Tuesday, May 24, 2016


As a national issue, it all started with Charlotte, North Carolina.  The transgender bathroom issue that is.  It is hard to believe that this issue has blown up to national proportions.  It is rather surprising in that several states (California, Vermont, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado) all have state laws protecting gender neutrality and have rating above 80 out of 100 in a report called Trans America (http://www.refinery29.com/2015/03/83531/transgender-rights-by-state#southcarolina).  Some cities with gender-neutral rules are Seattle, Philadelphia, New York City, and Austin, also a number of communities in South Carolina: Columbia, Charleston, Myrtle Beach.  Many of these have had protection laws or ordinances in place for a couple of decades or more. (This discussion supplements a previous one: http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2016/04/transsexuals-restrooms-and-locker-rooms.html)

Members of Charlotte's LGBT community said in a survey the changes are needed because they have been denied service, received poor service or experienced disparaging comments, according to supplemental materials attached to Monday's Council agenda.*
( http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/02/23/charlotte-city-council-approves-transgender-bathroom-ordinance-over-governors-protest.html)

For an almost blow by blow coverage of the Charlotte Ordinance, see: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article61786967.html
But here is the contrary opinion:
Earlier, Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, urged Christians to come to Monday’s meeting and speak against the proposed ordinance.
He said the bathroom provision is “wicked and it’s filthy.” (bolding added)

The expanded ordinance would be the first of its kind in North Carolina. Three South Carolina cities have similar ordinances: Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article61786967.html#storylink=cpy

The supreme court has refused to take up the gender bathroom case.:
The justices declined to take up a student debt-collection case that asked the court to overrule a 1997 precedent, Auer v. Robbins, that said the judicial branch should defer to a federal agency's interpretation of its own regulations.
That case is the main one a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals panel relied on when it upheld the right of a transgender boy to use the boys' bathrooms at a Virginia high school. There is no federal regulation specifically on the point, but the Education Department has issued guidance indicating that such treatment is required by the sex-discrimination prohibition in Title IX on schools receiving federal funds.
The case turned down Monday was United Student Aid Funds v. Bryana Bible.

A panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled [on April 19,2016] Tuesday that public schools must allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity, the first such decision of its kind.
The ruling is a victory for a Virginia high school student, Gavin Grimm, who was born female but identifies as male, has undergone hormone therapy, and has legally changed his name. 
The decision is binding on the five states of the Fourth Circuit -- Maryland, North and South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. The court based its decision on a regulation issued by the Department of Education a year ago, interpreting the requirements of a federal law known as Title IX, which prohibits schools that receive federal funds from engaging in sex discrimination.
"A school generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity," the federal regulation said. The appeals court ruled Tuesday that the rule is a reasonable interpretation of Title IX. (http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/appeals-court-rules-transgender-bathroom-rules-n558496)

A very interesting history about segregated bathrooms is by Bobby Walker  in The Herald (April 7, 2016):
Before the 1887 there were no gender different restrooms. "The first sex-segregated toilets were assembled in a Parisian restaurant for a ball held in 1739.[8] Preceding this, public restrooms were unmarked or marked for men only.[1] The need to establish sex-segregated bathrooms in the United States arose from a lack of women's restrooms in workplaces, i.e. toilets were for men's use only and so there was a need to create some for women. In 1887 Massachusetts became the first state in the United States to pass legislation requiring that any workplace with female employees to have a female specific restroom. In the 1920s most states had passed laws regarding sex-segregated bathrooms.[1]" Thus Gendered restroom was not for Protection, moral or religious reasons, it so women had restooms. So saying gender neutral restrooms has No "Christian" or any other religions basis!!!!
Do they even know what a transgender person looks like? Do they want a big breasted dress wearing women in mens room explaing why there is a women in there to their sons? Or muscled, bearded tank topped man in womens room and explaining that to daughter?
[Note this is a quote so misspellings are as in the original] http://www.heraldonline.com/news/state/south-carolina/article70347177.html

Friday, May 20, 2016


Remember month's ago when it was feared that Hillary Clinton would not be tested in the Democratic nomination process?  Now the worry is that the party cannot be brought back together.

