Saturday, January 20, 2018

Where Am I Again?

Technically...It's True

Take This Job and Shove It!

I bet this is true.  Reminds me of the Far Side comic of the two guys fishing and they see nuclear mushroom clouds in the distance.  One guy says to the other, "Norm, this means there's no limit and screw size restrictions".  But I guess that would be a bit more real.  This was just a guy pushing the wrong button!

Whatever works!

Dogs Are Cool

If only the guy letting animals aboard had listened to the wise dogs, we wouldn't have to deal with cats!

Look At His Leg

I know I'm an old guy.  I know I'm a bit conservative in some things.  I also know I'm pretty smart.  If my leg had a fixator holding the bones together, I'm pretty sure I'd not be doing this.  And once again, look at his head.  A few inches back and it's a splat on the pavement.  But's not really any of my business.  I'm just an old guy.


I know it's been cold in parts of the country, but this is just ridiculous!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Trump...One Year In

So we're at one year since the inauguration of President Trump.  I thought that it would be good to take a look back and point out a few highlights and low lights.  But I ran across an article that did that very well by one of my favorite writers, Mollie Hemingway.  I agree with almost the whole thing.  So why reinvent the wheel.  You can read it here.  And if you don't want to follow the link I'm copying the whole thing below.
I wasn’t a Trump supporter. I am now.
By Mollie Ziegler Hemingway January 19 
This may seem like an odd moment for saying so, but a year into the presidency of Donald Trump, I’m elated.
Trump was not my first or even second choice for president, but a full two years ago I predicted he would win. I also predicted he’d be a progressive president, which explained why I was not among his supporters and why I am so pleased now.
Trump's divisive first year in office
From high-profile firings to contentious remarks, the ups and downs of President Trump's first year on the job garnered him historically low approval ratings.
Expecting Progressive Trump was a reasonable assumption. Trump supported the 2009 stimulus, the auto bailouts and the bank bailouts. He’d recently left the Democratic Party and had raised a ton of money for the Clintons, Nancy Pelosi and Charles E. Schumer. He’d supported single-payer health coverage, tax increases and even Planned Parenthood.
He was a New York liberal who had conquered the Republican Party in part by promising a good Supreme Court nomination. That was the most I allowed myself to hope for when he won.
The nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch to fill the vacancy of Antonin Scalia more than fulfilled that promise. Gorsuch isn’t a John Roberts, David Souter or Anthony Kennedy, to name three disappointing justices appointed by the three previous Republican presidents, but a brilliant legal mind with tremendous writing ability and persuasive powers.
Trump critics, particularly those on the right, like to mock Trump voters with the phrase “But Gorsuch!” It’s their way of saying that Gorsuch is the only good thing Trump has done and that a Trump presidency is not worth the rest. Except Gorsuch is not even close to the only good thing Trump has done.
He has appointed 12 outstanding federal appellate judges — a record number for a president in his first year. By comparison, President Barack Obama had only three in his first year.
In early June, Trump announced the U.S. departure from the Paris climate accord, an agreement that would have had virtually no impact on future temperatures but would have come at a large cost in the growth of government and control over the economy. Since Obama never ran the treaty through the Senate, it was nonbinding, but the federal bureaucracy was working to implement it with new regulations on U.S. businesses. Critics on the right say Trump just does what other Republican candidates would have done. Yet the previous Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, lobbied Trump to stay in the global agreement.
The Clean Power Plan, which gave the Environmental Protection Agency unprecedented authority over states and businesses and was on track to be the most expensive regulation in history, is under review. For the 2017 fiscal year, Trump revoked 22 regulations for each new regulation that was issued. His chief regulatory officer, Neomi Rao, said the administration would continue the pace of deregulation through 2018, announcing 448 deregulatory actions and 131 regulatory actions.
It took a while for Capitol Hill to get used to working with Trump, but by the end of the year, lawmakers had passed the largest corporate tax reform in U.S. history and secured tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans.
Businesses are responding to the deregulation and historic corporate tax reform by loosening purse strings and investing in plants, equipment and factories. Pepco, a power utility that serves the Mid-Atlantic region, just announced it’s lowering everyone’s electric bills as a result of the savings from corporate tax reform.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is restoring due process to college campuses by rescinding Obama-era guidelines that made the mistake of encouraging college administrators to adjudicate serious crimes such as sexual assaults.
Trump’s foreign policy could be more restrained, but it’s far less interventionist than that of any of his recent predecessors, focused on national interest over nation-building or other less pressing and more expensive concerns. By trusting his military leaders to make quick decisions on the battlefield, in contrast to Obama’s desire to placate Iran and micromanage trivial moves such as helicopter deployments, Trump is crushing the Islamic State. Sanctions and other nonmilitary efforts are being used to keep North Korea at bay after the failure of denuclearization as practiced by presidents since Bill Clinton.
Trump is not normal, his critics keep saying. Sometimes that’s a plus. He recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel more than two decades after the Senate passed legislation requiring it, and after two decades of presidents signing waivers every six months to avoid it. More recently, he froze funding for Pakistan until it stops harboring terrorists.
Like most people, I don’t particularly like Trump’s rhetorical style, juvenile insults and intemperate disposition — on full display in recent days. At the same time, having followed his career for decades, I am not surprised that he wakes up each morning as Donald Trump.
And that boorish attitude has come in handy after decades of media bullying of conservatives. Ironically, the very lack of conservative bona fides that worried me two years ago means he’s less beholden to a conservative establishment that had grown alienated from the people it is supposed to serve and from the principles it ostensibly exists to promote. His surprising conservatism might also be the result of the absolutism and extremism of his critics, whether among the media, traditional Democratic activists or the anti-Trump right. If Trump were ever inclined to indulge his liberal tendencies after winning the election, the stridency and spite of his opponents have provided him with no incentives to do so.
My expectations were low — so low that he could have met them by simply not being President Hillary Clinton. But a year into this presidency, he’s exceeded those expectations by quite a bit. I’m thrilled.

