Days of Change

Day 1152 – Order and Chaos, Together Again

December 31, 2011
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The biggest name brand piece of technology these days is Apple’s iPad. There are newer technologies, like the iPhone with voice recognition. There are more important technologies. Still, the iPad also brought about the newest class of technology, the tablet.

The classic technology argument has been Mac vs. PC. Mac wins in most cases because their software is truly part of their hardware. Bad PC hardware and bad Windows software is combined in a general criticism of the non-Mac personal computer.

At first glance, one can paint this as a conflict between the free market vs. central planning. The liberal types who love Apple products like that comparison because it shows that one company who integrates hardware and software into one place makes a superior product. Sure it costs more, but it’s worth it.

In reality, Apple was rescued by an infusion of cash from Microsoft about 10 years ago. The company itself found itself in a niche market and used that to market Apple as a more expensive, boutique brand. Their interface was stolen from Xerox and Macs perform better within the limited scope of software they offered.

The key thing to take away from these companies is that they needed each other to succeed. What both companies did was create internal discipline. Microsoft designed software to use on existing computers. Apple built computers from the ground up. Apple’s superior product forced Microsoft (and PC manufacturers) to refine their products. Apple’s lack of a large market convinced them to make systems for specialized applications. Eventually, Apple decided to scale back from personal computers and create whole new classes of products.

After the iPhone and the iPad, another company got into the mobile business. Google’s Android operating system is being sold to manufactures of phones and tablets. I have an e-reader running on Android. Windows will eventually get into the handheld market, but with a small market share. With the competition from other devices, Apple introduced voice software Siri this year. Technology moves on.

Chaos is a good way to spark competition, which brings about its own kind of order. The people who talk about how good Apple products are were not forced to buy them. Most likely, slick marketing got them to buy it. That’s why I abhor top-down governance and regulation. If you think something is best, then make everyone do it, you will never know if there’s something better. If there were no PCs, businesses would have delayed using computers for another decade due to the high costs. If Apple had 90% of the personal computer market, they may never have bothered with iPods or tablets.

It will be a new year in a few hours. Lets keep moving forward.

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Day 1151 – Waiting

December 30, 2011
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I’m going to start the weekend early with a short post. NBC commissioned another poll which they call news. Basically, the top 4 candidates are pretty much tied. This race is now too volatile to really declare winners. I think anyone with over 10% of caucus support has a “ticket” to New Hampshire. That’s where the bloodbath will begin.

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Day 1150 – Is Hillary Clinton Good for the Democratic Party?

December 29, 2011

Some of the people who supported Hillary Clinton initially supported John Edwards. He was the populist heart of the Democratic field, going back to 2004. Still, Clinton was the clear front-runner in early primary contests. Obama’s eventually victory was a result of superdelegate defection, party rule manipulation and a perception that Hillary Clinton could rally the Republican base in a way Obama would not.

The was a desire by the party to get the race over with, even though Clinton was competitive all the way to the last contest. It could be argued that her continued presence increased party registration. It also created a Clinton donor list that was co-opted by the Obama campaign. Her showing also helped her get the position of Secretary of State, something that has helped the administration.

What I’m really asking, however, is why do the political parties shun competition? New media figures arrive daily to claim that most Republicans running should get out of the race today, instead of waiting a week for the caucuses in Iowa. If we were to follow the rules of modern campaigns, we’d wait for the losers who run out of money to drop out. Bachmann may be the first to go broke, but I think she’s angling for the VP slot to Romney anyway.

The primaries are weighted all wrong for anything but the richest campaigns. Whoever is in the race will spend months getting proportional delegates of little value. Romney is prepared to outlast them until the winner-take-all primaries. If Republicans won’t get their first choice, it would still be nice to feel that there was a choice.

