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    Thursday, August 11, 2016

    Bad Times for Trump

    It's been a month since I posted here, and a lot has changed.

    Last month, Trump was leading in the polls, and since then, we've had the joke of an RNC, where the winner is working out to have been Ted Cruz for his prescient non-endorsement of Trump (the gall! Asking people to vote their conscience) and John Kasich, for staying away and withholding his endorsement of Trump.

    Now, Hillary has opened a wide lead nationally and in several of the important swing states.  She's even competitive here in Georgia and in Utah.

    I've been back and forth over and over on Trump, but I am getting more firmly in the #nevertrump camp.  I refuse to be as strident as some, but, the week he spent on the Khan's and now his stupid off-the-cuff remarks about "Second Amendment People" have convinced me that the #nevertrump crowd has a seriously solid argument.

    I've said somewhere that Trump is a caricature of a conservative, and Ben Shapiro captures this in this article this week.

    As a committed conservative, I have to ask myself - is conservatism, and as such, the country, better off with 4 years of Hillary, in opposition, or 4 years of Trump, having to explain and defend what this idiot does to our ideology, which is what is right for America.

    On these points, I am with those who oppose Trump.  We can draw stark contrasts with Hillary, and we can use her unpopularity to consolidate gains in the senate and house during what is going to be a corruption filled Hillary administration.

    But, you might say, the Supreme Court.

    Here's the problem with that.  Even if Trump wins, the GOP is unlikely to get a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.  That means the Dems will oppose any of the nominees on "the list."

    Trump is likely to fold at the first threat of a filibuster, and yes, seek a stealth candidate who will likely end up like Souter or Kennedy.  The end result, folks, will be the same.

    So, while there may be some hope that Trump would nominate some better SCOTUS picks than Hillary, it's a moonshot and one which I am not prepared to give away conservatism for .

    Friday, July 15, 2016

    Trump Takes the Lead

    A flurry of polls this week have Trump taking a national lead, and larger leads in key swing states, even the GOP's unicorn state, Pennsylvania, as our pal, Ace, reports (http://acecomments.mu.nu/?post=364751).

    It's been a bad couple of weeks for Hillary Clinton.

    First, her husband puts some very questionable optics on her upcoming email investigation and lobbies the AG for...well, something.

    Next, the FBI Director offers up the most scathing non-indictment recommendation ever, describing Granma as everything from being too stupid (er... not sophisticated enough) to understand classified markings to being oblivious to national security concerns (reckless, anyone?).

    Then, she blunders her way through the #BLM and Dallas shootings, and to top it off, Bernie Sanders spends 28 minutes explaining why he's awesome, but, vote for Hillary anyway.

    Now we have all these very unfavorable poll numbers for Herself, then, the French terrorism massacre does nothing but highlight Dem's weakness on the security issue.

    Maybe she's at her low water mark.  Larry Kudlow on the recent flagship Ricochet podcast thinks, she's a stock still seeking a bottom.  Could he be right?

    This is an opportunity to see if Trump will do as I think he will, to turn this into all about his winning, and winning, and winning some more. That was the strategy in the GOP primary and now that he's turned this thing around (ok, she's in free fall, but doesn't matter)... 

    The entire thing is about the inevitability of Trump winning and the bandwagon effect.

    Saturday, July 9, 2016

    Free College!

    Hillary Clinton continued her pandering to Bernie Sanders voters this week, unveiling a plan to make college tuition free to families (important note there) making less than $85k/year, eventually upping that to $125k/year.

    If you don't yet have children in college, this probably sounds like an awesome idea and a real money saver.  Let me un-Voxsplain to you.

    • The plan only covers tuition.  As anyone who looks hard at college bills knows, tuition is about 1/2 of the money it takes to take classes, as fees and services usually cover the other half of the non-room and board college costs.  
    • The plan does not cover room and board.  At most colleges and universities, unless you live with your parents, this is going to be about 50% to 100% of tuition.  
    • So, Hillary's plan would cover about 1/4 of the total cost of college.  You would still need parents or loans to cover the rest.
    • It sounds great, but it's not going to eliminate the need for loans or sugar daddy's (i.e. "parents").
    Continuing the economics lesson here, what is likely to happen when college is subsidized by the American taxpayer as it will have to be?  Well, as it has the last 30 or so years as more and more of college is paid for by someone else (in the form of guaranteed student loans, at remarkably low interest rates), it will become even more expensive.  And while those families making up to $125k may benefit from the taxpayers covering tuition, they'll still have those fees and room and board to cover.

    Additionally, someone, besides the taxpayers, will have to make up the cost for those students having their tuition subsidized.  And that someone will be - families making over $125k/year.

    Now, I don't need to tell you if you file a tax return, but a 2 earner household doesn't have to have 2 awesome jobs to get over that threshold.  So, before you crow about how fantastic this is, recognize that it is the middle class who is going to be footing the bill for this, in the form of higher tuition and fees, so that states can meet the requirement to offer "free" tuition to those others.

    Ultimately, you need to consider who is the beneficiary of government mandates such as this?  Is it really students, or is it tenured professors and university administrators who gain from higher attendance figures, and for whom graduation rates are usually not important.

    The academy is a linchpin of Democrat politics.  

    Proposals such as this are corporate welfare for universities, not attempts to make college more affordable (at which they have failed miserably over time) or more available (it is private, online universities that offer the best chance to do this).

