Thursday, August 30, 2018

One For The Ages

Mrs. BeeLine and I recently watched the classic film, The Philadelphia Story.

The movie was released in 1941 and starred Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart. This is how Google describes the film.

This classic romantic comedy focuses on Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn), a Philadelphia socialite who has split from her husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant), due both to his drinking and to her overly demanding nature. As Tracy prepares to wed the wealthy George Kittredge (John Howard), she crosses paths with both Dexter and prying reporter Macaulay Connor (James Stewart). Unclear about her feelings for all three men, Tracy must decide whom she truly loves.

The movie was based on a popular Broadway play that Hepburn had starred in. At the time, Hepburn's Hollywood career was in tatters. She had had several film flops and was considered "box office poison" at the time by a a number of theatre owners. In order to reinvigorate her career she purchased the film rights to the play and agreed to perform for no salary taking a percentage of the gross as her compensation.

It proved to be a good decision for Hepburn as The Philadelphia Story turned out to be the 5th highest grossing film of 1941 with a global box office of $3.3 million. In today's dollars that would be about $60 million.

In addition, Jimmy Stewart won the Academy Award for the best actor for his role in the movie.

Two things always strike me when I watch an old film.

1. How thin the people are.

2. How mature they seem to look compared to their actual age.

The Philadelphia Story is no exception. Hepburn looked to have a waist no bigger than a 12 year old girl would today. I found this site that suggests it was 22 inches. That is a on a height of 5ft 7.5 in.

Of course, that is gigantic compared to the rumored 20 inch waist that Vivien Leigh had in Gone With The Wind in which she played Scarlett who had a 17 inch waist in the book. Leigh reportedly was squeezed into a 16 inch corset during filming. I am sure that made for some long days on the set.

You get an idea of how small waisted Leigh was by looking at the picture of Leigh and Clark Gable from the film. Notice the size of Gable's hands in relation to Leigh's waist. Gable was about 6' tall according to most reports.

I think we understand why everyone was much thinner in those days.

What about their ages?

The actor that got me thinking about this in The Philadelphia Story was Katharine Hepburn's fiancee played by an actor named John Howard. When he was first introduced in the film I thought he was much older than Hepburn.

How old does he look to you? Howard is the man on the far right. In the movie, it is stated he is 32 years old. Stewart's character is 30 and I did not pick up any ages for the characters that Hepburn and Grant played.

Howard's actual age when he made the movie was 27. To me, in the movie he looked to be much older than Hepburn. He looked to be at least 40 to me.

Stewart was 32 when he made the film.

Hepburn was 33.

Grant was 36.

By the way, Clark Gable was only 38 when he filmed Gone With The Wind.

Perhaps all of this is just me showing my age since these actors are generally younger when they did these parts than the age of my kids today.

However, I think it is more than that.

The generation in those old movies grew up in tough times. They were children during World War I and they also all lived and had to survive the Great Depression. It made you grow up quicker and it also undoubtedly made you look and act more mature.

I made the same point several years ago when I compared the lives of Barack Obama and U.S. Grant.

Most people are shocked to discover that U.S. Grant became President at a younger age than Barack Obama. Grant was also younger when he took office than Paul Ryan is today.

U.S. Grant, March,1869
46 years old

Barack Obama, Janaury, 2009
47 years old

Paul Ryan, June, 2018
48 years old

That is pretty incredible when you think about it. One of the reasons that Grant seems like he was so much older is that he had effectively lived four lifetimes before he ever became President. Grant had literally seen it all in both his personal experiences and in the decisions he had to make as a leader.

Comparing the life experiences of a Paul Ryan or Obama to Grant would be like comparing a 6-year playing T-Ball to Mike Trout.

It seems that in this day and age life experience is heavily discounted compared to educational background and political experience. I think that is a big reason why the Deep State and the Mainstream Media despises and underestimates Donald Trump so much. How can Trump know anything? He doesn't have a law degree from Harvard, a Master in Foreign Relations from Georgetown and he hasn't lived in Washington for 20 years.

However, stop a minute and consider how much life experience Donald Trump had before he became President. Thousands of hours interacting with all sorts of people in his real estate business---union leaders. politicians, lawyers, contractors, construction workers. Nearly 50 years of interfacing with the media. More than a decade headlining a top-rated television show. Being on the A-list and being invited and interacting with almost every celebrity you could imagine for at least 30 years.

It all adds up and it compounds into providing Trump with perspectives in understanding and analyzing people and situations in ways that those with less life experience simply cannot fathom.

Trump has a lot of flaws. He is not immune from foibles. However, too many discount the life experience he has that is almost unparalleled by any other human alive today. He has seen a lot and done a lot. He has packed a lot into 72 years and he seems to have the energy of someone half his age. Some might think he does not act his age but you are making a mistake if you ignore the life experience that he has attained over the years.

Who would think that I would be able to write a blog post from watching an old movie on TCM? That ability also comes from life experience.

It is surely one for the ages.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Did a Tycoon Become a Tyrant?

It is difficult to keep up with how the Left describes Donald Trump.

He used to be a successful tycoon that contributed to many of their campaigns.

That changed when he announced he was running for the GOP nomination for President.

He was first described as a joke. He was then called a buffoon. He then became an idiot.

That was before he was elected President of the United States.

Since he was elected President he has been called a racist, a fascist and a danger to the entire world.

He has been described as unhinged and detached from reality many times as well.

That has evolved to Trump now being called a thug, a treasonous criminal and, most recently, a tyrant.

The tyrant description is contained in an article in The Atlantic by Eliot Cohen which has this title and subheader.

That was a new one for me. Trump is a tyrant? Really?

Let's look at the definition of a tyrant and see if that in any way fits Donald Trump.


Let's look at the facts.

In what ways has Donald Trump been acting unrestrained by the the law or the constitution?

When has he been oppressive or brutal? Let's be serious. Calling someone a name on Twitter doesn't count when we are talking tyrant.

When has he been a usurper of sovereignty?

Those on the Left would say to look at the various executive orders that Trump has implemented.

However, the fact is that most of those executive actions were merely reversing executive orders that were initiated by Barack Obama. These were actually returning us to the rule of law set forth based on the Constitution before Obama became President.

The Left would undoubtedly also point to some of President Trump's actions on immigration. However, the fact is that there are, and have been, laws on the books about immigration for decades that have not been enforced. Trump's actions have been consistent with enforcing the rule of law rather than circumventing the law.

