usa-china

By John Ruberry

Building upon Peter Ingemi’s RH’s spectacular Trump’s China Call is a Deliberate Overreach from yesterday, it’s my turn to add my two yuan into the discusssion.

The media loves to dismiss Donald Trump as a showman–as if there was no showmanship with Barack Obama–but those under 45 first encountered our next president as a real estate developer, albeit a flashy one. Developers are many things, including, yes, deal makers, as well as a negotiators. In regards to that last one, when you are sitting across someone you are negotiating with, or as it usually turns out, haggling with, a strategy that has worked since the Babylonian era is to get the person sitting on the other side of the table from you off of his script and on to yours. One tactic is known as “getting-yourself-inside-their-heads.”

And that’s something that Trump may have accomplished by accepting a telephone call last week from the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, which has caused a kerfuffle. Because the United States recognizes communist China as the legitimate government off all of China, including Taiwan, a president hasn’t spoken to a Taiwanese leader since 1979. Of course we still have extensive trade relations with the island nation–oops, breakaway province–and we still sell Taiwan weapons. If they are ever fired in defense it would very likely be against the Chicomms.

Oh, Taiwan and China are major trading partners.

Trying to understand international relations is a descent into madness.

Trump made the re-negotiation of what he calls bad trade deals a central campaign promise. Of course those bad deals with China, if they really are awful, are good ones for the Chinese. If Hillary Clinton won last month’s presidential election China could look forward to at least four more years of crony socialism from the former secretary of state. Since then China has been bracing itself for a return to the bargaining table, preparing for difficult deal making with this New York capitalist.

John "Lee" Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven
John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

But Trump, who was a very good baseball player when he was young, threw a curve ball at the Chinese.

He accepted a phone call.

He got inside their heads.

Trump knows what he’s doing.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Update (DTG): I’d like to take credit for the piece that John is referring to but that one was written by RH (NG36B) one of the newest additions to our magnificent 7 writers. I’m delighted to have both John & RH on the team

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Hot Dog Vender:Got no opinions Sir, they’re bad for business

Inherit the Wind 1960

One of the values of a being either company operating in a niche market, or serving primarily a niche market is that if you have strong political opinions consistent with said niche market you can release them in public secure in the knowledge that such a move will not hurt the bottom line.

Another type of company with this advantage is one that sells a unique product that can not be easily obtained elsewhere.  When that is the case the customer base, no matter how offended by a particular public opinion, particularly a business, will have no choice but to swallow it’s pride and continue to use said company.

Neither of these would be considered accurate description of the Kellogg’s’ corporation.

Kellogg, citing ‘values,’ joins growing list of companies that pledged to stop advertising in Breitbart News

From the story

The company cited concerns that Breitbart News, which has been described by many as portraying alt-right ideals, does not align with its values.Kellogg’s has announced that it will pull all advertising from the site. The company cited concerns that Breitbart News, which has been described by many as portraying alt-right ideals, does not align with its values.

Breitbart is not amused

Kellogg’s offered no examples of how Breitbart’s 45 million monthly readers fail to align with the breakfast maker’s values. Indeed, the move appears to be one more example of an out-of-touch corporation embracing false left-wing narratives used to cynically smear the hard working Americans that populate this nation’s heartland.

Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alexander Marlow encouraged the boycott of Kellogg’s products, describing their war against Breitbart News as bigoted and anti-American: “Breitbart News is the largest platform for pro-family content anywhere on the Internet. We are fearless advocates for traditional American values, perhaps most important among them is freedom of speech, or our motto ‘more voices, not less.’ For Kellogg’s, an American brand, to blacklist Breitbart News in order to placate left-wing totalitarians is a disgraceful act of cowardice. They insult our incredibly diverse staff and spit in the face of our 45,000,000 highly engaged, highly perceptive, highly loyal readers, many of whom are Kellogg’s customers. Boycotting Breitbart News for presenting mainstream American ideas is an act of discrimination and intense prejudice. If you serve Kellogg’s products to your family, you are serving up bigotry at your breakfast table.”

In response, Breitbart launched its #DumpKelloggs petition to encourage its vast readership and the followers of its #1 in the world political Facebook and Twitter pages to ban bigotry from the breakfast table by boycotting Kellogg’s products. 

Given the results of the election, the fact that the former Chair of Breitbart is now the strategic advisor for the Trump administration and that alternatives to the products offered by Kellogg’s made by other companies abound, this public statement, as opposed to something more generic like claiming they are simply decreasing advertising on political news sites post election, would seem to have been an ill advised PR move.   The trending #dumpkelloggs hashtag on twitter, the eruptions on facebook with the loss of 2% of the stock’s value would suggest this,  so I decided to try & find out what Kellogg’s had to say about it directly.

I called Kellogg’s Consumer affairs line at 1-800-962-1413. I had a very long wait before I spoke to a very busy young lady who informed me that the line was for product related inquiries and that she didn’t have a media contact number but she did have both a number for corporate 269-961-2000 and HR 1-877-694-7554 that she was kind enough to give me.

From there I called the Corporate number. The switchboard operator transferred me to the media relations department but before she did commented that while she had only fielded 2 calls on the subject her co-worker next to here was inundated with them with all but one call objecting to the move.

I reached the voice mail of the media contact leaving a message with both my phone number and email address seeking comment before this piece went live. As of this writing I have not been contacted by either method which means I didn’t get a chance to ask any questions concerning Kellogg’s statement on values. Here are some obvious ones they raise first about how the decision came to be:

Given that this was a very public move by a major corporation whose product is sold in practically every single town in every single state blue and red, what was the procedure that led to this decision?

Who made the initial suggestion for this move?

Was the company approached by an outside entity concerning Breitbart or was this raised internally?

How Much discussion went into making this decision?

How many people were involved in making this decision and when the decision was made was it reached unanimously?

Who drafted the initial statement and at how many levels was said statement approved before it was released to the media?

Those are all statements concerning “cause”, I also have a few on “effect”

as Kellogg’s considers the breitbart sites to be inconsistent with their values, or as Hillary Clinton would say “Deplorable”, do they consider the 46 million readers of Breitbart site equally “deplorable” or inconsistent with the values of Kellogg’s?

Given that the former CEO of Breitbart now has a high position, some would say the most trusted position in the incoming Trump administration does their statement also mean that Kellogg’s considers the values of the incoming Trump administration and the voters who elected them, including in the state of Michigan inconsistent with the values espoused by Kelloggs?

Given that Breitbart.com is inconsistent with the values of Kelloggs will Kelloggs decide that readers and supporters of the Breitbart site need not apply for the positions offered at the site & promoted on Twitter under the Kellogg’s jobs site and that current readers of the Breitbart site employed by Kelloggs should consider finding other work?

And finally one on the aftermath of all of this

Given the rise of the #dumpkelloggs hashtag, the apparent large volume of calls complain and the apparent conclusion by conservatives on social media that their business is no longer desired by Kellogg’s and the implications that has for both the stock price and the bottom line for the company, what affirmative steps, if any, is the company planning to assure these very upset customers that they are valued members of the Kellogg’s customer community or do they plan to wait it out?

If I get a response before I leave for my overnight job I’ll include it here or in an update if any shows up after the post goes up.

Exit Question:  Isn’t this either a class action or a “hostile work environment” case just waiting to erupt on Kellogg’s?

Update:  edited initial paragraph for clarity


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We all know several people whose Twitter accounts were suspended, no explanation given. They were sent to Twitter gulag.

Well, what goes around comes around, and Twitter suspended @Jack.

Jack who?

Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s own CEO,

That provoked angry responses from some people who asked how many regular users’ accounts might also have been accidentally frozen by the company in the past

Some were angry, but reactions varied, from the skeptical,

to the humorous,

As a publicly listed business, Twitter’s share price reflects its problems, namely slow growth and losing money,

Twitter has had a rough time in 2016.

Its share price is down 20% since the start of the year. The stock briefly surged in early fall on feverish speculation that a big company like Disney (DIS), Google (GOOGL, Tech30) or Salesforce(CRM, Tech30) might make a bid for it. But no potential acquirer came forward.Twitter has had a rough time in 2016. Its share price is down 20% since the start of the year. The stock briefly surged in early fall on feverish speculation that a big company like Disney (DIS), Google (GOOGL, Tech30) or Salesforce (CRM, Tech30) might make a bid for it. But no potential acquirer came forward.

As of the writing of this post, the share price is down to $18.21. Aside from laying off 9% of its staff, Twitter has been highly reliant on stock as a form of employee pay, so declining stock value makes it more difficult to retain valuable employees.

The company debuted on the New York Stock Exchange at $26 in 2013. As for Jack, he was forced out in 2008 and became CEO again last year.

Good luck with that.

UPDATE

Linked  to by The Other McCain. Thank you!

faustaFausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

By John Ruberry

Last night the New York Times, using an illegally obtained copy of Donald Trump’s 1995 tax return, speculated that because of a $916 million loss listed on that return, the Republican nominee may have, yes, may have, avoided paying federal income taxes for 18 years.

With help from his wealthy father, not the government, Trump, a real estate developer, built an international business empire. And because of his Apprentice television franchise, even before his presidential run Trump was likely the most recognized business person in the United States.

Hillary Clinton is also rich. Her business–make that racket–is influence peddling. While her husband was attorney general, and then governor of Arkansas, Clinton was an attorney at the Rose Law Firm in that state’s capital city. The Clintons, aided by the Rose Law Firm, used its clout to protect themselves and Jim and Susan McDougal, their investment partners. While they didn’t make money in Whitewater, Arkansas’ first couple did their best to cover up the Whitewater scandal, which led to the convictions the McDougals, Bill’s successor as governor, and Webster Hubbell, a partner at the Rose Law Firm and a close friend of the Clintons.arkansas-sign

The McDougals ran Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan in Little Rock, which failed in the 1980s. They chose, of course, the Rose Law Firm to defend their thrift.

After emerging from the White House “dead broke,” the Clintons were still able to purchase a mansion in Westchester County, New York, one of the most expensive real estate markets in the nation. In 2001 the Clinton Foundation was formed, by this time of course Hillary was a US Senator from New York. The foundation traded off of Bill’s status as an ex-president–six-figure public speaking fees to him went to this “charity,” which offered high-priced salaries to Clinton family cronies and served as a lucrative waiting room for those Clintonistas between government jobs.

The former first couple learned that influence peddling, not property investments, was their pathway to wealth.

While Hillary was serving as Barack Obama’s secretary of state, foreign donors poured money into the “charity,” probably using their cash as down payments for favors from Madame Secretary. It worked. A majority of the non-governmental meetings Hillary had at State were with Clinton Foundation donors, which is why the foundation is commonly referred to as a slush fund.

