Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Doctor, Doctor, Tell Me It Isn't So

The media was in full meltdown mode Wednesday in learning that President Trump is in excellent health.

Even worse for them, in a test of his cognitive ability, Trump scored a perfect 30 out of 30.

The White House press corps spent nearly an hour grilling the President's physician Ronny Jackson (who by the way was also Obama's physician for all last two physical exams as President) on why this could be true.

White House Physician Ronny Jackson answers media questions about Trump's health

It is a liberal's worst nightmare.

Trump doesn't eat kale, he doesn't jog, he doesn't do yoga, he plays golf, does not sleep very much, watches a lot of tv, and likes fast food.

How could he be in excellent health?

They simply do not believe it is possible.

Of course, there are many other things that they simply refuse to believe.

They cannot believe that Donald Trump was elected President.

They cannot believe that there are 63 million Americans who voted for him.

They cannot believe that Donald Trump does not think like they think.

They cannot believe that the President of the United States does not care what they think.

Therefore, they believe that Trump has dementia and the people who voted for him are deplorable.

Beyond all that it is just not fair. How can Trump be in better health than they are?

What is most interesting in all of this is that the media paid almost no attention to the health of Barack Obama.

That is despite the fact that Obama smoked and drank as President and has admitted that he used hard drugs when he was a young man.

Trump has never smoked, drank or used any drugs in his entire life.

The media also spent time at the press conference questioning the White House physician if Trump was really 6'3" and whether the scale he was weighed on was accurate.  The reason---they desperately want to report that Trump is "obese" based on the Body Mass Index scale that compares height to weight. (Trump is just below the cut-off based on his reported height and weight in the Doctor's report of the physical exam.)

Can you imagine any of this occurring if Hillary Clinton had been elected President?

I remind you that Hillary Clinton is the same person that went into multiple coughing fits during the campaign, nearly collapsed at the end of a campaign event causing her aides to have to stuff into her van while she also exhibited a strange head bobbing from time to time on the campaign trail.

If you would like to view Hillary Clinton's collapsing episode, you can view it here.

( I wrote about the questions surrounding Hillary's health in September, 2016)

How did the media report on these events and how vigorously did they follow-up on Clinton's health?

I believe we all know the answer to that.

I also believe we also know that no one would be questioning Hillary's BMI or whether her scale was accurate if she was in The White House.

We have reached a very troubling place in this country when the media seems to be rooting for the President to be unhealthy.

They have spent countless hours arguing that President Trump is mentally unbalanced and unfit for office.

How can it not be true if they have reported it to be true?

It is incomprehensible that a independent medical professional would not agree with them that Trump is not well.

We knew before this that the mainstream media is very unbalanced in its reporting.

Look no further than this chart that compares positive and negative statements on the evening news about President Trump during 2017.

Unfortunately, what we saw this week appears to show the media is not only unbalanced in their coverage but they have become mentally unbalanced due to their unhealthy dislike of the President.

To me it is very, very sad.

Can someone, (anyone?), tell me it isn't so?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Taxing the Rich (Colleges)

One of the little noticed provisions in the tax bill that passed right before Christmas was a new tax on university endowment funds.

The new law levies a 1.4 percent annual excise tax on investment income at private colleges with an enrollment of at least 500 students and with assets valued at over $500,000 per full-time student.  It is expected to raise approximately $1.8 billion in revenue over 10 years.

This is a list that compiled of the approximately 30 colleges and universities that are expected to be affected by the tax law change. The order of this list is based on the amount of endowments funds per student at each school in descending order.

Princeton University
Princeton Theological Seminary
Yale University
Harvard University
Stanford University
Pomona College
The Juilliard School
Amherst College
Swarthmore College
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Grinnell College
Williams College
California Institute of Technology
Rice University
Wellesley College
Cooper Union
Medical College of Wisconsin
Dartmouth College
Washington and Lee University
Bowdoin College
University of Notre Dame
University of Richmond
Smith College
Baylor College of Medicine
Icahn School at Mt. Sinai
Emory University
Washington University in St. Louis
Bryn Mawr College
Claremont McKenna College
Trinity University (Texas)
University of Chicago

Predictably, the administrations of these schools lobbied hard against this provision claiming that it would weaken financial aid to students, research initiatives and faculty.

The Harvard endowment fund stood at $37.1 Billion at June 30, 2017. It is obviously higher today due to stock market gains since that time. I guess Trump hasn't been all bad for these academics.

Harvard made an 8.1% return on its investments in its endowment in the 12 months ending June 30, 2017. That is $3 billion.  Before this new law, Harvard owed no taxes on this income. The new law will levy a 1.4% tax on net investment income. That would amount to about $42 million on $3 billion of income. That does not sound like a bad deal for Harvard, does it?

That seems especially true since most of the administrators, faculty and students at Harvard are strongly in favor of redistributive tax policies by the federal government. After all, aren't we supposed to tax the rich so that we can spread that money around to others that really need it? Who better to do that than the federal government? At least, that is what we are usually told by those at Harvard.

Harvard's endowment is equal to almost $1.8 million for each of its over 20,000 students. Let's put that in context. Based on last year's 8.1% return, that means that $145,800 of income was generated for each student. Undergraduate tuition for the 2017-18 school year is $44,990 (why didn't they just round it up to $45,000?). That means that the endowment is large enough that it could have paid each student's tuition in full and still had over $100,000 of income left for other uses.

Or course, Harvard has nothing on Princeton. Princeton's endowment fund per student is a staggering $2.7 million per student (50% more than Harvard). Princeton earned 12.5% on its endowment for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017 meaning it brought in $337,500 in investment income per student. The undergraduate tuition at Princeton is $47,140 this year.  Princeton could pay the entire undergrad tuition of each student out of the income and have nearly $300,000 left over.

I wrote about the high cost of higher education and the enormous size and tax-free status of some of these university endowment funds last April.

