Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Dick Tuck (1924-2018), R.I.P., The Consummate Political Twister Has Played His Last Trick

The legendary Dick Tuck passed away at the ripe old age of 94. Sadly he’s not known to most Americans today. Dick was a highly partisan political operative for Democrats. More significantly he was the pioneer political trickster, political magician, political prankster often focused on Richard Nixon. The stories are legendary, often building in the retelling so the truth can’t always be known. Non-Tuck antics have even been attributed to him. His prankster career of political sabotage started as a political science student at the University of California Santa Barbara in the 1950 Senate race between Democratic Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas and Republican Congressman Richard Nixon. He supported Congresswoman Douglas, but was asked by a professor to serve as an advance man for Congressman Nixon’s campus visit. He scheduled the talk for a large auditorium (2,000 or 4,000 seats – the stories vary), but then did not publicize it. Only 23 or 40 students showed up. Tuck then gave a long winded, wandering speech, followed by introducing the candidate to talk on the International Monetary Fund. The flustered, unprepared Nixon bombed. That was just the beginning of the Tuck-Nixon stories. One of the Nixon’s campaign taglines was “Nixon’s the One.” Tuck had one (or many) pregnant African American women carrying “Nixon’s the One” signs at a 1968 Nixon rally. He often posed as a fire marshal at Nixon rallies, providing the media with low attendance estimates. Vice President Nixon was in San Francisco awaiting renomination at the Republican National Convention. The garbage trucks, serving the convention, carried large signs saying “Dump Nixon.” Republican Senator William Knowland and Republican Governor Goodwin J. Knight decided to switch positions in 1958. Knowland would run for Governor and Knight for the Senate. Both lost in a landslide year for the Democrats. Senator Knowland hosted a banquet for Chinese supporters during the campaign. The guests opened their fortune cookies. Their fortune read “Knowland for Premier of Formosa.” Senator Kennedy won the 1960 debate. Tuck had an elderly woman wear a Nixon pin and hug the Vice President the next morning. She loudly said “Don’t worry, son. He beat you last night, but you’ll get him the next time.” A Nixon speech at San Luis Obispo became political legend. Nixon was on a whistle stopping campaign, addressing the audience from the rear platform of the train. Tuck signaled the train’s engineer to pull out. The train may or may not have left the station in mid-Nixon speech. A 1962 Nixon rally in San Francisco’s Chinatown, or was it Los Angeles?, featured another Tuck Tale. Either Tuck, or another person, or several attendees held up one or many signs saying “Welcome Nixon” in English. A message in Mandarin was under the English. It said “What about the Hughes loan?” Howard Hughes had loaned an unsecured $250,000 to Nixon’s brother. Nixon was informed of the Mandarin language. The Nixon temper kicked in. The cameras captured him ripping the sign in half. His creativity was not limited to Nixon antics. One 1964 Goldwater campaign motto was “In your heart you know he’s right.” Tuck changed it to “In your gut you know he’s nuts.” He once displayed a sign “Nixon in ‘80; Why not the worst?” Tuck told bandleaders at Nixon rallies that Nixon’s favorite song was “Mack the Knife.” They would often play the song as Nixon walked on stage. Tuck uttered a famous political statement when he lost a 1966 bid for a state Senate seat. He said “The people have spoken. The bastards.” He had come in a dismal third with only 5,211 votes. He said during his non-serious campaign “The job needs Dick, and Dick needs the job.” Dick Tuck probably did not break the law. He knew where to draw the line. Today’s political twisters have no such restraint. For example, two Democratic operatives were fired in 2016 because they boasted on tape of hiring agitators to incite violence at Trump rallies. The media would then publicize how out of control the Trump supporters were. Ironically Richard Nixon was tagged with the sobriquet “Tricky Dicky” – not Richard Tuck.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Some Lawyers Give Lawyers a Bad Name: The Great McDonald's Quarter Pounder Cheesy Caper

Some lawyers can give the legal profession a bad name. A lawyer in Florida filed a class action suit seeking $5,000,000.00 from McDonald’s because the two named plaintiffs, who shall go nameless in this blog, felt they were ripped off by having to buy a quarter pounder with cheese from McDonalds. They complain that the McDonald’s menu used to offer four choices of quarter pounders and double quarter pounders, with and without cheese. The cheese pounders cost $.30 to $.90 more than the cheeseless pounders. The new menu excludes the without cheese option. The plaintiffs asked for, and received, cheeseless quarter pounders, but with no reduction in price. They claim they were overcharged. The lawyer is trying to puff $.30 into $5 million. Plaintiff is alleging the antitrust theory of tying, which means if you X, you also have to but Y. If you want the beef, then you must also purchase the cheese. The basic rule of tying is simple. Defendant must have sufficient market power in the tying market to substantially affect commerce in the tied market. We have options in the tying market. Plaintiffs don’t have to eat junk food at McDonald’s. They can go down the block and “Have it Their Way” at Burger King. They can pay more by going to Five Guys. The Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr/Hardee’s, Jack in the Box, In-n-Out, A&W, and a host