Thursday, June 30, 2016

[We've] got a tiger by the tail

Remember the old country song by Buckminster Owens, "I've got a tiger by the tail"?

I've got a tiger by the tail, it's plain to see;
I won't be much when you get through' with me
Well, I'm a losing weight and a turnin' mighty pale
Looks like I've got a tiger by the tail

Well, I thought the day I met you, you were meek as a lamb;
Just the kind to fit my dreams and plans
But now, the pace we're livin' takes the wind from my sails
And it looks like I've got a tiger by the tail

I'm thinking Minster Buck saw something the rest of us didn't.  Was he writing about the 21st Century world we would soon be living in?  Was he writing back in 1964 about how we in the West would soon be grabbing hold of a bunch of rag-tag religious fanatics in a part of the world we would be hard pressed to find on a map, only to learn they were a tiger we would have no idea how to let go of without getting mauled?

Here's how we got into this mess, the epitome of "unintended consequences":  

The USSR, wanting to support their puppet Marxist allies, invaded Afghanistan in 1979.  The collective Afghan warlords fought back, aided by 35,000 foreign Sunni Muslim fighters who became known as the mujaheddin, and were supported financially and materially by the USA.  Our goal was to simply foil our arch-enemy the Soviet Union.  There was nothing there for us, we just wanted to poke a sharp stick in their eye.  Our side eventually won and the commies permanently tucked tail and ran in 1989.

Shortly thereafter, in August, 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, and the West was concerned (scared shitless actually) that he would get control of the Saudi Arabian oil fields.  If he did, we were SCREWED!  Geo Bush the First quickly offered to send our military to defend the Saudi's and drive Iraq out of Kuwait, and Osama bin Laden offered to bring his battle hardened mujaheddin and do the same.  The Saudi's cast their lot with the US.  This miffed bin Laden and the fight was on.  (Numerous groups of hard-core Islamic fundamentalists had begun to congeal under bin Laden by 1988 and eventually became known as Al Qaeda, "The Base".)

One of the hardest-core of the bunch, the branch in Iraq, later split off and morphed into what we know today as ISIS.  For a while they were going gangbusters, gaining control of large swaths of Iraq and Syria.  As the old saying goes, "success breeds success"....Muslim malcontents from all over the world looked at their brothers winning for a change and wanted in, too.

In short order ISIS began planning for their ultimate demise as a Caliphate controlling land in the Mid was one of their prophecies....and began sending trained soldiers back to where they came from to snipe at us guerrilla-style.  Now they and their home-grown extremist buddies are stalking us.  Their numbers are still pretty small, but it seems like they're hitting far above their weight class.

I wonder if any of this would have happened if we had just told the Soviets back in '79, "You want Afghanistan?  It's all yours....the big rock piles, the ignorant pissed off peasants, the whole mess.  Good luck."  Would Osama bin Laden have ever assembled his merry band of jihadists without US support?  No Al Qaeda, no ISIS?  As objectionable as "fracking" for oil is, if we had pursued it earlier, could we have reduced our crushing dependency on Mid East oil sooner?  Would we have cared then if they had all just jihadided each other into oblivion?

Now the BIG you think we've learned anything from this mess we've gotten ourselves into?


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

In the long run we are all dead.

"Many people have grown tired of waiting for the benefits of a vastly interconnected world to trickle down. As the world whizzes by them, their wages remain flat and jobs become scarcer. Then it becomes convenient to blame their straits on the immigrant speaking a strange tongue and taking their employment opportunities."

"These people are not studying demographic charts and complex economic models to understand why their country needs immigrants in the long run, nor are they lying awake at night fretting over a Moody's [credit] downgrade. The more sophisticated rhetoric they hear about the benefits to come — and the fewer benefits they actually see — the more distrustful they become. As John Maynard Keynes said, '"In the long run we are all dead.'"  Stratfor analysis, 6/28/16

You thought this was referring to Donald Trump supporters, didn't you? You were wrong.  This was what the "experts" said as they tried to explain why the UK voted to exit the European Union.  It would be an easy mistake to make as there is a strong correlation with what's happening in the US this election season.

