Thursday, March 29, 2012

Intemperate Thought of the Day #2

President Barack Obama (D-USA), you once called me your “enemy”. It made me pretty mad at the time, as I recall.

Well, maybe I was wrong. Maybe you and I are enemies. I’m the enemy of anyone who is the enemy of the First Amendment, and that clearly describes both you and the rest of the Democrat party.

Keep your hands off my free speech.

Intemperate Thought of the Day

Ok, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum supporters, this one is directed at you.

What thing has happened in the last three years that makes you think having a legislator with no executive experience in the White House is a good idea?

Sorry. I’m not going to be elected President of the Mitt Romney fan club any time soon, but supporting anyone else at this point suggests mental health issues.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March 29, 1886

Coke. It’s the real thing.

Coca-cola is invented by Dr. John Pemberton on this day, and people have been burping ever since.

SCOTUS to Uphold ObamaCare Because It’s Messy?

That’s the meme that’s going around today. Apparently, the SCOTUS tea leaf readers think that since there was quite a bit about the problems of severing the mandate from the rest of the law, that SCOTUS might just decide to uphold the whole law after all.

Ummm…in a word…no.

The Supreme Court Justices understand the word “precedent” better than just about anyone in America. They know that every action they make, every opinion they give, even dissenting ones, sets a precedent.

If they decide that the individual mandate is unconstitutional but separating it from the rest is impractical, and therefore they uphold the law, it will set a very loud precedent.

It will tell Congress that anytime they’re worried about the constitutionality of a given bill, just boost the baby up to about 3,000 pages and turn it into a tangled mess. Let me assure you that there is not one single justice on the Supreme Court that wants to send that message to Congress.

Sorry, but it ain’t gonna happen. The end result of today, if you want to go reading tea leaves (and I advise strongly against it), is that the Supremes may be leaning towards chucking the whole law. But they won’t uphold the law, just to avoid a “mess”.

Trayvon Martin: What We DON’T Know

 

I really don’t want to talk about this case. As I said previously, we can’t let Team Obama distract us from the real issues. However, since there’s so much speculation, and flat out wrong information out there, I thought I’d clear things up a bit. Or make things worse. We’ll see.

We don’t know: that racism had anything to do with the situation. In fact, we have no real reason to speculate that racism played any part, other than the fact that the two parties were of different races. By all accounts, Zimmerman had no personal issues with blacks, and got along well with them.

We don’t know: that Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law even plays any part in the discussion. From Zimmerman’s 911 call, it appears that at some point he began pursuit of Martin. I’m no FL criminal law expert, but it appears to me that SYG would no longer apply to Zimmerman at that point, and he’d be unable to use it in his defense. However, it is possible that at that point, SYG would apply to Martin. Not that it really matters. It’s also possible that if Zimmerman broke off pursuit and then Martin attacked him that SYG would again apply to Zimmerman. As I said, I’m not a FL criminal law expert, and unless you are, you probably don’t know the answers to these questions either. And we don’t know that this last situation occurred, in any case. Or that it didn’t.

We don’t know: how this whole thing started. We have Zimmerman’s statement, but all other witnesses (that we know of at this point), saw or heard things after the problems began.

We don’t know: that Zimmerman was told by the police not to pursue Martin. In fact, at this point, the opposite appears to be true. The 911 operator said “we don’t need you to do that”. First, as I understand it, she’s not a police officer, and second, saying “we don’t need you to do that” is quite a bit different than saying “don’t do that”

We don’t know: that Zimmerman’s life was ever in danger or that he had reason to think that it might be. Witness statements and 911 calls appear to indicate that he was screaming for help and was in a fight with Martin. However, we can’t know that means his life was in danger.

We don’t know: that Zimmerman was ever even attacked by Martin; We know he sustained injuries. We know from two witnesses that he and Martin were on the ground and that Martin was on top. But Zimmerman could have attacked Martin, and they started rolling around. Or it could’ve gone the other way. We have no idea at this point.

In other words, we know very little. In fact, here’s what we DO know.

We do know: that at some point Zimmerman made a mistake, and as a result of that mistake, Trayvon Martin is dead. But what was the mistake? Was it pursuing him because of racism? Was it that he pursued him after there was no longer a threat? Was it standing his ground when he should have run? Was it thinking his life was in danger when it wasn’t? Was it just not waiting long enough for help to arrive? Was it not waiting for the police?

We don’t yet know the answers to any of these questions, and ultimately these are the questions that will determine Zimmerman’s fate. These questions are the difference between murder in the second degree, and potentially not even being charged with any crime. Or being charged with some crime at some level below 2nd degree murder.

So, next time you spout off about Zimmerman’s guilt, or even his innocence, or about the Stand Your Ground law, stop, and reflect upon what it is exactly that you do know. Unless you have better sources of information than I do (and you may), the answer is likely “very little”.

BTW, that last paragraph is specifically directed at President Barack Obama (D-USA), MSM pundits, Al Sharpton, Blank Panthers, and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA). And many others. All of you have weighed in and given your opinion, once again, without being in full possession of the facts. Please stop before someone else gets killed.

ObamaCare: What Happens Next?

I’ve been giving this some thought the last couple of days and I wanted to put it down. I’ve even moved it ahead of some of my backlog on blog posts, but don’t worry, I’ll get to the others.

As I’m sure you’re aware of by now, the Supreme Court of the United States is hearing oral arguments on the constitutionality of ObamaCare this week. Since they’re doing this, it’s worth a minute to consider what happens next in the various scenarios. The first scenario is that SCOTUS might punt on the issue altogether because the states don’t have standing to take up the case against a tax that hasn’t been levied yet. Since this doesn’t appear at all likely, I’m going to ignore that option.

So, here are the others.

SCOTUS upholds the law in its entirety.

I still consider this the most likely option. I’ll say there’s a 45% chance of this happening. Obviously, if this happens, our efforts must turn to repeal. Having former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) on the Presidential ticket will not make that any easier, but the bigger hurdle will be the stamp of approval by SCOTUS. In fact, Romney has gotten pretty good at making the case that what he did in MA is entirely different than what the President has done. Still, if this happens, we must take control of Congress and the White House. November becomes a harder climb, but an extremely necessary one.

SCOTUS finds just the individual mandate unconstitutional.

This is the second most likely option, at about 40%. In the past, many have pointed out that Congress neglected to add the “severability clause” to the health care bill. Congress puts that in laws to protect themselves from SCOTUS overreach, by saying that if SCOTUS finds one part of a law unconstitutional, that the rest of the law is still valid. So, one of the theories has been that since Congress left this out of the bill, that the whole law goes down in flames if SCOTUS finds any part of it unconstitutional. However, that does not appear to be the case. SCOTUS has generally taken the severability clause as implied lately, and it’s likely they will do so again, in this case. However, the court may decide (correctly in my view) that the mandate is the cornerstone of the law, and that the law can not stand without it. I’ll cover that one later.

Assuming they decide to break up the law, it’s going to be left in shambles. The CBO will be forced to rescore the law, and the new score will not be pretty. Supporters of the mandate, citizen and company, will be screaming to have this addressed. The next Congress and the next President will have to rewrite the law from scratch. November now becomes absolutely huge. For both sides. This might be just the thing to motivate Dems to get out and vote in November. And don’t think that if the GOP can hold the House while the Dems hold the Senate and White House that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-08) will be able to do much. He’s not going to be able to direct his caucus to just vote no on everything. The law will have to be rewritten. Doing nothing in this case is possibly worse than doing something. This is the ugliest of all possible scenarios. Welcome back to summer of 2009!