of smaller chains, not to mention the Red Robins, Ruby’s and Johnny Rockets, are ubiquitous throughout the United States. Conversely, McDonald’s is being sued for no cheese, that’s right, no cheese in its mozzarella sticks, which contain a starch filler rather than cheese. Wendy’s Clara Peller asked “Where’s the beef? McDonald’s is being asked “Where’s the cheese” in its mozzarella cheese sticks? The MscDonald’s litigation is emblematic of the class action suits beginning to plague the fast food industry. Starbucks is fighting a wave of lawsuits. It's accused of underfilling its cups with less coffee than advertised while overfilling ice in the drinks. Judge Percy Anderson put the ice case on ice. He held it had no weight, saying: “If children have figured out that including ice in a cold beverage decreases the amount of liquid they will receive, the court has no difficulty concluding that a reasonable consumer would not be deceived into thinking that when they order an iced tea, that the drink they receive will include both ice and tea and that for a given size cup, some portion of the drink will be ice rather than whatever liquid beverage the consumer ordered.” He also stated that the consumer could always order the beverage without ice. Back in the days when I drank a lot of soda, I would always order the drink without ice. A restaurant once charged me more for the iceless Coke. I paid it, left no tip, and never went back to that restaurant. We have options. Restaurants’ profit margins rise with the percent of ice in the beverage. Frozen water is cheaper than drink extract. SUBWAY is being sued because someone, probably a lawyer, measured it to be short of 12”. Where’s the beef? Here’s the beef. These cases may be in the name of an individual plaintiff (I don’t want to say victim), but they’re brought by attorneys. This suit is not about Thirty Cents; it’s about a lawyer trying to become the Big Cheese in a class action lawsuit. The lawyer reaps a large fee out of any settlement or judgment while the class members receive chomp change, coupons, or peanuts. Let us remember the great sequence in Five Easy Pieces. Jack Nicholson orders toast at a restaurant. Bobby: I'd like a plain omelette, no potatoes, tomatoes instead, a cup of coffee and wheat toast. Waitress: [points at his menu] No substitutions. Bobby: What do you mean? You don't have any tomatoes? Waitress: Only what's on the menu. You can have a number two, a plain omelette, it comes with cottage fries and rolls. Bobby: Yeah, I know what it comes with, but it's not what I want. Waitress: Well, I'll come back when you make up your mind Bobby: Wait a minute, I have made up my mind. I'd like a plain omelette, no potatoes on the plate, a cup of coffee and a side order of wheat toast. Waitress: I'm sorry, we don't have any side orders of toast. I'll give you an English muffin or a coffee roll. Bobby: What do you mean you don't make side orders of toast? You make sandwiches, don't you? Waitress: Would you like to talk to the manager? Palm Apodaca: Hey, mac... Bobby: Shut up. [to the waitress] Bobby: You've got bread and a toaster of some kind? Waitress: I don't make the rules. Bobby: OK, I'll make it as easy for you as I can. I'd like an omelette, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce, and a cup of coffee. Waitress: A number two, a chicken salad sand. Hold the butter, the lettuce, and the mayonnaise, and a cup of coffee. Anything else? Bobby: Yeah, now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a cheque for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven't broken any rules. Waitress: You want me to hold the chicken, huh? Bobby: I want you to hold it between your knees.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and Labor Day the end of summer. Both are three day weekends in which it is possible to ignore their significance. The 4th of July signifies our Declaration of Independence from the British. Independence still had to be won. Actual independence was not achieved until the Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783. Independence was won, but it had to be validated by the War of 1812. The origins of Memorial Day go back to the Civil War as flowers were placed on the graves of the fallen, giving rise to Decoration Day, as we decorate the graves. Congress formally adopted Memorial Day in 1971 as the last Monday in May, giving federal workers, and the rest of us, a three day weekend. Memorial Day is the day for those who died to make us free. Veterans Day salutes those who served. Armed Forces Day recognizes today’s military. Memorial Day is the national holiday. Memorial Day is our way of thanking the brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us to be free, the freedom such that we can celebrate Memorial Day with a three day weekend, if that’s what we want to do. We can picnic, BBQ, chow down hot dogs and hamburgers, if that’s what we want to do. We can go to the beach. Or the movies. We can vegetate. We can fly flags in front of our house. We can place, the Scouts certainly do, flags on the gravestones of the deceased lying in the military cemeteries. We can watch the annual National Memorial Day Concert on PBS. We can remember our parents and grandparents who served and fought. Let us enjoy the parades. And the pub crawls. We would watch the Indianapolis 500, but that’s been moved back to Saturday. Think of the message the NFL players would have sent had they collectively kneeled at the graves of our fallen heroes? Above all, we give thanks. To those who served. To those currently serving, all volunteers. We should also pray that the military can do something about PTSD.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Is the Seattle Head Tax Contagious? Cupertino? Mountain View?

