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Friday, October 30, 2015

CNBC Debate

On the evening of October 28, Oklahoma recorded a Richter 7 earthquake centered in Ponca City.  It was not caused by fracking but by me pounding the walls and stomping on the floor in delight at Ted Cruz nailing the moderators with 5 examples of their snarky questions just posed to the previous candidates.  If I had been in attendance at the People’s Republic of Boulder, I would have waited for the crowd to stop applauding then stood up and said, “Excuse me, sir, but your ass has been nailed to the wall over there by Cruz.  If you need assistance in getting it down, I have a wrecking bar you can use.”
What that incident convinced me was that Cruz does indeed have a genius memory to have recited the 5 snarks the moderators had dished out to someone else (in order!). Warning: Do not sit across from Ted Cruz in a negotiation or court case. Are you listening, Vladimir Putin?

Considering how well the other candidates then joined in the objection to stupid questions, I’d say the debate was a success for most of the field.  Individual results may vary.  Fiorina’s zinger on crony capitalism was great (Although I call gov’t-big biz partnerships Fascism which historically they are.). Cristie’s note that we have huge problems while they want to know about fantasy football was also terrific.  Rubio’s defense of his missed votes got big applause, then Jeb was dumb enough to try to bring it up again.  What nobody explains to the public, and you don’t realize until you follow legislation, is that 90% of the stuff they pass is 99-0 votes.  To set aside April 2 as Charlie Daniels Day, to designate August as International Dog Poop Clean-up Month, etc.  The big controversial votes are the ones your Congressman needs to show up for. 

So, given that candidates got 30 seconds to respond to questions while the moderators took at least that long “framing the question” (Give their own biased speech) how would I organize a debate? 

First use Republicans to moderate and instruct them to ask quick questions.  Since these debates are really Q&A sessions for candidates, that is, each person gets separate questions, they've become more like a slap-dash interview while 9 others are in attendance.  Why the media does it this way is beyond me.  Could be because journalists are so dumb and unoriginal, they couldn’t get over 50% on my physics quizes in college.

So here’s how I’d organize it.  People want to know the differences, character, style, persuasive ability, and stands of each candidate.  Don’t even pretend it is a debate.  Call it a forum.  Have the moderators ask the same question repeatedly and give the candidates 3 minutes to respond and build a case for their solutions. Maybe 5 guys get the same question before going onto another--or all 10.  And make it general enough that the folks watching can see what kind of approach each candidate takes. 

Example: Moderator:“Let’s talk about the economy.  Why is it so bad and what would you do to fix it?  For 400 years America has created more new companies than the number which closed their doors—until the last 6 years.” Then for the second candidate, same first 2 sentences above but the third one will be: “Growth the past 6 years has averaged 1.5% whereas it consistently was 3+% for over 200 years.” Next candidate, same first 2 sentences, then “Since Obama began, US population has increased by 17 million but only 7 million new jobs have been created.  10 million have dropped out.”   By quoting supporting statistics like this, the candidates would be encouraged to respond. Build their cases, exhibit what they will do.  Thus by the end of the evening, listeners would be able to compare them much more thoroughly. Let 'em speak for themselves!

Same strategy with foreign policy questions, social issues, and all the rest. 
Okay, CNBC moderators, what weakness do you have and how are you compensating? What say? You stayed up all night smoking joints with the Colorado news guys? And you do this because you have been depressed ever since flunking descriptive physics in college?   

