Debt ceiling deal

First, congratulations to both Kevin McCarthy and Joe Biden on the debt ceiling deal. The Senate and House need to pass this deal whether they like it or not. There just is no time left.

The most important part of the deal is it will last for 2 years. Dana Obeidallah from CNN writes that for Democrats who don’t like the deal, some things could be reversed if they win back the House in 2024, and still have a Democratic president.

Even better would be win back the House in 2024 and get rid of the debt ceiling.

Stay tuned,


Debt deal: Politics at its worse

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and President Biden have had a number of meetings this week to finalize a debt deal. As I have said many times, the debt ceiling should be approved without any conditions. It is not authorization to spend money, but to borrow enough money to pay the bills.

Treasury Secretary Yellen has stated that the debt ceiling must be raised on June 5 to avoid sovereign default. The consequences of default are extremely serious in terms of employment and the chance of recession. See link below:

Link Debt Breach

The deal in progress is to lift the debt ceiling sufficiently to cover the next two years. So, June 2025 would be the next time the US would once again be in this game of brinkmanship.

The major sticking point seems to be tougher work requirements for Federal aid program including food stamps and Medicaid. I can understand why the Medicaid work requirements are particularly contentious, as the states would be enforcing denial of medical payments to low income families. And, you can be sure if you live in a strong Republican state, officials would be blaming it on Washington, namely President Biden, for loss of medical benefits.

The future spin of Republicans in the 2024 election, is that the idiots in Washington (Democrats) spent all the money on the Ukraine war, so there is nothing left to pay for food and health needs for the poor in the US. And nobody has a job because Biden let everyone in over the border. Powerpoint bullet: Too much is spent outside the US and too little inside.

The reality is that it is the Republicans who are circumventing the democratic process and pushing through their own agenda on the threat of driving the US into default.

Link: Tougher work requirements for federal aid programs pose obstacle in debt limit talks

The only other country with a debt ceiling is Denmark, which is set so high, that it never becomes an issue.

Link: Denmark’s Debt Ceiling

Economist Paul Kruger explained in a recent New York Times column that government debt is not comparable to personal debt. Personal loans can really be destroy lives when individuals no longer have the ability to repay them. This can often happen later in life. Governments don’t have a lifetime, and as long as there is confidence from the financial community (particularly credit rating agencies), that the reserves and revenue stream are sufficient to service the debt, then our credit is fine.

McCarthy is actually fighting two battles, one with Biden and Democrats, and the second one with his own party. Within the Republican party, there are a known set of obstructionists, who will be quick to point out the insufficiencies in the deal. They will likely minimize the risk of default, a horrible mistake.

There is a third group, which I will call the sideliners, and this includes the Freedom Caucus and Donald Trump, who will almost certainly attack the deal as insufficient. Anyone who attacks the deal as being weak, will be headline news on Fox News.

Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was on a cable station, echoing Yellen’s warning that default would be catastrophic. Further, he suggested that if work requirements for federal aid programs can’t be resolved by June 5, just take them off the table for now, and leave them to future discussions.

This is the democracies should be working and it takes a lot of work to resolve issues. Maybe Medicaid is in need of reform. In that case, Republicans should work to explain what they want from their constituents, gain more representatives in the Senate, and win a majority in both houses, to pass for Medicaid reform.

The Democratic process makes a whole lot more sense than to hold the US economy hostage until Republicans get what they want.

Stay tuned,


Feedback Time

This will be the last year of this blog site. In the remaining months, I will look for stories which receive less attention by the media. I’ve got a few topics already begun.

If there is a particular issue of interest, I would like to know. I can’t guarantee that I will be able to prepare a blog on each topic.

There are also the like button, to tell me it is a topic of interest.

Stay tuned,


Debt Ceiling

Scary stuff from the US Treasury on May 22:

“With an additional week of information now available, I am writing to note that we estimate that it is highly likely that Treasury will no longer be able to satisfy all of the government’s obligations if Congress has not acted to raise or suspend the debt limit by early June, and potentially as early as June 1,” Yellen wrote Monday [May 22].”

