Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

08 November 2019

Quid Pro Quo?

Much is made of President Trump violating the so-called “Emoluments Clause”  of the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 9).  Basically, the president cannot receive any…gift, payment or other thing of value from a foreign state or its rulers, officers or representatives.

The issue centers around this term, “quid pro quo” that Congress keeps bandying about.  Basically, the Democrats are saying that by asking Ukraine President Zelensky to investigate Burisma Holdings and Vice President Biden’s involvement in it, Trump was seeking to benefit personally in the 2020 election.  

It is generally acknowledged that nations like the U.S. use quid pro quos all the time to get other countries to do what we want.  Lots of nations need money and arms from the U.S.  And we seem to have plenty of both to give.

Strategically, Ukraine is important in the relationship between the U.S. and Russia (which is apparently still our sworn enemy – who knew!).  We need them to side with us and not Vladdy Putin, and so we’ve bent over backwards to help Ukraine financially when we could.  President Obama sent Joe Biden over to facilitate giving Ukraine $1 billion in aid.  President Trump has continue these financial and military contributions from the U.S.

Speaking of a “quid pro quo,” it’s interesting to note that Biden gave one to Ukraine then-President Poroshenko back in 2014: Fire the Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin or you don’t get the $1 billion.  Shokin was either looking too deeply or not enough deeply enough into corruption within the Ukraine government.  Looks to me like the U.S. was meddling in Ukraine politics.

For his part, President Trump is saying that his “quid pro quo” merely amounted to asking (not demanding!) that Ukraine’s president look into “corruption” in general…and that happens to include Joe Biden because he was involved in Ukraine at the time that Ukraine was meddling in the 2016 election.  (The mainstream media keeps the focus on “Russian interference” but apparently Ukraine was doing it as well.)

Men of good will can disagree on issues.  Personally, I think the Democrats have a weak argument, and they’ll have a hard time convincing the American public that President Trump violated his oath of office and committed an impeachable offense as the House votes to impeach him.  Don’t bother to mention the various polls showing that half of all Americans want Trump removed from office.  I think that if nothing else, the 2016 election taught us that polls cannot be trusted.

06 November 2019

Impeachable?

If you went out on the street and asked people if President Trump should be impeached and removed from office, you might very well get a preponderance of “Yes!” responses.  Donald Trump is…let’s not pull any punches…a scumbag.  We all know that.  He does what he wants without much concern for the consequences.  (That’s partly why a lot of people like him.)

But some people – let’s call them “Trump-haters” believe that he is unfit for the office of president, never should have been elected president, and should be removed from office ASAP by any means possible.  This last qualification is a little awkward.  Trump-haters want him gone.  They feel that he’s committed enough impeachable crimes to warrant it.  But the term “impeachable” as they use it is kind of, well, squishy.

Because if you were out on the street and asked people what crimes, exactly President Trump has committed that are impeachable offenses, you’d get a lot of hemming and hawing and foot-shuffling.  The more intelligent respondents might say that he violated the so-called emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution which says you cannot accept any gift, reward or thing of value from a foreign government.  They’ll say that by asking Ukraine President Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, Trump was looking to personally benefit in the 2020 election.  

(Notice though that the Constitution says that a president may not accept any gift, reward or thing of value – it does not say that he can’t solicit such things.  You can ask; you just cannot receive.)

And so we get back to: What exactly has President Trump done to warrant impeachment?  

You cannot impeach a president and have him removed from office simply because he’s a dirtbag and you don’t like him.  You cannot impeach a president because he tweets mean things…or treats people badly, or even because he an egotist and a liar.  It doesn’t work that way.  There has to be a clear impeachable offense…somewhere.  

The American people, however, can impeach a president – sort of.  They can simply not vote for him in the next election.  We have that power!  If the people don’t like Donald Trump, they’ll vote for someone else.  And that form of impeachment might happen in about a year from right now.  But it might not! 

