2 Cents Worth on Today’s Headlines

During the ado about McChrystal’s recent firing I noted that some commented that the general owed a duty to the commander-in-chief.  A couple even stated he had sworn an oath to obey and respect him.  That of course is not true at all.  That is what Hitler did with his army; he required them to swear an oath to him personally.  We have never done that.  Our servicemen take an oath to obey all lawful orders and to “protect and defend the Constitution”.  That is the respect they owe; it is to the rule of law. 

It is a moving target but our national debt is about 13 trillion give or take a few hundred billion.   Of that number about 4 trillion is held by foreigners.  You might recall the wisdom of Proverbs or Ben Franklin about debt.   The Chinese alone hold close to a trillion of that debt.  It sure gives them lots of stroke over us when it comes to international issues and economic issues.  If they decided to dump a few hundred billion of that in a matter of days it would wreak havoc on our economy and markets.

It was with interest that we heard the comments of Hilary about our economy and the alleged need to raise taxes to restore fiscal responsibility.  She gave as the shining example on a hill of Brazil!   My Lord, have you taken a close look at the poverty and the barely controllable street crime there?   Why the devil would anyone want to emulate the Brazilians about anything?  Their standard of living is about one tenth that of ours.  Talking about setting the bar too low.  

Most folks think of Marco Polo and the opening up of new trade ventures with China in the 15 century AD and the importation of silk to the West.  Don’t know why the headline news ends up becoming the history that we take as a true representation of facts.  Truth is that the trade went back much further than that and so did the trade in silk.  Justinian the Byzantine emperor in the 6th century AD had imported the moths and the trees to produce silk in the West.  There was a small but active trade route between East and West for centuries before Marco Polo.  It just languished for centuries during the Dark Ages.  But Marco Polo was truly reinventing the wheel.

We should all take another look at any science or predictions based on computer models.  You may have noticed that the MMS had produced computer models regarding large oil spills in the Gulf years ago.  The model predicted that the spill would behave quite differently than the real one we are dealing with now.   In fact that model was the basis for the big oil companies plans for dealing with an oil spill.  We all need to be reminded that computers don’t think, they merely calculate.  They can’t reason or the concept of “common sense” is foreign to them as any user would testify.  One wonders just how accurate those models are for predicting climate changes over the years.  They sure aren’t very good at predicting hurricanes as history would prove.   On the grand scale of the total climate hurricanes are chicken feed and they can’t even get that right.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court struck down the “honest services” concept as a crime.  If you steal, embezzle, falsify public records  or take a bribe then that is a crime and is understandable to all.  That honest services stuff reminds me too much of “anti-revolutionary activity” that Kafka characters were charged with violating.   If it is a crime it should be capable of precise definition.  We don’t need politically appointed US attorneys arbitrarily deciding who should be sent to jail. 

If we are going to convict people for denying those they owe a duty to for not providing “honest services” perhaps we should start with Congress.  

The recent report of the dramatic drop in new home building seemed to catch some of the pundits by surprise.  What planet have they been living on?  How could that have been a surprise to anyone following the news of the day for the last couple of years?    Housing will recover and even boom again some day but it might be well over another five years before that happens.  When it does start to turn it will accelerate quickly as it always does.  Prices zoomed during the mid-ninties also and everyone thought that was terrific and it was good, but, but, but, the rebound at its peak in the late nineties was still below the highs of the mid-eighties when real estate was at it prior peak. 

Energy concerns are very legitimate but they pale in comparison to the need for potable water around the world.  Rather than pump wasted money into something like ethanol why don’t we offer a huge prize to the company or individual that can develop a system to desalinate sea water?  Say a billion dollars if they can invent the system to produce enough water to meed the needs of LA at no more than twice the current costs of water.  Now that would be an advance that would be meaningful to everyone and the environmentalists and Sierra Club types would love not having to take some much water from the mountain run offs.

Nothing smells more refreshing than that slight hint of ozone in the air when a summer thunderstorm comes rolling past.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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