Archive for the ‘by bk’ Category

Should Government run like a business?

Do you agree that the primary purpose of a business is to sell a product or a service at a profit?
Do you think a government’s purpose, primary, or otherwise, should be to try to make a profit?

If you answered, ‘yes’ to question 1 and ‘no’ to question 2, then we can use those assumption to create the following proof.

Business = Profit
Government ≠ Profit
∴ Business ≠ Government

Does that simplify it enough?

Maybe they will they learn in ’16

For the second cycle in a row, the Presidential election feels decided before the leaves have even started to fall. I think there are obvious comparisons for Governor Romney to Governor Dukakis and Senator Kerry. (Maybe both parties should stay away from Massachusetts for a few decades.) However, if anything is to be learned from the current election, the next best comparison is usually the previous election. As losing provides far more lessons than winning, the lessons to be learned are for the Republicans. I have no hope they will learn them yet. They seems a stubborn bunch. They will get another moral victory at the midterms in ’14 to prove them “right” but unless they do something different, 2016 will play out like the previous two presidential elections.

The Republican nomination goes to a candidate that once appeared acceptable to independents and thus had a path to victory in a general election. However, over the course of the primaries, he is badly damaged from having to take so many extreme positions in order to shore up his right. Even after getting the nomination, he is viewed with skepticism on the right. So in a final bid for their support and in the only real and tangible way he can prove his fealty, he nominates a VP candidate the base can love. The problem is that the VP candidate loses them far more votes than it gains them. It’s not a game changer, it’s a game ender.

While it seemed obvious to me with the last two selections, you wouldn’t know it from the way they crowed over the picks in the right wing fever swamps. Senator McCain’s choice of Governor Sarah Palin was heralded. She was an instant hit on the right but to those not locked into the Republican brand, it became obvious she was completely out of her depth. I called her selection a disaster and loser within a day. McCain had failed the test. It took a little longer for others to get there but eventually it was clear she was more of a liability than an asset. With his selection of Representative Paul Ryan, Gov. Romney learned one lesson from the previous selection, don’t pick a blank slate, pick a serious person. But the main problem persisted, he still felt he needed to shore up his support on the right, he felt he needed a true believer. And he got one in Rep. Ryan, a serious ideologue, a true believer with a record. Once again the pick was heralded, another good looking, vibrant candidate to rally the base but this time, a smart one with a plan. While being a empty vessel was Gov. Palin’s vulnerability, Rep. Ryan is brimming over with ideas like turning Medicare into a voucher program. That’s why one of my first thoughts upon his selection was maybe his selection wins WI but it loses FL, and if Romney loses FL, he will lose this election. So while the right lapped up the selection, I waited patiently for things to play out. What they thought was a game changer was again a game loser. It’s taken a month or so but the numbers in Florida and specifically the polls on Medicare are heading in the wrong direction for Romney.

I am not actually suggesting the VP selections are the cause of losing these elections. They made close elections into significant losses and are the best evidence that the typical right wing, post-mortem on the election, “McCain/Romney wasn’t conservative enough,” misses the point. It’s not the candidates, it’s the extreme beliefs of the right that are the problem. Sen. McCain and Gov. Romney polled well enough prior to their party primaries. They seemed viable candidates in a general election and then the primaries began. Forced to tow a strict party line that essentially disavows science and is hostile to the growing latino population, their favorability among critical independents fell. That is, when forced to agree with and affirm what the far right base believes, they became less popular with everyone else. Then they both chose to saddle themselves with true believer VP candidates that best represented the far right beliefs. Positions that weakened the candidate by taking them during the primary.  And the losses got deeper. I repeat. The more conservative they tried to be to win the nomination, the worse their chances got in the general election Then selecting a deeply conservative VP candidate made their November defeat worse that it would have been.

2012 did add two wrinkles but these only serve to prove my point further. Belief is one thing. When it is translated into policy, that’s when the rubber meets the road. In January – March 2011, the 2010 victories in statehouse across the country bore fruit as the GOP-dominated legislatures went into session. But then these sessions brought terms like “transvaginal untrasounds” and personhood amendments to the fore. Coming in the middle of the primary season, the stink of extreme right wing agendas from capitals around the country stuck to the candidates and none more than the leading candidate, Gov. Romney. His numbers took a dive. The other wrinkle was in Tampa. For days, the focus wasn’t just on Gov. Romney it was also on the Republican brand. The GOP had days to talk directly to Americans. The convention culminated with Governor Mitt Romney all wrapped up in Republicanism. The result, a bounce to be certain, but a first to my eyes, a negative bounce. After nearly a week of the Romney and the Republicans show, Romney was worse off.