The status quo is difficult to sell today.  The "interconnected world" is not trickling down for many people, particularly middle-aged white guys....and young people who are concerned about their future (hello Bernie Sanders supporters).  

Trade agreements between first-world countries (who want to buy cheap stuff) and poor countries (who have willing, cheap labor) are increasingly difficult to sell to Americans, and apparently to Brits, too, as by nature trade agreements are "equalizers".  The people in poor countries see their incomes rise, while the people in wealthy countries see their incomes fall (or at least become stagnant) until eventually an equilibrium is reached.  In the rich countries (the UK, the US, etc) a select few (the 1%) do very well, while everyone else is left in the dust wondering what happened to the long term benefits they were promised.  

The 60-year-old Trump supporters today were the ones who bought into that when they were 40-somethings, and they're still waiting.  The 20-something Sanders supporters today look at their parents and wonder if that will be their fate, too.

The status quo, ironically now represented by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton, is being squeezed from both sides.  They might splinter the vote enough for Clinton to be elected President, but then IMO she's going to have a tough time bringing these two different demographics together to govern effectively.

I'm thinking dysfunction might be here to stay.  "Long term plans" might need to be re-defined to mean anything not to exceed 90 days in the future.  If you disagree, please 'splain yourself.  I hope you're right.

 Personally, I'm no longer buying green bananas.  *wink*


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Just blowing smoke, they are.

For as long as I can remember people have been coming into our country without going through the proper channels.  Historically we think of these "illegals", or "undocumented workers" if you prefer, as being Mexican, although many come from Latin America, too.  Today we're hearing more about Muslim immigrants, but by the numbers, it's still overwhelmingly an Hispanic issue.  Point is, they are here among us now.

There's a lot of hot air being spewed by our political candidates this election year telling us we need to "get all the Mexicans out and take back our country!" It makes for a good 30-second sound bite, which coincidentally is about the limit of the average voters attention span.  The more simple minded say all 11,000,000 (?) illegals should be rounded up and deported, just like that.  Easy peasy.

Just think about that for a second.  Who would be doing the "rounding"?  Do we have enough law enforcement to pull some off crime detail and charge them with stopping all brown-skinned people on the street and demanding proof of citizenship?  Correct answer:  No.  And if we did, how long would it take for someone to challenge said roundup in court?  Correct answer:  Maybe 15 seconds.

But lets assume we did have the manpower to round up all brown-skinned people and the courts looked the other way.  How many could we round up per day?  10,000?  Do we have enough spare holding areas to put up 10,000 detainees a day, every day for years?  Correct answer:  No.  

But assuming we did, do they get their day in court?  We just can't assume brown skin = illegal....many are no doubt native born or naturalized US citizens.  After we determine which brown-skinned people are US citizens and which aren't, do we have enough lawyers to represent the undocumented, or enough judges and courts, to hear 10,000 cases a day?  Correct answer:  No.

But assuming we did, do we have enough guards, or food preparers, or doctors, etc, to look after 10,000 more people a day who are in our custody?  And if we did, can we afford them?  Can we afford 30,000 meals a day?  Correct answer:  No.   

But if we could afford it, and if our legal system could process 10,000 cases per day and order them returned to Mexico (or Guatemala or wherever they were from), do we have enough buses to actually transport them all?  At 55 seats per bus, that would require 82 buses a day, every day.  And you can't get from Chicago, or Oregon, or New York to our southern border or beyond by bus in one might take 6 or 8 times that many buses.  (Hmmm....wonder what the gas mileage of a Greyhound Bus is?)

And if, after 3 years of intense round-up we could deport all 11,000,000 undocumented workers, and assuming no new illegals crossed the border in the meantime, who would pick our crops, or pave our roads, or roof our houses, or bus our tables, or mow our lawns?  Are we all of a sudden going to get industrious and do all those things for ourselves?  Correct answer: Not a snowball's chance in hell!  (And if we tried, we'd realize fast we need them as much as they need us.)

I rest my case.  There is NO WAY we're going to deport 11,000,000 people!  So the next time you hear a political candidate say he "wants 'em all out", just know they're blowing smoke up your ass skirt, and then ask yourself, what ELSE are they blowing your way?

