Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hacks And Politics

What is a hack? There are many definitions but I have my own litmus test criteria for a hack and a hack can be at all levels from say local to state and federal. To me the most important credential to have in your hack folder is qualifications - the less you have for a particular slot the better off you are. Having a hack without even the basic knowledge or skills for the position they have been dumped into is just plain H-U-G-E. When a hack speaks it should have about as much coherent sense as a sentence by Mayor Menino. Remember - if a hack’s IQ looks like a room temperature they are really set for life! Stupid is a real plus.
A hack also has to have a pedigree and that takes the form of being a party regular, related to someone in the power structure, have a nice track record of contributions, have dirt on someone or just serving a substantial amount of time in the lower echelons of the payroll patriot kingdom. Reward for loyalty - a hack must always expect to be thrown under the bus - is movement into a position for which you are paid substantially more and have far less knowledge than your previous posting.
Being tossed under the bus is in the job description for a hack. Your patron must never take the fall. This is your responsibility. Think of hack land as the Barzini or Tattaglia families - you are a soldier and sometimes soldiers become fodder but remember it is a two way street. Your silence and loyalty will be rewarded either with another position or within the party structure if “the heat” is too great. Think Goodfella’s - “always keep your mouth shut” and “Never rat on your friends.”
A hack must always fly under the radar. Never bring attention to yourself. Avoid public displays that could eventually be linked to your patron with the tag line “who got this clown his/her job?” Hacks without this basic skill become fodder for the Boston Herald.
To a hack the most important thing is “the kiss.” The kiss is just your accrued pension time. Ten years and you are vested. Then you build upon it. Twenty-five or maybe thirty years and life is good - very good - health insurance, fat check and a sundry of other perks that one may get. Most important is to get the big checks the last few years as that is what your pension is based on.
A hack NEVER takes sick time. NEVER call in sick. NEVER! You want to ensure that you get compensated for unused vacation or sick time. Just don’t show. Everyone is aware of your connections and you are probably well established in your hack hatchery so what goes on in hackville stays in hackville. Somebody screws with you they’ll get screwed with. Hacks do not throw each other under the bus - their patrons do. As far as vacations? Same as sick time but there is a formula. You only take one third of your vacation despite probably taking three months off. Same principle as sick time.
Now Hack Burgess on the side bar is what happens when a hack goes down. She resigned but will beyond a doubt resurface again. Now when this hack was outed the Patrick administration did a worthy job - they “lost” her paperwork. It was shredded. No paper trail to trace back who got this hack her job. Your tax dollars at work.
Former Boston Mayor Kevin White is now in the news again with information surfacing that his administration solicited and took bribes. I am shocked! In the mid 1970s I was in grad school at B.U. (Public Administration) and the school was infiltrated with the three political cliques of Boston - Kevin White, Dashiki clad Mel King and Joe Timilty who all had butt kissers on the faculty. Oh the stories of ward politics! Once had Dapper O’Neil of the Boston City Council show up to give a lecture packing a fire arm. But for White he built a career on local patronage and that means loyalty. I remember White being quizzed by a new reporter (woman) who was new to Boston and asked the Mayor “You have given many patronage jobs to your friends and city contracts to businesses after your recent election victory. Do you have an ethics issue with this?” White looks at her and says “Lady, in case you missed it - I won. Who the f**k am I suppose to give the jobs and contracts to - those who worked against me?”
Tip O’Neil said all politics is local and so is the response. I recently had the opportunity to see our local services in action with a semi emergency situation. My daughter has purchased a condo and a few days before the purchase the lender - a government lender - required an operational sink be installed. This required entry and installation. When the water was turned on a minor flood happened thanks to another government contractor failing to turn off a valve. This forced her to get electric service pronto. The owner of the condo - Fannie Mae - went nuts saying we should not have been in the building. A real Catch-22. We had their permission! Fannie Mae my daughter has been dealing with for months. Incompetent from the experience she has had. The loan originator - U.S. Department of Agriculture she has gone through two months of conflicting requirements.
The Middleboro Water Department, G&E and Building Department had all stepped up. First getting water turned on and second fast tracking electrical service after some minor repairs to bring it up to code. They did it in hours. Hats off for sure. If this was the Feds we’d be screwed.
After the closing I asked the Fannie Mae representative via phone about all this nonsense from one agency to another with conflicting requirements and mixed messages. Her reply; “We only follow our orders.” My reply: “That is what the Nazi’s said at Nuremberg.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

More Drivel But With Panache.