In Illinois, where Hillary grew up, that’s called pay-to-play.

John ruberry
John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

There’s nothing like this type of sordidness in Trump’s background.

After leaving State, it was Hillary’s turn to collect the big-money speeches, with Wall Street firms being some of her most lucrative clients. Without having been a major government figure–or the spouse of one–Clinton’s speech income just might have matched that of a Times Square busker, such as the Naked Cowboy.

In 2014 just 5.7 percent of the Clinton Foundation budget was spent on charitable grants.

Where is that story, New York Times?

Oh, do you know anyone who doesn’t try to pay as little income tax as possible?

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

 

 

There has been a lot of justified shock at the tax the Uber to pay the Taxi’s law in Massachusetts:

This is … words fail. No, literally. I have just spent 20 minutes staring at my screen, trying to come up with something to say other than the blindingly obvious: This is a shamelessly unjustifiable giveaway to a special interest, paid for by taxing a competitor that’s eating their lunch. If our 19th-century forbears had tried to run the economy this way, I would be writing out this column longhand, by the light of a whale-oil lamp.

Reason was not happy, not happy at all

The state’s “MassDevelopment” agency—a crony-corporatist sinkhole of misappropriated funds, if ever there was one—will be responsible for figuring out how to spend the money to best help the taxi industry. One idea is to help taxis “adopt new technologies,” which probably means using an app to hail a cab. So Massachusetts is robbing Peter to pay Paul so that Paul can learn how to do the thing Peter already does.

Ride-sharing services have little choice but to accept the fee: indeed, they practically have to thank the government for going easy on them. The new law is apparently some sort of compromise—taxi lobbyists wanted Uber banned outright.

We can all speculate why GOP governor Baker signed this into law (I presume that as Democrats could override any veto easily he went along to get along) but amidst all the online outrage was a paragraph from Megan McArdle’s piece worth a 2nd look

Now, to be sure, a fee of 20 cents is probably not going to put Uber and Lyft out of business. On the other hand, such fees have a way of metastasizing over time. They start out as a tiny fee that no one could possibly object to, and then, when no one’s looking, they’re raised a little bit. And then a little bit more. And then you eventually find they’re hefty enough to make the new service expensive and inefficient — as expensive and inefficient as the old service that it replaced.

In other words it’s designed to slowly kill Uber by bleeding their profits.

It’s a cunning plan except it’s based on a fallacy that can be expressed in two words:

What profits?

The ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. is not a public company, but every three months, dozens of shareholders get on a conference call to hear the latest details on its business performance from its head of finance, Gautam Gupta.
On Friday, Gupta told investors that Uber’s losses mounted in the second quarter. Even in the U.S., where Uber had turned a profit during its first quarter, the company was once again losing money.

In the first quarter of this year, Uber lost about $520 million before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to people familiar with the matter. In the second quarter the losses significantly exceeded $750 million, including a roughly $100 million shortfall in the U.S., those people said. That means Uber’s losses in the first half of 2016 totaled at least $1.27 billion.

$100 million in US losses? over $750 million worldwide on a service designed to have basically administrative & labor costs? Cripes who’s in charge of this company Tina Brown?

Subsidies for Uber’s drivers are responsible for the majority of the company’s losses globally, Gupta told investors, according to people familiar with the matter. An Uber spokesman declined to comment.

Or to put it another way, at the price point Uber charges for rides apparently it is not possible to attract drivers willing to drive therefore it’s necessary to “subsidize” said drivers to keep the service going.

Moreover these losses aren’t all that new:

Uber’s losses and revenue have generally grown in lockstep as the company’s global ambitions have expanded. Uber has lost money quarter after quarter. In 2015, Uber lost at least $2 billion before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Uber, which is seven years old, has lost at least $4 billion in the history of the company.
It’s hard to find much of a precedent for Uber’s losses. Webvan and Kozmo.com—two now-defunct phantoms of the original dot-com boom—lost just over $1 billion combined in their short lifetimes. Amazon.com Inc. is famous for losing money while increasing its market value, but its biggest loss ever totaled $1.4 billion in 2000. Uber exceeded that number in 2015 and is on pace to do it again this year.

Maybe it’s just me but If you’re competing with a company that’s losing this much money on a service designed to have minimal overhead that runs off an app then you aren’t going to need taxes and regulation to make it go away.

But I guess the Taxi Lobby figured they might as well get their share while there’s still a share to get.

“And that one?” I pointed to a man up to his chin in boiling blood. He was screaming in agony so his face was distorted, but he looked Oriental.

“New one,” Billy said. “Seung, something like that. Went out and shot a bunch of people in the college he was at. Allen, it puzzles me that a man can shoot thirty-two full-grown men and women before the sheriff’s men gun him down. You’re more his time, maybe you can tell me. Why didn’t someone just shoot the son of a bitch?”

I scratched my head. Billy’s viewpoint seemed skewed, alien.

“Five of ‘em where teachers,” Billy said. “They had to protect their kids. How could they not be armed? It’s as if someone has been taking away their guns.”

Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle:  Escape from Hell

“We would have preferred to hit a US frigate, but no problem because they are all infidels.”

Spokesperson Army of Aden

 

 

Rather than write about all the various concepts concerning 1st amendment rights and a business being allowed to make their own decision and point out one simple thing:

This restaurant owner by making this public declaration against guns and gun owners has informed any lawbreaker that they are unlikely to get any kind of resistance either from the owners or from the patrons as those who are most likely to be able to offer any resistance will be eating elsewhere. While, vendettas against Christian bakers notwithstanding, the owner has the right to do this, I question its wisdom.

Given the number of other places to eat I see no reason to dine somewhere that has provided an incentive to the violent or the lawless to stop on by.

For decades, Americans have relied on Land’s End for three things:

  1. School uniforms.
  2. Warm winter apparel, especially their wind-resistant squall jackets.
  3. Women’s swimsuits you can swim in while your butt remains covered.

I speak from experience.

My son’s school uniforms from Land’s End were made of steel, unlike any of the other brands, to the point that the school had a hand-me-down program when your child outgrew them. Ponder that for a moment: Boys.Outgrowing.Active.Wear.

New Jersey winters aren’t as bad as some, but every so often we would get a couple of weeks of windy, bitter cold where the temperatures would not rise above 20F. I bought the Land’s End windproof, hooded, zipped-and-buttoned coat lined with down and Primaloft™, in black, that kept my arthritic bones toasty-warm.

I think they called it “the commuter’s storm coat” or something to that effect, but it was a wonderful thing. The sleeves had knit cuffs with adjustable bungees. The coat had zipped pockets for everything including your iPod/cell phone and train ticket. It was washable. It came in Women’s Tall, so it fit perfectly.

Of course I looked like I was zipped up in a walking sleeping bag with sleeves. Of course I loved it.

When I moved to Florida the coat was the first thing to sell at my garage sale. Some lucky girl will outlive the zombie apocalypse wearing it.

As for the women’s swimsuits, since I have no intention of becoming a tabloid celebrity, I prefer to keep my derriere covered, thankyouverymuch. Land’s End guarantees it, too.

Today I came across this bit of news: Land’s End has a new CEO named Federica Marchionni who is going to make the brand “fashion-forward.”

Are you nuts?

For starters, I lived in Italy for six weeks decades ago and literally could not find clothes my size. I am 5’9″ and back then wore an American size 6, but every thing (which only came in grey, white, or black) was not available in my size.  At 130 lbs I was too big. So let’s hope FreddieM adjusts to the idea of American sizes.

Then there’s the competition: European brands are making strides in the U.S., most recently Zara. Now, I have bought at Zara and like the look, but would never go there for items 1, 2, or 3 above.  A Zara swimsuit simply will not do.

FreddieM loathes the Land’s End look,

Marchionni is given to describing the company’s proudly fashion-backward line as “ugly” and asks in meetings, “Who would wear that?”

As it turns out, it was FreddieM who came up with the idea of placing Gloria Steinen in their catalog, because (I guess) being pro-abortion, in FreddieM’s mind, is not “ugly.” Bad, bad idea. I opened the catalog, saw Gloria’s photo, and placed it directly in the recycling bin.

So I agree with Kyle Smith, who states (emphasis added),

Marchionni fundamentally misunderstands the company, and maybe the republic for which it stands. Lands’ End is about America. It’s not for walking the runway, it’s for walking the dog. It isn’t for pickup bars, it’s for picking up the kids. It isn’t about the sizzle, it’s about the steak, or maybe even the Ball Park Frank. Lands’ End is small-d democratic: It is a declaration of independence sent to the fashion aristocrats and autocrats who would dictate terms to the citizens. We the people, not the editors of Vogue, will decide what we like to wear. By contrast, Marchionni seems to have a vision of fanciful high-cheekboned swells in a Fellini movie wearing Lands’ End jackets loosely draped over their shoulders while sipping Campari and plucking imaginary grapes out of the air as they speak, but the vision is not, to Lands’ End customers, aspirational. It’s insulting.

We, the Lands’ End people, do not want to look like dissipated Mediterranean cat burglars and femmes fatales. We don’t believe men should ever be seen in Capri pants, nor that stilettos are more useful than espadrilles. As for “boxy,” “boxy” is comfortable. “Boxy” is reassuring. “Boxy” is just fine. Lands’ End clothing does make a fashion statement, but the statement is this: Fashion is nonsense. Fashion is oppressive. Fashion is boring.

L.L. Bean and Columbia are probably sharpening their marketing knives.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S, and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

Grixdale
Grixdale

By John Ruberry

Type “Detroit revival” or “Detroit comeback” into your Google search box and you’ll collect a lot of hits and discover glowing yarns about the turnaround of what was once one of America’s greatest cities. Here’s one from Forbes just last week. There is even a Pure Michigan TV commercial about Detroit.

But as John Adams once famously wrote, “Facts are stubborn things.”

Yes, there is a Detroit bounceback underway but it is centered in downtown and the neighborhoods that border it. That’s it.

Then there are the facts.

The fiscal year for Detroit Public Schools ends on June 30. On July 1 there is no money for summer school or physical upkeep, unless the state rushes in for a rescue. Such a rescue should not be confused with a proposed $720 million one that will deal with DPS’ long-term debt.

Adding an exclamation point to the problems of DPS last week was a former school principal who pleaded guilty to accepting kickbacks from an allegedly crooked supplier. A dozen other DPS officials, most of them former principals, have also been charged with collecting kickbacks.

Abandoned Detroit school
Abandoned Detroit school

When I visited Detroit last summer I ventured into the neighborhoods outside of its downtown ring. Places like Grixdale. This is a typical 21st century Grixdale block that in 1950 that had twenty homes each with wage earners with fat wallets: Two occupied homes, two abandoned homes, the rest are rubbished filled vacant lots with coarse weeds.