I pointed out at that time that if you took all of the Ivy League school endowment funds in 2016 there was enough money in them  to pay for the entire tuition of every undergraduate student at the Ivy's for the next 51 years.

Two additional factoids from that post.

The eight Ivy League universities actually derived more in revenues from the federal government through government contracts and grants ($25.27 billion) than in supporting their educational mission ($22 billion in student tuition) for the fiscal years 2010-2015.
That government support is so large that the eight Ivy League colleges actually receive more money annually from the federal government than do 16 states!

Let's recap all of this to put the entire issue in context.

Billions and billions of dollars are sitting in tax-free university endowment funds.

The annual income from these funds is currently much in excess of the tuition being charged to students and yet tuition is still unaffordable to most students and their families.

The growth in those endowment funds has been aided over the years by billions of dollars in charitable deductions that reduced federal tax revenues.

Billions of dollars in federal government contracts and research grants are provided to these same universities annually.

In fact, the eight Ivy Leagues get more money from the federal government than do 16 states.

And yet these universities are saying that their educational mission is going be compromised by having to pay a 1.4% tax on investment income that will raise a couple hundred million per year?

Yeah, right.

Of course, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren want you to believe that the tax bill was nothing but a hand-out to the rich.

I think these rich colleges would beg to differ.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Bitcoin-Boom, Bubble, Bust?

The investment story of 2017 was the meteoric rise of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

If you had invested $1,000 in Bitcoin at the beginning of the year you would have had nearly $14,000 at the end of the year---a rise of almost 1,300%.

Bitcoin Price Chart-2017

That return pales in comparison to what you would have had if you had invested in Bitcoin when it started in 2009 when the value was essentially zero. The first Bitcoin exchange occurred in March, 2010 with a per coin value of $0.003. In May of that year the first real-world transaction took place with 10,000 Bitcoin being exchanged for two pizzas. The value of that Bitcoin that was exchanged for $25 in pizza in 2010 is now worth $133 million.

$133 million in pizza

The highest price Bitcoin traded at in 2010 (the first year it was publicly traded) was 39 cents. If you had purchased Bitcoin then, that would have worked out to a return of about 3,600,000% at the close of 2017!

Bitcoin Price History-2010-Present

However, consider the fact that although Bitcoin finished the year at a price of $13,860 it had actually risen as high as $19,343 two weeks earlier.! I am not even going to attempt to calculate the return at that point in time. However, had you invested then you would have lost 28% of your money in two weeks.

There is no doubt Bitcoin has boomed. However, where does it go from here?

Is this merely a bubble? Is it going to burst and is it going to bust a lot of its investors along with it?

On the question of whether Bitcoin is a bubble look at this chart prepared by Convoy Invesments in October (when Bitcoin was priced at a mere $7,800) comparing the price action of Bitcoin since 2014 to other famous investment bubbles, including Tulipmania in Netherlands in the 1600's.

Bear in mind that this graph was prepared when Bitcoin was valued at about half of what it is today! Bitcoin puts all other bubbles to shame if you look at it from that perspective.

If you are not familiar with the Tulipmania bubble you ought to read my post about it that I published three years ago. Not much is different today than it was 400 years ago when it comes to delusions that overtake the multitudes and the madness that runs through crowds.

The one common aspect of all bubbles is that they ultimately burst and take prices down to near the place that they started from.

Is Bitcoin a bubble?

You never really know until you look back in hindsight.  Everything is very clear at that point.

However, there are clues.

It used to be said that you knew an asset class was overvalued when taxi drivers in New York City were talking about it and wanting to get in on the action. Perhaps that needs to be revised to Uber drivers today but individual investors usually come in late to any asset run up. Their entry into the market is a telltale sign that there are few buyers left.

A couple of clues on Twitter that I have seen recently about Bitcoin suggest we are seeing a bubble.

This is a tweet from one of the Fed Governors, Neel Kashkiri, who said that one of the customs agent at LAX asked him about cryptocurrencies as he was returning to the United States recently. It seems the agent had a friend who just took out a $35,000 home equity loan to buy to buy some cryptos.

Hmm indeed.

Or how about this factoid that the average Bitcoin investor checks the price between 20 and 40 times per day.

Investors don't check the price of their holdings 20 to 40 times per day. That is what a speculator does.

I could be wrong but the Bitcoin boom seems to me to be a bubble that is going to burst at some point and bust a lot of investors.

Who will get hurt the most? My guess it will be those that saw their neighbor get rich, took out a home equity loan and were checking the price 40 times per day.

Another interesting factoid about Bitcoin.

According to a recent article in Bloomberg, about 40% of all Bitcoins are held by no more than 1,000 individuals, most who live in and around San Francisco. The top 100 control 17.3%. These early adopters have a cost basis in Bitcoin approaching zero. Small moves by this group could have major ramifications on the Bitcoin market.

The other interesting factoid about the Bitcoin market is the amount of energy that is used to complete a transaction. A lot of energy is used intentionally in a Bitcoin transaction in order to make fraudulent transactions costly thereby deterring those who would seek to misuse the currency.

How much energy is used? This article from The World Economic Forum explains.

Bitcoin transactions use so much energy that the electricity used for a single trade could power a home for almost a whole month, according to a paper from Dutch bank ING.

That is a lot of power. If that is the case how is Bitcoin ever going to supplant sovereign currency or gold as a store of value? Where is the energy going to come from to power all those electric cars of the future as well as transactions involving Bitcoin?

Warren Buffett is also less than optimistic about the long term prospects of Bitcoin.

Here is what he recently said on the subject to CNBC.

"In terms of cryptocurrencies, generally, I can say with almost certainty that they will come to a bad ending,"

What else could go wrong besides those 1,000 Bitcoin whales who could totally manipulate the market?