Yes, we need a workable plan to bring our undocumented workers here now into our system and make them honest taxpayers, and to control who crosses our borders into our country, but this hair-brained scheme isn't it.

And besides, the overwhelming majority are just like us, decent people simply trying to make a living. Think, my friends. 


Friday, June 24, 2016

Quick! Lock the door....the Muslims are coming!

Question....what do the United Kingdom Independence Party, the National Front in France, the Alternative For Germany, the Party For Freedom in The Netherlands, the Danish Peoples Party, the Progress Party of Norway, the Sweden Democrats, the Freedom Party of Austria, the Finns Party of Finland, the Congress Of The New Right in Poland, and even the Republican Party in the United States all have in common?

Answer....they all make anti-immigration a central policy.  I'm not going to suggest they're right, or they're wrong, but just that they're powerful and they have a message that is gaining strength.

Yesterday the United Kingdom voted to divorce themselves from the European Union.  Much of the reason for that was simply that they felt the European Union was not working for them, that they would be better of without having to get approval from Brussels (the EU HQ) to conduct much of their everyday business.  It's called "Euro-skepticism".  

But a good deal of the impetus to opt-out was due to their increasing unease with the new wave of Muslim refugees entering their country daily.  The other national movements mentioned above are also looking to slam the door on their open borders, too.

In Europe Muslim immigrants are not generally integrated into mainstream society.  They are strictly segregated, practically speaking if not by any actual government edict.  Too often the natives don't mix well with their new neighbors.  Suspicion is rampant and tensions are high.  Reports of violence committed by Muslim youths is just fuel on the fire, even though, as is usually the case, the majority are peacefully just trying to get by.  And with every act of radical Islamic terror, the division grows wider.

Things are a bit better, for the time being, here in the US.  America's 3.3 million Muslim residents are fairly well integrated, but say they're feeling eyes on them from every direction, while the natives see an Islamic terrorist behind almost every rock.  Enter first the Tea Party, and now Donald Trump.  With President Obama proposing to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees into the US, Trump is riding high in the polls with his promise to "Keep 'em out". 

I think it's safe to say that Muslims generally don't play well with others....Sunni's fight Shia, Saudi's fight Yemenis, Iranians fight pretty much everyone, etc.  In fairness Muslims can say the West started this latest wave of unrest (let's not go back and re-fight the Crusades, OK?) by getting involved in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere, trying to foist on them our "dastardly, un-Islamic democracy".  That in effect just stirred the ant pile, sending those inside scurrying in every direction looking for safety.  I think it fair to say our efforts to "nation build" have been a flop.

As I see it we're just different peoples with different cultures that are hard for the other to get their heads around.  I don't see the wedge between us getting anything but wider in the near future.  It just seems like we're caught up in a vicious circle. 

What do you think?  Do you think we'll just walk wide of each other for decades to come, or will it deteriorate into something more violent?  With the head start Europe has on us regarding anti-immigrant nationalism, how nasty will it get there, and will we be far behind?   In all honesty, with the paranoia that exists today, I'm concerned that things could get out of hand very easily.  It's easy to escalate things, but quite difficult to de-escalate tensions once they build.

Remember a couple years ago when two Islamic terrorists were intercepted and killed by a Garland, TX policeman as they were trying to shoot up a Mohammad cartoon contest?  The Garland PD never released the name of the officer, and it was only at the trial of an accomplice in Phoenix that the officer's name came out.  Now the Garland PD is having to provide him special protection.  That's how toxic its become.

As Walter Cronkite used to say, "And that's the way it is."


Monday, June 20, 2016

A calm look at guns in America

I saw Donald Trump on the news today talking about the tragedy in Orlando, saying it would have ended much differently if there had been some armed good guys in the crowd able to shoot back. I've never heard a more naive statement in my life!

First of all, it is extremely difficult to hit a target, even a man-sized target, at more than 15-20 yards with a handgun.  I've seen people at the gun range shooting at a stationary paper target who miss as often as not from that distance.  Go try it for yourself and see what I mean.  

