Make Lemonade.

Sony Pictures Entertainment has received more publicity for its movie, “The Interview” than it could possibly have purchased using traditional advertising.  This may be the public relations opportunity of the century.

So here is what they need to do:

Issue a press release saying approximately the following:  “In light of the threatened 911 style attack on U.S. Theaters that show “The Interview”, Sony has decided not to release the movie to theater audiences.  The risk of an attack on a large audience is an unacceptable one to Sony.  However, we will not be blackmailed by bullies of any sort.  Bullying at any level, whether international, corporate or in the schools is unacceptable.  Therefore we plan to immediately distribute the movie for home viewing.  We have made arrangements with (or NetFlix, etc.) to have the download of “The Interview” available beginning  Monday, December 22, 2014, with DVDs available by December 24, 2014.  It will be available for rent in High Definition for $4.00 and for purchase for $15.00.  We at Sony feel strongly that bullying is a serious issue and we plan to deal with it in a serious manner.  For every purchase, $1.00 of the purchase price will be donated to The AntiBullying Initiative.  We will also lend our full support and cooperation to the FBI and every other agency investigating the source of the cyber attack recently conducted by bullies against Sony Pictures Entertainment.

I am certain that Sony is very concerned about further leaks of private information much like what has already been publicized.  They are being blackmailed (bullied) to not show the movie or further damaging information will come out.  The only way to deal with a blackmailer is to face the music now.  The information will come out, so why not stand up to it and deal with it?  If Sony does that, it will be back in (damage) control of the situation.  Time will pass and Sony  will get over it.  A number of big stars will have their feathers ruffled.  Some execs will look like fools.  Both are short-lived issues.  Were I a shareholder in Sony, I would demand that the company face this issue now.

My bet?  If Sony does this, they will be seen as strong.  Most fans will forget that some execs were stupid and who cares, anyway?  They will think less of a few big stars.   Sony will not lose audience or brand awareness in the long run.  In fact, Sony will get so much good, free press out of this that the movie, “The Intrerview” will be one of their highest grossing films ever.

Also, this could be the start of the end for ‘traditional’ movie theaters.  Who needs them? Today, in the comfort of your home you can have a full “big screen” experience without getting gum on your shoes or paying $10 for a bag of popcorn.

A Rasmussen Poll conducted December 5 and 6, polled 1000 likely voters who were asked five questions, the first of which was:

Do you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable impression of the new health care law? 

The response was 17% had an opinion of the law that was Very Favorable, 27%, Somewhat Favorable, 16% Somewhat Unfavorable, and 36% Very Unfavorable.  That means that only 44% saw the law in a good light while 52% saw it negatively.  Most other polls have seen similar results.

Why would a majority view the Affordable Care Act unfavorably?  It was sold as an economic savior.  We were told that the ACA would help reduce the National Debt.  And, it would lower your cost of health care costs as well.  We were promised that we could keep our current health care plans, and doctors, if we wanted to do so.  The government has failed to deliver on every one of these promises.  You could either say we were lied to, or, the architects of the bill were “too stupid” to understand well enough to foretell the actual consequences.

There was a great deal of negative press about Health Insurance Companies in the lead up to selling ObamaCare.  It continues today (witness last Sunday night’s hit piece on health insurers denying mental health services) and many say it is as a diversion so people will blame private industry (instead of a failed government system that dictates most of the private insurers actions).  With all the hard-sell of a government run health care option, I have often wondered why the government is not taking more flack about the lack of performance of the ACA or ObamaCare as it is often called.

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal and The Best of The Web said it best:

“Had ObamaCare actually delivered on its promises—providing good coverage to those who lacked insurance, and permitting those who liked their plans and doctors to keep them—it would be wildly popular. By contrast, a private corporation that marketed a defective product via fraudulent promises would soon go out of business, and its decision-makers would face civil and perhaps even criminal liability.”

To me, there is a clear double standard.  What we were sold was something most of us would favor.  What we have gotten is a bad case of bait-and-switch that in almost any state would be prosecuted by the Attorney General (or Department of Consumer Protection, etc.).  Should the architects and builders of ObamaCare face civil charges?  I think so, if for no reason other than to signal to other politicians and bureaucrats that this sort of activity is unacceptable and will be punished…..just like it would be in the private sector.  What do you think?


It is a better question than it seems.  Most Americans know precious little about Iceland or Thailand, or, for that matter, any country not called the USA.

Who is the Prime Minister of Canada? How big is the Mexican economy compared to the U.S. economy?