These are the major downside risks of owning Bitcoin according to

Major Downside Risks

It bears repeating that Bitcoin is an experimental project and as such, a highly risky asset. There are many negative influencers of price, chief among them being the legislative risk of a major government banning or strictly regulating Bitcoin businesses. The risk of the Bitcoin network forking along different development paths is also something which could undermine the price. Finally, the emergence of a credible competitor, perhaps with the backing of major (central) banks, could see Bitcoin lose market share in future.

What is my advice?

Buyer beware when buying Bitcoin.

Some advice for buyers from Warren Buffett on Bitcoin or anything else.

"Buy when everyone else is selling".

"Don't buy when everyone else is buying".

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Genius and the Dunderhead

The latest Democrat and mainstream media talking point about Donald Trump is that he is "unfit for office" and should be removed under the 25th Amendment.

The argument that he is "unfit" seems to be based principally on the fact that Trump does not "act the way a President" should act.

Does the fact that someone does something differently than others make them unfit?

I would argue that Trump as President is not much different than Trump the candidate. "Trump the candidate" was elected by the people of the United States after watching him for 18 months on the campaign trail. They did not determine he was "unfit". There has been no subsequent "bait and switch". He did not become something that we never saw. He has not done anything he did not say he was going to do. What you saw then, and what Trump promised to do as a candidate, is exactly what he has done in office. I would argue that it actually has been a toned-down version of what he was and what he promised on the campaign trail.

If anything, the Democrats and the mainstream media seem to be befuddled by the fact that Trump is Trump---whether he is a real estate mogul, tv star, political candidate or President of the United States.

Does being yourself make you unfit?

A friend and BeeLine reader of mine recently wrote to me that he "has had an ongoing struggle in trying to contextualize the Trump phenomenon".

My friend Joel is a great student of history and stated that his first thought was that the life of Andrew Jackson was a useful metaphor for that purpose. There are many remarkable parallels between the two men but Joel stated that he ultimately felt that this comparison fell short owing largely to the 190 year separation in history.

He wrote me that he has ultimately concluded that the best contextual comparison he could come up with is Steve Jobs. Yes, that Steve Jobs!

I have to admit that is something I would have never thought of on my own but I think it is a most impressive insight by Joel.

Here is what Joel wrote about the similarities he saw in the two men.

Like Trump, Jobs was an iconoclastic visionary who was uncompromising in his pursuit of transforming the existing order.  Personality-wise he was incredibly arrogant, prickly, vicious and so rude that he would push aside his employees and walk to the front of the lunch line each day at Apple. The threat he posed to both the established business order and social conventions was profound, and it caused him to be reviled and pilloried. Nevertheless, at the end of it all, he had either created or transformed a total of 6 industries: personal computing, phones, animated movies, music, tablet computing and digital publishing. 

Having read a couple of books about both Trump and Jobs, I definitely see many similarities.

I have also written a couple of blog posts about the contributions of Steve Jobs here and here.

I have also written about iconoclasts in the past. Notice that the first similarity that Trump and Jobs share according to Joel is that they are both iconoclasts.

This is what I wrote on the subject of iconoclasts in 2012.

I`con`o`clast/ n / A person who does something that others say can't be done.
Iconoclast is my most favorite word for 2012.  We need more iconoclasts. We need them in business. We need them in education.  We need them in science. We most certainly need them in government. We need people who will challenge the status quo and can bring fresh thinking and ideas to solve problems.  I like Albert Einstein's quote in this regard.
"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

Little did I know in 2012 that a true iconoclast would be on the scene in Washington, DC five years later attempting to drain the swamp.

Steve Jobs did not play by the rules and he certainly did not adhere to many rules in his life. Donald Trump is a near saint next to Steve Jobs in conforming to rules of conduct and temperament.

One of my favorite quotes from Jobs related to the fact that he eschewed market research and always liked to rely on his own personal intuition. (Kind of like Trump not paying a whole lot of attention of his political consultants and advisors telling him what to say and do?).

This is how Jobs put it to Business Week in 1998.

It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

The same can be said about Donald Trump. He built a global real estate empire when most said he would never get beyond the projects his father developed in the Queens, New York. He put properties together of a style and scope that few could imagine.

Like Jobs, Trump had an insatiable desire for quality and an attention to the smallest detail in his projects and in his deals.Both Trump and Jobs faced failure (the ouster of Jobs from Apple, Trump's company bankruptcies) but came back stronger than ever.

Jobs and Trump have done many things no one could have imagined. It was simply impossible to project their success when looking at it in a traditional perspective. It was hard for most to envision operating a computer with a mouse, or storing 1,000 songs in a package the size of the cigarette pack or an animated film being developed by computer software.

It is also hard for many to see where Trump is coming from as President. However, look at what we are seeing one year into his term. The economy and the stock market have responded to Trump like it never did in 8 years with Obama. That is indisputable no matter how badly the Democrats want to ignore the evidence. North Korea is sitting down with South Korea for the first time in years, the Iranian people are in revolt and Mexico and Canada are discussing a re-do of NAFTA. This week Trump is sitting in the same room with Republicans and Democrats discussing immigration reform. The pundits said that none of this would happen with Trump as President. It has.

Iconoclasts don't do it the way it has always been done. They break rules along the way. It can be uncomfortable for those set in their ways. However, iconoclasts get results that few expect.

Curiously, the one area where these two iconoclasts diverge is in the media perception of the two.

Jobs generally enjoyed favorable treatment from the press throughout his career. He was eventually hailed as a true genius by the media. No one said he was unfit for anything because he did things his own way or he was arrogant, rude or prickly along the way. These traits were considered assets rather than liabilities.

On the other hand, Trump is portrayed as an idiot and fool. He is stupid. He is a dolt.  He is mentally imbalanced. He is mentally unfit. He needs to be removed. It is quite a contrast when considering the similar traits that these iconoclasts share.

Don't you think that it is interesting that two men who share so many similarities can be perceived so differently by the media?

One is hailed as a genius. The other is called a dunderhead.

