Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pre Election Post

The TSA is the government answer to mall cops and now the leverage of lunacy they have been given is now expanded. Those of us who refuse the full body scans are now subject to what has been called the “foreplay pat down.” Refuse the scanner and you get a nice body search. This is one of those issues that conservatives, liberals and moderates show their collective disdain for. It is beyond politics and into the realm of evasiveness that goes beyond comprehension.

Juan Williams has exposed NPR for what it really is - a taxpayer financed mouthpiece for the left and even the far left. His big crime is actually lending an articulate and dissenting voice on the FOX Network and that certainly did not sit well with the PC crowd getting funded on our dime. NPR programming seems to center around the BBC. Maybe the prevailing mindset is an English accent lends credence? The government is in the news business and that is a place it should never have been. Time for all taxpayer funding to be stripped from a state run news agency.

Been no real casino stories for a few months - something to be thankful for.

SYSCO to Middleboro would be a nice addition. Plenty of room.

My election prediction - Democrats in Massachusetts will win everything. Then starts the two year campaign against Scott Brown.

Patriots do not look like a football team to be feared.

If I could convince my SO Halloween would be a rite of passage - as in passage out of Massachusetts only to return in mid May.

I look at the lowering of the sales tax question as a state wide prop 2 and ½.

I have no problem with alternative energy sources especially wind power but the more I investigate Cape Wind the more it appears to be just a bad and highly flawed proposal. I don’t care one hoot about the esthetics of a wind farm but I do care about cost and is it fiscally feasible to the rate payer. Does not appear to be in this instance and I originally was a supporter.

GEX is an ETF that specializes in global alternative energy. In 2008 this fund lost 56% of its value from when we purchased it. So far it has recovered exactly nothing. Morningstar has given it a one star rating and that is as low as they go. The Street has it as a solid sell and some others no longer report on it. What it comes down to is alternative energy is just a lousy investment that will not improve until it becomes fiscally imperative to seriously develop those alternative sources. That is not happening soon. As far as I can determine that has nothing to do with the Koch brothers.

Local kid gets shot in NY and some serious questions revolve around the incident. Next thing you know information is “leaked” to the press and forensic evidence conveniently disappears. This is the stench of a cover-up.

Not to be outdone some Boston cops decided the best way to arrest a juvenile was to rough him up. The video shows what appears to be at least five officers corralling the kid on the ground while two whack away on him. These guys have restraint training and the kid was unarmed. Unnecessary.

A broker has placed the value of The Boston Globe at $75M. And here I always thought it was “worthless.”

Another car rental strange days moment that seems to be with just about every agency. I have a five day rental at San Juan for a total with all discounts and taxes for $150. Noon to noon rental. Then I do a noon to noon rental for just one day and the total is $26! It is actually fiscally sounder to do five one day rentals rather than one five day rental. I see this all the time.

John Kerry (D-Cap’t Hook) has - surprised - blamed just about everything in Washington on Republican Obstructionism. What a tired and worn out song.

So far I have been inundated with campaign fliers and phone calls. Best one is the travel brochure made up as an anti Barney Frank message. Hey, Blarney, how is that 500B siphoned off Medicare “protecting seniors?”

Deval Patrick, Charlie Baker and Tim Cahill. The Queen of Green - Jill Stein - is looking better each day.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Say Goodnight NY/SYSCO/Elections/Trashing Lakeville

Money can’t but happiness as shown my the dismal performance of a team about 300 miles south of here. They did lay out 208M this year in payroll and managed to fall short. IMO if Boston had reasonable health the NY team - whose name escapes me - would not even had made the playoffs. Said team and other big market teams have contributed mightily to the destruction of the baseball salary structure. A signature call of one of the announcers of the team - whose name escapes me - is “See Ya!” How appropriate.

A fascinating documentary is available on the financial meltdown called “Inside Job.” This lays out the blame and it is painted with a wide brush starting in the early 80s with deregulation and finishing off with Obama. Everyone has their fingers in the pie or looks the other way with special hits given to the Ivy League crowd and their majestic economic advice. This is a richly deserved bi-partisan trashing.