As we know Seattle enacted a controversial head tax over the objections of Amazon, its largest employer, and Starbucks. Progressives are eager to reallocate (tax) the success of others. Apple paid $9.2 million in taxes to Cupertino in the 2012-2013 year, 18% of the city’s revenue, but it’s apparently not enough. Apple’s massive new headquarters will add an additional $21.5 million in taxes to Cupertino, but it’s not enough. Cupertino’s City Manager is now proposing a head tax up to $1,000 on Apple, the city’s biggest employer. Then Mayor Barry Chang proposed in 2016 that Apple pay $100 million for infrastructure in the city. They’re thinking of transit, but they’re not sure. Some Cupertino residents and political leaders suffer from a combination of envy and greed. Cupertino was a quiet, sleepy bedroom community on the San Francisco Peninsula when a small one-year old company moved out of a garage in 1977 onto Stevens Creek Boulevard in Cupertino. The fledging Apple Computer Company then moved to 10260 Brandury Drive the next year, and grew the site into the 17½ acre Apple Park. Apple’s new headquarters sits on 175 acres of land. The building is designed to accommodate 12,000 workers. They don’t have to be in Cupertino. Cupertino hit the jacket through no effort on its part with the success of Apple. Apple may seem to have leverage over Cupertino, but it has completed its 2.8 million square foot spaceship inspired, ) Ring looking $5 billion headquarters in Cupertino. Apple used up goodwill in threatening to move its headquarters elsewhere if Cupertino failed to approve the project. Now that its built, Apple has lost that leverage. Apple certainly has the financial resources to abandon Cupertino, but it would look foolish in doing so. The company netted $13.8 billion in the just ended quarter. It is planning to return to the United States $215 billion in earnings parked offshore. It can easily afford to write off $5 billion. Apple has opened operations elsewhere in the United States, including Nevada and Texas. Nothing compels it to stay in Cupertino. Apple doesn’t need Cupertino. California law requires a two-step process in enacting a tax. It has to first be approved by the City Council and then by a vote of the citizens. Apple will have a strong chance of winning one or both of the two votes. If it loses, look to Apple to move more of its operations out of Cupertino, or Silicon Valley, or even California. Mountain View, home to Google and is parent Alphabet, is proposing a head tax on its bigger employers. Mountain View’s Mayor Lenny Siegel said the city has “too many good jobs,” and not enough transit. He’s asserting that the economic growth of Mountain View has outstripped its public transit and housing. Perhaps he would like to be mayor of a city comprised of barrios and ghettos. The Mayor is thinking of proposing a head tax of $250-$300/per worker. About $5.8 million would hit Google. Mayor Siegel also explained “Google has billions of cash floating around. They made billions off the tax bill. They can afford to spend a little more here.” That’s the argument – “They have the money; they can afford it. So let’s just take it through taxation.” Alphabet (Google) has offices in Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Austin, Boulder, Cambridge, Chicago, Irvine, New York City, Northern Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Seattle. It employs 24,000 in Mountain View, but it is not locked in. The company is mobile. Similarly, the citizens of Seattle may vote to overturn their head tax by referendum. These cities with profitable technology firms host a mobile industry. Factories can’t just pick up and leave. Electrons can.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Slightly Different Reflections on the Royal Wedding

What can I add that hasn’t already been said, written, or blogged? Probably nothing, but here goes anyway. It was a beautiful day for a wedding, a clear sunny 68ยบ - a normal day in much of the world, but an anomaly in the British Isles. The Gods have blessed this wedding of an American commoner to the Royal family. Yes, others have called it a Cinderella story, but that’s old news at Windsor Castle. Cinderella was Diana Simpson marrying Charles, Prince of Wales. Cinderella was Sarah Ferguson marrying Prince Randy Andy. Cinderella was Kate Middleton marrying Prince William. Yes, others have noted an American actress has married a prince. That’s not a novelty. Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier of Monaco. Yes, others remember the last time an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, married into the Royal family. That one forced King Edward VIII to abdicate his thrown. Wallis was not just a twice divorced woman, but she also had a checkered past. An underlying factor was the King’s sympathy for the Nazis. American women marrying into British royalty is not new. America’s rising class of industrial millionaires in the Gilded age often had daughters marry impecunious British Lords, trading dollars for titles. Consuelo Vanderbilt married the 9th Duke of Marlborough in 1895 for a dowry of $2.4 million. Indeed, Winston Churchill, perhaps the greatest British Prime Minister, was half American. His mother was Jenny Jerome who married the 7th Duke of Marlborough in 1874 with a dowry of $50,000. Note the pattern! The odds of an African American divorcee marrying a prince of the realm was probably as small as an African American being elected President of the United States, Bobby Jindal Governor of Louisiana, and Nikki Haley Governor of South Carolina. All have happened in recent years. Bob Dylan said it best: “The times, they are a’changing.” The British House of Windsor is a constitutional monarchy in a democracy. The times of a British King or Queen claiming the Divine Right to Govern are ancient history. The Crown, if it is to survive, must adapt in the British democracy with rapidly changing demographics. Queen Elizabeth II understands that principle. The Duchess of Sussex would have also been blocked a few decades ago because her first husband was Jewish. The nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton was a beautiful, traditional wedding with all the pomp and circumstance the British are known for. The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was beautiful, full of pomp and circumstance, but not so traditional. The bride walked the first half down the aisle by herself before Prince Charles escorted her to the altar. Prince Charles walked arm in arm out of the chapel with Doria Ragland, Meghan’s mother, the descendant of slaves. The pictures of Harry and Meghan, Charles, Camilla, and Doria send a message to the British people and the World. The wedding was also a great ad for British tourism. An African American Minister introduced British high society to the African American Church. Karen Gibson and the Kingdom Choir of London sang a beautiful rendition of “Stand By Me.” And the bride and groom were living together before the wedding. Some things aren’t changing. The women still wore an assortment of eclectic hats.