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Day 1149 – The Scozzafava Test

December 28, 2011
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I haven’t taken a lot of shots at Newt Gingrich, mostly because I don’t agree with the Obama-based criticisms of him. If he wants to do ads with Nancy Pelosi, it’s fine with me. I wish Pelosi’s opponents would use that ad against her in San Francisco. I also don’t think he’s being fake when he goes after moderators for pitting Republicans after each other. I don’t think he’s being nasty when he goes on offense against candidates outspending him 10 to 1.

I have a completely different criticism. I checked back in the archives, and found this relatively prescient gem. Back in 2009, a New York House race was between Democrat Bill Owens and Republican DeDe Scozzafava. Grinchich famously weighed in on the side of Scozzafava. Normally, this would make sense. Except in this case, Scozzafava was selected by party chairmen and was endorsed by the Working Families Party, which is New York’s version of the Socialist Party.

Newt argued that as the party choice, she should be the one to go to Congress. Now, there was a third candidate, Doug Hoffman. He was conservative and wasn’t the kind of Massachusetts New York moderate that the Tea Party hates. He started pulling ahead in the polls and Newt stepped in to make sure the Democrat didn’t get 35% in a winnable race. Owens actually ended up with just under 50%. Scozzafava went into single digits in the polls, stepped down and showed her party loyalty by endorsing Owens. She got 5% of the vote anyway and Hoffman got 46%. Then again, Owens won again in 2010.

Here’s the point. Mitt Romney is DeDe Scozzafava, only more conservative. Romney is the party choice by a wide margin. If Romney can’t get enough support in Iowa, (or possibly New Hampshire) someone like Ron Paul should win. Under Gingrich’s Scozzafava standard, he should drop out of the race and endorse Romney for the sake of party unity.

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Day 1148 – Trumped

December 27, 2011

Today was the original date for the NewsMax / ION / Donald Trump Republican debate. About half the candidates didn’t want to be clowns. Others didn’t want to look like clowns and only two decided they would talk anywhere at any time. The plan fell apart, and so did Trump.

I mentioned before that Obama is unstable in just the right places for the right attack. The problem is that it needs to be personal. Romney is all about the drone attack style of advertising, but he’s not so good with the direct confrontation. He didn’t even back out of the debate in a real way. He just claimed a schedule conflict.

Ironically, the debate debacle smoked out Trump just as he smoked out Obama over the birth certificate. The real Republicans would sit at his table, but they wouldn’t dance to his tune. Trump responded by changing his registration from Republican (gotta admit, I thought it was Democrat) to Independent. Will he start a third-party campaign? I doubt it. He’s already played his cards.

In fact, the field is taking shape. Gary Johnson’s pointless run has now evolved into a bid to be the Libertarian Party candidate. He calls himself a classical liberal, so I’m not sure how that will go. Ron Paul is probably out of luck for a third-party. Newt is now catching a few endorsements, one coming from Reagan economist Arthur Laffer. In a week, the field looks to be Gingrich, Romney, Paul, Perry and Bachmann. I suspect Bachmann or Perry will be out after a poor showing in Iowa.

We don’t need any more debates. The candidates are sniping at each other on TV now.

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Day 1147 – Obama Crazy

December 26, 2011

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

– Reinhold Niebuhr

I choose to accept that the problems in this country are neither unsolvable or preordained. Some people feel otherwise, and they may be right. Conspiracy theories are rarely proved, only suspected. They can still drive people crazy.

I read an article today about Fox News’ replacement for The Glenn Beck Show at 5pm. It’s a more attractive version of the McLaughlin Group with some of the banality of The View. It’s neutered programming. It does as well as Beck did near the end and they have no trouble with advertisers. Beck is now narrowcasting and probably making even more money. Plus, he doesn’t have to bow down to advertisers.

Beck was targeted. He spun many tales on his show about the administration and its various power grabs and the history of the people. Ultimately, his unresearched speculation on Fox’ morning show is what led to the boycott. His show moved away from current events and into the founding principles of the country and the various movements to thwart it. It was dense, it was scary and just a little crazy.

We all know that the Obama Kool-aid drinkers are nuts. They either suffered from temporary insanity and only now see the errors of their ways. Others are too far gone. Everything happy accident is by his design and any disaster is someone else’s fault.