Democrats don’t want to take that chance.  They’ve been talking about impeaching Trump ever since he was sworn in.  Here in November of 2019, Democrats want to make damn sure that Trump is not re-elected next year.  So they’ve…you’ll pardon the pun…trumped-up these charges, claiming that asking President Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden violated the emoluments clause.  It’s weak, I know, but Democrats are running out of time!

Despite what some polls indicate, I don’t think that the American people are convinced that President Trump has done impeachable things.  Maybe I’m wrong, but the people I talk to are getting fatigued over these impeachment proceedings.  (And I’m an Uber drive; I talk to a lot of people in any given day.)  Not everybody in the country is rabidly Left or Right.  Moderate people of both parties actually do see it as a “witch hunt” or at least an act of desperation by Democrats who want to overturn the 2016 election.  They’re starting to lose interest.

I have no doubt that the House of Representatives will vote to impeach President Trump.  But remember, impeachment does not mean removal from office.  For that, the Senate has to weigh-in.  And they’ll never…never! vote to impeach/remove.  But even if they did, it would not prevent Trump from running in 2020. He might not be able to run as a Republican, which would be no big deal because he isn’t much of a Republican anyway.  And if he runs as an Independent, he very well might win again.

05 November 2019

Who Sets U.S. Foreign Policy?


So now we know the identity of the infamous whistleblower!  (His name is not important.  It’s been revealed in plenty of other places online if you’re really curious.)  He’s a kid.  He’s 33 now, but all of this dates back to when he was in the Obama administration in 2015.  So he’s being used, in other words thrown to the wolves by the older, more experienced politicians and those of the so-called “deep state” who want to keep their hands clean…at least as clean as possible given that nobody is going to look good when this is all over.

Apparently, the kid works for the CIA, must’ve been some low-level wonk (“intelligence analyst”) probably recruited right out of college, perhaps dreaming he was going to be the next master spy like the fictional Jack Ryan of Tom Clancy novels.  Whatever.

In 2015 the CIA assigned him to the National Security Council (NSC) in the Obama administration working for Susan Rice.  He also worked for Vice President Joe Biden on Ukraine policy issues.  He was “held over” into the Trump administration and handled the “Ukraine desk” (whatever that is) at the NSC, and was eventually brought into the White House until his anti-Trump sentiments were revealed – which we can surmise made him persona non grata.  He has moved back to CIA headquarters…but not before meeting with Senator Adam Schiff (who heads the House Intelligence Committee) and agreeing to become The Whistleblower.  

Since this young man only claims to have second-hand knowledge about the phone call President Trump had with Ukraine President Zelensky, it stands to reason that the source of this second-hand information was U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who actually did listen in on the phone call and who says he had serious misgivings about what President Trump was doing because it…and this is what everybody says…it would jeopardize national security!!  That’s the catch-all, right?  If you make such a claim, who would…or could…prove you wrong?  Who could even question your motives?  I think it’s safe to assume that Col. Vindman and our young whistleblower must’ve talked.

But what Lt. Col. Vindman seems to overlook or conveniently forget is that it is THE PRESIDENT who sets our foreign policy…not Congress, not the Joint Chiefs, not the media, and certainly not U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonels, no matter how well-meaning.  We don’t have to (and won’t) question Lt. Col. Vindman’s patriotism or character.  But we can definitely say that he is off-base here in his testimony.  To him I would say “Sir, just let the president handle foreign policy; after all, he is your Commander In Chief.”

30 October 2019

President Trump: Genius or Idiot?


So President Trump recently announced that he would be pulling our troops out of Syria, leaving those brave Kurds (insurgents who have no actual country) on their own.  Oh how people in the U.S. lost their minds!  Everybody had an opinion on What Would Happen Next!  The crux of many people’s complaint was that this would lead to a regeneration of ISIS.

Two weeks later…

Trump: We found and killed the head of ISIS.

Everybody: Oh no!  This will SURELY lead to a regeneration of ISIS!  His number two man will take over!

