Posted by: coastcontact | February 6, 2016

“To dream the impossible dream.”

Don Quixote: “To dream the impossible dream.”

What do all the “establishment” candidates have in common? They all promise to balance the budgets, lower taxes, eliminate tax cheaters, and of course keep America strong. The problem is that those are the basics of the job of president.

Americans want more from their president. They want to vote for someone who can offer a new and improved America. The want an America that destroys the bad guys and raises the opportunities for all Americans. They do want health care for everyone, a free or low cost education for their children, and the elimination of poverty.

Americans want health and happiness for everyone. They want someone who will “make America great again.” All of those wants without any cost.

The outsiders are the group of candidates that offer those results if only you will elect them to the presidency.

Thus “we will build a wall and make Mexico pay for it”, defend the constitution, and provide free universal health care for everyone. Those are the leading visions of the “outsiders.”

Looking at the history of our presidents I see a trail of broken promises. The war on poverty, the war on drugs, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, Hope and Change all have one common result and that is failure.

I like this quote from Bernie Sanders that at least acknowledges that one man alone cannot bring about change:
“No president, not Bernie Sanders, not anybody else, will be able to bring about the changes that the working families and the middle class of this country, that our children, that the seniors, our seniors deserve.” Sanders continued, “No one president can do it because the powers that be, Wall Street with their endless supply of money, corporate America, the large campaign donors are so powerful that no president can do what has to be done alone. And that is why — and that is why what Iowa has begun tonight is a political revolution.” – See more at: http://www.citywatchla.com/index.php/world-views/10450-why-i-support-bernie-s-revolution-incremental-progress-is-not-good-enough#sthash.Xmw9NSox.dpuf

So I will probably vote for Bernie and dream the impossible dream even though I know nothing will change.

Posted by: coastcontact | February 2, 2016

A $1,000 Pill in the United States Costs $4.29 in India

As reported in BusinessWeek magazine (January 11-17, 2016 edition) the treatment for Hepatitis C in the United States by Gilead Science’s Sovaldi costs $1,000 a pill or $84,000 for the entire treatment. However in India the same medication is being manufactured by an Indian company as a generic with another name but is the same medication. The cost is $4.29 per pill.

Some medicines are sold in Canada for one-third (1/3) the price that Americans pay for the identical product. Aciphex and Dexilant are among that group.

Senator Bernie Sanders has spoken repeatedly about our broken health care system that does not provide health care for everyone. Medicare is not permitted to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies but must pay the rates those companies set.

Why hasn’t our congress addressed these issues? The simple answer is that pharmaceutical companies have the lobbyists who influence our representatives and provide the funding for re-election.

No matter who is elected president in November 2016 it is a good bet that this situation will not be changed in any significant way as long as we keep sending the same congress representatives and senators back to Washington.

Posted by: coastcontact | January 30, 2016

Ridiculously Resilient Ridge means No El Niño Rains

The “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge,” sometimes shortened to “Triple R” or “RRR,” is the nickname given to a persistent region of atmospheric high pressure that occurred over Southern California. Finally today there is an article about this condition in the Los Angeles Times. The well-known weather forecasters are all in agreement that as long as this condition continues there is a likelihood that the predicted El Niño rains for this part of the nation will not occur. Apparently they cannot predict when the high pressure ridge will dissipate sufficiently to permit consequential rain in the Los Angeles-San Diego region.

Yesterday the temperature was in the high 70s and low 80s in the Los Angeles area. Other than an expectation of 1 to 2 inches of rain on Sunday January 31 there is a forecast of moderately warm dry temperatures for the coming week. The condition will be caused by that RRR.

Local KABC-TV chief meteorologist Dallas Raines, certified by the American Meteorological Society, has been voicing doubts about El Niño for the last month. He does an excellent job of explaining air circulation and high pressure.

As an amateur rain collector since the last El Niño I can report that to date my rain gauge has collected just of 6.5 inches of rain compared to last year’s 8.4 inches of rain. Obviously 1 to 2 inches of rain this weekend won’t change the current trajectory of a very dry year.

Happily the storms in the Sierra Nevada Mountains are significant and that will ease the drought. Meanwhile Southern Californians will continue to lounge by their pools and spend their free time in the parks.

Posted by: coastcontact | January 27, 2016

The Downside of Minimum Wage Laws

OPI InfiniteShine nail polish OPI is a nail polish manufacturer in North Hollywood California. They employ about 400 people at that facility. The company is owned by Coty Inc. That company has ten brands of cosmetics. They have announced their decision to move the manufacturing facility to North Carolina.