Along these lines I continue to be amazed my Barney Frank and his pattern of denial in this whole mess. There has been enough vids and documents that have surfaced to show he simply had legislation supported that would buy votes and had just about zero to do with economic realities. When confronted Barney does his highly agitated routine complete with his patented name calling and finger pointing. The sad thing is this buffoon with go on to his 15th term.

Appears Barney Frank’s partner is tailing his opponent and has managed to get into a riff with him. As the campaign for Frank states there is nothing wrong with this or accepting a huge “gift” of a five star vacation from a bank Frank helped bailout. Legal - yes. Highly inappropriate - yes, again. Stalking is what it really is.

Deval “One And Out (maybe) Patrick” looked lame the other night in a debate with Baker. I’m still waiting for that tax relief.

Those of us collecting from the ultimate Ponzi scheme - Social Security are not collecting a stipend this year thanks to the economy being stuck in a pit of molasses. My problem with the COLA is that - like the casino deal - it is not linked to regional cost of living. Nor is areas of increase in the economy that impacts seniors such as health care considered as part of the formula.

My last trip had the annual rental car adventure that I torture myself with. I usually rent at Houston Hobby and return at San Antonio. My first look at prices was about three months before my trip and the rental for a compact was about $700 for a week including all charges. This was the cheapest and it was with Dollar and I booked it knowing it would change as time went forward. About two weeks before we left I made my final reservation and the total was $303 including a $87 one way charge. This represented the fourth booking as I kept getting lower and lower prices and it was with Dollar that now seems to have taken over from Alamo as the cheapest rentals in Texas. This bizarre routine goes on every year and the real joke is what the taxes and other charges are. The base rate for the car for one week was $109 and the rest were all to feed government sans the $87 charge. Reminds me of the recent meals tax debate locally where the screw the tourist became the mantra for passing it. Fine unless you happen to be the tourist.

On the rental cars what is interesting is that when you have a city like Houston with two airports there can be a significant difference in the cost from one airport to another and the same applies to airline tickets. Car rentals are generally cheaper off airport grounds so sometimes it is economically advisable to take transportation to your hotel and rent as needed.

I like ice tea and especially the one at McDonald’s. When it is delivered they have a straw with it and I simply say “no straw” and they proceed to toss out the fully wrapped straw. Happens every time. In KC last summer and the summer before when I purchased a bottomless drink at the ballpark they refused to fill up the old one. Board of Health required them to toss it out and give me a new one. Magnify that by 5,000 and that is quite a few cups and quite a waste that is needless. So much for all those “Going Green” initiatives that seem to be everyplace. This is just a few examples and I have seen many more.

While in Austin I paid a visit to the Story of Texas Museum. While wandering aimlessly around the building I notice a maintenance worker changing those squiggly little light bulbs. He had on a face mask with a plastic faceplate and rubber gloves like Mr. Wizard use to wear while mixing acids. He asked me to “Stand about ten feet away” as he removed another of the pesky little squiggles and replaced it. Had a brief conversation and told me this is what they have to wear. I thought those things lasted something like a million hours? Turns out they have to be replaced on a regular basis.

SYSCO is dead in Lakeville and I am mystified why they hung on so long on this deal. Now Norton can get back into the mix as can Attleboro and Middleboro. This is a top of the line company and a solid investment for those that want consistent growth and steady returns. Maybe if it was a twenty year old fire truck they would have gone for it.

I love the “Quality of Life” argument that the Lakeville folks put on the table. That hospital and the bowling alley and Dewey’s certainly are photogenic. Don’t want any warehouse screwing that up. Then you have the collection o mini strip malls that seem to proliferate in Lakeville. High end shopping at its very best. Only time we hear from Lakeville is when they need another water connection.

The director of the Middleboro food bank did a General McAuliffe and called Lakeville “NUTS” over their vote on SYSCO. IMHO Lakeville seems to have no water lines, sewer system, no town trash pick-up, a town hall not open on Friday, a hand down ladder truck and now no influx of jobs. Explain that to the clients of the food bank who need work.

I have had it explained to me time and time again but it still makes no sense. How can a company beat expectations, show positive and sustained growth for a quarter and still have its stock nosedive? This happened with Apple the other day. Dropped over 6% in after hours after beating expectations.

The Fed recently met in Boston and their pronouncement on deflation should be a warning sign for all of us. The last thing this horribly failed administration needs is deflation. But what good is inflation? Thing of the huge debt rung up being paid off with cheap money. Deflation just makes that debt more expensive.

