Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Can anyone recommend a good bank?

So your wife, business partner, best friend and co-parent of four lovely daughters, up and dies.

That in itself is not good.  No, my friends, not good at all. However, during your period of grief and, after more than 39 years of living with and for a partner and now having to learn to live by and for yourself once again, you will have some nagging little problems that must be dealt with as a consequence of this unfortunate circumstance.  

But you would never assume that one of these nagging little problems would be having to fight your bank of more than 41 years, which just decided to give you the brown shampoo. 

But the Bank of America just did that to me.  In spades (can I still say that?).

It seems that our BofA business checking and savings account, opened back in 1979, had only my wife as the signatory.  For some reason, perhaps because she was the one responsible for paying the bills and handling the checkbook for our family and bizz, she neglected to add me as one of those authorized to sign on the account. So, shortly after her passing, BofA contacted me with some startling, and quite unwelcome, news.  They'd placed a "hold" on the business account,  and automatic payments we'd arranged started bouncing around like BB's in a boxcar. The BofA had glommed onto the money therein and informed me in no uncertain terms that I had many, many hoops to jump through if I wanted to get my money back.  

First, they said, I'd have to call a certain number to get the ball rolling.  I did.  The guy on the other in of the phone was some French dude officed in Albuquerque.  Not only was he rude and unfeeling and insensitive about my situation, he told me I'd be lucky to get my money back before summer's end. Really.  When I blanched at the information he offered, he asked, all French-like, "Well what do you want from me?" When my response to that question was admittedly high in decibels, he hung up on me. I guess he's not aware we saved his miserable country's bacon back in WW Part Deux.

They sent me a whole bunch of forms.  Forms that had to be filled out and signed in front of a notary.  I had to wait more than a month for the death certificate, a necessary item, they said, while they counted my money.  And then I went to local branch to get them to notarize the forms.  Uhhh, no.  The local branch didn't have a notary, they told me. So, off to the UPS Store.  They were eager to assist me, for the grand sum of $15.00 for each signature.  That's fifteen bucks I'd never see again.  Then, I had to call their Estate Division to get the file opened and the process started. 

After more than 2 hours on hold, a guy came on to let me know I had a lot to do before I'd be able to close the account and get my money back. I had to have a special "signature card," which only they could provide. The guy said they'd mail it to me, which should only take a week or two, or maybe more, (or maybe never!) to arrive. Then, he told me I had to fill it out and mail it back.  Along with another special form, called the "California Small Business Affidavit."  When I asked if they could provide one, he said, "No."  Just go on Google, he said, and find it on the Internet. Nice.  They need a form that they don't provide. That's customer service for you.

So after quite a search I found such a form.  It cost "only" $5.00 to download.  I filled it out, and then noticed that it required TWO witnesses, which had to sign it in front of a notary.  A notary, again.  Oh, and my signature had to be notarized as well.  So I ran down a couple of relatives, and made arrangements for them to meet me at that same UPS Store.  That guy got another $45.00 from me just for being in my neighborhood.  So, if you're counting, that's a total of $60.00 so far that I'm out just preparing to prove to BofA that I am the lawful heir to my wife, a fine woman who I joyfully permitted to use my last name for more than 40 years.  But BofA couldn't quite get their arms around that fact. They couldn't seem to draw a connection between "Cassity & Associates," the name on the account, and Cassity, the Chuckmeister's last name.  Even though the spelling of my last name is quite rare, they just couldn't bring themselves to draw a connection, I guess.  They wanted some forms, don't you know.  They really, really need them, they said. They LIKE forms!

So once I'd filled out and signed all the necessary forms, except for that elusive "blank signature card," which STILL hasn't arrived, I called that same 800 number again.  Another 1.5 hours on hold.  A woman named "Diamond," from Atlanta, came on the line. She told me that all I had to do was go to the nearest branch and they'd download and print the form for me, and then notarize it.  I explained, somewhat loudly, I admit, that the branch manager said they couldn't do that, and didn't have a notary. She got mad and hung up on me.  I was at this exact point that I decided in no uncertain terms that whatever is left of my future did not include the Bank of America.

So, once the form arrives, maybe next week, I'll fill it out, and fax it back, along with the death certificate, and the "Letter of Instruction and Account Closure Request," and a couple of other forms that they provided me.  And then, they said, they'd get in touch with me to advise the other stuff they'd need in order to proceed.  And all this time they've got, and are using, my money.

Oh, and I might mention that I've been signing checks on this account for more than 35 years.  And they've been cashing them! Without fail. And for all those years, they just told me, I was not permitted to sign checks on this account.  You'd think a more than 100 year old bank, one that is among the largest in our great country, could figure out how to actually serve its clients.  But you'd be wrong.  

So, you'll understand that I'm more than a little miffed at BofA.  Miffed enough to look for an alternate bank to hold my less-than-vast fortune. A fortune which has been seriously depleted due to my poor departed wife's nasty disease and its treatment.  So any suggestions you might have about another bank I'd really appreciate.  If you've got a recommendation please get back to me.  And be sure to let your friends and neighbors know that, if they intend to die some day, and care about their prospective heirs, be sure to tell them to think carefully about the bank they choose to do business with today...

At the beginning of this posting I asked if anyone could recommend a good bank.  Do you think that might actually be an oxymoron?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Living...and Dying...With Cancer...

As many of you know, my wife of 38 years, Elaine, passed away recently from the ravages of cancer.

She contracted "aplastic anemia" from an unknown source almost two years ago.  We were told there was no cure, however there were available treatments to be had at the foremost treatment center for that disease on the West Coast, Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, California.  After much begging, pleading, haranguing, threatening and harassing, our HMO agreed to cough up the huge funds necessary to pay for such treatment (more than $1.5 Million for drugs and medications alone at last count).  And since then we've been making the journey back and forth to La Jolla on more than two hundred occasions to obtain a hoped-for cure. 

But no luck.

Aplastic anemia, also known as "bone marrow cancer," is a virulent, voracious, mean, nasty, horrendous and cold-blooded infection, that attacks all ages and races and religions and genders.  It tends to afflict those under the age of 25 primarily, but, as with Elaine, can burden those of any age.  It is also among the rarest of terminal illnesses, affecting less than 600 people annually in the United States.  

She was fond of saying, "I can get a disease that only affects 600 a year in the U.S., but can't win the (expletive omitted) lottery!"