Now throw in a real live crazed person, armed, shooting back, and hundreds of people screaming and running in every direction.  Mix in a healthy shot of adrenaline, and perhaps more than a little alcohol (remember, it was a nightclub/bar), and your odds drop to near zero.  

What does go up are your chances of hitting innocent bystanders, and if that happens you are responsible for where your rounds abruptly stop.  Dumb idea Donald!  He obviously has never been shot at, and probably has never even fired a gun.


There are competing bills before Congress right now seeking to prohibit those on the "no fly" list from being able to buy firearms.  Neither side is being honest with us.  Despite what they say they are NOT sincerely wanting such reforms.  Both the Democrats and Republicans have attached some of their pet partisan causes to their respective bills that they know the opposition will shoot down.  (Oooo....sorry.  Bad pun.)  

If they would both put aside their politics and put forth a stand-alone "no fly-no buy" bill,  they might possibly make a deal.  The fact that they won't, in the wake of the Orlando massacre, says all you need to know about Washington politicians.  They're more interested in vying for political advantage than working for us.


Despite what we hear on the 24/7 news, our country is NOT becoming more dangerous as more guns get into the hands of more Americans.  (FYI...according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, gun production is up 140% during the Obama presidency.)

Comparing 1993 to 2009 (I couldn't find a more current chart) you'll see that the homicide rate by firearm, the suicide rate by firearm, and the accidental death rate by firearm are down 44%, 19%, and 69%, respectively, all while the population increased by 18%.  While even one death is one too many, my point is the trend is down, not up.  We are NOT sinking into anarchy!


For some reason many people still think of my Texas as a land of tumbleweeds, rattlesnakes, and gunslingers.  They're only slightly wrong.  *wink*  Here is a fact you might find interesting about us Texans and our guns:

Through the end of 2015, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety (who issues "right-to-carry" handgun licenses) there were 937,419 citizens actively permitted to carry a gun.  I'm one of them.  That sounds like a lot of people running around with guns on their persons, doesn't it?  But despite this, with 43,924 total violent felonies of all types committed in Texas that year, only 108 were committed by right-to-carry license holders.  This is a minuscule .2459% committed by gun toters.  The vetting process works!


Those who are strong proponents of gun control often point to Australia and the UK as examples of how the state can outlaw (virtually all) guns and all will soon be well.  Those are not good apples-to-apples comparisons with the US.

In 1996 Australia prohibited almost all citizens from owning guns.  Through a buy-back program, approximately 700,000 guns were sold back or voluntarily turned in to the government, and another 260,000 were suspected still clandestinely held.  At the time Australia's population was 18.3 million people.  Statistically that means 960,000 guns were in the hands of private citizens, or .0524 guns per person.

In 1988 the UK (not including Northern Ireland) prohibited their citizens from owning most types of guns.  Through a buy-back program, approximately 162,000 guns were sold back or voluntarily turned in to the government.  At that time the population of the entire UK was 56.7 million people, which translates to .00028 guns per person.

In the US today, with a population of 323.8 million people, there are estimated to be between 310 and 350 MILLION guns in private hands, or (statistically) one gun per person.  Honestly now, what do you think the odds are of getting American gun ownership numbers down to levels even remotely close to the levels of Australia and the UK pre-ban, much less post-ban?  

Of course we can try to clean up our act, but let's not delude ourselves into thinking we can pass some new gun control laws and then launch into a rousing chorus of Kum Baya.  This is why I realistically say we need to focus first of all on getting guns out of the hands of those (relative) few who are causing most of our problems.  Such a plan would cause minimal inconvenience to the majority of people who are causing no problems in the first place, likely gaining their support for more targeted measures later on.  Think this through, friends.  We're chasing windmills.

Knee jerk reactions seldom work out well.  Just sayin'.



Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

No, not THAT Good, Bad, and Ugly.

THIS Good, Bad, and Ugly.

