Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Singing the Florida Blues

Oh, how we mourn this evening, under the shadow of the congealing mass of the Romney campaign solidified in a cocoon of PAC money, the corpse of the GOP and, tearfully, the pulverized body of Newt Gingrich.

$15 Million in negative ads buys 50% of the vote in Florida.

Get ready because it is only going to get worse.

I am no particular fan of Newt Gingrich.  Newt's GOP tried to impeach Clinton for lying after he was dragged in on trumped up charges in a witch hunt conducted by Ken Starr (animated pre-cursor of Big Dick Cheney).  Thus making impeachment a farce, just when our next President would drag us into a costly war under false pretenses.  But watching the GOP establishment jump and stomp on Newt Gingrich in order to bring forth the more "electable" Romney makes me deeply sad in the way it reflects on the soul of the GOP.  The Contract with America was political genius.  That wave in 1994 made the Republicans what they are, good and bad, as much as Reagan ever has.  It was energy and crazy up and down.  Newt's 1994, Libertarian anti-tax / anti-government insanity, talk radio, and some made up saint Reagan (who's record is selectively edited to support whatever the current conservative agenda might be) are the seeds of the Tea Party.

Yes - I know Newt's not fully in the room - be it Moon bases (which would be great if we could afford it) or shutting down the federal government in a hissy fit or using more hyperbole than a used car salesman, but he is was in the pantheon of GOP history in starting in the 80s.

That is, until Romney got real afraid that he might not get his shiny new Presidency, and used $15 Million to obliterate Gingrich.

It was so unnecessary, Romney is going to win in the end, so why?

The Tea Party, the religious vote, and the Ron Paul pseudo-Libertarians will all vote for Romney next fall.  Unlike the extreme left, which helped elect Bush in 2000 by giving electoral blow jobs to Ralph Nader, the extreme right will fall into line.

Again, so why?

So Mitt can buy the shiny new Presidency toy, because his Daddy was rich, and he has made lots of money, so he deserves it.

If Romney wins he'll be a better President that George W. Bush, but not as good as Bush I.  But he'll be 10x as insufferable as W.

At least Newt speaks his mind instead of spewing forth some carefully prepared pablum he thinks the "base" wants.  Romney "grew" more conservative with time because the wind blew that way.

So Good Bye Newt.  I hope it isn't permanent.  You deserve better - even though you would be a disaster.

Even if I have to agree with Sarah Palin to say it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gifts that Keep Giving and Reflections on Paterno

It has been an interesting week and obviously quite a few things have happened since I last posted here.

A few words on Joe Paterno

Assuming the Sandusky allegations are true at least in some part, Paterno's failure to deal with it makes him supremely human at a minimum and perhaps worse.  The questions do not personally interest me too much.  Sandusky's alleged crimes (I believe they are almost all going to be true) are heinous.  So it seems hard to forgive Paterno for not doing more.  However, does anyone stand-up every time they see an injustice and intervene?  I doubt it.  Whether it was watching a bully hassle someone else, listening to damaging gossip, or even doing some of these activities.  I am sure that the answer is that there is nobody who does not at some point turn away and not stand up for justice.

The gulf may seem pretty big, between letting a pedophile go on in the face of credible accusations and say letting kids pick on someone that they think is a nerd or a loser, but they are part of a long spectrum of the human willingness to let evil go on rather than do what it takes to deal with it.

Paterno's accomplishments were great and had Sandusky not been part of his story, his would be a complete story of a man committed to his players and his school, with enormous success.

But, Sandusky will be part of his story too.  So, no matter how great his other accomplishments, we know that he had a chance to stop a monster.  Let's not pretend there weren't others that could have stopped him as well.

I am sure Paterno wished he never met Sandusky.  I am sure Paterno wished he had acted on Sandusky's allegations.  I am sure most of us, the honest and decent ones, wish there were things we could go back and do differently too.  I am thankful I haven't faced the same evil that Paterno did in Sandusky.  While I hope that I would have taken it more seriously than Paterno and stopped it, I also hope I don't have to cross that particular bridge.

The GOP Just Keeps Giving and Giving

OK.  I am still sticking by my Romney prediction. But Newt is the most wonderful comet I seen in recent memories.  The human Halley's comet.  Newt has been a human atom bomb exploding all over Romney.  Well, perhaps more accurately, allowing Mitt to blow himself up.

Romney grew up with a silver spoon, regardless of his rough family history, and he simply doesn't connect with the people living a regular life. He might even be a capable President, but I think he wants to be President because it is the only toy left he has been allowed to have.  He is mind boggling.

Newt's tax plan, laughably, is just red meat for his voters.  It would dramatically reduce tax dramatically for the rich and make the deficit worse.  Who is conservative now dude?  (PS Romney's tax plan will also make the deficit worse, just not as bad as Newts).

I am falling asleep, so I have to come back to this.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

South Newtarolina and Bigger News

Newt's on a roll.   Again.  Who would have thought it was possible.  The pugnacious one is back to his bad boy ways.  I don't think Wife #2 is going to do much to change that.  You'd think she'd be happy to be free of the Newtster, not a bigger ex.  (I know, I know, stereotypes are bad, but that is the way it will play).

