Best Song Ever!

YouTube won’t let me embed this video, but it brought a smile to my face.

Getting Past the Pandemic and the Next One

The estimates vary, but I’ll pick a number. The number doesn’t matter as much as the implications. Twenty percent of businesses have gone out of business due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the various governments’ responses to same. There has been much political and journalistic hay made from this topic, but I’m going to attempt to go in a different direction here. (Bear with me if I get sidetracked, this topic makes me furious and I might type something and mash the post button before deleting it.)

Covid is. It is part of the landscape now. Maybe we get past it, maybe we don’t. Maybe things ‘return to normal’ maybe they don’t. Also, Covid will be. It will happen again. It has been demonstrated that the populace can be cajoled, coerced, shamed, and even welded (in China, coming soon to other dictatorships) into their homes. The world has demonstrated its ability to shut down. Now that we know it can be done, it will be done again.

So we have two facts. We have an altered present, and the likelihood of an altered future. It does no good to whine and complain. Believe me, I’ve tried. What we must do instead of (or along with if you insist) the whining is figure out how to not be in that twenty percent. This is a first pass at figuring that out.

Some businesses were more affected than others by the shutdown. Obviously being an ‘essential’ business, such as a liquor store (whatever) was an advantage. So one strategy might be to position your business as essential in some way. What is essential has varied from state to state, and I haven’t kept up with what is essential in other countries. But here, if you were a gas station, a supermarket, a hospital, or a bank you were golden. In my home state of Alabama hardware stores and technology stores were also essential. (I wonder how Governor Ivy is enjoying her new MacBook Pro courtesy of Best Buy, and her new Home Depot privacy fence. Just kidding, I know of no such thing.) If on the other hand you were in California, no computers for you and no do it yourself homeowner projects, no matter how much free time you have. But on the plus side you could make a quick run to the pot shop and pick up some get you high gummies. Heck, you could even have them delivered. If you’re fortunate enough to live in Colorado you have all of the above, plus firearms stores. (Alabama, hear that?) The point is, know what the gods of your state deem essential.

If you can’t be essential, find a way to comply. Most restaurants were able, with a little ingenuity, able to set up take away services that complied with the Covid regulations. Virtually all of these things were nonsensical, but they fit the letter of the law and allowed the restaurant a chance to continue to exist. When I say nonsensical I mean that they are unlikely to really make a difference in the spread of the virus. For example, if you go through a fast food drive through they may put your food on a tray for you to grab instead of handing it to you. They put it on the tray. The virus can live on the bag or cup. But you didn’t take it from their hands, so you’re good. They made it. For all you know they spit in it. But it was on a tray, so it’s all good. Whatever. The point is to find a way to satisfy the compliance authority that you are obedient and fearful, and you can remain open. (Damn it, I really didn’t want this to be this kind of article, but this is what happens when I think about this. Ignore my attitude about this point and find a way to comply so you can remain open and save your business.)

It’s too late to build a loving customer base if you’re in the thick of it. But if you survive this, start thinking seriously about your customers. Hanging a shingle and being open for business isn’t good enough any more. Your customers need to be willing to cross the street for you. They need to be willing to cross the town for you. They need to be willing to violate curfew for you. Not literally, but you get the point. Having customers is no longer enough. You need a tribe. I know that sounds a bit nuts, especially if you sell, well, nuts or something, but a devoted, even rabid, customer base can carry you through things like this when casual customers will just stay home and eat Ramen. Your customers have to be people to you, and you have to be important to them. During this pandemic I’ve eaten at a few restaurants. Far fewer than I used to. And no new ones. As a matter of fact, I’d say ninety percent of my eating out has been at three restaurants, two of which I know the owner personally, the third is directly across from where I work.

When people are fearful, they don’t explore. I visit one hardware store, two groceries, one art supply store, no book stores, and Amazon. I do not love Amazon, but it’s familiar, and painless. That’s about it. The drivers of my spending are personal relationships and familiarity.

For the present, try to pivot. Explore delivery options. Explore alternative advertising. Look into partnerships. Try to alter the government’s regulations. (I’m not sure who talked the government into allowing restaurants to sell cocktails to go in Alabama, but kudos. We don’t even have a lottery and now we have drive through liquor, well done. But that didn’t happen on its own.)

