Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pet Peeve Wednesday

This week's Pet Peeve involves cell phones.  I easy target.  But there are two things that are really annoying about cell phones.  First, talk in a normal voice.  You don't need to yell!!!  Cell technology has advanced to the point that it will pick up your voice in a normal tone.  When you are talking excessively loud everyone can hear you.  Everyone then knows your business.  You don't need that.  We don't need that.  Quiet down!

Second has to do with blue tooth devices.  I realize that some people think they look cool.  Some think it's a status symbol to have a little wierd device stuck in your ear.  Trust me, it's not.  It's goofy.  Don't get me wrong.  I have a blue tooth device.  It's very convenient.  But when you're done with the call, remove the device from your ear.  Otherwise you look...well...goofy...and deluded by self-importance.

The Best of Us

In the wake of Katrina I spent some time on the Gulf Coast.  Admittedly in Mississippi and not New Orleans, so I didn't see the nightmare that occurred in the 9th Ward.  But I did see the devastation that a hurricane can bring to a wide area.  It was mind boggling to see how bad it was along the Gulf Coast.  It was as close to a war zone as I could imagine without the bombs!  The area was essentially wiped clean.  It was hearbreaking to see the impact on the land and the people of the Gulf Coast. 

In that situation we learned lots of lessons.  We found out that Federal, State, and local agencies have roles to play and must work together.  It takes resources.  It talkes caring and concern.  It takes leadership.  From my perspective, it is really heartening (and a little surprising) that we have learned those lessons.  We seem to have learned how to react in a terrible situation.  We seem to have figured how to prioritize, how to communicate, how to solve problems.  At least if we can beleive what is being reported is true. 

So bravo for all those involved in working this terrible natural disaster called Sandy.  Bravo to the first responders, bravo to FEMA and the State agencies and the local agencies.  Bravo to the leadership at all those levels.  And bravo to the President for leading from the front.  Past failures have made us better, as it should be.  I'm sure there are heartwrenching and terrible stories that will lay blame at the doorstep of some of the agenies, but from my perspective we responded pretty well.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I Want One Of These

I've evolved to being a beach guy.  Sand and sun.  Heat.  In my earlier days the mountains called.  I majored in Forestry at university.  Wanted to be a Forest Ranger.  No jobs so I became a helicopter pilot in the Navy.  I know, it doesn't make much sense.  But sometimes life takes unexpected twists and turns.  I've always liked being in the mountains.  Loved fishing, skiing, hiking, etc.  But as I've aged the beach lifestyle has become much more attractive.  So as I was surfing around this evening I came upon this series of beach house photos.

I like them all but I think I like this one the best.  So when I win the lottery...

Friday, October 26, 2012

From Bad to Worse

Libya is a disaster.  That's a given.  It's tragic for the American patriots who died.  It's tragic for their families.  As the story unfolds, it just keeps getting worse.  I've posted about it over the last few weeks here and here.  And I sorta thought that would be it.  Now it appears that the story is even worse than we've been led to believe.

The guys on the ground not only asked for help in the days before the attack, but they asked for help as the attack was underway.  And they were denied.  They were denied three times.  Take a look at a map of the Mediterranean.  NAS Sigonella is 480 miles away.   At that base are F/A-18 fighter aircraft, AC-130 gun ships, Special Operations Response Teams, and other forces that could have been mobilized.  The attack lasted 7 hours.  Help could have been there in 1 hour.  By any measure, that is unsat.  Were there concerns and uncertainties.  Probably yes.  But Americans were clearly being mortally threatened and we turned our backs.  I say we because it was my government that did this.

I've said before that the PR spin was screwed up but not supporting the guys on the ground was worse. But now the story evolves so that we now know there was immediate and relatively good knowledge of what was happening on the ground.  There may have been a "fog of war", as Hiliary has intimated, but that fog was between agencies...State, CIA, and the Military.  It is the responsibility of the National Command Authority to break through that fog.   They had Predators overhead and real time communications with the Consulate and the Embassy in Tripoli who knew what was going on.  Their responsibility was to take action.

So why?  Why would our government not send aid to Americans in extremis in a terrible and dangerous place when the danger was real, it was verified, and help was available.  I can only think of one reason.  Politics.

We have evolved to a wierd place in dealing with terrorists around the world.  I don't think most Americans know or care, but I strongly suspect we are looking for bad guys aggressively around the world.  We are using every tool at our disposal to do it, including Special Forces.  And when we find one of them, I'm confident it takes Presidential approval to take action.  That is what we've evolved to.  A direct line into the Oval Office to take out a scumbag in a rat hole on the other side of the world.  Why?  Because we can.  Think of the guys sitting around the table, including Obama, when OBL was taken out.  What were they adding?  What kind of pressure did the guys on the ground feel?  What kind of relevant direction will emanate from a bunker under the White House, other than Stop?  What kind of Commander sends their guys into the most dangerous circumstances in the world and wants a real time link as they creep into a dark house in the middle of the night?  And BTW, why was there a photographer present?

