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Sunday, February 19, 2017
Trump rally in Florida shows what really divides America
As I wrote to Mr. Winton earlier this week, the political divide in our country is spiritual; Christianity versus Secular Humanism. Man likes to put himself in the place of God.
This is the spiritual divide:
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. I Joh 2: 15-17
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Romans 1: 18-32
The Left is screaming like demons because they are following the doctrine of demons. Their god is government (and power). Trump is dedicated to tearing down many of their strongholds and they aren’t happy. I don’t know where Trump is spiritually, but I’m confident that God is using him to clean-up the mess that has poisoned our country for so many years.
Monday, February 13, 2017
Jesse Winton: Another Casualty
G.K. Chesterton’s philosophical opponent, George Bernard Shaw is quoted as saying, “Youth is wasted on the Young.” This is one of many ideas that came to mind while reading the latest missive from Jess Winton. Another is a quote that some have attributed to Charles Darwin; “I was a young man with unformed ideas.”
Winton and his father produced a pro-gun film called Targeted: Exposing The Gun Control Agenda. It was released at the end of last summer with the hope to inform folks about the agenda of the Left and to influence the upcoming November election. I have previously blogged about attending the premier of the film with Jesse, his father, and others that were in the film. Link: Targeted
Now, six months after it was released, Jesse Winton has decided to repudiate and renounce the film.
Here are a few excerpts of his essay.
“I regret making Targeted.”
“I spent four years of my life making a project that, for a time, I was proud of.”
“So, I regret making Targeted. I regret that it was fundamentally biased toward a particular viewpoint. I regret that it lacked empathy towards anyone that wasn’t a supporter of the Second Amendment, instead judging their motives as evil.”
I knew Winton and his family while they were making the film and know several folks that were extras in the film. Were this all that Jesse repudiated, I would still be shocked but unfortunately, he has made other more disturbing statements. The only difference is that I got a copy of this statement before he deleted it.
You see Jesse doesn’t have the courage of his convictions to stand by what he says. Twice I found Facebook posts that he initiated where as soon as he was caught advocating positions contrary to the theology of his father, he would delete the posts. One was a full throated defenses of “gay marriage”.
Jesse has left the Calvinist reservation and gone in another direction. Two themes that you will see repeatedly are his proclamation that he is a Libertarian and that he has a hatred of Donald Trump.
“Firstly, hear me say very clearly that … I am staunchly Libertarian. I have a hard time with Conservatism and the ways that it has manifested itself in our culture today.”
OK, what does this statement mean? Winton repudiates both Liberals and Conservatives and thinks that Libertarianism is a better way? Really? To some folks, Libertarians are all about live and let live; in a non-judgmental sort of way. The problem that I have with Libertarianism is that followed to its logical conclusion; it is a repudiation of Christianity. Sin is an integral part of being Libertarian. Prostitution, drug use, abortion, homosexuality, and a host of other things (euphemistically called “victimless crimes”) are perfectly fine according to a Libertarian worldview. However, all these are contrary to Biblical teaching.
Conservatism is not the same as a Biblical worldview but it often comes closer than either Libertarianism or Liberalism. Conservatives and Christians have many things in common. Politically, we both believe in limited government and that morality has a place being codified into law. The civil law exists to protect citizens from harming themselves and others, punishing crime, and defending the nation. All these are anathema to the Libertarian mindset.
Christianity does not allow room for the axiom, “My country right or wrong” or “the ends justifies the means” as some Conservatives seem to believe. The family, Church, and State have clearly defined roles. The Bible does not proscribe one form of human government as superior to all others but it does say that God’s Law is Supreme. Nations and their people are judged on the basis of how well we uphold His Standards.
This brings up to Donald Trump.
“Unfortunately, what we’re seeing now under the Trump administration is the result of years of divisive politics that gave American’s an excuse to not listen to each other. Everyone looked for ways to point fingers, we searched for methods by which we could confirm our own bias, and on a small level, Targeted was part of that. Fortunately, Targeted’s reach was limited. But it still had a reach. And I wish it hadn’t.”
This paragraph is full of nonsense from someone that should know better. Donald Trump is not now nor ever been a Conservative. Trump is outside of traditional political categories. He is President today because he said in effect, “a pox on both your houses” to the Democrats and Republicans in elected office. Trump called them frauds and said somebody needs to get off the track Obama put us on and go another way.
Last time I checked, there was a battle for the hearts and souls of men and the political divide in this country is along spiritual lines even more than policy ones.
If you look at Winton’s Facebook posts (at least the ones he hasn’t deleted yet), you will see that he endorses the Trump = Hitler meme. Last week, he has posted about Trump shredding the judiciary because Trump is not happy with the Ninth Circuit Court. The Ninth Circuit should have been dismantled back when Reagan was President, the fact that Trump is willing to say it is a good thing and long overdue.
Jesse seems to want popularity and praise more than standing for Truth. He reminds me of another film maker that departed from the faith of his father, Frankie Schaeffer.
Another thing that Mr. Winton seems to willfully ignore is that Donald Trump is there because God put him in office. And yes, ditto when Barack Obama was President. Obama was a judgement from God on our nation for rejecting His values. One of the punishments promised in Deuteronomy is the foreigner ruling over us and whether you think Obama was born in Hawaii or not, his values were not American values but something else. Obama was the first openly Communist or if you prefer, International Socialist President.
