Monday, July 31, 2017

What are all those US diplomats doing in Russia??

We seem to have 1200 "diplomats" inside Russia when the Russians only have 455 "diplomats" inside the US.  More confusing, the State Department is claiming that many of the US diplomats are actually local hires.  How does that work really?  Do local hires get diplomatic immunity?  US diplomatic passports?  And how do we do background checks on Russian nationals in Russia? 
   Leaving that aside,  what are 1200 diplomats doing inside Russia?  Other than drawing their pay that is.  All I can think of is intelligence gathering, which surely the Russians call espionage.   I am surprised that the Russians let the 455 to 1200 diplomat count in our favor last as long as they did.   Maybe CIA will finally stop covering their agents as diplomats,  which has got to be ineffective.  Surely the Russians surveil and target anyone associated with the US embassy.  The CIA would do better and gather more real intel with agents covered as businessmen, reporters, writers, students,  anything other than US diplomats.  And it will make CIA duty a little more sporting (dangerous) for agents lacking diplomatic immunity. 
    Anyhow Putin has given us until September to cut our diplomat count down to parity, 455, which means expelling 750 of them.  That's a lot.

Lots of luck General Kelly, you are gonna need it.

General Kelly, yanked away from being secretary of Homeland Security, where he was doing good, is now White House chief of staff.  The job description is to run the White House staff,  decide who gets in to see the president (there are not enough hours in the day for the president to see every one who wants to see him) and make sure every one on the staff knows what the party line is, and when featured on the TV news, to support said party line.  And suppress leaks.   You do that by firing leakers when you catch 'em.
   Trump makes this difficult, he tweets messages that no one in the White House knew were coming, he trashes people who are best left alone, like Jeff Sessions, and he changes his mind from day to day.  At Trump's age, he isn't gonna change much, if at all.   It will take all the cooperation that Trump can manage AND solid support for any personnel actions Kelly might want to take, to give Kelly a chance at straightening things out.   Personnel actions is management speak for hiring and firing.
   Kelly is doubtless pretty good at talking people into doing it his way, and is loyal to the President.  I hope the president will show loyalty to Kelly.  With Trump, you never know. 

Stabilize what we have

So saith Maggie the Hassan, NH junior senator, about Obamacare.  Is this fancy language that means give insurance companies more taxpayer money?  

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Why the New Yorker??

Scaramouchi called someone on the New Yorker to unload on everyone in the White House.  What was he thinking?  The New Yorker is in the tank for the Democrats, and will use what ever Scaramouchi said to trash the Trump administration.   And he must has known this.   Any Republican with with two brain cells firing isn't gonna talk to the New Yorker.  Talk to one of the few remaining Republican papers, like the Washington Examiner instead.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

So what was in that "skinny" Obamacare bill?

What ever it was, it got all but three Republican senators to vote for it.  Best vote yet, a couple of previous bills lost by more.   One of 'em, Susan Collins of Maine is a long time  RINO flake,  Another, Murkowski from Alaska I don't know much about, but the third, and decisive vote that killed it, came from John McCain.  Surprise to me.  I never did hear just what McCain disliked about the bill, but I have a lot of respect for McCain built up over many years.  If he objected to the bill,  there might have been something wrong with it.   I wonder what it was.
   Another odd thing.  Someone put out the word that it was OK to vote the skinny bill thru because the House promised to kill it later.  What was that about?  
   As it is now, we voters are highly disappointed that despite a Republican House, Senate, and presidency we are still stuck with economy killing Obamacare.   We need to do something about that in 2018.  Maybe we can primary some RINO's.  I fear that a lot of unhappy Trump voters will vote for Democrats for Congress.   Republicans may well loose one or both houses of Congress.  The Stupid Party rides again. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Net Neutrality What is it really?