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

101 Reasons for Capital Punishment

Actually 108 reasons – I wanted to add some infamous cop killers to the list Aaron Alexis Marshall Applewhite David Attias George Banks Anthony F. Barbaro Robert John Bardo Mark Orrin Barton Herman Bell David Berkowitz John Wilkes Booth Arthur Bremer Carl Robert Brown Ted Bundy David A. Burke Stephen Caracappa & Louis Eppolito Mark David Chapman Seung-Hui Cho Michael Clemmons Cleophus Cooksey, Jr. Nikolas Cruz Leon Czolgosz Jeffrey Dahmer Bobby Davis & Jack Twinning Scott Evans Dekraai Christopher Dorner Jonathon Doody & Alessandro Garcia Pablo Escobar Gian Luigi Fieri Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme Syed Rizwan Farook & Tashfeen Malik Colin Ferguson John Wayne Gacy One L. Goh Ronald Adrin Gray Charles J. Guiteau Joaquin Guzman Edmund Kemper Eric Harris & Dylan Klebold Major Nidal Malik Hasan George Hennard John Hinckley, Jr. James E. Holmes Eric Christopher Houston James Huberty Michaell Xavier Johnson Jim Jones Theodore Kaczynski (Unabomber) Jerry Kane, Jr. & Joseph Kane Steve Kazmierczak Devin Patrick Kelley Kip Kinkel Kwan Fai Mak, Benjamin Mg, & Wai-Chug Wai Jared Lee Loughner Adam Lanza Osama Bin-Laden Lee Boyd Malvo & John Allen Muhammad (D.C. Sniper) Charles Manson Omar Saddiqqi Mateen Michael Kenneth McLendon Timothy McVeigh Chris Harper-Mercer Tyrone Mitchell Lovelle Mixon Sara Jane Moore Lee Harvey Oswald Stephen Paddock Dimitrios Pagourtzis Gabe Parker Richard Polawnski James Edward Pough Patrick Edward Purdy Dennis Lynn Rader (BTK Killer) Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman (The Blind Sheik) Richard Ramirez James Earl Ray Gary Ridgeway (Green River Killer) Charles Carl Roberts Elliot Rodger Dylann Roof Eric Rudolph James Ruppert Yolanda Saldivar John Flammang Schrank Nicholas Troy Sheley Patrick Henry Sherrill Michael Silka Sirhan Sirhan Richard Benjamin Speck Christopher Speight Charles Starkweather Cary Stayner Robert Stewart Christopher Thomas Omar Thornton Dzhokhar & Tamerlan Tsarnaev Joseph Wesbecker Charles Joseph Whitman Jeffrey James Weise Charles Andrew Williams Jiverly Wong Giuseppe Zangara

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Has Seattle Sacrificed Amazon for the Homeless?

The nation’s rapidly rising ranks of the homeless is a modern American Tragedy. The problem is especially acute in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego. Cities are struggling trying to cope with the growing homeless problem. A common approach has been to build shelters for them. Some areas rent motel rooms. Orange County has a federal judge attempting to resolve the homeless issue. Seattle’s City Council pondered a different approach to funding the shelters: taxing the city’s large employers. The proposal two weeks ago was to impose a tax of $.26/employee hour on employers with taxable gross receipts of $20 million or more, about 600 employers in Seattle. This head tax would amount to about $540/employee annually. It would shift to a payroll tax of .07% in 2021. About 1/3 of it would fall on Amazon, the largest employer in Seattle. Let’s go back five decades in Seattle history. Seattle and its environs were home to several companies, but Boeing was the large employer. Microsoft, Nintendo, Starbucks, and Amazon had not yet arrived on the scene. Nordstrom’s was still a small, regional department store. Boeing was the industrial giant driving Seattle’s economy. The billboard went up: “Will the last person leaving Seattle please turn off the lights?” Seattle today is a great, booming city. The average price of a home in Seattle is $820,000. I wish I still owned my house on Capitol Hill. 48% of the city’s renters are spending at least 1/3 of their income on rent. The South Lake Union District between Lake Union and downtown was economically depressed, covered with a multitude of parking lots. Now it is wall to wall condos, fueled by Amazon, which currently employs 45,000 workers in Seattle. Let’s go back over a century. John D. Rockefeller’s burgeoning Standard Oil colossus was based in Cleveland. It was outgrowing the city, which tried to impose a $1.5 million tax on Rockefeller over his opposition. It went ahead anyway. Rockefeller moved the base of his operations to New York City. John D. Rockefeller left Cleveland behind, only returning for his internment at Lake View Cemetery. He co-founded the University of Chicago with a $600,000 gift and then later donated over $30 million to the University. He donated a total of $34,708,375.28 to the University of Chicago, providing it the financial means to achieve greatness. He also founded the Rockefeller University, nee Rockefeller Institute. A research powerhouse. Contributions to Cleveland’s case Institute of technology were lacking. Seattle is doing its best to antagonize its biggest employer and discourage employers from moving to the Emerald City. Amazon’s immediate response to the Council proposal was an announcement that it had ceased construction planning on a new 17 story building and might lease out space in another building it was planning to occupy. Mike O’Brien, a Council member said “From my point of view we have a crisis in our town around housing affordability and homelessness. They’re closely related, and it’s related to the booming tech