Whether Trump is another form of punishment or the savior of the American way of life is yet to be seen. So far, I have no complaints in what he has done. Trump seems content for the church and the family to carry-on without interference from the national government and from my perspective that is a refreshing change from the tyranny of the Obama administration.
Winton also spends part of his article dumping on the guests that he had in his movie. This too I find disingenuous. Unlike many bloggers, I spent part of my time in junior high school thru college in the practice of journalism. I know that part of the craft is finding quotations that help your article. You typically either go to an expert in the field or someone involved in the issue which you are writing about. Just because I quote someone does not mean that I agree with everything that person stands for. Case in point is this article when I quote George Bernard Shaw. I would find much more agreement with Chesterton than Shaw on almost any subject but quoting Shaw makes my point in that particular instance.
Speaking again about Targeted, look what Winton has to say:
I regret that it was endorsed by someone who said that Rosa Parks’ contribution to civil rights was “absurdly inflated.” I regret that it was endorsed by someone who’s sense of class prompted him to compare pictures of Hillary and Chelsea with pictures of Melania and Ivanka with the caption “Make America Hot Again.”
This appears to be the offending graphic mentioned by Winton.
Undeniable truth of life #24 comes to mind “Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women access to the mainstream of society.”
Winton is using a classic logical fallacy of the Ad Hominem attack.
Arguments of this kind focus not on the evidence for a view but on the character of the person advancing it; they seek to discredit positions by discrediting those who hold them. It is always important to attack arguments, rather than arguers, and this is where arguments that commit the ad hominem fallacy fall down. Link: definition Ad Hominem
Winton chose who to have in his movie either because they were a subject matter expert or because he was able to get quotes to bolster his argument. Attacking their character now is way too late. Jesse, you presented them as experts on the Second Amendment and nothing that you say about them now in your current rant diminishes that expertise.
Just because somebody shares something on Facebook because they think it’s funny is not sufficient grounds to throw them under the bus so Liberals and fellow Libertarians will like you more.
Jesse had a choice to make and he chose Libertarian values over biblical ones. They may appear to start in similar places but they end in very different destinations. Jesse seems content to swap his birthright for a cup of stew and that’s too bad.
In “Ode to the Outlaw”, Gary Paxton wrote about “that prison of freedom called hell” The only people with “freedom” in our society are homeless ones, everyone one else has someone telling them what to do. As Bob Dylan said it, “You gotta serve somebody.” Jesse mistakenly thinks freedom is the ultimate value. Sorry Jesse, God’s Law is the ultimate value not personal freedom.
Wednesday, February 08, 2017
Where’s my Refund?
We files our taxes last week, so just for fun I checked on my refund status tonight.
The IRS is promising to give me my refund 8 days after I filed.
The IRS can process an electronic return in days
However, the State of California is a different story. They promised me a refund within 2 months if I filed electronically and four months if I filed a paper return.
The worker’s paradise of California requires two months to process an electronic return
In previous years, my fastest turnaround for a refund from the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) was seven days. Apparently Democrats screw-up everything they touch. Now that they run everything in the State its two months? Too bad there aren’t any tech companies on the West Coast. I guess they can’t write a decent program when Trump has all their brainy people stuck at home or in some backwater airport waiting for permission to travel to the United States.
Based on the timeframe required to process my return, it looks like the State is in worse financial shape than they admit publicly. For paper returns you will literally be waiting until next fiscal year to get your money back.
If you wish to check on your refund, here are the links.
Update: 02-13-2017 Contrary to the statement on their website, Franchise Tax Board did in fact process my return. Actual turn around was less than two weeks. Apparently their time estimates are made by Mr. Scott to maintain the appearance of a miracle worker.
Thursday, February 02, 2017
A Texas Sized Pension Crisis in Dallas
After awaking from my New Year’s celebration I decided to do a little catchup reading. One article that caught my eye was about a pension crisis in Dallas, Texas. The first thing that came to mind was this must be the county workers retirement pension system, I was wrong; this is the police and firefighters retirement pension system. A very small pension fund by comparison to some such as CALPers. However the problem in Dallas is strange, in a sense because Dallas has a booming downtown, cranes and skyscraper construction dot the skyline. People have been moving to Dallas in droves, this is not the case study of a braying Midwestern city struggling with population loss, and the mill or warehouse closing down. This really caught my eye.
Government and private sector accountants have been tussling in Dallas over how large the deficit in the pension funding crisis is, however they do agree on one thing, it’s between one and five billion dollars! Yeah, Billion, like Million but with a “B”. Dallas appointed a pension board about thirty years ago to oversee the investments of this fund; most states and municipalities do this. These board members are supposed to have a fiduciary duty to put the financial needs of the members over any short term profits or accounting gimmicks…they failed. I will go in to their misdeeds later; in the meantime the city is now facing a monumental crisis of epic proportions.
The pension system in most states and municipalities all work the same, work so many years, and contribute a small portion of your check, roughly 1% and you will get a defined payout amount each month for the remainder of your life once you retire. This is true with most pension plans; they are set up in a defined benefit manner not a defined contribution manner. This becomes a problem when the union designs a contract where employees can retire at 50 and collect full benefits until death some 30 years later. The problem is the pension fund essentially becomes a Ponzi scheme as new money is added from current workers that go to pay out the benefits to retired workers.