Under these conditions, Kevin McCarthy would in a more rational world just buy time, by passing a bill that would suspend the debt ceiling for a couple of months. Why isn’t he doing it? To pass a suspension, would require the vote of a small group of Republicans who think all this brinkmanship can work to their advantage. They want their pound of flesh from Biden. It is a political power game. And this time, it just might go too far.

Yes. Default is a self-inflicted wound. The equivalent of crashing a plane to draw attention to flight safety.

I know the country would be just fine without a debt ceiling. Congress already has the authority to raise or lower taxes and approve spending. Yes, if Congress does not approve a budget, we go in shut down mode, where government services must be cut. This is very different. The US can not default on its debt as the world depends on the dollar.

The minting of a trillion dollar coin, issuing premium bonds and invoking the 14th amendment, have all been suggested, and described by others as gimmicks, which would result in a massive loss of confidence in the credit of the US.

I don’t know how the next 1-3 weeks will play out.

Stay tuned,


E. Jean Carroll Lawsuit

Donald Trump has been found guilty of sexual abuse and defamation in a civil proceedings in New York City. It is a civil case, so he must pay for the harm he has caused by his actions. The assault is claimed to occurred in 1996, approximately 27 years ago.

He can not be charged with the crime of sexual assault or rape, because of the statute of limitations. A criminal case would have a higher burden of proof. It also has a number of protections for the accused.

Trump’s lawyers are certain to provide numerous reasons why he received an unfair trial in their appeal. Likely they will be explaining these reasons on cable news. One of them is the Adult Survivors Act. The ASA creates a one-year lookback window for sexual assault survivors to pursue civil claims in court for abuse that may have occurred years earlier, as long as they were over 18 at the time. Previously, a person who experienced sexual abuse only had a few years to file a lawsuit in New York before their claim would be time-barred.

Link: Adult Survivors Act

The window is from November 22, 2022 to November 23, 2023. So from now until Nov 23, victims have the right to file civil complaints for claims that may go back 50 years ago or more. They had to be 18 years old at the time. It will be argued in the appeal, that the law did not have sufficient safeguards for the accused.

Statute of limitations help protect people of being accused of a crime that occurred so far in the past, that it would be unreasonable to expect the accused from being able to recall what happened on a particular day and find rebuttal witnesses. But, it can deny victims their day in court. It is especially important in cases where DNA and other evidence has been collected.

I intend to follow this case from a legal perspective. * The appellate court will not determine if Trump received a fair trial, as this is a very open question. What they will rule on is, whether his appeal is valid, based on court records, judge’s decisions, the rules of evidence and his constitutional rights, which are intended to provide the accused with reasonable protections in a civil case. It may be a very long time until this is resolved.

Stay tuned,


Note: I am not a lawyer. I don’t know if the filings are posted on the internet. Certainly, Trump’s lawyers will come up with a dozen reasons why the case should be overturned. As this is being played out, they will attempt to settle the case with Carroll privately.

White House Correspondent’s dinner

It begins with some well deserved high praise for journalists and photographers who are on location in the most dangerous places in the world to report the news. Some have been in imprisoned and others have died. The First Amendment of our Constitution, guarantees the freedom of speech, and while there are some exceptions, like defamation, the right to criticize officials of our government is absolute.

Now, the last 30 minutes or so are the “goodies” where we find out how well President Biden can be funny. Let me make this clear, both Presidents Bush and Obama excelled in this effort. Bush delivered some beauties, which I call side winder missiles, because you just don’t see them coming.

Best line from Biden was: “I had a lot of Ron DeSantis jokes ready, but Mickey Mouse beat the hell out of me and got to them first.” This of course refers to the current feud between DeSantis and Disney. This was followed up by: “I can’t be too rough on the guy. After his reelection as governor he was asked if he had a mandate. He said, ‘Hell no, I’m straight.’ I’ll give you time to think that one through. You got it?”

I particularly liked: “Last year, your favorite Fox reporters were able to attend because they were fully vaccinated and boosted. This year, with that $787 million settlement, they’re here because they can’t say no to a free meal.”

It was followed up with “And hell, I’d call Fox ‘honest, fair and truthful.’ But then I’d be sued for defamation!”