Detroit has some millstones that will impede its recovery. Its commercial property tax rates are the highest in the nation and city services are substandard. Detroiters are burdened with a municipal income tax and possible future Detroit residents who want to dip their toe in the Motor City water by taking a job in the city are subject to a commuter tax. And Detroit is still a very violent city.

Just last week a study was released that discovered that Detroit has the least storefront concentration of any big city.

Look for the Detroit comeback, such as it is, to proceed very slowly.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

*******************************************************************

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While the news cycle obsesses on the primaries, the rest of the world has been reading about a huge trove of legal records from Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm, revealing

the secretive offshore companies used to hide wealth, evade taxes and commit fraud by the world’s dictators, business tycoons and criminals.

They were

initially obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and subsequently the subject of a yearlong investigation, led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and involving more than 100 publications from nearly 80 countries.

Those are the Panama Papers.

As the ICIJ disclaimer states,

There are legitimate uses for offshore companies, foundations and trusts. We do not intend to suggest or imply that any persons, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Power Players interactive application have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly. If you find an error in the database please get in touch with us: contact@icij.org

Some, like Jose Benegas, decry the Panama Papers as Fiscal Big Brother’s Big Eye ( link in Spanish), which it may be. I am of two minds:

a. The use of offshore accounts is a useful, legal, business tool. A business has the responsibility to use its resources in the most efficient way, and an individual can legally avail itself of legal tools to protect his or her capital. I am appalled that a group of journalists have stolen (no need to be euphemistic here) eleven million documents from a law firm, and are releasing them to the public. It makes you wonder if the journalists would be as thrilled to have their sources made public – for all the world to see – by a group of lawyers.

The toothpaste is out of the tube, and I posted a list of all the Latin American people mentioned in the ICIJ website.

Among them is Argentina’s newly-elected president, Mauricio Macri, who had a business incorporated in the Bahamas which was later dissolved in 2009. Nothing in the information points to criminality in Macri’s actions.

Missing from the list are Cuba and Haiti, two cesspools of corruption.

b. At the same time, this Wall Street Journal editorial makes an excellent point:

Governments have to enforce their tax laws. But it’s hard to see how the big question in this story is whether everyone with a company in Panama paid the correct amount of tax. The far more important question is how so many public officials in so many governments managed to accumulate so much money.

For instance,

Longtime friends and associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin channelled $2 billion through Panama over the years, ICIJ says in its report on the documents.

Of course, they now claim “Putinophobia”.

When it comes to Macri vis-a-vis the Russians, as the saying goes, “these two things are not alike.”

The fatal flaw of the ICIJ investigation is the theft of confidential material. The assumption that all listed are guilty is anti-democratic; the onus falls on each country’s government to be competitive in the tax treatment of its citizens and businesses, fight corruption, and administer justice so the rule of law applies to all.

That’s the unwritten takeaway, leaks or not.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S, and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

 

 

We interrupt our coverage of the evil and stupidity of Europe concerning Islam to cover the evil and stupidity Jack Dorsey concerning Twitter.

Of the evil, basically targeting conservatives, banning people like Robert Stacy McCain and lying about it we’ve written about over and over.

Alas the evil has not persuaded the shareholder to revolt to change it.

But now there is the stupid:

TWITTER IS SHUTTING DOWN TWEETDECK FOR WINDOWS: Funny, when I joined Twitter in December of 2008, Tweetdeckwas Twitter for me. Built around multiple columns, with one for people in my Twitter Stream, another people responding to me, and another direct messages, Tweetdeck allowed me to have real time conversations, instead of trying to decipher the firehose of content coming out of my Twitter homepage. (That was back when I wanted to be interactive. After watching endless Twitter flamewars, I’m much happier to simply retweet interesting news and comments, and save my content creation for here and the main PJM site.)

“Twitter’s plan is to push all users to Twitter.com for their advertisement revenue,” as their stock price has cratered in recent months.  That that tends to happen when companies exit their original function to go full-on SJW instead. This despite the fact that “Tweetdeck is insanely popular among Twitter desktop users. They had previously bought the client.”

But this isn’t the first time that a Sillicon Valley corporation flush with cash has bought a product in order to eventually kill it.

And twitter is being kind enough to make sure every Tweetdeck users knows it when they open the app.

stupid twitter

 

 

Before I discovered tweetdeck twitter was of no interest to me, one had to have multiple windows open or constantly be checking items to see what people were saying.  It just wasn’t worth the effort.  With Tweetdeck twitter suddenly became user friendly and starting Tweetdeck became a regular part of my startup sequence for my computer and the ability to see Direct messages at the same time as tweets was VERY useful (although Anthony Weiner might disagree).

The impending end of Tweetdeck means I would need to have a browser dedicated to twitter that I would have to constantly refresh to see what is being tweeted.

Frankly it’s just not worth it and if it’s not worth it to me how much less worth it would it be to people who use multiple social media platforms.

Twitter is hemorrhaging users, so how does twitter react?  Make it harder for users to use twitter.

That’s going to increase the customer base isn’t it?

The shareholders at Twitter might be willing to forgive Jack for being evil, perhaps some of the bigger ones are ultra liberals who want to silence conservatives so they’re onboard with it.

But will they forgive stupid that costs them users across the political spectrum?

We’ll see.

Closing FYI:  After April 15th I won’t be tweeting regularly, If I see an embedded tweet on a site I might retweet it or comment on it via the site it is embedded on.  If you would usually DM me on twitter I suggest emailing me instead at DaTechguy AT Datechguyblog.com because I’m less likely to see it, or call me (not on my cell but on my home number, I rarely carry my cell unless I’m traveling).

Closing thought: Given Trump’s dependence on twitter to bypass the media could this be a tactic to decrease his reach down the home stretch?

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By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Amazon is ending its Associates Program in Louisiana effective April 1. I received this email last week:

Greetings from the Amazon Associates Program:

We’re writing to inform you that the Louisiana state legislature has passed, and Governor John Bel Edwards has signed, a bill to establish tax nexus and impose tax collection requirements, which is forcing Amazon.com to end its advertising relationships with all Louisiana-based associates. You are receiving this email because our records indicate that you are a resident of Louisiana. If our records are incorrect, please update the details of your Associates account here before March 25, 2016 to avoid termination.

Please note that this is not an immediate termination notice and you are still a valued participant in the Amazon Associates Program. However, if this bill is not repealed or overturned prior to going into effect April 1, we will no longer pay any advertising fees for sales referred to Amazon.com or its subsidiaries, and we will not be able to accept new applications for the Amazon Associates Program from Louisiana residents.

The unfortunate consequences of this legislation affecting Louisiana residents like you were explained to the Louisiana legislature, including Senate and House leadership, as well as to the governor’s staff.

Over a dozen other states have considered essentially identical legislation but have rejected these proposals largely because of the adverse impact on their states’ residents.

Should you feel the need to voice your opinion directly, Governor Edwards’ office may be reached here.

We thank you for being part of the Amazon Associates Program, and wish you continued success in the future.

Sincerely,

The Amazon Associates Team

Now, I didn’t make a lot from my Amazon referrals, not the kind of serious change Stacy McCain makes from them, but that little commission incentive was nice every now and then.  Remember when capitalism was a good thing?

Louisiana considered passing the Amazon Tax in 2011 but at the time Governor Jindal vetoed the bill for the purpose of keeping his no new taxes pledge. There was little doubt this time that our new governor, Mr. “Tax to Prosperity” John Bel Edwards, would sign the bill.

Legislators don’t really know how much income this new tax will generate.  Studies have shown that people don’t spend quite as much on Amazon purchases once the sales tax kicks in:

Indeed, the researchers found that low-income households reduced the amount they spent on goods on Amazon by 12 percent, while high-income households pulled back by 9 percent. The researchers suggested this makes sense given that low-income shoppers generally tend to be the most price-sensitive.

The Amazon Tax had an especially chilling effect on big-ticket purchases that totaled more than $250, the study found. On these transactions, Amazon sales declined 11.4 percent once the tax was put in place.

So, here ends my relationship with the Amazon Associates program.  No more referral links at the end of my posts.  No more little cash incentives for advertising.

Sad.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

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By John Ruberry

1977 was the year that music came out of the concert halls and into the streets; when independent labels sprang out of the woodwork to feed new tastes; when rock music once again became about energy and fun; when the majors’ boardrooms lost control. Suddenly we could do anything. —Liner notes to Streets, a collection of punk singles, 1977.

That snippet comes from Greil Marcus’ “Anarchy in the UK” chapter in The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll. Such as it was nearly forty years ago in Great Britain with punk rock as it is with Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

Do you want proof? Just nine days ago the ultimate GOP insider, Karl Rove, hosted a meeting of Republican governors at the ultimate insider’s hotel, the Willard in Washington, where, the New York Times reported, George W. Bush’s Darth Vader, sitting at the end of a boardroom table, said it was not too late to stop Donald Trump.

Well if it isn’t too late now it will very likely be so by Tuesday night when the Super Tuesday results come in.

Republican politics has escaped the boardroom and it’s not just on the streets, it’s at the home computer keyboard, it’s in the employee cafeteria, and at the check-out line at the local Walmart.

Like the music industry “experts” in the late 1970s, the Republican Party has ignored what its bases really wants. And the base opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants, ObamaCare, and crony capitalism. Despite promises of eliminating the first two, the Republican Party has at best only offered shadow boxing attacks on them. The last one, crony capitalism, is seemingly esoteric, but it’s a cousin of illegal immigration. I mean, why are we bringing in computer and software developers from Asia on H1-B visas? Are there no computer science programs in the United States? Of course there are. But the US Chamber of Commerce and its members, or as Mark Levin calls the group, the US Chamber of Crony Capitalism, is behind this importation of high-paid workers because it knows big corporations will pay these indentured foreigners a lot less than qualified Americans, who often have to train their cheaper replacements.

John "Lee" Ruberry
John “Lee” Ruberry

And it’s not just American tech workers suffering. It’s happening at Disney World too.

And the US Chamber of Crony Capitalism is in bed with Republican Party. How many votes on Election Day come out of it? Maybe a few dozen.

While there are millions of Trump supporters.

And suddenly they can do anything because there is Anarchy in the USA.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

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Today’s alarmist top story at Drudge:

By month’s end, Wal-Mart will close 259 stores, of which 154 are in the U.S. (emphasis added),

Of the closures announced Friday, 154 locations will be in the U.S., including the company’s 102 smallest-format stores called Wal-Mart Express, which were opened as a test in 2011.Wal-Mart Express marked the retailer’s first entry into the convenience store arena. The stores are about 12,000 square feet and sell essentials like toothpaste. But the concept never caught on as the stores served the same purpose as Wal-Mart’s larger Neighborhood Markets: fill-in trips and prescription pickups.

