Saturday, January 4, 2014

Online Banking

I bank at PNC.  I like it a lot.  It is a huge multi-state banking operation based in Pittsburgh that swallowed National City Bank, my bank, after the financial crisis in 2008-9.  I liked National City because they tried very hard to keep the non-local bank local.  I thought PNC would not be able to replicate it.  I was wrong.  PNC had made a herculean effort to localize the banks.  The staff is helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable.  They know their customers by name.  It is one of the few places I actually enjoy doing business…and I do business at three of their local branches. 

PNC also offers an online service which I also use.  Its online bill pay is a bargain at no charge.  If it has a relationship with a business, there are direct deposit payments into the payee’s account.  If they don’t, PNC actually mails a check at no charge .  The cost of printing checks and postage make this a steal.  And for a fee, you can tie in your Quick Books program to your bank account for the convenience of single entry.  Can you spell “sync”?

I have come to rely on this service in a major way.  It’s fast and easy.  I can pay all of my bills in a flash.  If I miss a deadline I don’t have to worry about the check is in the mail.  A few quick keystrokes and my problems go away.

Well…not quite.  The flip side to the PNC warm and fuzzy is glitches.  You see…you have to be able to access the website.  Several times over the past few years that wasn’t happening.  The latest was over Christmas.  Not only could I not access my account or bill pay, I could not even reach their general website, and I am still having problems today.  Through trial and error I was finally able to reach my accounts through a multi-step back door process involving clicking and re-clicking on bad links in proper order.   In addition, my tablet app…nice but cumbersome or anything other than information…worked outside of the online system.

Couple that not only to hacking that took place to PNC and other major banks in the United States earlier in 2013, last week PNC announced that some of its teller deposits were improperly credited to accounts, and today it announced that mistaken multiple withdrawals were made to numerous accounts.  The good news is that it wasn’t terrorism.  The bad news is it the bank’s own software.  And all of those nice clerks I mentioned earlier, were clueless there was a problem.  They were able to log onto the PNC site on their internal computers just fine.  Really?

I got in the habit last year after the hacking issue with the major banks of keeping two sets of books, one online and one offline.  That means I am doing double entries, which is inconvenient.  At least I know how much money (or lack thereof) I have in the bank.  Stopping your snail mail statements in favor of online receipt is problematic.  The businesses you patron will not allow you to do both.  I opt to still receive paper statements simply because I can’t trust the banks website.  How do I know I owe money if I can’t reache the site to which my bills are being sent?

These problems are the problems of all of the major banks, not just PNC which a great bank.  But, one can only conclude that if we had a serious hacker attack from let’s say China, Iran, North Korea or any other miscreant we would be in deep doo-doo.  Technology is wonderful and convenient and I love using it for all sorts of things.   Given the headstrong race into this not so new but still brave new world, are there any contingency plans if for some reason things just stop working?

Just sayin’!!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Movies

I am a Christmas movie junkie.   So pardon me if I don’t join the chorus of those complaining about the early start of the Christmas season, at least as it applies to movies.  Both Lifetime (“It’s a Wonderful Lifetime, not to be confused with Fa La La La Lifetime) and the Hallmark Channel (Countdown to Christmas) started mid November, and even sneaked a few in when you weren’t really looking in September!!

These are wonderful examples of cinematic skill…alright, most of them are crap.  They are mass produced in the middle of summer.  Each network is introducing at least 12 new movies this season to add to a library of hundreds upon hundreds of cheesy made for television Christmas movies.  But when the world is going to hell and back in a hand basket, you can turn them on and veg out…better with a whiskey.

The plots are all the same.  Save the town.  Save the Library.  Save the small shop.  Save the farm.  Save the ski lodge.  Save the Christmas resort.  Save the soup kitchen. Stop those big, bad greedy corporations. Who needs money?  They are always saving something or pontificating on corporate evil doers.

The protagonists all have glamorous or cutesy jobs.  They are writers or run small bookstores or bicycle shops or bakeries or diners or Christmas stores.  Then there are the  female fashion designers or advertising execs and the lawyers…all home after their studly, rich beaus have dumped them or overworked or were inconsiderate or died.  And that’s just the women!!!!

Ahhh, the women!!! For all intents and purposes they are, shall we say, bitchy.  These are empowered women.  And the men slink around exuding compassion and patience until these femi-nazis finally realize they cannot live without the boy next door who grows and sells Christmas trees for a living and was dumped by the dumb babe 10 years earlier.  Now the dumb broad wants the guy back  I am yelling at the television for him to get out now!!!!

