I do have a day job. I am going to keep this post up at the top, as a transparent reference to my own aging ... since this blog started in 2010.
Here was a picture taken of me at our User Conference (UC) in April.
Dressed up in CEO costume ...
In costume on stage, live ...
First time in my life successfully escaping Epcot before it was sealed. The high sign was me - very, very maturely - saying goodbye to this imaginary reality, for no other reason than I can fathom other than I am a control freak.
September 28, 2018
Every 4 to 8 years, this great foster home, gets a new daddy (and hopefully someday a new mommy) to run it.
My new foster dad doesn't pay attention to me. He only cares about himself. He can't read me bed time stories, because he is too lazy to read.
My new foster dad doesn't get along with other foster dads and moms. Well that's not quite true, he gets along with the mean ones that act like him.
My new foster dad abuses me and most of the foster kids. He calls the girls "dogs". He calls black kids " the n-word". He says kids of color are "from shit hole countries". And he won't let new kids into the foster home and separates them from their parents.
My new foster dad lies and cheats. Not once in a while. Ever day. My new foster dad texts us, when we are sleeping with creepy rants. He just always seems pissed off. It seems if we like a TV show or a TV news channel, he wants us to turn it off.
My new foster dad only likes kids who say nice things about him. Even if the killer at the end of the block says nice things about him, my new foster dad will let him do what he wants.
My new foster dad is partial to all white kids who can't think for themselves. Must be nice for them. But he turns them into bullies. And that makes the foster home even more abusive.
My new foster care dad points at Swanson frozen dinner and tells us it is a catered dinning experience. When we complain, he tells us we can't trust our own eyes.
My new foster care dad said my allowance was going up. Instead, because I am a suburbanite, my allowance is going down.
My foster care dad's friends are getting arrested. He supports them, more than he supports us.
My new foster care dad is never around. He plays golf with his rich friends. He tells us he is rich, but welches on giving money to charities.
We hear there is a foster care supervisor, that should be holding this new foster dad accountable. Where are they? I thought this was the best foster care home in the world - for the last 150 years - and had a great tradition. Is that over?
Is there anyone that can help us?
August 15, 2018
With the exception of Trump being defensive about the Mueller probe; the biggest tell in Helsinki, was Trump's cringeworthy non sequitur argument against Russian meddling. "No Collusion. No collusion". That's the equivalent of testifying against a bank robber, being asked if you believe that person robbed the bank and starting your argument by saying you had nothing to do with the bank job. So if Trump (a) doesn't have anything to hide and (b) is telling the truth; he is 100% guilty of sounding guilty, 100% of the time.
But I want to pivot to the larger picture here. Give the reader another prism to watch what Trump and the GOP are doing.
Trump might not have read about history, but the early 20th century GOP - the one TR tried in vain to reform - was an isolationist party. it was anti-immigration, anti-trade/pro-tariff, wary of foreign "allies", and saw no need to be the leader of the free world.
World War II and FDR set up the world order we enjoy today. Truman set up our stance against Russia/Soviet Union. Eisenhower hewed to those policies. Nixon did too. Reagan solidified this doctrine in the 1980s, seemingly eradicating the early 20th century GOP. Both Bushes followed his script.
Today, Trump has remade the GOP into its original early 20th century form. He has built a coalition that is a sizable minority that has bought into this new party.
Today, GOP Never-Trumpers and Republicans who sparingly speak out against his policies and behavior completely miss the point. They are outsiders in the new GOP.
Again going back to history, dissatisfaction of Democrats in the 1850s, led to a more broader tent Republican Party and their political ascendency. Reverse the names. Why hasn't the Democratic Party pitched a broader tent for dissatisfied Republicans to switch parties?
If Never-Trumpers and Republicans fail to recognize they don't belong in today's early 20th Century GOP; Democrats fail to provide them a new home.
July 17, 2018
If Trump isn't doing Putin's bidding, he certainly looks like he is. Why?