Most Americans wouldn’t come close to answering these questions.  We are not very interested in anything outside our country.  In fact we know little about America apart from the first 48 states.  Our knowledge of Alaska and Hawaii is mostly from travel advertisements.

Canada is our closest neighbor, speaks the same language (mostly) and we share our longest border with the Canadians.  Canada is our biggest trade partner.  You would think knowing that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives lead Canada’s government would be important, or at least of interest, to Americans.

Mexico is our third largest trade partner (after Canada and China) and our other close neighbor.  Mexico’s economy is about the 15th largest in the world even though it is less than a tenth the size of ours.  You would think that would also be of interest to most Americans.  It is not.

If our two nearest and most important neighbors are unimportant to us, why should we blink an eye at anything going on in Iceland or Thailand?  Because true government change has occurred in those countries in the past few years and our news media has chosen to report little if any of it to us.


Between 2003 and 2008, Iceland’s three largest banks basically bankrupt the  country.  “Rescued” by an IMF loan, Iceland’s citizens were expected to repay the loan at an average cost, per person, of about 100 Euros a month for at least 15 years.  Not to put too fine a point on it, Icelanders were pissed off.  Between 2008 and 2011 they revolted.  They refused to be pushed around and by 2011 had themselves a new constitution and a new government.  You can find a very good overview of it here – well worth a read.

Our Media gave travel warnings but no news.

Our Media gave travel warnings but no news.

In May of this year, the Royal Thai Army took over the government of Thailand. As well, it took control of all media and the courts.  Since 1932, Thailand had been ruled as a constitutional monarchy, the result of a revolution and coup ending about 500 years of absolute monarchy.  Put simply, the key reason for the takeover of the Thai government in 1932 was that the people were tired of paying for the excesses of the monarch and his family.  Now, just over 80 years later, the Army has effectively taken back what the revolution of 1932 won for the people of Thailand.

And, our media reported almost none of this….not the amazing Icelandic revolution nor the Thai Coup.

Do you wonder why?  This might lead to an explanation.  What we are not meant to know won’t hurt us, or will it?

If you have read the two links in this post and are not concerned, then I’m concerned.

As a graduate of the Air Force Academy, the following is especially poignant to me.  I have great respect for the graduates from West Point, the Air Force Academy and Annapolis.  This graduate of West Point gives an excellent perspective regarding our veterans.

Thank a Veteran on Veteran’s Day, November 11. Each and every one deserves it.

Thank You

Thank You

I remember the day I found out I got into West Point.  My Mom actually

showed up in the hallway of my high school and waited for me to get out

of class.

She was bawling her eyes out and apologizing that she had opened up my

admission letter.  She wasn’t crying because it had been her dream for

me to go there.  She was crying because she knew how hard I’d worked to

get in, how much I wanted to attend, and how much I wanted to be an

infantry officer.

I was going to get that opportunity.  That same day two of my teachers

took me aside and essentially told me the following: “David, you’re a smart guy.

You don’t have to join the military.  You should go to college, instead.”

I could easily write a theme defending West Point and the military as I

did that day, explaining that United States Military Academy is an

elite institution, that separate from that, it is actually statistically much

harder to enlist in the military than it is to get admitted to college, that

serving the nation is a challenge that all able-bodied men should at least

consider for a host of reasons, but I won’t.

What I will say is that when a 16 year-old kid is being told that

attending West Point is going to be bad for his future then there is a

dangerous disconnect in America, and entirely too many Americans have

no idea what kind of burdens our military is bearing.

In World War II, 11.2% of the nation’s population served for four (4)


During the Vietnam era, 4.3% of the nation’s population served in

twelve (12) years.

Since 2001, only 0.45% of our population has served in the Global War

on Terror.

These are unbelievable statistics.  Over time, fewer and fewer people

have shouldered more and more of the burden and it is only getting


Our troops were sent to war in Iraq by a Congress consisting of 10%

veterans with only one person having a child in the military.  Taxes

did not increase to pay for the war.  War bonds were not sold.  Gas was

not regulated.  In fact, the average citizen was asked to sacrifice

nothing, and has sacrificed nothing unless they have chosen to out  of

the goodness of their hearts.

The only people who have sacrificed are the veterans and their

families.  The volunteers.  The people who swore an oath to defend this

nation.  You stand there, deployment after deployment and fight on.

You’ve lost relationships, spent years of your lives in extreme

conditions, years apart from kids you’ll never get back, and beaten

your body in a way that even professional athletes don’t understand.