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

10 political things to be happy about

  1. Paul Ryan is likely to be Speaker of the House. He’s articulate, smart as a hoot owl, policy wonkish, and well-known.  For 20 years, Congressional Republicans have lived fearful of news media condemnation of “shutting government down”.  Ryan sounds like he would favor recovering the power of the purse and will be good enough spokesman that he can counter Obama.  Does he agree perfectly with me? No, but Reagan said if somebody agrees with you 80%, support ‘em.
  2. 72% think Hillary owes us a better explanation of her shenanigans with emails and Benghazi.  Whenever an issue has over 2/3 of American people, that means it is even affecting the 1/3 who will support somebody no matter what. Hill’s still in trouble with the trust.
  3. Obamacare’s in deep trouble.  Costs have risen so much that the lower middle income can’t afford a policy that the all-knowing god of government has demanded they get.  So the 20 million people (CBO estimate) who were supposed to have bought policies by now are only 8.5 million.  And that is only the folks who would have to buy their own private policies. Employer mandate hasn’t even kicked in yet.  That will really tick people off when their employer can’t afford their health insurance and dumps them onto the Obamacare website. Now we need to repeal the provision that the feds will bail out insurance companies.  Maybe the Dems will want to defend their bail out of Insurance Giants.
  4. Maybe Trump is gradually fading.  (though I still don't understand R-primary polls that include Dems and Indies)  I listened for his conservatism and can honestly say that he fails the Reagan 80% rule.  How about a conservative?!! Practically everybody else in the field is okay by me though I have a favorite.  But some big mouth, so in love with himself that he thinks the sun rises and sets on his words, was a lib just a  couple years ago, and has little of substance to say on many issues?  That sounds like Obama!
  5. Cruz is well positioned to inherit the outsider banner if Carson seems too meek.  Beck tells about how Cruz came to him in private saying the media thinks he is “robotic” and asked the energetic Beck how to cure this.  They got into a discussion about some policy and Beck says he told me, “No you’re wrong for these reasons.” Then proceeded to list 6 reasons like a wikipedia page.  Beck told him he was amazed at his retention. “Yeah, they say I have an audiographic memory. When a subject comes up, I guess I have a file in my head.” “Have you ever had an IQ test?” “Yeah, it’s 180 but I don’t like talking about this.”  Beck told him not to change a thing and use his brain as an advantage. 
  6. Rubio is up and Bush is down. At last a young, positive, good looking guy who tells about politics often in inspiring story form like Reagan did.  He is Hillary’s worst nightmare—will make her look old with tired ideas. She;s the person Donald should have said, "just look at that face!"
  7. USA is poised to become the next Persian Gulf of oil and gas.  Production at 10 M barrels per day has surpassed Saudis.  Despite OPEC’s induced glut that has reduced prices by more than half, our frackers are surviving and US production continues to increase.  18 new LNG plants are on line to be built.  If we can supply Europe with liquid natural gas, it would cut off Russia’s stranglehold and get NATO and the EU back to thinking along our lines. Meanwhile, as an oil sufficient country, we’d be immune to blackmail by the middle eastern loonies.
  8. Everybody, and I mean every economist is now saying that the Stimulus and QEs did absolutely nothing. Yet we doubled the national debt.  The guy who started Van Kampen mutual funds explains it best:  Imagine you are Italian and you have an uncle who drives around in a Cadillac with some mysterious overweight in the trunk and weapons under the seats.  All the relatives are worried sick that he is hooked up with the Mafia.  One day he comes speeding into your driveway and rushes up with two suitcases. “I have to hide these in your basement, but I will be back for them later.There is a million dollars in this suitcase.” Question: would you touch the money when he leaves?  Of course not, and that is what happened to the banks.  Gov’t poured big stimulus bucks into banks but banks were scared to lend because if they incurred bad debts, the feds were also telling them they were increasing regulation and wouldn’t hesitate to close the bank down. Now maybe all this idiocy will stop when we get a new Prez.
  9. El Nino is here. Warmer winters on average and more moisture.  That means a likely end to the drought of the Midwest and better crops.  Only the people in the concrete jungles hate El Nino because they don’t like a rainy day. All you global warming guys pay attention.  Raising the temperature and stirring the oceans to make more precipitation is a good thing.  More food, less famine.
  10. Still not satisfied?  Well, October 27, 1787 was the day that Madison began running articles in the New York papers about the proposed Constitution that later became known as "The Federalist Papers".