    Saturday, July 2, 2016

    Daniel Hannan gets badgered by Christian Imapoorreporter, and fires back.

    H/T to Andrew Klavan.

    Christian Amanpour demonstrates why the Left, and the leftish media, is so disengaged from what is going on in the world, in this post-Brexit interview with British MEP Daniel Hannan.

    To Amanpour and her friends on the Left, Brexit is, as is EVERYTHING with these people, about xenophobia and racism, and the Brits desire to keep the other (primarily Muslims) out of Britain.  It's all that they are able to comprehend.

    Little concepts like national sovereignty, the desire for true self-rule mean little to the leftists.  They don't really care about democracy, after fighting for years to ensure everyone has the right to vote, they are angry when they don't vote as the elites desire.  We acknowledge that some who voted for leave were doing so on xenophobic and perhaps even racist grounds.  So what?  Last I checked, xenophobes and racists still had the right to vote in most western countries, and it's the one point I wish Hannan had made to Ms. Amanpour.  He might also have pointed out that with the remain camp drilling that home everyday in opposition, she shouldn't be surprised that so many people came out who might have felt this way.

    Hannan, being badgered by Amanpour with her ridiculous, facile questions, and her snide facial expressions, still manages to take her to school to explain that Brexit is about much more than racism and xenophobia.

    Neil Degrasse Tyson - Rationalia? More like Stupidia

    Neil Degrasse Tyson, who fancies himself a reboot of Carl Sagan, and who really wants you to understand that he's really, really smart, tweeted the other day:

    He was rightly mocked on Twitter by all sorts of people who could see the errors in his wishful thinking, and many pointed out a little thing called the Reign of Terror that followed a particular revolution that embodied some of these ideas he's thinking of.  An example:

    Alas, History and understanding the actual, um, human condition, are things lost on Tyson, who is the most insufferable of scientists - those who eschew Philosophy, but instead think governing our world (Rationalia?) under the guise of the primacy of science and the supreme intelligence of it's key practitioners (led, of course, by Mr Degrasse Tyson himself) is some kind of new, untried, and even smart, idea.

    Kevin Williamson, writing in National Review, was quick to pick up on Tyson's stupidity and jot down a few thoughts in an essay, the bottom line of which comes in the closing (but do read the whole thing):

    As men like him have done for ages, Tyson dreams of a world of self-evident choices, overseen by men of reason such as himself who occupy a position that we cannot help but notice is godlike. It’s nice to imagine ruling from an Olympus of Reason, with men and nations arrayed before one as on a chessboard. Down here on Earth, the view is rather different, and the lines of sight inside the epistemic horizon are not nearly so long as our would-be rulers imagine.

    Wednesday, June 29, 2016

    Leftist Loonyism This Week

    The left has been on a rampage this week...

    First, we have the Turkey terror attacks.  Despite the monsters using guns for this, I have yet to see those who find this such a scourge here in the US call for President Erdogan to use his considerable powers as supreme ruler of Turkey to stem the tide of gun violence that is gripping Turkey.

    Next, thanks to Iliana Johnson and the watchdog group, Cause to Action, we found out that former IRS executive Lois Lerner likely broke the law when she shared over 1 million pages of tax return information with the Department of Justice.  But, this is the Obama administration, so instead of mainstream media coverage of the political weaponization of the IRS against conservative political enemies of this administration, we'll get...crickets.

    Loretta Lynch met privately will Bill Clinton, ahead of the release of the Benghazi report.  Maybe it was a chance encounter, but, the nation's chief law enforcement officer, who may be called on to offer up an indictment of Hillary Clinton, should not be having private discussions with her husband in the run up to either of these events.  This is outrageous and a serious ethical issue.  But, for the most transparent administration in History, what else did you expect.

    The Supreme Court gave us a glimpse of life under a 5-4 liberal majority.  Religious freedom will be destroyed, abortion on demand will be the law of the land.  Democrats don't care about women's health.  As Mary Eberstadt in NR put it:

    Once upon a time, liberals portrayed the procedure of abortion as a thing regrettable but sometimes necessary. This was the cottony, “safe, legal, and rare” piety of yesteryear. That old rhetorical dressing has been ripped off for good. Today, The Daily Show is taking a tut-tutting in the media for having tweeted to its 4.25 million followers a comment that some find tasteless: “Celebrate the #SCOTUS ruling! Go knock someone up in Texas!” The indignation is faux. Under the logic of secularist progressivism today, the only thing regrettable about abortion is that there isn’t more of it.

    These people don't care if Kermit Gosnell type abortion mills dot the country.  They only care that abortions are performed.  If they have to be by sadists like Gosnell using the most unsafe procedures, so be it.  The "right" of a woman to kill that clump of tissue shall not have any undue burden placed on it.  I would not be surprised to see an abortionist who offers coat hangar only abortions have these people defend him, because, you know, abortion.  It used to be that Bill Clinton wanted to see abortion be safe, legal, and rare, but really we know that the true believers only care about the legal part of that triad.

    Trust me, the future holds a time when these people not only celebrate abortion as the unfettered legal right of women, but will require every woman to get pregnant and have one.  For the shared experience, of course.