And who is it aimed at?   Obama's FCC  issued some directive about it a year ago or so.   Never bothered to read it, but web surfing claims that Obama prohibited blocking of websites, and required all packets to be treated the same. especially in regard to delivery speed.   
   Some big companies have complained  Obama's policy prevents them from offering higher speed premium cost services.   Does any one care about that? I can already stream movies in real time, no stuttering, halting, good 30 frame per second video on a backwoods broadband cable service.  That's fast enough for most legal civilian uses. 
   As far as blocking websites, I thing we ought to block Islamic terrorist websites any time we find them.  They get people killed. 
   The new Republican chairman of the FCC is talking about repealing the Obama policy.  Some time, may, if he has the votes and the stones.   Do I care?  I have not heard protests from any just plain internet users like me.  Are there any out there?
    Anyone know anything more? 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Youngest son has a brand-new, bright red, Dodge Challenger, 5.7 liter Hemi, 400 hp. Wednesday night we (me, my brother, and Jon) went to the NE Drag Way in Epping to see how fast the Dodge really is. It was Wednesday night, so the crowd was pretty thin, but it was warm, Jon got in 25 runs, best time of 14.5 seconds, better than the 14.9 he turned last time. Cars were various, from 60's classics, thru some riceburners, crew cab pickup trucks, 'Vettes, 'Stangs, and Dodge Challengers. Couple of 60's Olds sedans. And a snow machine that turned 11 seconds. No all out dragsters, Chargers, or funny cars. Looked like locals, mostly amateurs, out to practice and exercise their cars. Most cars drove to the meet, not many trailered in. Fun evening.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

What are they voting about for Healthcare?

If they do nothing, never come up with the votes to pass anything, and things are looking that way, then we are stuck with Obamacare.  Which has doubled and tripled everyone's premiums, jacked up deductibles to $6000 which makes the insurance pretty much useless, and driven insurance companies out of the Obamacare market due to horrendous losses.   If Obamacare offers subsidies to anyone I never saw an explanation of how much, and who was eligible.  There is probably some handouts to insurance companies but I don't know anything about that.
   They ought to pass a simple one page bill that repeals every single jot and tittle of Obamacare.  Then pass separate bills to re instate  any features of Obamacare that voters like, if there are any.
   They are talking about an insurance company bailout bill.  Pay the insurance companies more money if they keep writing Obamacare policies.  I don't like that.  If we are going to give my tax money away, it ought to go to individuals, not companies. 
   They are talking about  funding a gravy train to the states.  Give the states a big check (block grant is the DC jargon) and let the states do what ever they like with it.  I don't like that much either.  Give a state a handout, and they will spend all of it every time.  If the state has to raise the money thru taxation, they will be more frugal.  
    They are talking about $40 billion to fight opioid abuse.  Is this really health care, or is it law enforcement?  Surely having the cops out catching drug dealers is a serious part of anything  about opioids?   Is drug rehab medical treatment or an alternative to jail?  Does drug rehab even work?  I heard NPR saying that it doesn't.   Good old lefty NPR is usually in favor of things like drug rehab. So if even they say it doesn't work, I can believe them.  
    And the Republicans need to know that if they cannot get their act together and pass something, they are toast in 2018.  We have about 10 RINO senators that ought to be replaced. 

Tort lawsuits down substantially in ten years

Piece in the Wall St Journal yesterday.  They show some graphs with the number of tort lawsuits down by nearly half.  This is good news.   The Journal says state laws have been tightened up, and caps on tort recovery, even $250,000 caps,  have discouraged contingency fee lawyers,  $250,000 isn't enough to pay court costs and leave enough money for the lawyers, and the plaintiff gets peanuts.    All this sounds good, and we need more of it.  Doctors still have to buy malpractice insurance for $100,000 a year to protect themselves from lawyers.  That $100,000 per doctor comes out of our medical bills and health insurance premiums.
   Interesting tort case discussed.  A little girl at a WMCA summer camp was badly injured when a storm blew a tree down on her tent.  Parents felt she should have been in a cabin.   Times change, when I went to summer camp all of us campers spent the whole summer sleeping in tents.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Prosecuting Hillary is a bad idea

The newsies are talking about Trump wants his AG, Jeff Sessions, to prosecute Hillary over her private email server.   Dunno if this is fake news or not. 
   But prosecuting Hillary is a bad idea.  She lost the presidency, that's enough grief to serve as adequate punishment for anyone.  Enough already.
   Worse, it amounts to criminalizing running for public office.   American law allows indicting of anyone at anytime for any thing.   Glenn Reynolds once said "You can indict a ham sandwich"  Public prosecutors work for the executive.  When the executives pleases they can jump on any one, and charges can always be trumped up.   In Hillary's case, her email server has gotta be in violation of US national security laws.  In a future case, a vindictive winner could invent some charge, and by picking the right judge, make it stick.  Pretty soon running for office, or even just posting to Facebook could become too dangerous for all but the richest individual's to do.
    I think we should just drop the Hillary matter.  Besides, prosecuting her will give her barrels of free media. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dunkirk, the movie, the real thing