Why is that?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Why Fake News?

Why do we get fake news?

I have thought about this a great deal and it seems to be a product of the liberal bias of mainstream media. I don't think they consciously set out to report fake news. However, their bias blocks the filters in their brain that should be telling them that something does not add up.

As a result, they end up reporting "their truth" rather than "the truth".

I have previously written that it is hard to argue with the theory of liberal ideology. Most liberal ideas are well meaning and well intentioned. In a theoretical laboratory these ideas make a lot of sense.  I think that is why so many academics are liberal. The ideas make such great sense in the classroom or a textbook. The world would be such a great place if they did work. Unfortunately, in the real world these ideas must face reality. A reality where human beings make decisions based on incentives or disincentives relative to their own self-interest.  A reality where unintended consequences often have much greater effects than the intended consequences.

I think most liberals also have an an inherent insecurity that their liberal ideology is not as perfect as they profess it to be. After all, they live in the real world as well. Many don't practice what they preach when it comes to their personal lives. Peter Schweizer wrote an entire book on this liberal hypocrisy over a decade ago titled "Do as I Say (Not as I do).

In my view, this inherent insecurity causes them to work extra hard to prove that liberal ideas are "right" and conservative ideas are "wrong" and "their truth"is better than "the truth".

It is certainly the reason that they are working so hard to demean President Trump. The greatest horror that they would ever have to endure is for Trump to be successful. It would literally destroy much of the liberal narrative. That is why they are driven to make sure it is not about "the truth."

All of this is not to suggest that fake news only is promulgated from liberal sources. It comes from conservatives as well. However, you generally only see it on the internet or social media where it does not get the visibility and the distribution that the mainstream media provides.

Fake news stories don't just involve President Trump either. We see it in a range of stories.

A good example is the story of the 2017 graduating class of Ballou High School in Washington, D.C. This school got a tremendous amount of media attention last June when it was reported that every one of the 190 graduating students in one of poorest sections of Washington had been accepted to college.

This is how described this success story last June.

Ballou is in the southeast region of D.C. and by nearly any measure, the school is struggling. Staff at Ballou are tasked with overcoming major barriers established by poverty.
So how did this dream become a reality? It started with a pledge from the class of 2017 when they were just juniors looking ahead to their final year of high school.
But it was a strong support system within D.C. Public Schools that made it a reality. For months and months, staff tracked students' success, often working side-by-side with them in the school library on college applications, often encouraging them to apply to schools where data show D.C. students perform well.

Who could not like this story?  A dedicated staff at a struggling high school sends 190 impoverished minority students (98% of students African-American, 2% Hispanic) to college.

It was particularly attractive for liberal news media.

If only it were true.

Unfortunately, it was fake news.

It was the type of story that all of us wishes were true. However, liberal journalism wishes so hard that it reports "stories" as news despite what should have been some glaring warning signs in the initial report.

Here are a couple of examples of warning signs that got my attention that something did not add when I read the story initially. The quotes below are directly from the original story.

Last school year, the graduation rate was just 57 percent. And, when it came to meeting citywide standards in English, only 3 percent of students passed. No one passed the math.

Only 57% graduated the prior year and the graduation rate improved to 100% in just one year?

Not one student passed minimum standards in Math and only 3% passed in English in 2016 at this school and one year later all the seniors got accepted to college?

It started with a pledge from the class of 2017 when they were just juniors looking ahead to their final year of high school.

It started with a pledge with just one year of high school to go that they would all go to college? Really? If this was 7th grade I might believe it. By 11th grade almost everything is baked into the cake. You are not going to change the trajectory of many students in just one year.

NPR recently "updated" its reporting. The actual truth is sad. Consider a few facts from the new reporting that tells a different story about the 2017 graduating class at Ballou.

  • Half of the graduates missed more than three months of school last year, unexcused. One in five students was absent more than present — missing more than 90 days of school.
  • An internal email obtained by WAMU and NPR from April shows two months before graduation, only 57 students were on track to graduate, with dozens of students missing graduation or community service requirements or failing classes needed to graduate.
  • The average SAT score last year among Ballou test takers was 782 out of 1600.

Former teachers at Ballou told NPR that more than a few students at Ballou could not read or write. Students roamed the halls with impunity and there was almost no enforcement of attendance. Many students who were at school congregated in the gym rather than go to class and nothing was done about it by administrators. Teachers were pressured to give passing grades and overlook past due assignments by students so they could graduate.

Here is the actual student performance for Ballou High School for the 2016-2017 school year based on the standardized tests students take in the DC school district (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career "PARCC") for Math and English. This data was taken directly from the school's website. A student needs to be at Level 5 (exceeds expectations) or Level 4 (meets expectations) to be considered ready for college or a career.

These test scores also make you wonder about the statement in the first story that the support system at Ballou encouraged students to apply to schools and colleges where "DC students perform well". Where are the colleges where students perform well when those students should have never graduated from high school?

Note that not one student met expectations in Math in 2016-2017 (same as previous year). 91% did not even "Approach Expectations" which is Level 3.

9% met expectations in English (up from 3% in prior year) but nearly 60% were at Level 1 in English on the PARCC test .

There is little doubt that school administrators and teachers at a school like Ballou have an enormous challenge. However, the answer should not be to give students a pass. And it certainly should not involve promoting students (and stories about fake student success) at your school.

The current school year budget for Ballou High School works out to almost $14,000 per student. 

These are the salaries of the top 3 administrators at the school according to DC schools budget records.

Three guidance counselors on staff average $111,500 in annual salary.

Six English teachers on staff average $97,700.

Eight Math teachers on staff average $97,700.

In addition, administrators and teachers in the DC school district are eligible for bonuses of from $15,000-$30,000 for being considered "highly effective" on their annual evaluations according to NPR. DC public schools would not disclose whether any at Ballou received bonuses.

