FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 16th through 21st 2018

Fireball Saying of the Day

Actual meanings of various terms: TEAM WORK: Having somebody else you can blame it on. HARDWARE: The part of a computer you can kick when there are software problems. IMPATIENT: Somebody who is waiting in a hurry. INFLATION: Paying today’s prices with last year’s salary.

 

Baseball News

I’ve been a bit reticent to comment on individual baseball games, because … well because it could be bad luck.  Having said that I couldn’t help pointing a really nice sweep by the New York Yankees over a very good and very talented Seattle Mariners.

 

 

 

Fireball Book Review

If you’re sitting around in a rehab wondering why the hair on your legs and arms is growing back so unevenly, or you’re working with your favorite goat to perfect your team goat plank, (ah, goat yoga), pick up a book.  I’m recommending Lincoln’s Last Trial, by Dan Abrams and David Fisher.  It’s a great account of Abraham Lincoln, who having participated in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, is just beginning his political career.  But at this moment we are able to glean amazing insight into the Lincoln, the man.    Lincoln is anchoring the defense in what even today would be a high profile murder trial, The State of Illinois v. “Peachy” Quinn Harrison.  He is a most accomplished lawyer taking on a complex murder trial.  Every quotation cited from the trial comes directly from the handwritten pages meticulously recorded by the book’s protagonist, Robert Roberts Hitt. And in fact, Hitt’s original transcript of the of the trial was bound and put aside, only to be discovered in 1989 in a shoebox stored in the Fresno, California garage, home of the Quinn Harrison’s great-great grandson. Thanks Friend of FOD Roger for the book.  It’s a good read.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 16th through 21st 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 2nd through 8th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Laughing is one of the best exercises; it’s like running inside your mind. You can do it almost anywhere and it’s even better with a friend.

 

Fireball Opinion: Better the Rule Of Law Than The Rule of Deals

President Trump is the first president in recent memory that has not emerged from the ranks of professional politicians, but rather a professional businessman.  I applaud President Trump’s efforts to “make America great again.”  I never thought we were not great!  Lots can be said regarding the current discussions regarding tariffs against China.  I do believe it’s appropriate to listen to experts or at least economists regarding the benefits of tariffs.  I have not heard from a single economist who favors or even endorses tariffs as an appropriate tool to use against China.  While no one argues the need to curtail China’s theft of intellectual property, it is important to look at each opportunity American’s companies have entered into and evaluate whether that individual company knowingly or unknowingly entered into an agreement that made  their intellectual property vulnerable to being compromised by a totalitarian regime intent on stealing every manufacturing advancement and/or technology advancement for their own benefit.  It has always been the case and has accelerated since the US allowed and supported admitting China to the World Trade Organization.  There is ample evidence to support multiple violations of nearly every rule.  Yet the US and other nations has been the beneficiary of cheaply produced goods that has continued to support the US and other nation’s economies for decades.  I would encourage the President to use the rule of law to counter China’s activities rather than attempting to make another deal.  The Rule of Deals never goes smoothly and is not consistent with our nation’s values.  And while I’m at it, I think in particularly inappropriate for the President to attack a public corporation like Amazon for what appears to be a veiled personally vindictive attack on the Jeff Bezos, who in addition to being the founder and CEO of Amazon also owns the Washington Post.  President Donald Trump lit into Amazon.com Inc. for the second time in three days with a pair of Twitter messages last week that said the online retailer “must pay real costs (and taxes) now!”  The president on Saturday claimed, citing reports he didn’t specify, that the U.S. Postal Service “will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon” and added that the “Post Office scam must stop.” Amazon has said the postal service, which has financial problems stretching back for years, makes money on its deliveries.  Amazon shed $53 billion in market value on Wednesday after Axios reported that the president is “obsessed” with regulating the e-commerce giant, whose founder and chief executive officer, Jeff Bezos. Those losses were pared on Thursday, the final day of a shortened trading week, even as Trump tweeted that Amazon was using the postal service as its “Delivery Boy.”  The Postal Service is losing money, but its package delivery service is profitable, unlike its letter delivery.  The Postal Service is required by law to cover its costs for delivering competitive products, such as packages for Amazon. The Postal Regulatory Commission, which oversees the service, set the appropriate share of the costs of package delivery at 5.5% a little more than a decade ago.  Since then, the service’s delivery of packages has grown substantially, and the United Parcel Service argued in a submission to the commission in 2015 that a realistic appropriate share of costs for those deliveries should be about 24.6%.  A Citigroup analysis last year found that that difference would amount to about $1.46 per parcel, which might serve as the basis for Trump’s $1.50 figure. An op-ed penned in July by Josh Sandbulte in the Wall Street Journal cited that analysis in arguing the Postal Service’s estimate of costs for delivering packages should be revised. In response, US Postal Service executive Joseph Corbett wrote that the op-ed provided an “inaccurate and unfair account,” and that the Postal Regulatory Commission has determined each year that the service is covering its costs for package deliveries.  Sandbulte is co-president of Greenhaven Associates, a money management firm that owns FedEx common stock.  Corbett asserted the Postal Service’s financial insolvency is the result of its inability to overcome “systemic financial imbalances caused by legal and other constraints,” such as a price cap on revenue-producing products that doesn’t take changes in delivery volumes and costs into account.  The Postal Service’s biggest money problem is that it has billions in retirement obligations to its workers that it can’t afford.  Amazon pays the US Post Office to deliver packages to customers’ doors, including on Sundays, and because Amazon ships so many packages though the post office, it’s charged at a lower rate than most customers.  But Amazon does not receive a special rate; it pays the rate that the post office charges other bulk shippers.  Neither Amazon nor the post office has disclosed the details of its agreement, but the Postal Service says the deal is mutually beneficial.  On Thursday, Trump tweeted another accusation about Amazon not paying “taxes to state & local governments” and “putting many thousands of retailers out of business.”  Amazon collects sales tax in every state that charges one and remits it to the states, which is nearly every state. Amazon also pays local property taxes on its distribution centers as well as on the Whole Foods stores it purchased last year.  Amazon maintains it helps small businesses in a tough retail climate, helping vendors reach a mass audience.  This isn’t the first time Trump has accused The Washington Post of being a lobbying arm of Amazon. While both companies are owned by Jeff Bezos, Amazon does not have a stake in The Washington Post.