In severe circumstances, rebel. Call attention to your plight. Here in Alabama we’ve had barbers and hairdressers say enough is enough and start their businesses back up as safely as they could. Individual stories ended differently, but the final result is that now, if you feel comfortable doing so, you can get a haircut in Alabama. One bartender in New York declared his bar an autonomous zone. He started giving away liquor and food for donation. At the time of this writing he’s losing his battle with ‘the man’ but these things can turn on a dime. I like his chances. I would have liked them more if he, and all his business neighbors had banned together and opened in unison. At the end of the day the only enforceable rules are those that we as a society agree to. This is the concept of the ‘consent of the governed’ in action.

***Quick side story here, because it’s relevant to the above paragraph. After September 11th, we put a lot of changes into the airline boarding process. I will not dignify this process by calling it a security process, because it is not. It’s caught exactly zero terrorists, and resulted in lots of fines for good citizens. It’s a security theater process. It’s there, like surgical masks and little circles on the floor to make us feel safe. Anyway, the TSA let this dude through who had a bomb hidden in his shoe. They didn’t catch him. They let him through. He got caught trying to light it on fire on the plane. Now we all take off our shoes. This other cat had a bomb in his underwear. Do we take off our underwear? No. Why? We. do. not. consent. That’s it. If we consented, we’d have naked flying and anal probes before each flight but we said no. So, if the rules are too bad, if they’re killing your business, build an army and peacefully resist.***

That’s all I can think of regarding what you can do now. But what can you do to prepare for next time? Well, let’s ponder. I guess the first thing was mentioned above. Build a tribe. Be fanatical in your customer relations. It will help to build those relations if your product or service is phenomenal as well, so work on that too I guess.

Next, realize that this is going to happen again. Have contingency plans. Maybe someone will come up with an insurance product. Don’t be surprised.

Ask yourself, would you rather have a hundred percent of a smaller business or zero percent of a larger one. What I’m pointing to here is that business owners often leverage money to grow their business. In good times debt is not so bad. In bad times it is a millstone around your neck. Imagine two businesses, each with a few employees, some inventory, and a building. One business owns the building and the inventory, but the other has a lease on the building and the inventory is floor planned from a supplier. Which one lasts longer when things go south? There is a place for debt, but weigh your debt load against possible downside events, even black swan type events like Covid. Financial stability will increase your business’s chances of survival.

Have a team. At a minimum (and I’ve been preaching this long before Covid hit) you need an insurance agent, a lawyer, and a banker. I prefer all of them to be local, and with smaller companies. Yes Mega Bank might give you a slightly better rate on a loan, but if you need help dealing with a government loan program who, BY NAME, is going to help you with that? If there is a disagreement about what is covered by your policy, who is more likely to come to bat for you, your Geico phone rep, or the State Farm agent you just had dinner with last month? Speaking of which, put these three people on your board of advisors and buy them dinner once or twice a year. Having them in the same room will be worth the tab.

Apply for everything. There is a lot of help out there. This time around there were grants to pay employees, loans, so many handouts. And if you’re a business person (I hate writing this but we’re tying to save your business so I’ll suck it up. You should too.) these are for you. There is no room for pride. The economy is depending on you. That is why we’re giving away trillions of dollars. Shut up and take the money. Grouse and take the money. Call it theft if you want to but take the money. The collective we has made a decision that your business is worth supporting for the greater good of the country. You can disagree. I do. But take it and stay in business. And don’t tell me you’re tired of filling out forms. I sympathize and could do a whole rant on the ‘how’ of how we do things. But it is what it is. When you signed up to be a business owner, the bargain you made was to work eighty hours a week to avoid a forty hour week. It’s time to live up to that bargain. You’re not in your business making sales, or this would be a moot point. Go to work.