Comedian Roy Wood, Jr then stepped up to the podium, and opened with “Real quick, Mr. President, I think you left some of your classified documents up here. … I’ll put them in a safe place, he don’t know where to keep them.”

Roy Wood’s best line of the night, by far: “When the retirement age went up two years to 64 [in France] they rioted because they didn’t want to work till 64. Meanwhile in America, we have an 80-year-old man begging us for four more years of work.”

“I’m not fixing to have Dominion on my ass! I love Dominion. As a matter of fact, let me just say it right now: My favorite voting machine is Dominion voting machines. When I go to the polls, I make sure it is a Dominion machine that I use. If your election needs the truth, put Dominion in your booth! I ain’t fixing to get sued!”

I stop here, as you can watch the whole show on Youtube, or get pieces of the monologues from the Internet.

Link from Vulture: Roy Wood Jr.’s Best Jokes at the 2023 White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Link from People Magazine, The Funniest Moments from President Joe Biden’s 2023 White House Correspondents’ Dinner Speech

Youtube has many of the speeches made by former presidents. Trump is the only president in recent times who would not attend the dinner.

Stay tuned,


Debt Ceiling – Again and Again

This is not about limiting government spending. This is about the spending that the Congress approved, but did not have the funds to pay for it. So, it is necessary to borrow the money, and this increases our total debt. And, as I have written many times before (actually 13 posts), it has to be paid or we are in default, and this will be catastrophic.

Nothing will not be resolved by the McCarthy bill, because it has no chance passing the Senate. What the Republicans want in the House, is their “Pound of Flesh” and to make Biden look bad.

What Kevin McCarthy wants to do, is to undo many of the achievements Biden was able to accomplish in his first 2 years in office.

Per the link below: “The House bill was crafted to meet a series of demands from the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus, and it was altered in the final stretch to address regional concerns from some Republicans. Republicans in swing districts, after initially hesitating, ultimately fell in line.”

The White House Press Secretary reiterated that “this bill has no chance of becoming law,” blasting its spending caps, which she said would slash funding for “health care, education, Meals on Wheels and public safety.”

NBC News McCarthy passes his debt limit bill, but the path to averting default is deeply uncertain

Everyone can be in favor of cutting back federal spending, as long as it doesn’t affect them. Republicans want to force the hand of Democrats in choosing whether to shut down air control towers, or cutting off 1 million seniors in nutritional support programs. So, programs that are working must be shut down, but Biden gets to choose under the bill:

{See CNN link, of “Discretionary, non-military agency cuts that are in the proposed 2024 budget”] Examples the agencies gave included shutting down 125 air traffic control towers, slashing nutrition services for 1 million senior citizens and eliminating affordable housing assistance for close to 1.1 million families.

Also, the reduction would impact the 6.6 million students who rely on Pell Grants and the 1.2 million women, infants and children who receive nutrition assistance through WIC, DeLauro said. Plus, 200,000 children would lose access to Head Start and 100,000 children would lose access to child care.

Note: Representative House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut, asked government agencies earlier this year about the potential impact of reducing fiscal 2024 discretionary, non-defense spending (with the exception of veterans’ medical care) to fiscal 2022 levels.

See CNN Reporting:

Here’s what’s in the House GOP debt limit bill

Most bizarre item is the elimination of additional IRS agents, which will answer the phone and help collect more tax, and actually result in lowering the deficit.

We’ve had some pretty close calls in the past. The House is acting like a high speed race driver, who is trying to make a turn at the highest speed possible. I am very concern that the House just might push us into default.

Stay tuned,


On Travel

I love to travel. I’ve done a lot of it, for business and pleasure.

I am forgetful. It is much easier traveling with my wife, as she is mindful of the stuff I forget. It is also very nice to travel with family who bring extra stuff.

Many people cite health and safety reasons for staying at home. I think exploring the world keeps you young. Well most of the world. Don’t go to Libya right now. See US State Department warnings:

“Terrorist groups continue plotting attacks in Libya. Violent extremist activity in Libya remains high, and extremist groups have made threats against U.S. government officials and citizens. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, hotels, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and government facilities.”