Now think about Libya.  Obama thinks what happened there last year was one of his signature successes.  We led from behind.  We didn't lose one person.  It was all done from the air.  Quaddafi was ousted and the rebels assumed control.  And the story disappeared from the front pages.  Perfect circumstances.  We do nothing, our goals are met, and the aftermath is not only not known, but no one cares.  Debating whether the Libya effort was a success or not and whether we exercised the best form of leadership or not is not the point.  The point is that for Obama, Libya was a foreign policy success.  Four weeks before the election is no time for us to be sending forces into Benghazi, the rebel stronghold, to rescue some diplomats.  There would be no way to spin losses if things go down sideways after the brilliant leadership he displayed in leading from behind.  So spin.  Blame a video.  Blame a mob.  Blame the fog of war.  Trot out administration officials to spin.  Have Hiliary fall on her sword.  Give no interviews and hold no press conferences.  Limit exposure to places like The View, Entertainment Tonight, and Letterman, places filled with useful idiots.

And maybe it's working.  When I opened the fishwrap this moring I looked for a Benghazi story.  On page A11 there was a story about the wisdom exercised by Panetta for not sending forces into an unknown situation.  That's it.  I really thought that maybe it was dead.  But then this afternoon things started coming apart.  More details emerged.  We are finding out now that those with responsibility and accountablity to do something possessed the information they needed to act and they didn't.

Now it will be interesting to see how our media handles it.  Clearly most in the media are in Obama's corner.  They don't want to investigate further.  There are less than two weeks to the election.  If we see an increasing number of stories about this disgraceful saga, then maybe we can have a little renewed faith in journalistic ethics.  I really hope that is the case but I'm not optimistic.  There is a big storm heading for the East coast and the news will probably focus on the idiots who decide not to evacuate and the how the stores are running out of milk. Plus the World Series is in full throw and the NFL is heading into mid-season...Priorities...

Friday Funnies

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Debates and Persuasion

I'm a bit of a student of history.  I try to keep things in perspective.  As I've previously posted, I'm also very interested in and study in some depth the American Civil War.  As my friends and family have expressed disgust and anger at the tone of the campaign and the tenor of the debates, my response has been that in the history of the US, there have been many more rancorous times and more heated debates.

I came across  "The Purpose of Presidential Debates  (republished with permission of in my email this week and it puts the debates in historical context and provides a sense of what the debates are really for.  It's a bit of a long read, but well worth your time.  Check it out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Beat Down

Thirteen days til election day and it can't come soon enough.  The ads are beyond ridiculous.  Beyond insulting.  Beyond anything a reasonable person can take.  I mean, don't the people sponsoring the ads realize we can see who pays for them in the small print at the end?  Don't they realize that tells us what their agenda is?  What their prejudice is?  How much it makes us not want to support their cause?  I'm thinking they really think we're dumb

And I don't even live in a battleground state.  I can't even imagine living in Ohio, Iowa, Florida, Virginia, or some of the others.  They must be getting inundated.  The good news for me is that I live in a safely Democratic state.  The bad news is that since I'm for the other guy in a winner take all state, my vote for President doesn't mean anything (except make me feel good!).

But I just don't want to hear any more.  They have beat me down! Thank goodness for the remote because its getting a lot of use when the idiotic ads come on TV.  Thirteen days.  Tick, tick, tick...

Pet Peeve Wednesday

Since I have a blog, I think I'll go ahead and air some of my pet peeves.  And do it on a regular basis.  I mean, why not?  After all, it's my blog!

I had a friend in the Navy who had a running list.  He updated it when something irritated him and let everyone who worked for him know about his pet peeves.  Sorta weird.  But everyone certainly knew what they were.  Of course, I'm not putting them out there for any reason except I here goes.

This week's pet peeve has to do with communication.   We humans communicate with each other in many ways.  In the age of the Internet, email has become a pervasive method of communication.  Most of us would rather have a personal conversation, a phone call, a letter, smoke signals...anything but email.  But email has become an essential part of our lives, both personal and professional.  And don't get me wrong.  Email can be invaluable.  It is ideal to get a message to a large number of people.  Or to respond quickly to an urgent message.  Or to communicate some message that needs reflection and thought that may not come across in a spontaneous conversation.  I use it all day, every day.

But here is where this particular pet peeve comes in.  If you get an email and it requires a response, have the courtesy to respond.  If you have time a complete response.  If you don't a quick acknowledgement.  I'm very busy most days and I get a ton of email.  But I try to never be too busy to at least acknowledge the email.  That's just being courteous.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Burdened By A Record

As I watched the debate tonight, I kept thinking to myself, "Mitt looks and acts like he's the President".  He was strategic.  He stayed above the fray.  He had big ideas and projected the optimism that Americans expect in their President.  He had a mastery of details.  He was strong when he needed to be and deferential when appropriate.  Obama seemed petty.  He seemed mired in talking points.  He went on the attack when it wasn't necessary or relevant.  But above all, he was burdened by his record.

