Workers Of The World, Unite…

It’s almost deliciously great as an example of the power of unions in California.

The ports of Long Beach and LA have about 600 “clerical workers” – who typically ONLY earn $165,000. They have been offered $195,000 and 11 weeks of vacation time, but that is not enough! The union has been on strike, and since the other unions are honoring the strike, the Ports of Long Beach and LA are virtually shut down and have been for four days.

So, what more could the union want? How about “Featherbedding” – the union demands that when the workers go on vacations – and with 11 weeks of vacation time a year there will be a lot of “workers” on vacation at any given time – the union demands that replacements be hired even if there is not sufficient work for those replacement.

Long Beach and LA ports combine to handle 40% of the nations’ imports, and currently there are 18 ships idled, and others that have left for other ports. In 2002 there was a 10 day strike on many West Coast ports that cost the nation $10 billion.

I Love California, But…

The O’Reillly TV show had a segment comparing Texas to California.

Nothing new here, California wins just on climate – if Texas was half smart they would follow the lead of football stadiums and build a city with a dome!

I was raised in Texas. I KNOW the difference. Yankee Philip Henry Sheridan

Said during the Civil War, ““If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell”

Yes, Texas has it all over California except for the temperatures. All of the maps of the best places to live in America show the best climate in the US is within 40 miles of the Pacific Ocean, and those maps are absolutely correct.

In my youth, like most young people I did not have a thermostat. It was never too hot or too cold, and I lived in San Antonio without air conditioning.

But I am almost 80 years old, and I need comfort – so I live in San Diego County and just pretend that I live in Belize, or on Kauai – and in neither place would I care what the economies were, or the politics. I have spent a LOT of time on Kauai, and I love it enough to have moved their gardens, and home decorations, here to the mainland.

On Kauai, other than an initial study so I could write about it on my website covering the culture, history and politics of the island, I care not a whit about the politics.

I could not live in Texas, in spite of their advanced economies, compatible politics, ultra-nice people, and accommodating culture.

I live in San Diego County because of the agreeable weather. The idiots of this state elected to the Governorship the same joke of a Governor who first let the government workers unionize (in spite of FDR’s warning against that), and we have subsequently had Orange County, Vallejo, and San Bernardino cities declare bankruptcy.

More cities and counties are in the wings – all as a result of government worker unions’ pension plans. California has $185 billion in unfunded debt, and runs an annual $20 Billion deficit. Already with a top five tax burden, California must tax heavily, and suffer some of the worst schools and roads in the nation just to meet the annual pension costs.

California is indeed a mess. It will get worse. Much worse.

But the weather is terrific, and it does not have the bugs and humidity of Florida.

I think I’ll stay.

Still…

 

Argentina Follows Europe (Sound of flushing…)

Fitch’s rating service has downgraded Argentina’s financial standing, once again, and predicted financial default.

Argentina’s socialist president, who is scrambling as fast as she can but in the wrong direction, is exacerbating the problem, and has just lost a major $15 billion court case in the State of New York over the repayment of Wall Street loans.

Most Americans could not find Argentina on a map, and to most Americans “de- fault” is a ghetto term as in, “Ain’t my fault. De fault is with The Man!”

As to our political class, who actually know better, if they can just kick the can far enough they can continue to use Air Force One, or in the case of Boehner, a chauffeur-driven limo, or as Congresscritters more money than they ever saw in their previous  lives, plus a taxpayer staff and an ever- fawning public.

But as the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) + ARGENTINA ABLY DEMONSTRATE, there is an inevitable end-game that is unavoidable, even if the blame is still largely avoidable. (Who remembers the politicians who stuck us with the Big Dig, or the California Center For the Arts, Escondido, or the Sprinter, or …)

Until we find a way to inflict immediate pain for political failure, this system will not work as well as it should, but then Big Business is just as bad with Golden parachutes, but at least it is with money voluntarily placed there.

Your Word of the Day (and Mine)

I was perusing the headlines in the on-line Washington Post, and the headline jumped out: ““A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico” by Amy S. Greenberg.

Yes, I read book reviews so that I can find good books to read, or listen to if they appear on Audible.com, and the word “Polk” hit a spot, because I am Allen Polk Hemphill.

Yep, that family.

Reading further, it appears that this new book is one of those “Presentism” books.

O.K. that is a new word for me also, and I learned it in the WaPo article – and I thought I had a pretty good vocabulary, so I put the word into Google, and Wikipedia defined it.

I knew the definition, and have been writing about it for years, I just had never known the concept had a name.

Presentism is simply placing today’s ethical standards on times past, when they had a different and not so enlightened ethical standards.

We see that often, from those who blast Columbus for the sins of his crew bringing Western decadence to the peace-loving, nature-living Native Americans to the denying of excellence to the Founding Fathers because many were slave owners.

It is primarily “Progressives” who are so deluded as to think that everyone who ever held views consistent with their time, should have known enough to have held today’s modern ethical standards.