Did I mention there is a high rate of widows and widowers in these movies?  Yes, Jim was killed in February leaving me to run the business and raise three bratty kids on my own.  Yes, Betty died of a strange illness in March leaving me to run the house and raise three bratty kids on my own.  Forlorn looks abound as we gaze into the falling snow.

Which is falling on maple trees with all of their foliage!  Yes, it may be Christmas in the story, but the movie was filmed in July.  You can put all the scarves you want around the necks of the cast, but it can’t hide the fake snow on the rose bush in the background.  In one movie, the snow on the ground was in the form of a blanket. The actress’s foot got stuck in it and she tripped moving across the set.  I almost wet my pants!!!!  They didn’t even try to edit it out!!  Hey…it’s August and this thing needs to get on the air by October and under budget.

But I digress.  Back to the bratty kids.  Geez Louise, I want to stick a sock in some of these kids’ mouths.  Oh, the wisdom of youth.  One little sweetheart was telling her father to find his happiness by following his heart.  Really?  She’s ten.  What the hell does she know?  The parents have to come to terms with their spawns infinite wisdom.  Give me a break!!!  A good swat across some of their rear ends would do more to move the story line along than anything else.  Shut up and go to bed.

That being said, I watch these suckers night after night.  But every now and then a good movie comes along.  You can tell because it is filmed in the winter.  But some of them are more than moving.  Those are gems that make Christmas movies worthwhile.  My favorite? A Christmas Visitor with Meredith Baxter Birney and William Duvane.  It’s about their son killed while in the service, and a mysterious visitor that shows up at their house several years later.  Get out the Kleenex for this one. 

So, turn on the television.  Put your feet up.  Pour yourself a VO on the rocks.  Watch a holiday movie. Then go out and save the town.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

All Hail King Obama

All Hail King Obama.  Since his re-election engineered by a compliant press and ginned up employment figures, Barack Obama has slowly but steadily lost ground in the court of public opinion.  His approval ratings are in the toilet.  This has been to a series of scandals including seizing records of conservative reporters, using the IRS as a tool to punish political enemies, the fiasco in Benghazi where Obama repeatedly lied and continues to lie as to what happened…and it wasn’t due to a video, and now the complete Obamacare meltdown.  Any one of these things would have led to the impeachment of any other President.  But with race as his shield, Obama has managed to stay afloat, at least for now.

The great Obamacare lie about the “Affordable” Care Act is scaring the hell out of the Democratic party, especially those Senators up for re-election. They should be scared.  Obama lied.  Pelosi lied.  Harry Reid lied.  And those Senators up for re-election lied to their constituents. This is the pinnacle of looking for the good of the party rather than the good of the public.  They should be punished.  Unfortunately, there is no easy fix.  Plenty of Americans will be paying the price of Barack Obama’s ideological wet dream.

But these ideological nut cases are not easily deferred.  They know the jig is up.  They know their days are numbered.  So they decided to go on a shopping spree and open up the wallet that was partially guarded by the Senate filibuster.  The filibuster has been around for 200 years. It is even immortalized in a Jimmy Stewart movie: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  You don’t hear that movie discussed now.  The Senate filibuster protected the rights of the minority.  It made the Senate the most prestigious elected body in the world.  But it stood in the way of Obama’s ideological and patently unpopular agenda.  So this past week the Democratic majority in the Senate eliminated one of the main safeguards against the tyranny of the majority.  It in effect made the Senate a parliament. 

This is Obama’s method of operation.  As all leftists do, they trash the safeguards against their ideological, elitist agenda to push through what they know is good for you.  There is a reason worker paradises are dictatorships.  It’s because what they want is against human nature. The unclean population must be controlled. And so they begin to reign by fiat.  When criticized they say elections have consequences.  What they don't say is how the lied and cheated to win the election.  This is how they do it in Central America. 

Thus goes Barack Obama.  He is bypassing that useless legislature.  He is trashing perceived obstacles.  He is suspended this law and implementing that law and suspending this senate rule and imposing another environmental rule.   He is doing nothing less than destroying the rule of law.  All Hail King Obama. He knows what’s best for you.

Even the press is growing weary as he moved to restrict access to White House events to the press just as he has ended White House access to the public under the guise of the sequester.  He WANTS it that way because he is way too smart and important to deal with the likes of us.  We are an irritant to his intelligence and inspiration.  He shouldn’t have to answer to anyone.  He just goes along as if there is nothing wrong.