    Finally, we have the House Select Committee's final report on Benghazi.  The administration and their willing dupes in the media want you to think that there is nothing new here, and that there is no proof that Hillary Clinton did anything illegal.  Well, no one really was looking to find out if she did anything in illegal with respect to Benghazi.  We were looking to find out how 4 Americans, including an Ambassador had to lose their lives defending themselves in a Libyan hellhole.  Indeed, a gay ambassador.  Funny how the gays seem to be doing very poorly at the hands of Democrats in the age of Obama (except for that marriage thing).

    They'll tell you, "nothing new here," "time to move on," and, Hillary had nothing to do with it.  Well, you can read the report linked herein.  While 4 men died, the Department of State dithered on whether we should send in a rescue mission in uniform or not.

    Read the report.

    Sunday, June 12, 2016

    The End of Islam

    Until the West comes to grip with Islam and makes a decision about how we're going to face down this scourge, events like this morning in Orlando are only going to continue, and get worse.

    This is NOT about gun control.  You are incredibly naive if you think today's events, or Islamists will stop murdering Westerners if they don't have the ability to buy an AR over the counter. One need only look at Paris to know this is a lie. You are also fooling yourself if you believe that there is not a damn good reason to practice some Islamophobia. These people want to kill us all, but trust me, they'll start with the gays, the apostates, the unbelievers, and then they'll move on to those of us who refuse to pay the jizya.

    This is about a political ideology that is tied to a "religion" that over a billion people practice that has a dangerously murderous element. I don't say radical, because today's events are all too normal within Islam, they are all too accepted by its practitioners, and they are not going to end without the West ending it.

    The time is running short for the people who actually want to practice a religion of "peace" to prove it by expunging these elements themselves.

    I call on the leaders of the West to do what is necessary and and put an end to this. If that means we have to occupy the middle east for the next 2000 years, then do be it. If Islam can not join us in the 21st century, then Islam can become a relic of it.

    Mexican Judges Love Trump

    I was, at first, appalled by Trump's "attack" on the judge in the Trump University case, Gonzalo Curiel.  As you must have heard by now, Trump accused the judge of a bias against him because he was "Mexican." You can see video and a transcript of Trump's remarks here.

    Over the last week, I have decided to stop just taking for granted the media's depiction of Trump on this, and to try to look at it subjectively.  I think too many of the "right" people got their knickers all in a  twist over something that is unworthy of such gnashing and wailing of teeth.

    I expect this kind of nonsense from the Left.  They want to win, they have no guiding principle other than the constant expansion of government power (with them at the helm) and winning.  Therefore, consistency in logic and equality of treatment is not something I expect from The Left.

    I expect a little more from my friends on the right.  In some ways, they are being more consistent in their approach.  In other ways, they are employing the tactics of The Left against Trump, and in the quest to defeat Progressivism, this will have adverse affects for the country.  It's also why, although I am drawn to their arguments like a moth to flame, I am at times annoyed with the stridency of the #neverTrump crowd.

    But, I digress.

    Over on Ricochet (membership required) I read Richard Epstein's take down of Trump and I (and you) can enjoy Professor Epstein's discussion of Trump on his "The Libertarian" podcast.  I recommend you subscribe.  I have just decided I don't agree and I find the reasoning of many,
    people like Epstein, Mona Charen, Jay Nordlinger, Professor Tom Nichols, Rick Wilson flawed.

    For many who are firmly #neverTrump, much of it is based, as Epstein discusses ad nauseum, on the Trump "temperament."  Many of these people claim to have some inner window to Trump's soul.  Mona Charen accuses him of having Narcissistic Personality Disorder ("McFly, have you seen Barack Obama?? ").  Nichols, a "National Security Conservative" doesn't trust Trump with the nuclear button, unlike Marco Rubio, who doesn't trust him with the button, but figures, what the hell.  Wilson is as anti-Trump as they come. Need I go on?  Most of these people dismiss Trump because of things like his temperament.  They use words like "unqualified, unfit" to describe his readiness for the Office of the President.

    That's an opinion, and none of these people are qualified to make medical diagnoses.

    It was while listening to the Need to Know Podcast (hosted by Charen and Nordlinger) that I realized why many of these people move to "temperament" when they have reservations about Trump.  In an innocuous aside where Mona and Jay discussed home invasions and the usefulness of guns to deterring them, Charen remarked to Jay that they have things that will turn your lights off and on so you don't just have to leave a light on.  It struck me as so out of touch.  They've only had light timers for about 50 years at least, I'd guess.  Today, Mona, did you know you can do this from the Internet?

    I imagine in the circles these people run around in, they don't find a lot of guys like Trump.  They read about them in the newspaper, they have friends who are friends with them, and they imagine them in their wildest dreams.  But they've rarely come in contact with them, and when they do, they do consider them boorish and vulgar, and rude and nasty, and nouveau and they're just a tad bit disgusted by them.

    In their circles they just don't talk like this.  And thus, when Trump links the word "Mexican" with "biased" in that word jumble way that Trump speaks, they instantly, like their analogs on the Left, connect the dots and it becomes "Trump is a racist" and cue the right's outrage industry, because just as when the Left doesn't want to argue a point, they resort to racism, these guys so detest Trump that they've chosen the same tactics.

    And that, my friends, is what is going on here.

