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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What do you think of Trump pulling out of the last Fox News debate before Iowa?

In a word? Puerile. Look, I like Trump. I think he'd make a perfectly fine president if he does exactly what he says he will do—well, aside from some of the crazier things like getting Mexico to pay for that wall which he will not be able to get done. He won't be deporting anyone either honestly. But this is the sort of thing Trump does that always irritates me, and that is his constant need to make personal attacks which I think simply overshadows his real message and aim. Want to make America great again? I want to let you do that. But that means we need to be substantive. It means we need to be able to take a few dishings out of insult and injury. We need to be thick-skinned. We need to avoid resorting to name calling.

I think what Trump was hoping to do by rallying for the vets cause and funding the Wounded Warriors Project in lieu of the debate was to detract from the real reason he is supposedly not attending the debate.

Megyn Kelly will not be removed as a moderator.

And to me if I may put it so bluntly that is simply childish. It really, really is. Look, one thing we know about Trump—and again I need to make it clear I like Trump, but I also have to be honest with myself here—is that he is a man who gets things done. But he is also someone who is used to getting what he wants. Often times Trump is likely the most powerful man sitting in any board room, or sitting at any negotiating table. He's used to having people nod and do his bidding because they want a piece of the offered prize. They want the opportunity to do business with the mogul. And in some ways that may work well in business, but when it comes to politics, and when it comes to dealing with world figures, and especially when it comes to dealing with the American people, you have to be able to accept that you cannot always win, that you will not always have people on your side on a given issue, and that that's okay. That's a part of the beauty of our system. We have enough trouble with a whiny crybaby in the White House who wants what he wants, and doesn't care if anyone agrees, and uses the mighty pen to push things through other channels against the will of the people, and frankly outside the foundations laid out by our founding fathers.

Trump's antics sometimes inadvertently pares him to what will be considered eventually as the worst president America has ever known—Barack Obama. And I don't think the American people want that anymore, that kind of leadership (and I am using the word leadership very loosely here folks). Perhaps calling Obama a dictator is too harsh, but given the opportunity I think that is exactly what Obama would be. I think it is without question. But Trump's antics in these kinds of matters at least suggests he may have the same attitude.

"Fuck them (the Congress). If they don't go ahead with my plans I'll simply go around them because they are too stupid to understand why it is so important, why it is so grand an idea..."

I can actually hear loud and clear Trump saying something exactly like that. I really can. And if I heard as much from Obama, which even if he has not said the same thing directly his actions certainly imply it more often than not, my jaw would drop. I'd be outraged and appalled. And quite honestly, terrified.

To be quite honest Obama does terrify me, and with the chance that Hillary Clinton might make her way into the White House despite all common sense and logic—I am shitting my pants at a rate far faster than my underwear supply can keep up!

All I am saying here is that enough is enough with the name calling, with the personal attacks, the all night Twitter sprees insulting one for their face, their weight, their whatever. It is simply detracting from what could quite possibly be a remarkable story about a man who conquers the world and restores the country in what could be described as an era of greatest divide since perhaps the Civil War.

Mr. Trump. We've had enough of having a fuck-up in the White House. We've had enough of having a president who has distanced nearly every single foreign leader from us. We need someone strong and strong-willed. But just like the guy with the biggest muscles in the room is not as strong as the guy with the biggest brain, bully with intelligence. Not with insult and low-brow comments. It's as ineffective as the guy with the muscles in the room simply punching someone in the face to get his point across.

Go to the debate. Stand your ground. Be a man. Show us you can do that. Show us you can stand proud even in a situation that may be uncomfortable. Show us you can be mightier than your strongest opponent. After all. Come on. This is Megyn Kelly for God's sake. How the fuck are you going to deal with Putin? Assad? ISIS? Big world issues?

If you cannot deal with Megyn Kelly maybe the naysayers and haters have a point that you may not be as suited to be president as I and others like me would like to believe. Just saying.

Anonymity In All Lotteries Should Be Permitted

Would anonymity in state and multi-state lotteries prevent tragic deaths of winners? Maybe, maybe not. I think it is clear enough that of any murders that have happened after someone was fortunate enough—or unfortunate enough depending on your perspective—to win the lottery, many of those cases were the result of family members, friends, or exes taking them out. That said, I do think that it is dangerous to be forced to come forward publicly after a major prize is claimed, and I think that all states who do not allow anonymity should reconsider.

Tragic deaths like the death of Georgia lottery winner Craigory Burch should never happen under any circumstance, of course. But in at least this particular case, the blame can be largely placed on the fact that Georgia is one of those states who do not allow winners to remain anonymous. Granted, just like guns don't kill people, people kill people, the State of Georgia nor the lottery did not kill Craigory Burch. The three armed masked men who broke into his house demanding money did. One could even question whether the men who killed him knew of Burch's winnings through the media or that they simply knew it by word of mouth? Either could be the case. So anonymity is just one piece of potential protection—it's not going to prevent all possibility of future tragedy.