There is no law on the books to allow Dreamers to stay in the country. Obama signed an executive order to do that. You could say he was unrestrained by the law in doing so.

Trump even challenged Congress several times to change the immigration law (including providing a legal path for Dreamers to citizenship) to update the law to current circumstances. Nothing happened.

Democrats argue that they would not agree to the deal because Trump wants to build a law (in order to enforce the law) and he will not agree to amnesty (for those who broke the law).

Who exactly is unrestrained by the law?

Trump's executive order banning immigration from countries with terrorist ties was immediately challenged in court and he deferred to the rule of law as the case was appealed. The Supreme Court ultimately approved his executive authority to institute a ban in accordance with his legal authority.

A tyrant? I don't see any evidence whatsoever to make that claim against Trump.

If we want to look a President who was unrestrained by the law look no further than Barack Obama.

Here is short list of some things you might have missed or forgotten about during the Obama administration. Credit to Thomas Wictor for this list.

(1) In the GM bailout, Obama illegally ordered the bankruptcy court to ignore shareholders and non-union members in order to restore union members.

Shareholders lost 100 percent of their investments.

(2) In Operation Fast and Furious, the Obama ATF allowed straw buyers to arm the Mexican drug cartels.

Hundreds of Mexican police and citizens were murdered as a result.

(3) Instead of deporting illegals, the Obama US Customs and Border Protection took them to bus stations in McAllen, Texas, bought them tickets, gave them payment vouchers, and turned them loose.

(4) The Obama Department of Justice used Operation Choke Point to illegally pressure banks to not do business with gun dealers.

(5) In order to implement gun-control measures, Obama illegally bypassed Congress using Executive Orders.

Trump rescinded the Executive Orders, thus reducing the power of the Executive Branch and returning to Congress, where it belongs.

(6) Obama illegally implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which is not any form of government rule.

He simply ordered that his administration carry out his wishes.

(7) Obama illegally ordered the Labor Department to delay the caps on our-of-pocket expenditures under ObamaCare.

The law was changed without legislation. Obama simply ordered it done.

(8) Obama illegally delayed the employer mandate of ObamaCare.

Again, that was done without legislation. Obama simply ordered it to happen.

(9) Obama illegally ordered the Office of Personnel Management to exempt Congress and their staff from the requirement that they get their coverage through ObamaCare exchanges.

(10) Obama illegally delayed the requirement that the public buy ObamaCare-compliant plans, and THEN he rejected House legislation that would have made his actions legal.

(11) Obama illegally ordered the IRS to ignore the requirement that tax credits be offered only for use of state exchanges. Instead, the IRS was ordered to offer tax credits for state, regional, subsidiary, and federal exchanges.

(12) Obama illegally ordered the IRS to profile political organizations. Formal guidelines were issued to "be on the lookout" for groups that had specific words in their titles or descriptions.

(13) The Supreme Court ruled against the Obama administration more than any administration in history.

In each case, the government's only argument was that federal power has no limitations.

(14) Obama illegally made recess appointments when Congress was still in session.

(15) Obama's Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and Justice Department illegally sent out guidelines to speech on college campuses. The procedure denied legal representation, encouraged punishment before trial, and used a “more likely than not” conviction standard.

(16) Obama illegally ordered the Department of Homeland Security to issue work and residence permits to the so-called Dreamers.

(17) Obama's Justice Department illegally obtained recorded conversations from employees of the Associated Press.

(18) Obama illegally ordered the Boeing company to close a non-union plant in South Carolina.

(19) Obama fired Gerald Walpin-- Inspector General of the Corporation for National and Community Service--after Walpin reported that Obama friend Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson used AmeriCorps funding to pay for political activities.

(20) Obama illegally met in secret with lobbyists hundreds of times, violating disclosure laws.

(21) Obama raided the guitar factory of a REPUBLICAN manufacturer for allegedly using illegal
wood, while the DEMOCRATIC manufacturer was allowed to continue using the same wood.

(22) Obama illegally appointed "czars," thus bypassing the requirement that Congress approve appointees.

(23) Obama illegally demanded payment for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

(24) Obama illegally directed most of the "Stimulus" to union pension funds.

(25) Obama illegally exempted unions from most ObamaCare requirements.

(26) Obama lied about the Benghazi attack, claiming that it was caused by a movie trailer, when in fact it was a carefully planned al-Qaeda attack that involved over 150 men armed with gun trucks, mortars, and rocket-propelled grenades.

Of course, none of this even touches on the extent to which the Obama administration might have been complicit in covering up crimes of Hillary Clinton. It also does not consider the extent to which the Obama DOJ, FBI, CIA and others may have conspired to prevent (or remove) Donald Trump from the Presidency. That is still to be determined but it looks dangerously close to an abuse of power at a minimum.

I had many major philosophical and policy differences with Barack Obama when he was President. I wrote about them often in these pages. However, not once did I call him a tyrant, a thug or treasonous.

It is difficult to understand where the Left is coming from. In point of fact, Donald Trump is doing exactly what he said he would do as President. There was no curve ball. There was no bait and switch. 62 million Americans and, most importantly based on the rule of law and our constitution, 304 electoral votes (compared to 227 for Hillary Clinton) were cast for Trump.

Voters evaluated the candidates more thoroughly (though tv, radio, debates, social media) and extensively than any two Presidential candidates in history. By far! However, the Democrats just can't seem to accept that they lost.

Democrats and the media also seem to be confounded that Trump's approval ratings do not appear to slip no matter how much mud, muck and mendacity they try to spread to the voters.

Trump is not immune from losing the loyalty and faith of his voters. It could happen. It can happen to any politician given the right circumstances. However, I have seen nothing to this point that is a surprise compared to what I thought Trump was when I voted for him.

In fact, most Trump voters I have spoken with believe he has exceeded expectations to this point. Count me in that group. A number of those voters were reluctant Trump voters who were more motivated to vote against Hillary than for Trump. That is no longer the case. Trump has earned their respect and support in his own right based on his results as President.

Did the real estate tycoon become a tyrant as President?

You can decide. The voters always decide in our system. Or they are supposed to.

That is the only reason I can think of that the Democrats are so desperate right now. They are close to panic that the voters have not bought what they are selling. They keep ratcheting up the attacks and it seems to have no effect.

I wrote shortly after Trump was elected that the Democrats would make a lot of noise about the dangers of a Trump presidency and the dangers we would face as a country with him in office.

However, I pointed out that Democrats were not really worried about Trump failing. They were really worried that he would succeed.