Since I'm for Romney maybe I just saw what I wanted.  But I don't think so.  This debate did for Romney what needed to be done.  He looked measured, intelligent, Presidential.  He can do this job.

The 2012 Presidential debates are in the history books.  The first was clearly Romney's.  The next two were very close.  But Romney turned the momentum so significantly in the first debate that I don't think Obama ever overcame that first impression.

A few impressions really stick with me from watching these guys over the course of the debates:

  • Romney is not the guy painted in the attack ads.  He is optimistic, competent, and has good and viable ideas.  He's got experience and demonstrated successes.  The debates allowed that to shine through. 
  • Romney had specific ideas and plans that can be implemented.  They are strategic.  The rap on him that he doesn't have specifics seems shallow.  Romney is not going to negotiate his plans in the press or in a debate.  He knows how to put a plan and goal on the table and reach across the aisle, negotiate, and get a deal.
  • Obama seemed mired in talking points in every debate.  It seemed to me like Obama kept repeating talking points no matter what was being said.  It was wierdly robotic.
  • The biggest thing that Obama does that drives me crazy is that he continually drives a wedge between the American people.  He tries to divide us against each other.  For him it's all about redistributing what he believes is ill-gotten gains by the "wealthy".  This came through loud and clear in the debates.  It is small, evil, and does not reflect the best of us.
  • Obama continually tried to steer the debates to a discussion of the future but couldn't get past the fact that he is burdened by his record.  No matter how much he tried to deflect and spin, his record is there for all to see.
So we'll see whether or not the debates will make a difference.  It seems to me that they will.  But soon the guessing will be over.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

We Lost a Good Man

It will probably surprise many who know me to know that I walked precincts for George McGovern during his 1972 Presidential bid, along with my young and equally idealistic wife.  In 1972 everything was about the Vietnamese War.  Nixon had been under fire to end the war, but couldn't get it done.  People my age had discovered the power of protest, the power of raised voices.  There were so many things about that war that with age, education, and a dash of wisdom allows us to see it even more clearly for the disaster that it was.  The way it was excuted, the theory behind the purpose, the way the country treated the men and women in ranks...all pretty disgraceful.  But at the time, it was a huge controversy.  My parent's generation had gone off to a "noble" war to literally save the world, returned to build the country, and had faith in government.  To them challenging the authority of government was unthinkable.  And then Vietnam changed it all.  Of course, the wild and crazy 60s helped a bit.

George McGovern tapped into the frustration and unrest for millions of people, especially the young.  He seemed to be a good man who saw the futility of the war and wanted to end it.  For me it was way before I even thought of a career in the military.  All I knew was that too many people were dying in a far off land for no discernable purpose.  And the evening news brought it home every day.  We all know the result of his run for the Presidency.  He lost in historic proportions.  But to this day I beleive he was right.  And to some degree he was proven to be right because we managed to extricate ourselves a few years later.

McGovern went on to live a good life and have impact in many areas.  He became what today is characterized as a libertarian.  When he sunk his life savings into a hotel in Connecticut, he railed against government rules and regulations and a tax structure certainly designed to be unfriendly to small business.  Sound familiar?  He came to see the almost insatiable appetite for govenment control and intervention into the lives of everyday Americans as a clear and present danger to the country.

The thing he continued to do though is maintain himself as a good and decent man of peace.  He was a decorated war hero and knew the horror of war.  He never tried to pit Americans against each other like is occuring today by the crowd in power.  He simply saw a wrong and tried to right it.  He lived a long and consequential life and died at 90 years old.  Not bad.  But still...we lost a good man.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Driving along today listening to Margaritaville on Sirius and they were talking about the Jimmy Buffett concert in Vegas this weekend.  Made me thing of the great times we had last year.  12,000 Parrot Heads at the MGM Grand arena.  Most of our wild and crazy concert going days are behind us but this was really fun.  Jimmy puts on a great show and all the Parrot Heads are a show onto themselves.  If you haven't been, go here and find a concert.  It is a ton of fun!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Don't Miss This Place

Okay...admittedly you have to be in Southern Mississippi.  But OMG...the Ribs are amazing!  And it is a very fun place.

Yankee(s) Go Home

Sports are wonderful.  To play and to watch.  To sweat and to root.  Most of us have teams or individuals that we root for, usually based on where we're from, where we live, someone we know on the team...some connection.  I've lived most of my life in San Diego and no matter where I am I will care about and root for the Chargers and Padres.  No matter how painful!  With the emergence of SDSU basketball, there is another local team to rood for.  My opinion is that there isn't much better than college basketball!

But there is another weird dynamic that emerges in many people who root for teams that makes no sense for them to root for.  They weren't born there.  They don't have family there.  There is no connection, but for some reason they love that team.  Of course, the opposite can be true too.  "Don't know em, don't have any connection, don't know their players, just hate em."  My observation is that there are a few teams that fall into each category and I suppose most really fall into both.  My list includes the Dallas Cowboys, Boston Red Sox, Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Lakers, Green Bay Packers, New York Knicks, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Boston Celtics.  Maybe St Louis Cardinals.  Maybe Chicago Bears.  I have to admit, I've always irrationally liked the Packers.  Ever since I was a kid, they were my team.  No reason, just were.  And I've always hated (and I mean HATED) the Raiders.  Pretty irrational...but it is what it is.