industry in Seattle.” He further stated “I need to run a city that has room for prosperous businesses but doesn’t do it at the expense of people getting pushed into poverty.” Seattle has long been a politically progressive city, but it is now trying to outdo San Francisco. It attracts idealistic, young students to the University of Washington and a large number of potheads with the state’s marijuana law. They vote progressive, even socialist. Lisa Herbold, a council member emailed “A progressive tax on businesses most benefiting from this growth is our best option because we already rely heavily upon regressive property and sales taxes that hit everyone equally.” Lisa totally misunderstands reality. Amazon is creating the growth, not benefitting from it. Kshama Sawant, a socialist member of the City Council, said the Council should “stand up to Amazon and Jeff Bezos bullying.” The other seven members are progressive Democrats. Council member Teresa Mosqueda wanted a higher tax. She said “people are dying on the doorsteps of prosperity. This is the richest city in the state and in a state that has the most regressive tax system in the country.” A prevailing view was that Amazon could afford it. Steve Leigh writing in the headlines the traditional talking point “Amazon puts profits ahead of Seattle homeless.” He accuses Amazon of “blackmailing Seattle.” Seattle is not starving for revenue. The City’s revenues in 2010 were $2.8 billion. They were up 50% to 4.2 billion in 2017. Its spent $68 million in 2017 on the homeless. Seattle and King County are together spending $200 million on the homeless population. Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee is offering another $40 million from the state. But where is the money going? Seattle has the nation’s third highest homeless population with nearly 4,000 still living on the streets, up 20% from 2016. There’s never enough revenue for progressive politicians for whom the needs are infinite. Mayor Jenny Durkan said “We cannot tax our way out of this problem, we won’t have a big enough population to do it.” The Mayor then proposed a compromise of .14/employee hour, equaling $275 annually per employee. The new tax would be in effect for 5 years, and then replaced by a .7% payroll tax. If $.26 cents won’t do it, then what can you say about $.14 cents? Does anyone believe that these taxes won’t be increased in the future? Teresa Mosqueda simply called the new tax a “downpayment.” She said before the May 14 meeting “We have community members who are dying. They are dying on our streets because there is not enough shelter and housing.” Has she asked how the current $68 million is being spent? The Council unanimously passed the compromise last night. Amazon’s Vice President for Global Corporate and Operations Communications Drew Herdener said after the vote “We remain very apprehensive about the future created by the Council’s hostile approach and rhetoric towards larger businesses, which cause us to question our growth here.” He added Seattle “does not have a revenue problem – it has a spending efficiency problem.” That’s often the case with progressive government! Lorena Gonzalez, yet another progressive council member, she was disappointed with Amazon’s response, and that “their tone in this message that is clearly hostile to the city council is not what I expect from a business who continues to tell us they want to be a partner on these issues.” It’s hardly a partnership when one side is mugging the other. John Kelly, Senior Vice President for Global Public Affairs at Starbucks said “If they cannot provide a warm meal and safe bed to a five-year old child, no one believes they will be able to make housing affordable or address opiate addiction” through the new tax. He also said “The City continues to spend without reforming and fail without accountability.” Progressives ans socialists are good at spending other peoples' money. The eight members of the Seattle City Council are the second highest paid of the 40 largest cities in the United States. The latest tax is but one in a series of progressive tax moves. The Council earlier raised the minimum wage to $15/hour, closing several restaurants. It imposed a 1½ cent/ounce tax on sweetened beverages, but exempted Starbucks drinks from the tax. A classic move was its anti-gun tax. It enacted a $25 per gun purchase tax and $.01-.04 tax on each round of ammo sold in Seattle. It hired 7 employees to enforce the tax. The payroll cost is $678,000. The tax raised $93,000 in 2017, down from $104,000 in 2016. The City had 40 federal firearms licenses in 2015, but dropped to 32 by December 2017. More significantly, all Seattle gun stores closed. The City had estimated the tax would raise $300,00-500,000 annually. An understanding of basic economics and history is lacking in Seattle. Capital is mobile. Corporations can move their headquarters. Boeing did it in 2001 when they moved to Chicago from Seattle. Boeing has also opened a large assembly plant to South Carolina. Not all their operations have to remain the in the greater Seattle area. Amazon is already looking for a second headquarters as it is outgrowing Seattle. Most of its jobs do not have to remain in Seattle. Studies show a large percent of young Americans support socialism. They are well represented on the Seattle City Council. They believe in taxing the rich. The intolerance of the radical socialists is shown by two incidents at the University of Washington. The outspoken conservative Milos Yiannopoulos spoke at the University on January 20, 2017. Protestors began rioting around 6:00pm, clashing with police. The speech was scheduled for 8:00pm. Milos spoke to a half-empty room because the protestors blocked access to Kane Hall. One person outside the building was shot during the melee, but bot by the police. The suspect claimed self-defense. The riot-clad police had to surround the aptly named “red Square” on campus. More disturbances occurred a year later as the intolerants clashed with a Republican Party organized “Patriot Prayer” at a “Freedom Rally.” The irony is that both Amazon and Starbucks are progressive companies. Jeff Bezos and Amazon can afford the tax. Jeff Bezos is a political progressive. It was only a few years ago that he was personally placing books in boxes to be shipped to a few customers. He runs a fiscally conservative company.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