I haven't seen the movie yet but it is getting good reviews.  Dunkirk was one of the decisive moments of WWII.  Hitler could have won the war that day.  As it was, Guderian's panzers had broken British resistance and were closing in for the kill until Hitler, fearing that his panzer spearhead was getting too far in front of the bulk of the German army, ordered Guderian to halt for two days.  That gave the British time to retreat to the small fishing port of Dunkirk and get evacuated back to England by the Royal Navy and a fleet of small civilian craft, yachts and fishing boats.  The British Expeditionary Force (BEF)  was 250,000 strong, the flower of the British Army.  Had they been captured by the Germans, it would have been a horrendous blow to British morale, and would have deprived the British of the experienced men needed to train up a new British army. 
   British morale was pretty low in the summer of 1940.  The British establishment, MP's, the press, academia, business, the aristocracy, even some members of the royal family, feared doing the trench warfare of WWI all over again, feared that the Germans were stronger than they were, and were ready to cut a deal with Hitler.  Something like, "We keep our fleet and empire, you keep all of Europe".  Hitler made noises about accepting such a deal that summer. 
   Churchill, newly elected Prime Minister, faced a lot of up hill sledding to convince the British to resist Hitler.  He just barely made it.  Had the men of the BEF been lost in 1940, the resulting downer for England might well have made Churchill's task impossible.  Had Britain signed some sort of pusillanimous deal with Hitler, the United States would stayed out of Europe, and minded its own business.  Pearl Harbor would have set our country on a path to annihilate Japan.  Without a friendly Britain to serve as a base,  it would have been difficult-to-impossible to apply American military force again the Third Reich. 
   So it's good to have a heroic movie about Dunkirk, even though the Wall St Journal criticized it for lacking any shots of Churchill. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The City is the Battle Field of the Future

Title of an Op-Ed in Thursday's Wall St Journal.  The author, John Spencer,  an Army infantryman and deputy director of the West Point Modern War Institute, is calling for specialized training in urban warfare, and implies that the month battle for Mosul would have gone better if the troops had been trained in  specially built exercise city where they could practice tossing grenades in windows and shooting their way up stairways.  Mr. Spenser argues much of the world's population lives in big cities so the Army ought to train to fight in big cities.
   I gotta wonder if Mr Spenser has any knowledge of history at all.  Cities have been highly defensible strong points since ancient times.  Although modern cities lack walls (the invention of artillery made city walls obsolete) they still offer zillions of strong and hidden firing positions, stout masonry buildings that can resist all but the heaviest artillery fire, basements and subways and sewers and all kinds of bomb proof underground places, tall building from which to throw Molotov cocktails on enemy tanks, which are confined to city streets, and more. 
   The traditional way to subdue a city is to starve it out.  Surround the place, cut off all food and supplies, water if you can manage it, and wait them out.  Siege it's called.  In ancient times, siege was undependable, the besiegers often ran out of food before the besieged city did.  In modern times, with trucks and rail to bring up besieger's supplies, the siege can last longer than the city's supplies will. 
   The German's tried to take Stalingrad by frontal assault.  They spent six months at it.  A mere 60,000 Russians managed to hold off 250,000 Germans, and their tanks, artillery and aircraft.  The Russians fought house to house, floor to floor with grenades and sub machine guns.  When the Germans seized a building by daylight, the Russians counterattacked at night and took it back.   Paulus, the German commander, should have put his army across the Volga River, surrounded Stalingrad and starved it out.  He didn't, he threw his men into the teeth of Russian defenses and lost.
   No amount of special training in urban warfare is going to change the facts, cities are tough strong points, and assaulting them is very costly, and often fails.  Don't do frontal assault.  Surround the place and starve it out.  

Friday, July 21, 2017

John McCain

Back in 2000 John McCain was campaigning for the Republican nomination up here.  It was late winter.  The crowd gathered at the Littleton VFW was wearing parkas and snow boots, looking shaggy and upcountry, and leaving muddy footprints on the floor.  The McCain bus was more or less on time, maybe only ten minutes late.   As Senator McCain entered the room, everyone stood up in his honor. 
   I've seen a fair number of presidential candidates blow thru here, looking for votes.  McCain is the only one of 'em where the voters respected him enough to stand for him. 
   God Speed John McCain.  I wish you the best possible luck in the face of your dreadful diagnosis. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Slow News Day. OJ parole hearing all day.