The fund receives money each month collected from current workers’ pay, and then hopes to invest the money, earn a decent return, and pay out benefits to those collecting retirement. The main problem is these funds always use pie in the sky projections for investment return, with some such as CALPers saying they expect around 7.5% a year! As per usual they didn’t come close to 7.5%, they actually did .41% which is well, awful especially considering the market is at all-time highs. Enough about California; now back to Dallas.
Dallas got creative about a decade ago, they created an option for retired members called (DROP) deferred retirement option program. This option allowed retired members to put their pension check in a separate account, which would be a savings account, with a 10% interest annually credited to it. If you’re scoring at home, once again this is a characteristic of a Ponzi scheme promising pie in the sky returns, risk free mind you. Many retirees participated and I cannot say I blame them, as a 10% risk free return that is likely guaranteed by the municipality or the state is a great option. Then as one would expect problems began to arise, since you can’t guarantee 10% returns while the fund was only projecting to earn 7%.
The fund was beginning to see trouble in 2008, and as a result the board of directors decided to make investments in real estate as opposed to stocks or equities. Investing in real estate is extremely risky, and the bets placed by the Dallas pension fund blew up right in their face. This was to be expected. (If X was tasked with generating a massive investment return, I admit I would have done something similar.) The fund began buying up real estate all over the world, a winery and hotel in Napa, and quite a few investments in foreign countries that were supposed to make up the difference and generate a return that could pay off the obligations to retirees. This solution is not an issue until the value of the real estate holdings drops, and predictably it did. The fund took over $500 million in write-offs over a two year period from 2014-2015. Which is not a problem until those expecting to receive pension benefits find out they may not be receiving said benefits, then mayhem ensues. Mayhem indeed did ensue later in 2016. Further adding fuel to the fire were an agreement to raise the cost of living adjustment by 4% a year rather than pegging the rate to inflation which would have saved over 15-20%.
Remember those DROP accounts? The pension system had over 500 worth more than 1 million dollars, as a result of the shortfall; retirees began pulling all their money out of the system. Who can blame them? It was money and benefits they had earned. As a result, the mayor of Dallas, pension board leaders, and the state have been looking for a solution, including the temporary halting of withdrawals from the plan. Which as per usual from governments and the CRA these days, answers nothing. Panic has set in among retirees and as a result lawsuits have started flying in Dallas, as well as an FBI investigation as well as an SEC investigation. The mayor of Dallas predictably wants a state bailout, which predictably the state government told him politely no thank you. Now he wants to raise property tax by 130% on Dallas residents. Remember this is Dallas, not a small decaying city, but one that is lined with skyscrapers. Stay tuned, and I will report as more details come available.
Wednesday, February 01, 2017
Just Odd News
Sometimes when browsing the Internet, I find the juxtaposition of certain news stories out of place or just peculiar. Here is an example from KOVR-TV’s website tonight.
In math we did study inverse proportionality but ...
Muslim ↑ Bacon ↓ ?
Lest you think this television station—which I admit to occasionally watching—has all their oars in the water when it comes to their website, I did do a screen capture of this gem several months ago.
When weather babe Lisa Meadows was hired, the station did a fluff piece on her but the website muffed the slug line. It should read, “Get to know the newest member of the CBS13 weather team.”
So is the website person ESL or are they poking fun at another blond female news personality?
Perhaps it’s just nerd humor.
Friday, January 20, 2017
Hopes for President Trump
This week, we will experience the end of an error and a new beginning. Yes after eight years of Barack Obama a new chapter in American history will begin. As with all beginnings there is both uncertainty and high hopes for President Trump. Unlike Obama and his imperial declarations of unilateral executive authority, Trump has the possibility of lasting change by having his wishes turned into law by the Legislative branch of government. Not since Ronald Reagan, has anyone holding the office been so willing to bypass both the media and Congress and take his case for action directly to the American people. Trump will have the power to cause permanent changes in both political parties by being successful.
Unlike the Contract with America and Speaker Newt Gingrich, Trump has longer term goals for the country than merely 100 days. The economic picture has been so obfuscated by Obama and to some extent George W Bush before him, that both danger and opportunity will be encountered. Obama has been cooking the books thru “Quantitative Easing” and manipulation of economic data such as unemployment statistics. The plight of the American worker is the worst it has been since the 1930’s but the difference is less honest politicians and a greater willingness to print money and finance the status quo with debt. Medicare is expected to become insolvent during the Trump years and no one has been willing to fix it. Thankfully Trump has the backbone to at least try for more than a Band-Aid solution. Cutting corporate taxes and repatriation of money that US companies are warehousing overseas will be a great boon to the economy. Trump’s tough stance on trade is needed. Proposals like the Trans Pacific Partnership and its 6,000 pages of nonsense are ridiculously complex and unintelligible even for its advocates to understand.
The legacy of the Supreme Court will be the one that Liberals will hate the most. They can’t get most of their ideas thru the legislatures of the several states or the Federal government so the legislative power of the courts has been their “go-to” play. Trump must not only put folks on the Federal Bench but realign the courts. The dreaded Ninth Circuit Appellate Court must be dismantled so the only the Left Coast states are under their sway. Look for some “out of the box” proposals to be made in this area.