The American century, has been built through the defense of NATO and free trade with Canada and the EU. Trump is as of this writing tearing down these underpinnings. Why?
NATO EU spends more money on defense than Russia. Trump doesn't seem to grasp that concept. Why?
He is scheduled to meet with Putin in Helsinki next Monday without notetakers and anyone else in the room? Why?
It is either because Putin has coopted him and/or his base likes the fact that he seems like the drunk guy at the end of the bar being a know-nothing, know-everything simpleton.
As to the latter, his base pats themselves on the back for living in a country with two great oceans of separation. They pat themselves on the back for being true Americans, just because they were born in an American hospital, seemingly forgetting that their forefathers and foremothers were the true heroes. Caring about the complexities of the fruits of democratic alliances and Economics 101? They are confined to the bars of their own cities. If they have any broader visibility, it is restricted to their own states. Europe and Canada? They don't even know anything about another state for god sake.
Trump belittling a foreign sounding - but pro-American - NATO leader? They eat that up.
If Putin - who is surrounded by NATO - could find, in his wildest of dreams - a better play/captive than Trump to tear NATO down and rid himself of the sanctions - he seams to have found one.
Jefferson said that American democracy depends not just on elections, but on every American having the courage to speak up as a patriot every day. I take those words to heart. What has been going on for the last 18 months and what is going on now and next week should make citizens, who know and care more than the local bar, speak up as well.
July 11, 2018
I wrote this post almost exactly 18 months ago. The ratio at that time was 28
The historical mean and and median is between 16 and 17.
During the dot.com boom it rose to an irrational exuberance of 44. The market eventually dropped like a rock.
During the run up to the 2008 Financial Crisis it rose to the Black Friday level of 30.
What is it today?
What is driving this irrational exuberance today? Less than 3% interest rates. There is no place to park the money other than the stock market in order to seek yields that are inspiring.
If the ratio was 28, 18 months ago and it is now 32.2 - with 3% GDP growth and earnings growth (culling out stock buybacks - the earnings basket of all stock must correlate to GDP growth) - that means that investors are paying 15% more for stocks.
Does paying 15% more for stocks make sense with 3% GDP and earnings growth? No.
Add in the risks of inflation for the tariffs and the explosion of national debt to pay for corporate tax reduction - which would/will require interest rate hikes by the FED - and you have the inevitable sharp correction on the horizon. Worst case scenario is a ratio contraction of 50% back to the historical mean.
And history tells us that isn't sustainable.
July 1, 2018
Trump's tariff wars are not only taxing the US but are targeting Trump states by design.
Steel prices are up 20% from February due to tariffs. In addition, 900,000 people are employed in jobs that consume steel and only 80,000 people are employed in jobs that produce steel as of today. You don't have to be a mathematician to see the net/net, of the demographic chasm between the two, hurts more American workers than helps them. But any Economics 101 student can see that any consumable - like buildings - will see prices rise and is thus inflationary.
China retaliates against soybean imports
Soybean prices - the largest agricultural product made in the US - have declined 15% in the last month in a steep and steady daily decline that shows no sign of abating.
What are the top states that produce soybeans? Swing states, including Iowa, Indiana and Missouri, that have Democrats running for reelection.
China, the EU and Mexico retaliate against whiskey.
The company that makes Jack Daniels - headquartered in Kentucky - has seen an 18% drop in their stock price. Why target whiskey? Call that a Mitch McConnell political tax for complicity with Trump.
Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement
Now it is clear that Justice Kennedy's words regarding American institutions was a deliberate signal to the US Senate to be considered when voting on his replacement. He shoehorned that in a day before he announced his retirement.
Also to be considered is the precedent of William Rehnquist in US vs Nixon in 1974. Rehnquist was nominated by Nixon and recused himself in the vote.