That's all Fix has been showing, the OJ parole hearing, then hours of chit chat about it, replay of OJ's white SUV humming thru LA back in the 1990's.  Me, I don't care, OJ was a news item from the 1990s.  It's now the 2010's, and I just don't care about OJ any more. 

Old Glory still waves

Color photo inside today's Wall St Journal.  Shows a small convoy of US fighting vehicles on the move in northern Syria.  Five MRAPS and Strykers on wheels, and a white pickup truck bringing up the rear.  All six vehicles mount flagstaffs with good sized American flags flying from them.  Clearly the vehicle crews think letting every one know that they are Americans will  assist in a friendly reception by the locals.  If the crews thought the flags would draw fire, they would not fly them. 
   America, and what we stand for, still has friends in Syria. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Stupid Party commits Hari-kari, in public

We voted for Republicans last year to get rid of Obamacare.  Now, nearly a year later, the Stupid Party has been unable to get its act together and vote for anything.  We are stuck with Obamacare, double and triple premiums, $6000 deductibles, 30 hour work weeks, less that 2% GNP growth.  Guess where your Congressional majorities will go in 2018.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Do Airbus and Boeing have competition in the airliner business?

Wall St Journal thinks so.  They cite China's Comac C919, Canada's Bombardier CS300, and Russia's Irkut MC-21-300, all coming on line shortly.  Very shortly, the Comac C919 and the Irkut
MC-21-300 just made their first flights in May this year.  They both have at least one year, probably more, of flight testing and certification paperwork to do before they can sell them.  Bombardier is farther along, their first flight was back in February of 2015, the flight testing and paperwork is done, and they are delivering them.
   We are talking standard single aisle airliners, seating 160 to 200 passengers, selling for $100 million each, the bread and butter airliner.  The bigger flashier planes  787, A380 and such don't sell nearly as many.
   So what happens?  Right now the Boeing and Airbus planes are a little more fuel efficient, have excellent reputations, and cost a tad more than the new comers.  Reputation counts.  Aeroflot was pleased to announce a few years ago, that all their international flights now used western built aircraft.  They retired most, perhaps all, of their fleet of Russian built Ilyushins, mostly because they scared the passengers.   

Sunday, July 16, 2017

NBC Beat the Press

Except for a 10 minute break to the Senate healthcare bill, Chuck Todd devoted his entire one hour TV show to talking about Russians and Trump.  Not that he presented any new information, he just whined about the whole scene.  In the 10 minutes about the Senate health care bill, all he talked about was its chances of passing, not a word about what is in it.  So much for my weekly peek at the msm, now back to real news on Fox. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Christmas in July

Hammacher Schlemmer catalog came in yesterday.  This year they offer artificial Christmas trees, with built in lights.  $379 for a small (4 1/2 foot) and  up to $2000 for a big one.  Merry Christmas.   

A Jaguar SUV??

Jaguar??  SUV's?   The XK120s XK150s and XKEs are rolling over in their graves.  But I saw a TV ad selling a Jaguar SUV.  Who wants a Jaguar SUV?  Should I want an SUV I want a real SUV with a nameplate like GMC, Ford, Chevy, not Jaguar (or Cadillac or Lincoln).  Jaguar means sports cars and luxury hotrod sedans.  I owned a Jaguar 3.2 liter sedan once.  Nice car, black, chrome wire wheels, leather seats, walnut dash, OHV straight 6 with an oil leak that would not quit. 4 speed with overdrive.  Troubles it had, power brake booster quit, a wheel came off, the hood latch failed on the road letting the hood blow clean off, heater and defroster worthless in a Minnesota winter, wire wheels were not strong enough, corner the car hard and you could hear those little ping noises as spokes broke under strain.  
   So Jaguar stands for elegance, sportness, and flakiness.  None of which I want in an SUV.  SUV's want to be rugged and reliable. 
   Good luck Jaguar, or Tata who bought Jaguar off the Brits, selling SUVs under the Jag name. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Federal Department of Cyber Security?