Well, they didn’t, and although the Great Pyramids may well have been built by slaves, we can still enjoy their majesty, and while President Polk’s expansionist views may not fit today views, we in California are very happy he did. And, yes, I strongly suspect Polk did pick a fight with Mexico – or at least took minor assaults over the border as an excuse to invade Mexico – but it was the order of the day internationally to seize and hold land.

So the author of this screed against Polk, The Mexican War and expansionism as practiced by Polk (and others) is an example of “Presentism.”

Your Word Of The Day. Certainly mine.

Some Days….

Some days you just can’t win!

I have been lusting after a new set of earphones for my rather constant music on my iPhone, and since everything in my home and portable units is Bose, I ordered a set of Bose earphones just a few days ago.

I should know better. Black Monday was right around the corner.

And, a quick check of CNET on Black Monday told me that Amazon.com had a Black Monday Special on CNET’s top rated earphones – regularly $199, for only $75!

Some days are like that.

I have always contended that I buy what I want when I want, and if someone tells me that I could have paid less I just say, “It was worth it to me.”

Still…it grates that I missed that buy although I love the soft sound provided by Bose, and that is why I stick with the name. Yes, Bose units are overpriced but sound quality is a very subjective thing, and besides quality counts. A Timex keeps just as good time as does a Rolex — but quality counts.

But, next year…

George Will Nails It!

London’s Financial Times says one of the European nations in deep doo-doo (a technical economic term), Portugal, is reconsidering the Welfare State.

“The country has to choose between higher taxes or fewer state services, Vítor Gaspar, finance minister, said. “There appears to be an enormous divergence between what the Portuguese believe the state should deliver and the amount of taxes they are prepared to pay,” he told parliament recently.”

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/09663038-37d5-11e2-8edf-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz2DOIZ65H3

On ABC, George Will explained the current US situation, similarly when he said Americans want five dollars worth of services for which they are willing to pay three dollars.

That seems to be just about it.

On US Ambassador Susan Rice

I recall seeing US Ambassador to the UN on three of the five Sunday TV shows when she spouted the famous charge that she did not have final information, but the Benghazi attack appeared to be reaction of a video on the Internet.

I remember saying to my wife, “That is one smart person.”

And, indeed she is smart. Rhodes Scholar smart.

It’s just that she was wrong, and I believe she KNEW she was wrong.When you work for the president and the president says go and take this position, you have to have brass ones to say, “No.”

Ambrose Bierce wrote of : “DIPLOMACY, n. The patriotic art of lying for one’s country.”

And, that is what she did, the reason for which lying is the question. If it was for political reasons, which seems apparent, then it was wrong but there will be no penalty because the ploy took the subject past the election.

Of course SOMEONE changed the talking points, giving Rice (and the president) political cover. Since we still do not know who directed Fast and Furious, it is unlikely we will learn who changed the talking points, although, since that is in writing it may be easier in theory.

In practice, it can still be hidden as an intelligence issue.

On a strictly political note, Susan Rice would probably make a decent Secretary of State because no Secretary of State is anything but the carrier of the administration views, something she did with vigor on the five Sunday talk shows.

The voters have spoken. The people have said it doesn’t matter, or at least enough to turn out the administration.

All of the ills of this administration were not enough to turn out this administration. There is something to the contention that there is a Cult of Personality going on.

It’s a Gas!

I was involved in the government tests of LNG in the early 70s, as the 11th Naval District representative in the experiment. I was the Air Pollution Officer for the District, and while my primary concern was ships “Blowing Stacks” to rid themselves of the carbon collected from fuel combustion, I was also looking into new means of reducing carbon buildup.

It was a grand experiment, involving the General Service Administration, the Navy, and San Diego Gas and Electric and it certainly demonstrated the successful use of Liquefied Natural Gas.

it has great potential in often driven vehicles, but as the singed eyebrows of the drivers demonstrated, one would need to be a non-smoker.  The vacuum bottles of the gas held at minus 240 degrees leaked a percent or two a day into the cab of the car.

The other method of using natural gas is CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) which is held under pressure — in effect, a “bomb” in your trunk.  (Not in mine, unless the technology is a whole lot better than it was. It probably is, everything else is better.) Personally, I prefer a large Thermos bottle in my trunk to a large pressurized container.

(You might think the gas used for picnic cooking — Propane — might be better used as a fuel, but that gas is heavier than air, so when it leaks it does not evaporate and disperse, it pools. concentrates, and becomes far more dangerous. That is why Propane trucks are usually banned from using tunnels on the East Coast.)

The potential of paying as little as a dollar (or two) for an equivalent gallon of gasoline is very enticing. For fleet vehicles this is particularly exciting. liquefied natural gas loss through evaporation is so high that it is most useful for often-used fleet vehicles.

The recent technological advances in unlocking vast pools of natural gas in the US has unleashed renewed interest, but the main problem is still refueling. There are currently 160,000 gasoline stations nationwide, and only 600 natural gas refueling stations. Here in San Diego in the 70s we only had two refueling stations, fine for an experiment but little else.