In Kentucky, Clinton took the cities and Sanders took the rural areas, especially the coal country.  I don't know why the coal country favored Sanders over Clinton as Sanders is as much against coal as Clinton, maybe even more so.

Hillary's two opponents - Trump and Sanders - surprisingly share a number of viewpoints such as:*
Both being against foreign trade such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal;**
Both opposed the Iraq War;
Both flip-flopped on gun control;
Both are against big money in politics (though Trump's claims of  self -funding are false);
Both want to get rid of Obamacare (ACA) and replace it with a single-payer plan;
Both want to increase taxes on some or all of the wealthy (Trump notes " carried interest" of Hedge  funds);
Both support maintaining or expanding the current levels of Social Security benefits;
Both are concerned about the effect of illegal immigration on American jobs.
Both Trump's and Sander's claim the system is rigged and their followers have gotten violent or said violent things.

But of course there are differences also.  I'm not sure how serious Trump is to deporting all the illegals, but I think he is serious about building the wall on our Southern border. with Mexico.  I say this because Trump likes to build things.  Just think, "The Great Wall of Trump" to compete with The Great Wall of China.

* http://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2016/01/what-bernie-sanders-and-donald-trump-have-in-common/422907/
** Though Hillary recently has come out against TPP, I suspect that she will flip back when (if?) she becomes president.

Friday, May 13, 2016


Kohl's and Nordstrom reported a surprise fall in quarterly comparable sales on Thursday, highlighting the malaise in the department store sector as consumers pull back spending on apparel.
Kohl's shares closed at their lowest in seven years, while Nordstrom tumbled 17 percent in extended trading on Thursday.*  Kohls (KSS) is down 52.8% from its 52-week high as of this morning (05-13-2016).

But retail and food sales in general (including cars, travel, and electronics) are doing pretty well (See figure that is interactive in the original reference.) :**

(Click on figure to enlarge)

Similar to Macy's, weak traffic in its stores — particularly during the unseasonably cool months of March and April — pressured Kohl's top-line. However, management was quick to admit that while sales of seasonal items such as shorts were a headwind, other issues were more company-specific.
Those include what it considers to be too much emphasis on digital marketing, and not enough on traditional mediums such as print.***

* http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/13/kohls-nordstrom-results-deepen-retail-jitters.html
** http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/13/us-retail-sales-rose-13-percent-in-april-vs-08-increase-expected.htm
*** http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/12/retail-recession-why-kohls-miss-was-so-huge.html

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


So Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee.  I guess I am going to have to comment on him some more.  The Republican Great Unwashed* seem to have won, but have they?  On at least two occasions, Trump has said that American wages are too high.  Is saying that illegal immigrants should be deported, a wall built  on our Southern border with Mexico and a temporary ban on Muslims entering America good enough "pay.?"

As Bill Clinton once noted, "Democrats like to fall in love; Republicans like to fall in line."  So now we are seeing Republicans falling in line, even other failed nominees who said such awful (if true) things about him.

Donald Trump stated on This Week With George Stephanopolis that the tax plan he has presented is a starting point.  He said that the final plan will be arrived at through negotiations.  This is what you might expect from a Deal Maker.  In others words, he is a compromiser.   So in the future as he seems to change positions, what he actually is doing is trying to arrive at a deal.  It may feel like a random walk, but what he is trying to do is arrive at a deal.  This is something to consider as the election process continues its slow process.

He had mentioned on Sunday that taxes for the wealthy might go up a bit.  He has now clarified this in that he meant up from what is stated in his tax plan, not from what the taxes are now.  In other words, he thinks that taxes on the wealthy won't be cut as much as in his plan.

And regarding his interchange with Paul Ryan, Speaker of The House, in what way is Trump not conservative?  I might even side with Trump if the problem is to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against someone.  Trump may be against this, but I'm not sure.  But what is Trump saying on policies that "conservatives" don't like?  He says he will get rid of Obamacare,** lower taxes on the wealthy, reduce the national debt.  Aren't all these "conservative" policies?  Perhaps Trump saying he is against abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and preserve the life of the mother isn't strong enough?.   Of course, one thing the establishment of the Republican Party would like is for Trump to use less intemperate language.  It is all right to think these things and discuss them in private, but they should not be said out loud.