Oh yeah...and then there are the New York Yankees.  I have friends who love the Yankees, have been fans forever, follow them religiously, know all there players, etc, etc, etc.  And they've never lived there, have no connection, etc.  Its really odd.  But I can't stand them (the Yankees that is)!  Being from a small budget town with a team that is continuously struggling, the way they go about buying players and championships is nauseating.  If you haven't seen Moneyball, rent it and you'll see what I mean. 

BTW, the Tigers swept the Yankees tonight to knock them out of the American League Championship. :) For all my fanatic Yankee whining!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How We Get Our News

I've been thinking a lot lately about how we get our news and how we respond to that information.  There are so many sources of information these days it's amazing.  In fact there are so many sources that it is mind boggling.  No way could the average person absorb all the news that comes our way every day.  There isn't enough time.  There are enough brain cells.  So what does the average person do?  I think it depends on history, age, interest, location, circumstances, etc, etc, etc.  There probably isn't a general rule.  But there are probably some general tendencies.

For some reason I still take two newspapers.  The San Diego Union-Tribune and The Wall Street Journal.  Many mornings when I'm going out front to pick up the papers I ask myself why the hell I'm still getting a newspaper, let alone two.  I guess it must be tradition and comfort.  Bottom line is I just like getting the paper, getting a cup of coffee, and flipping through to see what's happening.  I like reading sports, I like reading comics (Dilbert and Blondie), I like seeing what the editorials are saying, hell, I even like Dear Abbey.  There's something tactile about a newspaper that is just satisfying and familiar to me.

But no way do I get most of my information from the newspaper.  I'm on the computer at various times most of the day.  I check several sources.  All the usual spots (NBC, Fox, Drudge, CNN, etc)  Check out the Places I Visit and you can see them.  That's where I get most of my info.  The thing I try really hard to do is check various sources.  We all hear stories about the media and their prejudices.  Well, I think that's right.  Afer all, they are only human.  I think everyone has a bias, whether it's subtle or overt.  That's why checking various sources is important.  There are others like Bloomberg, CNBCnet,, etc.  But they don't seem to be as mainstream.

The last place I get info that I take seriously is TV.  The networks are all selling product as well as reading the news.  The glory days of network news seem to be behind us.  Cable news can be a good source but you have to be careful.  I guess Fox is right, MSNBC is left, and CNN tries to ride the middle.  At least that is the conventional wisdom.  Whenever I watch MSNBC it has a non-stop liberal bent.  When I watch Fox at least they have both sides.  But they are definitely conservative.  Some say PBS is the way to go because they are neutral.  Uh...I don't think so.  They have their views and they come through pretty regularly.

And then there is social media.  Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.  That is the new communication method for many people.  I think it's great, but it's also a bit scary, a bit slimy, a bit intrusive.  And we do it to ourselves.  I find myself wanting to respond to some idiotic comment, or "like" some post, or post my own idiotic comments.  In fact I've done all that.  But the only thing it does is expose our prejudices, our weaknesses, our life.  When did it become okay to share everything about yourself with the world? I think the worst thing is how exposed we are on these sites.  In my first post I said I have a ton of friends and cherish them all.  And many of them are on Facebook.  But when I post some political or social view that might hurt someone or cause someone to doubt me as a friend, how is that good?  That's one of the reasons I started this blog.  I can write.  People can read or not.  If they don't like it they can not visit.  It's not as "out there" as Facebook.  At least it feels that way to me.  I'm writing this and perhaps no one is reading.  But that's okay, because I get to express myself.

So how does the average person get info that they can use.  My kids (I say kids in the loosest of terms...they are in their 30s) wouldn't think of reading a newspaper.  They rarely watch TV news.  For them, it's all about the internet.  They get most of their info there.  But they are typical young parents with a busy, busy life and getting the news isn't a big priority when there are soccer games to go to.  I think for the younger generation, it's all about the net.  Get what you need when you can.

And so what does all that say about the future of information?  Well, the first thing is that the days of newspapers are numbered.  Oh, they'll hang on for a while, maybe quite a while.  But hanging on is what they are doing.  Network TV news seems to me to be on it's way out.  Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, and Edward R Murrow are probably rolling over in their graves, but it's almost over for network news.  I'm not sure who is mistrusted news or Congress.

So in my view it's all about the net.  Think about where we're going with hardware.  Phones, tablets, laptops...those are just the beginning.  Things will get better, smaller and faster.  Imagine a pair of glasses with a heads up display that is connected to the net.  Information 24/7.  Imagine holograms in your house giving you information. Imagine some devise embedded in your body that provides you information base on which of your senses needs a particular information set.  If you can imagine it, it can and will be done.  And that, my friends, is just the hardware story.  We went to the moon in 1969 with the computing power of today's average cell phone.  With what is being developed today, I can't even imagine the applications that can be developed with the computing power we possess.  It's an exciting time to be alive and watch the evolution of technology.