NPR is to be congratulated for stepping up and correcting the story about Ballou. However, why did they miss the obvious sign of "fake news" to begin with?

A recent tweet by longtime Washington journalist Ron Fournier speaks volumes about this issue and affirms my view that a substantial portion of mainstream media are less interested in reporting facts as advancing or defending their agenda and views.

Leave it to Brit Hume to put this in the right perspective in a reply to Fournier.

Here's to less fake news in 2018!

Let's see more news about "the story" rather than "their story".

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Zettabytes In Context

A study in 2010 concluded that U.S consumers are exposed to 3.6 zettabytes of data every day.

That works out to about 34 gigabytes per person on an average day.

And that was almost 8 years ago!

I could not find a reliable current number.

Another study says that we receive five times as much information in a day as we did 30 years ago.

We are exposed to as much information in a day as our 15th century ancestors were exposed to in a lifetime according to recent PBS special on "The Human Face of Big Data".

That is a lot of data.

However, how do we make sense of it all?

And how much of it does anyone really understand?

I have often written in these pages that "Context is everything when assessing anything."

It is at the core of why I write BeeLine. I try to put facts, data and issues in context. You need context, just not content, to understand something, to form opinions and make judgments and decisions.

You can not evaluate anything or make any decision in a vacuum.  It is simply impossible.  You need a frame of reference. You determine whether a girl is beautiful based on having seen thousands of girls. You decide whether a shirt is a good deal after looking at other shirts and their prices.  A house is a bargain only after you evaluate the local market. After all, the identical house might be a bargain in Beverly Hills but massively over-priced in Bloomfield Hills.

Let's look at a few examples of where context adds important meaning that I picked up in my review of some of those more than 25 zettabytes of data this past week.

It is particularly true that you need context in assessing anything you see on social media. For example, on Twitter, short bursts of data shoot out all day long. I have found you definitely need your context filter to be up and running there. In my experience, it needs to be running on overdrive when any liberal politician takes to tweeting out "facts".

Let's look at a few examples from the past week.

We know it was cold in the Northeast and Midwestern United States this past week. In my hometown of Cincinnati the thermometer did not reach 32 degrees the entire week. Most of the time it was closer to 0 degrees.

Of course, I could be living in Fargo, ND. The high on December 31 was -9. It reached -24 for the low.

What did Al Gore have to say about this cold wave on Twitter?

The cold is actually being caused by global warming? Who knew?

For context, it should be remembered that Al Gore predicted in 2009  that the north polar ice cap would be ice free by the summer of 2016. It is in no way close.

For additional context, consider that Dr. Michael Mann is the creator of the discredited "hockey stick" graphs of global warming that were proven to have been manipulated to show a warming trend that was not there.

To put this entire subject into further context, did you know that it has recently been colder in places like Fargo this past week than it has been on Mars?

It was -9 degrees on Mars at the same time that it was -24 in Fargo.

For further context consider that Mars is 34 million miles further away from the sun than Fargo is. Consider further that there are no humans on Mars. Therefore, this additional warmth on Mars cannot be explained by anything to do with human activity. How could that be?

We also have New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio tweeting away on the subject of the enforcement of marijuana laws by the Attorney General. He calls it a "vendetta".

For context, let us remember that under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. Sec 811) it is illegal under federal law to possess, cultivate or distribute large quantities of marijuana. The Attorney General of the United States is charged with enforcing the laws of the United States.

If Congress wants to change federal law on marijuana then they should do it. The same with immigration law. Failing that, we should expect that our laws are enforced as written. If not, why do we have laws? Why do we have Congress?

However, for real context on the Mayor's tweet, consider that 60,990 people have been arrested for marijuana in NYC while Bill de Blasio has been Mayor. (52,730 of them have been black or Latino).

Who really seems to have a "vendetta" against people of color?

Finally, let's consider this tweet from the Governor of New York.

Cuomo is saying that under the new tax law the blue states are robbing the red states because the federal tax deduction of state and local taxes has been limited.

He goes on further to say that it is ugly and divisive in addition to being illegal and unconstitutional.

That is an interesting argument to put in context.

If what Cuomo says is true, what was happening when taxpayers in blue states were deducting hundreds of billions of state taxes every year from their federal taxes while taxpayers in red states were deducting little or nothing? Weren't the red states being robbed by the blue states under the prior law for decades upon decades? Wasn't that an economic civil war? Wasn't that crass?

If it is now illegal and unconstitutional, why wasn't it illegal and unconstitutional when the blue states were getting all the benefits?

Context is everything when assessing anything.

It is especially important when assessing the tweets of liberal politicians who are trying to get their share of the over 3.6 zettabytes of data in play every day day.

My advice is to expend the effort to get another .1 gigabytes in context as an antidote.

BeeLine is a good option to do that.

Thanks for visiting. Visit often. Subscribe by entering your email in the upper right corner of this page and it will be delivered to you.

What could be easier in order to put your zettabytes in context?

For those interested in how much data is in a zettabyte here is a nice graphic from Karl Tate at TechNews Daily.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Deep Faith vs. Deep State

The United States of America was founded by men of deep faith. There are references to God four times in the Declaration of Independence. The Founders believed strongly in the principle that fundamental individual rights flowed from God and were not derived from any King or government.

“...all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The Founders also had a deep distrust of power. They were especially concerned about centralized, sovereign power at a national level. As the U.S Constitution was drafted and discussed there was general agreement that centralization of authority could easily lead to tyranny. This is what ultimately led to the incorporation of the Bill of Rights into the Constitution so that it was made clear that the new federal government would have limited powers particularly as it concerned individual rights.

All of this was done by our Founders because of concerns that a deeply entrenched federal government and bureaucracy might put its own interests in power over the rights of the governed.

The people who supported Donald J. Trump for President in 2016 were also predominantly people of faith.

Exit polls indicated that Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 58%-39% among those people who described themselves as Protestant/Other Christian.