Get creative now. Ask yourself, how could you go digital? How could you sell on Amazon? How could your business survive on ten percent of its current customers? You may not have an answer to every question, but ask them. Try to answer them. Do it now, with the craziest things you can think of, so that when crazy happens, you’re prepared. Right now I’d be asking myself, how is my business different if the country is in a civil war. Do I think that’s going to happen? Nope. Not very likely at all. But it’s worth considering. I’d be asking what happens if inflation hits really, really hard. Will it? Don’t know. Think it’s more likely than civil war, and definitely worth preparing for. What happens to my business if we get very high tax rates? Is it likely? Don’t know. Somewhere between the first two conjectures. But it’s worth game planning now, so I have an answer when it becomes very important to have an answer. You get the idea.

I’ve laid out a couple lists of things to consider to attempt to covid (or whatever) proof your business. I’ve laid out what to do if you’re in it, and what to do to make it easier next time. These are my thoughts, and mine alone. I’ve stayed mostly on topic, which is pretty good for me. In order to improve this list, let me know what you think. (Note the friendly comment box below.) If this ends up getting a wider audience I’ll try to make sense of the comments and put together a more orderly and reasoned essay. One thing, don’t argue about Covid. I do not care what you think. It’s been politicized to the point that virtually no one is rational and I won’t engage. I’ll just delete. Go forth. Create value. Profit. Enjoy life. Give back.

From the Gas Pump to the White House

Growing up poor gives one certain insights that might be unavailable to more well off people. Well off children don’t hang out at gas stations, at least in my experience. They certainly don’t work at gas stations. They don’t have friends who pump gas. And they probably don’t think about or notice gas prices. Although I’ve never worked at a gas station, I have spent many afternoons and evenings in the Mini Marts, the Seven Elevens and Clark stations. I’ve waited, sometimes with a car on fumes, for the gas price to drop a few cents, a habit I have kept to this day, much to the chagrin of my wife and other passengers in my car. The tension when my low fuel light is on and I’m driving conservatively, passing gas station after gas station, because I know the Love’s 20 miles up the road is going to have cheaper gas is palpable. Sometimes I’m not sure I’ll make it. My passengers KNOW I’m not going to make it. It’s fun.

Where is he going with all this I can hear you think. Well, it’s simple. I know how gas prices move. The futures market traders think they know, and maybe at their level they do, but if so, why are they still working? I know how the price goes up a penny, down a nickel, and so on. It’s collusion. Not actionable collusion, but collusion none the less. It’s collusion by market signal. There is no meeting in a darkened room, full of cigar smoke, to set the price. That would be illegal. It’s much easier to just set some rules, make some suggestions, and have everything sort itself out. Here’s how it works.

You’re Shell. You have positioned your product as a premium product, so you set your rules, at the station level, if anyone raises their price, you raise yours so that you’re a penny more expensive. If you’re cheaper than the competition, you’ll lose business. Counter intuitive, yes. But it works. Shell’s customers are brand loyal, or credit card dependent. (Shell made bank on gas cards when I was growing up. I don’t have a gas card any more, or an individual store credit card for that matter, but I assume they still exist.)

Now let’s say you’re Clark Oil. Your rules are if two stores go up, you match the raise, if one goes down you match that. You don’t want to be lower than everyone else for three reasons. First, if you stay low, you’ll be flooded with business. That’s OK in the short term, but the attendant doesn’t want to work that hard, and the owner doesn’t want to hire for something that is going to be temporary in nature. Second, you will force the competition down, which will keep them from working with you. Third, if you’re selling at a lower price you’re making less money. Obvious, I know, but I’m trying to be thorough. When I said the competition won’t work with you I meant it. You have the numbers of all the other local stations behind the counter. When you’re not busy you call them up and ask them what they’re selling gas for. And they tell you. Sometimes, they even tell you their plans. This sounds like collusion, but it happens at the local level, perpetrated by gas station attendants, and they’re not making a penny off the price of gas. They make (made back then) $3.75 an hour, $5 an hour if they were lucky. This information just makes their job easier.

We could discuss other companies, but suffice it to say they have a system in place that causes gasoline prices to move together. Perhaps there is a ‘prime mover’ that causes the original move, or maybe it’s different each time. But it doesn’t really matter. The job gets done. What on earth does that have to do with the White House? I know. It’s non-obvious. If it were obvious, some well to do Harvard graduate would have noticed. And perhaps they have. Enough ‘gas station loiterers’ have noticed. So, what do they see?