It is among that class of ailments known as "autoimmune" diseases. That class would include multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, retinitis pigmentosa, rheumatoid arthritis, Guillian-Barre Syndrome, and Lou Gehrig's Disease.  There are more than 100 such major ailments, which manifest themselves by one or more elements of the body turning in upon itself.  In Elaine's case, one of her bone marrow "T-cells" decided to turn rogue, and could not be corrected by any means her physicians attempted.

During this 22 months we were forced to make the 60-plus mile-each-way journey to La Jolla, often arriving before 8:00 a.m. and returning home after midnight, every other day! Exhausting.  But necessary.  

As I so often opined to close friends, one had to look at our situation in the "micro," head down, singularly focused, one foot in front of the other. If one looked at it in the "macro," the "big picture," so to speak, one would surely have to put a gun to one's head.  

She received more than 400 blood transfusions.  She needed more than 80 separate doctors' appointments and home nursing visits.  She was forced to undergo more than 20 surgeries, both major and minor, brought on by this dread disease.  Thousands of needle sticks.  Hundreds of infusions of noxious, toxic medicines that her doctors deemed necessary to fight this disease.  Medications that now must be disposed of by county officials so as not to foul the water table.

Aplastic anemia robbed her of her taste, her smell and her appetite, and, toward the end, negatively impacted her eyesight, her memory and her cognitive abilities.  In short, it was an all-consuming, life-changing, crippling disease, displacing nearly everything else in our lives.

And yet, she...we...fought it valiantly.  And unsuccessfully. During this year and a half-plus, she lost more than 100 pounds.  She grew frail. She was fatigued always.  Yet, she never lost her sense of humor, nor her desire and zest for life. Yes, she was truly "one-of-a-kind."

We met at a convention in Seattle waaaay back in the late 1970's. She was an R.N., and I was a marketing manager for a medical equipment manufacturer.  Yep, one of those "sleepless in Seattle" stories you so often hear about.  If there ever was a "love at first sight" situation, this was it.  

Thereafter we were almost never separated.  We started a business together, ran it together, hired and fired together, worried about finances together, traveled together, had three daughters together, oversaw their education together, and their weddings, and then the birth of their children, and our grandchildren, together. We laughed together and loved together.  Ours was truly a match made in Heaven.

And now she is in Heaven.

Cancer is a scourge. Her's was made much, much more tolerable due to the unyielding support and assistance of her daughters, her family and her friends.  And friends!  Did she ever have friends! Elaine would give you the shirt off my back!  She was famous for trying to give folks our stuff if she thought they needed it more than we did.  She "collected" people, as did I.  We did it together.  If you were friendly, you became part of our ever-growing circle of our friends. For years, as an example, we hosted annual Superbowl parties, often attended by 300 people or more.  And she loved being that sort of "Earth mother" that gathers friends like a flame gathers moths. The outpouring of grief among those friends, and family, of course, has been unprecedented. It is occurring still.  And may not ever subside.  I hope it doesn't.

Elaine is gone.  This fight was a time given to successive highs and lows. She would at one moment appear quite normal, and in the next tired, short of breath and faint. Toward the end the highs grew less high, the lows more pronounced.  Even though I had a year and one-half to try and get used to the idea of her impending demise, learning to live without her will be tough. But I have to try.  And if you knew her, so will you.

You've likely heard of the "Five Stages of Grief."  I'm past denial, and anger, and bargaining, and even depression to the maximum extent possible, and I'll soon be into acceptance.  Writing and pushing "publish" on this blog posting is one of the ways I intend to help begin to achieve that last lofty goal. And I will.  And so must you...

Goodbye, Elaine.  We will love you, and miss you, always...

Monday, May 1, 2017

Left? Or Right?

Have you ever wondered where the political term "Left," or "Right" came from?  Or, maybe even what it means?  

Well, Grasshopper, I, The Chuckmeister, have the answer for you.  I mean, after all, where else would you turn for the answer to this, or any other question?

After all, providing the answer to existential questions such as this one is why God put me here.

The political term "Left" and "Right" is age-old.  No one can remember exactly when it first began to be used as the go-to definition for the Democrats and Republicans amongst us. But it first began to be used by my reckoning early in the 20th Century, perhaps during the Wilson administration.  And it refers, quite simply, to the fact that the Democrats in the United States House of Representatives Chamber sit to the left of the Speaker of the House, from his perspective, up there in that pulpit-looking thingie. And the Republicans sit to his viewing right.  

So, as he sees that august body, the Liberals are to his left, as he looks out over the body, and the Conservatives are to his right.  Thus, those of a liberal persuasion are termed "the Left," and conservatives are termed "the Right."  

Or, as the Chuckmeister terms them, those to the "Left" are big government-embracing, high-tax desiring, gun-hating, free speech-limiting, open borders-demanding, redistributionist weenies, who believe the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are "living and breathing" documents that need to be rewritten and reinterpreted every now and then, by THEM; and those to the "Right" are God-fearing, gun-toting, 'Murica-loving, free speech-demanding, flag-waving, military-embracing, tax-hating, strict Constitution interpretationalist small government Patriots, who believe wholeheartedly in self-determination and personal responsibility.  

Now, you might choose to take issue with my definitions.  But you'd be hard-pressed to come up with more gloriously expressive ways of defining them.  



Thursday, April 27, 2017

Things Were Actually Pretty Quiet Back in the Old West...

According to most reliable data, there were...wait for it...

...only 12, "High Noon-style" gunfights back in the Old West.

That's right.  Between 1850 and 1890, the period most agree was the apex of the "Old West" period, there were only 12 classic, "High Noon-Style," meet me on Main Street, be sure to bring your six gun, gunfights.  

Those of us conditioned to lots and lots of black and white TV westerns back then, where there was at least one gunfight per episode, and tens of thousands of episodes we watched over our frozen TV dinners, would be surprised to learn that it was all bunk. It was made-up nonsense.  

Remember when Matt Dillon would meet the guy on Main Street at the beginning of each "Gunsmoke" episode, hand perched just above his six-gun, fingers twitching, music increasing in volume to a crescendo, waiting for the other guy to draw first? And when that guy went for his gun, Marshal Dillon would draw and fire and leave the other guy face down in the dirt?

And with literally dozens of such shows, running from the late 40's to the early 70's, there were tens of thousands of bad guys that pushed up daisies as a result.  But were those shows representative of what actually occurred back then? Noooooooooo, Grasshopper!  They were anything but!