Two days later…

Trump: Oh, and we killed the number two ISIS guy as well.

After the first guy, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (the guy who they say actually started ISIS) was killed, President Trump made a speech and very graphically described how Baghdadi died – which was not as a hero or martyr, but as a cowardly dog, using three of his children as a shield and then blowing himself (and them) up with a bomb that he just coincidentally and conveniently happened to be, you know, wearing.  (It’s what all the well-dressed Muslim extremist/terrorists are wearing this Fall!)

Trump’s very clear message was: "America Is Back: Do not screw with us."  The Obama era of conciliation and kowtowing to Muslims is OVER.  Mess with us and we’ll sic the dogs of war on you.  Literally, as in this case.

Trump lulled everyone into a false sense of security, making everyone think he was a big dummy for pulling out of Syria.  Then he pulled out the Big Stick and killed Baghdadi as a parting shot.  And you know that whole scheme was planned out well in advance.  I mean, come one…putting together an “Op” like the one to get Baghdadi (and his Number Two man) must’ve taken a LOT of planning and coordination.

And so President Trump is either a tactical genius or a blithering idiot.  You decide.

22 October 2019

Throwing Good Money After Bad?

One last thing on politics before I stop...

Apparently, it is common for those in government to use foreign countries to enrich themselves.  As the Trump-Ukraine debacle unfolds, we discover how money flows out of the country only to flow back in as "commissions" or "consulting fees" to those who set up the deals.  I am not even surprised by this.

I read an article on the Daily Caller website that listed all of the companies Hunter Biden formed with his buddy, Devon Archer.  It was quite complicated.  Together, they were working for foreign companies in both China and Ukraine.  The amount of money these two jokers amassed in various fees may never be tallied and known.

What is interesting to me is that there are absolute, undeniable financial ties between China and Ukraine.  I ask myself, "Why would China be interested in business in Ukraine?"  I suspect it's so people can keep money moving around so much that others lose track of it.

And no, I don't think these activities are limited to the Biden boy and Devon Archer.  What were the nationalities of the biggest foreign donors to the Clinton Foundation?  By their own admission: Ukraine.  Not Great Britain or any other source you might imagine.  Ukraine.


What's so goddam special about Ukraine?  And what does the "humanitarian" Clinton Foundation do for the people of Ukraine?

It's clear, at least to me, that the phony-baloney "consulting" jobs (like those give to Hunter Biden - and others), and "donations" by foreign nationals to organizations like the Clinton Foundation...it's all just a means of obtaining access.  

And maybe that's just how global politics works.  "We'll make sure your country gets $1 billion in aid, but you hire my people as 'consultants' and 'advisors' at $50,000 per month.  Got it?"  Money flows out; money flows in; the economic world keeps turning.  Unless there's some big scandal, nobody (surely not the American public) is any the wiser.

Vice President Bigmouth Joe Biden bragged...bragged! that he and President Obama were all set to withhold $1.8 billion in aid to Ukraine unless a particular General Prosecutor was fired and replaced.  Sure enough, the deed was done.  As was the loan.

My question: What happened to all that money?  I mean, we know that "some" of it came back into the U.S. in the form of consulting fees, bogus agency fees and kickbacks, but where did the rest go?  Does nobody care that the U.S. can simply give away a billion dollars or so to help the economy of some shithole ex-Russian country just so they don't side with Vladdy Putin?  Is this why our national debt is so high?  How much more money do we give away every year to other nations?  

And why do we keep doing it?

15 October 2019

These Nutsy-Cuckoo Times

This is not a political blog, and I'm sure you do not come here for political discussion.  The reason I don’t like talking politics is twofold.  For one thing, I know very little about the subject.  Secondly, I don’t really care all that much.  But please indulge me for a moment while I comment on the shitstorm that our society is currently weathering, won't you? I promise I'll be brief, and then we'll be back to talking about flying and motorcycles.