GOP: Don't Gloat Over Eric Schneiderman's Epic Fall

For News had a headline earlier saying the GOP was gloating over the fall of the New York Attorney General. Schadenfreude is a wonderful German word meaning we gloat, are gleeful, take joy over the fall of a powerful person, especially the haughty, high and mighty It’s great to see them fall on their face. The biggest the arrogance or rank hypocrisy, the greater the smile and more the pleasure. They deserve it! Eric Schneiderman certainly deserves it. He claims the high moral and legal ground in suing the Trump Administration. He and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra lead the legal resistance to the Trump Administration. The New York Times reported his office has filed over a hundred law suits and regulatory findings against. He is a strong supporter of women’s rights and the #MeToo movement. He decries sexual harassment. The National Center for Reproductive Health named him a “Champion of Choice.” He tweeted last October “No one is above the law, and I’ve continued to remind President Trump and his Administration of that fact everyday.” He filed a civil claim against Harvey Weinstein in February, stating “We’ve never seen anything so despicable as what we’ve seen right here.” Hiding behind his mask of moral rectitude was a serial domestic abuser, fueled by alcohol. Ronan Farrow published an article in the New Yorker in October 2017. It unmasked the powerful Hollywood Harvey Weinstein for his sexual assaults on actresses and models. It revealed the darkness of the Hollywood casting couch. The dam broke on sexual abusers, beginning in Hollywood and the media, but soon spreading throughout society. The #MeToo Movement started. Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer released a second New Yorker article, this one featuring four women, two named and two anonymous, accusing the powerful Attorney General of New York of repeated domestic violence. Two had to seek medical treatment. The article is a compelling read. So compelling that Eric Schneiderman resigned three hours after its publication. His conduct could be viewed as sadomasochistic. He would slap and choke his partners. His violence was compounded by using the power of his position to threaten his victims. He said to Michelle Manning Barish during one violent assault on her: “You know, hitting an officer of the law is a felony.” He said on another occasion “I am the Law.” Another lover was Tanya Selvaratnam, originally from Sri Lanka. He called her his “brown slave” and wanted her to call him “Master.” He warned her that he could have her followed and phone tapped. Both Michelle and Tanya said he threatened to kill them if they left. Tanya referred to him as a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Michelle said of the public supporter of women’s rights: “You cannot be a champion of women when you are hitting them and choking them in bed, and saying to them ‘You are a fucking whore.’” The four women held off going public with his abuse. A major reason is that he was a strong supporter of woman’s rights and a powerful figure in the Democratic Party leading the fight against President Trump. He is an alcoholic, whose heavy drinking released the inner Schneiderman. He needs help, but that won’t heal the wounds of his victims. Eric Schneiderman’s perversion was known to many, just as Harvey Weinstein’s and a host of others, The Watergate questions apply: What did his Democratic colleagues know, and when did they know it? Then real estate and The Apprentice Host, Donald Trump, tweeted on September 11, 2013: “Weiner is gone, Spitzer is gone – Next will be lightweight A.G. Eric Schneiderman. Is he a crook? Wait and see, worse than Spitzer and Weiner.” If Donald Trump knew five years ago, then others must certainly have known. “ The Republicans can only hope that the Schneiderman Debacle will drive Stormy Daniels to the back pages and cheap strip clubs. Stormy Daniels is about a tryst with a porn actress a decade ago. Eric Schneiderman is the here and now. Don’t bet on it. Eric Schneiderman, once the upcoming star of the Democratic Party is rapidly becoming one of George Orwell’s unpersons. Governor Cuomo, Senator Killibrand, and Mayor DeBlasio almost instantaneously dumped him. He is quickly being vaporized by the mainstream media. The sordid Schneiderman is a distraction in the anti-Trump Crusade. If he were a Republican leader, the media would be hyper-hysterical over his deranged conduct, exemplifying the Republican War on Women. Check out the focus on Missouri’s young, telegenic, soon to be impeached, Republican Governor Eric Greitens. Don’t gloat Republicans because sexism and domestic abuse, as with corruption, are non-partisan and bipartisan. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents are equally susceptible to alcoholism, sexism, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. Politicians of both parties at the national, state and local levels have resigned in the past year. Others, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger survived, in earlier years.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Cinco de Mayo - A Joyous Day for Mexican Americans; A Sad Occasion for the World on the Bicentennial of Karl Marx's Birth (1818-1883)