The proud association of sometimes less educated, sometimes referred to as deplorables, or bitter clingers, have seen that the political landscape being rigged just as surely as the gasoline prices. It’s easy to point to major events as collusion. The five most important counties in the country shutting down their voting machines at the same time, then coming back on line with all five counties flipped resoundingly from Trump To Biden. The voting machines that seem to have infrequent, occasional errors, always in Biden’s favor. Just the voting irregularities could go on for thousands of words, but let’s move on from voting altogether.

On social media, if you have a conservative opinion, or fact, or meme, or even legitimate hate speech, you get censored. Liberals do not. This happens on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Do they call each other up? Probably. But they’re not colluding. They just agree. And they stand to make less money if they alienate 33-50% of their audience. I don’t think it can be collusion for a business to conspire to lose customers. Maybe it can. That’s a question for another day. If someone dares to create a new social network they try, as best as they are able to shut it down, discredit it, or get it regulated out of existence. No opinion but theirs gets the light of day.

On the definitions of words are changed. Court packing was changed so that the phrase could be weaponized against Trump and then actual court packing (as it was originally defined) can be accomplished without protest once Biden-Harris take over. The phrase sexual preference had the same thing happen after Amy Coney Barrett used it in her confirmation hearing. Did they call up Facebook, or even the degenerate from Hawaii that tried to upbraid her for using the term? Nope. Didn’t need to. They saw the news, and changed the price. That’s all.

In schools and libraries across America we have Drag Queen Story Hour. The purpose of this is to normalize the ideas of cross dressing, homosexuality, and anything goes sex. Maybe these are great things. I don’t know. I don’t care. But I wouldn’t expose a five year old to sexual ideas of any kind. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but most of this center-right country agrees with me. But who organized the Drag Queens? George Soros? Unlikely. They just did it. They saw a piece they could do to move the needle in the direction they prefer.

I think those examples are enough to make the point. Just to spell it out, maybe there are huge ominous forces at work. But maybe people are just noticing the gas price changing, and adjusting on their own. That’s how markets work. One final thought, in case it’s not obvious. It need not be that the great majority of people are for these changes. It’s not that everyone is part of the price setting, or political mood setting. It’s just a few. Acting in concert, but independently, working towards a common goal. In my home town, specifically in the area I lived, worked, and tracked gas prices, there were about a hundred people who controlled it, and ten thousand who were harmed or benefited from it. Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead famously said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Ask yourself, has the world changed? If you think so, do you think it’s just possible that a small group could be driving that change?

Look at all the hospitals collapsing

I promised an update and mea culpa on an article I wrote recently. Here’s the link to that article.

It had to do with hospitals collapsing. Here’s the quote that made me write the article.

“We need somebody to say this is what’s happening, this is how bad it is,” he advised. “We’re going to see hospitals collapsing in the next two to three weeks. And this is what we’ve got to do to address that. And just remember one thing, for the next three weeks the cases are already in pipeline. The people who are infected this morning will be the cases of next week in the hospital, a few days after that, and will be in the intensive care rooms and dying after that. So even if we did everything we could right now, we would still not turn this thing around for literally three to four more weeks.”

Dr. Michael Osterholm, on MSNBC

Today is the day. Three weeks, give or take. The Atlantic says it’s happened, at least until you read the article. No, sadly for the fearmongers, the hospitals haven’t collapsed. Maybe the next disaster will break your way. I sure hope so. I’m getting so tired of being in a constant panic over things that don’t happen. But I have to ask you, how do you feel about constantly betting against the health, safety, well being, and prosperity of the United States of America? It would make me sick to my stomach, especially if I was wrong every time I did it. Doubly sick. Once for wishing evil on my fellow countrymen, and again for being so. damn. wrong. Over and over. But that’s just me.

The Biggest Saddest Business Opportunity of My Life

I was working on a business plan today for a client and it hit me. We are in one of those times when it takes very little originality to create a HUGE business. It’s a big, scary idea and it sets my heart beating faster and my fingers trembling when I think of the possibilities and the repercussions.

Here’s the TLDR. Every business out there that used to serve all of us is ripe for a competitor to come on the market and eat half of its lunch.