Also covered in the closures are 23 Neighborhood Markets, 12 supercenters, seven stores in Puerto Rico, six discount stores and four Sam’s Clubs.

Wal-Mart will now focus in the U.S. on supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, the e-commerce business and pickup services for shoppers.

Some may call it creative destruction,

Creative destruction refers to the incessant product and process innovation mechanism by which new production units replace outdated ones. It was coined by Joseph Schumpeter (1942), who considered it ‘the essential fact about capitalism’.

Schumpeter derived the idea from Karl Marx, and the concept was brought up to exhaustion during the dotcom bubble, but Wal-Mart is not engaging in creative destruction. It is simply keeping its current business viable. The Wal-Mart Express experiment failed, and it makes no sense to extend it.

Despite Drudge’s highly alarmist “RETAIL COLLAPSE” headline, Wal-Mart is doing the right thing: by responding to market conditions, closing non-profitable stores, and focusing on the more viable “supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, the e-commerce business and pickup services for shoppers” trend, it can remain in business.

What about the people laid off? The Wal-Mart press release explains,

In total, approximately 16,000 associates will be impacted by the decision, about 10,000 of them in the U.S. More than 95 percent of the closed stores in the U.S. are within 10 miles on average of another Walmart, and the hope is that these associates will be placed in nearby locations. Where that isn’t possible, the company will provide 60 days of pay and, if eligible, severance, as well as resume and interview skills training. Whether with Walmart or elsewhere, the company’s objective is to help all associates find their next job opportunity.

Keep in mind also that (emphasis added),

Even as Walmart plans to close hundreds of locations, it also intends to open more than 300 stores in the next year, including 50 to 60 supercenters in the United States and 85 to 95 Neighborhood Markets. The stores that are to be shuttered are ones that the retailer says account for less than 1 percent of global revenue.

In brief: close 259 stores, open 300.

I realize that, when it comes to headlines, “when it bleeds, it leads.” But calling this Wal-Mart story a “RETAIL COLLAPSE” would put Chicken Little to shame.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

One of my relatives works at a company in south Florida which hired a large number of foreign workers.

This relative majored in math, one of the much-touted STEM disciplines – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – to which the Obama administration credits itself for commitments adding to over $1 billion in financial and in-kind support. My relative has stayed in the technology field for an entire career, most of which in this company.

Here’s the thing: This relative is one of the remaining few people who have been there for more than five years, after whole departments’ worth of personnel were laid off. The people laid off were instructed, as part of their severance “deal”, to train their replacements. Unlike Disney, however, the company has not instructed any local contractors or businesses to not hire the workers that had been laid off for one year.

The local economy, however, is  not expanding fast enough to provide jobs for the people who were displaced. Nationally, the real unemployment rate, the U-6, which counts the unemployed, the underemployed and the discouraged, hovers around 10%, above pre-recession levels.

All the imported staff came in as H-1B visa workers. Now we see this,

Over at The Politico we’re told former Fed Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is pushing for more H-1B visa workers.  The H-1Bs are the high skilled or special skilled foreign workers. He told a group at a foreign relations event that it would grow the economy.  These are high paying jobs and Greenspan is adamant the country needs more of these workers.  But flip over to The Hill  and we find a massive funding bill is before Congress and a part of it  could more than triple the number of H-2B visas .  H-2Bs are for the “foreign workers seeking jobs at hotels, theme parks, ski resorts, golf courses, landscaping businesses, restaurants and bars”.  These jobs are on the lower pay end. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) 80% (R-AL) says the number of H-2Bs could grow to 250,000. C’mon, our high end jobs AND our lower skilled jobs!?  What are these people saying? America needs foreign workers to do everything?

Importing lower-paid labor inherently depresses wages, which, in theory (to use Ace’s term)

makes our corporations More Globally Competitive (TM).

The cost is not measured only in wages: Ace goes on,

Now, the various American workers displaced by the foreign ones will go, of course, on welfare (after their unemployment insurance runs out, of course). Those costs will be borne by you, the American taxpayer.

Not only will those costs be borne by you, but so will all the knock-on costs. People stripped of their work are also stripped of their dignity. Work is a tangible connection, reinforced every hour of every day of every week, between present labor and good habits and future gain.

When you take away a man’s job, you also take away his daily reminder that good habits, industriousness, virtue, self-restraint, etc. in the current moment will make him wealthier in future moments.

When you take away a man’s job, then, you turn him on a path of social pathology. No longer does he have tangible unmissable daily lesson in the direct connection between actions taken in the moment and results which are born in the future. Now he lives his life day by day, welfare check to welfare check, morally adrift, the vital connective tissue of today to tomorrow severed and cauterized.

Thus, taking a man or woman who is gainfully employed and putting him or her on welfare not only imposes direct costs on society — we now all have to pay to put bread in this person’s mouth, when, previously, this person was putting the bread in his or her own mouth — but we now see that person descend into a spiral of anti-social and criminal tendencies.

Drug use, unprotected sex resulting in either little-cared-for children or abortions, petty crime, major crime.

We pay, as a society, for all those fresh costs too.

Read the whole thing.

So I ask again, Just how many more foreign workers?

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

Via Elder of Ziyon let me tell you about a company called Asal technologies

“We have a window of opportunity to demonstrate our skills,” said Murad Tahboub, CEO of Asal Technologies, a Palestinian outsourcing company that works with Comply and a handful of other Israeli-based companies. “The more people know about us … the more comfortable they will be in doing business with us.” This is easier said than done. Comply’s office in Hod Hasharon is only about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Asal Technologies in the West Bank city of Ramallah – but they are worlds apart.

and when it comes down to outsourcing code for Israeli companies there is a real advantage to going local it when not surrounded

 

In the past three years, however, some have turned to Palestinian engineers and programmers. They are cheaper, ambitious, work in the same time zone, and – surprisingly to many Israelis – are similar to them.

“The cultural gap is much smaller than we would think,” said Gai Anbar, chief executive of Comply, an Israeli start-up in this central Israeli town that develops software for global pharmaceutical companies like Merck and Teva.

 

Well of course it is, you live in the same area, generally speak the same language and have many of the same concerns. If you check out their web site and twitter feed it looks like any other tech company, but the most important page is the careers page:

Client project:A large international software company is building new products and technologies and is seeking senior and junior software engineers to join an outsourcing project at ASAL Technologies.

The details:

B.Sc. in computer science, software/computer engineering, or related disciplines.
Strong knowledge in core computer science areas.
Solid object-oriented programming skills and OO design patterns.
Strong theory/algorithms and very good understanding on how to apply advanced knowledge to solve real problems.
Hands-on experience in agile software development, mobile applications, and multiple release cycles.
Strong analytical and organizational skills.
Methodical approaches to solving technical challenges with high attention to detail and data accuracy.
Highly motivated and self-reliant individual with true willingness to learn and work as part of a team.
Strong communication skills (oral and written) with the ability to act proactively.
Extra credit: Experience with mobile application development, cloud services, web scripting languages, Android, and Microsoft platforms/technologies.
Experience with mobile personal assistants is a plus.

The kicker, these jobs are located in Ramallah/Rawabi and the West Bank

Of all the stories of the middle east I suspect this is the one which is of the greatest threat to Hamas & the PA, first of all it destroys the false narrative out there:

Do you have internet?
Yes. We do have internet and electricity. Over the past 60 years, the West Bank had not sustained any outages due to political reasons. Currently ASAL Technologies has two fiber optic cables from two different ISPs to ensure 24/7 internet connectivity. And short term plans are to move the headquarters of ASAL Technologies to Rawabi -the first Palestinian smart city- where the infrastructure of the whole city has been optimized to meet international standards.

It’s an odd question to ask a software company, if they didn’t have internet they couldn’t operate now could they?

But how can you do business amid the violence and oppression?

Does the political situation affect your work?
No. Though it is hard to visualize if one hasn’t visited Palestine, the reality is that the political situation does not affect our ability to conduct business as usual with all of our clients. And to ensure that our employees can always access their workplace, we opened up a new branch in north of Palestine, and future plans are to open up yet another branch in the south.

You mean to say the evil jooes aren’t stopping you from making your business successful? Well put me in the laundry and pre-soak me 15 minutes!

All of these shatters the careful helpless meme built up concerning Israel. That’s bad for the PA, but the real threat to them is this:

If you have a class of Palestinians unshackled from the “death to Jews” mentality and furthermore not dependent on either terror dollars from Iran or handouts from the west for a living the entire dynamic changes.

I’ve said before that there is no limits to what the Arabs can achieve if they abandon their “death to the Jews” mantra and concentrate on making a better life where they are, these guys have the  potential to prove it.

I suspect ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad et/al  doesn’t approve they’d rather teach kids to stab jews. and as for the BDS movement it will have them going Kryten

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I know you can get the MSM for nothing, but that’s pretty much what most of them are worth.

Live fully while you may and reckon not the cost

Omar Khayyam

Major Hogan:  What do you do when you’re short of cash Sharpe.

Lt. Sharpe:  Do without sir.

Sharpe’s rifles 1993

There are a lot of signs of sweeping cultural change in the United States that I’ve seen in my lifetime, brought on by the me generation of the 60’s,   many that their parents and grandparents would have disapproved of but one of the things that if you told me would be the case twenty years ago I’d have called you mad but the change that has struck me the most has been the rise of the reverse mortgage.

For generations the American Dream was home ownership.  People worked their entire life for that goal and once the home was paid off it represented a solid piece of wealth that nobody could take away from them.  Once you owned a clear home the possibilities were grand.  You could sell it and move to a bigger or better home largely paid for by the sale and by working hard own it clear in a much shorter time, You could leverage it for a business that would, again with hard work, not only pay for a home but mean not only your home but your livelihood was not dependant on others.  It could be passed on to one of your children or even a grandchild with the understanding that they would handle things you couldn’t while you were alive, or if all of your children had their own homes upon your death it could be sold  and the profits split among them.

Of course this meant sacrifice. Maybe you didn’t get that big TV that you wanted, or that deluxe grille. Maybe you went to a local pond or beach on a family trip instead of an expensive vacation. Your kids didn’t have the latest game system but they had money in a savings account that you could give them when they were older. You didn’t have to have everything now, you got ahead and enjoyed what you had.

It was the judeo christian ethic at its finest celebrating work and temperance and the well-being of others.

In other words you worked hard not only to have that real property not just for a place to live but for the future of your family. You did without extra comforts for your family.  It wasn’t all about you, it’s about them.