But to the hardline right wing, the problem is still that Gov. Romney isn’t making the full throated case for conservatism. When the video emerged of Gov. Romney writing off 47% of the population as takers, the response from the hardliners was that he should be making this case, louder, every day in the public square. While that might be cathartic, how out of touch with reality do you have to be to suggest a political strategy that writes off nearly half the population? A part of the population that actually includes a good bit of your constituency liker seniors and veterans. If the aim is to win the election, that seems a pretty poor strategy.

Rep. Ryan suggested that this is a choice election and if so, maybe Gov. Romney isn’t the best one to represent that choice. Yet whenever, America gets a real glimpse of what the choice is, they choose the Democrat. The far right just refuses to see it or acknowledge it because their candidate wasn’t “conservative enough.”

The only way out of this cycle is for the far right to finally get their guy on the top of the ticket in 2016. As the Republican Party usually nominates the 2nd place finisher from the previous primary cycle, maybe 2016 will be their year as that would make Senator Santorium the standard bearer. Sen. Santorium would be the perfect candidate to represent true conservatives. He could take their message across the country from school gyms to meeting halls. From New Hampshire and Iowa to the GOP convention hall. His message could save the Republican Party… by leading them to their worst Presidential election loss since  Barry Goldwater in ’64. Maybe then they’ll realize it’s not the candidates, it’s that the GOP has gotten too extreme and is out of step with the majority of Americans.



iPad, great for a guy like me

by bk

My wonderful, amazing, and generous wife decided, with our 8th anniversary days away that she had an opportunity at a home run gift and swung for the fences. I fully expected to wait a month or two before going for it and drooling over others’ iPads till then. Well, it’s definitely a home run for a guy like me and for my family. Will it be for you? Only you know. What are you doing now? What are you reading this on?

After several hours with my iPad, the first time I had to use my iPhone for something, I felt how my world had shifted. The iPad had put the iPhone in it’s place, my pocket for when I’m out and about. The iPhone is great mobile device but for me, it’s use was way beyond that. I used mine every day for hours on the couch, in the *ahem* facilities, out in the backyard. I work at home but don’t always want to be tied to my desk. My iphone provided a rich enough experience that given the choice between 21′ iMac, Lenovo laptop, and my iPhone, I routinely chose my iPhone and it’s 2′ screen.

Most nights on the couch next to me, my aforementioned, wonderful, generous, beautiful wife is checking email, playing games, and counting stitches on her iPhone for an hour or two while we watch tv. Work and pc left at the office while she gets to relax around the house. My son regularly chooses the iPhone over the iMac because it’s easier, more intuitive, and in the living room.

As a family we were primed and ready for the iPad and it has not disappointed. I continue to roam the house but instead of reading the news on a postage stamp, it kinda feels that way now, I’ve got a perfect magazine size display that allows me enjoy Peter King’s column on like I folded over the cover on real magazine instead of squeezing and flipping to make the best use of the iPhone screen. When I want to share something with my wife while on the couch, I hand her the iPad and she doesn’t have to squint and squeeze to see what I’m trying to share. It’s there, bright and clear. Been meaning to discuss those window treatments? No need for her to stand over my shoulder while I navigate the choices on the iMac in the office, hand over the iPad like you are handing over a catalog and away she goes.. “Let me know when you settle on something, hun.”

My boy is still calling it a big iPhone but as much as anything that means he knew how to use it already. He’s been using the iPhone for a couple of years already, is comfortable with it and enjoys it. So he was right on it, playing games and having fun.

It really is a new category and I think a lot of people are have trouble getting their heads around that. Is it gonna replace your MacBook? Not, if you’re doing serious stuff like photoshop when you travel. If you want to get under the hood and tinker, this isn’t the device for that either. It’s for the masses. Those that want the car to take their car out on the open road, not sit at home and work on the brakes. It’s a home mobile, consumer device and I’m a home mobile consumer so it works great for me and for my family. I still am very happy for my iPhone when I’m out. It’s a true mobile device, designed and built for my pocket. And when, I’m home that’s where it stays while I use my iPad and it’s vibrant HD screen wherever in my home I want to.

FYI this post was written entirely with the onscreen keyboard while lying in bed in the dark. When safari had problems with the word press admin site, I downloaded the free app, in about a minute, found it was already optimized for the iPad and was able to get right in and create my post so while I wouldn’t say it’s a work device, one can definitely get a lot done with it. Also in the hour or so I’ve working I’ve watched the power meter run ever so slowly down from 20% to 11% after a long day of use. Slowly and consistently so I’ve never felt that laptop power-noia that the battery indicator will suddenly go from from 43% to 0% while composing a long email.