Then you come home to a nation that doesn’t understand.  They don’t

understand suffering.  They don’t understand sacrifice.  They don’t

understand why we fight for them.  They don’t understand that bad

people exist.  They look at you like you’re a machine – like something

is wrong with you.  You are the misguided one – not them.

When you get out, you sit in the college classrooms with political

science teachers that discount your opinions on Iraq and Afghanistan

because YOU WERE THERE and can’t understand the macro issues they

gathered from books, because of your bias.

You watch TV shows where every vet has PTSD and the violent strain at

that.  Your Congress is debating your benefits, your retirement, and

your pay, while they ask you to do more.  But, the amazing thing about

you is that you all know this.  You know your country will never pay

back what you’ve given up.  You know that the populace at large will

never truly understand or appreciate what you have done for them.

Hell, you know that in some circles, you will be thought as less than

normal for having worn the uniform.  But you do it anyway.

You do what the greatest men and women of this country have done since 1775

YOU SERVED.  Just that decision alone makes you part of an elite group.

“Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many

to so few.” -Winston Churchill

Thank you to the 11.2% and 4.3% who have served and thanks to the

0.45% who continue to serve our Nation.


– This was first attributed to General David Petraeus, West Point Class of ’74.  According to the comment send by my Academy Roommate, the actual author was Nick Palmisciano, co owner of Ranger Up, a very interesting web page.



I’ve given it a lot of thought.  But, the more I think about it, the more trouble I have understanding.  How is it possible that 47% of Americans approve of the job President Obama is doing?  That’s what the latest Rasmussen Poll indicates.  And, even more puzzling, Rasmussen polls show that 65% think the country is on the wrong track.

I do understand that most people fear change to some extent.  For that reason alone, many people voted for Mr. Obama at the last election.

I also understand that many people vote for the status quo because they have a vested interest.  In the last election, certainly many voted for Mr. Obama and the Democrats for that reason alone.  They were afraid that Republicans would cut their government “Benefits,” etc.  They didn’t want to lose power or influence that they held with incumbent officials.

I’m sure the number who voted for Mr. Obama and his team for those reasons was large, but not near enough to win the election.  So why did so many vote for Mr. Obama and the Democrats?  Or, why did they vote overwhelmingly for incumbents when most believed we are moving in the wrong direction?

I have friends who are otherwise quite smart and are otherwise quite functional, capable people, yet, they continue to defend Mr. Obama, regardless his latest faux pas or strategic error.  In fact, many defend him beyond any reasonable justification.  I want to ask each of these “Obama Failure Deniers” the following:

Do you truly believe that Lois Lerner’s emails disappeared and could not be found because of a computer glitch?

Do you truly believe that Mr. Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the U.S. Military did all they could do to prevent the loss of life in Benghazi?

Do you truly believe that Mr. Obama believed that those who did not want to change health plans or doctors would be able to keep what they had after the start of the Affordable Care Act?

Did you really believe it when Mr. Obama’s spokespeople all said the Benghazi raid was caused by an internet video?  Did you still believe Mr. Obama when three days later, he said “I said Benghazi was a terrorist attack from the beginning”?  How do you justify those two beliefs?

Can anyone out there tell my why they still believe Mr. Obama is doing a good job?

“Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are, and what they could be.”  –  William Hazlit.

I’ll just come out and say it:  Political Correctness and self-victimization or victimhood have killed humor in America, maybe the world.  We have become too self centered, too power-hungry and too serious.

When I was newly out of the Air Force and was working as a sales engineer at a steel fabrication company, we saw sales people almost every day.  Some sold steel, other nuts and bolts.  There were welding equipment suppliers and gas suppliers.  Even our small 25 person company saw a salesman or two every day.  What did they have in common?  Most brought donuts or pizza or cookies and most had a joke to tell.




Today, the chances of getting a joke from a salesperson are zero.  Everyone is afraid of whom they might offend.  We are too sensitive, too easily offended – looking for ways to play the ‘victim card’.

I blame those who seek power through the use of the victim ploy.  Many call it the race card, but it is just as commonly the religion card or the lifestyle card.  We are all being played by those who want more:  More power, more money, more titles, just more of everything.  And to get it they use the victim ploy.  “You are hateful because you tell a Jewish joke or a Polish joke or a fat-boy joke.”  Really?  Does that mean I hate Jews or Poles or Fat people because I tell a joke about them?

Shecky Green and Henny Youngman were Jewish funny-men.  The majority of their jokes were Jewish jokes.  did that make them “Jew-haters” or did they do that because they had the capacity to make fun of themselves – a valuable tool to overcome many of life’s hurdles.