That is how a tycoon becomes a tyrant.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Perils of Parenting

It is incredibly difficult to a be a parent in this day and age.

There are so many things out there to distract your child and put them on the wrong path. 

It is not easy instilling the right morals, character and values in your child to confront today's society. You would hope that their school would be an ally in that quest. 

A couple of examples from the headlines this week shows how diligent parents must be in monitoring what is going on at their children's schools.

A 10-year old boy in Tarboro, NC was punished for calling his teacher "ma-am."

The mother of a 10-year-old boy in North Carolina is outraged that her son was recently punished for calling his fifth grade teacher "ma’am.”
“I was in disbelief,” Teretha Wilson, the boy’s mother, told Fox News on Saturday.
Wilson noticed her son, Tamarion, was not himself when she picked him up from the bus stop earlier this week.
“I asked him what was wrong, and he told me he got in trouble for saying 'ma’am' to a teacher. I was confused,” she said.
The next afternoon, Wilson went to the school to meet with Tamarion’s teacher and the school's principal. With her she brought a separate piece of paper on which her son had written the definition of ma’am. (According to the Oxford Dictionaries, ma’am is defined as “a term of respectful or polite address used for a woman”).
Wilson claims Tamarion’s teacher told her that her son “was getting on her nerve when he called her ma’am" but “couldn’t give me a reason of why that was bad.” The teacher also claimed Tamarion knew that she wasn’t serious when she allegedly threatened to throw something at him, Wilson said.

So much for Southern manners.

It appears that patriotism and allegiance to the flag is also threatened in the South. And here I thought it was just with NFL players.

An Atlanta neighborhood charter school principal announced at the beginning of the school year that students would no longer recite the Pledge of Allegiance. She explained it to parents as “an effort to begin our day as a fully inclusive and connected community.”

That's weird. I thought that was exactly what reciting the Pledge of Allegiance was supposed to do. Doesn't the pledge explicitly state that we are all connected together by our country and God and we cannot be divided? Doesn't it state we all pledge allegiance the principles of liberty and justice for all?  How much more inclusive and connected  can you get?

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

“Over the past couple of years it has become increasingly obvious that more and more of our community were choosing to not stand and/or recite the pledge,” she wrote, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
“Teachers and the K-5 leadership team will be working with students to create a school pledge that we can say together at morning meeting,” Zelski wrote, adding that it “will focus on students’ civic responsibility to their school family, community, country and our global society.”

I pledge "civic responsibility" to our global society? Notice that the principal also does not suggest the focus be on allegiance to our  country. The "civic responsibility" should be to their country. What country is that if not the United States where they are going to school compliments of the taxpayers?

Fortunately, parents of students at the school were infuriated, and as the decision got media coverage and the attention of state politicians, the principal quickly reversed the course.

Therein lies a lesson for parents according to Janice Shaw Crouse, the author of the book, "Children at Risk".

“I think parents should take heart … in that the administration was forced to change their minds and go back to having the Pledge of Allegiance,” she said. “And I think parents can learn from this that they do need to speak out, and they do need to know what’s going on so that they can speak out.”

To make matters worse, last week brought news of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that alleges child sexual abuse involving more than 300 "predator priests" in six dioceses in the state. Many of the priests were well known to the Catholic Church hierarchy but were actively involved in covering up the abuse.

This is just another in a long string of such cases that we have heard about in recent years. It has been reported that the Catholic Church in the United States has paid out $3.8 billion in lawsuits and claims since the 1980's involving sexual abuse.

There is even a credible report out today from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano (the Vatican's former ambassador to Washington, D.C.) that Pope Francis himself has been complicit in looking the other way regarding at least one Cardinal that was found to have engaged in child abuse. Vigano has asked for the Pope to resign.

This has reached the point that it seems that the Catholic Church has serious fundamental problems within the culture of its clergy. It also raises serious questions about the entire leadership of the church. Vigano calls it an "infected swamp". Does that sound familiar?

It would appear that the only solution is fundamental change and that probably will only occur if loyal Catholic parishioners demand that change.

In the meantime, parenting is perilous. The institutions that we have traditionally relied on to help guide our children's morals, character and values are unreliable.

We were told by Hillary Clinton that it takes a village to raise a child. Unfortunately, it appears we can't trust the village to help.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Bartender and the Bus Driver

One of the great mysteries of my life is how there can still be people promoting socialist political ideology. It is something that I have heard for nearly seven decades.

You would think the evidence of those last seven decades would have disheartened even the most passionate devotee that believes that socialism benefits humanity.

Let's look at a few examples.

I am using some of the extreme examples of communism compared to capitalism. American socialists today argue that communism is not their ultimate goal. They do not desire to take over all private property and production. They just want to take what is needed to be "fair" to everyone. Of course, Marxist theory (see above) makes clear that socialism is considered just a transitional state toward the realization of communism.

Of course, there is never enough to go around. Therefore, this inevitably requires more and more control by the government of the private sector. Look no further than what has happened in Venezuela.

Korea was cut into two halves after the Korean War. The North adopted socialist political and economic theory. The South was committed to capitalism and freedom.

Same people. Same cultural background. Very different results.

There is no better way to view the stark difference than this satellite image taken by NASA in 2014. That dark area between South Korea and China is North Korea at night.

The difference? Communism vs. Capitalism.

Looking at it in graphic terms comparing Gross Domestic Product it looks like this.

Credit: Edward C. Prescott, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics

A similar situation occurred in West Germany and East Germany when Germany was divided after World War II. Same people. Same culture. The West and East both had GDP per capita numbers that were identical in 1949. By 1990 (at the time of reunification), the capitalist West had GDP per capita that was almost double that of the East.

The difference? Communism vs. Capitalism.

It is no different between Communist China and Taiwan (The Republic of China).

China has made enormous strides since it moved away from its "planned socialist economic" system and moved to what it now calls its "socialist market economic" system that introduced privatization and contacting out much of state-owned industry in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Is it a coincidence that China's economy took off right after they moved from a strict communist system to a more open, market based system?

There is no better way to show this than in this chart of averages wages in China which have exploded upwards since those market reforms were instituted.

Another way to look at it is to consider the fact that in 1990 756 million Chinese lived in extreme poverty. By 2013 that number was 25 million.