To me, the Courts don’t have to overturn Roe v Wade. If the government would be prohibited from spending any public money on abortion and family planning then groups like Planned Parenthood would be irrelevant. Abortions are at an all-time low. The people that regard abortion as the Sacrament of the religion of Feminism are literally dying-off or at least beyond child bearing years. Yes, Roe needs to be overturned but I think that will be a lagging indicator not the first domino to fall.
Protecting religious liberty will be a mixed bag under Trump but the hostility against Christianity that Obama fostered will mostly be undone. Marriage will be the area to watch. I look for the social engineering of the military including its hostility to Christianity and promotion of LGBT junk to go away…for the most part. I think you will see states like California going to war against Christians while the national government stands with people of faith. The threat of withholding Federal Funds will win the day…for now.
Many of us sense that this is the last chance we will be given before following Europe into the abyss. The America of Norman Rockwell is gone; will it continue on the path into socialism (international or national) or find a way to continue to be Reagan’s “city on the hill” for the rest of the world. If Trump doesn’t undo the damage of the baby boomers and show the next generation a better way than doubling down on the narcissism of their parents then the American Experiment has truly ended as an abysmal failure.
Lastly, I predict that the biggest obstacle that Trump faces will be Republicans undermining him. If they thwart his legislative priorities, look for Trump to run a slate of candidates against these incumbents in two years.
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
This past weekend, we celebrated Christmas. It was the most enjoyable one I can recall in many years.
My weekend started Friday afternoon by getting sent home early from work. This year it was two o’clock. This is the earliest that I can recall being dismissed. Of course the drive home was a cakewalk. I arrived home to be greeted by my wife and son. We had a nice dinner and watched a Christmas movie.
The next day we went and visited some dogs that needed a home. While my son hasn’t gotten his dog yet, he knows that mom and dad are willing to get him one when the time is right. Later we had dinner with grandpa and grandma. My son got to open many gifts from his grandparents. The evening went well and my dad’s prime rib was good. We drove home—well mostly. I had the wife dump me out of the car at California Family Fitness and I walked the rest of the way home—too many calories at grandma’s. After I got home, we went to bed ready for Christmas Day.
On Christmas Day, my son was up at his usual time of 6 AM. He played on his computer until mom had breakfast ready. We ate breakfast and then went to see what was under the Christmas tree. We opened our gifts, loaded up the car and then headed to church.
Our church was closed on Christmas. Yeah, I know that’s kind of weird but it’s the pitfall of not owning your own building. There was nobody around to let us into our usual place so we had to meet elsewhere. After many false starts, a few days before Christmas, our pastor decided that we should crash the service at Christ the King in Roseville. The service there was glorious and we got to see many people that we haven’t seen in many years. The Communion portion of the service was my favorite. They had really great homemade bread and port wine. Since this is a meal with Christ, typically you get a big handful of bread and each family gets their own glass of wine. I even got seconds on the wine. Yummy.
We then went home and got ready for our lone guest for Christmas dinner; my sister-in-law. More prime rib. (I don’t mind, the turkey is being served when the child in the military gets home next weekend.)
Since Christmas was on a Sunday this year, Monday was a holiday. My day started by stepping on the scale and amazingly enough, I had lost my final two pounds for the year! Yes, I stepped off and got back on the scale just to check. It was official; I lost 50 pounds in 2016.
After breakfast, we went to look at pet supplies and accessories in anticipation of getting our son a dog. Then I took the family to lunch. (Mr. X had dibs on lunch but had to take the wife shopping so he took a raincheck.) We then went home for a while.
Mid-afternoon I had the crazy idea to go swimming. The wife and I suited-up and headed for Cal-Fit. However, it turns-out that the pool heater has been dead for a while. I can’t understand how a solar heater is broken when the sun works just fine but the water temp was definitely in the 50’s. The wife headed for the hot tub and I endured the cold water for about 15 minutes of laps and then hit the hot tub as well. After about 35 minutes we were on our way home for a warm shower and dry clothes. I did some laundry and then did some chores around the house.
After dinner and a prolonged computer project—which I may blog about later—I went for a walk to get the rest of my steps for the day. I was glad because I figured it would be the last chance to see all the lights in the neighborhood until next year.
Truly it was a good Christmas. I hope yours was as well.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Thoughts as We Near Christmas
Normally I don’t get so personal on this blog but this time of the year, isn’t that—at least in part—what Christmas is about; preparing for Christ and what He is doing in your life?
This last month or so I have been experiencing many changes in my life.
First two friends have died rather unexpectedly.
At Thanksgiving time, I learned that Bishop Royal Grote had died.
Royal U Grote, Jr
Bp. Grote was based in Texas and for much of the time that I knew him, he was in charge of the Missionary Diocese of the West for the Reformed Episcopal Church. Bishop Grote was a fine man. He smoked cigars on important occasions, enjoyed adult beverages and loved the Lord. He was charitable with other believers and tried to be the best shepherd that he could for his flock. He took his vows of marriage and to serve God very seriously. He jealously guarded The Table from error and those living in it. Only once did I see him discipline a minister in his charge (although I am aware of other occasions). He acted firmly and decisively when needed. Like it or not, Grote was also instrumental in the formation of the ACNA (Anglican Church in North America). Grote hoped this organization would be an umbrella group to unite various splinter groups fleeing the heresy of the Anglican Church.