And this next thing isn't profound.  Figure out which companies have the right technology to provide the most information to the most people, and buy their stock.  The difficulty is in figuring that out.  But don't you wish someone would have told you to buy Google in the beginning?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Protecting Our Diplomats...Revisited

It just keeps getting worse.  And for some reason the folks in charge don't seem to get it.  I posted about this last week here.  When it happened, there was confusion from the White House and State Dept.  We've all heard the sound bites.  "There was too much confusion to assess what was going on" or "A video was to blame" or "We had to assess what was going on before we could tell the American people".  And on and on.  Meanwhile, they trot out the UN Ambassador (who isn't even in the chain of command...but wants Hilary's job) to try out the video spin.  As it turns out...not a good idea.  This whole thing has spriraled down and down (as they usually do...ask Nixon) until now Hiliary is falling on her sword like a good soldier.  The buck stops with her I guess.  The buck certainly hasn't gotten close to the Oval Office.  It will be interesting to see how this unfolds because it's not over.  Many in the media would like to let the story die and have it not impact the chances for their guy to get reelected, but there are a few out there who will persist.

But I think the larger story is getting lost.  Think about the place called Libya.  They had a war last year.  It is ruled by armed militia.  It is filled with radical Muslims.  You can't tell the bad guys from the worse guys.  And above all, it is very, very dangerous.  Especially for Americans.  And so the guys on the ground responsible for security ask for some help.  They are concerned about the safety of the diplomatic mission and ask for the continued use of an airplane and some beefed up security.  BTW, the plane is a DC-3.  Go rent the movie Casablanca which was filmed in the 1940s.  The airplane in the final scenes was a DC-3.  Now, it is a fine plane.  And I'm sure the State Dept air force has maintained it well.  But security forces and diplomats representing the United States of America are scrounging for a DC-3 for transportation in 2012.  Are you kidding me?  But back to the point.  These guys needed help.  They saw a bad situation that could go down sideways and asked for help.  And the bureaucrats at Foggy Bottom said no.  Reminds me of the letter from Lord Wellington to Whitehall, only deadlier.  I'll repeat what I said previously, that is shameful.  I don't care about who takes the blame for screwing up the PR spin from the attack.  But someone needs to be held accountable for the disgraceful actions that resulted in the deaths of 4 Americans in a dangerous place a long way from home.

Both Will Claim Victory

So the second Presidential debate has come and gone.  Right up front I will say that both guys were aggressive, both had points to make, both made claims that probably aren't true, and both were on their game.  Because he had such a bad first debate, most people who like him will probably give it to the President on points.  I'm for the other guy so I'm glad he did just fine.  Like I said, both scored points and both made some errors but in the end tonight's debate probably won't matter.

But...a few observations.  I don't know who thought up this town hall forum format but I don't particularly like it.  Too much time is spent posturing and challenging instead of debating.  But some will like it and like the tension that was obvious and is undeniably developing in this setting.  Different strokes.  Second, why do they have time limits and rules if neither guy is going to pay attention to them?  They both were shamelessly guilty of going overtime and not following the rules.  Third, Candy Crowley was horrible.  She had no control, she was obviously a homer for the President, and she didn't assert herself at all.  Really bad.

The country is so evenly divided that the candidates need to be focused on moving those who are undecided into their camp.  Did they do that tonight?  I don't think so.  I think Romney still has the momentum, although maybe not as great as after the first debate.  The President has a terrible problem in that he has to run on his record.  Tonight he really tried to turn the conversation to what he wants to do, but for me it rings on deaf ears.  If you have a four year record and by almost every measure the country is worse off, well then you've got a problem.

And so it goes.  Twenty days and one debate.  Not much time.  I think Romney has better ideas, is gaining momentum, and I hope Obama loses...but I think it could go either way...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Historic Collapse!!

I'm a Charger fan...enough said

How Dumb Do They Think We Are?

Actually, apparently pretty dumb.  I've watched the initiative process in California with a mixture of disgust and amazement.  This form of direct representation was originally conceived as a way for the people to bypass State Representatives who were in the pockets of special interest groups and institute laws or constitutional amendments on their own.  But like many things, there have been unintended consequences.  We now have paid signature gatherers, or signature mercenaries, which allows anyone with about $2 million to get an initiative on the ballot.

Which brings us to the latest fleecing...Proposition 30.  Gov Brown said he wouldn't increase taxes unless the people voted on it.  But of course he knew that was easy to accomplish.  Just go to his buddies in the unions and in the California Teachers Association to get the tax increase on the ballot. And how would he sell new taxes?  Say it's for the kids.  Once again bring in your lackeys to fund a deluge of ads to pound in the story that the tax increase will go to the schools.  Don't worry that if anyone bothers to really read the initiative they would discover that it isn't true.  Because most won't take the time to read it.  The money will just as easily go to the general fund for use by Brown and his cronies.  And most people won't know it because they believe the ads.