SCOTUS finds other pieces, such as the Medicaid Mandate, unconstitutional.

There’s maybe a 10% chance of this happening. I really think that if the court gets to here that they toss the whole law. I don’t think it’s possible that they uphold the individual mandate and yet toss the Medicaid mandate. I also don’t see how the law can stand if both are gone. Politically, this scenario isn’t all that different from the one above. While I think it’s easier to rewrite the law without the Medicaid mandate than without the individual one, the effects of this are felt everywhere. This situation might help Romney a bit because it goes to his strength in this argument, states rights and economics. The Medicaid mandate really puts a huge financial burden on the states. I think losing this one would be an emotional blow to the liberals, rather than a cause to rally behind.

SCOTUS tosses the whole law out.

I give about a 5% chance of this happening. Now, it may happen in a multitude of different ways. The court may decide that the whole law is an overreach and needs to go away. They might just decide that the individual mandate is the problem, and punish Congress for neglecting the severability clause. Or they might decide that even though it’s just the individual mandate, that the law crumbles to pieces if it’s removed. They might make a similar argument about the Medicaid mandate. If both are found unconstitutional, they might look at the law and say “what else is there?” None of these options are at all likely, but all together the odds might be up around 5%, and worth discussing. Obviously, this is the best case scenario for ObamaCare opponents. The law’s destroyed, and it’s not going to be brought back by the next Congress, no matter who’s in charge. It’ll be dead for a generation. It’s good for Romney because he’ll be able to campaign and not worry about RomneyCare. And it’s almost certainly going to leave the Democrat base dispirited. The only question is whether the Republican base would be motivated, or whether they’d feel like they’d earned a rest after that.

So, 45% chance SCOTUS does nothing and 55% chance they knock down the law, at least in part.

If you were thinking that you might sit out November’s elections, expunge that thought. Your vote is definitely going to be needed.

UPDATE: I meant to mention earlier why I believe a complete overturn is unlikely. This court seems to prefer to make its rulings as narrow as possible. A broad ruling that the entire law should be thrown out does not fit the profile. Also, the Supremes are very much aware of their role in the three branches of government. And very much aware that a complete overturn of this law would likely be seen as equivalent to a declaration of war on the Legislative and Executive branches. Not saying it’s impossible. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Obama’s Solicitor General Is an Idiot

No, I am not trying to be insulting. I’m not trying to be edgy, or just call him stupid because I disagree with his ideas. I seriously wonder if the man has greater than a 60 IQ.

Today, President Barack Obama’s (D-USA) supreme “achievement”, ObamaCare, goes before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Neal Katyal, acting US Solicitor General, the man who has been in charge of ObamaCare’s defense,  had this to say in an interview with AFP.

The challengers are saying that this law is unconstitutional, which means even if 95 percent of Americans want this law, they can't have it. And that's a really profound thing for an unelected court to say.

First, the 95%  number is ridiculous. Every single poll shows support for the law at less than 50%. But even if it were accurate, does the man not understand the U.S. Constitution at all? There are approximately 300,000,000 people in the United States. It doesn’t matter if 285,000,000 (95%), or even 297,000,000 (99%), or even 299,700,00 (99.9%), or hell, even 299,970,000 (99.99%) of them want a law. If it is found to violate the U.S. Constitution, they can’t have it. Period. If it’s got that kind of support, though, passing an Amendment to the Constitution should be trivial. Of course, ObamaCare doesn’t have that kind of support, and hopefully he knows that. Although based upon the rest of his statement, I’m unconvinced that he’s even aware that the sun rises in the east, so I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

Also, several times in the interview he makes the point that the Supreme Court is an “unelected court”. He clearly does not hold these nine Justices or their Court in high regard. Just as clearly, he does not see them as a rightful co-equal branch of government, but merely as a group trying to exceed their authority. From my understanding, he will not be the one making arguments today. That he did so in the lower courts. However, if his attitude is indicative of those who will make the arguments before the court, then they should be prepared for a serious smackdown from all nine Justices, even those that may support the rest of their defense.

Someone get this man a tiddlywinks game. He’s clearly incapable of anything more advanced.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

March 24, 1989

The Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker bound for CA, runs aground on Prince William Sound’s Bligh Reef.

This will become the worst oil spill ever in U.S. waters. A record that will last until 2010.

Press reports at the time will blame the accident on Captain Joe Hazelwood, who was drunk at the time. The press reports neglect to mention however, that while Hazelwood was drunk, he was also asleep. It was the third mate who was at the helm and ran the ship aground.

Obama’s Campaign Theme–Distraction

President Barack Obama (D-USA) is campaigning for re-election. That’s not news. He’s been doing so for a year now. However, I’ve recently noticed a pattern to his methods.

To get a full sense of the pattern, you have to watch the entire campaign team in action. This includes Media Matters, ThinkProgress, the Associated Press, NBC et al. Even Public Policy Polling has gotten into the act.

None of these people want to talk about the economy, unless it’s one of those rare weeks where there’s actual good news. None of these people want to talk about the mountain of debt we’re accumulating. No one wants to talk about gas prices. None want to compare our situation to Greece or the rest of the EuroZone. And, most especially, no one wants to talk about the ever increasing cost of ObamaCare.

You can’t blame them, of course. If my hero was Barack Obama, I wouldn’t want to talk about any of these things either.

And that’s why they’re talking about anything else they can find, etch-a-sketches, Trayvon Martin, Rush Limbaugh, contraception, field trips for the first children, birthers, the religion of the President, etc. Even if some of these make their hero look bad, they know that they can spin it to make the right look worse. The way they tell it, it’s the right wasting all of everyone’s time constantly talking about these things instead of “what’s important” (of course, “what’s important” is always a vague, or implied thing, as they don’t want to actually talk about “what’s important”).

And, you notice they haven’t picked just one thing. That was their habit in the past. Instead now they’re hitting the right with a new thing every day, and from a new angle or two every day. The goal is to keep the right off message, and to make us look foolish.

Frankly, this is just a variation on Cloward-Piven, used as a messaging system. They’re trying to overwhelm the right, leaving us unfocused and off-balance until we collapse upon ourselves.

So far, their tactic appears to be working. We’re falling for it.

But, they still have a couple aces up their sleeve. Watch for them. I mentioned one last week, gay marriage, and it’s already popped up. The other ace, they hope, is Israel.

Obama knows he’s in trouble with the Jews. He also knows that without overwhelming Jewish support, he could be in trouble in November. He also knows that Netanyahu has an itchy trigger finger, and has just about run out of patience with Iran. On a personal level, Obama would love nothing better than to see Israel wiped off the map by the Iranians. Of course, he can’t say that publicly, but actions speak louder than words, and the part of the Jewish community that’s been paying attention realizes this.

How then to dupe the Jews again has been one of the biggest questions for Obama’s team. But now they think they have figured it out. This is how they’re hoping this will play out. Watch for it. They’re going to keep scrambling publicly and privately to keep the tensions between Iran and Israel at a low boil all through the spring and as much of the summer as possible. They can’t let it go to a full boil, but they don’t want it to die down either.

