Gridlock in Charleston! Amazing

I guess I should be infuriated but I’m not.  The work on the South Side Bridge and shortly on the Elk River Bridge is creating rush hour gridlock in at least a four block area at the foot of the South Side Bridge.  Just like Los Angeles except there the gridlock stretches for miles.  Light changes, one car moves; light changes, no cars move.  It’s just down right cute.

Memorial Day

My Uncle Kemble died in World War II.

My Uncle Bud survived but was shot with a machine gun.  He showed me the scars once.

My father Jack was a naval officer in the Pacific.

My brother Kent was in Vietnam.

So was I, two years later.

My friend Jocko came home from Vietnam only to die from an exotic form of cancer.  I have always suspected Agent Orange exposure.

It seems to go on and on.

Believe It or Not !!!

I checked into a hotel that had a free mini-bar.

While watching an NBA game, I saw a player with no tatoos.

I called customer service and a human being answered.

Last week I received no spam on my computer and no junk mail at home.

There is a casino in Las Vegas that gives you your money back if you lose.

The CBS evening news last night was thirty minutes of nothing but good news.

A government employee called and asked what they could do to help me out in the current financial crisis.



A Glimpse at the Future

Slowly but surely we are working our way through the burst housing bubble and the corresponding credit crisis.  We are transitioning from a “credit driven” economy to more of a “cash based” economy.  What is this likely to produce?

In the auto sector, the market for used cars and repair shops is going to grow.  On average a person will buy a new car every eight to ten years not every three to five. 

If you want to buy a house, a downpayment of thirty to forty percent will be required.

More people will rent for longer.

More people will save up to buy goods such as TVs, stereos, appliances and furniture.  Layaway will increase and the use of credit cards will decrease.

More people will refuse to live beyond their means.  Time shares, clothing sales and restaurants will see limited if any growth.

More people will invest in land and property in the area where they live or in second homes likely to become the home once retirement arrives.

So-called urgent care clinics will become more common.

The stock market will basically sit at the same level for years at a time.

Government provided social services will decline.  Religious institutions and charities will fill the gap.

As the ability of government to deliver what the people want and need declines, the electorate will begin electing candidates with proven track records of success in their personal lives and employment or business.  This will result in the elimination of “feel good” legislation and an increase in “full disclosure and accountability” rules for business, labor and the marketplace.

Over the next ten years, a third political party will emerge.  The president in 2016 will not be a Democrat or a Republican.


I am no economist but …..

Visualize a triangle.  At one point is an unemployed worker.  At another point is the owner of the box factory who laid off employees..  The third point of the triangle is the owner of the store that sells boxes at retail.  The unemployed worker has no money to shop at the box store.  The box store owner can’t sell his inventory of boxes so he has placed no orders from the factory.  The factory has no orders for boxes so there is no reason to hire workers..  Sound familiar? 

How do we stimulate this moribund economy?  The government has a hundred dollars.  Who does the governent give it to?  The factory owner?  Hardly.  Why manufacturer more boxes if you have no orders?  The store owner?  Hardly.  Why buy more boxes if you can’t sell those you have?  The unemployed worker?  Bingo. Give the unemployed worker a good job.  He takes his money and goes to the store and buys some boxes.  The store owner orders more boxes to replace his inventory.  The factory owner needs workers to fill the order from the store owner so he picks up the phone and hires workers.

 Giving the unemployed worker a good job is the answer.  A rising tide lifts all boats.  Merely funding public works projects doesn’t do much good if the work is done by people who already have jobs. Wouldn’t it be reassuring to know that if you lose your job and you are willing to work, you can get a good job working on government programs that add value to the country (roads, parks, research, etc.).  The government becomes the employer of last resort.  Remember in this example the “government” does not necessarily mean the federal government alone.  State, county and local governments would be involved as well.  As the economy improves the public workers would find private sector jobs.

Think about it.


Politics – Insider Stuff

Yard signs used during political campaigns are sometimes (with some justification) referred to as yard trash.  A necessary evil.  But there are upsides that you need to know about.

For some time I have had several of my target practice friends willing take yard signs.  After the campaign they make perfect targets on the shooting range.