I am a recognized expert in all things "Old West."  Well, at least, recognized by me.  I've studied the era 1850 - 1890 for much of my life. I've been fascinated by the 19th Century Move West, and how it unfolded in the making of America. Coming from Kansas City, the "jumping off place" from whence the wagon trains pushed west, at Westport Landing, in West K.C., by the way, I'm fascinated by how that came to be and how this "Manifest Destiny" drama unfolded (Google it; it's worth your time).

And as a gunsmith and firearms expert, I'm also fascinated at how guns made this mass migration more achievable, practical and successful.

As has been often said, "God made men and women.  Sam Colt made them equal."  Think about that for a moment.

Remember the "Long Branch Saloon" in Dodge City, Kansas?  That's where Dillon and Ms. Kitty and Doc and Chester and the gang hung out? Every episode featured a gunfight at this iconic watering hole.  Did it happen in real life?  No.  In fact, there is NO RECORD of a single gunfight ever occurring at this (in)famous bar!  

Perhaps the most famous of these "High Noon" gunfights was the one on July 21st, 1865 in Springfield, MO, between Wild Bill Hickok and Davis Tutt, a fellow gambler who had relieved him of his pocket watch during a poker game the night before.  Hickok wanted to buy his watch back the next morning.  The gambler wouldn't sell it to him, preferring rather to brag to all who would listen about how he had bested Wild Bill in that game of chance.  Bill was pissed, and called him out.  

They met at ten o'clock the next morning, on Main Street, of course. They squared off 75 yards apart.  A duel "second" dropped a playing card to signal "go," and they went for their guns.  The gambler shot first, and missed.  Bill took aim and put a bullet from his 1851 Colt Navy, .36 caliber, black powder, cap and ball revolver right through the guy's heart. 75 yards, heart shot!  Think Wild Bill didn't deserve his reputation as a dead shot? This little escapade proved he did.  Even with modern firearms, that feat would frankly be difficult to duplicate today.

So why, one might ask, were their only 12 actual gunfights in the entire history of the Old West?  Well, I have my theory on the subject.  Imagine you're a trail-weary, dusty cowpoke, just coming off the cattle drive, and you decide to visit the local saloon to wet your whistle.  You sidle up to the bar, place your foot up on the brass bar rail, and accidentally bump into the guy standing next to you.  You're armed.  He's armed. What do you do?  What do you say?  

You say, "I'm sorry sir, please excuse me!" That's what you say. Why? Because he's armed, and if you don't, he just might drill you right between the running lights, letting both the air and your soul out through the hole thus created. Desirous of continuing to stay on this side of the dirt, you decide that discretion is the better part of valor, and so you excuse yourself.  He's says, "No problem, mister!" and you got back to your drinking.  No harm, no foul.  And I say, unless you're really drunk, or really stupid, or really crazy, or maybe all three, you'd do the same.

So what does this have to do with anything, Mr. Chuckmeister?  What it has to do with is that an armed society is a polite society.  Or, put slightly differently, more guns equals less crime.  We prove that everyday by noticing how many gun deaths there are in "gun-free" Chicago, and how few in gun-rich Texas, or Florida or Oklahoma or Kansas or Tennessee.    

Signs stating "Gun Free Zone" are nothing but an invitation to those with guns to take advantage of those who don't have them.  That's why every single mass shooting over the past 20 years, save one, occurred in a "Gun Free Zone."  Did you know that?

Remember John Holmes, the Aurora, CO theater murderer? Colorado being an "opt out" state, meaning individual businesses have the right to refuse access to those carrying concealed weapons, he drove past two other theaters that fateful night before finding one that advertised "Gun Free Zone."  He therefore knew that he would not face any resistance from an armed citizen.  And he didn't.  He was able to shoot, and reload, and shoot, and reload, and shoot, and murder dozens of innocents, without anyone trying to stop him.  It was a mass slaughter.  And it was made so because some liberal, gun-hating do-gooder believed that simply placing a sign on the door stating "Gun Free Zone" would make that establishment gun-free. What a dumbass! What a fool! What an enabler!

Yeah, I know, we've got lots of them right here in Taxifornia today.  Our President Pro-Tem of the Senate, Kevin de Leon, actually was quoted as saying that we might have to start printing those "gun free" signs in all capital letters if people don't start paying attention to them.  Jeeeeeesh!

And then there was Virginia Tech.  This past weekend marked the anniversary of the mass slaughter that occurred there ten years ago. The deranged killer who systematically murdered 32 innocents that day had to walk past a sign at the edge of the campus that proudly proclaimed, "Gun Free Zone" on the way to the scene of his impending crimes. Apparently he was not dissuaded by a mere sign. Nor is anyone who is bent upon committing murder and mayhem.

Remember the insane kid that murdered 9 parishioners at the AME Church in Charleston a few years back?  The pastor of that church was also a state senator.  In that capacity he voted against making South Carolina a "shall issue," concealed carry state.  But he was voted down and a new law was passed making lawful the concealed carry of firearms.  But, making it also possible for individual businesses to "opt out" of allowing patrons to enter their establishments carrying concealed.  And he chose to do so, for his own church.  He personally placed the sign on the front door marking his church a "Gun Free Zone." And it killed him, and 8 other innocent worshipers.  Imagine how differently it might have turned out if someone in that church had been carrying that night.  Or, perhaps the kid would not have chosen that church had it not have "opted out" of the new state law.  We'll never know.  

Consider this:  more than 5% of our entire population, or a number in excess of 15,000,000, have a concealed carry license.  Would anyone go duck hunting if even 5% of the ducks were armed?  

And then there's the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida. That's the gay party place that was the locus of such carnage a year or so back.  Even though Florida is a gun-friendly state, where more than 6.5% of its population of 22,000,000 have a concealed carry permit, they allow individual businesses to "opt out."  The Pulse chose to do so.  And thus, the Muslim Jihadist thug killer knew, going in, that he would likely encounter no resistance to his murderous intentions.  What a shame!  A state full of guns, and none were where they were needed.  Imagine what would have happened if there'd been someone there that night, just one, with a carry permit and the willingness to use it!  

Or, better yet, what makes you think anyone would actually have chosen to enter that establishment with nefarious intent knowing there might be someone there with a gun!

My point here, fellow citizens, is that YOU are responsible for your safety and your welfare.  YOU are responsible to prepare yourself to counter any potential harm, from any source, at any time.  YOU are responsible to have a disaster plan at the ready, and then plan to work it if and when a disaster strikes. And so YOU should legally arm yourself if you can. The police are there primarily to write up a report after the crime has occurred and they drag your lifeless body away.  Is that who you wish to rely upon for your self-defense? 