A Real Sh*thole

A friend sent this article to me about Senegal.  The author was a Peace Corps volunteer and relates her first hand experience.  I've not been to Senegal, but have traveled the world and have seen this sort of culture many times.  I'm not even going to make value judgement comment here.  But there are a lot of people pushing things that they have no idea about.

What I Learned in the Peace Corps in Africa: Trump Is Right

By Karin McQuillan

Three weeks after college, I flew to Senegal, West Africa, to run a community center in a rural town.  Life was placid, with no danger, except to your health.  That danger was considerable, because it was, in the words of the Peace Corps doctor, "a fecalized environment."

In plain English: s--- is everywhere.  People defecate on the open ground, and the feces is blown with the dust – onto you, your clothes, your food, the water.  He warned us the first day of training: do not even touch water.  Human feces carries parasites that bore through your skin and cause organ failure.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that a few decades later, liberals would be pushing the lie that Western civilization is no better than a third-world country.  Or would teach two generations of our kids that loving your own culture and wanting to preserve it are racism.

Last time I was in Paris, I saw a beautiful African woman in a grand boubou have her child defecate on the sidewalk next to Notre Dame Cathedral.  The French police officer, ten steps from her, turned his head not to see.

I have seen.  I am not turning my head and pretending unpleasant things are not true.

Senegal was not a hellhole.  Very poor people can lead happy, meaningful lives in their own cultures' terms.  But they are not our terms.  The excrement is the least of it.  Our basic ideas of human relations, right and wrong, are incompatible.

As a twenty-one-year-old starting out in the Peace Corps, I loved Senegal.  In fact, I was euphoric.  I quickly made friends and had an adopted family.  I relished the feeling of the brotherhood of man.  People were open, willing to share their lives and, after they knew you, their innermost thoughts.

The longer I lived there, the more I understood: it became blindingly obvious that the Senegalese are not the same as us.  The truths we hold to be self-evident are not evident to the Senegalese.  How could they be?  Their reality is totally different.  You can't understand anything in Senegal using American terms.

Take something as basic as family.  Family was a few hundred people, extending out to second and third cousins.  All the men in one generation were called "father."  Senegalese are Muslim, with up to four wives.  Girls had their clitorises cut off at puberty.  (I witnessed this, at what I thought was going to be a nice coming-of-age ceremony, like a bat mitzvah or confirmation.)  Sex, I was told, did not include kissing.  Love and friendship in marriage were Western ideas.  Fidelity was not a thing.  Married women would have sex for a few cents to have cash for the market.

What I did witness every day was that women were worked half to death.  Wives raised the food and fed their own children, did the heavy labor of walking miles to gather wood for the fire, drew water from the well or public faucet, pounded grain with heavy hand-held pestles, lived in their own huts, and had conjugal visits from their husbands on a rotating basis with their co-wives.  Their husbands lazed in the shade of the trees.

Yet family was crucial to people there in a way Americans cannot comprehend.

The Ten Commandments were not disobeyed – they were unknown.  The value system was the exact opposite.  You were supposed to steal everything you can to give to your own relatives.  There are some Westernized Africans who try to rebel against the system.  They fail.