There’s another kind of crazy, too. People are inexplicable. Trying to figure one out can take a lifetime. The business of finding Barack Obama’s motivations is especially tough, since there is so much privacy around him. Glenn Beck spends a lot of time trying to fit those puzzle pieces together. He may not be crazy, but he’s starting to sound that way.

A lot of people are pissed. They think Obama orchestrated a takeover of the Democratic Party. They think he owns the media. They think he’s a manipulator, a socialist or a secret Republican. I have my own theories, but I’m not going to pursue them anymore.

It is not specifically necessary to get into your enemy’s head. There is an election in November and if Obama loses the vote, it doesn’t really matter what his motivations are. I’m not going to obsess over the horse race anymore. I will vote for my favorite candidate in the Republican primaries and I will vote for that nominee in November. Anything else is just crazy talk.

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Day 1146 – Good Will

December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas. I’ll leave the other comments for tomorrow.

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Day 1145 – One Big Pot

December 24, 2011

The tired theory of a right-wing echo chamber always amuses me. It is possible to get your news from sources directed to one side of the political spectrum, but that has only been the case for the last few years. The prevalence of blogs and ideological aggregates has only existed for about 5 years. Fox News has only been available to most viewers for a decade. Rush Limbaugh has been around for 20 years, most of which was on an daily radio show before afternoon drive time. Ronald Reagan was elected without the echo chamber. Newt Gingrich won Congress without any televised conservative news. The indoctrination argument seems like more of an excuse.

In my case, I watch almost as much MSNBC as Fox anyway. I also happened upon Current TV’s newest ripoff of an MSNBC show, The Young Turks. The host, failed MSNBC talent Cenk Uygur, was interviewing Alan Simpson about the “crazy” Republican field. There’s always a stable of Republicans who have an ax to grind ready on a liberal Rolodex. The real fun started, however, when they got into a discussion about Social Security. Simpson pointed out that we are now at a point where benefits are being paid out from the stockpile of bonds bought from the Treasury, otherwise known as the lock box.

This is an interesting development for a few reasons. First, Social Security will now add to, instead of subtract from the deficit. Also, that 2% “tax cut” in the payroll tax is a 17% reduction in Social Security revenue. The biggest change is that Republicans are trying to save Social Security by ending this 3 year “holiday.” Democrats are now the ones frequently calling Social Security deductions a tax and advocating against working people paying it. If only Nixon could go to China, only Obama could kill Social Security. We all know how well trade negotiations with China are working out.

For decades, the parties could compartmentalize the budget mentally by compartmentalizing it by program. The left and the right have complaints about Obama, but his major crime is bankrupting the government. The number one rule in politics is to follow the money. Since Day One, this administration has tried to solve every problem with borrowed money. It has never raised income taxes, due to the fact that tax increases are politically unpopular. This is not a Republican wealth protection plan, either. The Democrats had a strong majority for 2 years. They could have passed tax increases any number of times.

We have a debt equal to our GDP. Worse yet, our budget is 180% of our annual revenue. If we slashed every single item in the budget by half, we would just about be able to pay for that payroll tax cut and break even. We no longer have the ability to pick one item of the budget or tax one group and become solvent. The entire budget is fundamentally broken. Either Barack Obama is the worst manager in the history of the country or the architect of a plan to dissolve the government of the United States. Either way, the result is the same.

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Day 1144 – The Year of Obama

December 23, 2011
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Last year, a Democratic Congress with a clear majority failed to retire the Bush-era tax cuts. Despite Jackass’ promises to the contrary, the Republican minority (and Democrats who don’t want to raise taxes) kept the tax cut package from carving out cuts only for lower incomes and creating tax increases that would  have nearly no impact on the deficit.