* http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2016/01/revolt-of-republican-great-unwashed.html
** Republicans, however, have trouble replacing Obamacare with something else because Obamacare IS the "conservative" health plan.  It is run by private businesses (insurance companies) and supposedly invokes competition; however, in North Carolina where I live, there is only one health care plan in Obamacare so there is no competition.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


I usually don't pay much attention to the ADP employment numbers and wait a few days for the Federal employment numbers but an interesting graph was presented on CNBC regarding ADP numbers (see below).*

Overall, the ISM nonmanufacturing reading grew to 55.7 from 54.5. The ISM manufacturing index, which was released Monday, declined a full point to 50.8, with the employment component gaining 1.1 points to 49.2, which is still in contraction.**
Respondents to the nonmanufacturing survey were generally optimistic about business conditions, with one construction leader noting a "severe nonskilled labor shortage" that is "hurting the construction industry."**
(click on figure to enlarge)

Jobless claims moved up last week but were still well below 300.000.  Applications for jobless benefits have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with healthy labor market conditions, for 55 weeks, the longest stretch since 1973.
The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, nudged up 250 to 259,750 last week.***
The claims report also showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 39,000 to 2.18 million in the week ended March 12.***

* http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/04/private-sector-payrolls-april-2016.html
** http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/05/goldman-sachs-thinks-the-street-is-wrong-about-april-jobs.html
*** http://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/24/us-weekly-jobless-claims-mar-19-2016.html

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Over the next long period of time (Motley Fool* picks 50 yrs, John Bogle** picks 10 yrs) the real return on the stock markets  is likely to be something like 5% (Bogle) to 5.5% (Motley Fool)

* http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2016/04/22/how-have-stocks-fared-the-last-50-years-youll-be-s.aspx
At the end of 1965, the Shiller CAPE stood at 23.6, and today it stands at 24.3. The historical average is 16.7.
So, using just this one measurement, stocks are about as expensive today as they were 50 years ago. If the next 50 years show returns in the same ballpark as the past 50 -- and they are working off roughly the same valuation starting point -- then investors will do acceptably if they're expecting returns in the area of 5.5% over that time period.
** http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/26/jack-bogle-theres-no-stock-pickers-market.html
Amid earnings season Bogle warns that the market may see five percent investment return, well below the norms over the next decade, but "it's better than nothing and certainly no reason to get out of the market," he said.

Saturday, April 23, 2016


As I live in North Carolina, the topic of bathroom and locker room use by transsexuals is current and keeps coming up on TV because of a law called HB2.*  Mississippi too has passed a bathroom and locker room law.

Estimates of what percentage of Americans are transsexuals range widely from 0.1% (1 in a thousand) to 0.5% (1 in 200).  It seems possibly that you may not even encounter a transsexual in your lifetime.

In the North Carolina law, transsexuals are to use the bathroom and locker room of their birth gender.  Well I think that as to bathrooms you probably wouldn't know the person going into the stall was for the women's restroom was a male unless he/she was wearing a beard or maybe if you struck up a conversation with them.  Ditto for a women transsexual going into the men's restroom.

Locker rooms are something else, of course, except for those transsexuals who have had a complete sex change operation,** whether it is from male to female or female to male as they both would have the same, um, equipment or lack thereof.  That is the man actually is a woman who has had a complete hysterectomy and a women actually looks like a man complete with a penis.***  Apparently they can even have sex.  I suspect that you wouldn't even know, at least from a casual look.  These people certainly belong in their new sex restroom and locker rooms.  Uterine transplantation is even in experimental phases.  Apparently there are some health insurance plans that cover such operations.

Another thing is that in most places, women now wear trousers and many sport a mannish haircut.  A lot of such women could maybe "pass" in the male restroom without a sex change operation.  I think that male transsexuals who still have their, um, equipment steer clear of women's locker rooms.  There is no problem with their wearing trousers and sport a mannish haircut and still identify themselves as a woman.

With this post, my interest in the topic is finished.

* http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article68401147.html
** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_reassignment_surgery
*** https://www.quora.com/Will-complete-sex-changes-including-all-internal-organs-and-full-fertility-ever-be-possible