We are so politically divided that I believe any business could generate significant customer traffic and sales simply by putting a philosophical stake in the ground. The proprietor or company would have to be willing to put up with (and budget for) MASSIVE publicity, especially if they chose to be the ‘conservative’ version of the business.

And when I say any business, I mean any business. Even accidental exposure of political or religious viewpoints drives traffic and anti-traffic. Look at Chick-fil-A. They make a fine sandwich. Is it better than Popeye’s? I don’t know. They’re both great. Haven’t tried Wendy’s yet but…wait, this isn’t about chicken….I’ve been in Mobile too long. OK. Back on track. They make a fine sandwich. But do you think their sandwich is so good that people wait in line a half hour (or more sometimes) in a drive through to purchase one? The customer is getting more than a sandwich. They’re getting to support a Christian company that has been manhandled by the LGBTQ (note to self, revisit this article periodically and change letter salad to whatever abbreviation is currently accepted) Twitter mob. At least that is what they feel like they’re doing. It takes a little longer, but it’s for a good cause, they think, so they sit in their Hummers and destroy the environment over an overrated sandwich, their alters on the left think. Who’s right? Doesn’t matter. Chick-fil-A wins.

I’m not cherry picking. The AARP was the only game in town until 2007. Why was AMAC founded? Politics. AARP is a liberal organization, and they support liberal causes. (They also sell insurance, and against the best interests of their members, supported the Affordable Care Act because it would benefit the company at the expense of their members, but that’s a whole other story). I don’t want to support ‘The Squad’ so I belong to AMAC. Not me personally, I’m not old enough. Just the generic conservative. Cell Phone companies have been started because AT&T & Verizon donate to Planned Parenthood. If you’re conservative, check out Patriot Mobile. They’ll bribe different sets of politicians and/or donate to different charities. Even pillows are political. If you’re a Sean Hannity fan you sleep on Mike Lindel’s ‘My Pillow’ and probably Giza Dream Sheets as well. (Full disclosure, I have a ‘My Pillow’. It’s all right. No Dream Sheets, although I do have Boll And Branch sheets which absolutely live up to the hype and got their start on Rush Limbaugh, and a Simplisafe alarm on my house, which was also first sold on AM talk radio.) The point is political beliefs are being leveraged at an incredible rate for successful businesses. Black Rifle Coffee. Marriott Hotels. (Trump Hotels now I suppose as well.) Hobby Lobby instead of Michael’s. Even Vegas isn’t safe. If you’re really conservative you stay at Las Vegas Sands properties, the Venetian and Palazzo. Well, not me. You have to be rich AND conservative to stay there. I’ve never been willing to pay the rate. OK, I think I’ve made my point. Except for social media.

Social media is for all practical purposes a Blue Ocean (read Blue Ocean Strategy) for conservative platforms. There are a few startups, but they don’t really have traction like Facebook and Twitter. But one will. It could be yours if you jump in aggressively. And look how much the Zuck and Gandalf — I mean Dorsey — are worth. A conservative with guts, determination and style could own half of America’s clicks in short order. DuckDuckGo is trying to be nonpolitical to counteract Google’s partisanship, but why not a conservative search engine? There are several conservative news sites, that area is getting crowded, but only because conservatism has been practically banned from old media, and more or less completely banned from social media. Jump in. The water’s red, but still blue. (That works on a couple levels.)

Even accidentally revealing your political views can gain or lose you your entire business. Refusing to bake a cake for one group, not opening on Sunday, posting that you think people should immigrate to this country legally, whatever. It could all drive business your way, or away.

You do have to stay away from certain stances though. For instance, you could not have a business and not allow African Americans. I’m pretty sure you couldn’t have a business and not allow Caucasians, but I’m not certain. You can look it up. Some things are protected. Race, color, religion, national origin. Gender was added. There has been some effort to add gender identity and sexual orientation. Not sure if it’s been successful.