It is a question I often ask myself every time I buy a ticket. If I win, do I want to have my name and likeness plastered all over the place? The answer is always no. Yet honestly, the fact that even the state where I currently live also requires winners to publicly come forward, it does not prevent me from buying a ticket anyway.

Georgia is introducing a bill that would allow anonymity following Burch's tragic end, but it is not without a catch. Winners who wish to remain anonymous after winning the lottery must pay for the privilege to the tune of what I call a whopping 25% of their winnings,

I call that a very stupid compromise by the way. People who buy lottery tickets of course have to accept that if they win, they will have to also be willing to accept everything that goes along with winning. Paying taxes, change of lifestyle, the fact that they cannot remain completely anonymous—when you are working in a factory and suddenly quit your job, move into an expensive house, and buy a fancier car it's more than a little obvious something has happened to cause that. But we still live in a free country, and I think despite the argument some may make that choosing to play the lottery is also a choice to forego privacy if the law says you cannot remain anonymous, the lottery to my mind is simply a different circumstance. States are quite honestly dangling carrots before the masses for one purpose and one purpose only. To raise money to fund the government. That's what it is. One could even call it a voluntary tax. To my mind forcing a winner to come forward publicly is akin to putting sheep before a pack of hungry wolves on purpose. It is unnecessary, 

As for the suggestion some have made that Craigory Burch potentially also sealed his own fate when he chose to remain where he lived prior to winning, I think that is as stupid as the idea that one should have to pay a portion of their winnings for anonymity. Maybe Craigory Burch would have used the money in some way that would have helped the community in which he lived. Maybe, maybe not. We'll never know. 

The three armed masked men are absolutely the root cause of Burch's death. The murder may have happened regardless whether or not Georgia allowed Burch to remain anonymous. But I think when it comes to this sort of thing, to me it just makes a lot of sense that anonymity should be a choice and that winners should not be forced to make that choice for a price.

The Oil Seesaw

When it comes to oil, it is going to be like this for a while. That is, up and down, up and down. Yesterday the markets jumped because of oil, and today it looks like it will fall because of oil, and the day before that weren't we concerned again about oil—causing markets to fall? The entire start of the year's market woes have been due to excess inventories and low demand.

The question is, is oil something to be concerned about? For me the short answer is no.

While oil is at considerable lows, and is certainly much lower in price per barrel than the last time we saw the oil market devoured, the simple truth is that even if demand is low right now, oil is still in demand nonetheless, and will be for some time. Besides the fuel we put in our gas tanks, oil is of course a component of nearly everything we own.

I would be buying oil companies right now. Not dumping them. Some names I like? OAS, MRO, and the YYY. And by the way, the YYY pays out a hefty 9% yield, so it is definitely on the order of "get paid to wait."

Call it what you will, speculation or manipulation, or perhaps a little bit of both. This is in part what is driving the price of oil into the ground. Sure, as I mentioned, demand is down. But why? For starters we had a warmer winter this year and so less people needed oil, in those regions where it is common, to heat their homes. Despite record miles driven in the United States, cars are more fuel efficient than ever before, and the gap between newer more efficient, and older less efficient is widening. But it is not just the United States of course. Demand throughout the world has waned for a variety of reasons.

But, despite the natural forces driving oil prices down, let's not forget that the major oil producing countries are making the decision that they will not slow down production. So in a market where there is low demand and excess inventory, that just means there will be even more inventory built up, and that of course will cause the price per barrel to remain low.

In reality, I actually believe that lower oil prices currently helps to lift up the entire economy ultimately, and that's because oil is of course a large part of the household budget. You have to get to work and you have to get to the grocery store, and the more money it costs to get around the less money people have to spend elsewhere, and on other things. I think lower prices at the pump will actually have a significant impact on spending once we get around to spring and summer—although let's also be real. That's when some of the break will be over. Oil producers know that most of the miles driven are when it is nice outside, and so seeing oil prices, and ultimately gas prices spike during the summer especially is something I think we can all expect.

Even if gas prices rise slightly above the $2 mark, it is still much lower than prices we have seen in the recent past, and there will still be plenty of disposable cash to go around boosting sales to resorts, entertainment like the movies and restaurants, and of course retail. If we see continuing improvements to the labor participation rate and jobs this could be a double boost for the entire markets, making oil less of a factor to drive all of the other sectors down with it.