By the way, Taiwan has 23 million people in a country of 13,973 square miles. China has a population of 1.3 billion with 3,705,407 square miles. Despite all the advantages of geographic size, natural resources and the population that China has, Taiwan's GDP per capita is 3 times larger today even after China's huge step forward with its economic reforms over the last 30 years. That is a lot of additional wealth. That is the difference between capitalism and communism.

Of course, we do not have to look any further than Venezuela to see what socialism has done to what was once the most prosperous country in South America in the space of less than two decades.

Bear in mind that all of this is occurring in a country that is reputed to have the largest oil reserves in the world. Despite that, food is so scarce that last year the average citizen is reported to have lost 19 pounds. Millions have fled the country's shortages and poverty.

Last week Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro announced a new single exchange rate for a new Venezuelan currency that would effectively devalue the currency by 96 percent.

In one of the biggest economic overhauls of Maduro's five-year government, the former bus driver and union leader also said he would hike the minimum wage by over 3,000 percent, boost the corporate tax rate, and increase highly-subsidized gas prices in coming weeks.
"I want the country to recover and I have the formula. Trust me," Maduro said in a nighttime speech broadcast on state television.

Of course, that 3,000% increase in the minimum wage will not help those workers very much. Economists predict that the inflation rate in Venezuela this year will hit 1,000,000%!

Maduro has the formula and he wants those that are left in Venezuela to trust him?

It sounds a lot like new Democrat darling Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez doesn't it?  She also says she has the formula and to trust her.

Did you know that Maduro was a bus driver before he got into politics?

Did you know that Ocasio-Cortez was a bartender?

Socialism and communism inevitably results in a lower standard of living and hardships for the masses. It has been documented time and again throughout history.

The irony is that it is always sold as being a better system for the masses. It is promoted as "the way" to remove class distinctions, unfairness and insure equitable wealth distribution in a society.

You have to remember that the economic system of governance makes little difference to the leaders of countries.

After all, they lead a life of privilege no matter what economic system is in place. That is even truer in communist or socialist countries because the political leaders become the aristocracy. Everyone is beholden to the government.

That is why we keep hearing about the ideal of socialism. It is because there will always be a bartender, bus driver, baker or barrister who figures out that their career prospects are better as a politician selling this baloney. Why work and pay taxes when you can get on a podium, promise people the world, take other people's money and spread it around as you see fit? And keep a pretty nice share for yourself.

That is pretty much the history of socialism and communism.

That is also why, even though history is replete with the failures of socialism, we will continue to have bartenders and bus drivers who say "trust me, I have the formula."

There will also be new generations who are ignorant of history and actually believe these people have a formula that actually works.

Trust me.

It never has and it never will as long as humans inhabit the earth.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Where Does It Go From Here?

Where does it go from here?

That is the question in the wake of the conviction of Paul Manafort on eight counts of tax evasion and bank fraud and the guilty plea of former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen to a federal election campaign contribution violation

Liberal Democrats seem to be giddy in thinking that this will be the end of Trump.

Are they right? Let's consider the possibilities.


The Democrats like to make much of the fact that Manfort for a time was Trump's campaign chairman. However, he only had that role for a relatively short period of time---5 months in total (3 months as Chairman) in a campaign that consumed over 18 months. In the overall scheme of the election of Trump, Manafort had a very insignificant impact. He joined the campaign after Trump had wrapped up the primary elections and he was gone by the time the general election began in earnest.

The one lasting impact that Manafort had was influencing Trump to select Mike Pence as his running mate. (more on that later).

The fact is that Manafort was convicted of crimes that had absolutely nothing to do with Trump. 5 counts of filing false tax returns (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015), 2 counts related to bank fraud by lying on loan applications, and a final count of maintaining a foreign bank account without reporting it to the IRS.

The entire prosecution of Manafort appears to have been motivated in order to squeeze him by getting him to give up something on Trump. Why else were these charges brought by Special Counsel Mueller now? What was the IRS doing for all those years if Manafort was committing tax fraud that was so obvious in 2011, 2012 etc.

Manafort's conviction did not surprise me. I wrote about the charges against Manafort right after he was indicted last November. Nothing he did with his work with foreign interests looked good.

Then again, as I wrote  at that time, nothing looks good about how Bill and Hillary Clinton and Clinton Foundation operated with foreign interests either. However, Manafort is paying a price (apparently targeted for no other reason than he worked for Trump) and Bill and Hillary are still fancy free.


The Michael Cohen case looks more dangerous for the President. He admitted that he paid off two women who threatened to expose a sexual relationship with Trump at the direction of Trump in order to "influence the election." The charge against Cohen is that this was a federal election campaign violation.

Although it is not getting much attention, Cohen also pled guilty to five counts of filing false tax returns (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) and one count of bank fraud. Do you see a pattern here?

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Paying someone off is not generally a crime. However, attempting to blackmail someone is. The irony is that the women who attempted to commit the crime of blackmail have gotten no legal scrutiny while Cohen has been prosecuted.

The government's case seems to hinge on the words "influence the election". If Cohen had made these payments in order to protect Trump's reputation there would apparently be nothing here. However, the government is arguing that the payments were made in order to "influence the election" of Trump. By getting Cohen to plead guilty to this charge, and getting Cohen to say he was acting at the direction of Trump, they are attempting to color Trump with the charge as well.

It is interesting that the only "crime" here seems to be that this expenditure was made through a corporate entity and was above legal limits.  It was also was not done with campaign funds. The government is arguing that it was an "in kind" contribution. They have decided it was a campaign contribution. This seems awfully flimsy to me especially when you consider that most campaign finance violations only result in civil penalties involving a fine.

You should consider the fact that had these payments been made with actual campaign money I have no doubt that this would have been considered the payment of a personal expenditure. However, the government has constructed that payment. How do you win when they can skewer you either way?

Make no mistake, the Cohen prosecution and any deal with prosecutors is also being done solely to get him to turn on Trump. Given Cohen's long association with Trump, the President clearly has more risk with Cohen than he does with Manafort. However, I doubt anything he has on Trump is related to Russian collusion in the election.

This is all to say that everything about the Mueller investigation seems to be building a political movement to remove Trump. Most legal scholars question whether the President can even be indicted when he is in office. The exclusive means to remove a President is through the impeachment process.

When Mueller issues a final report (if he ever does) that implicates Trump in some way, it will be to argue for impeachment rather than indictment.

Parallels With Clinton

We have been down this road before. Bill Clinton also liked the ladies. That was known before his election. He perjured himself while in office attempting to cover up his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

The Republicans, who had a majority in the House, impeached Clinton for "high crimes and misdemeanors". Democrats shrugged their shoulders and said "it was just about sex". They said that it was understandable he would lie.