Consider instead the reverse mortgage:

A reverse mortgage operates on the exact opposite principle. Rather than building up equity that can be passed onto a future generation you are using your home to build up debt to provide either additional comfort or to get out of a current situation. Rather than something to pass on to your family your house passed to a creditor unless of course your heirs are willing to inherit your debt.

It comes from the idea that you wanted that big screen and the package with 1000 channels. You’re going to get that ultimate smart phone. You’re going on that expensive trip and eating out every chance you can get. Why setting for coffee when you have that triple mocha cappuccino. Who cares if there is anything for the children or grandchildren what did they do for you? Charge it now and worry later and if you can’t pay it off or I still want it when I don’t have the case anymore, the reverse mortgage can do the trick

It’s the exact opposite of the judeo christian ethic and the ultimate expression of the “Me” generation.

You worry about your present. You DESERVE those extra comforts now and you certainly don’t need a place to live once you’re dead. And why is it up to you to worry about those children or grandchildren anyways, presuming you if you have any, can’t they take care of themselves like you did? It isn’t about them, it’s about you. Future generations aren’t my problem it’s all about ME.

This might seem like a small thing but it’s what secular progressive culture is about, it’s about me, it’s about now and when it’s all about you, nothing else matters. It produces a group of people happy to mortgage future generations for their own immediate gratification.

This is the fruit of the secular progressivism of the Me generation. An army of Veruca salts.

Most people who spend their employment years in the U.S. will never hear of Fatca, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. Fatca was enacted in 2010 under the Obama Democrat administration.

However, Fatca affects an estimated eight million American citizens working overseas. As the Wall Street Journal points out (emphasis added) there are compliance costs,

Fatca requires that foreign banks, brokers, insurers and other financial institutions give the U.S. Internal Revenue Service detailed asset and transaction records for any accounts held by Americans, including corporate accounts controlled by American employees. If a firm fails to comply, the IRS can slap it with a 30% withholding tax on transactions originating in the U.S. Facing such risks and compliance costs, many foreign firms have decided it’s easier to dump their American clients.

And forget about overseas business partnerships or future promotions,

American expats in the Fatca age are also less attractive as employees and business partners, as any financial accounts they can access must now be exposed to government scrutiny—not only from the U.S. but potentially also from more than 100 other countries that have signed Fatca-related information-sharing agreements with Washington. Americans up for executive posts in Brazil, Singapore, Switzerland and elsewhere have been asked by their managers to renounce their U.S. citizenship or lose their promotion

Renouncing your citizenship is a momentous decision that is never taken lightly; now it’s also more expensive since the fee went up this year to $2,350 (used to be $450), in addition to exit taxes on current assets.

So the U.S. workforce, currently at its lowest participation rate in 38 years, is facing pressure from all sides, with (among others):

  • The unknown consequences of the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership, of which even its staunchest supporters believe will result in job losses in the U.S.,
  • the huge influx of skilled and unskilled labor into the country, including H1B visa workers which may get paid 40% less than the American workers who are forced to train them before they are laid off, as was the case with Disney.

And now, for the millions of Americans who have found overseas employment,

  • Increased financial risks and compliance costs
  • Plus additional government scrutiny, “not only from the U.S. but potentially also from more than 100 other countries that have signed Fatca-related information-sharing agreements”, information which can be used against them by the 100 “other countries,” many of which are not democracies committed to human rights.

But hey, the 8 million Americans living overseas are not here to complain, and the current administration is not interested in a welcoming business environment. It’s just one more instance, as the WSJ put it, of “U.S. tax and regulatory policies that hamper the entire U.S. economy.”

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

Donald Rumsfeld famously defined the two unknowns (emphasis added):

There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.

Monday’s big announcement was that eleven Pacific Rim nations including the U.S. reached final agreement on the largest regional trade accord in history, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Their combined economies amount to 40% of the world’s gross domestic product. China is not in the partnership.

The Obama administration considers the TPP “a legacy-making achievement,”

“When more than 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders, we can’t let countries like China write the rules of the global economy,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “We should write those rules, opening new markets to American products while setting high standards for protecting workers and preserving our environment.”

That argument — that the Pacific pact would be a bulwark against China’s power and a standard-setter for global commerce — will be central to the president’s hard sell ahead to Congress, administration officials said.

Supporters like Ian Bremmer see the TPP as a means to convince China towards better economic integration with the U.S.

Detractors like Joseph Stiglitz consider it a step backward, “managed trade for corporate interests.”

So here are a few of the things that we know we don’t know:

How will it affect U.S. employment? Even Bremmer concedes it will have a “slightly negative” effect in manufacturing jobs. How slight? How immediate? Considering the lowest workforce participation rate of the lat 38 years, this is a very important question.

How will the compromise on biologics and other patents affect American companies who invest decades of research and billions of dollars in their creation and development?

Additionally,

The TPP includes an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism that allows companies to sue governments.

How are America’s rule of law, legal sovereignty, Common Law tradition, and Constitutional provisions protected under such mechanism?

Those are a few of the questions that come to mind.

As for the things we don’t know we don’t know, even when some provisions were leaked, the full text of the agreement itself had not been made public as of the writing of this post.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

It’s been just over a year since when the end of the Market Basket wars when an employee strike resulted in beloved owner Arthur T Demoulas returning as CEO of the new england chain.

Some people might wonder if Arthur T Demoulas was worth it. That question was answered this week:

A Prntly exclusive investigation that found price chopper to be the worst grocery store in the country alao ranked Market Basket the #1 grocery store in America.
The New England based chain was found to have the best overall deals compared to regional competitors. Specials and markdown prices are common place.
They also have the best customer service, receiving a whopping 98/100 score from customers.

Best deals, best customer service cripes what more could anyone ask. And if you are a GOP candidate for President you might want to take note of this paragraph:

Last year, employees of Market Basket ended a successful two-month strike and consumer boycott not for a contract or higher wage, but to reinstate their beloved fired CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. Workers at the chain are non-unionized, but the entire two-month campaign effected practically every store and almost every employee participated. They even rejected offers of representation from the Teamsters and United Food and Commercial Workers.

You can find my extensive coverage of the Market Basket Wars here but consider how much this must piss off the Arthur S. people. Yeah they got a billion dollars from the sale but they were rich anyways.

market basket 008Yesterday we were in need of some groceries so I stopped by the Market Basket down the road from my house, bought what I needed, picked up a bargain or two that was on sale and then left.

That story would normally not be blog or tweet worthy, but the fact is one year ago there was a real question if Market Basket as a company would survive. Even after Arthur T and the workers won the hit the store took combined with the debt needed for the purchase was in question.

So Saturday when I visited I took my camera to see exactly what was going on.

And talked to two employees about the strike and aftermath.

Now a job at a supermarket is not one that’s very exciting but when you are facing the loss of a job or the knowledge that you’re going to be paying more every single week for your food. A boring day at the market becomes something to be appreciated.

Be thankful for boring times, because it’s exciting times when the trouble comes.

Yesterday as I was channel surfing I stumbled on Brooke Baldwin CNN show as she was about to do a segment on why women should not stay with cheating husbands based on Josh Duggan.

The irony of the segment of course was that Hillary Clinton name did not come up once, and while that was the source of some humor on twitter

the segment that followed was even funnier.

It consisted of Ms. Baldwin and a panel talking about the latest Donald Trump vs Megyn Kelly vs Roger Ailes feud.

Now that the subject was the topic of the segment wasn’t a huge shock particularly considering that the Politico story on the subject was on top of Memeorandum at the time.

foxtvsk

However the entire segment consisted of the people at the table holding the following consensus beliefs:

1. Donald Trump is bad man who is hurting the GOP

2. Roger Ailes hitting trump is dangerous for Fox because he is the GOP front runner

3. Fox, Trump Megyn Kelly & the GOP will be damaged by this “feud”.

Now it wouldn’t be odd to me for eggs on twitter to have an opinion like this but these guys on CNN are supposed to be pros

The “feud” which has gone from Trump, to ailes, to trump to other fox guys back to trump does everything that both Trump and Fox would like to see.

First for Trump, he is the leader in all the polls, the only way for someone to catch up with him in the short term  is to get big press because it’s all a perception game when it comes to contributions.

The louder Trump is the more the press covers his, the more they cover him the less likely anybody else is going to get any kind of press from the cable or network news, and the less coverage they get the less likely they will advance.

(What you thought Jeb Bush was Unhappy Trump is constantly attacking him?).

But as much as Trump loves this Fox loves it more.

Granted the CNN + MSNBC audiences are dwarfed by Fox but how must Roger Ailes love that both networks are basically running an ad for Fox every hour at no charge?

How much must he love them having to defend Megyn Kelly (who is a big girl and can take care of herself.)

If that’s not enough while NBC, CBS & ABC may have no interest in stuff like the Planned Parenthood protests they can’t get enough of the Fox vs Trump stuff and unlike the cable networks their audiences are MUCH larger than their own.

And that’s just the short-term advantage, what happens when these people who have been told for years that Fox is the focus of evil propaganda in the world watch it and actually see that it does, well news?

Fox in general and Megyn Kelly in particular can’t help but come out ahead.

I know I talked about this a few weeks ago but it’s really amazing to watch the MSM “professionals” fall for it again and again and again.

What a bunch of Maroons.

An aside, in fairness to Brooke Baldwin I should give her two disclaimers:

1.  Every single other newscast that followed did the same thing as her team

2.  She did point out that there was no indication that any of this stuff had done a thing to hurt Trump

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The only way I can keep doing this full time is if my pay comes from you. My annual goal is Twenty Two grand which will give me a nominal living doing this.

For a Donald Trump the 22K that would cover my expenses for the and the extra $10K that would pay for the roof, car, floor kitchen and bathroom repairs that I had to put on plastic would be nothing and if my traffic was the size of a Drudge getting enough people to kick in to cover those bills would likely not be an issue.

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With the stock market going crazy let me give you some free investment advice.

Invest in companies based on the following criteria:

1. Choose a company  that makes a profit regularly.  

2. Choose a company that sells an item people actually need.

3. Choose a company whose supply chain is not vulnerable to international events.

Follow those simple rules and you’ll never overpay for a Huffington Post or a Newsweek again and never have to worry about a market crash.

No charge.

Update:  And I thought I was making a true but slightly amusing point:

America will always plant crops and need chemicals to service those crops. And it will always need payment, delivery and data services. But will it always need Facebook and Twitter? Cisco runs a large proportion of the Internet; Facebook hosts your grandma’s pictures. You do the math.

Alas American students are too busy being taught gender theory to be exposed to math?