Well folks…there is something seriously wrong.  Unless people get off of their duff and begin to pay attention, we will be living in a banana republic sooner than you think.  It’s time to pay attention.  The life of our Republic and the foundation of the Rule of Law is being supplanted by King Obama.  We should be very concerned.    

Friday, August 30, 2013

Rapists and Thugs: The Collapse of Rule of Law

Two cultural phenomenan are threatening America today.  Both came to the forefront in what turned out to be relatively minor stories reported in the news. The first is related to the bus beatings in Florida a month or two ago.  Three black teens beat up a white boy on a bus as the driver followed school procedures and called the police rather than intervening himself.  These teens just about killed this boy, who was injured and has since transferred to another school.  The teens were sentenced to....get this....probation and anger management courses.  You've got to be kidding me.  In addition, there will be random drug testing and for sixty days they will have to wear an ankle monitor.   Oh ya...they are not allowed to contact the victim. 

I don't know what happened here.  If the race components were reversed these kids would be charged as adults and be saddled with a Federal hate crime rap.  This kind of punishment is inappropriate and insulting to the victim and the rest of us.  These kids were dealing drugs in a school.  They should expelled and sentenced minimally to a juvenile facility until they are twenty-one, both for the sake of the victim and their own good.  Maybe they might get an education.  I suspect that there may have been a problem with the testimony of the victim and a reluctance to go forward out of fear.  Who knows?  The coverage, however, was minimal even on Fox News...and that's too bad.  No wonder the Zimmerman's of the world feel they have to be out on the streets.

The next outrage took place in Billings, Montana, where a 49 year old teacher was charged with raping his 14 year old student who later committed suicide.   He pled guilty and was sentenced to...are you ready...30 days in jail with credit for time served.  The judge, in his comments attending the sentencing, referenced the young girl's sexual demeanor...she was old for her age. 
This wasn't a "rape" rape.  It may very well have been consensual with the statutory rape statutes coming into effect.  The victim, however, was troubled.  The teacher used his counseling role to nudge the young lady into bed with him.  The reports did not say whether Montana has a mandatory sentencing statute applied to teachers who have sex with their students.  Prosecutors are upset and are frantically looking for some way to appeal the decision, but are coming up empty.  The judge has since "apologized" in one of the more bizarre videos I have seen as of late. 

The collapse of rule of law, political correctness, and the growing tolerance for abhorrent behavior in our country is growing.  It contributes to the disgust of Americans as the government ramps up its surveillance of all Americans while letting the bad guys get away with just about anything.   

And you wonder why our country is going down the toilet!!!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Egypt Burning

I wrote several weeks ago that Egypt is the front line in the war against Islamists.  This past week as the tension and violence in Cairo has escalated I have watched in complete disbelief the liberal whiners on the major networks worried about the rights of the Muslim Brotherhood. Let’s be clear. There are NO good guys in this situation.  There are only bad guys.  Our choice is between the lesser of two evils.  In Egypt, the bigger evil is the Muslim Brotherhood.

Across the entire Mideast, there are only two countries relatively stable: Israel and Jordan.  Israel is the only functioning democracy.  Other than Israel, America has NO reliable friends in the Mideast; not Saudi Arabia; not Turkey; not Iraq.  It is a dysfunctional part of the world that holds the seeds of destruction to the western democracies much more than the Soviet Union ever did.

These folks are religious fanatics who subjugate women, kill homosexuals, and practice Sharia law which cuts off people’s hands, pokes out their eyes, and beheads them in the public square.  Their goal is an Islamist world.  They burn down churches.  Persecute Jews and Christians.  Imprison people for life for carrying a Bible.  These folks are evil….and they sense America is weak and on the run.

The only source of stability in northern Africa right now is the Egyptian Army, which receives 1/10th of its funding from the United States.   The balance comes from Saudi Arabia.  The Egyptian Army is fighting for the future of a secularized, moderate Egypt who recognizes Israel and acts accordingly.   While they are brutal and dictatorial, they are not willing to sacrifice Egypt to the theocrats who want an Islamic state.  The Egyptian Army more than anyone else on this planet understands the threat of human degradation by the Islamists.  The whining press may be willing to walk away from it.  Obama may be willing to walk away from it.  But the Egyptian army is not.  They have to live there and are fighting for their lives.

It is easy for us to sit here in the United States and pontificate on democracy.  We did that once before, in Vietnam, and got our butts kicked by a piddley ass third world country. Imagine life in a re-established caliphate.  Imagine Iran with nuclear bombs.  Imagine the Islamists controlling the Suez Canal.  Imagine the coming war when an Islamist Egypt facilitates the destruction of Israel by other Mideast states.  Imagine the dead Americans as we go to war for a third time in the Mideast.  It is not a pretty picture.