More tellingly, Trump beat Clinton 81%-16% among white Evangelical Christians. This a group that made up 25% of the electorate so there is little question that people of deep faith put Trump in The White House.

Many have looked at this support and wondered how a brash, brazen, thrice-married guy like Trump could garner that much support of people of faith.

I think a large part of it is that Christians saw a chance for their voice to be heard with Trump. A voice that had been consistently crowded out for many years before. Was he an imperfect man? Absolutely. However, aren't we all?

There were some in the evangelical community who also believed that Trump was a man of destiny. That he was a man that God had prepared and delivered for this time.

I took interest in this thinking somewhere near the end of the primary season. I was not an early Trump supporter for the simple reason that I believed he was unelectable in a general election. There was too much baggage, too much bluster and too much Twitter around Trump for him to ever win election.

About this time I came across what some in the Evangelical Christian community called a "Trump Prophecy" in which a retired firefighter from Florida claimed that he had heard God speak to him in 2011 that Donald Trump would be President. This is how Mark Taylor's "Commander in Chief" prophecy begins which he wrote on April 28, 2011.

The Spirit of God say: I have chosen this man, Donald Trump, for such a time as this. For as Benjamin Netanyahu is to Israel, so shall this man be to the United States of America! For I will use this man to bring honor, respect, and restoration to America. America will be respected once again as the most powerful and prosperous nation on earth (other than Israel).

When Trump did not run in 2012, Taylor thought he had gotten it wrong. However, he gave the prophecy to Christian Evangelical leader Mary Colbert in 2014 and she pointed out to Taylor that the second paragraph of the prophecy spoke of events that would occur "when he (Trump) announces he is running for President.

The Spirit of God says; The enemy will quake and shake and fear this man I have anointed. They will even quake and shake when he announces he is running for president; it will be like the shot heard across the world. The enemy will say, "What shall we do now? This man knows all our tricks and schemes. We have been robbing America for decades; what shall we do to stop this?" 

We now know that Donald Trump was elected President despite very few in the political or media realms giving him any chance.

He won despite unprecedented media attacks.

He won despite a good portion of the political class of his own party not supporting him.

I have followed politics very closely for close to 60 years and I have never seen anything like it.

How do you explain it?

Upon Trump taking office something else has come into greater focus.

The Deep State.

The entrenched bureaucracy, political class and media establishment that has inundated and infiltrated Washington, D.C.

It is almost as if when Trump was elected they did say "What shall we do now? This man know all our tricks and schemes."

Consider that federal bureaucracy. A recent report by puts the federal administrative state in context when you consider that there are nearly 30,000 federal government employees who make more than any of the nation's 50 state governors---$190,823 per year.

Federal government pay is the primary reason why the five richest counties in America are all the counties surrounding the District of Columbia.

I doubt that any of our Founding Fathers could comprehend these facts. Everything they did in those founding documents was done with the intent of limiting the concentration of power or privilege. It would be inconceivable to them that the 30,000 federal government employees could make more than the highest paid state governor.

We see the deep roots of the Deep State every day in the actions of many of the agencies of the federal government. Donald Trump may have been elected President of the United States but it is often hard to see it. The entrenched bureaucracy is working every day to make it such that you would never know that Barack Obama is still not President of the United States.

There is no question where the political allegiances of these bureaucrats and other swamp creatures lie either.

I wrote in my post on "Swamp Dollars" that Trump lost to Hillary 90.5% to 4.1% in the District of Columbia in the election.

It was not much better in the other counties adjoining the District of Columbia. These are the percentages of the vote that Trump garnered in 2016 in these bedroom communities that are contiguous to D.C. as reported by

Arlington County, VA   16.9%

Fairfax County, VA   29.1%

Montgomery County, MD   20.3%

Prince Georges County, MD  8.3%

Foreign dictators who fix their elections do not win by the margins that Hillary won in D.C. and Prince Georges County.

You see the same pattern in the donations made by those federal government employees.

Hilary Clinton received an astounding 95% of all the political contributions made by federal workers in the 2016 Presidential campaign.

Credit: National Revies

Do all these numbers not speak volumes of how deep the swamp is?

Of course, we don't expect the swamp to infiltrate the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. However, recent disclosures have shown that is exactly what seems to have occurred.

We don't expect the Director of the FBI to write a memo exonerating Hillary Clinton over her email scandal before she and a number of other key witnesses were even interviewed by the FBI.

We don't expect that the Deputy Director of the FBI would not recuse himself from the Clinton investigation after his wife accepted $700,000 in political fundraising from a close Clinton associate.

We don't expect to find out that classified emails of the Secretary of State are found on the unsecured laptop of a convicted child molester.

We don't expect to find out that the wife of a senior Justice Department official was hired by Fusion GPS to assist in writing the infamous "Trump dossier".

We also don't expect a supposedly independent Special Counsel staff to be replete with lawyers and investigators with deep biases and unchecked conflicts of interest.

We may find out many more things we don't expect in the coming weeks and months after the Justice Departments's Inspector General completes an investigation of how the FBI handled the Clinton investigation among other matters. These may include how the FBI got involved in the "Trump dossier" and whether it was the basis for the FBI to surveil the Trump campaign through national security resources via a FISA warrant.

Of course, the Deep State is not confined to the Washington bureaucracy. It also now clearly encompasses the mainstream media that covers Washington. The bureaucrats, the political class and the media are in bed together.

A recent study by Pew Research of the first 60 days of the Trump presidency found that just 5% of stories were positive. Even more revealing, look at the number of negative stories compared to other Presidents. And I don't think it has changed much over the ensuing 9 months either. Here is a comparison of Trump to other recent Presidents.

Credit: Pew Research

If you listen to the mainstream media you have to think the Trump is the worst, most unpopular President of all time.

However, if that is all that you listen to for your news you probably missed this headline about the Rasmussen poll that came out last week that showed Trump's approval rating at 45%. Obama's approval rating at the same time in his Presidency---46%.