Monday, October 19, 2015

October 19

October 19, 1781, the British surrendered at Yorktown.  The war was effectively over. Cornwallis had fought the American guerillas throughout the South, and they had worn his army out, then won decisively at Cowpens.  The American commander at Cowpens was my great grandfather 7 generations ago and he was worn out too.  After the battle he handed over his command and painfully got on his horse and rode home, unable to continue.  Cornwallis decided to retreat to Yorktown, a small seaport in southern Virginia hoping to be reinforced by fresh troops and supplies from the British navy.  But the French, who had waffled for a long time, had finally sent a fleet to bottle up Chesapeake Bay and Washington, who had fought a rearguard action since the start of the war, decisively rushed south and besieged Cornwallis.  Thomas Nelson, governor of Virginia, who had signed the Declaration of Independence told a cannoneer to fire on a fine-looking brick home.  “It is my home, he explained, “best in town, so that is where the British have headquarters.”  Sure enough, the first cannon ball went through a window and blasted a table where the officers were having lunch.

Cornwallis had no choice but to surrender. The Yankees had finally become a powerful and well-trained army, and they stormed the ramparts.  After Cornwallis surrendered his ceremonial sword and Washington handed it back,  the British soldiers filed past the Americans laying down swords and rifles.  The big innovation of 18th century warfare was to keep your army well-supplied with arms and boots and uniforms.   The Americans were barefoot or wore rags, and most had no uniforms.  Cornwallis supposedly said, “They are undefeatable.  They fight like dogs.”  Bands on the American side played “Yankee Doodle”, a tune that British regulars had made up to poke fun of the colonists during the French and Indian War, 20 years earlier.

Washington seemed worn out too.  When, a short time later, an insurrection of his officers, confronted him with demands for pay from Congress they’d never seen, he reached into his coat to fish out a pair of glasses to read what they had written.  “I’m sorry, this war has ruined my eyes,” he apologized.  Glasses were rare in those days and considered a sign that your eyesight really was shot.  The officers who had come to the meeting angry at Washington and Congress, suddenly were overwhelmed with emotion, some openly weeping.  They took back their letter and shook hands with their general, and bid him good-bye to return home.
  Long war.  America had won it's independence and freedom.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Miscellaneous stuff

We took some time off to visit Branson and see some shows, then go to War Eagle Craft Fair.  I have a few observations.

Have you ever noticed at just about every craft show, half the sellers have something Christian?  Signs and doormats say things like “As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord”, crosses and symbols made in hundreds of ways, Christian books, Christian logos, etc. Then walk through any mall and notice Christianity is almost banned.  What this says to me is that people want their faith and they buy it at craft shows.  Meanwhile the big businesses who market nationwide big box stores, are scared of a few rare complaints about showing some faith.  That’s why they were quick to adopt “Happy Holidays” and made the public angry over the banishment of Christmas. 

We saw a country show, the Chinese acrobats, and Shoji Tabuchi.  In all three cases they had good things to say about USA.  Even the acrobats, who don’t talk during the show were outside in the lobby gushing about how happy they were to have been selected to come to America to perform and what a wonderful experience this is.  Shoji is the Japanese classical violinist who loved country fiddling and came to America, tells lame jokes while making all sorts of noises on his violin.  His endearing feature isn’t just the music but his love for his adopted land.  And of course country shows always end with something patriotic.  Democrats are turned off by patriotism.  Do they not go to country music shows? 

I hear Trump is now blaming W. for 9/11.  Why does he remind me of Floyd R. Turbo under that hat, spouting idiocy? But I will tell you where I am sympathetic toward a guy like Trump.  I believe it is nearly impossible for a businessman to become President.  That’s because to be a successful businessman you have to take risks and fail often.  Most people are risk averse.  Politicians pretend they have never been wrong and get more votes.  But then we will never change government unless we have someone who will take risks politically.  I still hold out hope for Carly and Ben, but already they are damning Carly because she was fired from HP.  That’s because she tried to take HP in a direction of personal computers where the founders didn’t want to go.  But today, HP’s computers are proof she was right.  I’d be proud to have been fired that way.  Just don’t try to sell that to the 80% of Americans who cling to their jobs and don’t want changes.  (Realistically, I think Cruz might bridge this gap.)