Expect the Senate to ask any replacement candidate for Kennedy two questions. Would he (a) recuse himself in any matter with the Court and Donald Trump and (b) would he expect Neil Gorsuch - another Trump appointed justice - to do the same?
June 28, 2018
SCOTUS Warning Shot
The Supreme Court yesterday approved Trump's watered down travel ban with 7 countries. But less noticed, were the warning shots contained within the majority opinion by Chief Justice Roberts and the concurring opinion by Justice Kennedy.
Roberts went to great length, to basically say, "there are presidents that have lived up to our ideals and some who have not".
Justice Kennedy might as well have - relative to a judge - screamed into a US and Radio Free America microphone, in saying "It is an urgent necessity that officials adhere to these constitutional guarantees and mandates in all their actions, even in the sphere of foreign affairs. An anxious world must know that our Government remains committed always to the liberties the Constitution seeks to preserve and protect, so that freedom extends outward, and lasts.”
So Trump finally got his travel ban. (I am not bothering to look up how long it took, because there are dog-days, human-days and Trump-days which are galactic measured in too many tweets to count). But he opened the door for SCOTUS to warn him that counterclaims of constitutional overreach by Trump in his defense will not find safe quarter where the justice buck stops.
Tired of Winning Yet?
So, Harley Davidson due to tariffs, is moving jobs to Europe. While I am pretty sure that a significant amount of Harley owners, don't care and are cheering Trump on, the people who make them across the US do care.
Then there is the trade war with China and how it is impacting farmers future viability and the value of their land. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/06/donald-trump-wants-protect-us-farmers-from-chinas-tariff-but-trade-spat-may-widen.html How are those Trump voters going to feel in 2020?
We could get into aluminum and steel and others, but you get the point.
Any Econ 101 student understands that free trade lifts all boats. And knows that trade wars - not only drains the water - but ends in shipwrecks. This goes back thousands of years. One country/region can make tea, and the other can make sugar and they decide to trade. They both double their market and economy. Great, right? Then some King decides he is getting ripped off, stops trading and his people have to get used to 1/2 of their economy being eliminated. Spoiler alert - the story ends badly.
The post-World War II economy and the WTO expansion in the post-Cold War - after the disaster of the 1920's restrictions on trade and immigration (driven in large part by post-WWI racial/ethnic xenophobia) - takes the tea/sugar example and multiplies that by numbers too high to count.
It is just too bad, too few people, went to such a basic class in HS or College as Econ 101. Trust me. If Trump keeps eroding all that was built by the US for the US - handed to him by each president from Truman to Reagan to Obama - the masses will notice when they are economically cut to shreds. You think the 2008 Financial Crisis was bad? Wait for the 1929 sequel. Same spoiler alert.
June 27, 2018
My favorite comedian is Chris Rock. Why? His comedy - like George Carlin - is funny, uses a discipled wordsmith technique, and provides a snap shot of society and history like Carlin. One of his most poignant jokes, is the following, and I paraphrase -
"Dead African-Americans in the 1960s - looked down from heaven on living African-Americans in the 1960's - said 'they had it good'. Turning water hoses on African-American children is just white people trying to be nice ..."
I have watched a plethora of historical documentaries over the last year. There was PBS's American Experience: The Great War (World War I), a re-watch of Ken Burns "World War II" and his latest, "The Vietnam War".
Although we are not out of the woods by far, and I am embarrassed by the state of our country against its ideals, it's hard to argue that progress trends-upward, but not in a straight line.
The Great War shows Woodrow Wilson's retrograde treatment of African-American civil servants, barring them from relatively gainful employment. His tyrannical use of state-sponsored propaganda and thug squads to ensure no resistance to the entry of the US into World War I. His contempt for women. And his hypocrisy on pro-immigration; using the same people as cannon fodder. The Great War - again - shows immigrants, people of color, and indigenous Indians as heroes, willing to serve, with the hope of being accepted, and sadly, largely disappointed but making some progress.