The bigger news for me was the growing story about Romney parking millions in the Caymans and touting a tax plan that would benefit mainly people like - who else - Romney himself.  I thought the hoopla over "I like the be able to fire people" was overblown.  As any employer knows, you will have to let people go from time to time, and it can end up being a significant headache.  Even when the individual is doing great harm to the company.  However, a much better answer would have been, "I don't like to fire people because it can be hard to replace people and it can be disruptive, but it know how important it is to be able to fire someone if they are hurting everyone else."

I have NO sympathy for parking your money in the Caymans so you can avoid paying taxes in the US.  Particularly from a guy that wants to be the President of the United States.  Because what smacks of leadership like sneaking off your millions to the Caymans when the country has huge deficits.  "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."  Mr. Romney, that means keeping your money here so that it can invested and loaned to Americans and, yes, you can help with the deficit by paying a few more taxes.  All Presidential candidates have to have pretty big egos, but that isn's the same as being selfish.  Mr. Romney is selfish and self absorbed.  (OK may be not as bad as Trump). 

Final note, Romney's tax plan will do two things:  add a lot to the national debt AND pad the pockets of the richest Americans.  A significant portion of our debt is a the fault of the Bush Tax Cuts which also padded the pockets of the richest Americans.  Now Romney plans to double down.   How can that be good for the USA.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If it ain't broken . . .

. . . don't fix it.

PIPA and SOPA appeared to be stalling today.  Not a minute too soon. 

The bottom line is that the music industry and MPAA have been held hostage by the belief that piracy of music and movies is more than a fringe activity.  It wasn't that long ago that they were after internet radio stations because someone streaming 8 or 16 lines was going to break their hold on business.  Of course, the selection of CDs in BestBuy is pretty small these days, because the RIAA was fighting to erect a chainlink fence against a rising tide.  They even managed to get some individuals fined a lot of money for putting music on illegal peer-to-peer networks.  I don't particularly feel bad for people that wholesale copied and distributed vast numbers of music tracks, because it was never moral to do that.  However, getting a handful of people, doesn't necessarily preserve your monopoly on distribution and doesn't replace getting a distribution method that works with the technologies of today.

Piracy of entertainment materials usually involves some false equation about how X billion dollars is lost to piracy each year.  It is actually only lost if, if you closed the loop on piracy by making it technologically impossible, if you assume the pirates would actually pay that money to the film or music company.  In large part, I don't believe that will happen, that money will simply never existed.

Because we're not going to irradicate the technological ability to stop piracy, what the MPAA and RIAA and everyone else needs is to figure out how to deliver the product safety and effectively.

I am sympathetic to their complaint, but make it easy enough for more people to get what they want at a resonable cost.  Piracy won't go away, but most people aren't law breakers to start with.  They just want to access music or films and they don't mind paying a fair price for it.

Get with it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Massive College Road Trip

Well - been on the road - in a giant loop through potential colleges for my daughter.  Small to large, isolated to in big cities, DI to DIII, coed to a female-only campus.  I am exhausted, but we're off to one more "Junior Day" tomorrow.

So - did we find anything out?  We narrowed a few things out and identified probably what we should be looking at:  bigger schools are better.  Not really into the women's school. 

This trip involved about 15 hours of driving over 3 days.  Tomorrow ... 5 more hours.   So, I'll be going to be bed soon.

But lots of stuff has been going on in world:
  • I am poor at predicting the football future:  Packers are out and LSU got shutdown completely by the Crimson Tide.
  • Romney may be fading in the SC polls.  We can only hope, in order to keep the GOP race exciting.  However, he still seems to have it in the bag to me.  He must have been insufferable as a classmate . . . but he has the tools to be successful in pursuing his cause d'jour.
  • I will say, though, it is all about him (despite what he says).  I'll bet you $10,0001
  • Someone is murdering Iranian nuclear scientists.
  • I am intrigued by the Russian protests.  I am somewhat happy to see some pressure put on Putin.
  • Debt crises continues to loom in the Euro Zone.  Ugh.
I'd do some more, but I need to get to bed.  I've got to get up at 6:00 AM tomorrow.


1 Not really, I don't have an $10,000 for a meaningless bet like Romney does.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

abc's NH GOP Debate and Romneycon

I made it through the whole GOP debate and I'll have to say the biggest loser was "abc" news.  The questions and conduct of the debate were ridiculously poor.  I think CBS has a debate today (1/8) and the bar for conduct has been set ridiculously low.  Henceforth perhaps we can refer to ABC News as "abc news" - all lower case - until they earn a upper case.

It sure looks like it is all over and the 3rd best candidate has all but warpped it up.  We can now start referring the GOP convention as Romneycon.  If no one has trademarked the term, I'd like to start right now with RomneycomTM.