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 2nd through 8th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 20th through 23rd 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Always remember you are unique, just like everyone else.

 

Buy Your Epic Pass

I don’t endorse many products on FOD, but this one is too good to pass up!  If you’re a skier or a rider than you owe it to yourself to look into the Epic Pass.  For $99 it gives Active/Retired/Dependent service members unlimited, unrestricted access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge, Park City, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stowe, Wilmot, Afton Alps, and Mt. Brighton for the 2018-19 season, as well as Perisher in Australia for the 2019 ski season.  And they’re looking to add more resorts for next year as well.  There is also a good deal for Veterans and their Dependents at $499 for the same benefits.  You also get discounts on food on and off the mountain, lodging and ski rentals as well.  There are also free lift access during the summer at most resorts for hiking or biking adventures.  Also included are six ski with a friend/buddy tickets which give some pretty good deals for friends as well.

 

Congress Races to Pass $1.3T Defense-Friendly Omnibus Bill And Avoid Shutdown

Defense News is reporting the sweeping $1.3 trillion spending bill that congressional leaders unveiled Wednesday includes $654.6 billion for the Pentagon. But it’s unclear whether Congress can pass the proposal without shutting down the government.  Lawmakers touted the bill as providing the biggest year-over-year increase in defense funding in 15 years. Pentagon appropriations include $589.5 billion in the base budget and $65.2 billion in the overseas contingency operations (OCO) budget — an increase of $61.1 billion over the 2017 enacted level, when combined with other previously enacted funding.  The bill surpasses President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 request for the Pentagon by $15.5 billion.  Leadership and the heads of the appropriations committees struck a deal on a spending bill to fund the Pentagon and 11 other departments through the end of the fiscal year. The hard-won deal also involved funding to address the opioid crisis and strengthen’s the country’s gun background check system, but it does not include a fix for expiring protections for young immigrants.  Hardline House GOP conservatives, however, have signaled they will vote against the bill because negotiations have been too friendly to Democrats. Their non-support forces the GOP to rely on Democrats for the votes to pass it.  The agreement increases a cap on spending in the last two months of the fiscal year from 20 percent to 25 percent. It also changes the reprogramming threshold from $15 million to $20 million, and modifies the guidelines for realignments between readiness budget line items from requiring prior approval to written notification.  “These flexibility changes will allow for smarter execution of the $230 billion in base and OCO funding provided for the operation and maintenance accounts by avoiding the ‘use it or lose it’ dilemma and allowing more timely execution of readiness line items that have been affected by fact-of-life changes or emergent requirements,” a bill summary reads.  The defense bill includes $705.8 million for Israeli cooperative programs. A separate State and Foreign Operations bill includes $9 billion in base and OCO funding for international security assistance, with $3.1 billion for Israel, $1.3 billion for Egypt and $1.5 billion for Jordan.  For Navy shipbuilding programs, there is $23.8 billion to procure 14 Navy ships, including funding for one carrier replacement, two DDG-51 guided missile destroyers, two Virginia-class submarines, three littoral combat ships; one expeditionary sea base; one expeditionary fast transport; one amphibious ship replacement; one fleet oiler; one towing, salvage, and rescue ship, and one oceanographic survey ship.  For aviation, there is $10.2 billion for 90 F-35 aircraft; $1.8 billion for 24 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft; $1.6 billion for 30 new build and 50 remanufactured Apache helicopters; $1.1 billion for 56 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters; $225 million for 20 MQ-1 Gray Eagle unmanned aerial vehicles; $1.7 billion for 10 P-8A Poseidon aircraft; $1.3 billion for 14 V-22 aircraft; $2.9 billion for 18 KC-46 tanker aircraft; $2.4 billion for 25 C/HC/KC/MC-130J aircraft, and $103 million for A-10 wing replacements.  For space, there is $1.4 billion for three evolved expendable launch vehicles and $675 million for two wideband gap-filler satellites. Air Force space programs net $800 million, with $100 million above the budget request for space launch vehicle and engine development activities.  There’s also $9.5 billion for the Missile Defense Agency, bringing the FY18 total for MDA to more than $11.3 billion when combined with the previously passed supplemental, according to the summary.