The American people agreed. The economy was good and nobody wanted to rock the boat.

It is not much different today.

The people who voted Trump into office knew that they were not electing a Boy Scout. If they wanted that, Mitt Romney would be in the second term of his Presidency.

If this is all that there is, this will not go very far. If anything, Trump's actions fall far short of Clinton's. All of this happened before Trump was even elected. The alleged affairs with the women were ten years ago. Clinton was actually doing IT in the Oval Office with an intern.

If there is more here then it will depend on the American people. As I have written before, that is where all the power comes from in this country. Clinton did not lose the people in 1998-1999. Trump will be fine unless he loses the support of the people. If that happens, the politicians will feel free to do whatever they please. And most, on both sides, would be pleased to do what they pleased with Trump.

Of course, you have to ask if that happened, do the Democrats really want a President Mike Pence?

I have always thought that one of the great ironies of the Clinton impeachment saga was that if Clinton had been impeached, Al Gore would have become President in 1999. Gore would have run in the 2000 election as a sitting President against George W. Bush. Can you tell me that Gore would not have won the additional 538 votes in Florida that he needed due to that fact?

In hindsight, the best long game for Democrats would have been for Clinton to be removed and Gore to become President.

The GOP was so blinded by Clinton that they took on an impossible impeachment proceeding. The Democrats were so blinded in protecting Clinton that they lost sight of the bigger prize.

Similarly, are the Democrats so blinded in their hatred of Trump today that are they missing the bigger picture?

Mike Pence

Mike Pence has been a consistent conservative his whole life. He doesn't say outrageous things. He doesn't burn up Twitter. He doesn't even go to lunch alone with a member of the opposite sex. There is not much to believe that a Pence agenda would be much different than Trump's. It would just be delivered with far less bombast.

If Pence took office after next January 20, he can serve out the rest of the Trump term and he is eligible for two more terms of office. You can potentially appoint a lot of federal judges and Supreme Court justices over ten years.

All that being said, the Democrats still would prefer to be rid of Trump. They fear his charisma and his fearlessness. They fear his energy and ability to energize a crowd. They fear his ability to attract the votes of Democrats and minorities. That is why I think they are willing to take their chances with Pence.

Where does it go from here?

I have no idea. To this point, I see nothing that causes me any concerns about Trump. There is nothing new here from my perspective.

However, I like the prospects for the future however the cards may fall.

Monday, August 20, 2018

What is the Truth?

Rudy Giuliani made headlines this weekend by stating "that truth is not always the truth."

Rudy has been backpedaling almost as fast as Governor Andrew Cuomo did last week when he said that "America was never that great."

I think what Rudy was trying to say was that "truth" is often perceived in the eyes of the beholder. Look no further than all of the "he said, she said" cases. There is undoubtedly a real truth in these cases. However, our perceptions create our individual reality.

If you don't believe that reality about truth, take a look at this chart that I saw recently in The Daily Shot via Bruce Mehlman.

Could there be that much difference in the perception of current economic conditions?

If you are a Republican things look very good to you. Everything has been on an upward path since President Trump was elected.

If you are an Independent things look pretty good to you. The Trump election boosted confidence immediately and things have been pretty steady since.

If you are a Democrat you seem to think a recession started when Trump was elected and it has turned into a full-fledged depression in the last couple of months.

What is the truth?

GDP was up 4.1% last quarter.

The unemployment rate is 3.9% with record low unemployment for Blacks, Hispanics, Youths and High School Drop-outs.

Small business optimism is near record highs.

The stock market (DJIA) is up almost 40% since Trump was elected.

These all support the truth that Republicans see.

On the other hand, these are also truths that the Democrats could point to.

Income inequality is rising.

Personal (especially student debt) and government debt is reaching unsustainable levels.

Trade tensions are increasing with our largest trading partners.

The length of the bull market in stocks is now a record.

Donald Trump is President and the more success he has the more depressed the Democrats get.

There is a lot of truth out there. The question is how is it perceived through our political lens?

Speaking about truth, how about this? This is the headline from Small Business Trends reporting on a recent survey of 2,600 small business owner and entrepreneur conducted by Guidant Financial.

Wow! African American Small Business Ownership Up 400% in a Year, Survey Reveals

If this is true, there could be no bigger endorsement of the Trump economy that I have seen. That is an astounding finding. It should be shouted from every rooftop in America.

However, I have my doubts about the data. It simply does not seem realistic that there could be a 400% increase in that number in the space of one year.

I tried to get to the survey source material to see if I could better understand the data. However, the best I could do was get this press release that Guidant Financial put out on the survey which it has conducted for a number of years.

I am not saying that this is "Fake News" or Guidant is intentionally putting out false data. The numbers just don't seem to pass the common sense test. I question the methodology of the survey and/or the base period numbers they are using as comparisons.

Guidant goes on to state that 45% of all small businesses in the United States are now owned by minorities. They state that number was only 15% in 2015. Minority-owned businesses have tripled in three years? Again, this does not seem realistic no matter how you look at it.

According to the survey, the ownership of small businesses today in the United States is 55% white, 19% Black, 14% Hispanic, 8% Asian and 4% Native Americans.

If we are to believe the Guidant survey, Black-owned businesses went from 3.8% to 19% in one year! To put that in perspective, African Americans make up about 13% of the population.

Perhaps this is the reason that Trump support with African Americans has gone from 8% in November, 2016 to 36% approval last week.

If this is true, it should also raise questions as to why the Democrats want to keep pushing a socialist agenda.

This survey seem to indicate that all the new entrepreneurs are minorities. They are the very definition of what capitalism is all about.

You also have to ask if that many minorities are starting small businesses how could they be Democrats? Just look at the perception of economic conditions in the chart above. If you were a Democrat today, why would you even think about starting a small business if you had that pessimistic outlook?

What is truth?

Sometimes it is very hard to tell.

As Rudy Giuliani stated, "truth is not always the truth." It just depends on how you look at it.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Things I Learned This Week

I love learning new things.

I especially enjoy learning things that are unexpected or that show that the conventional narrative, wisdom or message that we hear may not be altogether true.

Here are a few things I learned this week.

We have been hearing that smoking is bad for you for 50 years. It appears that the message is getting through.

On a per capita number the decline is much, much larger considering the population increase since 1981.