Foreign policy is tough.  Mideast foreign policy is next to impossible.  But the Obama administration is hanging out to dry the good people of Egypt who want rights we take for granted here not smothered by a bunch of Islamist extremist whack jobs.  Can anyone be so inept? 

America, and liberal Americans, need to wake up to the fact that you can’t play nice with folks who want to kill you.  There is no bridge to be built with zealots. No matter what you do they will still want to kill you. These are violent people who are burning churches and killing Christians and Jews.  We better hope that the Egyptian Army prevails.  If Egypt falls to the radical Muslim Brotherhood, there will be hell to pay in ways we can't imagine.  It will make both Iraq wars and the Afghan war look like Sunday playtime. 

Better the Egyptian army fights these people than us. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

How To Bankrupt a Newspaper

( UPDATE: After this article was written, the Washington Post announced it has been sold to Jeff Bezos, founder of  Purchase price: $ 250 million....CASH.  Mr. Bezos has previously stated that in twenty years there would be no more print newspapers.  Although a publicly traded company with substantial shareholders like Berkshire Hathaway, the Graham family has controlled the paper since purchased in bankruptcy in 1933.)

Everyone knows the definition of stupidity: trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  I think that sums up the news media.  Beitbart  reported today that the New York Times is selling the Boston Globe to the owner of the Boston Red Sox for $70 million.  Sounds good but for the fact the Times paid $1.1 billion for it in 1993…that makes for a 93% loss (not taking into account inflation which would make it worse)…and the NTY has to keep the pension liabilities estimated over $100 million.  What is utterly amazing is the Times in 2011 turned down an offer to sell the Globe to the owner of the Orange County Register for $300 million plus assumption of the pension liabilities.

It warms the cockles of my heart to watch this debacle involving two of the most liberal and elitist newspapers in the country.  What a bunch of idiots.  Even better, when the Times announced it was going to sell the Globe, Rupert Murdoch (yes..that’s the Fox News Rupert Murdoch) was giving serious consideration to buying it.  Oh the humanity…the liberal press harangued how they would never let that happen.  The staff of the Globe said they would quit in en masse; which makes one query as to the Orange County Register offer in 2011!  The OC Register is one of the most conservative papers in the country.    Mmmmmm.

Ostensibly the reason the Times turned down the Register offer was because it did not contain sufficient up-front cash.  There may be some truth to that.  On the other hand, political correctness may have reached a pinnacle.   The New York Times, you see, is a publicly traded company.  If I were the shareholders, I would be viewing the entire series of transactions with a skeptical eye, perhaps CBS!!

Even AlGore put business first.  He sold his green television network to the oil sheiks.  Maybe we’ll have a few more carbon emissions…but who cares.  AlGore pocketed a cool $100 mil.   And that really warms the cockles of my heart!

Here is how it works.  Liberal media does badly.  Conservative media does well.  Liberal television news networks, including CNN, languish in the Fox News dust.  Liberal magazines go under.  Liberal radio flops.   And liberal newspapers don’t sell…not even to liberals who tend to get their news from an assortment of liberal blogs.  Why needs to pay for the Times?

Barack Obama is not the source of our country’s ills.  It is the elite media who have been his lap dogs, not holding him to account.  In the worst economy in 60 years…there are no homeless.  Nobody is going hungry.  There is no crime in Chicago or Detroit.  There is peace and love in the world.  America has more respect among the family of nations than ever.  Everybody is making lots of money.  The poor are getting richer and rich are getting poorer.  Education is abounding.  What national debt? And what problems we have left are the fault of Rush Limbaugh. 

It is comical, if it weren’t so sad.   I am optimistic about the future of America because I faith in our people.  I am also optimistic about the press.  If the New York Times is any indication as to how the liberal media does business, they will be bankrupt by the end of the Obama administration, and then maybe we can get back to normal; that is if we are not bankrupt ourselves!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Justice and Trayvon Martin

The really sad thing about the Trayvon Martin tragedy is had the justice system been free to follow normal procedures George Zimmerman would probably have been convicted of something eventually.  This is what happens when politics gets in the way of justice…a trial based on political correctness rather than facts.  This trial was the confluence of all that is bad with American media, American politics, and the American justice system.  When the verdict was announced, the judge actually looked relieved.  She is a trained lawyer, and knew that had there been a conviction, she would have had to rule on motions to overturn the verdict based on lack of evidence as a matter of law…and she would most likely have had to grant them.