Cinco de Mayo is a joyous day of celebration for Mexican-American culture. It makes the victory of 4,000 Mexican soldiers over a well-armed French force of 8,000 soldiers at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It is not Mexican Independence Day, which is September 16 and is mostly celebrated in the United States. May 5, 1862 is a joyous day. May 5, 1818 is a global day of world tragedy. Today, May 5, 2018, marks the bicentennial of Karl Marx’s birth in Trier, Germany. Two great economic theorists arose out of England. The first is Adam Smith, an apostle of capitalism in The Wealth of Nations. The Wealth of Nations was published in 1776, ironically the year of America’s Declaration of Independence. Adam Smith and the Enlightenment spoke to the Rights of “Man” (the people). The second is Karl Marx, the prophet of Communism (and socialism). Karl Marx was already well radicalized when he fled to England in 1849 to escape the threat of persecution on the Continent. The denizen of the British Library could only have strengthened his views by observing the abject poverty of the British workers during the Victorian Age. Karl Marx wrote for the rights of the state. Hegel, Marx, Engel, Lenin, the Marxist Dialectic Karl Marx’s most famous works are The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Das Kapital (1867-1894 – Volumes 2 and 3 were completed and published posthumously by Engel). He posited the history of society is the history of class struggle. His basic tenets include: The Abolition of private property The 4th Amendment protects the rights of property owners in the United States; the government can take property, but must provide just compensation One of England’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's major acts was to let workers buy their homes Abolition of the rights of inheritance Republicans have peeled back the “Death Taxes” Heavy progressive or graduated income taxes Karl Marx failed to heed the admonition in Aesop’s Fables about Killing the Goose that Lays the Golden Egg Heavy taxation leads to tax refugees Confiscation of the property of emigrants and rebels Centralization of credit in a state national bank Centralization in the government of the means of communications and transportation England had to quasi privatize its trains after decades of incompetence The New York City transit system proves government management of the modes of transportation is no panacea. If government still controlled the communications system, we would not have the internet today. Steve Jobs and Apple would be non-existent He ranted against the bourgeois, the social class owning the means of production. He foresaw the fall of the bourgeois, leading to a social and economic utopia. How has that worked in the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries, Cuba and Venezuela? Some of his famous quotes: Religion “is the opium of the people.” Senator Barack Obama told us “They cling to their guns and religion.” “Workers of the world, unite.” World War I showed workers preferred nationalism to global solidarity. Marxism led to Lenin and Stalin, Trotsky, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. The Bolsheviks and Mensheviks were true believers, but once in power the Bolsheviks became petty, but brutal tyrants. The 20th Century death toll from Communism cannot be given a definitive number. Estimates range up to 100 million victims from executions, Gulags, forced collectivization and “land reform,” and mass starvation as Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot and the Killing Fields of Cambodia, the Castros and Kims, Ho Chi Ming, in Romania, Hungary, Ethiopia (Red Terror) sought to “purify” their people. Robert Conquest, the expert on the Great Terror under Stalin, estimates that at least 15 million perished in the Great Terror. A different genocide occurred with the War on Kulaks, the peasant farmers of Russia. Some were wealthy; many were small farmers. Their major sin was that they owned private property and were unsympathetic to the Communists. Lenin started the war on Kulaks and the collectivization process. Stalin carried it to a Stalinesque extreme between 1929 and 1932. He ordered the Kulaks to be liquidated. Their lands, livestock, and produce were sized while the Kulaks were either executed or deported to Siberia. An estimated 4-8 million were killed. The collectivization destroyed Russian agriculture for decades. The dictatorship of the proletariat became a dictatorship in the name of the proletariat, a dictatorship which repressed both the bourgeois and the proletariat. Some apologists for Marx say the brutality of Communist and socialist regimes was not intended by Karl Marx. The opposite is the case. He recognized the need for the use of any means to bring about a socialist dictatorship. He even wrote ‘The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope.” Socialism appeals to the human spirit, but denies the human spirit. It denies personal independence. It denies the difference in individual abilities and skills. Capitalism unleashes the human spirit. Socialism inexorably deadens it. It provides no opportunity for entrepreneurs, visionaries, ingenuity, creativity, Hard work is not rewarded. It posits the government is the source of knowledge and power. It posits the government knows the needs of people. It posits that bureaucrats make the best decisions for the people. The government bureaucracies are replete with rampant inefficiencies. We see it in this country with agencies such as the Veterans Administration. The Russians joked: “They pretend to pay us. We pretend to work.” Communism has to use the power of government to enforce its will on the people, the same people it is professing to represent. The Soviet leaders took over the dachas of the capitalists and royals. The leaders have different standards for themselves. Beria was a pedophile. Chairman Mao liked young women. They denied God, substituting the state for God. The people, without meaning in life, turned to vodka. The core concept of Marxism is “From each according to his ability, To each according to his need.” The great philosopher George Santayana warned us “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony initially practiced collectivism in 1620. Those who hunted or farmed would contribute their production into the common while women engaged in domestic chores would do them for their neighbors. The Pilgrim’s early exercise in socialism was a quick, dismal failure. The workers and gatherers were discouraged by failure to reward their initiative while freeloaders coasted. Socialism and Communism, simply a bastardized form of socialism, create even more extreme manifestations on inequality than capitalism. Two British icons have said it best about the failure of socialism. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously said: “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm: “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” Karl Marx was a poor prophet. He did not foresee the evolution of capitalism to reward its workers and create a vibrant middle class – the bourgeois of Modern America. He failed to foresee upper mobility. He failed to understand America as a beacom of liberty and opportunity to the world. Socialism, or Communism, has consistently failed even as the Soviet leaders were declaiming the “capitalistic bourgeois democracy” of the West. The Russian leaders proved they could marshal the manpower and resources of the vast Soviet Union to create a first rate military power, but a sclerotic economy which collapsed with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Vice Chairman Deng Xiaoping survived the Red Guards in the Cultural Revolution and turned Communist China into a capitalistic society, albeit under Party control. China is now a great economic power. European socialists founded the modern Israel, which became a vibrant, innovative capitalistic nation. Jawaharial Nehru and his followers imposed a socialistic economy on India on its independence. The economy stagnated. His successors turned to capitalism to unleash the Indian economy. Eastern European countries, such as Poland, rapidly rejected collectivization once the Soviet Union collapsed. Mexico nationalized its oil fields and facilities in 1938. Production soared, peaking in 2004, and then started progressively dropping. PEMEX, the Mexican oil company, was inefficient, had a bloated work force, and lacked both the capital and technology to increase production. Mexico turned to the private sector in 2013 to revitalize PEMEX and Mexico oil production. Venezuela is going the opposite, replacing the managers of its oil company with military and bureaucratic hacks. Yet, socialism still emits its seductive appeal. Michael Moore, the American film-making polemicist wished Karl Marx a Happy Birthday today, comparing him to Jesus Christ. Large numbers of young Americans have rallied under the socialist mantra of Senator Bernie Sanders: Free tuition, universal healthcare, high minimum wage, parental leave, sick leave, vacation time. PIE IN THE SKY! Ask Emmanuel Macron how that played out in France? A final irony. China gave a 15’ tall statue of Karl Marx to Trier. Trier accepted it, but not all are happy. Trier is in West Germany, but Germans remember the Leninist-Marxist tyranny of East Germany before the unification.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Jeremy Lam (?) Is Upset Over "Cultural Appropriation" by Keziah Daum in a Qipao Prom Dress

18 year old Keziah Daum was looking for a prom dress in Utah. She found a beautiful Chinese red qipao dress. A beautiful young woman in a beautiful dress does what today’s younger generation does. She posted pictures on social media. Kudos, praise and “likes.” Then came a tweet from someone named “Jeremy Lam” accusing her of cultural appropriation He tweeted “My culture is NOT your Goddamn prom dress.” He later posted “I’m proud of my culture. For it to simply be subject to American consumerism and cater to a white audience, is parallel to colonial ideology.” Welcome to America Jeremy! We are a capitalistic, commercial country, often with goods produced in China. Jeremy is another example of the academic Neanderthals, snowflakes sprouting up around America. America’s greatness is based upon welcoming the peoples from all countries and incorporating their cultures into the ever expanding American culture. We do it in attire, vocabulary, and foods. We name foods for their place of origin, or as tribute to foreign locales Beef Wellington Belgium Waffles Canadian Bacon Chicken Kiev Chili Chinese Dumplings A Danish English Tea French Bread French Fries French Onion Soup French Toast Greek Salad Greek Yogurt Hungarian Goulash Irish Coffee (From San Francisco’s BVC) Italian Ice Kobe Beef Lima Beans Mandarin Oranges Mongolian Beef Peking Duck Polish Kielbasa Sardines Sriracha Sauce Spanish Omelet Swedish Meatballs Swiss Cheese Swiss Chocolate Swiss Steak Thai Stick Turkish Delights Vienna Fingers Yorkshire Pudding Not to mention Cuban Cigars Should we be confined to knives and forks and forego chop sticks? Some of the foods we have adopted include Burritos, Enchiladas, Frijoles, and Quesadillas from Mexico, Pizza and Pasta from Italy, Sushi from Japan, Gelato from Italy, Po Boys, kielbasa and Pierogis from Poland. Baklava from Greece. Cheese from everywhere. We patronize Jewish Delis, Greek and Italian Pizzerias, Cantonese, Szechuan, and Mandarin Chinese restaurants. Hold the MSG. Don’t forget the Ramen, a staple of college student food. We can eat at a French Bistro and drink Scotch at an Irish bar. And then seek wisdom and luck from a Chinese Fortune Cookie. I admit chop suey (also from San Francisco) does a great disservice to Chinese Cuisine. Let me ask if Panda Express is an act of cultural appropriation? P.F. Chang’s? Pei Wei? Dim Sum? Too bad you never got to enjoy the epicurean delights of Chun King. Should we avoid Chinatown? All of them? Any restaurant named Golden Triangle? What about Peking Opera? What about acupuncture? What about herbal medicine? The United States will be happy to send the Tongs back to China. Contrary to Jeremy Lam, Ms. Daum received raving reviews from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Her qipao was viewed as a tribute and honor to Chinese culture. One commentator wrote “Culture has no boundaries …. Chinese cultural treasures are worth spreading all over the world.” Jeremy, I’ve been to Beijing. I’ve seen the Chinese commercialization of American culture: KFC, Starbucks, Subway, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Buicks. And Hollywood movies. One of the pernicious arguments for discriminating against Asian American applicants to college, as was said about Jewish students decades ago, is that they will add little to the greater university experience because of their narrow focus on studying. Jeremy's ignorance and cultural arrogance will help fuel this discrimination by some bigots. I think Jeremy Lam's tweet lack feng shui. I see Chinese wearing western business suits. Let me see if I can find that old Nehru jacket?