Op Ed in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal calls for creation of one.  The writers want to consolidate some 11 existing cyber security agencies into one new cabinet level department.  Like we did creating the Homeland Security Dept some 15 years ago.  Sounds cool. I wonder what such a new bureaucracy would do, other than draw their pay.  The writers by the way, both work for Sullivan and Cromwell, a law firm doing cyber security work.  They probably figure that a big cyber security department could write bigger contracts that 11 smaller ones. 
  There are probably 300 million computers in the country, pretty much all of 'em running Windows, the world's most vulnerable operating system.  Some fraction of these (1/10th? 1/4?, maybe even 1/2?) have critical data, voter registration, credit card data, phone bills, driver registrations, title deeds, stock ownership, bank accounts, and more.  Destruction or even just tampering with any of this stuff would cause all sorts of havoc.  Not to forget national security stuff , codes, ciphers, location and numbers of nuclear weapons, plans for warplanes, operational orders, size and strength of the armed forces, war plans, effectiveness of weapons, and more.   And finally there is control of things like the electric power grid, nuclear power plants, the phone network, the Internet, even city traffic lights.  Putting out the lights, even just fouling up the NYC traffic lights would be very very expensive. 
  Keeping all this stuff secure is low level work, the system administrator of each of how many million computers, has to insist on strong user passwords, disabling passwords of employees leaving the outfit, weekly backup, keeping each machine up-to-date on Microsoft patches, keeping critical machines in locked rooms, insisting on periodic password changes, searching for and eradicating malware, insisting that only one firewall machine be on the public internet all the rest go thru the firewall machine to get to the net.  It's the unsung efforts of a vast number of low level workers that keeps us as secure as we are.  I don't see how a high level  cyber security department would help out here. 
   Users, commercial, military, and state, ought to come together and pressure Microsoft to close the many gaping holes in Windows security.  Microsoft ought to disable autorun (we spread Stuxnet on the Iranians via autorun).  Microsoft ought to remove the Basic language interpreters inside Word, Excel, and probably other stuff.  The Basic capability is never used by real users, and allows damaging malware to be hidden inside harmless looking documents, sent as e-mail attachments to infect victim computers.  And there are dozens of other Windows loopholes that anyone versed in Windows internals can tell you about.  Concerted pressure from all users might shape the Microsofties up.  
   As for the controlling of things, electric power generators, transfomers, trains, rolling mills, air traffic, etc. One simple rule will do a lot of good.  Never pass control or monitoring signals over the public internet or the public telephone network.  Run your own dedicated line, preferable fiber optic, preferably on your own poles.   Make it so hackers would have to climb a pole and tap a line to gain control.  Fiber optic is much harder to tap than traditional copper pairs. 
   We have a huge army of under employed lawyers in this country.  Tell the affected companies that we will sic those lawyers on them should they equipment fail because some hacker gained control over the internet. Keep it off the internet and we will be much safer. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

$9000 per kid, per year, State Aid to education.

That's what NHPR said this morning.  That's just state aid, the town puts in more.  That's a lot of dough.  Say 20 kids to a classroom.  Call it $180,000 total.  You can hire a decent teacher for $45,000, and buy her/his healthcare for $14,000.   What's the excess $121,000 going for?  Building maintenance?  More non teaching administrators? Pay offs?  
   NHPR did mention that NH spends more on education than most states.  And I have noticed that most towns have really nice, quite new, school buildings.  Far nicer than the tony private prep school I attended. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