“Why do Jewish men die before their wives?  They want to.”

“There is a big controversy on the Jewish view of when life begins.  In Jewish tradition, the fetus is not considered viable until it graduates from law school.”

Is this hate?  Of course not, nor is most humor that makes fun of any group.  It is making light of the serious things in life so they are more bearable.

So the next time someone calls you a ‘hater’ for telling a joke, tell them to lighten up.  Don’t let them play you like we have been played by politicians over the past few decades.  They just want power and this is their favorite tool.

William Hazlit again – “The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.”

My college roommate responded to the Dance Video with the best comment of the year:

“Thanks for the respite from current reality. I felt a strong emotional connection throughout to our beautiful human race and the good things we can do. The video shows us that dance and music are universal human needs that bring us joy and pleasure as individuals and as part of a group.

But how ironic that one of the video locations was Erbil, Iraq, where today hateful and violent Islamofacists are raping and killing the people, including perhaps those in this video, because they want to think and live differently and will not submit to Islam.

I hope our truly wonderful nation built by people from all corners of the eath “yearning to be free” will lead the LIBERAL (in the original sense of the word) nations of the world in opposing and expunging this hideous Islamofacist cancer that seeks to obliterate the natural human rights of all people. We must find the strength to protect our way of life using all the economic, political and military tools we have–without mercy or moderation. And we must stop telling these vile vermin, wherever they are in the world, that they don’t have to worry about being sent to Allah by US “boots on the ground.”

Thank you Mark!

There is enough sadness, enough fighting, enough bad news.  How about a brief break from all that with something truly beautiful?


– Beautifully created and crafted by Matt Harding and Melissa Nixon

The following was sent to me by a friend.  I find it hard to fault.  It will offend a lot of my more liberal friends but I think the reason it will hurt them is they understand the truth behind most of those lines and are embarrassed by it.  What do you think?


“If we concentrated on the really important stuff in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles”
By Junius P. Long                  

Food For Thought
If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for being in the country illegally, you live in a country run by idiots.
If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion, you live in a country run by idiots.
If you have to show identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor or check out a library book, but not to vote on who runs the government, you live in a country run by idiots.
If the government wants to ban stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines with more than ten rounds, but gives 20 F-16 fighter jets to the crazy leaders in Egypt, you live in a country run by idiots.
If, in the largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not a 24-ounce soda because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat, you live in a country run by idiots.
If an 80-year-old woman can be stripped searched by the TSA but a woman in a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched, you live in a country run by idiots. 
If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more, you live in a country run by idiots. 
If a seven year old boy can be thrown out of grade school for saying his teacher is “cute,” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable, you live in a country run by idiots.
If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government intrusion, while not working is rewarded with EBT cards, WIC checks, Medicaid, subsidized housing and free cell phones, you live in a country run by idiots.
If the government’s plan for getting people back to work is to incentivize NOT working, with 99 weeks of unemployment checks and no requirement to prove they applied but can’t find work, you live in a country run by idiots.
If being stripped of the ability to defend yourself makes you more “safe” according to the government, you live in a country run by idiots.
If you are offended by this article, you probably voted for the idiots who are running our country into the ground.

As you will soon see, the answer is not simple.  The reasons are many and varied.  There is one reason, however, that strikes a real chord with me: the way in which our Federal Government buys equipment and supplies.

The $800 hammer  (and the $800 toilet seat) used to be the poster child of the waste that occurs in Federal Government purchasing.  Today we long for the days when our government could purchase hammers for such a reasonable amount.  I will explain with a personal story.

thanks to

thanks to

My company manufactures concrete mixers and batch plants.  The ones we make are small, mobile, and produce quality concrete at very reasonable costs.  We recently had the opportunity to make a proposal to the U.S. Army to build about 250 small (2 cubic yard capacity) concrete mixers.  We were pretty excited.  At somewhere between $35,000 to $50,000 each (pending the bells and whistles that the Army will want in the final accepted version of the unit), this contact could be worth between $8,000,000 and $12,500,000 over a five year period.  That would be huge for our small company.

In the real world, it would be our job to either convince the Army that we have a concrete batching and mixing system that fills the Army’s needs, or that we can build exactly what they now purchase but to a level of quality equal to or better than their current supplier and at a price and delivery that are better than the supplier of record.  That is the reason that the Army goes out to bid: to take advantage of the free market to find the best product for the best price.  Or is it?

In my view, the current request for proposal is designed to allow the Army to purchase from their current supplier (the easiest thing for them to do) while giving the appearance of offering the opportunity to others.  Let me explain.