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 20th through 23rd 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 12th through 15th 2017

Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger Win Rookie of the Year Awards

Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge and Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger won the Rookie of the Year Awards unanimously in their respective leagues, as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 30: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees follows through on a second inning infield single against the Cleveland Indians in the second game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on August 30, 2017 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Judge, 25, hit .284/.422/.627 with 52 home runs, 114 RBI, and 128 runs scored in 678 plate appearances. He led the American League in home runs, runs scored, and walks (127). Judge made the AL All-Star team during the summer and just took home a Silver Slugger Award. He’s a major contender for the AL MVP Award as well.  Judge is the first Yankee to win the Rookie of the Year Award since Derek Jeter in 1996.

 

Robert Mueller Can Now Close Down Russian Investigation

In May 2017,  Robert Mueller was appointed by the Justice Department as special counsel to oversee the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, one of several investigations looking into the matter.  Mueller can now close down that investigation because after chatting with former KGB agent and now President of Russia Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit President Trump is contradicting the overwhelming consensus among current and former U.S. officials that the Russian leader tried to manipulate the 2016 election.  In a 26-minute question-and-answer session with reporters aboard Air Force One, the president managed to dismiss probes into whether his campaign colluded with Russia as an “artificial Democratic hit job,” said he believed Putin was being sincere when he insisted that Russia did not attempt to interfere in the 2016 election, and warned that the continued focus on Russian election meddling risks lives.  I was worried there for a while that perhaps Russia didn’t respect us or value our way of life.  So now I guess we can close down Mueller’s Russian investigation and get on with the real work of the Administration, that of giving a tax break to corporations as well as the wealthiest tax payers.  And let’s create more ciaos in the health care system that will result in people paying more for health care no matter who they are.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 12th through 15th 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 23 through 26, 2017

Friends of FOD

A lot of FOD to pick up.  Comments welcomed of course.

 

Hurricane Maria Relief Efforts

We’re just beginning to grasp the scope of the devastation to Puerto Rico.  This American territory has been holding on by a thread for years and has been on the verge of bankruptcy several times.  Its infrastructure was already substandard and in need of major overhaul prior to Maria.  Military Times is reporting, two U.S. Navy ships, National Guard, Air National Guard, Reserve troops and Army helicopters are providing aid to Puerto Rico. But questions are mounting over whether the U.S. is doing enough for its territory and people, who are American citizens.  To date, the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge and dock landing ship Oak Hill have “conducted eight medical evacuations, 148 airlifts and delivered 44,177 [pounds] of relief supplies and cargo to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” U.S. Northern Command said in a statement.  U.S. forces have also restored a mobile communications tower at St. Thomas International Airport to enable the airport to receive additional aircraft to evacuate residents.  The amphibious assault ship Wasp has been conducting similar rescues in Dominica, but that ship will be departing the region to head to the Pacific, where it will eventually relieve the Bonhomme Richard, a Navy official said.  Approximately 2,600 U.S. military personnel and National Guard members are currently involved in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, the Pentagon said.  Currently, more than 700 Air National Guard airmen are deployed to Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to support relief efforts.  Most of Puerto Rico has no electricity or cell phone capabilities because of Hurricane Maria’s damage to the electrical grid and cell towers. There are long lines for food and water.  Likely we’ll need to do more and the more is likely to continue for years.

 

 

 

USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain Take Another Top Officer

The Commander of the  U.S. Pacific Fleet is retiring after learning there’s no possibility of him being promoted out of his current job, he said in a statement to NBC News on Monday. Admiral Scott H. Swift was in charge of the Pacific Fleet during the period this summer when two different ships, USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) and the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) sustained collisions at sea that left 17 sailors dead.  Swift said the Chief of Naval Operations  Admiral John M. Richardson told him that he would not be nominated for the United States Pacific Command post, which is senior to Pacific Fleet.  In a statement, he said he was retiring “with great appreciation and gratitude for the honor of having served so many Sailors and their families for what will be 40 years in January.”

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 23 through 26, 2017”