    Trump is incredibly flawed.  He could use this case to demonstrate that people are biased, and that The Left celebrates their bias.  Instead of a cheap personal attack (and it was a cheap personal attack, it just wasn't racist), Trump could have said,
    "In a time where we have Leftist Supreme Court justices claiming being a 'wise Latina' is a qualification for a judge, is it any wonder that I can't get a fair shake from a Latino judge?  After all, the Left has been telling Hispanics for years that the only way forward for them is to be treated as special snowflakes who can't do it on their own, they need the benevolent hand of their Leftists benefactors.  Well, I KNOW they can do it on their own.  I see Hispanics who have immigrated here legally working hard every day and they can make it without Hillary Clinton swooping down with some special government goodies stolen from someone else, they can live the American dream and own businesses and employ others and share that dream.  But they can't do it while the Left is holding them down and making them losers, who only win when the Left decides they can share in the ill gotten spoils from the crooks who stole it.  They can't.  Believe me, when Trump is president, they will."

    Or something like that.

    Guy needs to think first.  He could really turn these lemons into lemonade.

    Sunday, June 5, 2016

    Trump and Protection

    I promise some anti-Hillary posts this season. Honest.

    But first, some more fodder for the #nevertrump crowd and a quick education in the post World War era.

    Donald J Trump has gotten a lot of applause from his followers and it's a popular stump line that NATO is obsolete and our allies should be paying us for their "protection."

    Once you get past the irony of a New York tough guy asking Koreans and Japanese to pony up protection money, doesn't Trump have a good point?

    I'll grant him this much - our allies do benefit greatly from US protection in the post WW2 world.  In Europe, because of the presence of the US military and the Article 5 provisions in the NATO Charter, all NATO members are bound together, but the primary provider of military power is clearly the United States.  It's basically been that way since the war ended, with Britain providing some additional credible capability.

    And have the Europeans benefitted?  Greatly.  It has enabled them to build those vaunted social democracies that Bernie Sanders and American liberals are so enamored of.  If these guys had to pay for their own military, they could not afford the generous welfare states they have built.  No doubt on that one.

    The same is also true in the Far East with Japan and Korea, so when we consider this protection racket, they're in on it.

    But, isn't there something in this game for us?

    We could have pulled out of these arrangements at any time in the last 60 to 70 years.  None of these countries are holding a gun to our head, demanding that we play this role.  We played this role willingly, in fact, we found being the leader of the free world, being the protector of the order after WW2 to be in our national interest.  It was in our interest, immediately after WW2 to ensure neither Germany nor Japan returned to militarism, and particularly that Germany's desire to conquer Europe was quenched, as that quickly turned to the Soviets and containment of them.  Surely for the 50 years that the Cold War raged, it was in our national interest to remain engaged in the protection of Europe to keep the Soviets at bay.  And it was.

    Of course, Trump argues that those times have passed, and since 1992, our troop levels have massively declined across Europe and in Japan and South Korea.  We have largely pulled back as the Russian threat diminished, and at times, NATO has pushed for more European involvement in Europe's defense needs, and at times, they have responded.

    The US's portion of NATO's military spending is relatively small, compared to our overall defense spending, at less than $500 million dollars.

    The US spends less than $7B (this is US defense money) on defense of Japan and South Korea, so we're looking at a relatively small percentage of the overall defense budget going toward direct costs for these countries, and this money doesn't even mean it's totally for their defense.  These countries provide forward operating bases so that we can more quickly respond to global powers, like China and Russia, so these aren't just costs in defense of the host countries.

    This is a complicated subject, and Trump tries to boil it down to simplicity, because it's a good sound bite.  We get something that enhances our overall security from these arrangements.  We're not there to engage in a protection racket, we're in these countries because it enhances our national security, because it gives us control over the command and control structure, and because it's the right thing to do for the global hegemon.

    Just imagine a world where we are not in control in these places, where we had to work with multiple armies, multiple large navies, multiple air forces of sizes suitable for their defense.  It would be a difficult world indeed for our military, so this arrangement has practical value as well.

    Things are never as simple as Donald Trump wishes they were, and the questions are hard and the answers complex.  I wish he'd engage in a little more intellectual curiosity rather than always taking the politically easy way out.

    Saturday, June 4, 2016

    On David French and 3rd Party Anti-Trump Runs

    Bill Kristol is an ardent neverTrumper, and this week he revealed that Iraq War veteran, Constitutional lawyer, author and National Review contributor David French would be his pick to run in a 3rd party bid against Trump.

    I'll let French pal and fellow NR staffer Jim Geraghty explain the challenges ahead, and why good mean like French are not in our national political pysche at this time.

    I am torn by Trump, just as the Republican party is.

    But, I am united with them in that I think a third party run against Trump is an incredibly bad idea.  Sure, I would love to see a guy like David French inject some real conservatism into the Fall debate.  I think it would be great to have a true conservative on the stage with Trump, Clinton, and Johnson in the Fall, but it's not going to happen.

    Conservatives, given that conservatism's home resides in the GOP, had their chance to make the case for it in a much better crucible for us, and we lost.  We had Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, and Ted Cruz, and we lost.  The GOP primary voters turned out to be much less interested in conservatism than they are in nationalism and populism, and Trump won the nomination.

    Now is the time for Trump and his coalition to sink or swim.  On its own.  I do not want to be part of an organized group who these creeps (and that describes MANY of them) can point to and say cost their savior the election.  It will be one thing for those who can't abide the man to sit on their hands in November and skip the Presidential part of the ballot (or choose someone else who isn't Hillary), and it's quite another to actively support another candidate.