Covers a lot. If you do go to Libya, it is important to dress down. Of course, in two seconds, folks will know you are not from there. But, if thieves have to chose between a well dressed tourist, and a dirty tee-shirt guy, they will go for the former any day of the week. Tripoli has some really good seafood, but I still recommend letting things cool off for a while. The US consulate has been shut down since 2014, usually not a good sign for safety conscience people.

Documents like visas are important. I’ve learned from experience. Credit cards are super important. An unlocked cellphone is very nice for foreign travel.

For any travel, a positive attitude is important. If you are in a plane about to crash, don’t start talking how it was a mistake to go on the super cheap airlines (“yeah I knew there was a catch”) and instead, talk about how having seats way in the back means that you have nothing to fear. Of course, this works only if you actually have seats way in the back.

People who value comfort have problems traveling from a place with good weather to one with bad weather. This is a negative travel gradient. For example, when I went from Miami to Boston in December, there was a 50 degree change, from 75 degrees to 20 degrees F, definitely going in the wrong way comfort-wise. But visiting family and good food (I made some of it) made up for this, and I hated to leave.

That’s about it. Travel is good and staying home isn’t.

Stay tuned,


Trump – we’ve seen all this before

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg will soon be able to formally arrest Donald Trump on charges that he misused campaign funds in the hush money to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. The payments were made in 2016, and Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, served time for these payments.

And of course, Trump is pushing back, even though he has not yet been indicted.

Per the link below, Trump accused Bragg — without substantiation or evidence — of being a “George Soros-backed Radical Left Democrat prosecutor” and running a “sham” investigation against him.  Bragg has been very reluctant to bring charges against Trump in the past until he had a sufficiently strong case.

Trump’s response is bat shit crazy. Boy I’ve been wanting to use this phrase, but there just weren’t the right circumstances.

On March 15, 2023, I received a contribution request from Trump’s Save America PAC fund, with the subject as Never Surrender, all in capitals and goes on to state:

“The Left thinks that if they bury me with enough witch hunts and intimidate my family and associates that I’ll eventually throw up my hands and give up on our America First movement.

Let me be as clear as possible: I WILL NEVER SURRENDER.

I walked away from a very nice life where the media never said a single mean thing about me.

I knew the price I’d have to pay for running a campaign that promised to take on the Deep State, the Open Borders Lobby, global special interests, and the Soros Money Machine.”

The Soros Money Machine?? George Soros is a billionaire, who runs the Open Society Foundations. It is an excellent foundation, fighting repression in many ways by autocratic governments. Better education leads to an informed public and puts pressure on government to change and allow dissent. The foundation has been active in Eastern Europe’s refugee crisis. Soros money machine has been put to good use.

Insider, Trump’s Pre-emptive Attack on Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg

Open Source Foundations

Fact check, Reuters, 2020, False claims about George Soros

I don’t think paying a porn star hush money from campaign funds, is related to “Saving America” and will decline the bat shit crazy donation request. Trump says his first love is to his country, but everything else says that his first love is to himself and saving Donald Trump.


Likely indictment #2 is the Georgia Election Meddling Case. This one will be a bit more complicated and could involve a number of officials including Trump. A “Special Grand Jury” was used to help determine the facts in this case, and this information is then given to a normal Grand Jury, to determine if there was potential violations of the law.

See link: Jury in Georgia Trump Inquiry Recommended Multiple Indictments, Forewoman Says

The indictments could come as early as next week. The judge has sealed the recommendations of the Special Grand Jury.


Attorney Jack Smith is the Special Counsel appointed by DOJ AG Merrick Garland is leading more criminal investigations and likely to produce more indictments, related to obstruction of justice in relation to the classified documents taken from the White House and the event leading to the Jan 6 attack of the capital.

While Donald Trump will continue to blast the legal system and promote wacko conspiracy theories (deep state, George Soros, etc), some very serious prosecutors are on his case, because no one is above the law.

And Trump will be able to pay for the very best legal defense, but that might not be enough. Besides crazy charges that everyone is colluding to get him, Trump will do what every he can to drag our the proceedings.

The “everyone is out to get me” is not a defense. It is just a marketing ploy to get contributions.