I know Donald Trump is in a lot of people's cross-hairs these days, but I have to give him, and Bernie Sanders, credit for likely redefining politics from this day forward.  Until now, a major party candidate wouldn't dare cross his/her financial benefactors....labor unions, trial lawyers, Big Pharma, Oil, Ag, Health Care, Banking, Insurance, Tobacco, etc, but The Donald and The Bernie have shown that there are ways to finance a campaign that don't require a candidate to bend over.  Good show, guys!

And Donald Trump has shown that you can say things out loud that are un-PC and still politically survive.  In fact, it appears that such behavior will attract as many or more voters than it drives away.  I think this can be good....there are some un-PC things that need to be said....depending of course on what you say.  Go too far and you're branded a nut case.  (I would think talk of your plan to deliver us from the zombie apocalypse would be considered over the line.)

Many people, me included, feel that America has made some really stupid trade deals over the years, and Trump says they need to be re-examined.  Agreed!  Those deals helped many American companies no doubt, but did little to help the American people.  As I remember, our Constitution's preamble refers to "We the people", not "We the corporations".

Which brings us to the Bad:

Donald Trump has a habit of writing checks with his mouth that The Bank of Reality can't cash.  Early on he said the Mexicans that are coming here are rapists, thieves, murderers...."and I'm sure a few are good people."  

I know a lot of Mexicans/Hispanics, and I find them to be every bit as decent as us native-born Americans.  They work hard, I mean really hard, and contribute substantially to our economy.  He should have said, "and I'm sure a few are NOT good people", but he didn't.

Donald Trump's claim to fame is that he will build a wall across our southern border, and make Mexico pay for it.  And every time someone challenges him on it, he says he just made his (imaginary) wall 10' taller.  

As a builder myself, I can tell you there aren't enough excess building materials....concrete, steel, etc, or labor available to build a 1,000 mile-long wall in the time frame he's promising.  Think of the logistics it would take, not to mention the $$$, to marshal such an effort!  A "virtual" wall maybe (cameras, "eyes in the sky", etc), but not a brick and mortar wall.

And he can't make Mexico pay for it.  He can't unilaterally impose a 35% tariff to enforce his will.  The imported goods he would be prohibitively taxing would be made largely by American companies with factories in Mexico.  You don't think those companies would pull out all the stops to lobby against him?  The last time I checked, lobbyists still owned Congress!  *sigh*

Donald Trump said John McCain isn't a war hero because he was captured.  Huh?  Has he not heard the story about how McCain was offered his freedom by the North Vietnamese (he was from a prestigious military family), but refused to leave his fellow POW's?  (I personally have problems with McCain's politics, but that's another story.)

More recently he's saying the judge hearing his Trump University case is a Mexican and an activist who is prejudiced against him because of the wall he proposes building.  That's just wrong on all counts.  If it were true his crack team of lawyers would have long ago filed a motion to have the judge replaced.

Trump admits he isn't a foreign policy expert, but says he can get up to speed before the inauguration.  Wow!  A PhD in foreign affairs in just a few months....I'm impressed!  And he says he's an expert on ISIS.  In fact he says he knows more on the subject than our generals.  Such a Renaissance man!  *not*

And what's with him denying campaign media credentials to those who dare critically question him?  That's censorship, something I've always felt was simply un-American.  *bad Donald*

He keeps saying Hillary is going to take away our Second Amendment rights.   Does he actually believe that?  Hillary alone couldn't pull that off even if she wanted to.  Amending the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of Congress, or a 2/3 vote of state legislatures.  Read my lips:  Not....gonna....happen!  

Donald needs to think before he speaksHe's been recorded saying too many outlandish, sometimes offensive, often contradictory things on video.  Such things might not bother his hard core supporters, but they do me.

And finally, the plain, unadulterated Ugly:

Donald Trump has a mean, nasty streak in him.  He dispatched 16 Republican primary nominees by calling them names....Little Marco, Lyin' Ted, Ugly Carly, Loser Jeb, etc.  I haven't heard taunts like that since the third grade.  I would frankly be embarrassed for him to represent the United States of America at any international forum/event. 

And it isn't just his political opponents.  He belittles women who he deems less than beautiful, reporters who dare ask him hard questions or who bring up his own words from previous statements, and hecklers at his rallies...."go home to mommy"....or worse, he at one time told his supporters he would pay their legal fees if they would rough up a few.