Credit: The Daily Caller, 12/28/17

How can Trump have an approval rating like that when you look at the negative coverage he has received.

Could it be that his supporters have FAITH?

Perhaps Mark Taylor's Trump Prophecy provides some additional insight here as well. In the last paragraph it says:

They (the enemy) will say things about this man, but it will not affect him, and they shall say it rolls off of him like a duck, for as the feathers of a duck protect it, so shall my feathers protect this next president. 

It does seem interesting that when you look at the year 2017, well-known liberal leaning entertainment and media figures (Weinstein, Spacey, Lauer, Rose etc), suffered the most damage to their reputations.

All the while, Donald Trump survived the Access Hollywood tape last year and was elected President of the United States a month later.

How will we truly know whether there really is something to the Trump Prophecies?

There is one prophecy that still has not been fulfilled. This is the last sentence.

Even mainstream news media will be captivated by this man and the abilities that I have gifted him with, and they will even begin to agree with him; says the Spirit of God.

I ask...if that day comes how could anyone not have FAITH?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Diet Time

A new year invariably brings thoughts to many of us that it might be a good time to start a diet.

A Marist poll recently found that 12% of Americans have a New Year's resolution to lose weight in 2108. Another 9% want to eat healthier. An additional 9% want to exercise more and 7% have resolved to improve their health.

Traditional diets focus on the foods you eat and the amount of calories you consume in order to lose weight.

There are now those who say this is wrong. The secret to shedding pounds is to focus more on the times you eat (and the times you don't).

I got interested in "time restricted feeding" when I heard about this subject being talked about on the radio a month or so ago. It made a lot of sense to me.

I think most of us have felt the heaviness that seems to follow a late dinner or bedtime snack. There is apparently a reason our body is giving us that message.

Weight loss is easiest when the body goes at least 10 hours without eating. After that point the body begins to burn calories at a much higher rate as it seeks energy to sustain itself. Fat is also the first thing that is burned when you have fasted for that period of time. Therefore, extending the period of times between meals (or snacks) has enormous dieting benefits without doing anything more.

Credit: John Kuczala, The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal's Sumathi Reddy wrote about what is called "time-restricted feeding" this week for those looking for a different approach for their New Year's diet resolution.

Stop counting calories. It’s the clock that counts.
That’s the concept behind time-restricted feeding, or TRF, a strategy increasingly being studied by researchers as a tool for weight-loss, diabetes prevention and even longevity.
In TRF, you can eat whatever you want and as much as you want—just not whenever you want. Daily food intake should be limited to a 12-hour window, and ideally cut down to eight to 10 hours. But you can pick the hours you want to eat. (Note: This doesn’t mean you should stuff your face with cupcakes. Experts say you should dine as you normally would. Only noncaloric drinks like water and black coffee are allowed during fasting hours.)
Despite a lack of dietary restrictions, most people following TRF end up consuming fewer calories and lose weight, according to studies and experts. Preliminary evidence also shows other health benefits of fasting for 12 hours or more, including lower blood pressure and improved glucose levels, and physiological changes linked to slowing the aging process. Researchers believe that when the body kicks into fasting-mode it more efficiently breaks down food and fat, in particular.

It appears that there also may be other health benefits to splitting your day into two halves---eating within 12 hours and fasting the other 12 hours.

TRF studies of mice—which provide the bulk of research on the strategy—have found that the body, when fasting for half a day or more, has more time to produce the components for cellular repair, break down toxins and coloring agents in food, and repair damaged DNA in the skin and stomach lining, according to Dr. Panda. There is also some evidence that TRF may reduce the risk of breast cancer.

The other advantage to TRF is its simplicity. You don't need to keep track of calories, carbs, protein or different food groups. You just have to think whether you are in your eating time zone or fasting time zone.

You can set your fasting time zone within any 12-hour period during a day but most find it is easiest to not think about food when they sleep ( I could find nothing that said you could not dream about food!). Most also have a morning schedule they need to adhere to that includes breakfast. Therefore, if you eat breakfast at 7am you need to make sure you do not eat anything after 7pm in order to get your 12-hour fast time zone in.

If you can limit your food intake to only 8 or 10 hour periods during the day it might even be better for you. However, if following this approach you may want to only follow the regimen three or four days per week.

The proponent of TRF on the radio I heard claims that following this regimen has the potential of allowing as much as 10-15% loss in body fat in a year simply by watching the clock rather than watching the calories.

Helpful advice for anyone who thinks it is time to think about a New Year's diet.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Iran: A New Day In The New Year?

The protests that are rocking Iran raises the question as to whether the theocracy that the mullahs created in that country almost 40 years ago will survive another year?

Similar protests in 2009 were dealt with harshly by the Iranian regime. It remains to be seen if a similar fate awaits these protestors. Totalitarian leaders do not give up power easily. However, tipping points can be reached that can result in the most feared leaders being deposed if the will of the people is strong enough.

It must be remembered that Iran was once a country that was very much Westernized. In many respects Iran has moved backwards 400 years over the last 40 years under the rule of the mullahs.

Here are some images from Iran in the 1970's before the Islamic Revolution ushered in the theocracy that exists in that country today. The following three images are from

How about this picture of a female soldier in Iran in the 1970?

And this picture of women in the Iranian army taken in 2011.

You have to ask how many Iranians want to live in the 8th century when they are actually living in the 21st century?

My guess is that number is fairly small.

Consider the demographics of Iran's population today.


69% of Iran's population is under the age of 40.  They have never known anything other than strict Islamic rule. Those under age 40 are those who are most likely to rebel when their freedoms are restricted.

30% of Iranians are between the ages of 20 and 34. These are typically the ages of people who become revolutionaries.

Demographics are not on the side of the mullahs.

I also tend to believe that other influences are at work in Iran. Undoubtedly, outside forces have fomented some of the unrest that we are seeing in Iran.