Then, in late summer, they figure they can let it bubble over into a shooting war. Obama will quite publicly decry the violence from both sides, but make a strong public show of working with Netanyahu and supporting him, while privately dragging his feet and doing nothing of substance. They think this public display will be enough to mollify the American Jews long enough to get them to come out and vote in November. Then, by Thanksgiving, watch the re-elected Obama voice his opinion that Netanyahu has become impossible to deal with, and blame him for the degenerating situation, saying that it’s out of our control now and there’s nothing we can do.

This whole thing has a double purpose, not only does it get the Jewish vote back in his favor (they hope), but the Isreal-Iran conflict would once again be a distraction from all the things that Team Obama doesn’t want to talk about.

As I said in Twitter this week, Obama’s campaign can best be summed up in that single word: distraction.

Don’t be distracted. Don’t get off message. Hit Team Obama where it hurts, not where they want you to hit. This is the message to everyone on the right, from #tcot to former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA), to Rush Limbaugh, to Sarah Palin, and to NRO.

The good news is that the right can use this method too, and we have more effective tools at our disposal than the left does. If we use them correctly.

That’s for a future post.

Friday, March 23, 2012

March 23, 1933

The Enabling Act was passed by Germany's Reichstag and signed by President Paul von Hindenburg on 23 March 1933. The result of this act is that Adolph Hitler was established as Führer and given dictator powers.

Under the Act, the government had acquired the authority to pass laws without either parliamentary consent or control. Unprecedentedly, these laws could (with certain exceptions) even deviate from the Constitution. The Act effectively eliminated the Reichstag as active players in German politics, though the existence of the body, alongside that of the Reichsrat and of the office of President were protected under the Act (nonetheless, the two latter were abolished in April and August 1934, respectively). Together with the Reichstag Fire Decree, which curtailed basic civil liberties and transferred state powers to the Reich government, the Act transformed Hitler's government into a legal dictatorship.

The Act also effectively removed Presidential oversight, as Hindenburg's representative had stated that the aged president was withdrawing from day-to-day affairs of government and that presidential collaboration on the laws decreed as a result of the Enabling Act would not be required.

[…]

Though the Act had formally given legislative powers to the government as a whole, these powers were for all intents and purposes exercised by Hitler himself; as Joseph Goebbels wrote shortly after the passage of the Enabling Act:

The authority of the Führer has now been wholly established. Votes are no longer taken. The Führer decides. All this is going much faster than we had dared to hope.[9]

The passage of the Enabling Act reduced the Reichstag to a mere stage for Hitler's speeches. It only met sporadically until the end of World War II, held no debates and enacted only a few laws. Within three months after the passage of the Enabling Act, all parties except the Nazi Party were banned or pressured into dissolving themselves, followed on July 14 by a law that formally made the Nazi Party the only legally permitted party in the country.

It’s hard to believe a legislative body would willingly give up its power to an executive, unless you’ve watched the workings of the Senate the last 3 years.

Sixty-seven years later to the day, another enabling act was passed in America.

Path to Prosperity 2012 Version

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI-01) released this year's version of his Path to Prosperity this week. I give him credit for it, but it's really the work of the House Budget Committee, which he chairs. This will be the starting point for the 2013 budget prepared by the House of Representatives. The Senate is required to prepare their own budget, but they won't. The Senate Majority Leader is a spineless, lying, sniveling coward, who knows that a budget prepared by Democrats would destroy their party.

But, I digress.

This year's version shares quite a bit with last year's version. It greatly simplifies the tax code, and cuts the corporate tax rate to 25% (which is still 25% too high, sadly--but at least it's identical to the top marginal rate). And, based upon CBO's conservative growth estimates, it balances the budget around 2040. Which is far too slow, but I'll get back to that later. Obviously, it also assumes pretty much a complete repeal of ObamaCare.

The major differences lie in two areas: Medicare & Medicaid, and dealing with the sequester. The Medicare/Medicaid section is quite a bit different. Not sure if it's better or worse, but different. Ryan clearly understands the heat he & the Republicans took on this issue last year and is trying to address it in a more palatable way. This part is the same as what was released last year and is commonly called the Wyden-Ryan plan for Medicare, co-authored with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The heart of the Wyden-Ryan plan is to use competitive bidding to allow private insurers to compete with traditional, 1965-vintage fee-for-service Medicare. If you want to learn more about competitive bidding, see this piece I wrote about Mitt Romney’s proposal for Medicare reform. If that doesn’t quench your thirst, you can read the definitive book on competitive bidding:Bring Market Prices to Medicare, by Robert Coulam, Roger Feldman, and Bryan Dowd.

The basic idea behind competitive bidding is that, say, on a county-by-county basis, you let private plans and traditional Medicare offer plans with the same actuarial value compete, to see who can offer the same package of benefits the most efficiently. Each plan in a given county will name a price for which they are willing to offer these services, and seniors are free to pick whichever plan they want. However, the government will only subsidize an amount equal to the bid proposed by the second-cheapest plan. If you want a more expensive plan, you have to pay the difference yourself.

I have some concerns with this, like what happens when private insurers can't compete with an unfunded government plan, but overall, at least Ryan can't be accused of pushing grandma off a cliff. Also, this clearly is an arrow to the heart of IPAB ("death panels"), one of the most offensive parts of ObamaCare.

As for Medicaid, this section appears to be unworkable to me. Funds are fixed based upon an inflation and population index. That assumes that healthcare services remain static. Generally, not only have healthcare services increased in price, but also in quantity. You're offered a lot more healthcare choices today than you were 50 years ago. In other words, there are more opportunities for you to spend your hard earned dollars on healthcare related costs. This is one of the reasons programs like Medicare and Medicaid always expand beyond expectations. It doesn't seem like to me that the Ryan plan would deal with that, leaving further Medicaid burdens on the states. Maybe that's ok. But I know it'll be a criticism from the left.

Finally, the other significant change in the Ryan plan this year is dealing with the sequester. From the actual doc:

Reprioritizing sequester savings to protect the nation’s security:  The defense budget is slated to be cut by $55 billion, or 10 percent, in January of 2013 through the sequester mechanism enacted as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011. This reduction would be on top of the $487 billion in cuts over ten years proposed in President Obama’s budget. This budget eliminates these additional cuts in the defense budget by replacing them with other spending reductions.  Spending restraint is critical, and defense spending needs to be executed with effectiveness and accountability. But government should take care to ensure that spending is prioritized according to the nation’s needs, not treated indiscriminately when it comes to making cuts. The nation has no higher priority than safeguarding the safety and liberty of its citizens from threats at home and abroad.

As an aside, Ryan points out that the entire $400B of "savings" from President Obama's (D-USA) plan comes from shredding the military budget (emphasis mine).

Yet,  the defining characteristic of the President’s new defense posture is a reduction in the administration’s own defense plan from last year, bringing the total reduction to $487 billion over the next ten years. This number stands out as significant for several reasons. In the President’s latest budget proposal, total spending increases by $1.5 trillion and taxes increase by $1.9 trillion, for a total of around $400 billion of deficit reduction over ten years. A clear‐eyed look at the numbers reveals that American taxpayers and the Department of Defense are being asked to bear the entire burden of deficit reduction under the President’s budget.