Link: Wikipedia Royal U Grote Jr.
A week later, another friend—George Fincke—also died.
George B Fincke
George was also ordained a Bishop in the REC. George started out as the son of a Presbyterian minister in Cape May, New Jersey. He attended college at Bob Jones University and occasionally made life there a living hell for the Jones’. He attended college there in the 1970’s. While a student, George did a play at Bob Jones that was a parody of the original Star Trek. In the play, Spock was replaced by Bob Jones and the results, while hilarious, were unsatisfactory to Mr. Jones and his family. George also admitted to putting laundry detergent in the water fountain at the college’s main gate and creating a layer of foam three feet high in the fountain. He had a wonderful sense of humor and maintained a friendship with Bob Jones Jr. who was also a student there when he was.
Later George attended the Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Philadelphia and spent the next twelve years in the Presbyterian Church. Finally, he “saw the light” and moved to the Reformed Episcopal Church. I met George when he was recruited by Bishop Grote to be the minister of the parish in Vacaville California. At the time, many people were hoping to recruit Ray Sutton as their pastor but Grote had other plans for Sutton.
George and I became good friends. While in Vacaville, George suffered a stroke. He had to learn to speak again and also to walk. I spent many hours at his home during this time. That was 16 years ago. George had been made a Bishop about two years before the stroke but his life changed when this happened. He was effectively stripped of his duties and became a Bishop without a flock. It was an awkward period. Once he was recovered enough to resume preaching, he was transferred to Fargo North Dakota. Despite many years of labor, the Mission in Fargo faded away and about two years ago, George moved to Prescott Arizona and took a church there. At this point he transferred from the REC to the Anglican Provence of America.
Link: All Saints Prescott, AZ
It was a fresh start for his family and much closer to his grandchildren. Two months before he died, he and his wife had finally purchased a home in Prescott.
I miss his emails and posts on Facebook; mostly his wonderful friendship and sense of humor. He always was laughing and enjoyed life.
I have another friend that is in the last stages of his life and will soon go to his reward. Unlike the other two that I mentioned, he hasn’t made his peace with God. Should you happen to see this post Frank, I’m praying for you to find the peace that only Jesus Christ can give you.
Also in the last month, the wife and I decided to pull our son from the private school that he has been attending for the last 8 ½ years and send him to a different school. The academic rigor is not there this year and the mandatory purchase of an Apple product for the second trimester was the beginning of the last chapter there. We had to buy him this device not for learning but so he could play even more games than he already does at home. Now he can play games at school too. It was time to go.
Back in November, the oldest child moved out. We are enjoying the relative peace and quiet. This move has provided us with the opportunity to do lots of cleaning and organizing. The biggest beneficiaries so far are Goodwill and Ikea.
Adding to this cleaning opportunity is the weight that my wife and I have lost this year. I’m back to where I was in my 20’s and the wife will be there soon if she survives the Holidays. (-:
Our first trip to Goodwill this fall was over one hundred clothing items, many that still had tags on them. This has been followed-up by several more trips.
Lastly, I was given a promotion at work. God is good and we keep pushing that Dave Ramsey snowball down the hill. A debt-free scream is still in our future but we’re getting there.
I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas.
Thanks Mr. X for your contributions this year. I hope to see you at the salsa bar real soon.
Tuesday, December 06, 2016
I was ready to touch on the pension issue in Dallas but that will have to wait.
ESPN… seriously? This past weekend was huge for college football and you chose to push your liberal agenda. First things first, William has done a great job recently laying out the agenda that ESPN and other major television networks have been subjecting viewers to in the name of entertainment. However credit X for bringing this to the light a while back in one of his earlier articles.
Anyway back to the college football game X was watching this past Saturday night. Virginia Tech and Clemson, not because I like college football—honestly X could care less—but after working outside all day it was a nice break. The game hadn’t started yet, and Chris Fowler, the announcer of the game (more on him later) begins the game by saying, the ACC Championship game is usually held in North Carolina, but is being held in Florida this year due to HB2. (HB 2 is the so called “bathroom bill” saying use the bathroom of your gender, not the gender you think you might be that day.) In all fairness, I have no issue with this statement by ESPN resident lowlife Chris Fowler, however he couldn’t help himself. Fowler continued, “…this law is very harmful and discriminatory of transgendered people, and I support the ACC moving the game out of North Carolina.”
Sadly this has been the standard method of operation for ESPN for a while.
William and I have both laid out that ESPN has been bleeding viewers for about two years now as more and more people such as William have cut the cord. X has delayed cutting the cord as his “great deal” from Frontier has yet to run out. But back to my point, I do not tune in to ESPN to get my political news ; if I wanted that I could turn to the CRA website…..oh wait they aren’t relevant, so I would probably turn to Fox News. At least Fox News would have been fair and balanced—even Megyn Kelly would have been better than that political crusader, Chris Fowler.
In all honesty, I’m not sure what Fowler thought he was doing. I’m not sure if Fowler is a) transgendered himself, or b) has a friend or family member who is transgendered. I really don’t care whether he does or doesn’t or with whom; enough of your political rants already. I don’t want to hear it. I’m trying to watch a game and relax not get your take on the political hot button issue of the day.