Of course he could have disagreed with any of these people by making a well thought out, coherent presentation, but he didn't.  He just spewed insults and kept on bullying forward. 

When asked if he was glad to have the endorsement of David Duke (former Grand Exhausted Exalted Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan), Trump said he was not familiar with him or his organization, and would have to know more about them before he could answer.  Oh pah-leeze, even toothless, donkey-riding peasants in Uzbekistan know about the KKK!

His arrogance and narcissism are well documented.  Confidence is good, but not arrogance. 

Just telling some schmuck "You're fired!" on a silly TV show isn't reason enough for me to turn over the nuclear football to him.

  This is some serious shit stuff, folks!

And finally, I'm personally insulted that he asks for our vote, yet refuses to give straight answers to legitimate questions we might have.  "Don't you worry about it....I'll handle it."  What the hell am I supposed to make of that?  I don't like being talked down to.

In conclusion, Donald Trump is IMO very smart, aggressive, ballsy, determined, and more, but his negatives are just too much for me to live with.  So, in language Donald can understand....You're fired!....or more accurately....You're not hired!

All in favor of a 2016 election do-over, raise your hand.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Come on, punk.!

Yes, the massacre in Orlando was truly tragic, but the knee jerk reactions coming out of this sad affair are just getting ridiculous.

"A few good guys with guns inside that night club could have ended it really fast!"  Umm....easier said than done.  The right person, with the right training, positioned in just the right place, might have been able to stop it.  But the odds of all those stars lining up juuuust right are somewhere between slim and none.

First of all, when faced with the threat of imminent death, and with bullets flying, otherwise brilliant people will suddenly display the IQ of a gerbil.  Panic trumps clear thinking.  And despite what you see on TV and in the movies, it is extremely difficult to accurately shoot a defensive handgun past 25 yards.  

Unless you've received intensive training and have nerves of steel, and with adrenaline pumping, thinking you can pull your gun and pop a cap in a bad guy to become an instant hero is simply delusional.  And who could ever think allowing guns in bars could be a good thing?

"More gun control!"  Call me skeptical.  A dedicated jihadist/crazed person will get a gun, laws be damned.  With enough guns of all types, including millions of "assault rifles", already out there to arm every man, woman, and child in America, I'm afraid that genie can not be squeezed back into the bottle.  

Gun control might sound like a proactive, commendable thing, but I think it would be a futile effort, unlikely to stop those we want stopped.  I would rather see us concentrate our efforts on getting guns out of the hands of felons who are already prohibited from having them (but do anyway), and keeping guns out of the hands of those who have demonstrated they are too mentally troubled to have them.

"Ban Muslims from coming to America."  Too late, folks.  There are already approximately 3.3 million Muslims living in America right now, many of them born here.  They are the ones being radicalized/recruited by ISIS and others to attack us.  Thoroughly vett all new immigrants, of course, but lets not think that will be some magic fix.

"No fly, no buy!"  Yes, it does seem ironic that we can prohibit someone (on a watch list) from getting on an airliner, but we can't stop them from buying a gun.  That's because no one has a constitutional right to fly, but (to the consternation of some) most of us do have the constitutional right to buy a gun.  To get on a "no fly" watch list could require little more than an anonymous call to the FBI saying someone was up to no good.  Isn't that what the German people were urged to do by the Nazis....spy/report on their neighbors?  Yes, do watch out for things out of order, but that in itself doesn't constitute guilt.  Lets not crawl into that gutter, OK?

So what should we do to be safe?  Just stay home?  Just pull the curtains closed and cower?  Oh HELL NO!  If we do that, they win!

I say go about your business.  Go to work, to school, shopping, out for dinner, etc, but pull your head out of your arse and pay attention to what's going on around you.  

Don't walk down the street texting on your iPhone or reading email.  Bad guys don't just pull rifles out of their pants pockets.  If you see someone walking down the street trying to be discreet about the AR-15 at their side, or walking with a gun visible across a parking lot towards a mall or a business, run, call 911, yell.