Republicans take a stand on stimulus

by bk

With the country on the precipice of economic disaster and just when we need most to increase public spending, Republicans have suddenly found their long lost “fiscal conservatism,” I present two editorial cartoons that nicely sum up how that sounds to me.

Adam Zyglis
The Buffalo News
Feb 11, 2009
Mike Keefe
Denver Post
Feb 12, 2009

So deficits for war with Iraq and tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, totally fine but running deficits to try and prevent the complete failure of our economy, not allowed.

Nice priorities, GOP.


Thought this quote from Andrew Sullivan was very apres pos,

“A Republican party that added more than $30 trillion to the future debt in a time of boom has no credible answer but raw partisanship for opposing $800 billion in the swiftest downturn in employment since the Great Depression. That’s the bottom line. The party that campaigned for eight years on the principle that “deficits don’t matter” has no good faith standing to oppose a measure that provides the minimum to ensure some kind of bottom in the looming depression. To take their fiscal conservatism seriously at this point and in this crisis is to engage in some kind of instant amnesia.” <link>

an Ol’ Joke, updated for an ol’ man

by bk

What’s the difference between the McCain Campaign and the Titanic?

The Titanic had a band.

After the MI decision, I think it’s time to start watching for the rats jumping ship. That is a sure sign of a boat that’s going down. I know we’re not over the finish line yet but desperation has a way of feeding on itself and I think we’re approaching that point faster than we may realize, so it’s just a matter of looking for the tell tale signs.

Here is the video that inspired my post:

Winning and Losing in 24 hours or Less

by bk

So pardon me for calling the election on September 2 but within the last day the first polls, showing Obama with 50%+, started showing up. I’ve long held that lots of America’s choose not to decide until after Labor Day. They can’t be bothered to, it’s just not in their blood like us partisan types. Every cycle just as the decidedly undecides starting tuning in to make their decision they use two events to judge the candidates – the convention acceptance speech and the Presidential candidate’s first executive decision on VP candidate. Some of the more serious undecides will watch and listen to everything, others will judge it by how others in and out of the media seems to perceive it. Depending on the year, the undecides may make the difference in a close election or simply pad the margin of victory. Ultimately, I believe turning out the base is the most important thing and by all measures the Democratic base is more enthusiastic this year than the Republican base so I’ve felt for awhile Obama would win and I’ve been looking to the undecides to provide the margin of victory. But that hasn’t been showing up in the polls yet so I’ve seen and heard a lot of hand wringing among Dems I know. It’s a natural reaction to how the last couple of elections have unfolded and I’m sure it will last until Obama takes the oath. But when the story of the 2008 Presidential Election is written, I believe the turning point will be fully encapsulated within less than 24 hours, the night of August 25th and the morning of August 26th.

More Americans tuned in for Barack Obama’s speech than tuned in for the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics and the American Idol finales. He spoke to those who could be convinced, the 70%+ who believe we’re heading in the wrong direction. And they got a speech that knocked down the patriotism attacks while making the attackers look petty, they got policy proposals and soaring and flawless rhetoric, and they got to see a man they could believe could be President. The expectations were high and he still managed to surpass them; he passed the test.

The very next morning, the other shoe dropped. McCain had named Sarah Palin as his running mate and across America a collective, “WHO?” rang out. Over the course of the next 2 days, it became obvious that McCain’s team hadn’t done the most basic of vetting. The choice was instinctual and a political sop to the base. In another year, that might have been okay but not considering recent history like the rush to war and the move to privatize social security, and recalling Republican appointments like Michael Brown, Harriet Meirs, and Alberto Gonzales, it was all too familiar and in 1 fell swoop it undercut McCain’s main argument against Obama and re-inforced Obama’s main line of attack on McCain, that a McCain Presidency would be more of the same.

There are only really two parts to the VP decision as far as the voting public is concerned. Number 1 is the heartbeat question. Are we comfortable with this person being a heartbeat from the Presidency? And number 2 and more importantly, what the choice says about the Presidential candidate. Context is very important. Quayle was an obvious sop to the right as the right was starting to really flex its muscles. But he had been in Congress for 12 years and the Senate for the previous 6 and Bush was a sporty, healthy WASP. McCain is a 72 year who has twice battled skin cancer and Palin is the 2 year governor of Alaska with prior experience as mayor of a town of 7,000. Barack Obama’s choice of Sen. Joe Biden was a serious choice who could easily step in to the Presidency at a moment’s notice. Barack passed. Outside the 28 Percenters, those that absolutely can’t see past their partisan blinders and still support Bush, John McCain’s choice was clearly questionable and no one believes she’s ready to be a heartbeat from the Presidency. So on the first test of a President McCain, McCain failed and he failed the same as Bush, playing to the base and playing politics with the future of America.