Geraldo Rivera, someone I don’t normally quote, got it right yesterday morning.  He said this was a technical legal case.  If you picked it apart piece by piece, there was nothing there.  Each act George Zimmerman did was in and of itself not illegal.  It was not illegal to have a neighborhood watch.  It was not illegal for him to carry a gun.  It was not illegal for him to follow Trayvon Martin.  It was not illegal for him to defend himself if he felt his life was in danger.  The events that could have made Zimmerman legally culpable were not provable.  Speculation or wishful thinking is insufficient to send someone to jail for the rest of his life.  Worse, the circumstantial evidence supported Zimmerman’s account of events.

Here is what we know.  We know Zimmerman, as part of a neighborhood watch, followed Martin in his car and called 911.  We know he was told by the 911 operator not to follow him.  We know he got out of his car and followed Martin at a distance.  We know Martin called a girl friend and told her he was being followed by a “cracker”.  We know that Martin had marijuana in his system. We know there was an altercation.  The only eyewitness said Martin was on top of Zimmerman pounding his head on the edge of the concrete. There was a scream from one of the two before the gunshot. We know that Zimmerman had a broken nose and cuts on the back of his head.  We know that Zimmerman’s clothes were wet on the back, and Martin’s clothes were wet on his knees.  We know the trajectory of the bullet supported Zimmerman’s narrative.  Everything else presented in the trial was fluff.

In order to convict Zimmerman, the prosecution needed to show that Zimmerman either verbally provoked or physically attacked Martin sometime after exiting the car.  There is absolutely no evidence of either.  In fact, given Martin’s phone conversation midst the incident, there may be some indication that it was Martin who provoked Zimmerman. Notwithstanding, given Florida law which says the prosecution must disprove claims of self defense beyond all reasonable doubt…and all the physical evidence supported self defense…this was a no brainer for the jury both for manslaughter and second degree murder.

Like the Duke Lacrosse rape case, the media went looking for racism and found it, facts be damned.  When the press discovered that Zimmerman was actually Hispanic, they even created a new racial classification to continue to feeding the racism beast…he was a "white" Hispanic.  NBC doctored 9-1-1 tapes to portray Zimmerman as a racist by which all accounts he is not.  Local law enforcement was literally fired as the State of Florida, at the urging of the press, the race baiters, the United States Justice Department and Barack Obama himself, took the case over.  

Angela Corey, the whack-a-doodle state attorney, charged Zimmerman with second degree murder, the highest charge she could bring without going to a grand jury which would have no billed any charges against this guy in a second.  By the end of the trial, her prosecutors were reduced to begging for a third degree murder jury instruction based on “child abuse”.  Ms. Corey’s “have a little tea with Goldie” press conference immediately after the verdict was totally bizarre and inappropriate.  Who are these people?

CNN and NBC have gone ballistic.  David Gregory of NBC made a vague reference to legal execution in America.  Commentators are now calling for the Justice Department to file civil rights violation charges against Zimmerman.  This is the ugly side of political prosecutions.  It is a different side of the same political prosecution coin embedded in the IRS.  Americans should be concerned.  Add to this the allegations that the Florida State Attorney withheld evidence in discovery; this is going to get nasty.

The race baiters, be they political or rooted in "for profit" non-profits, need to feed the race beast to keep the power and money coming in.  While Trayvon’s death by any calculation is a tragedy, the media has completely ignored the massacre on the streets of Chicago with black on black violence reaching epic proportions.  It is being repeated in various cities throughout the country.  The media simply won’t report it.  It doesn’t fit the racist narrative.  Meanwhile, politicians won’t touch the problem with a ten foot pole.

This case is bothersome because George Zimmerman was told by a 9-1-1 operator NOT to follow whom he suspected as being a thief in a neighborhood experiencing numerous break-ins.  He didn’t follow the operator’s suggestion.  But that was not illegal…and the rest is history.

I can’t imagine the pain Trayvon’s parents feel.  His death deserves a serious and thorough investigation to find out why it happened.  But the investigation has to be honest and not tinged by political correctness. Political correctness and make believe parameters about how things are in our society only magnify the problems, not solve them.

Our legal system cannot protect everybody from everything.  Things fall through the cracks for various reasons and this is one of those times.  If laws need to be changed, then change them.  If attitudes need to be changed, change those too.   But for this case, as sad and unsettling as it may be, justice was served.  That doesn’t say a whole lot about us, does it?