This week, a last-minute blockade in the Republican House majority lead to a stalled Social Security revenue reduction (that Democrats call a tax cut). Worse yet, the resolution was the exact same bill with some minor tweaks. Liberals are painting it as a revolt among unreasonable Tea Partiers. It may actually be a certain amount of blind-siding by Speaker Boehner. If you think Newt Gingrich was a bad Speaker of the House, Boehner is looking to take the title.

This is all media outlets need to declare Obama the winner in this tumultuous year. They’ve already repeated the lie that 160 million American workers will benefit from a $40 a week tax break. First of all, only 130 million Americans have jobs (or less if you consider one person can have multiple jobs). That Social Security tax redistribution is a flat 2%. That means an employee would have to make 50 * $40 or $2,000 a week to get that break. That’s $100,000 gross pay, the limit for social security liability. Only the top 10% of income earners will get $40 a week. The median income is approximately half that.

In fact, 130 million Americans will have about $1,000 more not taxed from Social Security in their paychecks, minus the amount that will now be taxed in other ways. Now we have a $130 billion hole in the budget that will reduce the solvency of Social Security, and not even to pay for extended unemployment benefits. Why bother? The Democrats have the poor votes locked up. Time to move on to the middle class.

We have a media taking down every possible Republican primary challenger and Mitt Romney enjoying it. He never seems to understand that the easiest way to win an election is to dishearten the other sides’ voters. Party regulars may want a drama-free primary, but it will surely suck the life out of the Republican base. This week, a pro-Hillary Clinton robocall created a nuclear reaction in PUMAville. Who knows what the fallout will be. The psy ops are starting early.

Osama bin Laden had rebel leaders assassinated days before September 11. He knew that his enemies were the ones who were most likely to hunt him down fast. Turning allies against each other is a less bloody, but possibly more effective tactic. Three things have to happen for Obama to lose in 2012. The Republican leadership has to understand that the Tea Party is a valid part of the legislative process now. The Democrats who never liked Obama have to understand that the Republicans are the tool to unseating him. Finally, everyone has to know that trying to split the ticket for a Republican president and a Democratic Congress will be a vote for Obama.

I’m sure I can be considered a Republican plant for writing that last part. Obama didn’t win by marketing. He started a wave. He convinced the voters to double down on a Congressional failure to end the War in Iraq by arguing a Democratic Congress and president were necessary.

Now is the time to go all in. A Republican House made very little headway. A Republican Senate will make little more than that. A Republican president will spend two years just trying to undue Obama. I think everyone can hold on for that long.

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Day 1143 – When Romney Loses

December 22, 2011
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The pundits and politicians who support Mitt Romney (because I don’t know any real people who do) are starting to take on the personality of a Ron Paul supporter. Romney consistently polls below 30% everywhere. He created the model for Obamacare, which is the one thing that brought people together to expel a Democratic House. He has about the same expereince as Obama, except less of it now that Obama is currently president. He gets angry during Fox News interviews and he’s more willing to go negative against other Republicans at the drop of a hat than at Obama himself.

Mitt Romney will either lose the GOP nomination or the general election. Republicans can take their pick. Four years ago, the electable candidate was Rudy Giuliani. He lost quickly. John McCain had good qualities, but his refusal to use the tools of campaigning assured his loss. Neither of them fired up the base. Romney is actually putting out the base.

It looks like the Republicans are once again trying to foist a candidate on their party’s membership trhough sheer force of will. Assuming the plan works and Romney is nominated, what do they do when he loses? Hopefuly, Sarah Palin’s efforts will turn the Senate to the Republicans and give Obama no legislature at all. He can still do a lot of damage, and he’ll have 2 years to blame everything on the Republicans. By 2014, we could have another 2008 with Obamacare now unstoppable.

Mitt Romeny isn’t the worst republican candidate, (that might be Fred Karger) but this idiotic coronation is making him the worst. Romney has said that he’s ready to fight all the way until June, but he’s really willing to outspend any candidate as he’s locked up a lot of financial support. Buying the elites and spending your way to a nomination is what the Democrats did for Obama in 2008. Do we really need a repeat?

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