ObamaCare, RyanCare, McConnellCare

First we have Obamacare, which is the law of the land, and will remain so unless Republicans get their act together.  Obamacare has doubled and tripled people's health insurance premiums, saddled them with $6000 co pays or deductibles,  cut workers hours from 40 down to 30 a week, and determined that small businesses stay small to avoid the killer costs that come when the 50th employee is employed.  Obamacare offers government handouts to some people sometimes.  How much and who is eligible is up to federal bureaucrats, who have 10,000 pages of Obamacare law in which to find words to justify what they want to do.  Which means the bureaucrats can do what ever they want to do.  And Obamacare tries to tax the healthcare industry to pay for healthcare; which doesn't work.  And the health insurance companies, after loosing barrels of money on Obamacare policies, are refusing to write new ones.
   Then we have a House bill to change some things.  It passed the House, just barely. Just what it does is unknown to me, although it is hard to imagine it being worse than Obamacare. 
   And the Senate is working on its own version of reform.  We don't know much about it, and Senate Leader McConnell has not been able to get the Republicans on board with it.  At a guess the Senate bill will be similar to the House bill, but since we don't know much about the House bill, that doesn't tell us voters much.  
   We voters elected Trump and the Republicans to fix Obamacare.  We don't understand just how that might happen, but we know we want the ridiculous co-pays to go away, and the premiums come back down to where they were before Obamacare.  And we want to have at least two health insurance companies competing for our business.  And we want to be able to buy "hospitalization only" insurance because it used to only cost $3000 a year whereas Obamacare's cover- everything policies cost four times as much.  A lot of people who are in good health, and have a little money in the checking account, like the idea of insurance only for the big expensive stuff, and pay the ordinary stuff out of pocket. 
   If the Republicans cannot get their act together, we voters will throw the bums out in 2018 and elect Democrats.  If the Republicans (the stupid party) does not understand that, good riddance. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Swaps Rules to Get Revamp

Headline of a piece in today's Wall St Journal.  The global swaps market is $486 TRILLION.  Yikes.  I consider "swaps" to be a form of Wall St gambling.  Wall St is supposed to raise money to grow the economy, build factories, finance new construction, buy inventory, stuff that employs people and creates salable product.  Even the Journal was unable to describe how a "swap" works. 
   Much of the piece was about the Consumer Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)  whining about the sales data  being furnished to them by privately owned swaps data repositories.  As you might have guessed, each repository furnishes data in a different format.  CFTC hasn't bothered to write data swabber programs to put all the data into a common format for CFTC's programs.  Tough cookies CTFC.  Get your act together and fix the problem, don't waste everyone's time whining about it. 
   Apparently after Great Depression 2.0 Congress set up the reporting requirements "to help unwind failing market participants that posed a risk to the entire system"  By which they mean the taxpayer will bail out the swaps sellers next time the market goes south.  Why in God's name do we want to give a US government guarantee to Wall St gambling debts?  Let 'em go broke. 
   Our government at work.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Economist writing about "The German Problem"

Sub title: "Why Germany's current account surplus is bad for the world economy".   The Economist goes on to write "At bottom, a trade surplus is an excess of national saving over domestic investment".   That's a crock.  Trade surpluses happen when you manage to sell abroad more stuff than you buy from abroad.  Having an array of good products at the right prices, helps with the sales end.  Having a good domestic supply of quality product helps keep imports down.  Germany has a lot of world class products, look at Mercedes, Porsche, VW, Lowenbrau, Airbus, and many others.  Who wants to buy an import when the domestic product is as good as you can get any where? 
   If the world wants to cut down on Germany's trade surplus, the world will have to offer products as good as or better than German products, at a competitive price. 
   Writing like this makes me wonder where the Economist's writers went to school.  If their economic writers are so deluded (in a magazine named the Economist!)  do their other writers know anything at all? 

You talk to everybody when you are running for President

Everybody.  They might vote for you, they might contribute money (in return for favors after the election), they might have intelligence (dirt) you can use, they might put in a good word for you, they might be planning a stab in the back.  You never know, so you talk to everybody you have time for.  You want to increase your candidate's name recognition, talking about him with everybody will increase it. 
   Given all that, I fail to see any interest in today's msm flap about Trump campaign workers, (Donald Trump Jr and Jared Kushner) talking with a low name recognition Russian lawyer.  So what? Everybody in the world wants something from the US, everybody in the world starts by talking to the presidential campaign people.  So what else is new? 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