Since I will probably spend the next 9 to 10 months bashing Romney, let me at least throw in a few positive observations:  Romney is smart, polished, and he was successful in business.  While I find him incredibly annoying, he is not GWB and will likely do a far better job than "The Worst President of All Time."  He also never seemed to answer a question in the debate - he just jumped to a pre-prepared script.  Even when asked a simple Yes or No question, he wouldn't even state a Yes or No. 

Why is Romney so irritating:  because his marketing groomed scripts all were perfectly designed to hit on GOP conversative hot points.  Romney started grooming his message for the 2008 elections and has been effectively running for President for 6 years.  It shows.  While Romney is no George Bush, he is yet another George Bush:  a son of wealth and entitlement without a connection to the poor, the sick, and the old.

Of the also rans:

Why is Rick "Moonshine" Perry still on stage?  Does he really think we're going to declare war on Iraq a second time in order to put troops back into the country?  Perry is so 90s.  That crap might have worked in 1999 or 2000, but the US does not want a loonier George Bush. 

Huntsman is obviously the guy with real experience in foreign affairs and massively successful in terms of GOP governing - having done so in Utah.  However, how flaky is it to break out into Mandarin in a debate where much of you constituency does not trust China and does not understand Chinese.  Also, while I completely agree, how can you be a true conservative if your marriage isn't threatened by gay marriage.  (My marriage isn't and I don't know anyone's who would admit that gay marriage is a threat to their marriage, but bashing and holding down gays is a conservative litmus test just like global warming).  Huntsman, spare yourself further aggravation, please. 

Newt sounded smart when he ever he deigned to answer a question.  Unlike Romney, he actually answered questions.  I feel back that he didn't savage Romney for being the biggest flip-flopper of all time.  Newt's so called big score was that the government wasn't giving money to the Catholic church for child placement because, gasp, the church wouldn't follow the dictates of the government with respect to same sex households.  This is a worthy and interesting debate, but why would the government ever give money to a religious organization:  doing is exactly the same as government funding specific religions.  However, it does serve as a reminder of the many good things that organized religions do - particularly a large on like the Catholic Church.

Ron Paul tried to widdle Sanctorum down a little bit, but it was not completely whole hearted.  Ron is too old and too Libertarian for the GOP.  He has some utility because he helps show that Romney will never state a concrete position on anything.  At least Ron Paul always has a concrete position on everything. 

[Side story: My sister's neighbor is a big Ron Paul supporter. The irony is that he just had his second free government-paid for knee replacement, but under a Ron Paul government he would have to live with too painful and debilitating knees.]

Lastly, Sanctorum.  He peaked relatively early and made a good showing for himself.  Sanctorum
appears less cerebral than everyone except Moonshine, but he nice seemed to wrap himself up as a "cause guy" and somewhat defty combined that with a belief in government to put his previous government experience into prospective.  All a moot point, because unless Newt and Ron Paul drop out, he'll never have enough votes to catch Romney.

So  it all about RomneycomTM now.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Getting all Sanctorumous

A bit lagging here - since I started this the day after the Iowa Caucus - but we are now about to New Hampshire and SC. 

First - Meeechigan sports:
  • Woo hoo.  Michigan wins a bowl game and gets 11 wins in a season.  I stayed up to the bitter and was rewarded by a Michigan victory.  It was almost like watching a car crash where we popped out in the end standing with a beer in our hand:  Va Tech dominated the game play but managed to make catastrophic mistake after catastrophic mistake.  I was still sooo happy for the outcome.
  • Michigan lost to Indiana in basketball.  IU had the bulk of the flashy plays and somehow looked way better, but the Wolverines only lost by 1 point.  While it was an important loss, if Michigan had started playing before 12 minutes were past in the 1st half, we would have handled Indiana.  Good and bad.
  • Need to check into college hockey.
Second - politics:
Back to reality or what passes for reality in the Republican primary:  I didn't follow the news for a few days and all of a sudden Rick "man on dog" Sanctorum wins even though he loses in Iowa.  I would say that Sanctorum comes across as more authentic than Romney.  Rick dedicated himself to Iowa, so I guess he deserves some credit for it.  BUT HE LOST.  Still, as of January 7th, he was surging in SC, presumably picking up Newt's and Bachmann voters.  We can forget NH because conservatives and tea partiers don't control the vote in NH.  Good for us, but bad for them, the Tea Party folk and social conservatives have too many choices and did not have enough leaders to thin out the herd prior to the primaries.

I will miss Bachmann even though I find her political positions some of the worst.  But some of her attacks on the others candidates were glorious. 

Obama finally got off of his ass and made some recess appointments.  The Dems were idiots on holding out on Bush's appointments and the GOP were idiots to do the same thing to Obama.  'Nuff said, barring gross incomptence the President should have a lot of freedom to appoint who he wants, that should be part of his victory. 

Romney is close to locking this thing up.

Most important trend so far:  what were going to see from the super PACs in this election.  Expect the most negative and heavily advertised election ever.

Brief note on the future:

Time to re-define the middle class down, so we can still have a middle class.