So we return to the central question...How dumb do they think we are?  Well, consider this.
  • California has the highest gas tax in the U.S.
  • California has the highest sales tax in the U.S.
  • California has the second highest income tax in the U.S.
  • California has the 8th highest corporate income tax in the U.S.
  • California has the 10th highest property tax per unit of property in the U.S.
  • California state and local government employees are the highest paid in all 50 states.
  • California taxpayers are responsible for $62.1 billion unfunded liability for government retirees’ health benefits.
  • Local pension costs are growing twice as fast as spending on emergency services, health, education, parks and social programs.
  • California has 12% of America’s population and 33% of the nation’s welfare recipients.
  • California has the worst credit rating of all states.
  • California is losing residents to other states.  During the past decade, 4.9 million left the state, 3.7 million came in.  Net out-migration: 1.2 million.  Total lost economic production: $29.4 billion.  Lost tax revenues: about $2.9 billion for the decade.  That’s almost a third of the $8.5 billion Gov. Jerry Brown seeks in his tax increase on the November ballot.
So how dumb are we?  In my heart of hearts I'm hoping that people will recognize the shell game and chicanery.  I'm hoping people will make our elected representative do their jobs and govern.  I'm hoping that people will see who is sponsoring all the deceptive ads and recognize them for what they are.  But I just don't know.  We can be pretty dumb!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

"The War"

Sooner or later I was going to talk about my obsession with "The War".  Being a SoCal guy and largely removed from a lot of the early history of our country, I really never gave the Civil War much thought.  It was a long way away, both geographically and historically.  I mean, who really cares about something that happened 150 years ago?

During our first assignment in Washington, DC, we got a great indoctrination to all of the important monuments and museums that dominate the landscape.  We immersed ourselves in really seeing the country from a historical perspective and we all learned a lot from the experience.  But it was during our second sojourn to the nation's capital that I really became immersed in the Civil War.  While attending National War College I took the required Civil War course and several electives.

The more I learned about this incredibly sad, complicated, and dangerous time, the more I got drawn in.  We visited battlefields.  We went to museums and explored little knows details of all the battles.  I read book after book.  Believe me, if you want to know something of the Civil War, someone has written a book about it.  The strange thing is the more I knew, the more I wanted to know.

I just kept coming back to the central question.  How could the nation let itself get mired in such a traumatic event?  There are always two primary reasons given by scholars who know more than me.  Slavery and economics.  The enslavement of our fellow man and the industrial North versus the agricultural South.  Okay. I'll buy that.  But there was much more going on.  To pit brother against brother, father against son, family against family, the dynamics were extremely complicated and varied.  It is just plain fascinating.  I suspect that If we still lived back in that part of the country I'd be driving my wife crazy (or at least more than I already do) with an even greater obsession.

I would recommend study of the Civil War to any American.  It is so instructive of things that can happen, even if those things can't be conceived.  How could we have conducted the bloodiest war in our history right on our shores?  Its also a great way to study leadership.  Both sides had some of the beat and some of the worst leaders in the history of the nation.  It is axiomatic that Lincoln was the greatest President in our history.  But he had an incredibly tumultuous Presidency and certainly didn't always make the best decisions.  But that he held the Union together...well, that's what makes him great.

If anyone is intersted, the best and most readable book on the Civil War is "The Battle Cry of
Freedom" by James McPherson.  You can find it here:

Be careful, it's addicting!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bike for Life

I've always worked out in some way.  Tried to keep myself in reasonable shape.  Of course, when I was in the Navy there was a physical fitness test to pass so the motivation was obvious.  As I've gotten older the knees started to go.  Bummer!  But I got in the gym and did stationary bike, elliptical, and treadmill.  Boring!  But I've been hanging in because they give a good workout.  A few months ago a friend told me I should try biking.  I had never considered that.  But this is SoCal and a ton of people are out biking so I thought maybe there was something to it.

First thing I did was some research.  Sorta decided on a hybrid but needed some advice and all the gear.  Again, my buddy said head for blackmountainbicycles  Great recommendation!  These guys are pros.  And they made a neophyte feel pretty comfortable.  So I tried several bikes, settled on a Specialized Sirrus Elite (see it here: ) and got all the gear.  No, I didn't get the skin tight shorts.  I got some really cool regular looking shorts with the skin tight insert.  Much better for a regular dude.

Been riding now for a couple of months.  And it is kicking my a$$!!!  But I truly do love it.  It is really great to get out for a ride.  And there is no way I could get a better workout doing anything else I can think of (for an old guy...remember, I'm a member of the baby boomer club).  Did about 25 miles today.  Perfect day.  Came home exhausted but exhilerated.

If anyone out there decides to give it a try, my recommendation is do the research, go to a reputable bike shop that can give you good advice, and then jump in with both feet.

I'm signed up for a 25 mile ride on Nov 3 called Bike the Coast.  Oceanside Pier to Moonlight Beach in  Encinitas and back.  Yikes!  As my now grown daughter used to say when she was about 5 years should be fun and hard, but not too hard.