My parents were staunch democrats.  They preached that the Democratic Party was for the working man, while the Republicans were for Big Business.  I didn’t think it through back then (what teenager ever thinks anything through?), but without big (and small) businesses there wouldn’t be any need for working men.  So it’s a symbiotic relationship, to be sure.

As a nascent union organizer in the 1990’s, I came to see that if we squeezed every last dime out of the company, we very well might find ourselves out of work.  Somehow, the contract we were negotiating had to be good for us and good for the company. 

So this whole current Ukraine Affair just leaves me disgusted.  OF COURSE, Joe Biden got his son Hunter appointed to the Board of Directors of Burisma Holdings (the largest natural gas company in Ukraine).  Of course, he did!  And Biden wasn’t being totally honest when he said that he and Hunter never discussed Burisma.  Bullshit!  (Pardon my French.)  Hunter, who knew nothing about the natural gas industry, slid into a cushy, do-nothing job that netted him a pretty nice salary.  Nepotism?  Sure.  Unethical?  Oh yeah.  Illegal?  Maaayyyybee…but maybe not.

And then President Trump, in a now-famous phone call, asked the current president of Ukraine to look into this Biden/Burisma deal.  And then everything blew up.

I love the “everybody knows” theory.  Everybody knows that what Trump did was an impeachable offense.  Everybody, from the man on the street to some top people in government say that what President Trump did was wrong.  And maybe it was!  But was it illegal?  Was it an impeachable offense?  Hmm.  Maaayyyybeee.  “Everybody” may know the answer to that.  Me?  I don’t know.  Nor do I care.

I have three brilliant sisters. One is an archeologist and two are attorneys. Over the years, I have learned a lot from all three. Just oneof the things I’ve learned is that when it comes to the law, NOTHING is ever cut-and-dried. NOTHING is ever totally black-or-white. The 1995 O.J. Simpson trial surely taught us that. If you were alive and watching TV back then, you know as well as I do that O.J. got away with murder.
The people who hate the president and want him removed from office make their case very passionately. Trump is a bad man who’s gotta go! But Trump supporters are just as passionate in their defense of the manThis is not a political blog, and you probably do not come here for political discussion. The reason I don’t like talking politics is twofold. For one thing, I know very little about the subject. Secondly, I don’t really care all that much.

My parents were staunch democrats. They preached that the Democratic Party was for the working man, while the Republicans were for Big Business. I didn’t think it through back then (what teenager ever thinks anything through?), but without big businesses there wouldn’t be any need for working men. So it’s a symbiotic relationship, to be sure.

As a nascent union organizer in the 1990’s, I came to see that if we squeezed every last dime out of the company, we very well might find ourselves out of work. Somehow, the contract we were negotiating had to be good for us and good for the company.

So this whole current Ukraine Affair just leaves me disgusted. OF COURSE, Joe Biden got his son Hunter appointed to the Board of Directors of Burisma Holdings (the largest natural gas company in Ukraine). Of course, he did! And Biden wasn’t being totally honest when he said that he and Hunter never discussed Burisma. Bullshit! (Pardon my French.) Hunter, who knew nothing about the natural gas industry, slid into a cushy, do-nothing job that netted him a pretty nice salary. Nepotism? Sure. Unethical? Oh yeah. Illegal? Maaayyyybee…

And then President Trump, in a now-famous phone call, asked the now-president of Ukraine to look into this Biden/Burisma deal. And then everything blew up.

I love the “everybody knows” theory. Everybody knows that what Trump did was an impeachable offense. Everybody, from the man on the street to the top people in government say that what President Trump did was wrong. And maybe it was! But was it illegal? Was it an impeachable offense? Hmm. Maaayyyybeee. “Everybody” may know the answer to that. Me? I don’t know. Nor do I care.

I have three brilliant sisters. One is an archeologist and two are attorneys. Over the years, I have learned a lot from all three. One thing I’ve learned is that when it comes to the law, NOTHING is ever cut-and-dried. NOTHING is ever totally black-or-white.