But this is about political beliefs, primarily, and how to profit. Most companies are racing to the left, so if you start an organization and race to the right you will almost automatically1 pick up 30% of the customers. The particular example that put me on this train of though is the National Association of Realtors. They’ve recently updated their…I don’t know, some sort of compliance document. If you’re a member of the NAR and you post something they deem offensive they’ll kick you out of their club and report you to the realtor police to get your license revoked. Joe McCarthy would be super proud. If you’re interested in the specifics look for Article 10-5 associated with the NAR. I’m not. I’m interested in the business opportunity. If I want to be a realtor (I don’t) and if I want to post bible verses on my social media (I don’t) they can bully me into shutting up, or take away my ability to earn a living. So why not start another anti-NAR? It worked for AMAC. It even worked on the NRA. Yes, the NRA was too liberal for many of its members (and had massive malfeasance, but again that’s another story, and one I’ll probably never tell). Along came the National Association for Gun Rights.

What other businesses can be politicized? My guess is all of them, if done properly. I’ve seen coffee shops, antique malls, restaurants, and many others. If you see a business you like, copy it and add political spin, and you can siphon off part of their customer base, whether or not you add value. It’s not pretty, but I bet it’s effective. There’s an old saying that a town which can not support one lawyer can easily support two. I’ve always thought that was sad, and a commentary on lawyers. It is sad, but I don’t think it says much about lawyers. I think it says more about us.

And that’s why this is the saddest business opportunity of my life. All we’re talking about when we talk about political belief is segmenting the market by one one component of its psychographic profile. (For those of you not mired in business stuff, your psychographic profile is just like your demographic profile, except instead of being made up of what you make, how old you are, and so on, it’s made up of what you think and how you feel.) And should it matter AT ALL who you think stole what election from who when you’re buying a chicken sandwich for lunch instead of eating the celery sticks with hummus that you conspicuously brought from home so your wife would see? No, it shouldn’t. But it does. And the market gets what the market wants. So, as long as these divisions exist, I would be remiss in my duty as an entrevangelist if I did not make you aware of this exciting opportunity, no matter how personally distasteful I find the situation that created its existence.

  1. No business is automatically successful. This is an exaggeration for effect. You will still have to work your tail off to make any business successful. However, I do believe that this component, as part of a competent overall business strategy, will help to make your business more likely to be successful, at least until we get over this partisan madness. But you can cross that bridge when you come to it.

Another Prediction

I’ve lived through a number of predictions. Global Cooling. Global Warming. Millions will die from climate change by 2020. Hole in the Ozone. Reagan will start nuclear war. The Rapture (several times). New York & Florida under water. Oil will run out (several times, one prediction was 2020). No glaciers left on Mt. Kilimanjaro by 2020. So. Many. More. I’m a little dubious of any prediction at this point.

Here’s one from yesterday. “We’re going to see hospitals collapsing in the next two to three weeks.” Obviously this has to do with corona virus. This will happen according to Dr. Michael Osterholm. I’m not sure he believes it because he said specifically, ‘we need someone to say this’ which gives him weasel room. But that’s what weasels do. They find a way to instill fear, then when tragedy inevitably doesn’t strike (but they’ve got the fear response they were trying to create) they say, “that’s not exactly what I said” or “I was being hypothetical” or whatever. Here’s the full quote so you can make your own decision about what he said or didn’t say.

“We need somebody to say this is what’s happening, this is how bad it is,” he advised. “We’re going to see hospitals collapsing in the next two to three weeks. And this is what we’ve got to do to address that. And just remember one thing, for the next three weeks the cases are already in pipeline. The people who are infected this morning will be the cases of next week in the hospital, a few days after that, and will be in the intensive care rooms and dying after that. So even if we did everything we could right now, we would still not turn this thing around for literally three to four more weeks.”

Dr. Michael Osterholm, on MSNBC

This was yesterday. What I’m going to do, is leave this here, and then, in three weeks from yesterday, on December 10th, I’m going to revisit this issue. I’ll be looking for Dr. Osterholm to say ‘oops, I blew it’. What do you think the odds of that are? If it is addressed at all, which it usually isn’t, there will be some extenuating circumstance that happened. Maybe hope for a Biden Presidency is a natural vaccine to covid, I don’t know.

If, on the other hand, we have hospitals overburdened with patients, I will say, ‘Oops, I blew it.’ Just like I did with global cooling, and warming, and the ice caps, and the ozone, and the extinction of polar bears, and nuclear war, and the thousand-thousand other doomsday predictions that came true that I had to apologize for not believing in and/or making fun of.