NBC's Beat the Press, my weekly dose of MSM

Chuck Todd was pushing the "Russian" story.  He thinks the Russians somehow influenced our election.  He advanced NO evidence.  Spent a lot of time on this narrative.  Then he trashed Trump over Trump's disparagement of US intel services.  US intel has made some major goofs, failing to predict the fall of the USSR, predicting that Saddam had nukes, leaking the fact that we were tapping Bin Ladin's satellite phone to the NYT, allowing Bradley Manning and Edward Snowdon free run of their classified, and others.  I have little faith in CIA or NSA anymore, and I don't see anything wrong with the President expressing doubts about US intel stories.  Chuck Todd has a problem with it, probably because a whole bunch of US intel people are Democrats who attempt to destabilize Republican administrations. 
   Then he read off a poll praising the MSM.  If you pay for the poll, the poll will say anything you like. 
   Then someone made this amazing statement "The base won't permit any bipartisanship".  I doubt that.  The base (either base) has some things they want, and other things they don't want.  Congresscritters who vote for (or fail to vote at all)  things the base wants, and against things the base doesn't want, will be voted out of office.  Just ask a bunch of Democrats who voted for Obamacare and are now out of office. 
  And finally there was a lot of talk condemning Trump for failing to take Putin to task over Russian election meddling.  Just how do they know this, when the meeting was just Trump, Putin, Secretary of State, Russian Foreign Minister and two interpreters is beyond me.  Did NBC bug the conference room?  Both Trump and Putin issued statements after the meeting.  I know Trump's statement would never fail to make Trump look good, and Putin's statement is likely a lie from end to end.  
  Anyhow back to real news on Fox News for me. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

647 Hp Mustang. Only $450,000

Looks sleek and hot.  Top speed of 216 mph.  That's smoking hot.  But the engine is a 3.5 liter V6???.  My Buick has a 3.5 liter V6.  Turbocharged and all,  what ever happened to the 427 V8 that won Le Mans 50 years ago.  Ford plans to build 250 a year.   For people that plan to race them, it's probably a deal.  For us ordinary folk, $450,000 is a helova lot of money for a car.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Fed Governor Urges Housing Finance Fix

Headline of a Wall St Journal piece.  Fed Reserve governor Jerome Powell wants more private investors to buy into Fanny and Freddy, so that next time Fanny and Freddy go bust, private investors will lose money rather than taxpayers.  Everyone always thought that Uncle Sam stood behind Fanny and Freddy even though the fine print in the enabling laws did not so state. This wide spread belief allowed Fanny and Freddy to borrow money on the credit of the United States, which meant they could raise money for 3-4%, really cheap.   But when Fanny and Freddy went bust in 2008, Uncle decided us taxpayers were on the hook for $140 billion to avoid besmirching the reputation of the US treasury.
    Fanny and Freddy didn't cause much trouble until the 1980's when they started buying mortgages off banks.  The real estate industry loved this, it made more mortgage money available. Sell a mortgage to Fanny or Freddy, and presto, the bank has the cash to make yet another mortgage.  Fanny and Freddy recovered the money by selling bonds on Wall St.  They said "Look, these bonds are 'backed' by real estate."  Suckers fell for this, and for a while the bonds sold like hotcakes.
   The banks, now that they could unload their mortgages started writing really bad mortgages, "sub prime" and "alt-A" to borrowers who would never be able to pay off the mortgage.  No matter, long as we dump this worthless mortgage on Fanny and Freddy we are OK.  This continued until the sucker investors wised up to the fact that "backed by real estate" meant nothing.  They didn't have the right to foreclose and repossess the real estate.  So the bonds stopped selling, and Fanny and Freddy went Chapter 11.  For $140 billion.  This touched off Great Depression 2.0.
   In actual fact, we ought to shut Fanny and Freddy down, for good.  We don't need them to "make more mortgage money available".   Mortgages are profitable and safe. We used to say "Safe as houses". If the borrower fails to pay, the lender gets the house.  Home mortgage borrowers are strongly motivated to keep up the payments, who wants to explain to a spouse that they are getting evicted?  Far more secure than the stock market.
  Shut down Fanny and Freddy.  The real estate industry (brokers, builders, appliance makers, lumber industry) will cry a lot, but  life will go on. 

Prescription Rate for Opioids Falls

Headline of a Wall St Journal piece today.  But looking at the charts that accompany the piece, not very much.  Average prescribed dose did fall from maybe 60, down to maybe 48  "morphine milligram equivalents" what ever that may be.  Prescriptions per 100 patients peaked around 80 and is now down to 70.  Damn, 70 out of 100 patients get opioid prescriptions?  That's a lot.  In my whole life, just once a dentist prescribed percoset after a painful extraction.  That was 30 years ago, one prescription, which didn't put a buzz on me as good as a shot of bourbon did.  For that matter, aside from childhood earaches I don't remember having to deal with pain, not even the sort of pain that aspirin will deal with.  Somehow I find it hard to believe that 70 out of 100 patients are experiencing pain worthy of an opioid prescription. 
  The Journal piece did not discuss guidelines for prescribing opioids.  Surely there are some?  Other than recommendations for drug company salesmen? 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Eye catching photos