Overall, as I said last year, the Ryan plan is a good start. But it still has areas that concern me. In no particular order:

  1. There's no way to bind future Congresses to his plan. So, really, any budgetary saving after FY2013 must be taken with a grain of salt. However, with our baseline budgeting, it would establish the "baseline". So, future Congresses would have to explain why their future budgets differ from the baseline. For once, baseline budgeting could play in our favor. Maybe.
  2. Spending vs. GDP (based on CBO forecasts) is still too high. It's still over 20% GDP through 2030. That is unacceptable. The President's "plan" never drops below 25% GDP and is nearly 40% GDP in 2050. As I have mentioned numerous times in the past, the President is ignoring our impending financial crisis. The best you can say about his plan is that it may kick the can down the road a bit. Let me repeat this for what seems like the thousandth time. Our impending financial crisis is real, huge, and unavoidable. And the longer we wait to deal with it, the worse it's going to be. We can do something now and maybe have a soft landing, that won't be too terrible. Or we can destroy the economy for a generation or more. The President has chosen the latter. That last statement is not hyperbole. It's not even opinion. It's demonstrable fact..
  3. It takes too long to balance the budget (based on CBO forecasts). The budget isn't balanced until 2040. That is also unacceptable. And unrealistic. And disappointing. But it shows the depth of the 2008 financial crisis and how much worse the current White House occupant has made things. It may take decades to undo the damage that he has done to America.
  4. Finally, a minor quibble, but I don't think Path to Prosperity is a good name for the document. It's truthful, but not a powerful enough statement. It should be called. Path From the Brink or something. Perhaps even Saving America From Bankruptcy.

Ok, that's the bad news. There's some good news. All of the economic projections are based on low growth estimates from the CBO. That includes the spending vs. GDP projection and the deficit projections. Ryan has released a supplemental document called "The Budgetary Impact of The Path to Prosperity Under Alternative Growth Scenarios". The tax reform and budgetary reform outlined in the plan should act as a giant shot in the arm to the economy. Also, moving towards deficit and debt reduction will make investors less skittish and increase economic investment, which will also boost the economy. Finally, corporations with profits sheltered outside of the U.S. will be allowed to invest this money back in the U.S., further stimulating economic growth.

Currently, U.S. companies have an estimated $1.4 trillion parked offshore and are reluctant to repatriate those funds back home due to the significant taxes that could be incurred under the current U.S. tax system.7 A worldwide tax system essentially locks this money out of the U.S. economy, where – if it were repatriated – it could be used to fund investment, business expansion and job creation in the United States. Policymakers on both sides of the aisle have proposed a temporary repatriation tax holiday in order to give businesses an incentive to send these funds home and put them to work in the U.S. economy. A switch to a territorial tax system would give U.S. businesses a permanent incentive to do exactly that.

This three pronged economic stimulus package (and it actually really would be one), makes the CBO's low growth estimates far too limiting.

In its range of estimates, CBO found that the economy under The Path to Prosperity could be 1 percent larger in 2030, 3 percent larger in 2040 and 6 percent larger in 2050 relative to its long-term base case. By contrast, under the path implied by the extension of current tax and spending policies, the econ0my would shrink by as much as 10 percent in 2030 and 28 percent in 2040. In other words, the difference in outcomes between these two trajectories could sum to as much as 11 percent of total economic output in 2030 and over 30 percent of output in 2040.

[...]

A larger and faster-growing economy leads to significantly higher revenue than the base case. This higher amount of revenue, when compared to the spending levels outlined in The Path to Prosperity, leads to a much-improved fiscal path. Assuming higher growth within the range cited above – percentage-point increases of 0.5 (lower-bound AGS), 0.75 (mid-point AGS), and 1.0 (upper-bound AGS) – the budget could achieve balance in the mid-to-early 2020s, with the upper-bound growth assumption producing budget balance within the ten-year budget window – much sooner than CBO’s estimated balance date of 2039.

In the spirit of a picture painting a trillion words, see below. The red line is the President's "plan". Based on his plan, you can expect total economic collapse sometime between 2030 and 2050. By "total economic collapse", I mean that you should consider an event like the Great Depression as a best case scenario.

image

I have a couple more posts on this plan coming up. I think they'll be a bit shorter. I want to hit a couple sections of the document and point them out specifically, as I think Ryan makes some incredibly important points that aren't being made elsewhere, or at least aren't being made loud enough.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What I’ve Been Up To

And now, time for my apology for disappearing for a while.

So, what happened? Well, a little of everything. I think some burnout. Last year was my most prolific blogging year by far. And there’s my sports ratings app, that I’ve mentioned previously. I’m still working hard on it. It’s closer to my vision of it than it’s ever been, but probably still a year away. I never did get around to modifying it to project polls and votes. It’s possible, but unlikely that I’ll have something ready there for the November elections. Most likely I’m looking at 2014.

Also, had a lot going on with the family, some illnesses and whatnot to deal with that have kept my mind and spirit focused elsewhere. And, while I love blogging and tweeting, and love CJB Ratings, I don’t get pad for either of those. The job I do get paid for has been a bit busier than usual as well.

But these are only part of the reason. There’s one more that’s far more significant than most of the above. Not sure if I’ve mentioned it here before, but I’m diabetic. It’s Type II and manageable with medication, but I’ve always had this pseudo-goal in my mind to get off the medication and just manage it through diet and exercise.

Well, last fall I had an epiphany, a long overdue one. I realized just how artificial it is to manage my blood sugar through the medication, and what an enabler of bad behavior that it is. I had noticed that if I’m taking my meds consistently and my sugars are good consistently, that my weight goes up. In short, I get fat. The reason I get fat is because I know with the meds that I can eat pretty much what I want, and I don’t have to push myself to be good.  But getting fat actually makes it harder to manage my sugar, and makes me more dependent on the meds.

However, if my blood glucose (bg) is out of control for a little bit, then I lose weight, because that’s what happens. Your body is starved for carbs, and it eats up whatever fat or anything else it can find. The point is though, that you’re losing weight because your body is smarter than you are, and it’s trying to get you back into balance.

So, I realized last fall that I need to pay attention to my body when that happens. So, when my bg went a little crazy for a while, instead of bumping up the meds a little bit, I worked with my body rather than against it. I went on a weight loss and exercise plan. And I really kicked it into high gear starting at Christmas, 2011. I have now worked out 87 consecutive days.

The result? My bg is fine, and I could be in one of those commercials where the guy says “I’m 45 years old and in the best shape of my life”. And it’s all natural, for once, not artificial. I feel better than I have in years. I have an appointment with my doc soon, and I expect that this time I will actually be able to achieve my long time goal and get off the meds completely. I am, at this point, for all practical purposes, no longer diabetic.

Some hard numbers for you? As of today, I’m 65 pounds down from my all-time high weight, about 35 pounds down from last summer, and a whopping 17.5 pounds down since Christmas. There’s actual tapering from my chest to my waist for the first time in my life, and I actually have discovered that I have biceps. Not that my biceps are going to scare anyone, but they’re there, at least. I can do 100 push ups (and the way my “trainer” makes me do them is pretty hard) now. I’m not sure if before last Christmas if I’d done 100 push ups total in my entire life.

So that’s what’s been keeping my focus. Plenty have asked for more specifics on the how, and if you’re interested in that, read on, otherwise, thanks for reading so far. I warn you, though, that it may start to sound like an infomercial from here on out, as I’m going to name specific products that I have used.