This morning I wrote about a business that answered the $15 minimum wage in SF with Robots eliminating many of those positions. Via Lynn on Twitter we see a SF business that has gone in the other direction


since April, along with newly printed menus, every table sports a laminated card explaining just what a “living wage pizza” means.

All workers now earn $15 to $25 an hour as part of an experimental business model that also did away with gratuities and raised prices, making meals at all five locations “sustainably served, really … no tips necessary.”

The Result? A $30 pizza and a 25% drop in sales and the loss of lunch hours for some workers and more:

“The necessity of paying people a living wage in the Bay Area is clear, so it’s hard to argue against it, and it’s something I’m really proud to be able to try doing,” he said. “At the same time, I’m terrified of going out of business after 18 years.”

I predict a chain of robot Pizza shops in the area soon.

*********************************************************************

I have yet to be replaced by a Robot so the only way I can keep doing this full time is if my pay comes from you. My annual goal is Twenty Two grand which will give me a nominal living doing this.

For a Donald Trump the 22K that would cover my expenses for the and the extra $10K that would pay for the roof, car, floor kitchen and bathroom repairs that I had to put on plastic would be nothing and if my traffic was the size of a Drudge getting enough people to kick in to cover those bills would likely not be an issue.

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There is a new fast food chain that is opening up in San Francisco per this report at KQED:

San Francisco’s Newest Fast Food: Healthy, Cheap and Served by Robots

Do tell:

Across the country, restaurants are looking for innovative ways to keep humans out of the picture. But what’s unique about Eatsa is the focus on health and taste. It’s a fully-automated experience, so Eatsa can afford to offer high-quality food for less. Workers’ salaries account for about 30 percent of the restaurant industry’s costs.

The team spent over two years rigorously testing the texture of the sauces and the grain to optimize the taste. Eatsa will also offer a range of beverages, which are sugar-free or low in sugar. Eatsa plans to open two more locations in the coming months, including a restaurant in Los Angeles.

This story is likely no surprise for our regular readers but for our friends on the left it must come as quite a shock that they have made this alternative cost effective:

Yup, technology will serve the meals, not unskilled, inexperienced, $15 an hour, coffee break and maternity/paternity leave humans. Thanks to unions and Leftists, the poor will get poorer, those in poverty will have fewer opportunities to get out from under and the techies will continue to take over the world.

And given the situation already in California before this happened:

The latest figures, for 2013, show California’s housing cost adjusted poverty rate to be 23.4 percent, nearly half again as high as the national average of 15.9 percent.

Back in the years when the nation had a “California Dream,” it would have been inconceivable for things to have gotten so bad — particularly amidst what is widely hailed as a spectacular recovery. The 2013 data shows California to have the worst housing cost adjusted poverty rate among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. But it gets worse. California’s poverty rate is now more than 50 percent higher than Mississippi, which long has set the standard for extreme poverty in the United States (Figure 1).

And the migration of those still able to leave that began long before

How bad are things in California? California’s domestic migration has been negative every year since at least 1990. In fact, since 1990, according to the U.S. Census, 3,642,490 people, net, have left California. If they were in one city, it would be the third largest city in America, with a population 800,000 more than Chicago and within 200,000 of Los Angeles’ population.

It’s very likely that we will see California revert to the old feudal days of powerful rich landowners and peons with nothing who will have only the state and the church to sustain them.  That is of course if the feudal lords of the left allow the church to remain.

 

Two closing thoughts:

1.   As this chain expands how long will it take for other chains needing to compete with them to also go the robot route?

2.  How much longer will it be before the cooks are replaced by machines too?

 

*********************************************************************

I have yet to be replaced by a Robot so the only way I can keep doing this full time is if my pay comes from you. My annual goal is Twenty Two grand which will give me a nominal living doing this.

For a Donald Trump the 22K that would cover my expenses for the and the extra $10K that would pay for the roof, car, floor kitchen and bathroom repairs that I had to put on plastic would be nothing and if my traffic was the size of a Drudge getting enough people to kick in to cover those bills would likely not be an issue.

But I have to take things as they are so if you like what you see here including my paid writers like Tim Imholt, Fausta Wertz, Pat Austin et/al and have a little extra you can spare.  I’d appreciate it if you would hit DaTipJar





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I spoke to Lindsey BonaDonna of Eternal Lite at the Catholic Marketing Trade Show

Lindsey’s voice is VERY low so I’ve taken the liberty of including the sound file that was recorded with the mike here.

Their web site is here You can find them on twitter here

I speak to John Sincere at the Catholic Marketing Trade show

The WQPH audio of the interview is here.

You can find Sine Cera Catholic gifts here they are on facebook here

By John Ruberry

Last week in this space I wrote about President Obama’s war on the suburbs. But there is more to Obama’s agenda. It’s a war on the majority–or if you prefer–a war on white people.

The New York Post outlined this move last week:

Unbeknown to most Americans, Obama’s racial bean counters are furiously mining data on their health, home loans, credit cards, places of work, neighborhoods, even how their kids are disciplined in school — all to document “inequalities” between minorities and whites.

This Orwellian-style stockpile of statistics includes a vast and permanent network of discrimination databases, which Obama already is using to make “disparate impact” cases against: banks that don’t make enough prime loans to minorities; schools that suspend too many blacks; cities that don’t offer enough Section 8 and other low-income housing for minorities; and employers who turn down African-Americans for jobs due to criminal backgrounds.

Big Brother Barack wants the databases operational before he leaves office, and much of the data in them will be posted online.

So civil-rights attorneys and urban activist groups will be able to exploit them to show patterns of “racial disparities” and “segregation,” even if no other evidence of discrimination exists.

When governments collect data their intentions are not always benign. William the Conqueror did not authorize the Domesday Day Book–the most extensive collection of economic data during the Middle Ages–out of curiosity. The English king was seeking taxing possibilities. Fear of new and additional taxes by the populace prevented the Russian Empire–a totalitarian state, I need to emphasize–from conducting its only census until 1897.

The Post writer superbly summarized Obama’s goal in his racial data mining. By attacking the majority culture–white Americans–the most liberal president ever hopes to continue “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” and to “spread the wealth around” even while he is walking the streets of Chicago in retirement with a Republican successor in the White House. Most federal agencies, particularly activist ones such as the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, are dominated by hard-core leftists who enjoy civil service protection. Another president can only fire the top officials.

Meanwhile amid this so-called institutional racism, Asian Americans may soon surpass whites in terms of wealth.

Congress can perhaps prevent this assault on most Americans by blocking funding on Obama’s twisted fairness scheme. But the Republican majorities in the House and Senate don’t seem interested in challenging Obama–campaign promises notwithstanding.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

 Ted Cruz:  In 2012 we searched out and found the one person on the face of the planet who had actually designed &  implemented a program just like obamacare and that’s who we nominated as our presidential candidate.   Literally there are seven billion people on the planet and you could walk up to anyone one of them and say “Excuse me Sir have you designed and implemented a program like Obama care”

Man in Crowd:  Not lately

Cruz:  Then you would make a much better candidate.  Lunacy!

Ted Cruz May 30th 2015

Four years ago I wrote this after Iowa:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if Romney is the nominee I will have no problem voting for him over Obama, but lets ask the question: If you are a GOP candidate running for congress against Obamacare do you really want the author of Romneycare at the top of your ticket? Do you want to be asked why you support the author of Romneycare while running against Obamacare? I don’t think so.

But on the day before the election I made this point concerning Romney vs Obama

I bit the bullet and pushed for Romney even though as I recalled that in Massachusetts not only did he have no coattails but when Gay Marriage won 4-3 for all his conservative religious beliefs he was dead silent (how that’s working out for ya GOP)

And Lisa Graas put it well:

It is the Christians who get out the vote, folks. We are the base of the Republican Party. We were ignored (and even hated) by the establishment. Some will try to say that the ORCA failure is itself to blame. No. It’s that Mitt Romney relied on it in the first place, instead of seeking the help of the socially conservative base of the party, that he lost. No “moderate” candidate will ever win for the GOP, least of all one who treats us little people as if we don’t matter.

And yet what did Lisa Graas do?

I voted for Mitt Romney. I voted for the whole Republican ticket. I could have done far more than simply vote for him. He never asked. He didn’t want my help. So, he lost.

Well now the GOP isn’t even waiting for the primaries to be finished for the mask to slip:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is gearing up to challenge some House Republicans in primary elections, frustrated after much of its agenda has been stymied by a small pocket of conservative GOP lawmakers.

The influential and well-heeled business group is already eyeing several races, but the plans are still in their infancy and the targets have not yet been decided upon, according to more than a half dozen Republican sources on K Street and Capitol Hill.

Ace:

Begun, the Corporate Wars Have: After all those claims that we have to be united, and that we can’t have these bitter primary fights, guess what? The US Chamber of Commerce is gearing up to take out the few conservatives willing to defy the Corporatist wing of the party.

And Hotair notes the fallout:

I’m trying to imagine the effect on conservative morale next spring if we end up with a double whammy of Jeb Bush cruising towards the nomination while the Chamber of Commerce sets about zapping House conservatives like Jim Jordan, Raul Labrador, and Tim Huelskamp. If you thought Jebmania turnout on the right was looking ferocious before, wait until the last stumbling blocks to comprehensive immigration reform have been primaried into oblivion by country-clubbers.

Normally the final GOP argument is the supreme court but given what we’ve seen from John Roberts I don’t know that I’d trust a Jeb Bush to be better when it comes to the Supreme Court either.

The real question is why the are letting the cat out of the bag early.  Could it be because they are afraid that an actual conservative might be nominated and they want to make sure any such conservative has no support?

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I remember back in the 80’s I was talking to a friend who thought I was being an alarmist when I said that the same internet connection that allows a person on the net could be used by someone else to either read or control your home machine.  Well time for me to be an alarmist again.

There is an update to the story concerning that car hack I wrote about a few days
ago

Chrysler said Friday it was recalling roughly 1.4 million vehicles after security researchers exposed a flaw that allowed hackers to kill transmissions remotely.

The recall affects several models of Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler cars.

The company maintained it was conducting the recall “out of an abundance of caution” and not because of any reports that hackers had actually exploited the security defects.

I don’t think people realize just how bad this is and what it’s going to mean consider:

As any person who owns a computer know, systems are constantly being updated to close hacking hole that are discovered. While some are discovered by the companies internal security systems others are discovered after there are actual victims of a vulnerability.

Are manufacturers going to recall cars every time they need to install a security patch?

Furthermore as anyone who has either upgraded or had a system update there is occasion when said update crashes.  And while losing data you need might seem like a matter of life and death due to a software crash, if such said software crash takes place in a moving vehicle it may become an actual matter of life and death for those in said car and those around them.