The North Hollywood facility includes marketing and sales offices. You can be fairly certain that no more than 10% of that 400 employees are involved in the marketing and sales. Those jobs are relatively high paying office functions. In other words about 360 jobs will be leaving the North Hollywood facility.

Cosmetics manufacturing consists of many low paid jobs. The minimum pay in California is now $10 an hour. That minimum in North Carolina is $7.25 an hour. It doesn’t take a genius to understand why the manufacturing is moving out of California.

The idea of raising the minimum pay is commendable but how much consideration was taken on the impact. There will now be 360 low paid factory workers without jobs.

Toyota moved most of its operations from a Los Angeles area suburb just two or three years ago. They moved to a Dallas Texas suburb. No doubt the cost of labor played into that decision.

There is the question. Have we really helped the poorest paid in California when jobs are driven from the state by higher minimum wage laws?

Posted by: coastcontact | January 27, 2016

Boyle Heights and the 6th Street Bridge

June 16, 1933: Dedication ceremonies of 6th Street bridge and viaduct, built at a cost of $2,383,271. This photo was published in the June 17, 1933 Los Angeles Times.

June 16, 1933: Dedication ceremonies of 6th Street bridge and viaduct, built at a cost of $2,383,271. This photo was published in the June 17, 1933 Los Angeles Times.

The 6th Street bridge and viaduct in central Los Angeles was built in 1933 to connect the downtown area with Boyle Heights; a hilly residential area that provided modest cost housing for many people working downtown. It became the city’s first major Jewish community before World War 2. As the city evolved, and people moved to the suburbs, the area became a major Mexican American community after that war and still has a high Spanish speaking community but now with an unsavory gang reputation.

LA 6th St Bridge notice bagging to catch falling particles_edited-1

Horizontal red arrow points to plastic bagging that is covering part of bridge that is crumbling onto cars and people below. Graphity on bridge.

Today to reach Boyle Heights via 6th Street means driving through the heart of the Skid Row district in downtown. This is not a pleasant drive as we learned this past Sunday.

So who uses this boulevard and why are people making a big deal out of the planned destruction of the bridge because it’s falling apart?

Perhaps there are memories of the homeless who used to camp on the bridge’s sidewalk or it’s the people of Boyle Heights who have some romantic connection parking there to view the downtown skyline.

LA-me-ln-farewell-6th-street-bridge-demolition-002

Police were called out to clear bridge of pedestrians on Tuesday night after about 100 people blocked traffic.

The police were called out to clear the roadway as some people walked out into the middle of the street.

LA 6th St Bridge looking west

A great view of downtown skyline that might help many recall wonderful times.

The designer of the new viaduct, Michael Maltzan, and city leaders are scheduled to participate in Wednesday morning’s final walk before closing the street for the teardown.

Incidentally the old bridge cost $2,383,271 and its replacement opening in 2019 will cost $449 million.

The font for this posting is typewriter “Courier New” in honor of our past.

Posted by: coastcontact | January 25, 2016

Poetic Justice

A grand jury in Houston was asked to investigate Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, a branch of one of the country’s most important healthcare providers for women, the grand jury found no wrongdoing on the part of the group, whose staffers were secretly videotaped talking about the cost of procuring fetal tissue for research. Instead, the grand jury handed down indictments against two of the antiabortion zealots involved in the “sting.”

If that’s not poetic justice, nothing is.

I understand there are many in the country who oppose abortions and want to find every avenue to stop them.

David Daleiden, the antiabortion zealot who created the Center for Medical Progress as a front for his deceptive efforts, has been indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a government record. (The reason for that charge is unclear, but Planned Parenthood has alleged that Daleiden and his associates used fake government identifications and used aliases.)

Once again it is men who are trying to tell women how they should handle an unwanted pregnancy. I am certain that there are women who oppose abortions too but it seems to be men who are in the forefront of the antiabortion fight. Carly Fiorina has been in the forefront of the fight. She claimed to have seen a video of a fully formed fetus kept alive to harvest the brain. Chris Wallace debunked that claim on his Sunday morning show.

So there is hope for the people of Texas.

   New York Shut Down – Roads Closed and Broadway Shows Canceled

It amazes me that every winter we hear the same kinds of reports. CNN has spent hours showing the photos and talking about the impact. People are killed, airlines cancel flights, tree limbs have fallen, and the snow is very deep. The New York Daily News published photos of all these events on their web site.

This is not news.  This is reality in the northeast United States every year.

