted that we were on the right track all along.    But we weren't, we still aren't, and everybody except newsies know it.
   Basically Wall St speculators crashed the world economy back in 2008.  And it has stayed crashed.  US GNP growth has been a measly 1% per year for the eight years of Obama.  It should be 3%.  Obamacare, the war on coal, 80,000 pages of new federal regulation, crazy federal tax policies and general federal meddling has combined to flatten US economic growth.  And people feel it, they cannot find jobs, their children cannot find jobs, they don't get raises, they loose their houses to foreclosure, and everything costs more.  The country is on the wrong track and everyone knows it.
   So, faced with two unpalatable candidates, voters went for the unpalatable candidate that promised to fix the economy, rather than the unpalatable candidate that claimed things were just peachy.
   The profession of economics did not help the situation.  Economist say a depression is over when things stop getting worse.  Great Depression 2.0 flattened out way back in 2008 but it hasn't gone away, the economy is still not growing.  Voters, workers, and citizens don't think a depression is over until things climb back up to where they used to be (ought to be).  So we had all the economists (a lefty lot) claiming Great Depression 2.0 was over back i9n 2009.  The Obama administration liked this myth, and spread it around, and the newsies (another lefty lot) picked it up and pushed it.
   But truth is stronger than fiction, and the voters knew things were bad and voted for a guy who said he would fix them, despite  that guy's big mouth. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Let's just charge him with nine counts of murder

Dylan Roof is headed to FEDERAL court first.  The Feds want to charge him with 50 counts of this and that.  This is malarkey.  Roof committed premeditated murder of nine completely innocent strangers.  In front of witnesses no less.  Murder is a state crime in the US.  There doesn't appear to be any controversy over the facts of the case.  Roof ought to be in state court facing nine counts of murder.  The law on murder is clear, and hasn't changed much since Moses brought the Ten Commandments down from Mt. Sinai.  And murder has always been a death penalty offense. 
   The feds are charging "thought crimes" (hate crimes) and weapons charges and welfare for lawyers.  This ain't justice.
   Justice is an atrocious criminal brought to trial and convicted of straight forward well understood crimes.  And executed for murder. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Lamenting ( or cheering for) the death of democracy. NHPR

NHPR was on this depressing theme all day Saturday.  The were talking about "economical man" the theoretical man of the economics text books who does every thing for money.  The claimed that such a man would never bother to vote, because there is no money in it, and because his one vote won't count for much in the myriad of other votes.  They ragged on about this for a half an hour.  Depressing talk.
   Of course the entire concept is malarkey.  People don't vote 'cause there is money in it, they vote cause they believe in the cause.  It doesn't cost money to vote, and the trivial amount of time it takes is of little account.  I managed to vote for fifty years stopping at the polls on my way to work or on my way home from work.  Not a significant burden. People vote for either a candidate they like, for an ideology they like, or against a candidate or ideology they despise.  Except in the simple case of vote buying by party bosses, money is not the question.  Which means voting is not properly a subject of economics, or concepts like "economical man"
   And, American democracy has a good track record of selecting decent leadership.  For the great crises of American history, Revolution, Civil War, the two world wars,  our democracy  put forth good strong effective leaders, Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt. 
   We did better than Europe.  European leadership was monarchies, and the governments, even France and Britain, were staffed by the aristocracy.  They weren't very good at their jobs.  In the supreme crisis of 1914 they allowed events to drift into a terrible war, a war that wrecked all of Europe for good.  US democratically elected leadership knew enough to stay out of it, and once it became clear that we had to step in to prevent the bad guys from winning US leadership brought the united backing of a large industrialized country into battle, and in both world wars,  created the moral high ground, Wilson's 14 points, FDR's four freedoms.  "In war the moral is to the physical as three is to one," said Napoleon once upon a time.  US democratically elected leadership understood this where as European aristocratic leadership did not. 
   Churchill once said "Democracy is the worse form of government, except for all the others."   I like that.