We keep hearing about all of the plastic that is floating around in a massive island in the Pacific Ocean. As a result, cities like San Francisco have now outlawed plastic straws in order to save the environment.

It makes me wonder if fishing nets will be the next target for San Francisco. What's next? Is Fisherman's Wharf safe?

We also hear a lot about the increasing education divide in the country. Technology is supposedly making it hard for even high school grads to find jobs. You need to go to college or you are doomed to poverty.

How do you explain this?

Trump's critics call his voters uneducated deplorables. Looking at these record low unemployment numbers these voters must have really been voting in their best interest.

We also heard that Trump was going to wreck the environment and was completely irresponsible by having the United States exit the Paris Accords on Climate Change. That is why I thought these facts were interesting.

  • U.S. carbon emissions fell 0.5% per capita in 2017 to the lowest CO2 emissions per person in 67 years. Europe emissions rose 2.6%, the EU 1.5%, China rose 1.6%. The total world increase was 1.6%.

Trump is criticized for questioning the Paris Accords but USA carbon emissions are down while everyone else is up?

We also hear about how unpopular President Trump is. However, compare Trump's approval ratings with those of the leaders of France, UK and Germany.

  • Trump: 50%
  • Macron: 36%
  • May: 30%
  • Merkel: 29%

Finally, what to make of the improving trend in Trump's approval ratings with African Americans?

Election Day, 2016                 8%
Last year on this date           19%
Last week                               29%
Monday of this week             31%
Wednesday of this week        36%

The highest % vote for a GOP Presidential candidate in recent history was 12% in 1996.

Keep in mind that all of the allegations of Omarosa claiming that Trump is a racist starting coming out at the end of last week. The mainstream media has been running these stories virtually non-stop.

However, Trump's approval rating is up 7% in one week with African Americans?

Could there be anything more terrifying to Democrats right now than these numbers?

What do all these things mean?

First, there is a lot that you don't hear reported in the mainstream media.

Second, it appears that more and more people are much, much wiser than they are given credit for by the media and the political pundits.

The things I learned this week were very interesting. I hope they were to you as well. Feel free to share them liberally with friends and family.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Polling Perspectives-August, 2018

I am a data guy.

If it is business, I want to dig into the numbers and the key ratios.

If it is sports, I want to see the stats.

If it is politics, I want to see the polling data.

I like political polling data in particular in order to provide context and meaning to the bigger political picture. In politics, perception is reality. It does not matter what "the truth" is. It only matters what the people's perception of the truth is.

That is why political consultants work so hard to shape the image and message of a candidate. It is also why the media's role in modern campaigns have become increasingly important through the years. What used to be print media now extends to broadcast, cable and social media.

Some argue that this extension and diffusion of the media is why there is so much political division today. Depending on the outlet, and their outlook, you might find many "truths".

That being said, let's see what the voters seem to thinking right now and I will follow with some observations on the data.

  • Trump approval at 50% in Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll (8/14/18).
    • +4% higher than Obama at the same point in his Presidency.

This is absolutely remarkable when you consider the ongoing media onslaught on Trump by the mainstream media. How do you explain it?

This explains some of it. This also probably explains why there is such a concerted effort right now to brand Trump as a "racist". If the Democrats lose a third of the Black vote to Trump where do they go for votes? There are just not enough Antifa and Socialist voters to make up for the loss of these voters.

There was another interesting poll out today in Florida where Democrat Senator Bill Nelson is being challenged in the November election by current GOP Governor Rick Scott.

If the Democrat Nelson is only up three points with Florida Latinos over the GOP challenger Scott, he has to be in some real trouble in his re-election bid.

This leads to this poll result.
  • Recent Gallup Poll of voters says that Immigration is the nation's "most important problem".

Look at the numbers since Trump first entered the Presidential race with immigration as one of his signature issues. Do you see a connection with this sentiment and his approval rating?  Does this better explain Trump's 50% approval rating despite unrelenting criticism by the media?

I thought the following was also interesting data although not technically a political poll. It is the Small Business Optimism Index. It just had its second highest score since this index has been measured. This is an index based on ten survey indicators conducted monthly by the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Is it mere coincidence that the optimism index exploded upwards just after Trump was elected?

While we have all of the positive economic news, low unemployment, rising wages and fewer people on food stamps we also have seen Democrats increasingly disapprove of capitalism in comparison with socialism.

  • Gallup Poll shows that 57% of Democrats have a favorable view of Socialism. The comparable number for Republicans---16%.

I would suggest that this is a pretty big philosophical divide. It is also hard to explain considering the current economic environment. Where are these people getting their news?

Of course, that poll result has nothing on this one.

  • John Zogby Strategies reports that 42% of Democrats and 47% of Blacks are in favor of a state's right to secede from the United States! 39% of all voters surveyed agreed with the right of secession. No, this is not a poll from 1860. This is 2018!

What is ironic about this is that this is exactly why we fought the Civil War.  You might remember it. 620,000 Americans died fighting in this war. That is half of all the casualties that have perished in all of the wars in the nation's history.

I guess you could argue that this might not be surprising because Democrats held this view in 1860 as well.

However, how do you explain African Americans having this view?

Do we even teach American History in school any more?

I guess it is a good thing for all concerned that Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans did not agree that states had the right to secede from the union.

This the exact question asked on the survey

Which of the following is closer to your view?

Polls give us a window about what voters are thinking. They give us perspective. They just don't always allow us to always understand why people think the way they do.

This week's polls show that once again.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Double Standard? You Decide.

The term "fake news" gets thrown around a lot these days but I believe the core issue underlying it is the double standard that seems to be in operation with the mainstream media.

There seems to be little doubt that the mainstream media uses a double standard in all that it does. It has one standard for Democrats, it had another one for Barack Obama and it has an altogether different standard for Republicans, and most particularly, Donald Trump.

We also see that double standard in the justice system as well. There was clearly one standard for Hillary Clinton. There has been a completely different standard for Donald Trump. There seems to have been no standard at all for Barack Obama. Obama even stated after he left the Presidency that he "didn't have any scandals."

It is true that he never had an independent counsel investigation to contend with. That is interesting itself when you consider some clear scandals such as "Fast and Furious", "Benghazi", "Hillary's Private Server" "The Use of the IRS to target conservative groups", "The Domestic Spying on Reporters like James Rosen and Sharyl Attkisson",  and the "Payment of $1.7 billion in cash to Iran (a terrorist state) with funds that by law were supposed to only be paid to terrorist victims".  A double standard? You decide.