Happy Birthday U.S. Navy

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Funnies

I think I'll make this a regular feature.  This is one of my favorites...

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Both Ryan and Biden had points to make.  I happen to agree with Ryan on most of the subjects but I don't think this debate moved the needle on the Presidential race. view, as it seems is the case with many others, is that Biden came across as arrogant, obnoxious, condescending, and smug.  It was really disturbing.  Not what I expect from someone in his position.

And this thing about specifics.  These guys are at the strategic level.  They need to set a framework and direction and then negotiate specifics.  The key is to get to the table, something Obama hasn't been willing or able to do.  The questions about specifics makes no sense to me.  We know what Romney's 5 points are.  We know what their goals are.  We know what the basis of action will be.  That is what the average person should need to know to make a decision.

But I believe most will think it was a draw.  The question will be how distasteful people will think Biden was and what impact that will have.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Random Information

Looking for a good way to kill some time and absorb some pretty interesting random information? This site is a bit addicting.  Don't say I didn't warn you... 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


If you live in San Diego and you watch TV, you can't have missed the ads for the two candidates for Mayor.  I've been around for awhile and have seen lots of ads.  But these...these are the worst.  I literally haven't seen one ad that talks about what the candidate will do.  Rather it's all about how extreme the other guy is, how untrustworthy the other guy is, what a terrible life the other guy has led, how the other guy has screwed his fellow man at every opportunity.  Really...we've come to this?

Now don't get me wrong.  I don't like either one of them.  The Dem, Bob Filner, is a retiring Congressman who is owned by the Unions and wouldn't see a new idea if it hit him in the face.  For Filner it's all about kowtowing to the union thugs and the special interest groups.  The Republican, Carl DeMaio, is the ultimate cynic.  You know.  The guy who knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing.  The guy who in school who was always on the outside looking in because he took pleasure in pointing out how smart he is.

But we are down to these two unsavory characters.  So you'd think that one of them would try to convince us (or at least me) that he is worthy.  What are his ideas?  How will he build on what Mayor Sanders has started?  How will he represent all the people?  There are big things to be done.  Infrastructure fixes.  Convention Center.  Waterfront.  Pot holes.  Sewers.  Pension.  Stadium.  Homeless issues.  But no.  It's all about how bad the other guy is.  Disgusting.  Disappointing.  Depressing.

New Place

Tried the new Karl Strauss Brewery Restaurant in 4S Ranch tonite. Went there with some business associates.  Really fun place.  Lots of fun to explore the various beers.  Try the Tower 10 IPA!  You won't be sorry.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Protecting Our Diplomats

Okay.  This is serious.  People are dead.  Patriots all.  Doing their jobs for all of us in a far away land.  We've all seen and heard the stories.  But if you've been living on Mars, on Sep 11 (yep) a bunch of terrorists attacked our consulate in Benghazi, Libya and killed Ambassador Stevens and three others.  The big controversy was how it was characterized by our government.  At first they said it was a mob reaction to a disgusting video that insulted Islam.  But of course we now know that's BS.  It was, plain and simple, a coordinated, deadly terrorist attack.  And unfortunately for the folks in charge, they probably knew it was BS.  But they had to spin.  Or felt they had to spin.  Is it just me or does that seem to be the modus operandi of these guys?  It all seems to be spin...

Now the blame game starts.  Congressional hearings.  Denials from State and the White House.  He said, she said, they said...  Let the politicians battle it out.  It will be in the news cycle for a few weeks and someone, maybe everyone, will proclaim outrage and the need to fix it.  But will they?

Here's the point.  For centuries countries have created a diplomatic climate so that in even the worst of times dialog can continue, insight can be gained even when the bombs are falling, and civilized people can have a glimmer of hope that through dialog we can solve problems.  The diplomatic corps does the nation's business abroad in sometimes very trying conditions.  I'm a military guy who is most familiar with the use of the military as the extension of politics by other means.  But I've known and talked to enough State Dept folks and studied enough history and politics to know the diplomatic instrument is vital.  And if we don't protect those folks as they do the nation's bidding, that is shameful.  I know, I know, it's supposed to be the responsibility of the host country to provide security.  But come on.  If the reports are to be believed, we had security experts on the ground requesting support and it was denied by the bureaucrats in at State.  That, my friends, is shameful.  And if you think this is an isolated incident, then take a little trip to some of the garden spots around the world where America isn't held in the highest esteem.  Combine that with a hostile or fractured government, and you have a recipe for disaster.  It could happen again...

And BTW, i've not seen the video but here's just a little reminder...we live in a free society.  I spent 25 years in the service of our country to protect that freedom.  The video is probably gross.  But in a similar vein the same could probably be said for the hit Broadway play, "The Book of Mormon".  We can revile the product, but not the right to produce it.