    I will not actively support another candidate, and conservatives should do the same.  Either get behind Trump and throw some level of support to him, or be an observer and point out the flaws in both candidates.

    There are plenty, and that's what I intend to do, from this point forward.

    My note to Trump and his Trumpkins - STOP giving me reasons to point out your flaws and start running a campaign that seeks to actually unify the GOP and go after Hillary Clinton.

    No more attacks on sitting Republican Hispanic Female governors, no more stupid attacks on judges who rule against you in your Fraud (oops, Trump) University case, and no more moronic tweets, please.

    Because I refuse to let that crap go by unnoticed.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016

    Bill Clinton & The Lolita Express

    In chatting with a co-worker the other day, I realized that the people who get their news from Facebook and the mainstream, state-controlled media, have no idea of the indiscretions of Bill Clinton, don't remember (or weren't born) when the Clinton's started enriching themselves at taxpayer expense, and believe that Hillary's DoS tenure was a "success."

    This is one of the great things about the Trump campaign.  He's going to rehash all this stuff and run the campaign that many people have wanted Republicans to run for years.

    Check out his latest ad, which draws the line directly to Bill Clinton the rapist.

    But he's so much more than that.  And Hillary is relevant to this, because she has covered for him for all these years.  She participated in the silencing of Juanita Broadrick.  Rather than being a champion of women in the #waronwomen, she is, as Kathleen Willey (another woman Bill Clinton sexually assaulted) described, "The war on women."

    Bill Clinton was impeached because of his lies during the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.  This while he was playing hide-the-cigar with Monica Lewinski.  Most of these things are well know to anyone over 40.  But a large chunk of the electorate have never known that Hillary Clinton was the fixer to Bill's sexual peccadilloes over his career.  To be so close to power required great sacrifice from Hillary and it still does.

    Even now, Bill Clinton is a frequent visitor to something those on the right have been calling "Pedophile Island."  This is the private island owned by convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

    Read all about Epstein here.  Suffice to say, Epstein likes 'em young, and enjoyed peddling his wares to his rich and famous friends, who also included...

    Former US President Bill Clinton.  Flight logs for Epstein's private Boeing 727 show that Clinton traveled on it over 26 times.  At least 5 times the Secret Service was not on board.

    This will not be reported in the media that most people read.  You won't see this in the left-wing Facebook news feed. and certainly not in the mainstream media.  They don't want anyone to know this is going on.

    Now you know.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2016

    Erick Erickson on Trump and Faith

    Read Erick Erickson's post today if you want to get a feel for Trump, the "Christian."

    I think Erickson dwells on past indiscretions, which I know God will forgive (if Trump sought forgiveness, which, by his own admission, he has not), so I would forgive willingly, but otherwise, his points are valid and worth considering.

    As for me, Trump thinks he can play the part of a Jesus follower, because he knows the words (the best words), and someone is whispering in his ear, "This is what The Evangelicals want to hear."  Unlike George W. Bush, who I knew was sincere when he said "It will change your life" with respect to accepting God's Grace, Trump has no conception (or intention?) of this.  Maybe he never listened in Church, maybe no one ever shared the Good News with him, maybe he's just too arrogant to accept that there is a God who holds dominion over him.  Who knows.  I hope someone can lead him to the Lord, and he'll accept willingly, but for now, folks, his words are not the words of a man who follows or has accepted Christ as his savior.  They are just not the right words.

    Still, that is not a requirement to be president of the United States.

    What is important is, just as Trump is playing the caricature of a conservative, he is also playing that of a Christian.  In so doing, he defiles both.

    I'd prefer honesty from Trump.  Don't read to me from "Two Corinthians" or tell me how beautiful your Easter Church is and expect me to buy your con. Especially when you can't even complete the con and say you've asked God for forgiveness for even one thing, much less for your sinful soul.   This is how egotistical this man is.  He sees the trappings of Christianity and tries to play into them, but on the core of the religion, his ego prevents him from even completing his own con game.  Sad.

    This isn't advice to Trump, as I know he's immune to it.  But for others, try honesty.  I don't care if you're irreligious or atheist or agnostic, if you respect the Constitution's protections for religious freedom and are prepared to support and defend them, that's all I care about.  I think religious people who care about their freedoms would also understand.

    Honest atheists/agnostics like Penn Teller and Charles C.W. Cooke are examples of people who I would be perfectly happy defending religious freedom.

    Con man Donald Trump, does not inspire confidence. 

    But YOU, Dear Reader, you go right ahead and vote for him.

    Monday, May 23, 2016

    Vote for Trump if You Must. Just Don't Expect Me To

    I can give one good, concrete reason to vote for Donald Trump: He's not Hillary Clinton.

    If you are of the mind, like Peter Robinson, that Hillary is evil, and that this is a binary election where you only have two choices, I can respect the decision to take what you think is the lesser evil, and go with Trump.

    Just do it with eyes wide open.  You don't know what you're getting, and you may (indeed, I think you absolutely will) get something much different than you bargained for.

    If that's all you want out of this post, to get my rationalization for why it's ok for YOU to vote for Trump, stop reading.  That part of the post is over.