But, first, the bad news. There is no magic routine or magic diet that will do it for you. It’s all about a state of mind. If you have that state of mind (and can keep it), then you’ll get in better shape. If you don’t, you won’t.

Now, the first thing for me is that I had to find something I could do that wouldn’t allow me to make excuses. I’m terrific at wimping out and rationalizing. Going to a gym just wouldn’t work for me. I don’t know how to use hardly any of the equipment. I don’t know the appropriate settings are for me, or how many reps of anything I should try to do. And I don’t know what kind of sequencing I should do, or what kind of pace I should set. I know that everyone starts at square one, and you can learn all these things. But I also know myself, and know that I would feel incredibly self-conscious about everything I’d be doing, and I’d use the above as an excuse to wimp out and not go.

Yes, I know I could get a personal trainer to help me learn all that, but I’m not exactly rolling in dough, either. Smile

So, the gym’s out.

A home gym would be out for a lot of the same reasons. I could get a nice weightlifting set, but I wouldn’t know where to begin with one. I could get a Bowflex or something similar, but they’re rather expensive, and I don’t really have the room for it.

So, forget the home gym.

I love to ride my bike, and at one time was an avid bike rider. I’ve also done a lot of walking and running in my life. But, there’s that whole excuse thing. “It’s raining. It’s cold. My knee’s bothering me. My allergies are bugging me. I got up too late. It’s too dark. It’s too late. I have a cold. I have a headache.” And so on. As I indicated before, I’m a master at excuses.

And, while running, walking, bike riding are all good for you, I really need some strength training stuff to build some muscle mass. That’s what will help long term in managing my diabetes.

How about videos? Sweatin’ to the Oldies, Abs of Steel, that sort of thing? Not enough feedback, and generally too repetitive for me. I’d get lazy, not do the stuff right, or I’d get bored, followed by annoyed, or possibly all three.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re either incredibly curious or much like me and you’re wondering what in the world helped, when I’ve already said that none of the above were good options (at least for me).

So, what worked?

Now the infomercial part. Smile

For Christmas, I got my kids the Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board. And I’ve ended up using it much more than they have. I do recommend the Wii Fit Plus, as opposed to just the Wii Fit. It has more exercises, and more and better games. If you already have the Wii Fit, you don’t have to buy a new balance board. You can get the Wii Fit Plus software only. It’s relatively cheap.

The exercises and games on the Wii Fit are fun and challenging. Especially if you’re completely out of shape like I was. And even I can’t make excuses. I can do everything in the living room. There’s enough variety of exercises and games that it doesn’t get boring. And the variety in intensity means that as long as you’re strong enough to get out of bed, you can do a 30 minute workout. I get feedback if I’m doing something wrong. If I get up late and don’t have time in the morning, I can do it in the evening. It’s inside, so no weather or allergy worries.

But after about a month,  I felt like it was starting to get a little easy for me, and I wasn’t pushing myself as hard as I’d like. Don’t get me wrong. I still do something on the Wii Fit every day. A few of the yoga poses still kick my butt, and I have to work to do the advanced strength training exercises. But most things had gotten routine for me.

So, after 42 days, I added the EA Sports Active: More Workouts.EA has three exergames in this series, Workouts, More Workouts, and Workouts II. More Workouts is the middle one, and from everything I’ve seen and read, is the best. YMMV. I like this game quite a bit. It has entire exercise routines set up for you, and a six week challenge, where you go through a pre-set series of workouts. However, EA for some reason didn’t think anyone would be buying More Workouts who didn’t already have Workouts, so they neglected to include some of the accessories you’ll need. I purchased the EA Sports Active Wireless Workout Kit For Wii, but I think I actually would have been better off with the EA Sports Active Training Kit for Wii, as I found the wireless stuff didn’t work very well. After a few weeks, I also ended up purchasing the Wii Activ3 Workout Kit because I wanted the flexibility of having multiple resistance bands of different strength. I use the leg strap from the Wireless Workout kit, because the one from the Activ3 Workout kit sucks. And the resistance bands from the Wireless Workout Kit are more comfortable and easier to use as well. So, if you don’t want the Activ3, it’s no big deal.

I did 42 days with More Workouts at medium intensity. Or, in other words, I completed the six week challenge. There’s actually only 24 workouts in the challenge, as you get three off days every week. I did the More Workouts in the mornings, and then some lighter Wii Fit stuff in the afternoon/evenings. Not because I wanted to do two workouts a day, but because my lifestyle is very sedentary, particularly in the winter. Both the Wii Fit and the EA stuff expect you to have some daily physical activity outside of their program, so I used my afternoon “workout” to simulate some actual physical activity like golf, or basketball, bowling, etc. My one complaint with the More Workouts is that at the beginning, I didn’t feel like it was pushing me very hard. And by the end, I didn’t feel like I was getting anything out of my afternoon sessions on the Wii Fit, either. In other words, I was getting in better shape, and needed to move on again.

One other thing that helped is that after the first week or so of this six week challenge, I also started using MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal is a website that helps you track your calories and exercise. They also have apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android. The website and the apps are free. It’s just like most other calorie counters you’ve seen, but what sets them apart are three things, their extensive database (had the Dos Enchiladas meal at Don Pablo’s, or a half dozen Oreos? they’re in there), and the ability to add in your own recipes. You input the ingredients you use in your recipe, and how many it serves, and it spits out the nutrition information per serving. Finally, it shows more than just calorie intake, but also protein, carbs, fat, fiber, sodium, etc.

And where am I now?

I’m now still doing the More Workouts, but I’ve upgraded to the high intensity workout, and I’m using the red resistance band from the Activ3. Make no mistake about it, this is hard. And I’ve only done the first two workouts out of the 24 so far. They get harder as you move on, so I can’t imagine what the last two weeks will be like. For my afternoon “workout”, I’ve mostly moved on from the Wii Fit, finally, although I still do just a few from yoga and strength training, for variety. In it’s place, I’ve added cardio boxing from Gold's Gym Cardio Workout. The two of these together are kicking my butt. I feel like I did the day after Christmas again. Every workout makes me sore, and I know at the end that I’ve pushed myself. Hard.

And that’s the story. Sorry so long, and if you read the whole thing, I congratulate you.

I don’t know what I’ll do at the end of this 42 days. Maybe repeat. Maybe move on to something else. But I know I’ll be in even better shape than I am now.

One final note: Nintendo does not recommend the Wii Balance Board if you’re over 250 pounds. But you can do the EA Sports Active stuff, as well as the Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout without it. There are other good exergames out there as well, and for other platforms, not just the Wii. Go to Amazon and read the reviews to try to find something that you think might work best for you.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Serious Question: Why Would You Vote For Obama?

 

I assume if you’re planning on voting for President Barack Obama (D-USA) in 2012, that you voted for him in 2008. Furthermore, I would hope that your vote in 2008 actually had something to do with what he campaigned on. So, let’s roll the tape, shall we?