And the Winner is

Those Kooky Sociopaths

I’d like to announce the winner of the 2020 Presidential election. I will not be the first to call the election. Tons of media outlets have done so, virtually all for Biden. They’re probably right about who gets to sit in the chair, but whether or not they are, there is an actual winner in this election. And it’s crystal clear. There will need to be no recount. There will be no argument. Once I lay it out, everyone will agree that I’m correct. It’s not sleepy, creepy, Joe. It’s not ‘hair like piss colored cotton candy’ Trump. (And no, sadly it’s not Jo Jorgensen either….)

It’s the online gambling sites. Until the election is ‘officially called’ they’re keeping the money from both sides. Over a billion dollars was wagered. Every day this drags on, they’re earning about $14,000 in interest. OK, it’s not a lot in the big scheme of things, but compared to the poor gamblers, who will get nothing additional for all the time their money is tied up it’s pretty massive. And if the online casinos aren’t concerned with it, I can give them my public key so they can deposit it in my bitcoin locker. I’d be delighted to help.

The casinos still might lose overall, the money favored Trump by a lot, and the odds weren’t able to keep up. If Trump pulls this out the interest gains will be more than offset by how short the major services are on the Trump side. But if Biden is installed, as is now all but certain, it will be a big payday.

Of course, one other thing could happen here. Trump could flip a couple states in the courts. I haven’t read the ToS on any gambling site, but it is conceivable that they reserve the right to declare extraordinary circumstances like this a push, which would mean that neither side wins the bet. If they do that (if they are able to do that) they simply return all the punters’ money, avoid the Trump payout losses, and keep all the interest payments. Ain’t gambling great? If you’re the house, and you don’t care about the country.

The Democrat Enemies List

There have been several calls for holding people ‘accountable’ for supporting Trump. Various Democrats have suggested keeping lists, reeducating Trump supporters or worse. There’s a group called the Trump Accountability Project that was created for that purpose. The Congresswoman who doesn’t like to be referred to as AOC tweeted this.

“Is anyone archiving these Trump sycophants for when they try to downplay or deny their complicity in the future? I foresee decent probability of many deleted Tweets, writings, photos in the future”

A writer at Slate called for the imprisonment of one of Trump’s advisors because he was advising Trump. Others have said that everyone associated with the Trump administration be ‘blacklisted’ so they can’t get jobs and so on. McCarthy anyone? Anyone questioning the election (and that should be everyone with a pulse) should never be allowed to serve in office, on a corporate board, find a faculty position or be accepted into ‘polite society’ according to Jennifer Rubin.

Jen, can I call you Jen? If your idea of polite society involves never questioning things that stink to high heaven, I’m really not interested. I have better liquor at my house than you have at yours. I probably make better appetizers. And I’m more entertained by any number of things than I am likely to be by your mindless, slavish drivel.

Also a few weeks ago, Robert Reich called for a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ to ‘…erase Trump lies, comfort those that have been harmed by his hatefulness, and name every official, politician, executive, and media mogul whose greed and cowardice enabled this catastrophe.’ (emphasis mine) That doesn’t sound ominous. Not at all.

There’s the background. Now, you should know I’m not a huge fan of Trump. I didn’t vote for him in 2016, and I didn’t vote for him in 2020, although I would have if I hadn’t been certain that my state would be solid Republican. Not that I like him. I don’t. I don’t agree with all of his policies. I’m especially critical of his spending trillions of dollars of my grand children’s money that was supposedly necessitated by shutting down the economy for what was supposed to be 15 days to slow the spread, and turned into the greatest destruction of real wealth I’ve ever, ever seen. But the Democrats were complicit, and in fact wanted to spend more and close more so they wouldn’t have gotten my vote at the point of a gun.

I say that to tell you this. If you’re making a list, put me on it. The fact that you think a difference of political opinion calls for black lists and reeducation camps and whatever the hell else makes you my enemy. So we should be clear. I will fight you at the ballot box, although it’s becoming increasingly clear that the entire process is a sham. I’ll fight you in the classroom where I’ll offer alternatives to your fantastic ideas that are fantastic except for the tiny fact that they fail every time they are tried. I’ll fight you by spending my money to support people who do not think losing or winning an election are reasons for revenge, or to burn down cities. I’ll fight you in the judicial system until it’s too corrupt to matter. And, if you come to me with violence in mind, I’ll fight you with gun, knife, baseball bat, IED, or anything else that I can imagine. I’m smart, I’m resourceful, I’m educated, I know how to use a hammer, a drill press, a firearm, and a chemistry set. I do not want this, or any kind of fight, but if you’re determined, as the picture at the top of this post says, ‘I’m you huckleberry.’