    The next are some of the reasons I find Trumo unpalatable, and why I am unlikely to pull the lever for him.  I'll caveat that as a Georgia voter, Trump will either not need my vote, because he's going to win Georgia handily, or, a vote for him will be a futile gesture, because he's losing so badly.  Yes, that makes sticking to principle easier for me.  The joys of geography.

    What makes Trump so awful?

    1. He's not a conservative.  I am a conservatarian.  I grew up in a conservative family.  We read National Review.  Witness was a book displayed in my home.  Ronald Reagan was the greatest president we ever saw.  As I got older, I leaned a little more libertarian, but in the classical sense, not in the pot-smoking Gary Johnson sense.

      Trump is not conservative.  He's alien to conservatism.  He does not speak of Freedom, or the Constitution.  He seems not to understand what makes America great, only that it should be great.  Donald Trump will not "make America great again," because he doesn't understand what makes us great to begin with.

      Being anti-immigration, anti-trade, and parroting the caricature of conservatism doesn't make you one.  Trump's not, and I am.  Period
    2. He's intellectually lazy.   The guy could have studied the issues and brought a knowledge of the issues to the GOP primary and still have been outspoken and outrageous.  He chose instead to be a boob.   He doesn't even understand the nuclear triad, which has been the cornerstone of deterrence for almost 60 years now.  He seems to think he can just say something is going to happen, like wipe out gun free zones and 20 minutes later it'll be so.  He thinks he can get things done by executive fiat not because he wishes to flaunt the Constitution, but because he seems ignorant of its protections against such thing.
    3. The alt-right.  In case you don't know, the alt-right is those group of anti-semitic, racists, xenophobes who you often associate with Nazis.  These people are the scum of the earth and they see in Trump a sort of saviour for their White Nationalism.  His refusal to disavow these people is troubling, and their behavior online is that of people I do not wish to be associated with.  I wonder if these people know his daughter is a convert to Judaism?
    4. Shifting positions.  Don't like one of Trump's positions?  Doesn't matter, in his transformation from businessman donating to Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, to faux conservative, he's taken pretty much every position on every issue.  Of course, he's been steadfast in his love of Planned Parenthood and that they do great things.
    5. Fake Christianity.  Come on, this is the guy who's grandmother like to read from Two Corinthians and who's Easter Message, instead of being about the Grace of God and the Miracle of the Resurrection, was about how beautiful the Church was he was attending on Easter Sunday.  And this is a man wooing evangelicals while claiming he's never asked God for forgiveness.
    6. The Childish Behavior.  I like the idea of giving his opponents nicknames to define them, but lets agree that he's wiffed on Bernie and Elizabeth Warren.  Bernie should be "Bat Shit Crazy Bernie" and if he had half an ear attumed to conservatives, he'd drill in Fauxcahontas for the fake Indian.  These aren't bothersome so much as his fixation with his own hand size, and really, did we need a Presidential candidate lecturing us at a debate about the size of his manhood?  Really?
    7. Do you need more?  Ok, this was the coup de grace for me was when he suggested that he'd order the military to murder the wives and children of terrorists, and that "Yes, they'll do it."  Because, well, Trump.
    These are just in my memory.  If I did any actual research (see the masthead), I could probably get 20 reasons why this clown is not my pick and unlikely to get my vote.  Feel free to call me names, or whatever, I really don't care.  Trumpkins created this monster you own him.

    Sunday, May 22, 2016

    Libya v. Iran - Hillary as Failure

    Hillary is going to make her foreign policy "experience" a centerpiece of the Fall campaign.

    You'll see all manner of commercials about how she's "ready to lead" and "has been there" and all sorts of things like that.

    One of the signal "accomplishments" of the Hillary term at the State Department is the Libyan exercise.  We are told it was largely Hillary who pushed the Obama administration into the large role we took in Libya.

    Based largely on her instincts, we took out a dictator for sure (Gaddafi) who had previously been unfriendly to us, but in the aftermath of the Iraq war, had dismantled nuclear programs and decided to ameliorate his stance towards terrorism.  In other words, Gaddafi had looked around at what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, and decided he didn't want to be next.

    Contrast that to another country run by autocrats, Iran.

    When the Green Revolution broke out in 2009, the Obama administration stood by the Mullahs, rather than support the rebels in this cause.  Many believe they did this because Obama sought a nuclear arrangement with them, and didn't want the chaos.

    Sometimes you have to pick the bully you want to side with because it's in your country's best interest, and sometimes you have to let "your" guy go, gambling on your long term interest.  It's hard at the time to know, but, results are in, and we chose wrong on both these occasions.

    These are not Hillary Clinton "accomplishments."

    Judged by results, these are failures.  And we're not even into the Russian "Reset", Benghazi, or how Egypt was handled.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2016

    Trump: Please say no (or Nyet?)

    Ok folks, Donald Trump has now become a Kennedy assassination conspiracist, linking Ted Cruz's father to it:

    "Donald Trump on Tuesday alleged that Ted Cruz’s father was with John F. Kennedy’s assassin shortly before he murdered the president, parroting a National Enquirer story claiming that Rafael Cruz was pictured with Lee Harvey Oswald handing out pro-Fidel Castro pamphlets in New Orleans in 1963.

    A Cruz campaign spokesperson told the Miami Herald, which pointed out numerous flaws in the Enquirer story, that it was “another garbage story in a tabloid full of garbage.”