Major campaign issues from 2008:

  • The Economy. Well, with now a record 37 months at 8% or higher unemployment, you’d be hard pressed to argue that he’s turned around the economy, despite a $787 billion stimulus package (hey, where’d that money go, btw?)
  • Close Gitmo. Last I checked, Gitmo is still open.
  • Get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan. No. And…no.
  • Maybe you’re a supporter of gay marriage. Well, how much progress has been made here by the Obama administration? Err…none. In point in fact, I do expect Obama to make a serious push on this front later this year, closer to November. But remember, from January 2009 to January 2011, Obama had both chambers of Congress in his pocket. He could’ve passed anything he wanted to pass related to gay marriage. In a snap. But he didn’t. Remember this post when something doesn’t pass this year and he blames it on the Republicans. If you don’t, I will. And I’ll remind you. Again.
  • High gas prices. Ooops.
  • The federal deficit and exploding debt. He was going to cut the deficit in half. Last Thursday, Obama passed President George W. Bush’s deficit total. It took him 38 months to pass Bush’s 96 months of out of control spending. Yes, the economy exacerbated that. But I’ve discussed this before. And, surely, if that matters to you, then you’re upset about the fact that our credit rating has been downgraded? And you’re upset about the Democrats failure to pass a budget? But wait, that’s not Obama’s fault, you say! Well, is he, or is he not the leader of the Democrat party? If he pressured Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) to pass a budget, would one get passed? Bet the farm on it.
  • Improve race relations. Well, I think we can all agree that hasn’t happened. And isn’t going to as long as that racist thug runs the Department of Justice.
  • Tax cuts for 95 percent of working families. Never happened.
  • No new taxes for middle class. Well, sure, as long as you don’t count cigarettes, healthcare, or don’t own a small business.
  • Improve foreign relations, particularly with the Middle East. Based on this search, that doesn’t appear to have happened.
  • He did get ObamaCare passed, but let’s be honest with ourselves. This is not the law that even liberals wanted or were promised. It costs more, does less, and pretty much ensures that every single conservative criticism is going to come true.

Did I miss something? Did something really, you know, awesomely awesome occur in the last 3 years? Or are you just too stupid to realize that the man is a liar who hates America, wants to destroy it, and will say anything to get your vote?

My Mobile World

In addition to my political blogging, you might see a bit more of my tech-y stuff this year as well, such as my recent tepid review of “the new iPad”.

I’m a longtime smartphone user. I’m currently on my 4th smartphone, and this summer or fall I will likely buy my 5th. I’m not quite so much on the bleeding edge with tablets, as my iPad 2 is the first tablet I’ve owned.

Both my 3rd and 4th smartphones were Android devices, and obviously my iPad is an Apple one. These were easy decisions on both counts. My HTC EVO 4G still makes the iPhone 4S look like a tinker toy, and I replaced that phone almost 9 months ago with an HTC EVO 3D. On the tablet front, it’s the same. The iPad is a better form factor (very few Android tablets are more than 7”), and with a few exceptions is a much more pleasing UI than available on Android tablets.

But the next round will be much harder. The sleeping giant, or elephant in the room, if you prefer, is awake and active. With Windows 8, Microsoft will be running essentially the same OS across three different form factors, desktop, tablet, and phone. From an enterprise customer’s perspective, that’s an extremely difficult combination to overlook. Run real Office on my tablet with Outlook and not iWorks and the mind-numbingly awful mail application that Apple delivers with iOS? Sign me up! Twice! Of course, MS isn’t going to be able to charge $500 for an office suite on a tablet or a phone, so I’m very curious as to how they’re going to manage pricing.

The other problem is application compatibility. Not only is Windows 8’s Metro UI a big change, where non-Metro apps stick out like a sore thumb, but there’s also the Intel vs. ARM factor. Most desktop computers run Intel chips (or Intel clones from AMD, etc.). Most phones run ARM ones, and it sounds like the Windows 8 tablets will be a mix. Well, obviously, you’re only going to get full application compatibility on Intel-based devices, and it will take a while for ARM-based apps, or apps that can run on both, to be prevalent. So, if you buy an ARM-based tablet, you’re going to most likely be running mostly phone apps to begin with. This was true early on with the iPad too, until developers started making stuff for that form factor. But it remains to be seen how quickly the Microsoft Market will mature, and if it will grow nearly as quickly as Apple’s App Store (I imagine not). Of course, you could just get a tablet with an Intel chip, but since the ARM devices are growing up from a phone rather thank shrinking down from a desktop, they typically have much better power management. So, your Intel tablet might not last all day on a charge. That’s going to be extremely frustrating.

So, what will I do? Well, I’m eligible to upgrade my EVO 3D on July 1. By that time, it sounds like the next generation EVO will be available, based on the recently announce HTC One line. Windows 8 phones will be available later this year, but probably not until 4th quarter. I don’t know what I’m going to do there. Sprint has stopped allowing me to upgrade my phone every year, so whatever I get this year, I’ll be stuck with it for two years. I suspect I’ll end up getting an Android phone again, but it’s no slam dunk decision. Not this time. I’ll definitely be watching the rumor mills this summer to see what kinds of Windows 8 Phones are expected and when.

And a Windows 8 tablet with an ARM chip that has the kinds of apps you see on the iPad, and has comparable hardware? Not this year. It’ll take at least 6-9 months before you’re going to see acceptable app volume in the marketplace, I think. So, that’s mid next year. At best. And it could easily be twice that long. Which puts us into 2014. By that time there will be another new iPad as well. And by that time, I suspect Apple will have caught up to Microsoft in terms of offering a single user experience across all platforms. However, if their business applications are still crapware, MS may be in the driver’s seat by then for enterprise customers. So, these are all reasons I might actually end up with “the new iPad”, as I think in the tablet world, the key dates are going to be late 2013/early 2014. By then we’ll know if MS can make a serious challenge, and hopefully Apple will have released another iPad that’s more appealing as well.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cocked, Locked, and Ready to Rock

My self-imposed exile from Twitter is essentially over. And I’m ready to kick the dust from this blog as well. I won’t be quite as prolific on either at least until mid-summer, as I’ve got a lot on my plate still.

And yes, there will be a blog post in the next few days about where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to. That’s not important for right now. What is important is that I’m recharged and ready to blog in a manner that would make Andrew Breitbart proud. This means that for the next several months, this blog is likely to be a bit edgier than it has usually been. I’ve had enough and I’m not going to take it any more. The focus of this blog over the next several months will be the election in November, and I don’t plan on pulling any punches.

Before I start, though, a retrospective.

Me, from January 20, 2009:

I am thrilled that my daughters (now 2 and 5) will grow up in a world where a black man has been elected President. While that is a reason for celebration, a better reason for celebration would be that it’s non-news, and that no one cares whether the President is black or white or green with purple polka-dots. I don’t see that event coming anytime soon, much to my dismay.

Hopefully this does represent a milestone in race relations and a sign that one’s race is unimportant in America. I have my doubts, but will continue to have cautious optimism on that front.

I still agree with everything I said in the first paragraph. Sadly, the events of the last three years have exceeded even my doubts. My cautious optimism has been replaced with disgust and distrust. It’s clear that the current White House occupant has no interest in improving race relations and never has. In fact, it is quite evident that his goals are clearly the opposite. He wants to destroy the American melting pot.

And me again, from January 5, 2009:

While I think that 2010 has potential to be a very good year for Republicans, at least in the House, the White House seems likely to be out of reach until 2016. At this point, a 2-term Presidency for Mr. Barack Obama (D-USA) seems a near certainty.