Is there a bigger fraud in professional sports than the Patriots and the Kraft family? There is that famed “Patriot Way” where character and some type of moral compass was an ingredient as important as game performance. That has been well documented but the Patriots are quite selective in their application - Corey Dillon and Randy Moss both had baggage but were brought in. No the latest is Aqib Talib and gifted (and needed) cover corner who has a rather prolific rap sheet. Talib could probably be good for a season of “Cops.” His Patriot debut will be delayed a week thanks to serving a four game suspension for PED use. Should I even mention Ryan Mallet?
The above is the win at all cost mentality of sports but it is even more prevalent in politics with such frauds as Tierney and Warren being run as solid citizens by the Democrats. Now if one wishes the Democrats and Republicans can match up easily with questionable candidates so that shows all the moral fiber and integrity that is now part of both parties. Win at all costs! No concern for any integrity.
I was discussing a potential holiday with my rotund running partner and suggested that election day be a holiday replacing the long since passé Columbus Day. Maybe making it a holiday would somehow entice higher voter turnouts.
Several measures were on Beacon Hill that would provide tax relief to the middle class and lower. A drop in the income tax, a sales tax credit and a meals tax holiday were three that were soundly defeated by those defenders of the MC - Democrats! Our local Republican contingent voted for them.
In Brockton a recent “Bust” took out several businesses who were defrauding SNAP and EBT cards. The clueless state auditor - Suzanne Bump - claims that fraud - according to her agency - is only 1%. Amazing! Maybe if the auditor and her fledglings were a wee bit more inclined to actually pursue matters such as this the number would - which I certainly believe - be significantly higher. Thank you, Shaunna O’Connel for your continued diligence in this matter.
What exactly is a historical building? Probably the most significant and well known site in America is Williamsburg in Virginia. One can not help but admire the colonial architecture of the Governor’s Palace, the Capitol Building and having lunch or dinner at the Raleigh Tavern and all three have something in common. They are fakes. Reconstruction. Williamsburg has 500 historic buildings of which 88 are not restorations while the others are fake goods. Same as going to Canal Street in NYC and buying a Coach bag that is a rip-off.
Buffett and Gates are the two riches folks in the world at least those that are private citizens. Both had fortunes touching on a 100B at their high point. Now the WalMart clan collectively can possibly surpass the total of both combined but in our history they both represent chump change. Step right up John Rockefeller. As founder of the clan his wealth topped out to nearly 700B in today’s dollars. Carnegie, Morgan and Vanderbilt could match it if they combined their fortunes.
The big winners in the last election was the pollsters who were quite accurate. Since political polling represents a small fraction of their business those that were most accurate stand to make significant coin for marketing research.
A Fiscal cliff is in the news with figures that the CBO continued to revise - and the revision is usually downward. I’m all for doing nothing.
Greece’s “Monster” debt problems. Spain needs bailout urgently. What will save Japanese economy? These are some of the headlines from the financial page on 11/12. Yet we continue to run opposite of any degree of common sense. More debt is piled on and fewer cuts in expenditures and now a president re-elected who will be beholding to various unions for their support during the election. Past behaviors tell me nothing will change but more debt added on.
A local campground has another stay of execution. Their violations and legal action seems to have gone on for decades.
According to the International Energy Agency the United States will be the number one producer of oil in the world by 2017 surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia. Imports of oil are decreasing 1.5M barrels per day will domestic production is increasing by 720,000 barrels per day. In addition we now have a glut of natural gas and an estimated 100 year supply. The target is total energy independence by 2035 so hold off on the windmills and solar panels.
If you want to know hoe the government’s “War on Obesity” will turn out just look at how the government’s “War on Drugs” has turned out and that was a legitimate societal concern.
Fidelity use to be one of the largest employees in Massachusetts and now their latest exit is to open up a specifically targeted investment group in New Hampshire. Initially 200 jobs with potential expansion to 850. If you have a business and a choice between Massachusetts and New Hampshire the choice invariably is the business friendly climate of NH.
How to balance the budget. Congress and the president get no salary or accrued pension benefits as long as the budget is not balanced. Should take about a week.
Socialite Jill Kelly is in the center of the General Allen and Petraeus mess. She actually arranged social gatherings for military officers, important political and business leaders so that these important people could tell each other how important they were.
I see the breakdown from the last election in all sorts of categories - age, race, income, education, sex and so on but I can see no breakdown for what I assume is the real base of the Democratic Party - the something for nothing crowd
Does anyone have information on say the following: "Do you receive any type of entitlement? Food stamps, public housing, supplemented medical or any type of government welfare payment? If so - who did you vote for?" I wonder if that was the real key to victory?
The recently resigned CIA Director claimed that the Benghazi attacks of 9/11 were a terrorist act yet Susan Rice made public statements on behalf of the Administration that it was not. The last thing we need to do is "offend" any of our Muslim "allies."