    “His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being -- you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous,” Trump said Tuesday during a phone interview with Fox News. “What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it.”

    "I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting?” Trump continued. “It’s horrible.”

    Seriously people, this man has been a Birther, a 9/11 Truther and now this.

    What's next, UFO's are real and aliens are being harbored by the government?

    Donald Trump is a batshit crazy man, and those of you who support him deserve the shellacking he's going to get, and good.

    The GOP may survive and return in full force in 2018, after 2 years of Democrat rule and the disastrous Hillary administration.  I guess I'll just have to hold my nose until then, unless the GOP voters wake up and start taking corrective action tonight in Indiana.

    Like many, I agree if Trump wins Indiana, it's basically over, barring a miracle.  

    Sunday, May 1, 2016

    The Top 1% Strike Back

    Recently, a Facebook meme was running around of a dog riding a turtle's back.  I likened it to Bernie Sanders' America, where the freeloaders ride the working man.

    Of course, someone decided the freeloaders were the top 1%.

    I asked, at what percentage do people stop being freeloaders to the Sanders supporters.  Is it acceptable to be in the top 10% of American earners?  The top 20%?  Seriously, where is the line so the Sanders proletariat will not come and trash your home and demand your earnings be redistributed to them (ostensibly)?

    (In case you're wondering, CNN has a handy chart here so you can place yourself on the graph).

    This got me thinking.  I know we're not in the top 1%, but, where is my family on the continuum (answer, between 10 and 20%) and how did we get there, and how do I feel about it.

    So, here's our story.  I am not ashamed that we're not in the 1%, nor do I have any aspirations to be, and maybe that explains better than anything else ever could why we are not.

    We are, however, in the top 20% and that's not a bad place to be.  It allows my famuly, and most American families to live comfortably, put kids through college, and have lots of other fine choices.  You never go hungry, you can afford premium cable AND Netflix, and you can send your kids to private schools if you wish.  That may take some sacrifice (back to basic cable!) for some families, but, the choice is there.  The top 20%, yes, is a good place to be.

    It's not without its drawbacks.  I am sure many families, like mine, worry abotu what happens if the primary breadwinner has something happen.  A layoff, an injury, an illness that precludes working anymore.  I expect many in this category don't have a great deal of non-retirement savings, or if they do, that it would stretch the one to two years that most financial advisors recommend.  In that way, even people in the top 20% are somewhat at risk of financial calamity.

    Still, I'd rather be here, financially, then the bottom 20%.  Those in the top 20% are making about 5x what those in the bottom are.  Whether it buys happiness, I don't think so.  Just some security.

    For those Sanderites who might think I got here on the backs of the "working man," let me explain that my family did this by having 2 breadwinners for most of the time, and for myself, I have worked 2 jobs for 30 years.  Sadly, one of those is forcing me to retire next year.  So, we'll be losing that income source, which is sad.  Still, in my full time job, I have worked 9, 10, 11 hour days for 25 years, with some shift work in there early on.  I've always enjoyed what I do, but in my industry, it's a somewhat tumultuous time, so, security has been a little wanting for the last 10 years or so.  Still, we've thrived.

    What would it take to get into that top 1%.  Well, if there are willing working men for me to climb over, I have yet to spot them.  Maybe the Sanders crowd can point me to those people.  They make it seem like it's so easy to get into the top 1%, you just need some wiling dupes to hand you their money...or something.

    I've worked in Corporate America for 25 years now,  and I know some of the executives are in that top 1% (>$430k/year).  I'll agree that these people don't always seem like the greatest leaders to me, but they have done things and been willing to do things, that I have not, and even though I'm pretty arrogant, I am willing to admit they are probably smarter than me.  But, I'll tell you one thing I know they are more than me - willing to take risks. When we talk about the super rich in this group, the Bill Gates', the Zuckerbergs, Elon Musk, Warran Buffet, etc, what they all share is a willingness to bet everything on an idea, on their faith in their own ability.  It is a rare quality and it is something that sets the 1% apart from the rest of us.  Many of us down here in the top 10-20% possess all the same intellect, much the same schooling, and even the same hopes and dreams, but what we aren't willing to do is risk it all.

    Many of these people fail, and spectacularly, but they try again, and in their success, they don't step on working people, they lend them a hand, by creating successful businesses that enable the working guy to earn enough money, to go to school, to learn, to put themselves in a position to risk it all, and join them.

    So, I'm sick and tired of hearing about the top 1% and income inequality.

    Instead of being envious of people willing to take risks, why don't you try joining them, or benefitting directly from them, instead of stealing from them,

    Just about #nevertrump

    I have come very close to being in the #nevertrump camp, and my hope is that Trump does not get to 1237 delegates before he convention and that his high water mark is on the first ballot, when he fails to garner a majority.

    After that, I pray the delegates wise up and consider nominees who are:
    1. Not Trump and
    2. Not Kasich and 
    3. Electable
    I like Ted Cruz, I love that he's tabbed Carly Fiorina, one of my early choices, to be his running mate, should he get the nomination, but, Ted's negative numbers in the general electorate, while not in the Trump stratosphere, are bad.

    So, unbound, I am hopeful the GOP convention delegates will look for a compromise candidate, someone like a governor with some decent name recognition who wasn't pummeled by Donald Trump as low energy.  So, I will be just fine with Scott Walker, who was my absolute FIRST choice, or Rick Perry.  