The people who hate the president and want him removed from office make their case very passionately. Trump is a bad man who’s gotta go! But Trump supporters are just as passionate in their defense of the man. Best president ever!

And again, ol’ Bob is caught in the middle, not knowing what to think, and feeling guilty for not having an opinion.

But here’s what I do think. We do not live in a strict democracy. The U.S. is a democratic republic. We elect people to run the country for us, because most of us: a) don’t want to; and b) are uniquely unqualified to do so. I’m more “b” than “a” but truth be told I go both ways there.

The trouble is that we don’t let our leaders do their jobs. We scrutinize, criticize and second-guess every damn decision they make. The end result is that we have an entire electorate that is afraid of saying or doing ANYTHING because they know they’ll get a ton of negative feedback or at least cause a Twitterstorm with which they’ll have to deal.

The only politician with any guts is Beto O’Rourke. He came out out and actually said it out loud: The left wants to confiscate our guns. Heh. I admire his honesty, but good luck getting ANY conservative to vote for you, Beto! You might as well quit the race now and not waste any more of your time or money.

Look, I say: If President Trump is doing a really bad job, then the American people will not vote for him in 2020. No, I don’t think he’ll destroy the country…or our democracy in the meantime. The republic has withstood some pretty crappy presidents; I doubt Trump is even the worst.

President Trump is…different. He’s different than any other president we’ve ever had. He says and does things that are simply…there is no other word for it…crazy. Other politicians hate him, but Trump connects with the American people on a level that is hard to explain or understand. His supporters overlook so much crap that it’s really hard to fathom.

The most insane and ironic thing I’ve heard from the Democrats was, ”We have to impeach Trump to keep him from getting re-elected.” If that doesn’t tell you something about these nutsy-cuckoo times we’re living in, I don’t know what else would.
Best president ever!


And again, ol’ Bob is caught in the middle, not knowing what to think, and feeling kind of guilty for not having an opinion.

But here’s what I think.  We do not live in a strict democracy.  The U.S. is a democratic republic.  We elect people to run the country for us, because most of us: a) don’t want to; and b) are uniquely unqualified to do so.  I’m more “b” than “a” but truth be told I go both ways there.

The trouble is that we don’t let our leaders do their jobs.  We scrutinize, criticize and second-guess every damn decision they make.  The end result is that we have an entire electorate that is afraid of saying or doing ANYTHING because they know they’ll get a ton of negative feedback or at least cause a Twitterstorm with which they’ll have to deal.  Except our president - he seems to be playing by a completely different set of rules.

The only politician with any guts is Beto O’Rourke.  He came right out and actually said it out loud: The left wants to confiscate our guns.  Heh.  I admire his honesty, but good luck getting ANY conservative to vote for you, Beto!  You might as well quit the race now and not waste any more of your time or money.

Look, I say: If President Trump is doing a really bad job, then the American people will not vote for him in 2020.  No, I don’t think he’ll destroy the country…or our democracy in the meantime.  In my life I've seen eleven presidents.  The republic has withstood some pretty crappy ones; I doubt Trump is even the worst.

President Trump is…different.  He’s different than any other president we’ve ever had.  He says and does things that are simply…there is no other word for it…crazy.  Other politicians hate him, but Trump connects with the American people on a level that is hard to explain or understand.  His supporters overlook so much crap that it’s really hard to believe.

The most insane and ironic thing I’ve heard from the Democrats was, ”We have to impeach Trump to keep him from getting re-elected.”  If that doesn’t tell you something about these nutsy-cuckoo times we’re living in, I don’t know what else would.

07 October 2019

Wacky Automotive News, Part II

If I were to say the word, “Porsche,” your natural response would probably be, “911.” It is the iconic German sportscar, and has been since its introduction in 1963. It is sexy and fast, and many a teenage boy has lusted over it, dreaming about the day they might someday own one. Yes, including me.