Of course natural gas is explosive, as the nightly news reports tell us regularly, but there is little (including dynamite) that is as dangerous as gasoline. We have successfully conquered the explosive nature of gasoline, and we can do it with natural gas as well.

T. Boone Pickens is building a chain of liquefied stations for long-haul truckers, and a compressed natural gas company has joined with GE and Whirlpool to do the same for the compressed version.

Only Honda currently sells a natural gas fueled car, and it sells only a couple of thousand a year, but I recall that conversion kits for gasoline powered cars were relatively cheap, although there was about a 10% loss of horsepower as a penalty. Today’s cars have so much extra horsepower that can never be legally used that a penalty of 10% will be unfelt.

That is a penalty certainly worth taking for fuel at a buck! Even at two dollars until competition drives the price down, and we get the extra bonus of getting off the Middle East merry-go-round.

It is still beyond my horizon, and it will not even be regular driving fare for my children. Perhaps some alternative such as Hydrogen Fuel Cells will intervene and make natural gas obsolete, but we must continue to explore alternatives to fuel oil and derivatives.

Oil is still plentiful, worldwide, but too much of it is owned by people who do not have this nations best interest at heart. If we are still going to use the internal combustion engine (and we are), we need cheap, available alternative fuels. Natural gas fills that bill to a T, once we get re-fueling stations available.

Hamas, As Seen Through Liberal Eyes

Will the truce between Hamas and Israel last? There is about as much chance that Madonna is a virgin; that the Moon will field an NFL team in 2013; that …well, you get the picture.

Who won? Hamas, of course.

Hamas got the Israeli’s to stop bombing, and to consider opening the borders of Gaza, and in return  Hamas only fired a dozen more rockets into Israel so far, and has time to rearm.

But Israel had little chance because Europe is NOT their friend and even their previously “Neutral but leaning toward Israel” (Turkey and Egypt) neighbors have changed to be “Neutral but leaning away from Israel.” If you can believe it, the victor in this truce is Egypt under the Islamic Brotherhood!

Israel is, as we are, considered a bully, because of the enormous imbalance of power.

Regardless of the merits of the underdogs, liberals (Europe is FILLED with them, and we have more than our share) will take the side of the underdog and because of the imbalance of power, and Hamas is decidedly the underdog.

I see it daily on the blogs I read.

From  Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted cop-killer (1981) to workers in labor in labor/business disputes, to the Palestinians, liberals side with the underdog – but they do so without discrimination, never asking if the “victim” (in their terms) deserves to be in that position..

Liberals can excuse, or mitigate ANY activity on behalf of an underdog, if they can point to ANY error in the past  or present, or any nefarious activity of “the man,” or the power position.

The rich, or powerful are permitted no error, the underdog is permitted every excuse in liberal eyes.

When Israel GAVE the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians in return for peace – a strip of land on the Mediterranean that could have been tuned into a terrific beach resort with trade routes galore – instead, the Palestinians elected Hamas and turned it into a haven for bomb attacks on Israel, causing Israel to respond.

How Hamas, and Gaza, can claim victim status is absolutely beyond my comprehension, but liberals on the blogs uniformly take their side and the press leans that way also.

It is the reflexive liberal position.

Here Comes Europe…

Here in the Holiday Season the unions have decided to capture our eyeballs with “job actions.” (Read “strike”)

(And, no, even as an Atheist I am not going to call the Christmas Season the Holiday Season, but when I include both the Thanksgiving with Christmas, the whole thing is the Holiday Season. I understand Christmas, its real meaning, and what it means to Christians. The Christmas Season, will be the Christmas Season!)

Anyway, up in LA, SEIU interfered with traffic on Century Avenue going the the LA Airport on the biggest traffic day of the year. Why were they protesting? They were protesting some workers for Aviation Safeguards, a contract firm at the LA Airport.

Yes, you read that right. They were not protesting the BUSINESS. They were protesting the WORKERS!

It seems the WORKERS had the temerity to decertify the SEIU Union, claiming that the union was not representing them, and that the workers had gone to Aviation Safeguards and negotiated a BETTER contract than the one the unions had negotiated. The WORKERS said, they didn’t need the union, which was ignoring the workers best interests.

So the SEIU was protesting that the WORKERS threw the UNION out!

How exactly that would be a reason for the union to disrupt the holiday travel of thousands of absolutely uninterested traveling public has yet to be explained!

Then we have the disruptions caused by a union wanting to organize Wal-Mart, by protesting that they must work on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and of course the idiots at Hostess, who are gambling that someone, somewhere will buy the Hostess company, which may well happen. The real gamble is that the next company will a) hire them, b) hire them quickly, and c)  hire them at more than was being offered previously. That is a gamble I would not take, and my background indicates I am a risk-taker.

This scenario is going to be duplicated, nationwide. Unions are more powerful than they were before the election – their “side” won.

We are sliding closer to Europe, with their union mass strikes and street violence.