So, everyone deserves their day in court, and Trump will get his and the chance to present his defense against the charges. That’s the way the courts work.

Stay tuned,


The F-16 and other armament issues

Biden does not want to play into Putin’s hand, whose narrative is that Ukraine is the aggressor. Of course, Ukraine is vastly outnumbered in the battlefield, so this is plainly absurd. But, Putin’s narrative is that Ukraine with NATO is a threat to Russia. NATO is a defense organization and because Ukraine is not a member, is not obligated to come to Ukraine’s defense. When US and Russian forces are on the same battlefield, you have the real possibility of World War III. Similarly when NATO and Russian forces meet in combat in Ukraine, there is not stopping the potential escalation that will occur.

So, from the onset of hostilities, the US has tried to make this an Ukrainian war, arming Ukrainians to defend themselves with limited range arms beginning with the Obama administration, and then ramping up quickly during the Trump administration. Then on February 24, 2022, the Russian army with the cooperation of Belarus, made their initial tank assault from the Ukraine-Belarus border. (To first occupy the site of the abandon Chernobyl nuclear reactor, was a terrible error, as the ground is still radio-active in many parts).

The bellicose nature of Putin, his autocratic rule and his hostilities towards NATO did not go unnoticed. NATO expanded into Eastern Europe in 2004, with the admission of seven countries, under President George W. Bush. I believe this was the right decision, approved by all members of NATO as required.

Link: Wikipedia, Members of NATO

Sending fighter jets to Ukraine will be viewed by Russia as arming Ukraine with offensive weapons which could be used to attack Russia. I believe this is exactly what Ukraine wants to do, principally to knock out the Russian supply bases on the Russian-Ukraine border. So, there are some really scary escalation scenarios.

It maybe a surprise to many, to know that the F-16 is a single engine plane, with just one pilot, first produced in 1978. But of course, it has been modified many times, so they refer to it as the Fighting Falcon or F-16C. Military experts give it high praise against the Russian MiG-29 in dogfights. Experts also conclude that if the US provided F-16’s, it could be a real game changer in knocking out Russia’s superiority in the sky. It would not stop the constant missile attacks.

Link: MiG 29 verses F-16

Ukraine is not trained to fly F-16. And there will be all sorts of issues with maintaining the aircraft. For those who remember the Vietnam war, the escalation began with the US providing helicopters and pilots to South Vietnam. Then more US troops were needed to defend these bases which we built.

The US has supplied helicopters to Ukraine, and a very long list of military equipment and funding for their defense. Other countries, most notably the UK, Germany and France, have been constantly helping Ukraine, but it is really a worldwide effort. See link below:

Link: List of Military Aid to Ukraine

At the very end of this list, a summary of future US aid to Ukraine is provided. The number of countries is long, and honestly, I didn’t expect to see New Zealand, Taiwan or South Korea on the list of countries.

I have commented in prior blogs on the automated battlefield weaponry including the suicidal drone like the switchblades, javelins and the HIMAR missile launchers. Military equipment is not my forte, but there are plenty of websites which go into extensive details.

I believe some countries are helping Ukraine, but through other countries and doing it quietly, so not to get on the bad side of Putin. Then there is a lot of Russian arms left behind by retreating Russian (or mercenary) soldiers. So, Russians are being killed sometimes by their own weapons.

There’s a lot of politics, and misinformation around which is bound to get worse as we approach the 2024 elections. In general, there has been bipartisan support of military aid to Ukraine, with some exceptions some select members of Congress, who want either less money to be spent or approval for the F-16. A number of guests on conservative Fox News, have advocated less money to Ukraine and more to stop illegal immigration. My thinking is we should not short change foreign policy because spending more on domestic policy is more popular with voters.

Trump has bragged about the 250 million dollars of aid given to Ukraine in 2019, but leaves out the fact that he held up providing the aid, in an attempt to pressure President Zelensky to lie to his people and announce that Ukraine was investigating Hunter Biden for possible violation of the law regarding Burisma. In exchange, Trump would unfreeze aid to Ukraine. This was the basis for his first impeachment. It was clearly an abuse of presidential power and grounds for impeachment.