I recently read a book that The Washington Post published shortly after Donald Trump secured the GOP nomination (but before he was elected) entitled "Trump Revealed".

There is little doubt that Trump has a very complicated personality. I have read most of Trump's books and I have also tried to read many of the other unauthorized biographies of Trump to get a better sense of the essence of who he is.

I was not expecting to get a flattering portrayal of Trump in this book in that this was authored by two Washington Post reporters. One of the reasons I read it was to get another perspective. However, I immediately saw something interesting on the first page of the book that showed how deep the double standard goes with The Washington Post.

"The Post assigned more than twenty reporters, two fact-checkers, and three editors to examine Trump's life. In about three months, they were to produce this book and more than thirty articles for the Post, with the goal of chronicling and understanding everything from Trump's family background through his childhood, career, and political evolution. We sent reporters to his ancestral homes in Germany and Scotland, to his childhood neighborhood in Queens, and his boarding school in upstate New York, to his college campuses in the Bronx and Philadelphia, and to his boarding ventures in Atlantic City, Panama, Russia, and Azerbaijan. We visited and spoke with Trump's relatives, classmates, friends, competitors, business partners, executives and employees, boosters, and critics."

Twenty reporters? Two fact-checkers? Three editors? Trips to Germany and Scotland?

That is well and good. That is what reporting is all about.

However, I was curious. Did they do anything similar with regard to candidate Barack Obama in 2008. Did they send out twenty reporters to check into everything about his life and background and write a book about him in the lead-up to the 2008 election? After all, little was known about Obama's background in 2008. There was undoubtedly much to learn. Compare that to the decades that Trump had been in the public eye.

If The Post did anything of that magnitude, I could not find any evidence of it on a Google search. The closest it seemed to get was assigning David Marannis to cover biographical details relating to Obama in its 2008 election coverage. Marannis later used this and other material to write a book about Obama (Barack Obama: The Story) that was published in 2012

In fact, the Post's own ombudsman, Deborah Howell, concluded that there had been "An Obama Tilt in Campaign Coverage" over the previous year in a report published the Sunday after the 2008 general election.

In my research I found that The Washington Post did publish a book about Obama. It may not have had the time to extensively research Barack Obama's background in 2008 but it did have time to write a puff piece on "Obama's Legacy" shortly before Trump was inaugurated.

This is how the book is described in the promotional material by the publisher.

Notice how Obama is portrayed by these Washington Post writers?

"Figure of hope."  "Symbol of change". "Countless programs and policies that have made an impact"
"the indelible mark".

Compare that to how the Trump book was described by the authors. (This is from the updated and revised book from after Trump was elected President that is now on sale),

Notice the words to describe Trump by these Washington Post reporters?

"A man certain of his views", "hugely confident in his abilities", "not terribly well informed", "quick to take offense".

Do we have fake news? I am not sure that fake news is as big a problem as is biased and slanted coverage of reporters with an agenda.

Do we have a double standard? Look at these two books from The Washington Post and you can decide.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The SAT Meets PC

After World War II aptitude tests gained increased favor with both business and education due to their wide use in processing hundreds of thousands of military recruits into the right roles in the War effort. For example, my father was only a high school graduate at the beginning of World War II but he was assessed with high intelligence and trained as a cryptographer. He told me that he was one of the cryptographers who passed the top secret message to drop the atomic bomb.

Business used the tests after the War for hiring for management positions based on whether someone had the aptitude to succeed rather than simply focusing on a college degree. It was the same reason that the Armed Forces used aptitude tests. Quite simply, in those days only 1 in 10 went to college. If someone did not attend college it most likely had nothing to do with their ambition or intelligence. They simply did not have the financial resources to continue their education.

The use of standardized tests leveled the playing field. It did not matter if your father wasn't a bank president or you did not go to a boarding school. It only mattered if you had the smarts to succeed.

Interestingly, a Supreme Court case in 1971 (Griggs v. Duke Power Co.)  ruled that jobs-based aptitude tests were potentially discriminatory as they could cause "disparate impact" when used by employers to assess and predict the performance of workers for promotion and advancement. As a result, a college education became the "default" for determining who would get on the management track and college became the only ticket for future advancement. High school graduates were left out in the cold no matter what their abilities might be.

The use of the SAT and ACT tests began being used extensively in college admissions decisions for similar reasons after the War and their importance grew after the Griggs decision. Admissions into the Ivy's and other top schools that were historically based on family connections and the East Coast boarding school they attended became democratized through the use of standardized tests.

Using a standardized test that measured one's aptitude for college work leveled the playing field. It allowed schools to find overlooked talent who may not have had all the advantages of the prepsters on the East Coast. It did not matter if you hailed from Michigan, Montana or Mississippi and did have had the same access to a quality high school education that the affluent had. The SAT showed whether you had the ability to do the work. The SAT also allowed admissions officers to objectively compare a student from the Choate School with students from Chillicothe, Ohio and South Central LA.

You can therefore argue that standardized testing has been one of the biggest factors allowing deserving, overlooked people to be recognized and receive opportunities to get ahead in the military, business and education over the years. This led to millions being elevated in their class status in the United States.

In fact, it would be difficult to point to anything else that has had a bigger impact on improving class mobility and opportunity for deserving people over the last 75 years.

Therefore, I find it interesting that more and more colleges are dropping the SAT and/or ACT as part of their admissions process.

The University of Chicago announced last month that it was dropping the requirement. Chicago joins over 1,000 other colleges and universities that have eliminated the standardized test in their admission decisions.

What is interesting is that the argument for doing so is to "enhance diversity".

That seems particularly ironic in that standardized tests were introduced in order to "enhance diversity" in the first place. They were introduced to identify talent and aptitude without regard to anything else--family background, wealth, race, religion or gender.

We now have to get rid of these tests to do the same thing they were introduced to do?

Standardized tests are not just a big topic at the university level. They are also under attack in New York City where they are used for admission decisions for the city's top high schools.

The reason?

Too many Asians are scoring well and too many Blacks and Hispanics are scoring poorly.

52% of admission offers to New York City's elite high schools for 2018 went to Asians.

4% to Blacks.

6% to Latinos.

27% to Whites.

This is not fair according to New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio because Blacks and Hispanics make up about 70% of the city's school population but they are only getting 10% of the spots in the elite high schools due to their standardized test scores.

On the other hand, Asians make up 13% of the school population but got 52% of the spots.