On the night of Thursday August 25th, Senator Barack Obama showed America a vision of its future. On the morning of Friday August 26th, Senator John McCain showed America a vision of its past, the past 8 years. Within that short time, John McCain lost the election and Barack Obama won it.

At least, that’s how I believe it will be remembered.

527s in 2008

by bk
I saw a comment on TPM by KD that suggested that if Obama hadn’t stopped the 527s, he’d be in a better position and it got me thinking about whether that’s right. I think KD is wrong and we’re actually better off so far in 2008 without the 527s because it’s harder to fight a proxy battle.

McCain’s attacks are coming from McCain not some third party “Citizens Against Celebrity” group, which is actually comprised of 5 billionaire Republicans. It’s his attack ad not some citizens exercising their First Amendment right so he can’t disown the attacks while allowing the attack to continue. Thus, he can’t enjoy the benefit from going negative without taking the hit for having done it himself. This is why I think we’ve seen the polls return to about where they were before the celebrity ads started. There was an initial benefit but then the backlash balanced it back out after another week.

Also when the attacks come from McCain directly, Obama’s campaign has only to confront McCain to respond instead of trying to take on a faceless 527. And so they are able to respond with the ads they did which point out 2 hypocrisies – the hypocrisy of the celebrity charge from McCain, of all people,and his hypocrisy in going negative as he so often said he wouldn’t. And because Obama didn’t go negative first, he’s simply responding to McCain’s ads, I believe there will be less backlash for Obama than for McCain.

If that’s the case then this will work out to a net gain for Obama and it will be very much because it wasn’t a 527 group shooting from the woods but rather John McCain, himself, in broad daylight. So everyone knows who did it and Obama has a clear target for returning fire.

Thank you, Sista Jesse

by bk

In light of the 4 polls out this week showing Barack re-establishing his lead in national polls, I’d like to thank Jesse Jackson. Far from cutting Barack’s nuts off, I say he has provide Obama with the Sista Soulja moment he’s been needing.

Hmmm Trying to pivot to the center? What better opportunity than having an icon of the left all pissed off at you. And better still, it was the kind of dirt Fox loves. So Fox and the rest of the MSN play in the dirt, which is job #1 at Fox, and help Obama pivot all at once and because it’s not a policy shift, there can be no flip flop charge. It’s just Barack Obama defending himself from the left for a full news cycle for all to see.

A special thanks to Jesse for his timing, right in the heart of the the post-primary, pre-convention center shift. Could hardly have been better.

George Carlin (1937-2008) – R.I.P.

by bk

“Scratch any cynic and you’ll find a disappointed idealist.” – George Carlin

As you’ve probably already heard, George Carlin died yesterday. We started getting HBO in 1977 and in the early years of HBO, they had a very small catalog of shows and movies. If you think HBO repeats stuff now, well it was far worse then. So I got the chance to see all of Carlin’s specials from a pretty young age, many times over and much of my sense of humor and world view was shaped by what he had to say. Which probably explains a lot.

So for me, this is no random celebrity death. He was possibly my all time favorite entertainer and I’m saddened by his passing. And although I’m still not a cynic, there is still time for my idealism to be dashed.

The happy news is he left us hours and hours of profound and profane material to enjoy. And lots of it is on the intertubes.

#1 – 7 Words you can’t say on TV – Phoenix, 1978 (10:38)

#2 – Baseball and Football, New Jersey, 1990 (4:48)

#3 – Have a nice day. – NYC, 1982 (3:51)

#4 – Stuff – Comic Relief, 1986 (5:09)

#5 – Kitty Cats – NYC, 1982 (9:01)

*There is, of course, lots of cursing in his routines so keep that in mind before playing in your office, around the kids, etc

Tip O’Neil was wrong

by bk

Social Security isn’t the third rail of American politics, race is and frankly we can tighten that up even more. “Race is the third rail of America.” With a short national history that includes, codifying blacks as 3/5th of a person, the Civil War and 100 years of Jim Crow, and the decimation of the Native American peoples, it is a solid line that runs thru our national psyche. And it’s pumping high voltage. In this decade in politics alone, it’s taken down Trent Lott and George Allen and Bill and Hillary got a mighty nice jolt from it in South Carolina last week.