FBI Director Comey says there is nothing in the Weiner computer emails

This is the 600,000 odd emails found on Anthony Weiner's computer.  How in the name of all that's holy can anyone, any gang of agents look at 600,000 emails in eight days?  That's 75000 emails a DAY.  Maybe the FBI had a computer program scan them looking for keywords?  That sounds sorta flaky.  Any how, the FBI director said he wasn't going to prosecute Hillary again last night. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Man vs Clocks Going back to Standard Time

So, this morning I  did the clock reset  thing.  First my wrist watch, that's easy, just turn the knob.  Then the clock radio.  Not too bad, has a button marked "clock set" and a couple of arrow buttons. Now things get sticky.  Antique Tiffany mantle clock, inherited from my long dead grandmother.  Gotta be a hundred years old.  I've been told you NEVER push the hands of such a clock backward, it breaks things and/or seriously confuses the hour striking mechanism.  So I stop the pendulum swinging with my fingers, wait an hour, and restart the pendulum.  And then we check the cell phone.  Wonderbar, cell phone has automatically gone to standard time, hands off, no tinkering required.  Wonder how cell phone managed that trick.  Does the internal program have the dates of Daylight time burned in it?  If so, does it still work after the Congresscritters change the dates again?  Or does the cell phone home base broadcast a "Change clock now" signal to every cell phone in the land? 
  Then the VCR.  Not that I use it much anymore, but it's still there.  I find it is showing standard time.  I guess I never bothered to set it on daylight time.  It's a yard sale machine, with a remote picked up at a different yard sale.  
   And desktop, still running old but fast and trusty XP, made the change automatically.
   Shortly I will go down to the garage and tangle with the car clock.  Last time I had to dig the car manual out of the glove compartment to figure out how to set the car clock.
   If I had my druthers, we would stay on Daylight time all year.  We don't have enough sunlight in winter to give us light for both the drive to work and the drive home.  Druther drive to work in the dark, when I am fairly rested, and have some coffee in me, and get a virtuous feeling of getting up early, than drive home in the dark, tired, and feeling like it's midnight cause it's black everywhere.  Depressing that is. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Can we believe the polls?

Good question.  Especially as the wall-to-wall TV coverage of the election consists mostly of reading the latest poll over the air.  That's why newsies love elections, they are so easy to cover, you don't need to know anything, you don't have to get out of the office and talk to people, you just read the poll results over the air. 
   Longish piece in the Wall St Journal over the difficulties of the pollsters in this cell phone age.  The Journal says that a special law passed back in 1991 forbids the use of demon dialers on cell phone numbers.  For a pollster to call a cell phone number, he has to hand dial the number.  Which is slow.   So all the pollsters prefer to call real wired phones.  But, the Journal says that most of the people who answer the wired phones are over 65, which is not very representative.  I can believe this, none of my three grown children has a wired phone.  To add insult to injury, a large number of people just hang up the phone when they hear it is a pollster.  I can believe that too.  I have done a bit of political phone banking over the years.  Used to be, the voters were sort of pleased to receive a call from the party and would talk to you about politics and stuff.  Not any more.  Now a days, they just hang up as soon as they learn who you are.
   So the pollsters have trouble reaching a representative sample of voters.  They compensate by "weighting" the sample they do manage to get.  "Weighting" is adjusting the results based on past experience, or hunch, or voodoo.  Actually it is surprising that they do as well as they do.  And they have missed trends, like Brexit completely.
  So, it might be worthwhile watching the election results come in next Tuesday.  There might be a November Surprise for all of us. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

NH Senate debate on WMUR

We have Republican incumbent Senator Kelly Ayotte going up against Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan.   First issue discussed was cyber security.  Both candidates managed to speak for several minutes on this issue without ever mentioning the name of the cyber security problem, namely Windows.  Any Windows computer connected to the internet can be secretly taken over, everything on its hard drive transferred to the attackers, malware emailed to every address in the victim's address book, keylogger installed to capture all the victim's passwords, and DDOS attack software installed.  Plus other bad stuff.
   Windows is so riddled with security holes as to be unfixable.  If you want any security at all, you must run something else, Linux or Apple. 
   Anyhow neither senatorial candidate seemed to be aware of this.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Obama is on TV trashing the Donald for not paying enough taxes

Obama, your IRS has audited the Donald every year of your administration.  They didn't find anything wrong with his tax returns.  If The Donald ain't paying enough taxes to suit you, your IRS was OK with it. 