Trump also exaggerated how little aid Obama gave Ukraine. Trump’s claim that Obama gave the former president only “pillow and sheets” has been debunked.

CNN: Fact-checking Trump’s claim that Obama gave Ukraine ‘pillows and sheets’


Both of these links are from 2019. Going back in time and spreading disinformation does not help.

I guess there are enough real issues going forward, on whether more weapons will bring this war to an end, or broaden the conflict. The latest developments in regards to Moldova are scary. Hopefully, there are some countries in the background, helping to broker a ceasefire, as a first step to a Russian withdrawal.

Stay tuned,


Moldova and Transnistria

Ukraine’s President Zelensky has often stated that if Russian aggression does not stop at Ukraine, more countries will be invaded or will become Russian puppets because they fear the military presence of Russia. I agree, and it is the smaller and more unstable countries to go first. It will not necessarily be countries that lie on their borders. There are a number of smaller countries in Africa, which for the right price can be bought off.

Transnistria is a region on the southeastern border of Moldova. It is a breakaway state from Moldova, occupying a narrow strip of land on the Moldova-Ukraine border. Its capital is Tirispol. The Council of Europe considers the territory to be under military occupation by Russia. It is internationally recognized as a part of Moldova, but it is independent in many aspects. Per Wikipedia:

“Transnistria is an unrecognised but de facto independent presidential republic with its own government, parliament, military, police, postal system, currency, and vehicle registration. Its authorities have adopted a constitution, flag, national anthem, and coat of arms. After a 2005 agreement between Moldova and Ukraine, all Transnistrian companies that seek to export goods through the Ukrainian border must be registered with the Moldovan authorities.”

It was created by a ceasefire agreement in 1992, the first year with Yeltsin in office. It is a ceasefire agreement designed to end the violence broke out in 1990. The population of Transnistria is divided, with 29% Russian, 29% Moldovan and 23% Ukrainian. It has a higher percentage of Russians than the rest of Moldova.

Per Wikipedia:

The language laws presented a particularly volatile issue as a great proportion of the non-Moldovan population of the Moldavian SSR did not speak Moldovan (Romanian). … Some described the language laws as “discriminatory” and criticized their rapid implementation. Others, on the contrary, complained the laws were not followed.

Wikipedia Transnistria

Wikipedia Transnistria War


My concerns that Russia would use unrecognized Transnistria region to attack Ukraine appears to quickly becoming a reality. Putin is using a standard ploy of posing as the defender of Transnistria instead of the invader. This was exactly the same pretext as used a year ago. Russia had to invade the Dunbas region, to defend the populace against the Ukrainian “nazis.”

The President of Moldova, Maia Sandu, who wants her country to join the European Union, accused Moscow this month (February 2023) of planning a coup to topple Moldova’s leadership. Moscow denied the allegation. “The Kremlin’s attempts to bring violence to Moldova will not work. Our main goal is the security of citizens and the state. (The Guardian)

What has maintained the peace between Transnistria and Moldova, is the Joint Control Commission, which included both Moldova and Russian troops as a peacekeeping force. Of course, Putin wants to invade Transnistria and control it, and the ceasefire agreement is in his way. Transnistria will be critical to attacking Odesa and controlling the Black Sea ports.

The headline in Reuters, February 24, 2023 read, “Russia told the West on Friday that it would view as an attack on itself any actions that threatened Russian peacekeepers in Moldova’s breakaway Transdniestria region, one day after Moscow accused Ukraine of planning an invasion.”

Link: Russia warns West over threatening its troops in breakaway Moldovan region

So, Russia now is setting the stage for invading Transnistria (note minor spelling differences) on the absurd pretext of protecting its peacekeeping force of perhaps 1700 troops.

It is a terrible development as Russia is set on expanding the conflict, really just like President Zelensky said he would. Romania is strongly allied with Moldova, in its support of Ukraine. Romania has been part of NATO since 2004.

This small sliver of the breakaway state of Transnistria looks to become a red hot point of contention with Russia acting like they own it.

Stay tuned,


Norfolk Southern is to blame

National Transportation Safety Board does a slow through job of investigation accidents. In the case of Norfolk Southern accident in Ohio, the cause of the accident was so plain to engineers, that they issued a preliminary report and provided a hearing on the accident.