We hear a lot about the kleptocratic elites of Africa.  The kleptocracy extends through the whole society.  My town had a medical clinic donated by international agencies.  The medicine was stolen by the medical workers and sold to the local store.  If you were sick and didn't have money, drop dead.  That was normal.

So here in the States, when we discovered that my 98-year-old father's Muslim health aide from Nigeria had stolen his clothes and wasn't bathing him, I wasn't surprised.  It was familiar.

In Senegal, corruption ruled, from top to bottom.  Go to the post office, and the clerk would name an outrageous price for a stamp.  After paying the bribe, you still didn't know it if it would be mailed or thrown out.  That was normal.

One of my most vivid memories was from the clinic.  One day, as the wait grew hotter in the 110-degree heat, an old woman two feet from the medical aides – who were chatting in the shade of a mango tree instead of working – collapsed to the ground.  They turned their heads so as not to see her and kept talking.  She lay there in the dirt.  Callousness to the sick was normal.

Americans think it is a universal human instinct to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  It's not.  It seems natural to us because we live in a Bible-based Judeo-Christian culture.

We think the Protestant work ethic is universal.  It's not.  My town was full of young men doing nothing.  They were waiting for a government job.  There was no private enterprise.  Private business was not illegal, just impossible, given the nightmare of a third-world bureaucratic kleptocracy.  It is also incompatible with Senegalese insistence on taking care of relatives.

All the little stores in Senegal were owned by Mauritanians.  If a Senegalese wanted to run a little store, he'd go to another country.  The reason?  Your friends and relatives would ask you for stuff for free, and you would have to say yes.  End of your business.  You are not allowed to be a selfish individual and say no to relatives.  The result: Everyone has nothing.

The more I worked there and visited government officials doing absolutely nothing, the more I realized that no one in Senegal had the idea that a job means work.  A job is something given to you by a relative.  It provides the place where you steal everything to give back to your family.

I couldn't wait to get home.  So why would I want to bring Africa here?  Non-Westerners do not magically become American by arriving on our shores with a visa.

For the rest of my life, I enjoyed the greatest gift of the Peace Corps: I love and treasure America more than ever.  I take seriously my responsibility to defend our culture and our country and pass on the American heritage to the next generation.

African problems are made worse by our aid efforts.  Senegal is full of smart, capable people.  They will eventually solve their own country's problems.  They will do it on their terms, not ours.  The solution is not to bring Africans here.

We are lectured by Democrats that we must privilege third-world immigration by the hundred million with chain migration.  They tell us we must end America as a white, Western, Judeo-Christian, capitalist nation – to prove we are not racist.  I don't need to prove a thing.  Leftists want open borders because they resent whites, resent Western achievements, and hate America.  They want to destroy America as we know it.

As President Trump asked, why would we do that?

We have the right to choose what kind of country to live in.  I was happy to donate a year of my life as a young woman to help the poor Senegalese.  I am not willing to donate my country.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Tax Reform...a few month's in

We're a couple of months into the implementation of the tax reform bill, or as Democrats like to call it, Armageddon.  It's way too early to tell what the long term impacts will be but there are a few indicators that we can look at and informed suppositions we can make.  

By far the biggest result has been the impact on business.  We've seen company after company announcing bonuses to their employees (usually around $1000), increases to 401K contributions, and are gearing up for wage increases.  The generally accepted number of companies as of today is 164.  You can see a pretty good summary here.  I think that this number will only increase as the coming weeks and months unfold.  The estimate is that more than 2 million workers have felt this economic benefit.  

Then there's the stock market.  There is no denying that it has been zooming up.  This week alone it was up over 1000 points and closed over 26,000 for the first time.  Now, while it is generally good for individual investors, not everyone owns stocks.  But large institutional investors are key owners that drive wealth accumulations.  Mutual funds, retirement funds, and others will benefit tremendously from this increase.  And companies will increase in value and in turn will give more wage increases, bonuses, engage in research and development, build more and better facilities, expand their business, and just generally grow.  And that means increases in all the things that benefit employees.

There is a story that there are trillions of dollars overseas that companies have been reluctant to bring home because of the onerous tax rates above 30%.  With tax reform, they will be able to bring that money home for a rate of 15%.  This means billions of dollars being reinjected into the economy.  It means a huge windfall to the government as a result of taxes on these funds, even though they are less than they would have been under the old system.  It means companies using this money for reinvestment.  It's a good deal all around.