NYC great-blizzard-1888

The Great Blizzard of 1888: 20 inches of snow

Blizzard of 1910

Winter Storm of 1912, 1930, 1935 (18 inches of snow), 1936, 1940, 1947 (26.4 inches of snow in Central Park), blizzard of 1947 – I remember this one, 1982, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1996, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2010 (18 to 20 inches of snow)

NYC winter-storm-1947

New York in 1947

Los Angeles cloudy day

Los Angeles today High 64 low 47 (We pay for this with high rents and high gasoline prices)

Posted by: coastcontact | January 20, 2016

Can We Trust Government Officials to Keep Us Safe?

Invariably when a government agency head or elected official makes a mistake he says, “I take full responsibility.”  What he doesn’t do is resign or pay a fine and most certainly does not go to jail.  So what does “taking responsibility” mean?  It really means I apologize for my errors and hope not to be caught again.  

The problems started after the push of a button, a toast with Flint River water and a budget forecast of saving $5 million that had to be tempting for a city in the midst of a financial emergency.

Despite the complaints that the water appeared dirty and had a peculiar odor and taste Flint, Michigan continued pumping water from the river.

The consequence is lead poisoned water that can result in brain damage to children and possible early death. The financial cost to replace the ruined piping is estimated at $75 million.

Porter Ranch residents suffering from headaches, nausea and other symptoms from a natural gas leak that has displaced thousands are assigning blame to a damaged well in the Santa Susana Mountains north of Los Angeles. Some government agencies are questioning the claims that although some people have experienced some problems there will be no long term effects.

This reminds me of the high school built on an abandoned oil field in Los Angeles. The abandonment of that project took major community involvement. Or the Virginia communities that were impacted by the Dan River spill of coal ash in February 2014.

Is there any evidence that government and business officials can be trusted to provide honest information about health issues?

The answer is an emphatic NO.

Posted by: coastcontact | January 18, 2016

Angry Versus Steady As We Go

Americans are upset with Washington. Some are angry. Some are VERY angry. Donald Trump says he is angry. He says the country is a mess. He is correct!

The “establishment” candidates are all part of the Washington group that has been running this country for decades. What do we have to show for it? Low paying jobs, crumbling infrastructure, high cost college education, high national debt, local governments struggling to avoid bankruptcy, and now even the stock market is in decline. And to top that off many other nations thumb their noses at the United States.

Is it no wonder then that Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Bernie Sanders are drawing big crowds to their campaign events? They are talking about changing the country with some specific ideas. Now you may not agree with all of their ideas but look at the establishment candidates. It’s all about a “steady as we go” philosophy that lines the pockets of the well connected.

The base salary for congressional representatives is $174,000 a year. The typical American family income was $53,657 in 2014. You think those congressional representatives are concerned with your situation? They are concerned with their re-election and that translates to contributions from the wealthy that want to keep everything the same as it is now.

So will the angry turn out in sufficient numbers to overturn the establishment? We can only hope!

Posted by: coastcontact | January 16, 2016

Testing Ted Cruz’s Canadian Roots

Is Ted Cruz really a Canadian? The test should be in his use of language. Canadians have some word usage that appears to be unique to them.

First there is the use of the word “eh.” Using that word changes a statement of fact into a question. It is so simple to use and anyone can do it. All you have to do is make a statement like “It is a very nice day out today.” If you add “eh” to the end of that statement, you can turn it into a question that will require a friendly reply from the person you are talking to. For example…”It is very nice day out today eh?” To which the other person will reply “Yes it is.”

Second there is use of the word “about.” Many Canadians pronounce that word “aboot.” This may not be a dead give-away since many do pronounce the word as do Americans. Make no mistake. If Ted Cruz pronounces this word “aboot” then he is Canadian.

Third is his efforts to find a toilet while in a restaurant, hotel, or other place while he is campaigning. If he asks where is the washroom, that is a clear giveaway. There are no restrooms in Canada. The signs all say “washroom.” I was alerted to this on my first trip to Canada as an adult. My wife was looking for a restroom while we were in a Vancouver mall. Then she saw the word “washroom” and knowing that my father, who grew up in Canada, uses that word frequently identified the usage.

Forks, knives, and spoons are not silverware in Canada. The word they use is cutlery. I learned that from my father and have never used the word silverware except when it really was silverware. So ask Ted Cruz how he identifies the utensils.

Coke may be soda in the United States but it’s “pop” in Canada.

A bath robe is a housecoat in Canada.

Serviette: napkin.

Zed: the last letter of the alphabet (Z).

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