NTSB spokesperson Jennifer Homendy stated during a press conference that this derailment was 100% preventable, and the cause was an overheated wheel bearing. She said:

“We call things accidents. There is no accident. Every single event that we investigate is preventable,” she said. “So our hearts are with you know, that the NTSB has one goal and that is safety and ensuring that this never happens again.”

My last post was about how politicians duck important questions to peddle their own agenda. NTSB is just the opposite and I really like this agency. I also give high marks to the EPA who were onsite hours after the accident.

National Public Radio reports on the spill of vinyl chorides:

“There were no reported fatalities or injuries caused directly by the derailment, and responders were able to mitigate the fire within two days. But rising temperatures in one tank car carrying vinyl chloride — a toxic chemical that grows especially volatile at high temperatures — prompted concerns of an uncontrolled explosion. To prevent that, responders evacuated residents of the immediate area and performed a “release and burn” of five tank cars’ worth of the chemical, some 115,580 gallons.”

The plastic placards marking cars with hazardous materials have also been identified as an area of concern by both Buttigieg and NTSB officials. The fire following the derailment melted the plastic placards, making it difficult for first responders to discern which trains contained dangerous chemicals.”

Link Fox News: NTSB calls Ohio train derailment ‘100% preventable,’ says operators were warned of overheated axle

The overheating warning came too late for the train to safely stop. In the preliminary report, NTSB finds no fault of the operator. The heat sensors probably need to be placed closer together. The increases in temperature of wheel bearings instead of just the temperature estimates should also trigger warnings.

There is also the accusation from Democrats that a rollback in regulations during the Trump administration, could have prevented this accident. The NTSB stated that this is not true as follows:

“The ECP braking rule would’ve applied ONLY to HIGH HAZARD FLAMMABLE TRAINS. The train that derailed in East Palestine was a MIXED FREIGHT TRAIN containing only 3 placarded Class 3 flammable liquids cars.”

Nice. NTSB is just stating facts. But, the Department of Transportation is likely to make stricter regulations on this more dangerous trains.

There is a lot more work to be done, by the various federal agencies. Many local water wells need to be tested. Norfolk Southern is cooperating and working with residents to test their water. I like the fact that the various agencies are staffed by professional career specialists who do not descend into the political fray.

Stay tuned,


How to Pivot

Politicians pivot, which means they find a way to change the subject, when answering questions. It becomes almost reflexive. Then there is the grand pivot, which allows the politician or whoever is being interview free reign to bring up a host of subjects, all designed to make the president or opposition party look bad. A good interviewer will catch this, and get the guest to answer the question. Or at least try.

I watched a bit of Fox News. If the host of the program is Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, or Laura Ingraham, you can ask them any question, and it will come back in a minute to several favorite topics such as immigration, illegal drugs and our national debt. Sometimes all in one quick response. This is the grand pivot.

Case in point. Question given to one of the guests on Fox News, “What do you think of Biden’s trip to Ukraine?” and the guest came back, “Biden hasn’t a clue of what he is doing in so many areas, immigration, national debt and funding for Ukraine.” The guest avoids totally Biden’s very successful trip to Ukraine and the huge crowds he attracted in Warsaw.

This particular politician then took off in in his attack on Biden stating that he should get the Europeans to fund the war, so we can solve our problems at home, lower inflation, stop illegal immigration, and of course, lower the national debt. ” So, in a blink of an eye, the guest sees the question as a Segway to a host of other “issues” usually issues with few solutions. And of course on Fox News, the grand pivot is pretty normal.

Of course, the guest has really not answered the question. It got pretty silly, as the guest claimed that we were subject to an invasion on our southern border. Last I checked, Mexicans were not shooting missiles or bombing apartment buildings. When you have a southern border that stretches nearly 2,000 miles, you are going to have illegal immigrants.

I like the quote from John Kennedy: Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us. John F. Kennedy

What Kennedy is talking about is bad policy. Doing less than we can do for Ukraine, will change the balance of power around the world.

It is true that politicians pivot, and Democrats will often change the subject. Frequently, the interviewer brings the guest back on track.