And such hacks don’t have to come direct from the net, consider as more cars are setup to sync with various devices it’ entirely probable that malicious code on said devices could be designed to migrate to the purpose of

1. Hacking a car’s software

2. using the car’s net interface to notify said hacker of the specific vehicle is hacked.

Can you imagine a ransomeware on a car?  Pay me or pay the dealer who has to re-initialize all the software.  Or even worse.  Your son or daughter is driving and you get an email  pay or their car swerves into traffic.  You’re given a few minutes to approve what are you going to do?

There in one obvious solution.  There is absolutely no reason why an open system of convenience can not be completely independent of any critical systems.  That should be the case, that way any hack would only have the effect of inconvenience.

Personally I’d just as soon keep all of a car’s computers closed systems.

Expect to see a lot more of this.

 

Hugo Chávez, back when he was alive, seized farms from their rightful owners in the interest of his “Bolivarian revolution.” He started small,

A group of red shirt-wearing Chavista thugs show up at a farm and seize the farm in the name of the government, under the pretext that the 103 hectare [254 acres] farm is “idle land” and that the law allows them to take it over for “food production.”

And worked his way up,

Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela, ‘has ordered the confiscation of 717,000 acres from a British company amid a disagreement over compensation for earlier seizures of ranchland from the firm.

717,000 acres is nearly the area of the state of Rhode Island (776,957 acres). Soon enough, Hugo ran out of land to seize.

The results are food shortages, rationing, black markets, empty store shelves, and long lines, as it still happens in Cuba, and as it happened in the Soviet Union and its satellites, and in every other Communist state.

Since of course the Venezuelan regime is not going to recognize the fact that Communism doesn’t work, they blame everyone else (another Communist trait), including hoarders,

In March, Venezuelans were so worried about food shortages and diminishing stocks of basic goods, fingerprint scanners were installed in supermarkets in an attempt to crack down on hoarding.

Now, looking at that statement, a couple of things stand out:

  • Individual Venezuelans weren’t the ones installing fingerprint scanners; it was the Communist regime.
  • Venezuela’s shortages are not caused by hoarders; its shortages are caused by failed economic policy. For instance, if I felt a need to hoard toilet paper, I could drive to Costco and spend $200 on a year’s supply, and Costco would still not run out.
  • Venezuelans’ rights are down to nothing – the government even keeps count of their grocery purchases and penalizes those who don’t meet the criteria.

Now

Farmers and manufacturers who produce milk, pasta, oil, rice, sugar and flour have been told to supply between 30 per cent and 100 per cent of their products to the state stores.

“Told to supply” means “to hand over.”

You’re probably thinking, “But Fausta, we have bigger things to worry about: ISIS, border crime, Iran nuclear deals. Why are you carping about Venezuela?”

Because, my friends, Venezuela is showing that free markets and free peoples go together:

markets—the mind of free millions—allocate scarce resources more efficiently and fairly than do committees in Congress; that the collusion of government with either big business or big labor stifles competition and leads to political cynicism; that government will be respected more when it does a few things well rather than too many poorly; and that innovation and human progress spring not from bureaucratic elites but from the genius of individuals.

That is what dictatorships – whether they name their agendas “Bolivarian revolution”, Marxist, Communist, or whatever new term –  don’t want you to know: free markets, free peoples.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog

 

 

 

 

The BBCA cable channel for the most part seems to focus on Star Trek The Next Generation reruns, so for the past few years I rarely tuned in, but knew of Top Gear – three guys, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, driving fast cars and doing guy stuff.

I rarely watched Top Gear (most recently their Argentina episode) but was aware that Clarkson (who lives up to his obnoxiousness) was fired over some argument with his producer over cold cuts. That put the kibosh on the world’s most watched reality TV show.

What I didn’t know is that an Express.co.uk investigation showed the corporation had killed off a £500 million cash cow that aired for twelve years and has a substantial fan base.

That’s close to US$770million. The Kardashians/Jenners (sp?) can only dream of those numbers. You would think that the producer could have made sure Clarkson got his steak.

Not that it was Clarkson’s first argument; the show was killed because,

“They possibly didn’t like the fact he was so successful and that Top Gear with him in didn’t fit the BBC’s image.”

Clarkson Hammond and May are up and running their own live show, and may find a new home at Netflix.

So

Yesterday the publicly funded BBC announced 1,000 jobs were to go due to a £150million shortfall.

Of course, the “BBC’s image” is that of a taxpayer-funded entity, lacking transparency,

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee said: “The National Audit Office must now be given unrestricted access to the BBC if it is to provide assurance that the Corporation is spending money wisely and trading fairly.”

I bring up the BBC not because of Pete’s interest in Dr. Who, or my somewhat-lacking interest in Top Gear, but as yet another example of how government ownership is accompanied by bureaucracy, inefficiency, lack of transparency, and poor decision making.

Oh, and the producer’s still at the Beeb, and Clarkson’s replacement was last seen riding an electric bicycle around London.

An. Electric. Bicycle.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog

All over TV today we saw Walmart declaring they were pulling the confederate flag because it was a symbol of hate, slavery and many were offended by it.

eBay, Sears, and Amazon quickly followed suit in pulling items with the rebel battle flag.

Now while no honest person will deny what the Reb flag meant to black Americans (and not just during the Civil War but during the years of Jim Crow & the civil rights battle) and can understand why these companies would want to remove a symbol involved with slavery & Murder Imagine my surprise when I went online & found this:

ussr1

and this:

che1

and this at WalMart’s site:

soviet2

and Amazon

soviet3

 

Now there are millions of people who were slain under these banners, and hundreds of millions in many countries enslaved under them.  There are tens if not hundreds of thousands of Americans alive today who escaped the bearers of these flags and those who operated in their name.  In my first job out of college I worked with a man who escaped the Soviet Union and even today people in Ukraine are suffering thank to a Russian Leader who once proudly served under these flags.

So this begs two questions one of which I already asked:

#1.  Given that Walmart & others have removed the Confederate Flag from their sites because of its historic connection to slavery that gives offense, how do they justify continuing to carry these products when hundreds of thousands have living memory of the atrocities committed in their name including the deaths of tens of millions?

#2  Given the media publicity concerning the removal of the Confederate Flag items from these stores will the MSM,  particularly CNN directly question if WalMart, Sears, Amazon and eBay will be as diligent in removing these offensive items, and if the companies equivocate in any way will they ask why the tens of millions who died and the hundreds of millions who were enslaved IN LIVING MEMORY these things do not demand their removal?

Or must we wait until the 21st century when the Cold War has been over for 150 years for their removal?

Update: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit:


“I wouldn’t put Confederate kitsch up in my house, but mainstream media figure Claire Shipman and former Obama press secretary Jay Carney put up Communist kitsch in their house. There is something intriguing about how the elite left tolerates art celebrating those who killed 100 million people in the last century, but seeks the erasure of anything associated with the Confederacy.”

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One of the big arguments for the service Uber is the idea of letting the free market manage the cost of transportation rather than the using licensing of taxi badges as a revenue source for the state and the badge owners.

I’m delighted that Uber is so enamored with the free market one thing about the free market, so many things can swing it.

Uber Technologies says it is banning firearms of any kind during rides arranged through the Uber platform, and drivers or riders who violate the rule may lose access to the platform. The rules also apply to Uber’s affiliates.

The company said Friday it changed its firearms policy on June 10 to make sure riders and drivers feel comfortable. In a statement, Uber said it made the change after reviewing feedback from both passengers and Uber drivers. Previously it had deferred to local law on the issue.

If I was an investor in Uber I might be worried about the idea of offending a good chunk of my potential customer base by making such a move, but then again I could always invest in a company with a different policy.

While the investors might be worried about the free market implications, if I was a customer or a driver I’d be worried about the company giving the official “all clear” to any potential armed robber looking for an easy mark.

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The Defeat of trade legislation by an outsized 302-126 vote has some obvious winners and losers, the biggest loser of course being the White House that sent the president to lobby for a vote that came up 92 votes short.

President Obama suffered a major defeat to his Pacific Rim free trade initiative Friday as House Democrats helped derail a key presidential priority despite his last-minute, personal plea on Capitol Hill.

One of the winners here is Bernie Sanders, although he was not able to stop this legislation in the Senate he has been very vocal in his opposition to this making it a campaign issue.

There is little doubt in my mind that his raising of the issue on the trail making it the talk of every single safe liberal district that would normally be able to provide Barack Obama the needed tough votes gave liberals pause.


Sanders acknowledged that the trade agreement remains secret and said that “talks to the reason why you should vote against it.”

“If a major major bill, which deals with 40 percent of the world’s economy, is coming before the United States Congress and members of Congress of don’t know what’s in it, you think that might be a good reason to vote against it,” he said.

Granted he didn’t use that standard for Obamacare but either way this being an issue at a time of year when there is plenty of time for someone to start a primary race made this vote too hot for many house Democrats to handle.

But if Bernie Sanders has gotten a win there is one other person who is not only glad to see this bill gone but even happier to see it lose by a large margin and that’s Hillary Clinton who has been taking a bruising from Sanders on the campaign trail:

This week, ahead of Friday’s House vote on giving the president trade promotion authority, Sanders turned up the heat on Clinton.

“I frankly don’t understand how you could be a major candidate for president of the United States — Hillary Clinton, or anybody else — and not have an opinion on that issue,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg’s Al Hunt on the Charlie Rose Show on Thursday. Asked if Clinton’s stance amounts to a “cop out,” Sanders said yes.

This vote was considered such a nail biter that the President himself went to lobby house members and if the vote was a nail biter, in either direction, it would have spelled trouble for Hillary.

If the Bill lost by just a few votes Sanders would not only be able to take the victory lap that he surely will, but would be able to note that this victory was done without any help from the supposedly influential Democrat front runner.

And if the Bill passed by just a few votes (as such votes often do) it would have been even worse. Sanders would have pointed to the Clinton silence and blamed her for not doing anything to stop it. That would have made her silence even deadlier.

However with the bill not only defeated but defeated by such a large margin Hillary can say it was a non issue as there was “no chance” of this bill passing and bush off critique of her silence noting the bill’s failure was a forgone conclusion and given the ignorance of the voters who support her she would be almost certainly able to pull it off.

So Bernie take a bow but be aware that while Hillary isn’t saying anything in public she is sitting in her motorcade smiling.

*****************************

My goal for 2015 is Twenty Two grand which will give me a nominal living doing this.

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I love cars.

What I love the most about cars is, cars represent independence: An individual with a car at their disposal is free to go anywhere they please, whenever they please, unfettered. All they need is a driver’s license and a full tank of gas. You may not even have to know how to drive, if you can avail yourself of a willing licensed driver. No need to look up mass-transit schedules or routes (unless your trip involves a ferry). No need to get tickets in advance.

