Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Williams: In Defense of the Electoral College

Walter Williams writes in defense of the Electoral College.
Then there's that old saying about democracy being nothing more than two wolves and a sheep deciding what's for lunch. 

  I agree and, as I like to say: Democracy be damned!

Addendum: David Friedman also makes an argument for the Electoral College. 

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Maine Adopts Ranked Choice Voting

Cato Institute takes a look at Maine's recent passage of an initiative allowing Ranked Choice Voting for state offices. I'm not sure but I think this is the same as Instant Runoff Voting where candidates are ranked in order of preference by voters:

"If a candidate wins more than half the votes, that candidate wins, just like in any other election. If no candidate has more than half the votes, then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The votes of those who selected the defeated candidate as a first choice are then added to the totals of their next choice. This process continues until the number of candidates is reduced to two or the winner earns more than half of the active votes."

I still get a little confused with how that works, but it does and, as the article points out, some cities already use them in municipal elections.

I'd prefer to vote that way but I'm not sure I could be labeled a RCV supporter. Proponents often point to the system allowing majorities to still have their way and voters needn't be as concerned with "wasting their vote" as often is a concern with the system most of us use now.

I'm not so sure that's a good idea. I used to be very supportive of RCV until it occurred to me it likely would lead to majorities getting even more power. In an area predominantly conservative or liberal, the ranking choices would likely lean strongly conservative or liberal from the first choice on down. That would seem to me to ensure the majority mindset would always be favored and likely the more extreme conservatives and liberals would prevail.

Some think that's a good thing and the way it should be. I don't. I figure government runs best when it's divided and a certain line of thought doesn't go unchallenged. It would seem to me less likely that would happen with RCV/ IRV.

The City of San Francisco uses RCV in their local elections so we might look there to see if my concerns hold water, except San Francisco has always been a largely authoritarian city. I suspect we'd see their elections resulting in authoritarians winning now just as they always have. From what little I've heard of their elections that seems to be true.

One good thing I'll agree with in regards RCV/IRV is we might not hear so much anymore about "wasting your vote". That would be nice.

Looking at Complaints About Trump

Reason magazine takes a look at all the angst over Donald Trump, pointing out he hasn't really done anything yet and those complaints also amount to hypocrisy:

"Who can take journalists seriously—who've never once uttered a word of concern over the Democratic Party's crusade to empower government to ban political speech by overturning Citizens United—when they lose it over a tweet about flag-burning?"

I've been feeling some of the same. I wondered about all the worry over his cabinet picks- some of that worry I feel is justified- when they seem the same sort of picks any other president might make, Republican or Democrat:

"If Obama had pulled off the Carrier deal, the same people would have been complaining on opposite sides of the issue."

"... that doesn't make this the era of Trump; it means we're still in the era of Washington, D.C. Freak out accordingly."

Monday, December 05, 2016

The New Attorney General: Jeff Sessions and Pot

The Liberty Headlines newsletter looks at newly nominated Attorney General Jeff Sessions and what he might mean for states that have legalized marijuana:

"By nominating Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III for attorney general, President-elect Donald J. Trump is about to put into the nation’s top law enforcement job a man with a long and antagonistic attitude toward marijuana."

Even in a best case scenario it doesn't look good to me. This is one case, albeit rare, where an Obama administration would seem preferable to what we have now. Still, we need to wait and see how this plays out before passing judgment.

It Was Clinton's Fault

A writer over at The Week magazine takes the Democratic Party to task for blaming Hillary Clinton's defeat on everyone but her and her party:

"Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to an opponent that every knowledgeable political operative, strategist, and analyst considered the weakest major party candidate in modern American history. The time has come for Democrats to start taking responsibility for the loss."

 "She lost the election because she failed to win where she needed to win and where Democrats had a long record of winning — the upper Midwest — as well as where they win when they're doing their jobs well (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina). That's a sign of a campaign screw-up of monumental proportions."

Unlike some partisan Democrats- Eric Kirk, looking at you- he doesn't claim the media treated Clinton unfairly:

" Most of all, I don't want to hear about how unfairly Clinton was treated by the media. In comparison to whom? All the other candidates who've run for president while under criminal investigation by the FBI? (Maybe that substantial handicap should have overridden the party's presumption that she was owed the nomination because it was "her turn.") Or do you mean, instead, that she was treated badly in comparison to her opponent? Really? You mean the one whose 24/7 media coverage was overwhelmingly, relentlessly negative in tone and content? Either way, a halfway competent campaign should have been able to take advantage of the great good fortune of running against Donald J. Trump and left him bleeding in the ditch."

He goes on to suggest one big reason she lost was she didn't campaign enough, or at least the right way. I don't know about that, but maybe it's just me? My vote or feelings for her wouldn't have been affected had she had more large rallies as the writer suggests, although I suppose some of yours, and Joe and Jill Sixpack's might have. After all, if those large rallies weren't effective, candidates wouldn't have them. I was prejudiced, and still am. I'm not sure there's anything she could do or say to stop me from hating her guts.