And just for the record, Biden and his administration, is trying hard to bring other allies to contribute to stop Putin. And war is extremely costly. We are paying with dollars, but the Ukrainians are paying with their lives.

Stay tuned,


Chinese Balloon Shoot Down – Additional Comments

I wrote it was a perfect shoot down because pieces of the spy balloon could be salvaged. Nothing I have read has changed my mind. The military can not divulge a lot of their information, but have made it clear that this is not an isolated case. We will learn very valuable information from the debris which includes the balloon itself and as much as possible the hardware inside.

When the balloon was first observed, it was over the Aleutian islands in the Bering sea. Mean depth of the Bering sea is about 5,000 ft, but the Aleutian trench, approximately 100 miles long and 50 miles wide, has a maximum depth of 25,000 ft. The shifting sheets of ice and snow are enormous and finding even pieces of the balloon was be extremely difficult.

Biden did the right thing as he gave permission for the military to shoot the balloon down, when they could do so without endangering Americans. It was then a technical decision of when to shoot it down. The Generals would turn to “modelers” for some estimate of the size of the debris field and the potential damage that could be done with falling bits of hardware. I know this field, because I spent a lifetime modeling physical phenomena. If one knows what is falling and has some prior experience with similar incidences, then analysts have something solid to build their models. In this case, there was only very limited information of what was shot down, and certainly no prior analogous experience.

So, prior to the destruction of the balloon, it would be very hard to know where pieces of metal might land and cause harm to residents below. So, when they were deciding the right time to shoot down the balloon, they were dealing with a debris field based on just a bunch of guesses. Intelligent guesses, for sure, but the hard data were missing.

But, now there is a debris field, much of which is yet to be discovered. Currents will distort the field, so the modelers will still have to factor this into their analysis. In the modeling world, the forward solution is to project from 10 miles in the sky down to the impact on the ocean surface. This solution is then can be refined when the debris is found. This can be called the inverse solution, or model validation. Modelers will undoubtedly try to assess the uncertainty in results. This is called sensitivity analysis.

From various sources, the debris field is likely in terms of miles. Pieces of the big white balloon were easy to find as I expected. The modelers will be hard at work, adjusting their models, to help the dive teams and unmanned subs to search of the pieces of debris.

Stay tuned,


The balloon shoot down – It was the perfect response!

Shoot something that’s 10 miles up over mountainous areas, or the Artic, and your salvage efforts will be nearly impossible. When I heard the balloon was shot down very close to Myrtle Beach, SC in 47 ft of water, I couldn’t have been happier. Perfect conditions to run a recovery operations. Recovery vessels could get to the site within hours. Time is of the essence.

Senators and members of the House held a closed door briefing. “There was nothing in there that I learned that would’ve said that we shouldn’t have shot it down when it was over Alaska,” added GOP Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas, exiting the briefing.

Assistant Secretary of of Defense Melissa Dalton testified at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing:

“A key part of the calculus for this operation was the ability to salvage, understand and exploit the capabilities of the high altitude balloon.”

Without salvage of the equipment aboard the spy balloon, China would continue with their absurd cover story of an off-course weather balloon shot down by the US. And certainly other countries could go along with it, just to keep good relations with China. Now we’ve got the evidence to the contrary.

The Assistant Secretary further stated (summarized by CNBC):

“If we had taken it down over the state of Alaska … it would have been a very different recovery operation,” she said, noting that the deep, freezing water of the Bering Sea “would make recovery and salvage operations very dangerous.”

The temperature of the Bering sea is 40 degrees, and the Aleutian trench is 25,000 ft deep, approximately 50 to 100 miles wide. The Assistant Secretary was too kind. There would have been no recovery operation. It would be far too difficult at these depths.

Sure, blowing the balloon up over Alaska would be great for headlines if that’s all you’re interested in. But it would have destroyed the evidence of China’s illegal spy operations which is occurring in many countries. I am certain the Defense Department will be sharing what they know about China’s new generation of spy balloons with our NATO allies and allies in South America. I would love it if Secretary Austin makes a presentation at the UN Security Council. However, there is no need to turn up the heat at this point and our salvage operation is ongoing.

Stay tuned,