When you go into a restaurant, theater, auditorium, etc, pay attention to where the exits are.  Know in advance where your escape routes are if it all hits the fan.  I don't mean you need to become all paranoid about everyday life, but be calmly aware of your options, just like you (should) be aware of where the exit doors are on your airline flight to visit grandma.

The old thinking was that in such dire circumstances you should "run, hide, fight" away if you can, hide if you can't, and as a last resort, fight.  Now the experts are advising us to either run or fight.  Trying to hide, especially in a place with only one way in/out, isn't likely to fool a gunman.  Most hiding places, such as public restrooms, are dead ends.  And if you are able to run, and get out in the open, run low and left.

They say if you can't run, position yourself so that when/if the door is kicked in, a mob can instantly gang tackle the bad guy.  In the time it would take you to close 8 feet, for example, a shooter is unlikely to be able to see what is happening, react, and swing his gun around.  Although it sounds counter-intuitive, running towards a gun can make sense....if you have the presence of mind to do it.

And yes, if you are licensed to legally carry a firearm, do so, but don't think this will provide some sort of impenetrable protective bubble around you.  Know its/your limitations.

If you repeatedly do these things every day, everywhere you go, you should be able to react instinctively in an emergency, without having to think about it.  Lets not make things more difficult than they need to be.  KISS*


*Keep It Simple, Stupid

Thursday, June 9, 2016

I'm not going to tell you how to vote, but....

I will not be voting for Hillary Clinton for President, nor is it likely I will be voting for Donald Trump, either.  But for now, I'll limit this post to why I won't be voting for Ms. Clinton.

First of all, understand it has nothing to do with her views on abortion, LGBT issues, who can use which bathroom, her position on gun control, what she did or didn't do regarding Benghazi, her "damn emails", or whether she has the balls to go toe-to-toe with Vladimir Putin.  (If I were him I'd tuck tail and run!)

Yes, she knows exactly how our government works....she had a ring-side seat during Bill's eight year Presidency.  She knows all the personalities who are the movers and shakers inside the Washington beltway, and she knows all the world leaders due to her tenure as Secretary of State.  I will heartily agree she is brilliant and has the experience to be the POTUS.

So why won't I vote for her?  It's all about trust, or lack there of.  For starts, it's hard for me to separate the activities of the Clinton Foundation run by her husband and her duties as a Senator or Secretary of State.  There is no clear demarcation. 

Under federal law, foreign governments seeking State Department clearance to buy American-made arms are barred from making campaign contributions, a prohibition aimed at preventing foreign interests from using cash to influence national security policy.  But nothing prevents them from contributing to a "philanthropic foundation" controlled by policymakers.  (A tidy little loophole, wouldn't you say?)

Admittedly the philanthropic Clinton Foundation has done a lot of good for a lot of worthy causes.  But mixed in with its good deeds are lots of highly suspicious "coincidences".  While it was perfectly legal for anyone to give to the non-profit Clinton Foundation while Hillary was a sitting US Senator and a cabinet official during the Obama administration, the potential for abuse was off the chart.  As an aspiring public servant, she should never have let herself be put in such a compromising position.  It was simply a bad decision of the highest order.

Consider this:  In 2011 while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, the State Department approved a $29 billion dollar sale of American-built fighter planes to Saudi Arabia, despite the pleas of many that a deal that large would upset the delicate balance of power in the region.  The deal was even considered a "top priority" for Ms. Clinton personally.  Is it just a coincidence that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia contributed $10 million dollars to the Clinton Foundation, and Boeing contributed $900,000 just months before the sale was given official approval?  

In fact, in just three years (2011-2013) under Hillary Clinton's leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion dollars worth of arms sales to 20 nations who had given contributions to the Clinton Foundation.  This number is over twice as much as was approved by the State Department in the same time frame during the last term of George W. Bush. 

*sniff*....What's that smell?

And does this seem odd?....Hillary Clinton switched from opposing an American free trade agreement with Colombia to supporting it after a Canadian energy and mining magnate with interests in that South American country contributed to the Clinton Foundation.  

In fact, 13 companies lobbying the State Department paid Bill Clinton $2.5 million in speaking fees while Hillary Clinton headed the agency.  Even if it was a coincidence, just the appearance of impropriety is staggering!