Front page color spread in the Wall St Journal.  Against a background of Mosul blow all to pieces, burned out cars and piles of rubble, we have a young girl, looked to be 7 years old or so.  Light brown hair, blue eyes, pink dress.  She could have come off any suburban street in the USA.  Makes you wonder how she wound up in war torn Mosul. 
   Same issue, page three, we have a photo of the US destroyer that collided with that container ship off Japan.  It's a formal photo from stock, tied up to the dock, crew is manning the rails.  Large ship, big enough to be a cruiser in WWII.  Clearly a new ship, all her topside structures have walls slanted in, (tumblehome) to reflect enemy radar beams up into the sky rather than straight back to the enemy receivers.  Just one popgun on the foredeck, looked to be 75 mm.  Which is a dinky cannon for ship that size.  Even army tanks carry 120mm guns these days.  I hope she has lots of missiles, and that the missiles work when needed. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

NORKs are gaining on missiles to nuke LA

They tested a missile yesterday that has the range to reach Anchorage Alaska.  Won't take 'em long to stretch the range enough to hit LA.  They have nukes.  If we let them proceed, get the nuke mounted on the missile and the range stretched just a bit, they will be a helova a lot harder to deal with.  You cannot threaten to do regime change on a regime with nukes.  They will nuke you.  We ought to deal with the NORKs before they get their nuclear tipped ICBM into action.  Like right now. 
   We have tried diplomacy, lets make a deal, for twenty years.  The NORKs never lived up to any of the deals they signed.  They aren't going change.
   We could start up the Korean War again.  This is so awful that nobody wants to go there.  The NORKs have more guns and stuff than they did back in the 1950's.  South Korea's capital is within artillery range of North Korea.  Needless to say, the South Korean are not in favor of having Seoul shelled into ruins. 
   We could do a surprise air strike to take out their nuclear and missile facilities.  Most people think the NORKs are so dispersed and so dug in that we couldn't destroy enough facilities to do any good. 
    We could attempt to destabilize the NORK regime.  Looks chancy, the Kims (Grandfather, Father, and Son) have been arresting and executing their political opponents for 60 years.  I don't think there are enough left alive to do us any good.
   We could pressure the Chinese to cut off the NORKs supplies of food and fuel.  The Chinese like having the NORKs around.  It gives them a buffer between the pushy South Koreans, who are hand in glove with the Americans.  And they enjoy having the NORKs sticking it to the Americans while their own hands remain clean.  Trump has tried, and all he has gotten is lip service. 
  We could tell the NORKs that the next missile we see standing on a launch pad gets attacked, right then and there. 
   We could off Kim Jong whats-his-face.  That would destabilize the heck out of the NORK regime.
   Anyone have any other ideas?

Monday, July 3, 2017

NPR said drug rehab doesn't work, just this morning

On the FM this morning, they had a piece about drug rehab.  It was not encouraging.  They said the success rate was down around 5%, i.e. 95% of the druggies who go thru rehab go back to using drugs shortly after they leave rehab.  They did say that more psychotherapy was needed in drug rehab programs.  They did not bother to describe the treatment plan in existing drug rehab programs. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Grunge Look rides again

Wall St Journal, Saturday's "Style and Fashion" page.  They are selling guys clothes this time.  Whole page of color photos of four to five guy groups of models, wearing the in things.  Despite the clothes being new and clean, the models manage to look scruffy.  The clothes are a jarring patchwork of colors that don't go together, and never were very good.  Gray, brown, lemon yellow, pink, black.  Real guy colors those. These guys never learned how to tie a tie, brush their hair or put on a happy face.  They all wear surly expressions. And a spread of man bags.    Call the whole page a no sale for me.
  Next page features blue jeans.  According to the Journal, lycra is out, the in jean is straight cotton denim.  They have a picture of a blonde model, standing in a parking lot, wearing denim jeans, a baggy white top, a silk scarf, and high black boots.  The show a spread of jean, all blue, all stone washed, starting at $850 from Dior, and working down to $80 from the Gap.  Last pair of jeans I bought was $35 from Sears.
  The Journal needs to work on their fashion writers.  Show me some stuff I might like to wear, rather than stuff that makes me laugh.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Night Line Legal. They run TV ads.

Great name.  Nearly as good as Midnight Auto.