I would not be surprised if Saudi Arabia is working behind the scenes to attempt to effect regime change in Iran.

Saudi Arabia has recently embarked on a major program to liberalize its government and culture to a more moderate, open form of Islam under the direction of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Who is the biggest threat to those reforms? Iran. You can be sure that Iran is not happy with these developments and will work to see that the fundamentalists within Saudi Arabia will be supported in order to cause discord in the Kingdom.

My guess is that Saudi Arabia is doing the same thing within Iran right now. The Saudis are working to eliminate any potential problems they may face in their country before Iran causes mischief.

My guess is that Israel and the United States are also involved in some way.

This recent development did not get much attention in the mainstream media but I have to wonder if the agreement between the U.S and Israel might have had broader implications considering the events of the last few days

You also have to wonder whether the Russians are even on the side of the Iranian mullahs any more when you look at the headline below?

Will it be a new day in the new year for those millions of young Iranians who have never known what true freedom is?

The coming days will likely determine whether that new day will arrive in 2018.

However, what is occurring elsewhere in the Middle East and the population pyramid in Iran suggests that the days of the mullahs are numbered even if their number is not up this year.

President Trump sums it up well.

You can never underestimate the brute power that a threatened regime is willing to bring to bear to save themselves.

However, you should also never underestimate the power of 50 million people who decide they have had enough.

Watching, waiting and praying for the Iranian people.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Best of BeeLine-2017

Here is a Top 10 List for the Best of BeeLine for 2017. The first 5 are the most popular posts I wrote during the year based on the number of views. The second 5 are a few of my personal favorites out of the 132 blog posts I wrote during the year.

If you missed reading these "Best of Beeline" posts the first time around, here's another opportunity to get to "the shortest route to what you need to know" to start 2018 off right.

BeeLine readership grew at a rapid rate in 2017. Total readership grew by over 75% during the year and more than 750 now have email subscriptions. All of that growth is organic. I don't actively promote or advertise this blog. New readers almost always come from one of you passing it along to someone else.

If you enjoy BeeLine, please pass a recommendation on to your friends and family. I enjoy writing it but it is a lot easier to sit down, research and write when I know more are reading my blog.

If you want to make sure you don't miss a post, consider putting yourself on the BeeLine email list. You will receive an email the first thing in the morning when I post a new piece. You can sign up in the upper right hand corner on this page. You will receive a follow-up email (from FeedBurner) that you will need to confirm to begin delivery.

Thank you to all my loyal BeeLine readers and Happy New Year to each one of you!

The Best of BeeLine-2017

Most Views

Revolutionary Replacement  March 9, 2017

The problem with Obamacare and the GOP's ideas to repeal and replace it. The approach that could be taken to repeal and replace Obamacare that no one is talking about but has the potential to appeal to both Democrats and Republicans.

Your Financial Life  October 15, 2017

Financial lessons that every young adult needs to know.

The Washington Post Is "Surprised"  October 12, 2017

The Washington Post was "surprised' to learn that the United States has one of the most liberal abortion policies in the world. Only North Korea, China and Vietnam have abortion rules that are more lax than in the U.S.  Liberals often like to talk about the extremist views of conservative Republicans. The facts say the opposite with regard to who has the extreme views on the issue of abortion.

Consensus Isn't Science   April 23, 2017

Whenever we hear about the "science" of human related climate change there is nothing "settled" about it. That is why we hear that this view is supported by the "consensus" of scientists. The facts about consensus and how often it has been wrong when it comes to science.

Immigration by the Numbers  September 7, 2017

One of the great ironies of modern politics is that most of the issues that are near and dear to liberals (environment, sustainability, working class wages, education, affordable health care) are going to get much, much worse if their views on immigration policy continue.

My Personal Favorites

Nature or Nurture?   January 15, 2017

Are great athletes born or made? It turns out that both are required.

What's a Grandma?   March 5, 2017

Grandparent names today are not the grandparent names of yesterday. Baby boomer grandparents are not grandma and grandpa.

It's Not Fair!  May 14, 2017

People do not measure their circumstances in absolute terms. They measure in relative terms. It is no different with monkeys.

Spelling It Out     June 5, 2017

How the National Spelling Bee shows that the concept of "white privilege" is a meaningless term.

One Generation Away   November 8, 2017

How many things that are important in your life are one generation away from extinction?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017 in Pictures

I enjoy viewing great photography and I have occasionally posted blog posts highlighting some great images. Here is an example I posted back in 2012.

I am not a photographer. I don't have any fancy equipment. My compact camera is at least a decade old and I rarely use it. It is much more convenient to use my iPhone to take my shot.

I am not alone. This graph shows the rise and fall in camera production over the years. Camera sales are only 1/6 of what they were ten years ago.

The orange lines represent smartphone sales. There is not enough room on your computer screen to show the 1.7 billion smartphone units (with a camera) that were manufactured in 2016. The scale of the graph stops at 120 million.

That works out to about 85 smartphones sold last year for every single camera.

I thought in order to close out 2017 I would post some of my favorite images that were taken on my phone during the year. These photos may not end up in any coffee table books but they will give you a sense of my travels this past year and the great beauty there is in God's creation no matter where you are in this world.

Hilton Head Island, SC

Miramar Beach, FL


The Players Championship
17th Hole
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Dublin, Ireland

Cobh, Ireland at sunrise

Northern Ireland
Note for Golfers: 2019 British Open is going to be played at Royal Portrush Golf Club which is just beyond this castle in the green area in upper right portion of this photo.

St. Andrews Golf Club

Normandy American Cemetery

Lisbon, Portugal


Boise, Idaho

December Sunset
Cincinnati, Ohio

It is not easy finding the time to write when I have these scenes to take in. I continue my writing due to the many kind words I receive from you. Thanks for reading BeeLine. I sincerely appreciate it.

All the best to you and yours in 2018.