A special note to the citizens of California, Maryland, New York, Hawaii, Massassaccchusetttts, Conneccticuttt and a few other states who elect representatives who believe that you should be a sitting duck for miscreants who wish to do you harm. If you live in Utah, Nevada or Arizona, or 28 other states, you simply visit your local sheriff, plunk down $25, prove you are a citizen in good standing without a felony conviction by passing a Federal National Instant Criminal System background check, you, know, the one the liberals all want you to have that you already have, and walk out with a concealed carry permit.  And then go to your local gun store and buy whatever you can afford.  

California?  No such luck.  Getting a CCW permit is almost impossible if you live in San Diego, Lost Angeles, San Jose or San Francisco counties.  Most of the rest of the 78 counties?  No problem!  If you are hostage to political correctness and those who are stupid enough to enforce it, you are not being properly represented.  Do something, ANYTHING to change it.  Or, just move.  Otherwise, it might cost you your life. Remember the Developmental Center in San Bernardino? "Gun Free Zone."  23 dead, 35 wounded. Remember Fort Hood?  The Washington, D.C. Navy Yard? The community college in Oregon?  The armed forces recruiting center in Little Rock, AR?  And a few dozen others?  All "Gun Free Zones." 

Point made?  Point made...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Release Those Tax Returns!

The drumbeat for Donald J. Trump, President of these here United States, to release his tax returns is becoming incessant!  

On Tax Day the thongs of people were marching and chanting and fuming and fussing and parading and sign-waving and stamping their little feet, demanding that The Don Don cough up his returns!  No doubt each and every one of these presumably nice folks were bought and paid for by commie billionaire Nazi convicted-felon and trouble-maker George Soros and his ilk, including,, Snopes, com, Think Progress, Planned Parenthood, Americans for Stringing Up Conservatives Everywhere, Mothers Against Drunk Republicans, The Brady Campaign to Melt Down all Guns, Little Mikey Bloomberg and his Mothers for Eliminating the 2nd Amendment, and, of course, the Service Employees International Union and all of their tens of millions of $10 an hour workers.

Oh, and let's not forget the "alphabet networks," including CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, PBS and an untold number of left-wing "news" papers, which have given up on reporting the "news" and are simply banging the "Russians are controlling every Trump activity" drum 24/7.

These people just cannot abide the fact that The Trumpster is refusing to show us what he sent to those lefties at the IRS. I mean, Carter did it, and so has every single candidate for POTUS since then.  Except The Donald.  He says, no way, Jose. Oh wait...  Is Jose still here?  Wasn't he deported? Just askin'...

His excuse, he says, is that "they are under audit."  Likely story, I say! There's no law that says you can't release your tax returns while they're under audit!  So, there must be SOMETHING in those tax returns that The Trumpster doesn't want us, the American people, to see!  

Maybe it's that he's been getting payola from Vlad Putin and the Russkie gummint!  Can't be vodka.  He doesn't drink. Maybe caviar!  Or maybe he's a member of the Mafia and his returns are showing his take from gambling, prostitution and the drug trade!  Or perhaps he's not really worth $10 Billion! Maybe its only a paltry $3 Billion, and that would mean he's not really rich, right!  Or perhaps he's not been ponying up his share of donations to charities and he doesn't want us to know!

In any event, it MUST be bad or he would have willingly opened them up to scrutiny by the Democrat Party and the Lap Dog Media.  Of course, He owns or controls more than 500 individual corporations, most of which are sub-chapter "S" entities.  So reporting on the income and expenses of all of these entities, when any profit or loss from each of them passes directly through to Him, personally, and then collating the entire bunch, would be a monumental undertaking!  But hey, that's no reason not to show us all how much money he's REALLY worth, is it?

We, The People, deserve to know, and by damn, we're gonna' find out!

So the Dems and their sycophants and the Dinosaur Media and Wiki Leaks and the Hollywierd Crowd and John Podesta and Hil(liar)y Clinton and San Fran Nan Pelosi and Senator Chuckie Schumer and Mikey Moore and Susan Sarandon and Babs Streisand and Ashley Judd and thousands of protesters, all dressed in black, and all rioting and looting and misbehaving to the max, have all been looking under every rock to try and locate The Donald's tax returns.  But so far, no luck.  

But I have a theory as to where they might be found. Yes, I, The Chuckmeister (I've said before that if The Donald can warrant a capital "T" in the "The," then I, The Chuckmeister, can warrant one as well!), think I know where they might be hiding. Ready?  Here goes...

I think The Donald's income tax returns might be languishing under B. Hussein Obama's college transcripts!  You know, his applications to attend Occidental College, and Columbia and Harvard Universities.  And his requests for full-ride scholarships, and whether or not he received them.  And remember, Grasshopper, Occidental only granted "full-rides" back then if you were a foreign national!  So if Barry asked for and received a "ride," then he wasn't born in Hawaii, and wouldn't have been eligible to become POTUS.  Seems to me the Media would have been interested in finding that out, wouldn't you?  Ummm, I guess not...

And if he didn't get scholarships, how did he pay for college? He was a poor kid from a single-parent household, and was a less than stellar student, by his own recollection.  His little book, "Dreams from my father," which he may or may not have written (probably not), tells us he spent most of his time while growing up in Honolulu doing MaryJoanna and cocaina along with his "Choom Gang" buddies and hustling old fat white guys.  

Grades? According to his book, not so good.  So what grades did he earn?  Where are those transcripts?  You know, the ones he had dozens of lawyers and spent tens of millions of dollars to keep secret from us? We know what grades "W" got, and Billy Jeff "Blue Dress" Clinton, and Ronnie Reagan, and every other POTUS back to Abe Lincoln.  But Barry?  Ummm, no.  Biiiiiig secret, mon ami!

My thinking is these records are all hidden!  And just maybe, The Donald's income tax returns are hiding with them!

Maybe the New York Times will launch an investigative reporting exercise to try and find both.  You know, some of that there "journalism" we keep hearing about. 

Just kidding... 

Or, alternatively, maybe those tax returns can be found resting comfortably under that elusive "hateful" video tape that a bunch of really nice Egyptians found distasteful enough to protest against a few years back.  And then those nice folks in Benghazi, Libya followed that up with a bit of "protesting" at the American Embassy compound there. Remember?  The one where they brought rocket propelled grenades and machine guns?  Those fun-loving Libyans! They just luuuuuv to bring RPG's to little street gatherings! 