When Bill Clinton brought up Jesse Jackson’s previous victories in SC, it was at worst awkward but I can see where people took it the way they did. That is simply the state of racial politics in America and you need to be ready for it. But if anyone has earned the benefit of the doubt on racial issues, isn’t it Bill Clinton? He has spent a lifetime in civil service on the side actually concerned with minorities rights. He didn’t get nostalgic for better days before Brown vs Board of Edu. and he didn’t let slip an obscure racial slur. He brought up that Jesse Jackson had won SC (albeit under different system and very different circumstances) twice and that he ran a good campaign and Barack has run a good campaign here and everywhere. That was all he said. The subtext, however, is wide open to interpretation.

Because race is a such a high voltage issue (and frankly so are the Clintons,) people bring tons of baggage to the subtext. If you’re especially sensitive to racial undertones, you see the effort to inject race. If you hate the Clintons, great chance to tee off on them. If you think Bill was the master, it’s very hard to believe he didn’t know exactly what he was doing. And if you’re the media, you are apparently still ready to continue peddling any anti-Clinton story you can. Maybe it’s because they hate them but it’s probably just ’cause it’s good for ratings. Either way, once the race card has been invoked it is not easily put away.

Personally, I’ve always held a generally favorable view of Jesse Jackson so 1) I don’t see that as a negative comparison and 2) it doesn’t remind me that Barack is black, I knew that by now. South Carolina democrats are over 50% black and polling was already showing a solid win for Obama so how could it benefit Hillary’s campaign in SC or afterwards? Did Bill think there were enough closet racists in SC to swing it to Hillary? It was too late to launch the “closet SC racist strategy” and actually impact the vote… if it would have even worked on the Dem side in SC. Or was he thinking it would work in Florida or beyond in NY, CA, NJ? Racist Dems in heavily multicultural states, not what I would call a swing demographic. No, he was playing the expectations game as he always does before a primary, he put on his professorial hat for the reporters and went with historical footnotes relevant to that state. Should he have compared Obama to JFK? Sure, Obama would love that but it doesn’t so much work for Bill, that’s his idol. We’ve only had one serious black presidential candidate in the entire history of our country and SC was one of the states he won twice so, yeah, his name came up.

The hardest part for anyone to believe is that Bill says anything by accident. He’s the master politician of his age he knows exactly what he is saying and doing at all times. But if he is, why would he inject race where there would be little benefit to doing so and tons of risk? And is discipline the word we really associate with Bill? I would suggest he’s masterful enough to know he can’t control race but needed a lesson in discipline and the explosion of the echo chamber since his last real race in 1992. He was attempting to lower expectations, and compared Obama to Jesse Jackson, the natural historical comparison. It was kinda awkward but not inaccurate or unflattering unless you choose to interpret it that way. Is it really offensive to compare a successful black politician with the only previous black candidate to achieved success in the presidential primaries?

It reminds me of a conversation I had with my in-laws in WI. They may be in a rural area but they are well educated, well read, and very open minded. And yet, I had to explain that simply calling someone a jew is not anti-semitic or insulting. But with the right tone, and a little bit of context, it can get there pretty quick. Comparing Barack Obama to Jesse Jackson is not in itself insulting but with the right tone and context it’s a short trip. I don’t think Bill went so far as to cross the line but I know we don’t all draw the line at exactly the same spot either. Which is why Bill might want to consider prepared and pre-approved remarks for the next few months because even the littlest asides can cause a helluva jolt if they are thought to touch the 3rd rail, race.

Side notes –
#1 – Bill’s discipline has always been a cause for concern. This and other recent events bring that right to the fore. It’s definitely a point to consider when choosing who to vote for.
#2 Considering the GOP’s stellar record of racial sensitivity, Obama may be a perfect trap candidate. How many Republican machine workers will get caught up with some racially insensitive comment when Bill’s getting it for such an innocuous statement? And will McCain be forced to apologize every time?
#3 I think the real racially insensitivity last week was when Barack was asked whether Bill was the 1st black president. It’s a cute line that been tossed around for awhile now. But to actually pose that in a question to the man who has a real chance of actually being the 1st black president, I was offended by that. Of course, Obama handled it so deftly but I still gotta think inside he was saying “No! He wasn’t! No matter what kind of friend he’s been to blacks, he’s just another link in a chain of old white men”.
#4 As a white guy, I have no doubt I have done or said things sometime somewhere, heck probably in this piece, that were construed as racist or at the very least ignorant by those of other races. I can almost guarantee (who among us is perfect?) I didn’t intend it that way. It’s an incredibly slippery slope for even the best intentioned.