Guess what is the story of the day in California?  Yep...the price of gas.  Lots of people are pissed at the latest spike in gas prices.  But I just don't understand that.  California has been headed in this direction for a long time.  The politicians that have been elected over the last several years have systematically driven business away, gone green to an extreme, kowtowed to the Union thugs, and made decisions that  are taking the once golden state where all things were possible to a place on its way to bankruptcy as it channels Greece.  The folks in charge like high gas prices.  They think that's just fine.  It suits their agenda.  A really good explanation of where we are today is at  So no whining.  You reap what you sow.  If enough of us would, as my son likes to say, "get our sh!t together" we'd throw the bums out.  Until then, get a bike.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Pain

I'm a Chargers fan.  Enough said...


My first real post and it's about beer.  Imagine that?  I have a lot of friends who are really into wine and all the various intricacies involved in being a wine expert.  One even has a wine blog.  But for me wine just doesn't do it.  Too complicated.  Too many varieties.  Dare I say it...too snooty.  So I'm a beer guy.  But lately beer is coming into it's own.  The small microbrewery is becoming more and more popular.  And it turns out that So Cal, and San Diego in particular, has a bunch of great microbreweries.  Check them out here  My current favorite is Stone Brewery and the beer that does it for me is Stone IPA.  Very smooth.  Hoppy and nutty.  Another is Karl Strauss.  Their Amber Ale is soothing and delicious.  If you're up the coast in Petaluma try Lagunitas Brewery.  Their IPA is very good.  A really good beer that I've been drinking lately is Sierra Nevada Torpedo.  Yum.  There are a lot of breweries in the local area and the experimentation with new types, flavors, and brews is fun to watch. 

And we're off...

So I've been thinking about starting a blog for a long time.  After all, there are plenty of blogs out there in the blogosphere and it is a terrific way to share thoughts, dreams, ideas, places, etc.  You get the idea.  But...I just wasn't sure that anyone would read it.  I mean, who am I??  Literally, why would anyone care.  But then I what.  I'll write.  Others can read.  Or not.  It's not up to me.  It's up to you.  So now if there is anyone still reading, you will be thinking, this guy needs to get to the point.

So why Mike's At The Beach?  Well, for one thing I was born, raised and lived most of my life in So Cal and have frequented the beach scene from the days of Annette to today.  I have worked in traditional jobs my whole life but have always joked and fantasized about opening a little shack at the beach to rent surfboards and sell hot dogs and call it "Mike's at the Beach".  But that is not to be.  So maybe this blog will remind me a bit of an idyllic fantasy.'s as good a name as any.

I'm a baby-boomer.  That says a lot.  I've spent a lot of years doing a lot of things and I have opinions about a ton of stuff.  My family would agree.  So why not share my opinions?  See if anyone else agrees.  See if there are like-minded folks who can share ideas.  Let people know what I'm doing because I do some cool stuff and others might like to try them.

But even though I'm a baby-boomer, I'm difficult to pigeon hole into one category.  I'm conservative on some things, liberal on others.  I'm socially aware.  But I don't always agree with the conventional wisdom.  I'm sympathetic to the green movement.  But I don't always agree with everything they say.  I live and let live.  But I believe in personal responsibility.  I'm a product of my environment.  But I surprise myself by taking the other side of some issues that would seem to be obvious.  I love physical activity in many forms.  I'm in pretty good shape.  I bike, golf, workout, take long walks, etc.  But then again I like to indulge in a delicious meal and a good libation, so my weight is always a battle.  Especially since rocky road ice cream is a weakness.  I'm a bit of a sports nut.  I love watching the Chargers and Padres.  So that may indicate that I'm really a frustrated sports nut.  But I keep cheering.  I have all kinds of other teams I root for.  But there is no rhyme or reason as to who I like.  It's pretty much just instinctual.

So what will you find on this blog?  Well, I'll write about what I know about, what my experience and wisdom instinctively tell me, and what I think about various issues of the day.  I have a few friends who have launched blogs about specific, politics, policy, international relations, etc.  I don't want to limit myself in that way.  Of course, some things dominate.  Like politics.  For the next month or so it will dominate our life.  So if I keep yapping away on the this blog, you'll probably get a good dose of politics.  But I also work, volunteer, exercise, travel, eat out, play, etc.  So all subjects are game.

A little more about me so you have the context.  I've got a great family.  I've loved the same woman for decades.  It's been a sweet ride and I love the life we've built.  I have children and grandchildren who are all great.  They've given me and continue to give me a fun ride.  I'll no doubt write about them at various times.  Like any family, they do wonderful, funny, maddening, curious things.  Really, they can be pretty entertaining.   I spent 25 years in the US Navy.  I was a Naval Aviator.  I was a helicopter pilot.  I used to tell my kids that I was the best helicopter pilot in the Navy.  I think I was right.  I've traveled the world.  I've been to war.  I work in the aerospace industry.  I've got a ton of friends and cherish them all.  I really wouldn't change a thing about the life I've lived or the place I've arrived at.  I've got opinions on all the issues of the day that impact the people and things I cherish.  So I'll share them and see where it leads.

So...we're off.  Don't know where we're going.  But keep checking back and you might like what you hear.  If you don't, that's okay too.  That's what makes the world go round.