[…]

What’s the #1 question in voter’s minds when they go to the polls to re-elect an incumbent or vote in a new President?

“Am I better or worse off now than I was 4 years ago?”

It’s hard to see how most people will answer that as “worse”. I certainly hope that most people won’t. That would mean that we really are in a “depression” and not a “recession”. Because otherwise, because of or in spite of Mr. Obama, the economy should have recovered to some degree by then.

I already said that this blog is not going to be a cheerleader for every little negative thing that will hit the Obama administration. I’m certainly not going to root for the kind of economic downturn that would benefit a Republican Presidential candidate in 2012.

I think most people are not better off than they were four years ago. I’m not sure how many people would actually say “worse”, though, as the mood at that time regarding even the short term future of the U.S. was quite bleak. Right now, the short term definitely looks better than it did in November, 2008, while the long term looks even worse. People don’t vote on the long term, though, even if by “long term” we mean “2-4 years”. They vote on what they’re worried about right now, or the next 3-6 months. Still, the economy has not recovered to the degree anyone would have hoped, and is still only just a bit above stall speed. The economy will be one of the biggest issues of this election. I’m just not quite sure it will be the #1 issue. If it is, that makes things very hard for President Barack Obama (D-USA). If it isn’t, things get quite a bit easier for him.

We’ll see, as things progress through the summer.

And finally, me, from December 23, 2008:

However, I'm ready to get started on 2009, and I'll make a few statements on how this blog is going to function over the next few years.

First, I hope that President Barack Obama (D-USA) is an incredibly successful President. In fact, I hope he’s the most successful President ever. Unlike some of my more liberal counterparts over the last 8 years, I’m not going to wish him or the country ill just to satisfy my own desires for vengeance or conservative revivals.

Second, I’m not going to resort to ridiculous name-calling as we’ve seen elsewhere “Smirking Chimp”, “Bushitler”, etc. (Although I may occasionally call our VP “Clueless Joe”, just because that one is too easy and too good to resist—and I’m a “Shoeless Joe Jackson” fan.)

Third, I will point out when the new administration does things I agree with and when I disagree. I expect there to be far more of the latter than the former, but perhaps I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Fourth, I will continue to push for GOP 2.0, and a new Republican Revolution (with Republicans who remember what it means to be conservative).

I’ve done a good job on these four points. However, I’m probably going to put aside #2 for the next several months, at least to some degree. I’m not going to resort to ugliness, but the simple matter of fact is that for our country to survive, we have to get that America Hating Communist out of the White House. There is no plan B. There is no “or”. We win in November, or we lose, forever.

And, never fear, when I do call him a name, I plan on backing it up. This blog has always been high on details and facts, with my interpretation of what those facts mean. That’s not going to change.

So, feel free to read this blog and share it. Comment, tweet, pass it on to #p2 and your liberal friends. Give them my twitter address, @ChrisOfRights. I’ll take the heat. I don’t care. This election will be about making people understand the truth and exposing the lies of the left, more than anything else. We can’t just write our little diatribes and pass them around our echo chamber. The information about what this man has done to our country and what he intends to do must be made public. I’ll do my part. If we all do our part, come November, we can breathe a sigh of relief, and relax for a day or two.

I needed this time off to prepare for this battle. Make no mistake about the following. The forces trying to destroy this country currently have the upper hand, and they have their man in power. And they will never stop trying until we expose them for what they are and destroy them. For us to win, this campaign season will be the ugliest and meanest ever. Obama knows the Chicago way. He won’t bring a knife to a gunfight. And neither should we.

Bring it on, Mr. President. We know your tricks now, and we’re going to use them against you. We’re ready.

Game on.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The New iPad

Apple launched the new iPad with their usual fanfare yesterday. That’s what they’re calling it. Not iPad 3. Not iPad HD. Just “the new iPad”. I’ve almost been turning into an Apple fanboy lately, having bought an iPad 2 for myself, for my wife, and an Apple TV in the last year.

So, I tuned in yesterday for the big announcement to see what all the hubbub was about. I must say I’m underwhelmed. I guess I’m going to have to give back my fanboy card.

What’s new?

  • A retina display, featuring 2048x1536 resolution. Well, I’m sure that’s nice and it’ll be pretty, but not once have I ever looked at my iPad 2 and thought to myself, “what I really need is four times the pixels”. I’m quite happy with the resolution of the model I have. I do take a lot of notes on my iPad, and that might make note taking easier. Certainly the drawing app they showed from Autodesk was impressive.
  • 4G LTE. Well, that had been one of the big rumors, and I must say I’m surprised to see Apple adding mobile phone technology to the iPad that’s not yet available in the iPhone. However, it costs more, and you pay a nice hefty monthly fee for the service. Sorry, but I’m not interested in that kind of price model, and unless this is something you have an active business need for, you shouldn’t be either. Amazon charges a little more for their Kindle with 3G, but no monthly service fees. That’s reasonable. Even the other way might be reasonable, with a discounted price, but modest service fees. What Apple and the mobile phone companies are trying to push on you isn’t remotely reasonable.
  • A better camera. Well, thank God for that. The camera on the iPad 2 is crap. I never use it. But I’m not sure that the reason I never use it is because it’s crap, or because a mobile phone is just a much better form factor for taking snapshots. I suspect it’s more the latter than the former.
  • Faster processor, better graphics processor. Yawn. Moore’s law.
  • iOS upgrades, upgrades to iWorks and iPhoto. Hmm. Looks like I can download all of these for my current iPad.

What isn’t new?

  • There’s still no USB port, or SD card slot.
  • Still painful to hook to a projector, or video screen unless it’s AirPlay enabled. If I’m a business traveler, I still need to take the laptop with me. Which begs the question of why I would even bother to bring the iPad.
  • Like everything else from Apple, it’s exorbitantly priced.
  • The two apps that I use the most on my iPad are probably Mail and Calendar. Mail is one step above crap, and the UI for it doesn’t even make that step. Probably the best thing you can say about Mail is that it doesn’t crash as often as Calendar and has most of the required functionality, unlike Calendar.
  • They still have that awful virtual keyboard. Well, it’s better than the one on the iPhone, but that’s not saying much.
  • The charging port is still non-standard USB and expects twice the current that the USB standard calls for. So, whenever I plug it into my computer I get “Not charging” (it is, actually, just slooooooooooooowly).
  • Despite the zillions of apps available, there’s just no good blogging tool. If I had to choose between getting a root canal and writing a long blog post on my iPad, I’d take the root canal. It’d be far less painful.
  • iWorks is nice, but I’m sure that I’m far from the only business user who has noticed that Pages and Numbers are not Word and Excel.

In short, there’s absolutely nothing about the new iPad that makes me want to rush out and upgrade. Worse for Apple, there’s nothing about the new iPad that would make me want to rush out and buy one if I hadn’t bought an iPad before now. If I was buying a new iPad today, I’d save $100 and just get a discounted iPad 2.

This is an incremental upgrade, nothing more. Worse, given their current release cycle, we’re looking at Q4 2013 before Apple releases anything better. The tablet space is too volatile for that pace of growth to be acceptable. Apple just opened the door for Google and Microsoft. It remains to be seen whether they’re capable of going through it.

Oh. One more thing.