Chris Fowler (photo from Internet)
Now to my commentary regarding Fowler…..Fowler is a sexual deviant. I know a very close friend who has seen it firsthand. A few years ago, Fowler was spotted by a person I will call “FOX” (a fiend of X) with fellow ESPN college game day host Kirk Herbstreit at a bar in Middle America. Both men were drinking adult beverages following a game they had announced together. What my friend observed was behavior so outrageous that it was reported by “FOX” to ESPN’s human resources department. The story relayed to me was this:
Fowler had way too much to drink, as did Herbstreit, but Fowler was acting a mad fool as the young people call it. Fowler was not only doing cat calls as young coeds walked by, he also was grabbing quite a bit of derriere. Actually Bill Cosby may have been jealous, as Fowler was so out of line. Worse yet he was openly bragging about how he worked for ESPN, and worst of all, Mr. Chris Fowler is married or at least he is when he is in his hometown…..yeah think about that for a minute, his wife, Jennifer Dempster, is a female model/bodybuilder.
Like a fool returning to his folly, Fowler stuck his foot in his mouth yet again after the broadcast. While commenting about a scenario in which the football playoffs had five eligible teams and only four could make the playoffs, Fowler, after listening to a couple guests, said he was flip-flopping on his picks and compared the situation as being similar to the winner of our recent Presidential election and his flip flopping. Thanks Fowler, you hate Donald Trump, we get it. Next time rather than listen to you, I’ll just cut the cord from cable, maybe then I can get some real rest and relaxation. I pray nightly that you make peace with your wife because based on the stories I’ve heard and those reported to me by witnesses, you need quite a bit of help.
Until next time,
Friday, November 18, 2016
Cyber Warfare: Why You Should Care
There is a silent war being waged all around the world and you are up to your neck in it if you own a computer, smart phone, tablet device, smart television, or recent model car. Both multinational companies and nation-states are doing their best to collect information on you.
Tracking cookies and the like are so nineteen nineties. Today, any device that you own can be accessed without your knowledge or permission. Laptop and cell phone cameras and microphones can be turned on by remote means; your television can see into your livingroom; your movement anywhere on the planet is tracked by your car, smart phone, or wrist device.
Stuxnet was just the beginning of what a carefully planned hack can accomplish. If you are not familiar with Stuxnet I recommend that you read up on it. Here are a few links:
Stuxnet is a malicious computer worm believed to be a jointly built American-Israeli cyberweapon, although no organization or state has officially admitted responsibility. However, anonymous US officials speaking to The Washington Post claimed the worm was developed during the Bush administration to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program with what would seem like a long series of unfortunate accidents.
Stuxnet specifically targets programmable logic controllers (PLCs), which allow the automation of electromechanical processes such as those used to control machinery on factory assembly lines, amusement rides, or centrifuges for separating nuclear material. Exploiting four zero-day flaws, Stuxnet functions by targeting machines using the Microsoft Windows operating system and networks, then seeking out Siemens Step7 software.
Link: Business Insider—The Stuxnet Attack On Iran’s Nuclear Plant Was ‘Far More Dangerous’ Than Previously Thought
Apple, Sony, and Lenovo are famous for putting rootkits on computers without user permission to spy on you. Visio televisions are also known to spy on users and report data back to somewhere.
WikiLeaks reportedly used spyware installed purposely by Lenovo to obtain information on the Democrat National Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Recently, Russia and China have been in the news on this subject.
Russia has stated that they want to move away from any software made by a foreign countries. While the biggest target for this announcement was Microsoft, they also had others in mind. They fear that the software may be compromised by backdoors programmed into the software. It is widely believed that the FBI, CIA, and National Security Agency can access any computer at will.
Link: Moscow’s government ditches Microsoft for Russian software
While Russia is trying to strengthen its defenses against spying and foreign snooping, China is again broadening its ability to keep tabs on the rest of the world. Instead of planting listening posts all over the world and circling the globe with satellites like the West, China is programming devices to report personally identifiable information to servers in their country. If you’ve been watching this subject then you know that any electronic device from their country is probably compromised or could be at a later date. Unlike us, they really have a military/industrial complex.
Here’s the latest example to be made public earlier this month. Only 700 million Android devices are affected by this one instance.
The firmware it uses receives automatic updates from the maker. The covert transmission of personal data is taking place periodically every 72 hours for text messages and call logs and every 24 hours for other personally identifiable information. The user has no ability to switch off the eavesdropping.
“The collected information was encrypted with multiple layers of encryption and then transmitted over secure web protocols to a server located in Shanghai,” Kryptowire said. “This software and behaviour bypasses the detection of mobile anti-virus tools because they assume that software that ships with the device is not malware and thus, it is white-listed.”
For about $50, you can get a smartphone with a high-definition display, fast data service and, according to security contractors, a secret feature: a backdoor that sends all your text messages to China every 72 hours.
Kryptowire has identified several models of Android mobile devices that contained firmware that collected sensitive personal data about their users and transmitted this sensitive data to third-party servers without disclosure or the users’ consent. These devices were available through major US-based online retailers (Amazon, BestBuy, for example) and included popular smartphones such as the BLU R1 HD. These devices actively transmitted user and device information including the full-body of text messages, contact lists, call history with full telephone numbers, unique device identifiers including the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) and the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI). The firmware could target specific users and text messages matching remotely defined keywords. The firmware also collected and transmitted information about the use of applications installed on the monitored device, bypassed the Android permission model, executed remote commands with escalated (system) privileges, and was able to remotely reprogram the devices.