Will this endless election actually end next week?

Lord I hope so.  But it might not.  The polls are very tight, the election could go either way, or worse,  deadlock.  That would throw the election into the US House of Representatives.  Where the current Republican majority ought to be able to elect Trump.  Even after they vote by states, one vote per state, as required by the 12th amendment, which was passed after the disputed Adams/Jefferson election of 1804.
  Or it goes to the Supremes.  Last time (2000) the Supremes had a 5 to 4 conservative majority.  This time, since the death of Justice Scalia, the court is split 4-4.  The Supremes are as partisan as all the other Washington pols, and so would be unable to reach a decision.  What happens after that is any one's guess. 
   The newsies like elections.  They are simple, horse races, and even the dimmest newsie can find things to saw that don't make him/her sound too dumb.  So they will do what they can to keep this one going.  That's essier for them than starting up the coverage of the 2020 election, which the newsies would otherwise do a couple of days after the polls close next week.  We will surely hear more about Hillary's email and the FBI, whether she wins or looses. If she wins, the constant harping on the emails won't help her.  If Trump wins, the newsies will settle down to harassing him for his entire term.
   And, the voters on the loosing side are going to be unhappy, and stay unhappy.  If you believe the polls, that's gonna be about half the country.  Can the winner find anything to do or say to ease that unhappiness?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

WMUR (channel 9) TV NH governor's debate.

On one side we have Democrat Colin Van Ostern.  Colin is in favor of  building commuter rail, offering universal prekindergarten, funding alternate energy, signing up for Medicaid expansion.  He is against the Northern Pass power line project. When asked how he plans to pay for all this goodness Colin claimed that he could do cost savings in NH state government which would be enough.  Right. He did have enough political sense to say he would not put in a state income tax or state sales tax.  " He took the pledge" as we say up here.  Only smart thing he said all night.
   Chris Sununu talked about trying to bring more business into NH, something we need.  He is against commuter rail, pointing out that the $350 million for commuter rail would finish the widening of I93 and fix every worn out highway bridge in the state.  He said that "alternate energy" merely raises every one's electric bills. 
   They both agreed that NH needs better mental health and drug therapy facilities.
   None of the newsies on the panel had the stones to ask about right to work.  

Alley Cat Appreciation Month

We are in it.  Although "Alley cat" is non PC.  The PC word is feral cat.  Seen a couple of pieces in the Wall St Journal, lotta posts on the 'Net.  All saying nice things about alley cats.  I met my first real alley cats when youngest son went to college in Brooklyn.  They made me feel sorry for them.  Skinny, grubby, coats in poor condition, living outdoors in a New York winter, it was clear that house cats have a much better life than alley cats. 
   There was a piece in the Journal about keeping feral cats around the Jacob Javits center to keep the rats in check.  Nice color picture of a loading dock with a nice looking black and white cat on it.  Except, that cat looked more like a house cat than an alley cat.  It was well fed, it's coat was fine and glossy, it was sitting in the middle of the loading dock.  Alley cats remain in corners, under cars, outta sight, they don't plunk themselves down in the open to get their pictures taken. 
   Then a nice puff piece on alley cats made it onto my facebook page this morning. 

There has gotta be something wrong

With a national political party going thru TWO party chair women in just one election season.  First they had to dump Debbi Wasserman Schultz over her work against The Bern in the primaries.  Now they dump Donna Brazille for feeding debate questions to Hillary.  How do the Democrats select their chair persons?