And then we get to her (likely) coziness with Wall Street.  In that regard she seems more like an old-school Republican.  Doesn't it seem suspicious that she was paid $1.8 million dollars to make just eight speeches in less than two years to big banks?  And just this election cycle, based on their campaign contributions to date, she is far and away their favorite candidate.

Do you think they sought her out as a speaker because of her good looks and personality, or could it have something to do with the fact that maybe, just maybe, they felt their relationship might soon pay big dividends if she were to become President of the United States?  Whether true or not, the opportunity to personally gain from her official position and her relationship with Bill's Clinton Foundation is just too tempting.  She sleeps with the guy, for crying out loud!

Spend just a few minutes on Google and see all this and much more documented for yourself.   

Yes, I know...."They all do it."  But they aren't ALL running for President.  We've been giving such shenanigans a blind eye for too many years now, and IMHO it has resulted in the mess we're in today.  We can't afford to put someone in the White House who could with the stoke of a pen put a fast buck ahead of our national interests.

Enough already!


Monday, June 6, 2016

Airplane 101

Have you read the book or seen the movie A Bridge Too Far?  It's a true story about Operation Market Garden, the WWII push to capture the bridge across the Rhine river at Arnhem which, if successful, would have hastend the Allied march into Germany and final victory.  It got its title from a quote by British Lt. Gen. Frederick Browning who at the time told Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, "I think we might be going a bridge too far."  He was right, and the operation failed.

Fast forward about 50 years and I think someone should have told the powers-that-be at the European airplane consortium Airbus that their proposed gargantuan A-380 might turn out to be A Plane Too Big.  (I saw a prototype fly back in '06, and it was almost gravity defying!)  If they had it looks like they would have been right as I saw in the news today the A-380 program is about to die a quiet death.

Airbus original business plan was to have the countries that built major parts of their planes...France, Germany, the UK, and Spain..."loan" them the R&D cash to get off the ground.  *sorry*  It worked well for them with the A-300, A-310, A-320, A-330, and A-340, so they doubled down with the giant A-380.  That looks like it will be a 25-30 BILLION dollar Oops!

The A-380 was to be a plane that would fly from gateway city to gateway city.  Only major air hubs could handle it, what with all the airport and terminal modifications that would be needed to accommodate its huge girth.  From the gateway airports, passengers would then board smaller planes to get them on to their final destination.

Eight years after it first entered service with Singapore Airlines, it is reported Airbus will wrap up A-380 production within two years, with those final planes losing Airbus TENS OF MILLIONS of dollars each! 

Boeing on the other hand felt the flying public would rather fly a bit smaller airplane directly to their final destination city, bypassing the connecting flight.  That's what they designed their revolutionary 787 to do.  

They've had a longer than anticipated gestation period with their Do-Or-Die composite (vs aluminum) Big Bird.  Several dissatisfied early airline customers even demanded their money back.  (I think this just validates the old adage that you shouldn't buy the first of a new model of anything.) 

It looks like they're finally getting the kinks worked out, but it has been a giant pain in Boeing's posterior to date.  I think if they were to write a book about the 787 it might should be titled A Plane Too Different.

So if the A-380 is a dud, and the 787 a meh (so far), what's the next big plane?  *sorry again* Based on the number of customers who are jumping off the A-380 bandwagon, it looks like it just might be the old tried-and-true Boeing 777, specifically the updated, re-engined, streeeeeched 777 9X.  (It looks like it straddles several zip codes!) 

Here is an early test model sans paint.  It will fly as far as an A-380, carry 80% as many passengers, and even more cargo in its belly, all on just two fuel-sipping engines.  I'm thinking it should be called the Not Too Big, Not Too Small, Not Too Odd, But Juuust Right plane.  (Goldilocks for short?)

Ironically it's the relatively tiny Boeing 737 and Airbus A-320 models that keep their respective companies in the black....they can't build them fast enough!   

The meek shall inherit the earth.  Ha! 

OK, I had to get my airplane geek out.  You can go back to your nap now.  :)