Remember Remember

Been Caught Stealin’

Jane’s Addiction

I walked right through the door. I walked. Right. Through. The door. Hey all right! If I get by it’s a-mine! — Donald Trump and/or Joe Biden probably

I have no idea who won the Presidential election, but I know who lost. America. There will be lawyers on both sides, lots of bad noises, endless accusations of cheating. And I believe them. I believe all of them. Do I think that Trump would send in lawyers to disenfranchise voters? Yes I do. Do I believe that Biden would do the same? Yes I do. What do I base this on? Primarily the idea that they are politicians, but also the tons and tons of real-world stuff that has been going on, preparing us for this.

The Democrats were not competent to run the Iowa Caucuses. Democrat primaries have had counting troubles and balloting scams reported. The general election has been rife with suspect voting stories. Use a search engine other than Google and find them if you’re interested. The list is depressingly long, and just as depressingly uninspired. Paying for votes. Registering the dead. Forging ballots. Stealing ballots. Disposing of ballots. Et cetera, ad infinitum.

At least one Republican was found guilty of requesting multiple mail in ballots. The President encouraged people who voted by mail to ‘go to the polls and try to vote’. The reasoning was supposedly that if your ballot had been counted you’d be turned away. Ok, maybe, but I’m inclined to think otherwise, because I don’t trust these people. At all.

On balance there has been a lot more news on one side than the other, but maybe that’s just because one side is better at it. And I don’t care. Any is too much.

A greater bit of stupidity visited on us, the American people, is changing at the eleventh hour our voting procedures. It is my opinion that this was done to sow confusion and allow for fraud. I don’t know what is in the hearts of men, I am not The Shadow, but the idea that a ballot that you mail out (often without request) and gets filled out in the privacy of who knows where and sent back in, and even the signatures don’t have to match is as secure as a polling place watched by both major political parties with identification checks and counting cross checks is prima facie absurd. Anyone arguing otherwise has an agenda.

At this time, lawyers are descending on Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia at least, maybe other states. And they are not there to make sure that all votes are counted. Make no mistake, no lawyer from either side is there to make sure that this is fair. They are there to win. This is a high stakes game where the victor gets access to tremendous amounts of power and influence. They will mouth the right words. I’ve already seen it. The Democrat line is ‘every vote counts’, and the Republican one is ‘every legitimate vote counts.’ This difference allows an astute observer a tiny peek into the battle plan. The Democrats have probably flooded key states with illegitimate votes, or votes that shouldn’t count. The Republicans are going to attempt to identify those votes and keep them out. In addition, they’re going to target other groups of votes and argue that they are illegitimate on some technicality. For instance, late arriving ballots. The Republicans will (rightly) say if the ballot arrived after the day it was legally required to be here it shouldn’t be counted. But they won’t look too closely at Republican districts, and they’ll probably push for an exception for military ballots because they tend to skew Republican.

In the end, we’ll have the President who’s machine is best able to manipulate the levers of power, and that I suppose is some sort of a litmus test for how effective a President they might be. It’s not the one I want, but it is, I suppose, a necessary political skill. And as a bonus we’ll be treated to another four years of ‘they stole the election’ from whatever side is unsuccessful in stealing the election. And even if the ‘right’ side, that is the side that would have won without interference, gets the Presidency, it will still have been stolen, not from the other candidate, but from the American people who were supposed to be able to have faith in our representative republic, and now can’t due to all of this crap.

After over 200 years of elections, why are some states able to get it right, and some not? Why do those states most often have Democrat governors, and why are they ‘swing’ states? Counting is not hard. We have computers for that. Determining who is allowed to vote is not hard. We have rules. It really seems like we’re making this harder than it should be specifically so the results are not in the hands of the people.