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Intelligent Design Or Nature?

The cosmic speed limit - or speed light travels in one year - is set at least according to early 21st century physics. I really don’t expect to see FTL (faster than light) travel developed but you can never say never.
In the world of science fiction FTL is naturally quite prominent since it allows for far more in the way of writing options although Joe Haldeman does a masterful piece of writing without it in “The Forever War.” So the general consensus of the big brain folks is that 186,000,000 miles per second is the limit. That’s it! No faster. To reach that speed you will need both incredible technology and energy supplies.
Does ET or the aliens from Close Encounters exist? Benevolent travelers exploring their neighborhood. Sort of a galactic version of Charles Darwin taking note on the various species that inhabit said neighborhood. Maybe the ones we are more familiar with that make for far better reading and use of special effects and the ones that are constant fodder for our real tastes - weapons and wars. Just think Spanish Conquistadors in a space ship with a bevy of high tech weapons.
From the history of our own planet the results of a technologically superior culture - especially one in need of raw materials and colonies - meets a less technologically advanced the outcome is a slam dunk. It is a constant pattern of history on the earth. No need to elaborate on it since the facts are clear from when social studies/histories veers away from the platitudes of rich White guys forming a nation and gets into the nitty gritty of our own nation and all those who preceded us.
Humans are not the only ones spoiling for a fight. Nature is the constant struggle - like in sports - of offense and defense. Predator and prey using various methods to tip the balance of power. Why they even occasionally war against their own for territory, mating and food sources. Not unusual. Earth is a violent planet. But nature plays a game of balance allowing all at least some degree of opportunity for survival. Some it may be short term registered in a million or so years and for others such as the hardy cockroach hundreds of millions of years. For humans it is about 6,000 years in view of some or in my belief system about 50,000 since we acquired our big brains and thus behavioral modernity. Many millions of years to reach that point.
So I have to make an assumption based on earth time experience regarding our own evolution to being - at least in our opinion - number one on the evolutionary pyramid. It was a brutal experience and a 7,000,000 year journey and maybe many millions more if you consider the emergence of mammals. Kill or be killed seems to have a bundle of validity in nature. First we have managed to annihilate species deemed a threat. Then we manage to annihilate as many of our own kind as possible. Then we Terri form our own environment for good or bad.
OK so now lets go 50 light years from earth. There are several thousand stars in just that small segment and many have earth like suns. Some may have life either primitive biological or more sophisticated on accompanying planets. Some may have planets where the industrial revolution is just beginning or where they managed to rape nature to the extent they ended their civilization. Some may have explored their own solar system. Some may need room to expand - a space faring Nazi regime.
My contention is there is a high degree of probability that any neighbors are really not that passive. To reach their own pinnacle of evolutionary dominance it was a hard fight with no quarter given to competing species or their own kind. Like ourselves they may talk the talk but somehow I doubt they will do the walk. Imagine what havoc humans of today would be capable of reaping on an alien civilization if we had FTL?
Now is this cosmic speed limit actually a sign of intelligent design? Did a “God” in her infinite wisdom put this in place to protect us from each other? I’m more of a nature theorist on this. Bless nature for the cosmic speed limit. But with that blessing remember the native populations of the Americas were protected for thousands of years my vast oceans. Just how did that turn out?