Accordingly, DeBlasio has won approval to get rid of the standardized test and allocate spots in the elite high schools so that Blacks and Hispanics get somewhere close to 50% of the admission offers.

All in the name of diversity.

Of course, if the NFL determined who made their rosters with similar thinking they would no longer consider 40-yard dash times or how much an athlete could bench press. They would also allocate a set number of roster positions to those that played in the Ivy, Patriot and Mountain West conferences and cut back those who played at Alabama, Ohio State or USC.

All in the name of diversity.

Of course, there remains the question as to whether putting individuals in positions where they are in over their heads is really in their best interest.

Well-regarded African American economist Dr. Thomas Sowell argues that affirmative action programs aimed at promoting diversity actually do more harm than good for minorities. After all, it easy to see that putting someone in an NFL game that is ill-equipped could hurt them. It is harder to see that in college or high school admission decisions.

Minority students admitted to institutions whose academic standards they do not meet are all too often needlessly turned into failures, even when they have the prerequisites for success in some other institution whose normal standards they do meet.
When black students who scored at the 90th percentile in math were admitted to M.I.T., where the other students scored at the 99th percentile, a significant number of black students failed to graduate there, even though they could have graduated with honors at most other academic institutions.
We do not have so many students with that kind of ability that we can afford to sacrifice them on the altar to political correctness.
Such negative consequences of mismatching minority students with institutions, for the sake of racial body count, have been documented in a number of studies, most notably "Mismatch," a book by Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor, Jr., whose sub-title is: "How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It's Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won't Admit It."

A law professor at the University of Pennsylvania named Amy Wax was recently placed on probation and prohibited from teaching required first year courses because she questioned the wisdom of the school's affirmative action program. In doing so she stated that she had never seen a black student rank in the top quarter of the class and only rarely in the top half. She claimed that almost all black law students gained admittance due to diversity mandates.

Penn's law school dean refuted Wax's claims. However, he produced no data to support his claim that "black students have graduated in the top of the class" at Penn Law.

Wouldn't that be relatively easy to do considering the amount of data that a law school typically compiles for accreditation purposes and for the annual law rankings that are done by US News and others?

The Dean's defenders state that he cannot release that data due to privacy concerns. That is nonsense. We are talking about aggregate data. I would like to see the class rank distribution and graduation rates for all admitted minority students at Penn for the last 10 years.

Is Professor Wax right or wrong in her assertion? If wrong, the discipline is warranted. However, if she is right doesn't Penn owe everybody an explanation and shouldn't more research and thought go into whether its affirmative action programs are helping (or hindering) minority students?

In the meantime, the SAT has met PC (political correctness) and ability seems to be losing in the name of diversity.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Your Life's Ride

There is nothing more difficult to do than save for retirement.

As human beings, we are hard-wired to live for today. For most of our existence, that is what we did. We set out in the morning to hunt and gather what we needed to survive for that day. We did not worry about tomorrow until tomorrow came.

Our natural state is not to delay ourselves gratification.

This mindset was also reinforced by the limits of technology. Many things could not be easily stored. You used it as you acquired it. It was not until refrigeration was developed that it was possible to store many items for future use.

All of these limitations also made the older members of the tribe a potential liability to the group. If someone could not produce what they required to be sustained on a daily basis, it placed additional pressures on everyone else.

You worked until you dropped. Retirement was not an option. Therefore, it was not given a thought.

This was the reality of human existence for thousands and thousands of years. It is hard to break brain patterns that evolved over that length of time.

The abundance we have today, and the choices that are available to us, make it even more difficult to save. The ease of seeing what others have (through tv, movies, social media) and the fact that marketers are constantly trying to influence us to buy their products just adds to the pressure.

Ben Carlson, who writes an investment blog "A Wealth of Common Sense", asked an interesting question recently, "Are SUV's Ruining Retirement Savings?"

SUV's are all the rage these days. If you think you see a lot of them on the road, you are right.

In 2013, SUV's and trucks made up 50% of all vehicle sales. By 2016, that number was up to 63%. Today they compose an astounding 67% of all sales.

That must be a big reason why the Ford Motor Company recently announced that it will not longer manufacture any passenger vehicles other than the Mustang. It will only make SUV's, trucks and crossover utility vehicles.

However, as Carlson points out, SUV's generally cost more than sedans and compacts. They also guzzle a lot more gasoline. Yes, it is hard to be driving a sensible sedan or a Sienna when everybody else is driving a Suburban or Sequoia . However, every dollar spent today on that SUV is one less dollar saved and invested for retirement.

The prices of many of these SUV's are now surpassing what I paid for my first house 40 years ago.

That is why so many vehicles are leased today. Most just want to get the lowest monthly payment even though it is much more sensible financially for most to buy a vehicle and drive it as long as they can.

On that note, I thought this was also an interesting list that Carlson referred to in his blog post that shows the top 15 vehicles that people hold onto for 15 years of longer.

Note that there is not one American nameplate on that list. You also have to admire the obvious reliability of those Toyota vehicles that keeps those original owners behind the wheel for 15+ years.

Carlson sums it all up with some excellent personal finance advice.
Personal finance experts love to discuss how much money you can save by avoiding that daily Starbucks habit or packing a brown bag lunch every day at the office. While I guess you could add to your bottom line somewhat by cutting back on the little things (a) this stuff doesn’t move the needle all that much, (b) it’s the little things in life that can give you small joys on a daily basis and (c) the large purchases will have a much greater impact on your bottom line.
If you can right-size your housing and transportation costs on a monthly basis, everything else becomes easier from a saving and budgeting perspective (income is the third leg of this stool but that’s a topic for another day).
Behavioral mistakes are potentially even more harmful to your bottom line in the personal finance realm than the markets. At least when you make mistakes with your investments you’ve already put that money aside. When it comes to personal finance mistakes, you’re often hurting your chances of saving enough money in the first place.
Buying an expensive car or SUV can be an enormous savings killer for those who aren’t putting enough money aside for the future.
If you’re maxing out your retirement accounts, saving for your children’s college fund, and have a nice emergency savings backstop, by all means, enjoy your expensive gas guzzler if you have some money left over. There’s nothing wrong with guilt-free spending when all of your other bases are covered.
But if you’re one of the many people who are woefully unprepared for retirement or any of your other saving goals, a good place to start would be cutting back on any unnecessary spending on transportation.

I would put it this way.

Enjoy the ride (your life) but recognize that the distance you will ultimately travel (your longevity) is a long way off. Make sure you have the fuel (savings) to make it to your final destination.