World War II shares most of the many cons and few pros of progress as World War II. Japanese internment camps with the backdrop of Japanese heralded soldiers is both disgusting and inspiring. Again, the African-American internal belief that service in the military would lead to progress when they got home is tragic and breaks one's heart. Basic civil rights being suspended - by another old-school Democrat - make the current GOP, look progressive if non-duplicitous.
The "daddy" of perspective is "The Vietnam War. A country on the brink of a real revolution. More people of color as protagonists. A Japanese-American - of internment roots - a hero. The first prison of war - a Mexican-American - enduring the longest captivity (eight and one-half years!). Professional military personnel dissing policy, while attaining future professional status. The con/pro of duality, between people of color leading, while being degraded, is relatively depressing. But it nonetheless moved a 1 out of 10 to a 2 out of 10.
But 1968 - 1972, with the riots, the arrests, the violence, the lying presidents ... well it makes calling today "the biggest threat to our democracy" seem out of context. Even, Charlottesville - as ugly and repulsive of a scene as I have watched - looks tame compared to Kent State.
Yet within 36 years of all of this horror, America elected, twice an African-American, as president. It was always going to be a two-step forward, reactionary-one-step backwards event. Trump is as much of a product of Obama, as the GOP was a product of Wilson.
Trump and his supporters? That just the 21st century version of "white people trying to be nice ...". Better than World War I. Better than World War II. Better than the Vietnam War. Worse than Grant Park? Yes.
But today, bears little resemblance to history. Just more 1.1 steps forward followed by 1 step backwards. But over time, the 0.1s add up. Current news doesn't put it into context. But history does.
June 25, 2018
I don't know if Trump is a racist. But I do know that about 33% of this country is and has been racist for a long time. I don't necessarily mean KKK-like racism. I am talking about a third of our people who want the country to maintain a healthy lily white Christian majority forever kind of racism.
That's why this 33% wants zero-tolerance immigration. That's why this 33% supports family separation at the border. That's why this 33% feels like Trump had to unfairly cave on family separation.
This 33% are not economists. In 1940, there were about 100 million people in the US. Today there are about 350 million. GDP per Capita has risen from under $1,000 to $55,000 per year. Some of that is inflation. But most of it, is because immigration drives new businesses, fills jobs at the high end and fills jobs at the low end. Because the US economy and GDP, is 70% based on consumerism, the more people the country has - regardless of color - the more spending occurs and the more GDP and GDP per Capita rises. People forget that little immigration was allowed in the 1920s. That in part led to the stock market crash (rising stock price expectations without increased demand from population increases). It also hurt the 1930s recovery. But in 1940 until Trump, immigration rates have been remarkably constant.
But what about the other 67%?
Too many don't read and keep up with current events. And even if they do, their own problems and/or cognitive dissonance, dismisses events.
Too many weigh atrocities against what is going right instead of making a stand against atrocities.
Too many make a similar rationale when faced with a binary protest vote. They don't like the other candidate more or don't vote at all.
Too many march reactionary-wise to send a "message". Instead of biding their time and voting and organizing voter drives.
Too many anxiously follow the news and want Robert Mueller to solve the problem. That is not only a fantasy, but an abdication of responsibility.
Too many people don't realize that only about 1/2 of people eligible to vote, do in fact vote. And the percentage falls every year. Especially in mid-term elections.
The question is really this in November - who are we? We know 33% are today's form of racists. But we don't know who the other 67% are.
We will know in November.
Trump's 2016 election showed Trump wasn't the problem; he was the symptom. And it just wasn't the 33%.
Will this change in November? IMO the odds are no better than 50-50.
June 22, 2018
A timely excerpt from Reagan's farewell address in the "end-section warnings tradition" best remembered by Eisenhower "The Military-Industrial Complex"
I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.
And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was 8 years ago. But more than that: After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she's still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.
June 20, 2018