And then these partiers killed three of our very best Special Operators and an ambassador?  The one where they made a movie that proved they could have, and should have, been rescued, but weren't?  That one?

The one that then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice went on all five Sunday morning talk shows to discuss?  She did the "full Ginsburg" to explain to us that this "awful" video was to blame.  And that we had arrested the poor fool who had made it, and that we were going to punish him to the max, remember?  

Of course, appearing on the Sunday shows to discuss matters of State would have been the province of the Secretary of State, one Ms. Hillary Clinton, who was in New York that weekend, and could have, and should have, explained it all to us herself...but didn't.  Maybe even SHE, infamous weaver of bald-faced lies, wasn't willing to try and sell this load of crap.

So maybe The Donald's tax records can be found alongside this video, and right next to Barry's college transcripts and grades.  Maybe there's a special storage locker somewhere that specializes in hiding really special and important things like this.

But in the meantime I don't seem to recall marches and protests and chanting and screaming and shouting and placard-waving and demanding that Obama come up with all his documentation, do you? No left-wing celebrities screaming and shouting and demanding that Barry fork over the sort of stuff that every POTUS candidate all the way back to at least Harry Truman was required to provide.

Something to think about, right?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

All You Need To Know About "Global Warming."

"Global Warming."  

Those two words mean different things to different people. To those of a liberal persuasion, it means the sky is falling. Literally.  It means that the oceans are rising, the Polar bears are drowning, the Earth is cooking, the atmosphere is polluted with scads of Co2 and other greenhouse gases, the ice caps are melting, solar and wind farms are the answer to every question that has ever been asked, and that all those nasty old petroleum products that come up from the bowels of the Earth are fouling our very existence and will ultimately kill us and every other life form.  And soon.

And if you're a conservative, you believe that "global warming, or "climate change," or "climate chaos," or "atmospheric calamity," or whatever-they're-choosing-to-call-it-these-days, is a gigantic unadulterated load of horses**t.  

There is proof, they say, that the average temperature is not increasing, that the oceans aren't rising, that the ice caps aren't melting, that Polar bears can swim 60 miles without taking a break, that wind and solar energy actually costs more to produce than the energy thus produced is worth, that Co2 levels, albeit at a historic high, don't determine atmospheric temperature or warming trends, and that fossil fuels will continue to cleanly and efficiently and inexpensively power our society well into the future.

Oh, and that Al Gore is a bloated gasbag who put forth a laughable theory that was as full of holes as a piece of Swiss cheese, but earned him $100 Million Dollars and an Oscar from a bunch of Hollywierd left-wing loons anyway (are you listening, Leo DeCaprio?).  

Back to that "all you need to know" stuff.

The "sky is falling" crowd always falls back on that hard-and-fast statement that "97% of all climate scientists" agree that global warming is "settled science."  Annnnnd, my friends, they are correct.  97% actually do.  "Settled science?"  Not so much.

Buuuuuuuut, what you need to know, but the left-wing loons won't tell you, is...

...97% of all climate scientists either work directly for the Government, or indirectly for colleges or universities or think tanks that rely on Federal grants to continue their very existence.

People are predictable.  They predictably want their paychecks to continue to be issued, and to cash (what a concept!).  That keeps mama and the kiddies happy, the mortgage paid, and the bulldog fed.  

Soooooo, if you were one of them there "climate scientists," wouldn't you want to keep getting paid?  Sure you would. And if continuing to get paid depended upon your being willing to state publicly that "global warming" is real, and that those who beat that drum are being honest and forthright, even if it's a load of crap, you'd most likely say, "Yeah, they're being honest and forthright!"  I mean, those with PhD's in Climatology aren't likely to find another job paying anything like what they're earning now if they're unceremoniously dumped for being honest and forthright.  You'd probably be willing to say that Kim Kardashian's backside isn't huge if it meant continuing to get paid, wouldn't you? Sure you would. 

Sad commentary on the human condition, but true nonetheless...

Oh, and that other 3%?  The ones who don't agree that "global warming" is going to roast us all in a fiery Hell of our own making?  They work for radio and TV stations, or for websites and other private enterprise where knowing weather trends is necessary to keep the doors open, or for weather channels like "The Weather Underground," or "The Weather Network," or "MyRadar," or, well, "The Weather Channel." 

And BTW, Mr. John Anderson, one of the founders of The Weather Channel, is quick to report that all this "global warming" hysteria is, well, hysteria.  He says it's nothing more nor less than liberals trying to find another avenue into our collective wallets to fund their left-wing agendas.  I tend to agree.

Google this if you need some proof.    

There's some more stuff you need to know.  There's a really big bunch of Americans who work in or around the fossil fuels industry.  First of all, recent oil field discoveries here at home (see Bakken Oil Shale Fields) tell us we Americans have more proven oil sands to exploit than all the oil in the Middle East combined!  So, if you put that together with Canada, which is rich in petroleum reserves (think XL Pipeline), and Meheeeeeko, which is as well, through hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") we could become a net exporter of oil to the rest of the world within a few short years.  And, the price of a barrel of oil could plummet to as little as $30.00.  

And the Saudi shieks, who have gold-plated lawn mowers...and no lawns, would have to get real jobs for a change. Wouldn't that do your heart good?

Oh, and would you like to know who stands to lose their ass if the XL Pipeline gets built?  Warren Buffet, that's who.  His company, Berkshire Hathaway, owns the Burlington-Northern, Santa Fe Railroad.  That outfit has a contract to transport oil from the Great North to the refineries in Looooosiana at $30.00 a barrel.  The XL, when built, will transport tar sands oil for $10.00 a barrel.  And it will be built, now that The Donald has approved its construction.  And the B-N,SF stock will then take a dump. That's why Buffet kept giving campaign donations to Barry and Hillary by the fistful over the past few years in an effort to keep this all from happening. Helps to know the "whys" and the "wherefores," don't it?

Second, 515,218 of our people work in oil/petroleum, 362,118 work in natural gas, and another 76,771 in advanced gas production.  However, you should know that for every one employed directly in oil/petroleum, totaling about 1,250,000, there's another two working to support that individual.  All in all, there are more than 9,000,000 employed as a consequence of this all-important resource.  

Annnnnd, coal currently employs 160,119, which is down by more than 100,000 since B. Hussein Obama's one man campaign to try and destroy this all-important industry unfolded.  And, I'm of the opinion many of these jobs across ten U.S. states will soon return now that Trump has eradicated the Obama Executive Action that nearly caused the demise of this tremendous resource.    