Invest In Pot Stocks? I'm In!

I hesitate to bring this up as I don't want a bunch of you getting in line ahead of me. I'm surprised I didn't think of this before on my own. I was on Facebook the other day and noticed some advertisement about investing in marijuana related stocks. With the legalization of marijuana in a number of states recently that certainly opens the door for anyone to make money on it.

I followed the link and ended up here where I found the title suggesting a $50.00 investment could yield a fortune. I know, I know. It's not recommended to follow advice of people hyping stocks as they're often the ones in the position to sell those stocks so of course they're gonna make them sound like great investments. 

What got me, though, is most of these pot stocks are what is known as "penny stocks". Those are stocks that only cost pennies each. While the ad claims they can double in value quickly, such stocks don't really make you a lot of money if you're talking about $5.00 for a hundred shares. Still, it's something I could get involved in with little financial risk.

Looking at the charts for some of the stocks mentioned, yep, some did make relatively large gains in the recent past but wouldn't have made much money unless you owned a bunch of them. I'm still thinking of buying into them but there are a few things that are problematic:

Being penny stocks, most stock brokers may not want to deal with them. Cheap as they are, they offer little commission since commissions are based on the value of the stock. My old broker that handled my now defunct retirement fund at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter was usually game for any purchase or trade, but he retired some time ago. I know another guy that used to work there but he retired, too. Then there's my new brother- in- law that works at A.G. Edwards. I might see if he's interested.

I tried to see if there were any marijuana involved mutual funds but was unable to find any. That might have been my choice but it looks like I'm stuck with individual stocks. Stock symbols of those I found are HEMP (who'd have guessed?), MJNA,CBIS, MCDL and GWPH- all selling for around five cents a share or less last I looked.

I enjoyed being involved in investing back when I had an IRA. Maybe this could bring me back to that? I don't see much financial downside since we're talking pennies per share but, as this article in U.S. News points out, there's a remote possibility of arrest for being involved. Remote, being the keyword and it's hard to imagine the feds going after hundreds or thousands of shareholders over their stocks. Then again, this d- bag, Jeff Sessions, Trump's pick for Attorney General, who knows what he might do?

I'm game and still willing to take the chance. Now it's your turn to talk me out of it, but don't go jumping in line ahead of me. Let me lose my house, car and everything else over this first.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Another Lost Dog

Here's another one just reported on the Nextdoor Neighborhood e-mail list:
"My dog is missing from A & Trinity. Name Lula. White, brown & black husky. Very old & sweet. Wearing a collar. Please call 530-913-8348 w/ info"

Help Find This Dog

From the Nextdoor Neighborhood e-mail list: some folk's dog ran off from their house at Humboldt and G streets in Eureka. No collar, but she answers to SeeSee. That's just a block or so from my house so I'll keep an eye out. If you find her, leave a comment here to let me know and I'll go to the Nextdoor site to let them know.

A Video Tour Of Mars

Earth/ Sky News provides us a video tour of the surface of Mars taken by the ExoMars mission. The text narrative is correct that when you get to the 1:39 minute point it seems as if you're flying over the surface and can see the heavily forested canyons and ravines.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Dave Ramsey on CNN

I was surprised while surfing channels on TV last night to stumble on to some CNN news show. The guest, who I thought I recognized, was Dave Ramsey, a radio show host from the east coast. He's a financial advisor type guy and the show's host was asking him his thoughts on the election and subsequent Trump presidency. You might be able to see the video here.

Long time readers here might remember I won $1000.00 in a drawing a few years ago. Dave Ramsey's show was the one that sponsored the drawing so I was interested in seeing what he had to say. I was surprised to find him talking pretty much along libertarian lines. He went on at some length how people shouldn't expect a president or any politician to take care of them or save them from their personal situations. That job is up to the individual, he said.

Pretty cool talk with him and the host of the show only went on to ask him further questions. Good show and a fun one for me.

Holiday Boutique Today

This should be the last one so show up or lose out. Craigslist ad and pictures here. 'Nuff said (or written).

While you're at it, don't forget to sign up with the I Hate Christmas Facebook page.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Redwood Family Practice Lives?

The Times- Standard reported today (I can't find that story now) that Eureka's Redwood Family Practice will be merging with Open Door Clinics and thus might stay open. Good news for those of us who know how hard it is to find medical care providers up here. 

It wasn't clear to me in the article what will go and what stays with the merge. I'm assuming Open Door accepts Obamacare insurance. I'm hoping that means Redwood Family Practice will begin accepting Obamacare, too. They currently bill my Obamacare insurance but aren't considered an in- network provider. I'll have to check further.

Good local news for a change, although I wonder how bringing Open Door to Redwood Family Practice will affect Redwood Family? When I was looking for a medical provider years ago, I drove into the parking lot of a Community Clinic, or some such, just a bit up the street from Redwood Family Practice. Driving into the parking lot I saw what I felt was some bum smoking a cigarette a bit away from the front door. I thought then this likely isn't some place I'd want to be going as- despite being a bum myself- it gave me the impression I get when I go to the Welfare Office. 