Apple TV upgraded to 1080p? That’s it? Yes, there’s a new UI, but I downloaded that for my current Apple TV last night. I have both a Roku and an Apple TV, and other than AirPlay, the Roku is head and shoulders above Apple TV. And has a better UI. Apple closed the gap some with the new UI and 1080p, but they’re still behind here, not setting the pace.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Can We Start Thinking About November Now?

Yesterday, former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) picked up five more states in the battle for the Republican Presidential nomination, including the all-important bellwether state of Ohio. He now moves from frontrunner status to likely nominee status.

So, yes, it looks like the Republicans once again picked the next man in line. Our nominee is going to be the man that less than two years ago, I swore I’d never vote for. I’ve reluctantly changed my mind on that score, but what hasn’t changed, is that for the sixth consecutive Presidential election, I’ll be forced to vote for a candidate that’s to the left of me. Just once I’d love to vote for a candidate that represents my views.

And yet, on the whole, it could have been worse. A lot worse.

Don’t get me wrong. I admire former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA). The more I get to know him, the more impressed I am with him as a human being. I admire his beliefs, and I admire his willingness to stand up for them, even when he knows that he will face strong criticism for some of them. He seems to be a man who says what he believes and believes what he says. That’s a rarity for a politician these days, and it’s to be lauded.

I admire former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s (R-GA-06) intellect. I admire not only his knowledge of history and world affairs, but his understanding of them. I said two years ago that he’d be a formidable debater and he has been. He’s a great idea man. I’d love to see him as Chief of Staff, or maybe even Secretary of Energy, State, or Commerce. He’d give any of those departments the top to bottom shakeup that they sorely need.

I admire Congressman Ron Paul’s (R-TX-14) fighting spirit. I admire the way he’s grabbed this issue of the power and secrecy of the Federal Reserve and he’s not letting go. He’s absolutely right on this issue. I also admire they fact that despite the R after his name, he’s probably the only true Libertarian in either chamber of the U.S. Congress.

But…

I have more than my fair share of concerns with all three of these gentlemen. As I’ve said numerous times on this blog, I’ve never been a fan of legislators as chief executives. Certainly the last 3+ years have done nothing to change my mind on that score. Ron Paul’s ideas on foreign policy are frankly, terrifying. Newt is a great idea man, but like all idea guys, sometimes he nails it, and sometimes he misses wildly. He’s not fit to be the top guy. Someone needs to be there and say “whoah, Newt, slow down”. He also has far too much baggage to make a good Presidential candidate. As for Santorum, his social conservative ideas will be sure to scare away independents and libertarians. He doesn’t appear to have a chance in his home state of Pennsylvania, or the neighboring state of Ohio. While both of those are uphill climbs for any Republican candidate, it’s hard to draw an electoral college map that gets a Republican to 270 without coloring at least one of these states red. In short, I’ve never felt that any of the three of these men are electable.

So, what do I admire about Mitt Romney? His electability. The GOP needs to make the economy and America’s fiscal situation the #1 and #2 issues going into November. No candidate is more suited to make these arguments to the American people than Mitt Romney. Do I have concerns about his “true conservative” credentials? As a former governor of Massachusetts of all states, you bet I do. I think he is much more likely to be a Republican Bill Clinton than a new Ronald Reagan. And that disappoints me more than I can say. I also think that ObamaCare should be one of the biggest issues of the campaign season (and how it directly impacts issues #1 and #2 above), and I have said numerous times that his candidacy and his own RomneyCare takes that weapon and forces the GOP to put it back up on the shelf. It’s hard to win elections when you can’t use your best weapons against the other candidate.

I got an email from Rick Santorum’s campaign this morning (using an e-mail address I provided only to Michele Bachmann’s campaign, btw) saying that the fight has just begun. I hope they rethink. Mitt is going to be the nominee, and it’s time to start planning for November, not fighting for the convention.

Remember what we’re fighting for here. We’ve got to get that clown out of the White House before he completely destroys this country.

Yes, it’s that important. And it may already be too late.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Andrew Breitbart (1969–2012)

I haven’t been blogging at all in months, and I’ve been meaning to pick things up again for the last several weeks. Now seems like as good a time as any.

Like most conservatives, I find myself saddened at the passing of Andrew Breitbart. He was a couple years younger than me, and that has me thinking of my own mortality again. I wish I could say that I have accomplished half as much as he had, but I still have time to catch up. I can’t say that I ever sat down with the man, or really knew him. I did have a couple brief Twitter exchanges with him. And I think my happiest moment in the Twittersphere was when he retweeted something I had said.

I think we need to be careful of how we remember this giant of a man, and how we react to his death. We have a problem in the conservative blogosphere/twittersphere. It’s not unique to conservatives, but to many groups. We’ve formed this clique requiring that you show you conservative credentials for admittance. Among us, there’s this smaller percentage, maybe 1%, that actually spend time engaging, leading the conservative agenda. We tweet, we blog, and we talk about what we see wrong with this country and how to correct it. Some of us do original research and break news. Others are more like me, and analytical in nature, and can break down a CBO report into something that real humans can understand. We lambast some politicos, and cheer for others. Occasionally the same politico might receive cheers and jeers in the same week. Those of us that are particularly witty or pithy or engaging get repeated and reposted by conservatives all over. We’re happy about this, and feel like we’ve accomplished something and we pat ourselves on the back for it and move on to the next thing.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a bad thing by itself. It does help articulate our message, and if we can use our blogging to simplify complicated messages, that makes it easier to motivate people to spread the word, GOTV, etc.

But…

There’s a word for this type of closed system, self-congratulatory thought process.

Groupthink.

And now that I’ve written a page of what was supposed to be a memoriam to Andrew Breitbart, it’s time I actually mentioned the man’s name.

This is where he was different. Yes, he and his Big sites broke news. Yes, he and his Big sites often did some deeper analysis as well (and we hope that continues without him). But Breitbart was never content to just shout his words to his own little fan club and get the pats on the back for being particularly well spoken.

Breitbart understood that we need to grow the conservative movement, not just reinforce it. He understood that to do that, we need to take out message outside of our clique and face the enemy head on. He understood that when the left lies, we need to call them out on it, not just in our little conservative blogosphere, but right to their faces. The way we grow the movement is to get more people to stop blindly accepting the lies of the left, and begin to question their words, actions, and the motives behind them. This, not breaking news, not stories about ACORN or Anthony Weiner, was his strength.

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people with anything like his influence that understand these simple facts, and are willing to go out and battle every day to expand the conservative movement and shut down the lying left.

This is the problem.

If you’re wondering who is going to step up and be the next Breitbart, you never understood him.

Who should be the next Breitbart? Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, John Nolte, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio are all good lieutenants. Maybe one of them could even replace him. But to remember him properly, we should think about accomplishing his goals, not replacing him. Breitbart didn’t want to be irreplaceable or even unique. He was a great champion for our cause, but we don’t need another champion like him. As Glenn Reynolds says, we need “An Army of Davids”.

Who should be the next Breitbart? You. Me. All of us.

Thank you, Andrew Breitbart, for showing us how it’s done. You’ve earned your rest in the next life and you’ve now passed on the baton to all of us. Wherever you are, sit back, relax, and watch us as we accept your challenge and try to follow the example you set for us.

New And Noteworthy

What’s Going On?

Well, I really have missed doing my September 11 timeline. My daughters have asked about that, and I want them to understand it a little bet...

All The Best