Solar and wind?  Solar = 373,807, wind = 101, 738.  That's about 475,000 jobs, far less than in fossil fuels, which would not disappear if we would drop our incessant love affair with "global warming."  Both efforts to create so-called "clean energy" will continue to grow and prosper even if those in power stop their Energizer Bunny efforts to re-imagine our society. 

Oh, and truly enormous solar arrays like the one near State Line, Nevada, roast birds into crispy critters as they fly by, and huge wind farms chop them up into little bits.  Well over 300 American eagles were sacrificed on this alter of liberalism during 2016, by the way.

So, whether or not you agree that "global warming" is real, or just some commie pinko liberal weenie effort to separate you from some more of your hard-earned cash, be advised that the effort to force us to buy into it is not likely to stop anytime soon.  Al Gore just released his third documentary on the subject, called, predictably, "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power."  In it I'm sure he'll be kind enough to let us know how, unlike all his other predictions from his previous two pieces of fiction, like Miami being under 20 feet of water by now, this set will actually come true...

Ummm, one more thing:  If ex-Vice President Alfonso Gore had won his home state of Tennessee, he'd have won the White House back in 2000. So, one has to ask oneself, if one can't convince his friends and family and neighbors back home in Pigeon Forge he'd be a better POTUS than "W," then maybe it's a good thing he didn't win.  Maybe we should take that into account when we consider viewing his latest effort at boring us to tears...

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Just One More Reason to Move to Texas...

On April 7th, California had the fourth highest gasoline taxes in America. And, due to other excise and use taxes, among the very highest gas prices in the Nation.  That's why when a gallon of gas costs $1.65 in Oklahoma, or Nebraska, or Tennessee, it's just about One Dollar Higher here in the once-Golden State.

CA also boasts among the very highest vehicle registration and license fees in America.  That's why it's in the Top Ten in terms of the annual cost to own and operate a car.  

But now, due to a brand-spanking new law passed by Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown and his legislative sycophants in that jerkwater town known unaffectionately as Sacramento, all that has changed.  Brown just signed into effect the very largest gas tax and vehicle license and registration tax increase in America's history.  That would be...ready for it?...

...$52 Billion Dollars over the next ten years!

Now, I don't care where you come from, even if it's the very largest state in the Country.  But a $52 Billion increase is one Hell of a lot of money, especially if it's on top of an already costly burden.  That works out to a 12 cents a gallon increase in gas taxes, to 62.62 cents, or 13 cents more than the next highest state.  And, an increase of 20 cents for diesel.  

And, due to the new bump in fees and taxes, we'll soon be getting hosed to the tune of another $25.00 to $175.00 annual increase in vehicle registration and license fees, to the top screw job in America.  

And don't think driving one of those weenie little electric go carts will free you up from having your pocket picked.  If you're plagued by one of those, you're getting screwed to the tune of another $100.00 per year, just because you're not paying gas taxes, so you need to pay something to ride around on our roads, right?

This new bag of tricks is called the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, and it kicks in on November 1, 2017.  Owing to the Democrat's supermajority stranglehold on our legislative apparatus here, they were able to pass this nightmare without a single Republican vote. And without you and me having a say as to whether or not it should pass.  I guess we're only necessary to keep paying for the mistakes these bozos keep making.

Brown and Company tell us they're going to use this newfound pot of cash to pay for much-needed road and bridge and interchange repairs. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea, considering ours are some of the very worst in the entire Nation. 

Exceppppppt, the gas taxes we've been paying all along were supposed to be going into a pot to pay for roads and bridges and related infrastructure.  So, what, I ask, rhetorically, happened to that money?

Yeah, what?

No one seems to know.  My own personal opinion is that this is either going to be earmarked to cover our hundreds of billions of dollars of union pension shortfalls, or be directed to cover it in the future.  But what I know is that living here in this tattered paradise has just become too expensive for all but those who supp at the public trough.  And I don't.

How about you?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Secession: The Fun is About to Begin!

Unless you've been making your home in a dumpster behind the local Wal-Mart, you no doubt know that California is preparing to secede from the Union.

Yes, my friends, and you are my friends, the left-wingers that wield power in that jerkwater town known as Sacramento (how did it get to be California's capitol, anyway?), and the clueless weenies who put them there, are not so happy about the outcome of the recent General Election.  Nope, not so happy at all...

They really, really wanted Hillary Clinton to win the Presidency.  Two-out-of-three voters, in fact, voted that way. That's quite a margin.  I mean, she had all the requisite qualifications:  B. Hussein Obama stated that she was the very most qualified person to ever run for POTUS (!); she had visited 121 countries while wasting four years of her life as Secretary of State (!) (!); her serial predator husband had been POTUS (!) (!) (!); and she had the right chromosomes (!) (!) (!) (!).

Of course, all of those two-out-of- three, totaling some 4 million more votes than The Donald received, are located in San Diego, Lost Angeles, San Jose's Sillycone Valley and San Francisco Counties.  Must be something in the salt air, me thinks.  

And then there's the 1.3 million positive vote margin Hil(liar)y received in New York State.  And once again, those votes came from only two counties: Manhattan and Brooklyn. Does anyone think that five counties in America, two in NY and three in CA, should be able to dictate to the rest of us exactly who should become Prez?  I don't think so either.

Of course, if you subtract those excess votes from CA and NY, The Trumpster wins the majority by more than 3 million votes. Just sayin'...

Anyway, California has been trending more and more "left" for the past thirty years.  When I moved here back in the late 70's this lovely place was considered a reliably center-right State.  Remember, Republican Ronnie Reagan won two terms as Governor.  So did Pete Wilson.  Even that paragon of left-wing Republicanism Arnie Schawartzenwhoozits, somehow managed to win.  But then he governed as a reliable Democrat, as would befit someone who was married to an uber-Democrat Kennedy, but he won nonetheless. 

No longer.  Since then it has become a magnet for illegal aliens, deadbeats, panhandlers, eco-weenies, the homeless, sign twirlers, aging "Summer-of-Love" hippies, Starbucks baristas, 120,000 actors and actresses, most of whom work at Olive Garden, and mega-millionaire Silicon Valley techies. And with them they've brought all the problems socialism visits upon its victims, while erasing generations of amazing growth and achievement the wonders of capitalism once provided.

Now we have a morass of left-wing lunacy.  Our Legislature is owned and controlled by the Democrat Party.  Those boys and girls (and these days, others?) have what's now called a "supermajority."  That means with their two-thirds plus-one stranglehold they now can offer up any law, of any kind, for any reason, at any time, that does any thing, whether necessary or not, and whether affordable or not, and then vote it into law.  And they do.  Often.