Congress has written laws and the GSA (Government Services Administration) among others, have written administrative rules to ensure (the public) that everything the government buys is purchased at the lowest price for that item.  Sellers to the Government are required to show that they are selling at a price lower than they would to any commercial customer (for the identical unit  with the same terms and conditions).  In other words, the Government will get the best deal on everything they buy.  That’s the theory and the appearance of the purchasing system.

The reality could not be more different.  Rather than getting the best deal, they typically get the worst deal.  Why?  First, vendors must comply with  hundreds of pages of written requirements to be considered for the bid.  That sounds like an exaggeration.  The fact is that for this simple purchase of a single machine in a quantity of about 250 units, the “provisioning requirements” or rules and specifications that must be followed add up to 515 pages.  The description of the unit runs 41 pages.  The actual solicitation to vendors to offer product runs 112 pages.  The  Solicitation has some 22 attachments, like, for example, the “General Publications Requirements For Page Based Technical Manuals.”  It runs only 5 pages, but, requires that your manual must conform to very strict requirements for both style and content.  That style and content is further described in at least 72 other different referenced Federal Government Regulations and International Organization Standards, Specifications, and Regulations, most of which are tens, if not hundreds, of pages long.

Fortunately, Congress passed the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 to help reduce the amount of paperwork required by the Federal Government of Private Citizens who wish to work with the Federal Government.  One requirement is that the Agency asking for information from the public (like the Army asking for a complete competitive proposal for concrete mixers) must estimate how much time will be involved in the preparation of the required paperwork.  In this case, the Army estimates that there will be 220 hours of paperwork required to bid on this solicitation.  I estimated that for a first time proposer, like we would be, the number is closer to 1,000 hours.

So, I was discouraged but still saw the benefit of going ahead and bidding on the 250 concrete mixers.  I just had to find a professional proposal writer to do the paperwork.  We were competent to design, engineer, build, and test the equipment.  We just needed help with the paperwork.  Thankfully, online with the Army solicitation is a list of “interested parties” who have asked the Army to keep them informed about anything new with the solicitation – date changes, new or changed requirements, etc.  On the list of interested parties were 5 parties who listed their interest as professional proposal writers with government solicitation experience.  As a side note, 4 of the 5 were minority women owned businesses, but that is a different topic for another time.  I contacted one after checking her references.  She was in Atlanta and claimed to have written over a Billion Dollars worth of proposals.  Her bid to us was 2% of the total contract value with $40,000 up front.  Assuming the total value of the proposal was $10,000,000, that would be a $200,000 fee to write the  proposal for us.  If we assume that the Army’s statement (that it would require 220 hours to complete the required paperwork) that means the consultant charges over $900 per hour for her services.  By the way, we decided not to bid on this opportunity.  The paperwork, etc. has effectively weeded out the competition.

Who is to blame?  It is a long list.  Start with Congress.  Often with the best of intentions, Congress will pass a law which turns over administration to a bureaucratic agency.  The Agency wants to cover its butt and writes rules and regulations to implement the new law but which leave no chance for the Agency to ever fail to meet the requirements of the law.  It doesn’t hurt the Agency when it can show the GSA or Congress that it requires more personnel to write all these detailed rules.  More people means more power in Washington, D. C.  Is it no wonder that by the time we get the opportunity to bid on 250 concrete mixers, one requirement is that we write at least 5 different manuals for the equipment: safety manual, safety training manual, parts manual, field maintenance manual, maintenance training manual?  Is it  a shock to you:  That there is a “Publications Style Guide” developed by the Army which controls the exact requirements for these manuals?  That every manual requires a 12 digit alpha-numeric Technical Manual Designation?  Did I mention that this style manual is 252 pages long?

I’m sure all this waste does many things:  It probably makes the concrete mixer easier for the troops to repair and maintain without too much experience; It likely makes very safe and secure the jobs of the bureaucrats who write and update the manuals, the rules, the regulations, and who do the purchasing and accepting of government goods and services;  It makes the heads of the Agencies and Departments who do all the bureaucratic work more powerful as they have more people working for them.  It gives the Congressmen and Congresswomen the ability to tell their constituents that they have written a new law the rids the government of some evil, like paperwork, or failed purchases of concrete mixers.

Even the largest, most bureaucratic, and least efficient companies can’t waste anywhere near the time and money that our government does.  No wonder we have a huge debt.  No wonder our government can pay $800 for a toilet seat that you and I can purchase for $40.

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