Unemployment has dropped to record lows.  I heard today that unemployment is at the lowest rate since 1973.  Even better, the unemployment rate of the black community is at the lowest rate in history!  I hope I don't have to explain why employment is so important to our populations bettering themselves, increasing their standard of living, increasing their self-image and sense of personal responsibility, and just generally being a productive member of society with potential to improve yourself and in turn the next generation as you go through life.  Every day there's another announcement about the need for more workers.  Just today, Amazon announced that they will be adding another 50,000 new jobs.  

Another interesting fallout will likely be health care.   The cost of health care has increased for almost everyone, but most egregiously for those who buy health care privately through the government exchanges.  If you're working for an employer who offers health care, then you'll be able to get coverage much cheaper.  Health care has been an issue that has been batted about by both sides and no good solutions have been offered, especially by those who think the government should take it over.  But here's the reality.  We have around 350 million people in the country.  The vast, vast majority get their health care from employers, Medicare, the VA, or some other program.  The number of uninsured who need to get health care independently is very small in the scheme of things.  The media likes to over blow the problem by generalizing "Americans who need health care".  So if we can get more people to work and covered by employers, we can drive down those who can't get health care economically and improve their lives.  

There are others, but the best example is Apple.  The news today from Apple was pretty mind boggling.  Apple said that they "will repatriate almost all of its $250 billion in overseas cash, create 20,000 new U.S. jobs, open a new U.S. campus, and add $350 billion to the U.S. economy".  This ends any serious debate about the new tax reform law.  It is a blockbuster success story less than tow months after implementation.  

Pretty soon workers will start to see the impact on their paychecks as withholding tables are adjusted to reflect the new rates.  Of course, the savings will be varied, but everyone in the workforce will be having less money withheld and therefore more money in their paychecks.  And who couldn't use more money every month?

And how about the welfare rolls.  The number of people on food stamps and other assistance is consistently dropping.  I don't have the numbers but from all the reports I've heard, the trend is very positive (meaning decreasing numbers).

We haven't seen the new tax forms yet, but they are bound to be simpler.  With the deductions limited and the standard deduction increased, many, many more people are going to be able to submit their taxes on a small, simple form.

So what's the problem you may ask.  Well, I think we all know what the problem is.  It's that there are a lot of people, and specifically Democrats, who have a visceral hatred of President Trump.  They've bought into all the slanted news about him unquestioningly and will do anything to obstruct any program that Trump might be in favor of, especially if there's a chance it will be successful.  This is true even if it benefits America and Americans.  I've not seen such obstructionism, such hatred, such outright and unashamed actions to thwart a President in my lifetime.  It is really pretty shameful.  What's really sad is that I've practically stopped trying to have dialog with people regarding policy or politics because so many have been blinded and, frankly, brainwashed.  I'm hoping that at some point many will see the reality of success and realize they should investigate for themselves what their opinions and beliefs should be, and not go blindly into the night like lemmings.  But...I'm not optimistic.

Friday Funnies

A friend sent this to me.  It is way over-exaggerated...or is it?  God help us.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Martin Luther King, Jr

When the holiday that we celebrate tomorrow comes around every year there are a multitude of tributes, celebrations, parades, dinners, and sermons and essays written.  All of these things ensure we don't forget. That we continue to remember his legacy.  That legacy of non-violent resistance.  And racial justice.  And the march toward equality.  It's been a long time, hasn't it?  Our country suffered under the scourge of slavery for the first 90 years of it's existence.  And after a great Civil War, we wallowed in the disgrace of racial discrimination for the next 150 years.  But things are getting better.  I think that the the reason why we mark tomorrow to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King is that he was really the one that forced us as a country to turn the corner.  To start the march to equality.  To pass the landmark Civil Rights Act.  And that's worth celebrating.

But the thing is that there are so many who don't see progress.  They don't see the march.  They don't see the long road to where we are today.  Or if they do see it, they believe that it's been too long, that injustice should be eradicated immediately.  But that is not the way humans work.  Humans evolve from generation to generation.  It takes time, education, effort, and cultural evolution for societal change to take place.  But I believe that as far as we have to go, we've come a long way.  Oh there is still lots to be done, but that shouldn't discount how far we've come as a country and society.  When I make this declaration many would say that I simply can't understand.  That I suffer from white privilege.  Okay...fair enough.  But I think that view ignores experience and intellect.

So when I think of tomorrow, I celebrate how far we've come with a strong recognition that we still have a long way to go.  And hope that arc keeps bending...

Motivation Monday

Here's a little special motivation.  We all have a tendency to just bump along and take the things around us for granted.  But in reality, we are living in the most innovative, rapidly developing, technologically advanced time in human history.  Take a moment to think about that.  Every day is a gift!