Last year the Dems sent 878 brand-spanking new laws to our Civil Servant-for-Life Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown's desk for signature, and he signed all but 87 of them.  Among them were laws making it illegal for you to burn wood in your wood burning fireplace (!), and illegal for dairy cattle to fart after 2020 (!) (!), and illegal to buy a $5 box of .22 bullets without first ponying up $50.00 for a Federal background check (!) (!) (!). Hmmm. 

Oh, and then they decriminalized prostitution for 12 year-old, pre-pubescent little girls, and their pimps (!) (!) (!) (!) (!) (!) (!) (!) (!) (!). Hmmmm, again.

And now Guv Brown, our failed Jesuit priest, and failed Governor, twice, has proposed a new punishment for those Californians who had the temerity to become successful. Yes, my friends, he has proposed to hit the "rich" with a new 1% surtax on all their income over $250,000 per year, or about what you need to live in a cardboard box in San Francisco. 

So, on top of our top 13.3% State tax on income, they'll tack on another 1 point.  Why?  So that Brown and his sycophants can send all our yuuuts to college absolutely freeeeeeee!  This new tax, if passed, is expected to raise $4.3 Billion a year.  And with that money all our kids, both legal and not, can get a freeee education!  Nice.  Of course, I'm fairly confident that there won't be any "rich" left here to pay it once they've beet feet for greener pastures.  Agree?

What's that sound we hear?  I think it might be the fuselage door closing on Gulfstream jets as they prepare to whisk their owners out of this once-Golden State and off to Costa Rica, or Panama, or Belize, or some other tax-free locale.

I sincerely wish I were kidding about any one of those laws. I'm not. And, do you think we really needed nearly 800 new laws?  Me neither...

But the law that Senate President Pro-Tempore Kevin de Leon (D-LA) just put forth, "trumps" all the others (pun intended).  It's Senate Bill 54, which will cause California to secede from the Union if voted in by our electorate in 2018. Why?  de Leon, and Guv Brown, and San Fran Nan Pelosi, and a whole bunch of other otherwise unemployables, are totally pissed that Trump and the new gang in charge in Foggy Bottom not only won, but now want to actually force States like the one now holding me hostage to obey the law. You read that right; Trump, and his new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and about 70% of our Nation's population by a recent poll, want cities, and counties, and states to obey our immigration enforcement laws.  What a concept.

Now I know that's a bit shocking, but there it is.  California, and the other 300 or so locales across our Fruited Plain that just luuuuuv their illegal alien criminal felons, WILL NOT notify the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officials when they have an illegal alien criminal felon in their lock-up.  

Let me restate that:  A city like Santa Monica finds some illegal alien felon drug-addled, rapist, burglar, who's been deported 12 times and has four DUI's, for instance, and gives him a nice clean cell. Then, after they have either been immediately released with an apology, or tried, convicted and incarcerated, presumably for a rather short duration, they simply turn them loose to wreck havoc once again.  That's how Kate Steinle got murdered in San Francisco, you'll recall. They WILL NOT call ICE to come and get these "uninvited visitors," even if ICE has requested they detain them. They seem to think that doing so will violate the "human" rights of these people who shouldn't be here in the first place. Assuming they "think" at all.  And that's a big assumption...

So we should soon begin to hear from both those who want us to vote for this ridiculous nonsense, and those who know that doing so is simply beyond any rationality whatsoever. Like that ever stopped them. 

But, knowing that people in Taxifornia will seemingly vote for anything, so long as it doesn't take a thin dime from their own pockets, they'll probably vote to make it happen.  And then we'll go from 50 states to 49. And I'm guessing the rest of 'Murica will say, "Good riddance."

Sooooo, presupposing that this proposal will pass, I suggest that the Federal Gummint prepare for its passage by taking a little bit of advance action.  I suggest that, from this point on, each and every illegal alien snagged coming across the California border with Meheeeeeko be given a one-way bus ticket to their choice of either, a) Beverly Hills, b) Santa Monica, c) San Francisco, d) Berkeley, or e) Sacramento (my personal favorite!).  Plus, I suggest they be given a "Map to the Stars" to help them find their way to a nice place on which to pitch their tents.  I mean, those lavish spreads around Brentwood have plenty of property on which to camp, right? And maybe a $10 gift certificate to Starbucks so they can get a nice double mocha latte to sustain them until their food stamps begin to arrive.  Oh, and the school bus schedule so they can prepare to send their kids off for a free, taxpayer-funded education.

Oh, and that Starbucks dig?  A guy named Howard Schultz, the CEO of this coffee giant, decided to give Trump the finger by promising to hire 10,000 Syrian refugees instead of 10,000 U.S. military veterans.  The result?  Their stock took a dump and Schultz was forced to cut and run. Awwwww!

These people tell us WE'RE the racist, misogynist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic haters who are unwilling to "share the wealth" by permitting anyone, from anywhere, to come here and suck up scarce Government taxpayer resources with no limitations whatsoever. They're willing to talk the talk. Let's find out if they're now willing to walk the walk.

Do you think our celebritards will be happy to find a bunch of Guatemalans showing up without an invitation?  I can't wait to find out...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Where are all those "Glutens?"

You no doubt know that the hippy trend to "gluten free" has become a Big Business in today's America.

Why?  Damn good question.

The effort to remove glutens, the primary protein in wheat, a staple in our diet for millenia, a substance that represents more than 20% of the average Americans' daily diet, has become an $8 Billion Dollar enterprise.  Read that again:  We are spending more than $8 Billion a year to remove glutens from what we eat!  20 years ago?  10 years ago? No one seemed to care.  But now?

We're told that glutens can cause iliac disease, and excess gas, and stomach distress, and weight gain, and awful skin rashes, and all sorts of other evil scourges in our puny little lives.  So why, I humbly ask, did we manage to eat cereals and breads and beer and other foodstuffs for generations, nay, for tens of thousands of years, without a problem of any kind? Because, I humbly offer, that no one back then had figured out how to make a living off of scaring the piss out of us...

Go to your local supermarket and walk up and down the aisles.  You'll see "gluten free" this, and "gluten free" that. And the prices for all that "gluten removal" are outrageous. By my reckoning, we're paying at least a 20% premium to have some bozo remove those little glutens, perhaps one at a time, with a tweezer, maybe, from the bread and cereal and pizza crusts we buy and eat.  And are we getting our money's worth from having them do so?  Me thinks not.