Oil is a seesaw right now. Fine. No problem. We have been down this road before. Oil will eventually stabilize and by that time those of us who knew this all along will have the fun of counting the gains on the way back up, having significantly lowered our cost basis beforehand.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Lena Dunham Cries Sexism in Hillary Coverage

Here we fucking go again!!!

Pardon my harsh opening line for this one, but Lena Dunham of HBO series Girls fame, and many others like her mind you, just make my effing blood boil. She is honestly coming out and making her claim that the media coverage of Hillary Clinton is "rabidly sexist." My gosh, they are focusing on her clothing and her personal life? 

In her mind ONLY conservatives or conservative minds can be sexist.

Say nothing of the horrible and totally inappropriate comments that Bill Maher made about Sarah Palin's daughter. And of course Palin herself. And was Lena Dunham around for the entire media circus that surrounded Sarah Palin? 

The focus was on Palin's intelligence (or lack thereof), the way she talked, the fact that she hunted for her food, and the list goes on.

Ms. Dunham, understand that the reason Palin became the darling buffoon for the largely liberal media is two-fold. She was a threat. And she was a woman. And by the way, when Lena Dunham talks about "if we were allowed to talk about male candidates like that, I'd have a fucking field day," it becomes all too clear that she, and those of her ilk, are simply living in the stars somewhere. 

Because male candidates DO get talked about like that all day long, twice on Sundays!

Remember the jokes about George W. Bush? Look at some of the stuff that is being said about Donald Trump for crying out loud. Remember the fat jokes about Christie when he ran in the last race? Do you remember the cartoons of Christie with turkey drums, or perhaps were there some that depicted him actually eating his opposing candidates?

Without sounding sexist myself there is one thing I say to these fucking women who constantly want to play this game. Man up! Suck it up, buttercup. It is what it is, and nobody likes it, but it DOES happen, and let's be real shall we? 

It happens WAY MORE OFTEN to conservatives than it ever happens to liberals.

But there is another thing that typically happens as well in these such matters and that is that more often than not the liberals become crybabies about it, and while conservatives moan a bit—they rarely get their panties all in a bunch. They simply see it for what it is, ridiculousness, and they move on to the more important matters.

Because there really is no point, to my mind, in pointing out the wrongs of the coverage however annoying and unfair it may be—or seem to be—because what does this sort of thing really seek to do? What does it really seek to accomplish? To shift the conversation and hide the facts. That is what it is exactly designed to do. It is designed to focus the watcher, listener, reader, voter on things other than rhetoric, policy, strengths, weaknesses, prowess, ability, lack of ability, or whatever it is that the media wishes to hide from the truth.

When one goes out of their way to call this sort of thing out I think it just goes to show one very important thing to know—the complainers do not know the facts and so rather than dig in and fight back with the truth, they resort to simple name calling. 

Sexist, racist...

And yep. Conservatives sometimes do it too to be fair. Baby killer comes to mind. But again it is less pronounced and less frequent, and often times comes from those on the fringe. 

Let's all take a lesson from the pages of Dragnet screenplays. "All we want are the facts." The rest of it is just crap that doesn't matter, and should be recognized for what it is—unintelligent puerile crap that everyone should simply ignore. We can easily disengage from the childish conversations most teens have. So let's do the same here and understand that "kids will be kids," and meanwhile the rest of us can act like grown ups and have adult conversations.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Iowa And New Hampshire Will Determine The Road to the White House: This Time

I am no Nostradamus and certainly there is no science behind my "gage of how things might go." Ergo, what most people refer to as predictions. But I am a bit of an analytical mind, taking bits and pieces of this here, and that there, and I think by doing that it is safe to say that I can at least draw a logical conclusion at the end of the day based on a variety of data. It was actually a little bit fun to look back on my Predictions For 2015 post to see how I fared. As one would suspect a couple predictions were spot on while others were close, and of course others never happened at all. Not even close.

I will admit that some of my predictions, perhaps even the one I am about to get into, are sometimes a bit tongue in cheek. Hey. Why not have a go at trying to lay out the details of the future. Political pundits, analysts, sports commentators, and stock market "gurus" all have their hand in a little bit of that and boy do they get paid regardless of their accuracy.

Don't even get me started on meteorologists for crying out loud!

But while we're at it, there is that "donate" button to the right, and of course one can click on my ads or buy something from Amazon. Ahem. But of course that suggestion is, as well, tongue in cheek. But if you happen to be so inclined... {enter a smiley emoticon here, or should that be a smiley emoticon with a tongue sticking out?}

Okay, okay Mr. Bauer. Can you just get the fuck ON WITH IT already? What the hell is this post even ABOUT?

Jeez. It's tough to be a windbag these days. Tough crowd. Very tough crowd.