While I was gone, about 20% of our city’s voters voted for a huge school bond.  I say ‘school’  with some irony, because it was 6 million for a new football stadium pressbox, 4 million for a new weightroom, and 10 million for a performing arts center.  Almost nothing for education where it counts.  I asked a couple guys in Arkansas, one a teacher selling crafts, how Arkansas has the fifth rated schools in the country.  They pay teachers better, as well as Kansas and Missouri, and 10% more than Oklahoma.  But Arkansas’s total tax take is lowest in the nation at 6.7% of average person’s earnings.  How so?  They have very low property taxes and pass modest school bonds. This fits with what I see.  I drive all over OK and see towns with run down houses, but the school looks like some Frank Lloyd Wright marvel.  Do we need this?  Some of my best education took place in temporary trailer houses.

Dems seem stumped when asked what the difference is between themselves and socialists.  Let me help.  Socialism is the philosophy that government controls most everything.  International socialism is where the gov’t owns all the means of production—communism.  National Socialism is where gov’t owns or controls only certain large industries but sufficient to control society overall.  Let the street flower vendors remain as is.  For industries government doesn’t own, this has a corollary. Government can’t control a scattered industry with thousands of players, so it seeks to consolidate everyone into a few large companies, giving mega-corporations favors, while persecuting the small guys out of businesss.  This is precisely Obama’s intent, as it was also Mussolini’s, Peron’s, and Hitler’s, and every progressive’s since Debs and LaFollette.

Cubs beat the Cards this year and from this point forward I am hoping the Cubs win it.  What! You say, has an old Cardinals fan lost his rudder?  Nope.  I am sick and tired of hearing the Cubs blather on about their darned goat or some other spell that has been cast.  Maybe they can turn it around and become a normal team.  Look, you team lost in the past because they didn’t play so well.  All the world can tell you this.  Just like all the world can tell Chicago that the reason they have so many teens killing teens is because you have gangs and incomplete families.  On second thought, maybe I’ll be all in for the Royals.

Speaking of baseball playoffs, I think the modern system of a month’s worth of playoffs with 10 teams is a failure.  When I was a child, it often became apparent who was going to be in the World Series by mid-September. People who normally rooted for the KC A’s who were 30 games out, nonetheless studied the likely pennant winners, got familiar with their players and still watched the Series.  Today, half the people are interested at the beginning, but root only for their favorite team.  Once your team loses, you turn off the championship.  MLB’s big horror is when two small market teams, far from the east and west coasts, play in the Series because no one is watching.  The season is too long—everybody says this! Once you start playing in cold weather, curve balls and sinkers don’t curve and sink. It advantages the hitting teams.   All the off days mean that a team with just 3 good pitchers instead of 5 is advantaged.  Wild card teams, often the hot team of September are often advantaged. You don’t have to play a good season, just finish hot.  Good grief! Go back to just a single playoff series and get it over with by Oct. 7.

Making Money

  Man, I’ve made money since Obama got elected!  Hope you Dems have too. A lot of investors think the bottom is dropping out when a Democrat gets elected Prez, so they ease out of the markets.  Then they plunge in when a Republican wins.  They should do the opposite.  It’s never as bad as they think after a Democrat wins or as good as when an R does. Normally markets are independent of politics unless politics specifically target them.

37 recessions in US history and then always comes a recovery.  Recessions always last less than two years, so when Obama took office we were very due for recovery.  Sure enough, in July 2009 it began.  I was worried about inflation under Obama—due to the spending increases and debt-- and my son and I had a lot of discussion.  He said, No, Obamacare is putting a mandate on employers to buy healthcare for employees or pay a $2000 fine. Costs will increase. That will make them think twice about hiring more.  This may be a rare jobless recovery. Sure enough, I invested heavily in stocks and they recovered smartly but not jobs and ordinary folks suffered. 

It was like the government and Fed went crazy trying to stimulate.  When the Fed lowered rates to zero, they couldn’t go lower.  So they started buying bonds with the QE programs.  The money put into big banks hands went into stocks and Wall Street skyrocketed.  I just rode and rode and rode. What a hoot!  A Dem who hands gifts to Wall Street and Mega Bankers, then screws the little guys.