NPR that bastion of political correctness and Uber liberal points of view managed to can a commentator who was open and honest about feeling uncomfortable with Muslims on a plane. Gee…let me see if I remember? Nineteen Muslim terrorists board and hijack four aircraft and kill 3,000 people. My…I wonder why he feels uncomfortable? This nonsense has a good portion of its funding from our tax dollars.

The Koch brothers are now the bad guys from the loonies who infest the far left since they are the great backers of the Tea Party. I guess these loonies never head of George Soros? Or if they did they have convenient memory loss.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

SYSCO and Texas Comments

The situation with SYSCO is laughable. In Texas this would not even be an issue - jobs and business. You go to cities like Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas and there is almost continual growth and not the stagnation. A company with an excellent reputation and a potential influx of tax dollars and payroll would be welcome. In Lakeville it appears to me that certain elements would be elated to have a passel of $10 jobs and the latest mall Du Jour. I did a Google Maps peek at the Norton facility of SYSCO and there are houses around the complex and Norton is trying everything to keep them in town. Attleboro is also interested and is hoping the deal falls through in Lakeville so they can get a shot. Did anyone ever contact those folks in Norton to get some feedback?

The Strand is the historic district of Galveston. This area was devastated by Hurricane Ike and it has almost totally recovered as businesses have been refurbished but there is one small problem - crime. An article from outside Texas appeared showing that the Strand - about twenty square blocks - is a festering pit of criminal activity. The key piece was the incredible high number of rapes and sexual assaults until it was pointed out that the rape crisis center for the Island and a good portion of off Island is located in The Strand. The statistics simply record where it is reported and not where it happened. I guess they have a confirmed liar somewhere doing some Clark type research. That killed that “report.”

I like Victorian homes and Galveston has about the most I’ve seen in one city - something for a place with 56,000 inhabitants. Many did suffer some damage in the storm but have been repaired. We did notice a few exceptions and some where being dismantled for “parts.” The homes have unique color schemes that have that touch of the Mediterranean with some bold greens, pinks and reds. Many have small gardens that are open to tours a few times a year for charity events as are a few of the homes. You can actually walk around one thirty block are and see them. In some instances questionable housing has taken root over the years so you can see that squeezed in among stately Victorians.

The Houston Ship Channel entrance is through Galveston and the first thing we noticed at night was the great number of ships at anchor as their lights stretched out into the evening. Turns out there was an accident the day before that closed down the channel and it would take a few days to clear the mess so everyone has to queue up to get in and out of Houston. Was forty ships waiting to get in and twenty-four waiting to leave. Think of a seagoing version of air traffic control only some of those ships are a 1,000+ feet long.

April 6th of 1830 represented a day that tossed down the gauntlet on illegal immigration to Texas only it was the Republic of Mexico that was attempting to curtail immigration from the United States from coming into Texas. What was first encouraged was now to be discouraged since the new immigrants refused to adopt the laws, customs, religion and just about anything else that the Mexicans were promoting. Despite this ban land grants were still being sold in the U.S. by impresarios who were Angloes and immigration still continued. The law was finally rescinded but it was too late. Texas independence was on the way. When revolution did come it came with significant support from the native Mexican population who considered themselves Texans first.

Austin bills itself as the Live Music Capital of The World. There is an area between 2nd and 6th streets that is littered with small clubs and live music in addition to the almost steady stream of concerts. The area was not as crime infested or run down as similar areas in Memphis and Nashville but it was not for us. Littered with the under 30 crowd on the prowl.

Austin has a pension problem. Public pensions that is. It’s killing them. Sound familiar? A city worker - non safety and teacher - can retire at age 55 with 20 years service and get a full pension. That is 90% in Austin. You retire at 50K you collect 45K for life. The proposal is to increase service time to 23 years and age a few years.

On the plane from Dallas to Boston my seat companion was going to Boston for a health care conference. He worked for the Franciscans that operate a non profit system in Texas. The Obama plan is causing problems already as they have seen some facilities and doctors refusing to take any new Medicare patients since the government has reduced reimbursement figures. He was excited about the portability of the new legislation and not denying for pre-existing conditions but now is starting to measure the plus and minus of the situation and is getting more and more in the minus column.