So we know that for any political junkie such as myself the big Super Bowl of politics is right around the corner. The primaries. And first up is of course Iowa on February 1st. I won't get into how truly insignificant the first of these primaries really are even if for all intents and purposes they seem to always be true indicators of the political climate among the voting public. To those running for their shot at the White House, Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina are no small beans.

What we have here is an amazing set of circumstances. Of course we have an abysmally failed two terms with Barack Obama, and even those of us on the conservative side will readily admit that the last two years or so of Bush the 2nd weren't all that much to write home about either. So when it comes to politics, it's been one hell of a horrible, if not horrific 9 long years for the majority of the American people.

With roughly one year left to go before we can hopefully breathe a sigh of relief.

On the one hand you have Hillary Clinton who has been the "darling" of the democratic party since she lost the election to Barack Obama. She is also the "establishment" when it comes to the DNC. For the RNC we had Jeb Bush step to the stage, and easily one paying attention would have thought immediately, "That's it. That's the end of the race. It's Clinton vs. Bush. Deal done." While Clinton was able to maintain a commanding lead for much of her candidacy, and even before the running was official, once again an "outsider," or someone completely outside the box so to speak, is giving her a newfound run for her money. Bernie Sanders. Clinton is of course politics as usual, and she is not shy to tout the so-called "successes" of the Obama administration, and promises to not undue his policies, but strengthen and finish the work.

Code for, to my mind, "to further toss the Land of the Free into the garbage can forever."

The anomaly of Bernie Sanders' popularity is that of course there are many Americans who have not done better under Obama, and rather than cede that it's his policies that are largely to blame, they have taken the notion that it is instead big bad corporate America and the fat cats who populate it. Bernie Sanders is offering a fix for that. Take everyone at the top, grab them by their ankles, and start letting their change drop out while people scramble to take their "fair share." You'd be surprised how many people actually cheer that on—even if it also happens to be clear to any fair minded individual that it will do more harm than good.

So Bernie Sanders is the "on the other hand."

But there is, of course, also the extremely and undeniably popular Donald Trump on the other other hand. His approach is totally different than Sanders, and to him the blame for America's woes lies directly in contrast to Bernie's claim. It's not the fat cats. They have only been operating under the restrictions and controls of policy put into place by politicians; democrat AND republican by the way.

"Mr. Trump, you say that you are for America and American jobs yet your ties are made in China." How has Trump responded? Brilliantly and accurately actually. A smart businessman operates to make a profit, and right now policy and other factors make it more economical to have his ties made in China. Does he like it? No. Can he avoid it? No. The facts are the facts and the reality is the reality. But the fact that he fundamentally understands the reason it makes more sense to have his ties made in China also makes him qualified to come up with a solution and make it more economical to have his ties made here. Which he has stated often he would prefer by the way. Trump offers a contrast to the Sanders camp which is stark.

Make America great again not by taking from the rich and giving to the poor, not by trying to artificially create income equality, not by taking away incentive and opportunity nor punishing success, but to right some of the wrongs of YEARS of policy in Washington which have made it impossible for America to compete for better wages, better jobs, and to deny other countries advantages in trade against us which we have designed and fostered over the last three or four decades.

With early polls putting, at least on the republican side, all three outsiders in the lead—Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina—and with Bernie Sanders leading polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire one thing is crystal clear in this current race to the White House.

Politicians are out. Outsiders are in.

Bernie Sanders, in the most recent polls, is running roughly 9 points ahead of Clinton in Iowa. On the republican side it's Trump with an almost 11 point lead. Originally I thought Iowa winners would be Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton with Bernie Sanders and Trump taking New Hampshire. But I think, especially as we draw nearer to the actual first caucuses, that the winners will be Sanders and Trump in both Iowa and New Hampshire. And this may well be the case in South Carolina as well. I could be wrong. That's the nature of predictions, and of course things change.

But here is my bold prediction. Wow buddy, took you long enough to get here.

Winners in Iowa will be Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Same goes for New Hampshire. South Carolina I am going to predict a wild card. It probably goes the same way. Super Tuesday will be a mixed bag. But the ultimate result will be that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump may well be the nominees—because Clinton just has too much baggage and she's not as likeable as she is popular. This is America's race this time around. This is the ultimate question of our time. Do we want the world handed to us on a silver platter, or do we want to have to work for it?

But, Donald Trump is offering an alternative to the traditional means to that end. He wants to take away unfair trade which kills jobs and make it so that the fat cats can operate WITHIN our borders. He is not suggesting more of the same that traditionally republicans have fought for which in fact hinders the opportunity to have a fair shot at realizing the American dream.

I think this race comes down to Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. And who will be the next President of the United States?

Donald Trump.

As for his win? I think it will be a landslide.