Over the years, Porsche has built its reputation on high-performance. Their racing cars are legendary. Their street cars have always been powered by a sophisticated six-cylinder engine that traces its roots all the way back to the Volkswagen engine from which it was spawned. Today’s modern Porsche engines are highly advanced, of course, eons beyond their predecessors.

But things change.  As we look for a way to replace the internal combustion engine, everybody is scrambling to design and produce totally electric vehicles. 

In 1996, General Motors tried with their funny-looking EV-1. That didn’t work out for reasons that are both unclear and controversial. All of the EV-1’s were recalled and (supposedly) destroyed. After that, electric car progress was slow, hampered by battery technology that wasn’t improving as fast as people hoped.

In 2012, along came Tesla with the Model S, which is all-electric.  A boutique manufacturer of high-end vehicles, Tesla was seen as the “anti-GM.” Happily, the Model S was a pretty good design right off the bat. Battery life and the resultant range-before-charging were decent. But the scarcity of charging stations limited Tesla’s market to places like Los Angeles…bigger cities.

With Tesla’s success, we knew it would only be a matter of time until the major automakers woke up and joined the fray. In 2016, GM got back in the game with a model called the Bolt. Other automakers have committed to producing electric vehicles – including Volkswagen, which promises us a new version of the Microbus, which will be all-electric. (Tree-hugging hippies all over the world should rejoice.)

So along comes Porsche. They recently introduced an all-electric model called the Taycan (Turkish for “young, lively horse”). It is a low-slung, four-door car, unmistakably Porsche and is as drop-dead beautiful as you’d expect.


Porsche is bringing out two versions: the Taycan Turbo, and the Taycan Turbo S.

Say…what? Turbo?

When applied to a motor vehicle, the word “turbo” generally…usually means turbocharged. A turbocharger is a device fitted to a conventional internal-combustion engine to increase its power. The turbo uses hot exhaust gases to spin a tiny turbine wheel. This in turn spins another tiny turbine wheel, and this one is in the intake stream. This pressurizes the intake fuel/air mixture, which results in more power. You can take a little, weak engine, stick a turbocharger on it and make it have the power of a big engine. It’s like magic!

Confusingly, “turbo” can also be short for “turbine-powered” – usually an aircraft powered by turboshaft (i.e. “jet”) engines connected to a propeller. For instance, take the general aviation twin-engine airplane called the Aero Commander series. Over the years, various models of the plane have been powered by both piston and turboshaft engines. Externally, they look nearly identical to the untrained observer. The Commanders with the turboshaft engines are called “Turbo-Commanders.”  Which they shouldn't be.

The problem is that turbine-powered and turbocharged aircraft are very different and use vastly different fuel. A turbine engine uses jet fuel and cannot run on “avgas.” A turbocharged piston engine uses regular aviation gasoline (“avgas”) and cannot run on jet fuel. When landing to refuel, Aero Commander pilots have to be ever diligent that the refueling company puts in the right kind. It’s easy to make a mistake!  Accidents have happened.  (It is rumored that the historic B-17 that crashed recently in Connecticut may have been fueled with jet fuel.)

Sorry, I didn’t mean to go off on such a technical tangent just to explain the meaning of the word, “turbo” and how it is usually applied.

Okay, so the automotive world is laughing at Porsche for calling their all-electric car a “turbo” when it is clearly not turbocharged.

But Porsche is being clever. Very, very clever. The word turbo by itself has entered our general lexicon. It’s analogous to “hyper.” Like, ”Man, it’s hot in here. Put that air conditioner on turbo!” Or, "Man, my girlfriend was turbo angry with me for forgetting her birthday.” You get the idea. And yes, I’ve heard both of those expressions.

So Porsche appropriated the word “turbo” and applied it to their Taycan, even though the car does not have a conventional gas engine and is definitely not turbocharged. Heh. But it conveys the idea that the car is fast, no? You’ve got to give the marketing guys at Porsche credit. I think it’s both hilarious and smart.

I still want one - maybe even more!