Austin is the Texas version of Berkley or Cambridge but with more moderation. Many of the Texan moonbats are mystified at how Massachusetts can continue to send Barney Frank to Congress. They wonder why we can’t see what is under our noses? And now with the latest being Barney’s jet excursion for one of his bailout buddies I have to agree.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pre Vacation Post

John Kerry (D-Gigolo) has managed to outdo even his usual blather by his pronouncement on the general intelligence of the electorate. Too bad this tax evading yachtsman was not up for election since it would be a slam dunk he’d be off to writing his memoirs while ensconced in his Louisburg Square Beacon Hill “cottage.” Kerry has displayed both contempt and a clear inability to grasp that folks are just fed up with the way government is being operated.

Continuing in the vain of the clueless is one Barney Frank who is seeking something like his 49th term in Congress. Barney is an expert at the full spittle reply when confronted about both his behavior towards those who disagree with him and his compliance in the fiscal meltdown. I expect that Frank will be elected - again - so just maybe that will give some credence to the Kerry remarks.

President Obama has decided to take on quite possible the largest special interest group in the nation - the unions that represent teachers. I never did in all my years of questioning receive a reply as to how the have handed out my dues on a state and national level with their various public interest groups. Obama has stated he wants bad teachers removed. How does the administration plan on determining a bad teacher? I can usually tell by observation and the primary source - the students. Be surprised how objective and clear cut they can be in their evaluations.

Notice that the teachers union in Massachusetts has contributed $560,000 to fight the reduction in the sales tax. For years I asked the national, state and local associations where they were funneling my dues? Exactly what causes were they “fighting” for? Never managed a reply. Never.

One of the real keys to the economy is something called consumer confidence. It has not presented a pretty picture for sometime.

The Bush tax cuts will expire and that is in the lap of Reid. Reid decided not to move on with extending the cuts despite bi-partisan support and it will potentially hit most of us. Amazing when it is mentioned we can’t afford the tax cuts but can support a failed stimulus bill or two…or three.

Liberal Democrats (AKA - Moonbats) now prefer to call themselves “Progressives” a term grabbed from those Republicans of a 100 or so years ago who actually targeted the excesses of - you guessed it - Democrats! Well…the progressives still stand for lack of personal accountability and responsibility, big government as a cure all and the endless look for more revenues. In their world all businessmen are robber barons and anyone to their right is a bigoted reactionary in lock-step with the Tea Party.

The “Progressives” had a nice meeting at the National Mall in D.C. over the weekend and titled it “Power To The People.” IMO this was the usual collection of “activist,” “organizers,” and “union leaders” with one clear thread in common - they get their bucks from the taxpayer. Naturally it is a show of survival as the TP and most of America is on to this long running con game which has ultimately given us the former “community organizer” as president. Ah…just the thoughts of ACORN.

If somehow the Republicans managed to take control of the house will that mean the outgoing collection of moonbats will put forth a flurry of social engineering bills? I somehow think enough Blue Dog Democrats will prevent this.

Patrick has still refused to addresses his exact position of benefits for illegal immigrants.

Massachusetts will probably lose another member of Congress once the census figures are final. If we were really, really lucky we would lose all ten.

Charlie Barker (R-HMO) is just about tied with Deval “One and Out” Patrick in the race for governor. Tim Cahill is hanging around and Green Party or whatever they call themselves candidate - Jill “I’m an MD so I know everything” Stein - is at 4%. Deval is attempting to drift a bit further to the right on certain issues to feel he is more in tune with the general electorate. I’m still waiting for my property tax relief.

Tim Cahill (I- Long Gone) is now hanging on by a thread in the race for governor. His Lt. Governor candidate defected to the Republicans much like Cahill did from the Democratic party. His poll numbers are starting to approach those of Jill “I’m from Harvard so I know best “ Stein. Both will soon be passed by blanks.

Ken Burns is back at baseball with “The 10th Inning” that is a must for the fan and non fan. Lttle sappy but still a nice trip down memory lane.

Now we have the latest Tea Party babble coming from Senate Prez Murray who did the BB thing over the TP. The tired old song and dance about “nut jobs.” It seems the only criticism I read is the name calling. No one seems to mention anything about the base root of the movement which seems rather simplistic to me - fiscal sanity, immigration reform and leaner government are common themes. When you run scared the only thing you have is to take the low road.