Link: Kryptowire finds Android firmware
So there we are. I bet many readers didn’t know that we were even in a global “Information Cold War”.
Donald Trump’s advocating the return of manufacturing back to the United States is the right thing to do—not just for economic reasons but because it’s actually a national security issue of the highest order. Most of our military infrastructure and weapons systems are dependent on parts from foreign countries—especially China. In addition, last I heard, Russian manufacturers make parts that are vital for our cruise missile weapons systems. Farming out our military to other countries might make globalists happy but in a time of national emergency it’s a suicidal foreign policy.
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
I don’t know if there’s too much fluoride in the waters of Sacramento or whether there’s too much smoke from Humboldt County blowing into in the Sacramento Valley but the Purple People at SEIU are charging full ahead at the wage windmill. They have swallowed a bucket load of the economic crap cooked-up by Democrats wanting to cover-up the scope of economic malfeasance in our country.
Are they really dumb enough to believe we are in an economic recovery and the State of California is running a budget surplus?
California is the sixth largest economy in the world (according to the International Monetary Fund) and has a projected $11.5 billion budget reserve this year (according to the California Legislative Analyst Office 2016 – 2017 budget projection).
Link: SEIU Newsletter 11-16-2016
This isn’t the same story coming from the Legislative Analyst—Mac Taylor—who said today:
If all spending commitments remain unchanged, Taylor projects that California would finish the next budget year in June 2018 with $11.5 billion in total reserves. Most of it would go to required deposits in the state’s rainy-day fund, but about $2.8 billion would be available for the Legislature to spend or save as it chooses.
Link: KCRA TV-2.8 Billion Surplus
Look at this week’s posting to members.
We return to the table today, Nov. 15 and Thursday, Nov. 17, with some additional dates scheduled later this month.
Seems like SEIU is running out of time this month to negotiate, plus the State hasn’t budged on their offer. Last time SEIU met with the State, a mere week later they were scheduling the strike vote. Nothing has changed.
Yes the strike vote passed but BFD.
An overwhelming 92% majority of us voted YES to authorize any and all actions, up to and including a strike, in support of a contract we can all be proud of!
It seems like the best argument that SEIU can put forward for a 22 percent pay raise over the next four years is that it’s not nice to hit girls…at least not in the wallet.
• Our union is predominately women (66%), yet we are paid 19% less than the average for all rank-and-file state employees
• The state has made deals with male-dominated bargaining units that include wages 43% higher than our average pay
• A staggering 39% of us cannot afford a two-bedroom apartment in the county we live in
• In most parts of the state, we cannot afford childcare
Again, SEIU1000 represents non-essential government workers. They will get zero sympathy from the public which is their court of last resort.
Will they begin with a work slowdown or jump straight to a strike? Just in time for Black Friday shopping?
I think CCPOA (California Correctional Peace Officers Association) will have SEIU in court immediately to insure that their members continue to be paid despite any tantrum thrown by SEIU. CCPOA might even seek a 90 day cooling-off period just to put things off to the beginning of negotiations on the 2017-18 budget.
As stated before, many state workers will not be participating in the union action so will it make a difference?
Also, many state workers have several months of sick and vacation on the books so what will be the economic impact?
(Most have yet to learn that they don’t get paid while walking the line.)
Is Golden One Credit Union going to bail-out the striking workers like they did during the furloughs a few years ago?
Oh, lest we forget, it is illegal for state workers to strike. The union hasn’t exactly lead with that little nugget in any of their strike rhetoric.
So how can they strike? Good question. The way it works it that as part of the strike settlement, the state grants amnesty to those who participated in the strike. Thus striking remains illegal and unions are allowed to do it anyway with no repercussions.
It will be interesting to watch this drama unfold as we move into the holiday season.
Monday, November 07, 2016
SEIU Voting Update
I took some time out of my day today to go visit an SEIU polling place here in Elk Grove. I was mostly curious how they conducted the voting; especially, if they required a photo I.D.
I found three people sitting at a table in front of the AT&T store between Starbucks and GameStop Burger (Smash Burger has same color scheme as GameStop and they were there before Smash).
The table was covered with an SEIU table skirt. On top was a ballot box, two stacks of ballots with big boxes to check Yes or No, three stacks of envelopes—two white and one pink, a roll of stickers that said I voted, two lists of names, a clipboard, and some pens.
I observed on person vote. His eligibility was determined by typing his name into a cell phone. He was given a ballot, envelope, and pen. He marked the ballot and then was asked to complete the other side of the envelope before inserting it into the ballot box. On the envelope he had to have name, signature, and union number. The ballot was then placed in the envelope. Once the envelope was sealed it was placed in the ballot box.
As this person was finishing his vote, two other people tried to vote. The next potential voter was not verified with the cell phone but with one of two paper lists on the table. Her name was found on the first listed that was checked. After putting her cell number and email on the list, the poll worker checked the list again and then informed her that she was not a union member and needed to complete an application to join SEIU in order to vote. She commented that it was not clear from the union website that you must be a member to vote. She declined to join SEIU and then she and her companion (who was also hoping to vote) left.