I'm of the opinion that there's a gigantic pile of glutens somewhere. Maybe out back of the Kellogg's Battle Creek, Michigan factory.  A big, BIG pile of glutens.  I mean, tons of glutens!  

So how about this: We start putting those glutens into an entirely new food group, which we sell to all those folks who have been screwed out of their hard-earned glutens by all those tree-hugging, carrot-chomping, electric car-driving, sauvignon blanc-sipping eco-weenies.  Maybe we put it into a spread, like margarine, which we're told also will kill us.  Or like that fake orange cheese stuff that we dip our Doritos into. We'd have to give it an enticing color, to be sure, but hey, I doubt we'd have a problem making it not only good looking, but good tasting, too!  

And a great name as well.  "Gluticious," maybe? "Gluterene," perhaps. "Glu-you," I'm thinking.  No matter.  There's a whole cadre of marketing geniuses hanging around who could be called upon to give this new "food group" an enticing moniker.  Can't you just imagine the money that could be made! 

This is a challenge, all you food manufacturers out there. We want our glutens!  Give them back!  Okay then, my mid-week rant is at an end. Go back to your "Great Unwashed" little lives and enjoy the rest of your day... 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Trader Joe's; Your place for wine?

Got a Trader Joe's near you?  Like to drink wine.  Read on. You might just learn something that can be of benefit...

You might not be aware that Trader Joe's is America's largest purchaser of bulk, finished, aged, ready-to-drink, but as-yet unbottled wine.

Didn't know that, didja?

Well, it's true.  And here's why.  Wineries never, that would be never, make exactly the right amount of wine.  They either make too much of it, presupposing that they will have the market demand for that quantity, or too little, presuming that you and me will not want as much of their glorious liquid as we actually do.

So what do they do if their production falls into either extreme?  

If they make too little, they then buy up some grapes from fellow vineyards to supplement their underproduction, turn those grapes into wine, and then plant some more grapes for future needs.  

Or if they make too much, they then either, (a), create a second channel of wine, such as another brand just below their usual quality and price of product.  You know of this whether you've thought of it before or not. Think of Beaulieu Vineyards.  They have regular, inexpensive BV wines at $7 or $8 a bottle.  Then they offer "BJ Coastal" at a couple of dollars more per bottle.  And then they feature "BV Napa" at $13 or $14 a bottle. Or, you can opt for "BV Tapestry," which is really special, for around $35 a bottle.  And lastly they offer their top-tier, super fantastic, "BV Georges de la Tour," which is one of the very best wines made in America.  It goes out for upwards of $125 a bottle.  You can often find it at Costco or Sams, on the other hand, for as little as $75 - $80 a bottle. 

If you ever have need of a really special present for a very important someone, who really likes good red wine, consider a bottle of this amazing stuff.  They will be overjoyed.  

By the way, Georges de la Tour was a Swiss viticulturist who ventured to Napa, CA way back in the late 1800's.  He decided that the Napa area had the perfect climate to grow Cabernet Sauvignon, very similar, as it was, and is, to the area around Southwestern France where Cabs are usually made.  And thus, he was the first to plant it in California.  For doing so he's recognized as the guy who actually started what would become the internationally recognized craze for California wines.  But back to our story...

Other wineries that offer two or more tiers of wines would include Coppola, Sebastiani and Kendall-Jackson Vineyards. Ever heard of "Screaming Eagle?"  That's the iconic small-production winery in Napa's Stag's Leap, ultra-special growing area that limits its annual production to only 500 cases a year. The uber-rich swells stand in line to buy this stuff for as much as $350 a bottle.  They offer no wine clubs, no pick-up parties, and no discounts to anyone.  They're waaaaay to cool for that! Yet, they always sell out.  

But that doesn't mean they only make what they can sell. They ALWAYS make more than their self-limited 500 cases a year.  What do they do with the excess?  They bottle it under another brand, called "Whispering Dove."  Get it? "Screaming Eagle" becomes "Whispering Dove?"  And the price?  $40 a bottle at discount wine stores or on line.  Nice to know this stuff, yes?

And (b), those wineries that find themselves with excess production prepare their extra juice as if they were going to bottle it. They add yeast, they ferment it, they put it into barrels and then they sell it as "bulk wine."  It is their normal wine, ready to age, and then ready to bottle and drink.  But they don't need it, so they sell it.  And where they sell it is at wine auctions.

The premier wine auction in America is conducted monthly under the clock tower on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Those in need of excess wine, but who have decided they either don't have the time to produce it from grapes, their own or someone else's, or don't have the time or production capacity to do so, buy the juice at these auctions. And they can score some serious wine at favorable prices by doing so. And the Number One Buyer of this excess juice is Trader Joe's.

TJ's has as many as 9 distinct brands they use to bottle this juice. Some are labeled simply as "Trader Joes" wines. They may call it "Trader Joe's Select," or "Premier," or "Reserve." But some aren't.  One such "aren't" is "Tribunal."  It is usually their very best bulk wine, and by my reckoning, is always superb. And it just might be a really special wine that you usually couldn't afford if bottled by the winery that sold it under their own label.  

Recent bottlings of "Tribunal" contained "The Prisoner," by "Orin-Swift Wine Company.  This wine goes out at a retail of $39.99 a bottle at the winery.  And it's delish!  I've bought cases of this stuff from TJ's and loved every drop.  And the cost?  $9.99 a bottle.  In fact, almost all their house brands sell for this not-so-princely sum.  And all are great buys. Just remember this:  Trader Joe's makes no wine, either "before its time," or after.  It BUYS all its bulk wine from others, and then contracts with area wineries to bottle it for them at other-than-peak bottling periods.  

Soooooooooo, cheap juice, coupled with cheap bottling, creates cheap...but expensive tasting, wines.  And wines you should check out.  

How did I learn this stuff?  Having a wine budget quite a bit smaller than my taste buds, I'm always on the lookout for some great values in wine. So I got to know the Wine Managers at several Trader Joe's.  They are happy to inform and delighted when their customers show an interest.  

And believe it or not, some of them didn't even know about this process. But they DO know the best wines they offer, the true specials, and they'll clue you in if you get to know them as well.  They offer great wines at great prices. But they also offer even greater wines under their own labels at super prices.  

The moral of this story:  We can all drink like we're rock stars, even if we can't hit a lick on an axe and don't have access to their fat bank accounts.  A word to the wise should be sufficient...