Here’s another upside to yard signs.  When you plant shrubs and young trees often deer destroy your work and your investment.  The wire frames from political signs make an excellent protective “fence” around your shrubs and plants.  Take some twist ties and tie the wires together where they touch.  If you have some whirly gigs, old DVD or computer disks, wind chimes, hang them from the horizontal part of the wire frame.  Works like a charm – most of the time.

Welcome to the world of political secrets.

Are You Old Enough to Remember

When cars had side vent windows?  Whatever happened to those I wonder?

When about one or two o’clock at night, the TV station would sign off and after playing The Star Spangled Banner with an American flag waving on the screen, we got the test pattern?  There are several generations out there that probably don’t have any idea what a test pattern is.

When gas stations gave you green stamps?

When most men wore tie tacks or tie clips to hold their necktie in place?

When movie theaters had double features?

When people dressed up to fly on airplanes?

When the evening news on TV was a fifteen minute program?

When milk was delivered to your back door?

When you couldn’t do what you are doing now because there were no computers, no Internet and the word “blog” did not exist?


The Torture Issue

The defense seems to be that harsh interrogation where there is no chance of loss of life or permanent bodily injury is not the same as the Inquisition type of torture.  There is also the classic posit where the world is about to be destroyed and this person knows where the bomb is so what do you do?  Situational ethics in other words.

The problem is that the persons doing this have US somewhere on their uniform or they are paid by our government which means they are acting on our behalf and no one in the comfort of their homes and their daily lives is going to agree with these activities except for those who believe the enemy deserves what it gets.

If we can fight World War II, Vietnam, Korea, etc without using torture I really don’t see why the “war on terror” should be fought any differently.  Acts of brutality will always occur in the heat of the moment or as a result of fundamentally disturbed or frightened people, but that does not justify having a policy which when viewed objectively is not something people want.

I have always believed that if you are considering doing something that you would not want to disclose to the average man on the street then don’t do it.  In government terms if you are about to do something which you would not want to defend at Congressional hearings, don’t do it.

Having said that what this really amounts to politically is (once again) bad things happen when elected officials (both sides of the aisle here) don’t do their job.  The only people in government who can justifiably criticize what happened are those who objected publicly when it was going on.  Hear the birds chirping?  Kind of quiet on that front.  Same thing with elected officials who voted in favor on invading Iraq criticizing the move with 20/20 hindsight. 

I get sick of lame explanations like “I was misled”, “I didn’t know all the facts” or “I believed what they said.”  “I was duped too.”  Such moral cowardice.  If any of these opportunists would start out by saying they were wrong to vote as they did or to not object when they could and then proceed to voice their opposition I might be able to support their arguments and inquiries for reform.  But that is not what we are going to see.

Congress is going to conduct an Inquisition into the Bush torture policies.  Like the Inquisition the only acceptable answer will be a complete, abject confession of misdoing which just like the Inquisition will merely result in a smug finding of obvious guilt.  Those who continue to defend or hesitate to confess will be “grilled” for all to see. 

I don’t think that President Obama wants any of this to occur and good for him.  There is blame on both sides of the aisle for this although clearly the party in power at the time must shoulder the largest portion of the blame.

I hope that President Obama continues to press for transforming politics as usual.  I hope he fights every day to stop this partisan crap which both sides so quickly dissolve into.  President Obama I truly believe wants to run the country based upon merit meaning that what is a good idea no matter where it comes from should be pursued.  What I really like and admire about President Obama is that he remains cool, calm and focused when others are foaming at the mouth like crazy rabid dogs.  It will be difficult for him to speak out against some in his own party but eventually he will.  If he does so, we will see the birth of a transformational leader.  I think that will happen.

Ron Miller – A Superior Candidate for State Senate

In 2010 Ron Miller of Lewisburg will be running for the state senate.  It is my hope that Ron is elected, and I say that for many reasons.  Ron has experience as a local elected official.  He is a minister.  He has a wonderful personality, great energy and has no political agenda other than doing what makes sense.  I kid him by saying that he is far too level headed to be very effective in the legislature, but seriously Ron is a man anyone can vote for with complete confidence that he will serve with integrity and intelligence.

I, of course, am not a resident in his district but his vote in the senate is important to everyone.  I would encourage folks to support Ron’s candidacy with both cash and comment, i.e., let people know that voting for Ron Miller is important.  He is a superior candidate and will make a superior senator.

Good luck, Ron.