The first guy that voted lingered at the table after his vote was cast and asked some questions of the union representatives working the table. In the course of the conversation, the SEIU rep that he was speaking with dropped a big bombshell. He was informed that it would be helpful for the SEIU if he would vote Yes on Prop 55.
Per the trusty voter guide from the Secretary of State, Prop 55 “Extends by twelve years the temporary personal income tax increases enacted in 2012 on earnings over $250,000, with revenues allocated to K-12 schools, California Community Colleges, and, in certain years, healthcare.”
OK so where in that description is there any mention of exorbitant wage increases for non-essential government workers?
The only analysis that makes sense is that if this temporary tax goes away then the General Fund will have to pick up the slack meaning less money is available to give gifts to SEIU.
Lastly, I asked about the 3.5 percent for retiree healthcare that was mentioned on the SEIU website. I was told that current employees would have to start contributing 3.5 percent of their wages to a trust fund for retiree healthcare beginning January of 2017. Thus the pay increase offered by the state will not even allow SEIU employees to break even with what they are taking home now. This is likely the real reason for all the strike talk and saber rattling.
The ballots are supposed to be counted this weekend but the poll workers did not know when or where; however, they did claim that the vote counting would be open to the public.
Wednesday, November 02, 2016
Why Democrats Should Vote for Trump
I could go into a lot of reasons why Democrats should vote for Trump but Democrats are not motivated by logic, facts, or reason so I will give a short synopsis and then explain why.
I know that some games with economic statistics started under George W Bush but the fact is that the Obama Administration has been cooking the economic books for the full eight years of his term.
• Quantitative Easing has been artificially propping up the financial markets.
• The Federal Reserve has been propping up monetary policy but they have already said they will raise the Prime Rate after the election.
• Given that one in five American households have no one working and there are over 94 million adults that are no longer in the workforce out of a population of 308 million people (including children and senior citizens) do you really believe that unemployment is only five percent?
• Economic growth under Obama has never been above 3 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in any fiscal quarter of his presidency—this is the first time in US history
• The auto loan market is in a financial bubble that is ready to burst (Americans owe over one trillion dollars in auto loans)
• The student loan debt is also over one trillion dollars
• Job creation under Obama is less than the number of college graduates entering the works force and has been for all eight years of his administration
• 36 percent of young people between 24 and 31 are still living at home
• Taxes, fees, and regulations have grown significantly under Obama
• Pension plans nationwide are trillions of dollars underfunded (one trillion just in California—State, County, and Local governments)
• Medicare and Social Security are facing insolvency in the next few years
This is only the tip of the statistical iceberg but you get the point, the house of cards will collapse sooner or later. You’ve had a good deal under Obama—or so you think—but the bills are about to come due.
We also learned from Democrats that capitalizing on disaster and tragedy is a cornerstone of how they operate. Spinning a crisis into political advantage is part of their playbook.
Here is your golden opportunity to do both. A vote for Trump is really a vote for future Democrat officeholders. Why? Because the economic system in the country needs a correction. Whichever party is in power when it happens will get the blame and you don’t want your guy (or in this case girl) in office when the stuff hits the fan. Trump can get the blame, fix it and then the next Democrat can ride the economic crisis all the way to the White House. If your Party spins it right then your guys could be in power for the next 16 years or better. Frankly, this might be a good reason to vote a strait Republican ticket. If Republicans own the Congress and Presidency then there is no way blame will go to your Party. In the long run you’ll be better for the experience.
Trust me, you want Trump when the economy takes a dump.
Saturday, October 29, 2016
Hillary’s Weiner Troubles
Drudge Report 10-28-2016
Why is it that when the Clintons get into trouble and the truth finally comes out that a Weiner always gets the blame?
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Just in Time for Halloween: SEIU Strike Vote
The dystopian worldview of the Service Employee’s International Union has finally caused them to ratchet-up their rhetoric and call for a strike authorization vote.
Yes exactly one week after they supposedly returned to the bargaining table with the State, they pulled the trigger on the vote. I have a few unanswered questions:
• What changed between June and October that they thought the State would negotiate?
• Did they really meet?
• What did the State offer?
None of these questions was answered; instead we get a tale of “two cities”.
On one hand, California is the 6th largest economy in the world and has a projected $11.5 billion surplus this year.
On the other hand, a staggering 39% of our members cannot afford a two-bedroom apartment in the county they live in.
And in most parts of the state, our members cannot afford childcare.
Even more alarming is the gender pay inequity we’re facing.
Our union is predominately women (66% female, 34% male). Yet we are paid 19% less than the average for all rank-and-file state employees. The state has made deals with male-dominated state worker groups that include wages 43% higher than our average pay.
Like all Californians, we should be able to provide for our families. Yet, the state is offering us only 2.96% per year with a 3.5% employee contribution to our retiree healthcare.
Our intention is to continue to negotiate in good faith on all remaining terms, but both sides have to act in good faith. When the state’s conduct doesn’t meet this standard – on livable wages and benefits – we must prepare for all options.
The voting period is scheduled to be October 31 to November 11.
(In my world these dates are known as Reformation Day to Veteran’s Day.)
Oh, even though I work for the State, I don’t get a vote, I just get to involuntarily contribute to the union as a condition of my employment.
As a taxpayer, you should have taken Nagan’s offer but since you didn’t, they’re coming for ALL your stuff.
Trick or Treat California.