After a recession, the bubble corrects—housing this time.  But Obama started threatening the small town lenders that he would shut them down if their books showed any bad loans.  Result was that banks didn’t foreclose and instead of housing doing a correction in a year or two, it went on 6 years and nobody could get a loan, so if you had cash, you could buy houses on the cheap.  I really loaded up.

Add this all up and the future doesn’t look so great with a Republican likely to win.  Small banks are the economic stimulators and they’ve been damaged.  95 million adults with no jobs. Obamacare mandates and EPA  regulations killing several industries. Doubled government debt that will weigh down future administrations.  The dollar might to be replaced as currency standard and that will mean everybody will pay more in interest and exports will go down.  Russia and China and Iran probably disrupting international commerce—and we got precious little military to challenge them.  You think maybe a smart guy like Joe Kennedy should get out? I suppose all you Dems are rich because your guy was in. What do you smarties think?  

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Workers, Slaves by the million

Read this and tell me what’s offensive.  “The Atlantic slave trade between the 1500s and 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.”  If the offensive word is “workers” then you agree with the latest flap over politically correct speech which has prompted McGraw-Hill to promise to revise their textbook from which this quote is found.  Roni Dean-Burren reacted with appalled shock when her son, Cody, texted her, “we was real hard workers, wasn’t we.” And she has created a fire storm over social media. What they were offended over was the insinuation that workers meant people who get paid.  By the way, did I mention that they are of African extraction and that Roni is an eleven-year English teacher?  Do you notice any problems with the English of her son in his text?

Seriously, my ancestors fought for Michigan in the Civil War and we lost two cousins at Gettysburg. Never have I sympathized with southern slave owners, and I belong to the party of Lincoln.  And so if you want to change ‘workers’ to ‘slave workers’ or ‘unpaid workers’, fine.   That’s not what offends me.  I object to “1500s” and “millions”. 

There was no successful colonial British colony that turned into USA until Jamestown in 1607.  Slaves from Africa did not arrive until at least 1630.  That does not encompass 1500s.  What the McGraw-Hill authors probably had in mind is the slave trade to the Caribbean that did begin in the 1500s.  Sugar cane sugar became a huge export to Europe.  It was the first time Europeans had ever experienced a sugar product except for a bit of beet sugar and honey.  As Europe went wild for sugar, the plantations grew aware that they couldn’t depend on Carib Indians for work.  The usual Spanish trick of getting natives to come to the plantation and sell themselves into serfdom was half force, half inducement with meat from cattle.  But Caribs suffered from the Old World diseases and were considered sickly and unreliable.  So Spanish, then French and English began trading in slaves from Africa.  But no African slave ship showed up at a southern port in the English colonies until well into the 1600s. 

Six million slaves were imported from Africa to the Americas, primarily from Brazil to USA.  However, estimates of the number of slaves imported to the states vary from 1.5 million to 2.1 million.  If that is “millions” then the plural means two.  When the war between the states was commenced, there were 12 million people in the country, and 4 million in the confederate and border states.  Only 10% of southerners owned slaves, which were estimated to be about 2 million or half the population, and many had been born in the south, not Africa.  There were significant enclaves of abolitionists in the South, but they were persecuted during the war and their voices drowned by the pro-slave factions.  Sam Houston, hero of the revolt of Tejas and President of the Republic owned slaves but grew to have second thoughts about how it treated people, the abuses, etc.  He strongly advocated Texas abolish slavery, then not join the Confederacy and remain neutral in the war.  Nobody came to his funeral in 1863 because he was a pariah.  But a year later, after Vicksburg fell and the Union cut off commerce between the eastern and western parts of the Confederacy, as the rebel cause lost hope, Texans started saying, “Maybe we should have listened to Sam.”

All of which is to say that slavery’s history is complex, dirty, and tragic, yet it existed for thousands of years throughout the world.  It is highly political here, but people in Brazil don’t point fingers and accuse over the slavery issue, though it was just as prominent there.  Who in Dominican Republic tries to balkanize politics over the issue?  If I were Cody Burren’s mom, I’d correct his grammar, rather than stroke his victimization. Good speech will get you somewhere in life.  Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly before your God—as scriptures say.