Get in the car, and go.

Of course I love luxury cars: Luxury cars with Brits, like Mr. Steed in the 1960s The Avengers TV series and the Jaguar villains (you may enjoy the ad’s “making of” video, too) especially, and of course, beautiful classic cars. I even remember sighing the time I saw a 1930s Bugatti; but I also love new, modestly-priced cars.

Owners of 2016 Hyundai Elantras have at their disposal hundreds of technological and safety features – from paint quality to power steering to traction control systems – at a price that is lower than the annual median U.S. salary, that were not available to the purchaser of a 1930s Bugatti, which only the very rich could afford. The Bugatti’s buyer wouldn’t even have been able to imagine the Elantra’s many features, and the fact that it can be serviced most anywhere in the free world. The Elantra is one sweet ride.

Why is that? Competition: Hundreds of car makers marketing their products in the United States and around the world, competing for the consumers’ favor. A consumer economy beats a command economy, all the way.

I was thinking of this while writing yesterday’s post at my blog on the Venirauto.

What the hey is a Venirauto?, you’re probably asking. The Venirauto is a car manufactured by the Iranians exclusively for the Venezuelan market, now that nearly all foreign car manufacturers have left Venezuela once the government insisted that they could not be paid in U.S. dollars.

Venirauto is 51% Iranian and 49% Venezuelan, 100% government-owned.

Putting aside the extensive and aggressive Iranian presence in Latin America, a subject that ought to be of great concern but goes mostly ignored, the Venirauto embodies a command-driven economy:

  • Francisco Espinoza, president of Venirauto group, “Our achievement is based on inspiration given by our late commander, Hugo Chavez. He wanted Venezuela to ally with Iran, and we’re doing so.”
  • The first model, the Turpial at a price of Bs. 17 million (US$7,906), is a 4-door sedan based on the old Kia Pride model. The second is the Centauro, at a price of Bs. 23 million (US$11,069), and is based on the Peugeot 405 given that the French firm is the main supplier of engines and technology to the Iranian company.

Don’t expect to find those two in Kelley’s Blue Book Top 10 anytime soon: The Peugeot 405 was introduced on 1987 and, according to Wikipedia, is still produced under license in Iran and Egypt but ceased production in France in 1997. The old Kia Pride (not to be confused with the Kia New Pride) was in production from 1987 to 2000. In effect, the Venezuelans, who get government-subsidized gasoline almost for free, can now drive technology nearly thirty years old.

A picture’s worth a thousand words: Compare the new 2015 Venirauto plant with a Hyundai assembly plant at Kancheepuram district in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu October 4, 2012.

For your automotive enjoyment, also compare the 10 iconic Soviet cars with the 10 iconic American cars.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog

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Our June Premium for tip jar hitters of $50 or more is Elizabeth The Anchoress Scalia Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life

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Glenn linked to a post at the American interest about the price war in oil & the problem for non-Saudi members of the cartel:

The Saudis have the funds to make up for the budget shortfalls cheap oil is foisting upon them, but the rest of OPEC isn’t anywhere near as well prepared. Nigeria, Iran, and Venezuela have all agitated for the cartel to take action, though none have volunteered to be the one to actually make the necessary cuts. 

But there is a key line from that piece that not only explains why the supply & demand plan of the Saudi’s have failed but it also says all you want to know about why America is still destination one for the entire world (emphasis mine:

 Rather, they’ve been hard at work innovating their way to profitability even at $65 per barrel.

Innovating  do tell:

The cost cuts and productivity gains that shale oil producers expect come in three categories…First, there are savings from putting pressure on suppliers of drilling rigs, hydraulic fracturing and other services. Companies have generally been saying they expect reductions of 20 to 30 per cent this year.Second, companies benefit from focusing spending on their most productive assets. “You’re dropping all your worst-performing rigs and worst-performing rig crews and moving the rigs you have to your core areas,” says Randall Collum of Genscape, an energy research firm…Finally, there are productivity gains available from improved techniques.

In other words rather than acting as an Oligarchy that commands & expects to be obeyed would, they make themselves leaner, meaner and smarter to make their rigs profitable even at $65 a barrel.

That is America, that is western civilization it adapts, it innovates, instead of folding.

There is a difference between a culture that simply soaks money from hole in the ground for personal comfort and one made of free men that rewards competition.  That is why America is where the best and brightest go.

That is also why the Obama administration is so dangerous & must be stopped, they would convert us from a culture of doers to a culture of beggars.

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If you want journalism owned by you instead of the left elites I would ask you to hit DaTipJar and help me pay for it.

My goal for 2015 is Twenty Two grand

Olimometer 2.52

That gets all the bills paid. (including my writers like Fausta)  If I can get to Forty Thousand I can afford to travel outside of New England and/or hire me a blogger to help me get it done.

Consider Subscribing 100 Subscribers at $20 a month will get the job done.

 

Our May Premium for a tip jar hitters of $50 or more is Tim Imholt’s book: The Forest of Assassins

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My latest for Watchdog.org is now up and it’s about Uber and Mathamatics:

Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill had a phrase–that “all politics is local.” He also knew the pulse of the House and of the voters, what could pass and what could not. When challenged on his evaluation of a bill, he often answered, “I’ve always known how to count”–and suggested that this skill was one of the most important any person seeking a political career should have.

This came to mind when considering the legislation coming out of  Boston concerning Uber, the driving service that has been challenging Taxi services all over the county.

Gov. Charlie Baker has filed legislation to institute statewide regulations around ride-sharing companies such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. The move, if passed into law, could potentially give the state more regulatory control over one of the fastest-growing sectors in the economy.

You can read the rest of it here.

by Timothy Imholt

For anyone who has read my blog posts you know I have opinions that really don’t fit with either of the two major political parties. I sit in a zone that is forgotten about largely called the common sense zone, and there is no place for that in government.

I have the Uncle Steve Imholt who recently retired. He spent multiple decades as a software engineer before becoming a software engineering manager for very large programs. He is no stranger to figuring out budgets, costs, and weaving his way through government forms. I should point out that many of the software programs he managed were for government contracts. The point is, if he can’t navigate through the hurdles of a Healthcare exchange program, who can?!?!?!?!

I got this email from him recently that made me wonder how we are all going to survive the “Affordable” Care Act Rollout. I won’t render any opinion on this entire healthcare law other than to say two things. There are some aspects of my family’s life that were once covered that now aren’t. The other is that the Allied Forces defeated Hitler during World War 2 in much less time than it is taking to get this healthcare exchange fixed.

 

Here is the emails, titled: NOT HAVING TO WORRY ABOUT PAYING FOR HEALTH CARE COULD END UP KILLING ME.

 

It’s April 14, 2015 and I’m still struggling to finish my taxes. Why? Because I stopped working in September 2014.

I suppose you could call it retirement. But retirement wasn’t supposed to be so much like working.

You see, after working in IT for a long time. A good chunk of that was in health care, in both hospitals, and in the insurance side. So when 2014 hit with a ton of medical bills and retirement, I decided to itemize my health costs on my tax return. That meant I had to pull in a load of different documents from my company health savings account, the amounts I had to finance for my dentures, and about 19 different kinds of medical bills and payments. As I’m plowing through this I’m thinking, Thank God, I left COBRA in December and for 2015 only have Coventry obtained through the Healthcare.gov website.

You say so what? Well you’re going to hear the rest of the story.

I enrolled in the health coverage back in December to begin January 1. At that point, I wrote an email to the marketplace and attached a copy of my separation doc from employer saying I ended employment in September. In the email I said I believed my income would be about $70K for 2015 (a highly optimistic estimate). Using that figure the site came back with a really substantial subsidy. Still not sure how that happened, but what the heck.

In January I get a letter from the Health Insurance Marketplace saying I had not supplied sufficient documentation to justify I was earning only 70K. Actually I was unemployed until mid-February when I took a part time job because I needed to do something (retirement isn’t coming easy to me). I did the part time job for a couple of weeks but frankly, it was a lot more physical than I had originally thought. So I stopped working that and we (the wife and I) applied for early Social Security. So I used that information to send back an updated list with my pay stub from the part time job. I also indicated I thought I would be getting income as I needed from my IRA, to get me up to the 70K. This runaround eventually resulted in a long set of phone calls to the Marketplace to get my records updated – again.

I was told we were good to go.

Anyway, a week ago Friday, my wife gets notice from Social Security that her benefits would start in April for March (only the government can tell you in advance how much you are going to get for the past). Then Monday the 13th I get a call from the Social Security Admin asking why I wanted to delay getting my SS payments until April. I told the nice lady that I’d take them as soon as they could start them. While I may be dumb, I ain’t stupid.

So now I get to Tuesday. At 7PM on Tuesday I get an email from the Healthcare marketplace that I had failed to provide proper documentation on my income so I was no longer receiving the subsidy effective May 1. It was immediately followed into my in basket with an email stating that because of my recent application I could apply for benefits through June 15.

My initial reaction was HUH??? It was followed by lots of words, most of them unprintable, a few unintelligible.

I went and got a drink. Uncle Sam would have to wait until tomorrow for my taxes.

***

It’s now 3 AM on April 15, and I can’t sleep. So I get back up, finish plowing through the remainder of turbo tax and finally about 6:30 AM have them ready to e-file.

I go down, tell the wife, I think we are good to go on the taxes, but the health care was still a FUBAR.

I then make some coffee and spend a couple of minutes with my grandkids.

I decide it’s time to tackle the Health Insurance Marketplace emails. So I call the folks in London Kentucky. The support person after figuring out who I was, started looking through my files and decided that yes there was indeed a problem. She should get credit for keeping me from just starting to whimper in submission to the government.   As she worked to figure out what had happened, it dawned on her and I that the SS payments that my wife was going to get was the reason our coverage had gotten s rejected.

She basically said, this was going to happen all over again, when they received word I was going to receive social security.

I decided to let that problem wait. But I did log back into the health exchange to see that my new friend at the exchange had emailed me to say I had until June 1 to get everything fixed.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

On Thursday morning I got an email from TurboTax saying my tax return had been rejected.

I tell you that this whole thing about Obamacare cutting the cost of health care is true. I’ll be dead long before I should have been making it work.

 

Why did I want to air this publicly? I see no end of ads coming in the next election cycle about all the smooth rollout of this health insurance exchange system.

If this is smooth, I would hate to see bumpy.

 

Timothy Imholt is the author of several novels, including the newly released book THE FINAL WORLD WAR, written around the premise that Iran does get nuclear weapons and decides to use them in the fashion they have openly stated they wanted to.