The TP has put forth their collective complaints and have a rather rapt audience but they seem a wee bit short on substance. I’m just wondering what the master plan is for scaling down government or tax policy? From what I have been able to gather this is more of an emotional movement at this point rather than one with a solid platform. A lot of sound bites in their rhetoric. So I’d venture a guess that most of their positions will be weaved into the Republican Party platform in fine detail. Personally the less one says the better the chance of not doing a Kerry. Might be more advantageous to talk in slogans. With Obama I said he couldn’t be worse than the last guy but has managed to put that notion to rest. Could always happen again.

The famed Amish Mantel are now being advertised in the paper as winter nears. These are manufactured by the Chinese branch of the Amish community.

Comedian Stephen Colbert - a sidekick of Jon Stewart - recently appeared before Congress to give “testimony” on Immigration. Unfortunately he did this in character and I imagine that in the small minds of those who dreamed up this stunt that passes for legitimate testimony. Both of these well past their shelf life entertainers appear on “The Daily Show” a comedy take on news with a left wing slant. I have not watched the show in years simply because in became a flat joke after awhile. You could sense the punch lines. Think SNL. IMHO this was done significantly better by TW3 (That Was The Week That Was) many decades ago. Better writers, better performers and satire not mockery. I guess his appearance may be appropriate since the ultimate joke has been in office now for almost two years.

Marriages and down and records are being set for food stamp requests. Gaps between the rich and poor continue to escalate. Now rich is defined as that 20% making 100K or more a year of which the top 5% earn 180K or more per year. I guess that recession is over!

Southwest and Air Tran are now going to be one. As a frequent traveler both these carriers are high on my list to avoid. With Southwest I have rarely found their advertised fares available. I have flown them twice and on both occasions I felt I was in the Wal Mart of airlines. That the corporation is solid is beyond doubt and they do pay rather well but it is just not for me. Air Tran is the reincarnation of ValuJet that was involved in a horrific crash in the Everglades about 15 years ago. I have flown Air Tran several times since Houston - Hobby Airport is a key route and have found the level of service an abomination.

The Red Sox are officially dead but they did manage to hang on until the last week of the season. Even with inconsistent pitching and a sloppy defense a healthy team would be printing playoff tickets right now. It was there’s for the taking but just didn’t happen. It will be interesting to see if they sign Beltre (doubt it) and Martinez (50/50) and renegotiate a lower dollar deal for Ortiz. Papelbon has little trade value and I wonder if they just might not tender him an arbitration offer? They need some serious bullpen upgrades and I would love to see them get Brandon League from Seattle and sign potential free agent Dan Wheeler. Bard looks like he is capable of closing and the rest of the bullpen is unreliable and dispensable.

The “Stat Monkeys” are making a big push for a Cy Young Award for Felix Hernandez despite his 13-12 record for the worse team in baseball - Seattle. I don’t buy that total metrics argument. As the commercial goes “You play to win the game” and that is exactly what David Price, CC Sabathia and Jon Lester have done and done under the pressure of a race in the toughest division in baseball. I’d have “King Felix” third on my ballot.

BOS had a flag issue as it turns out they had a protocol violation for flying the flag under another symbol. Next week I will go to Texas where the state flag flies adjacent to the American flag since Texas was an independent nation when it entered the union. Vermont is the only other state to fall into that grouping.

Town Meeting time in Middleboro and this is “The purest form of special interest” one can find. I don’t recall any earth shaking warrant issues so you will not see the usual parade of groups interested in their own pet agenda. I remember back in the day when I placed value on this only to watch groups of teachers or firefighters or town employees vacant the TM after their issue was decided.

Off to Texas next week and to see how a real state operates. No comparison to Massachusetts. We lack well behind in the common sense and manners department. The really big cities like Houston and Dallas are the exception but the rest of the state is truly a fascinating place especially Hill Country. I’d have relocated there years ago but these decisions are two way and my wife - The Lovely Cynthia - changed her mind about relocating as in “I love the winter.” On this trip we shall spend some time in Austin which is the moonbat capital of Texas. Plenty of liberals - oops - “Progressives” in Austin. Been to the LBJ Library before and it is excellent but the ranch is a bore.