Going inside it seemed a nice, clean place but the nurse told me they weren't accepting new patients. Just as well and off I went to look elsewhere, eventually winding up at Redwood Family Practice. I hope this merge doesn't turn Redwood Family Practice into a bum depot.

Little House Trivia

One thing I can't resist about Facebook is the various things posted there that tell little known secrets of TV shows or actors. About the only downside is they seem to take forever to get through. There was one yesterday where they gave you an early high school photo of some actor and you had to guess who it was. The wife smoked that one as she's what's known as a super recognizer. Of course, it made it easier that for each picture they provided two names to choose from. Still, I hadn't a clue.

They had a thing on there yesterday called "Twenty Five Secrets About Little House On The Prairie", or something along that line. Being a Little House fan, I had to check that one out. I found out a couple things I found interesting, including one I'd always wondered about:

I'd never really thought about what the Ingalls were eating when they'd be at the dinner table but, the answer is, Dinty Moore Beef Stew was the usual fare. If mom was cooking fried chicken, it magically transformed into Kentucky Fried Chicken. Bet that just floors you to find that out, huh?

The one thing I had always wondered about was whether the actress that played Laura Ingalls actually got along with her nemisis- actress of the girl we all love to hate, Nellie Olesen off screen? Turns out they were good friends and actually had sleepovers together and such. I feel better now knowing that, don't you? I still can't help but hate Nellie Olesen, though.

Now that I've solved those mysteries for you, your day should go real well. No need to thank me. I'm here to help.

Oh, and one thing I read on Facebook yesterday from a different source: The location of the set Little House was filmed on is believed to have a lot of nuclear waste in it. That might account for the number of cast and crew members who ended up with cancer. Seems to me that would be easy enough to figure out, though.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

In Memory of Castro

Interesting hearing the lovefest, or what was meant to be a lovefest, over Fidel Castro the few days after his death. I suppose it's human nature that we all must seem to grieve over someone's death no matter who it might be.

This Faithwire news site went the opposite direction and wrote this "Handy List of Atrocities For Everyone Glorifying Fidel Castro". They start off by summing up Castro's accomplishments:

"Fidel Castro jailed and tortured political prisoners at a higher rate than Stalin during the Great Terror. He murdered more Cubans in his first three years in power than Hitler murdered Germans during his first six."

" In the above process Fidel Castro converted a highly-civilized nation with a higher standard of living than much of Europe and swamped with immigrants into a slum/sewer ravaged by tropical diseases and with  the highest suicide rate in the Western hemisphere.
Over TWENTY TIMES as many people (and counting) have died trying to escape Castro’s Cuba as died trying to escape East Germany. Yet prior to Castroism Cuba received more immigrants per-capita than almost any nation on earth—more than the U.S. did including the Ellis Island years, in fact."

I do agree with at least one point brought up by his admirers: Listening to Democracy Now on the radio the other day, an admirer pointed out he was just one man who stood up to the United States and survived. He made a point, I thought. After all, the United States is to most aggressive and blood thirsty county in the world- at least since Castro died- and it was never able to take Castro out. I'll give Castro credit for that.

Out of perhaps a misguided sense of decency, I offer condolences to The Left for the death of their hero. The only world class leader of Castro quality they have to look up to now is North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

North Coast Journal Does Comments

The North Coast Journal looks this week at comments sections to news and other media sites. They seem to hit all the concerns and point out most of us think comments have some sort of purpose.

Even here we get bits of wisdom from commentators, but I find comments generally more useful as entertainment. Hey, it gives me more to read. Some online publications I'd consider to have half the value if they didn't offer space for reader comments. The Lost Coast Outpost comments, for example, being one I take advantage of and find amusement in. I'd still visit the Outpost regularly but would consider it just half of what it is now without comments.

As the Journal points out, sometimes there is much to be learned from comments, although I find that to be infrequent. We've certainly learned a few things from comments posted here over the years, but I find the entertainment value of comments most important.

Some papers have screwed up their comments sections, the first one that comes to mind being the Sacramento Bee. They used to have a comment section that was quite lively. But some- and I think it was more the left leaning folks- complained about who knows what. I don't recall ever seeing anything all that much out of line there and got the impression they just didn't like people questioning global warming or other left wing ideas. Now the Bee's comments are pretty much inactive.

The Santa Rosa Press- Democrat has taken up much of my comment reading time since the Bee's demise. It's usually the same people each day going back and forth with sometimes mild insults, but we all show up there the next day. 

The Press- Democrat, though, as with pretty much everything, keeps control of expression on their comments pages. They've done at least a couple hit pieces on e- cigarettes I felt needed rebuttal but they didn't activate comments for those stories. Pretty obvious and shameless behavior in my mind.

So go read the Journal article and make your comments at the bottom. I already left mine. I simply wrote that, due to the subject, someone had to make a comment so I'd be the first. Hey, I'm here to help!