    Either of these guys will do, and I might even say - let Trump pick the VP candidate as a consolation prize.

    Sure, this shuts out Cruz from the ticket, but he's going to replace Scalia anyway.

    Your thoughts?

    Tuesday, April 5, 2016

    The Rantings of a Mad Man

    Why does the LGBTQ lobby insist in bashing the religious whenever they trot out their "equal rights" memes?

    The Constitution guarantees equal rights under the law for all Americans. Then, the SCOTUS added a right of "dignity" to justify same-sex marriage across the land. It would have happened anyway, state-by-state, but ok, they cut to the chase. 

    We were told by this lobby that was all they wanted - the right to marry and most of us were just fine with that and really saw this as a great opportunity to remove the state's monopoly on the marriage business. After all, why should some county clerk be the person who approves of my marriage?

    But, as so often happens with the Left, they lied. 

    They're interested in marriage equality, to be sure, but a good number of this lobby seem interested in retribution.

    Even the mildest of attempts to provide legal protections to the religious - in Indiana, NC, Georgia were either  watered down to useless or defeated altogether because just making it illegal for states to deny marriage to same sex couples isn't enough. Church's must allow their clergy to officiate, they must allow their property to be used in these ceremonies, or risk fines, jail time, or greater monetary damages at the hands of the police power of the state.

    I unfriended someone yesterday because a post on her timeline equated the religious to nazi's. This is the nature of debate with doctrinaire liberals. You'd think after 25 years of engaging them, I'd just laugh when the Nazi comparisons start. Want to see modern day Nazi's? Just travel to the Middle East and see what they do with women and gays.  Oh wait, the unfollowed one did this and came back impressed at how much the Saudi's respect women! By cracky, they keep them separated from men and veiled to protect them. Listen, honey, I didn't comment then, but that is serious Kool-Aid right there. The person who believes this is a huge gay rights person here, in the safety of her Constitutionally protected free speech zone. Call me when you or your brother are defending gay rights in Iran, ok? That's when I'll remove my block. 

    But, I digress. 

    I am sick and tired of this crap from this group. You will not win over the hearts and minds of the majority of people with these hateful tactics. 

    Like Trumpkins, I am convinced you can't be reasoned with. Your hatred of religion and/or those who don't share your pieties is palpable . It disgusts me. Therefore YOU disgust me and I have no need of disgusting people. 

    Except to bash them as the Freedom hating fascists they are, or hope to be. Call it cathartic. 

    YOU need to consider that the desire for vengeance that these groups have is unhealthy for you and for this country. 

    It will be the end of us and Trump is only the first giant symptom screaming "we want our country back." He may be beaten back, because many of his natural supporters (like me) find him so unacceptable.  Unlike you liberal fascists, we don't think the answer to Fascism is our own Fascist leader. It would be ideal to return the nation to First Principles. And soon. 

    But keep down this path, and there will come a leader who is acceptable to this mass of people who are also, like me, sick and tired, and that leader may be able to seduce enough of us to win.

    Either that is going to happen or this country is simply going to divide. And the American experiment will have died with it. 

    I take no pleasure in that statement.  It saddens me that for many reasons we are seeing the end of the country.  We were the indispensable country and I am proud to have been part of it that defeated communism and freed so many across the globe from the tyranny of despots. It should be no surprise that the freest today are the former Eastern European countries, as they know best the iron fist of totalarianism.

    Sunday, April 3, 2016

    Where did some prominent journalists go to school

    Journos and schools
    Lester holt - California state university

    Scott Pelley - Texas Tech

    David Muir - Ithaca college

    Bret Baier - Depauw

    Brit Hume - Virginia

    Woodward- Yale

    Gene Roberts - classmate of my father at UNC

    Ben Bradlee - Harvard

    Carl Bernstein - Maryland

    Steve Kroft -Syracuse and Columbia 

    Lara Logan - University of Natal (S Africa)

    Morley Safer - U of Western Ontario

    Leslie Stahl - Wheaton

    Bill Whitaker - Hobart College

    Anderson Cooper - Yale

    Sanjay Gupta - Michigan

    Norah o'Donnell - Georgetown

    Charlie Rose - Duke

    Sharon Alfonsi - Mississippi

    Howard Kurtz - University of Buffalo/Columbia

    Wolf Blitzer - Buffalo/JHU

    Chuck Todd - GW

    Snuffuloppulus - Columbia

    Raddatz - drop out Utah

    Brian Williams - GW (better check that)

    Fineman - Colgate (Columbia)

    O'Reilly - Marist/Boston U/Harvard

    Maddow - Stanford 

    Megyn Kelly - Syracuse

    Friedman - Minnesota

    Maureen Dowd - Catholic U

    George Will - Trinity College (Princeton)

    Sunday, December 13, 2015

    Scalia: A Big Fat Giant Racist

    Oh, I meant Michael Moore.
    Seems the Internet is abuzz a little about statements Antonin Scalia made during a recent Supreme Court hearing on the University of Texas' use of race as a factor in admissions. 
    From the LA Times:
    Scalia was addressing Gregory Garre, a lawyer for the University of Texas, who was defending the university’s policy of counting race as one factor in a “holistic” review of applicants (which also includes factors such as extracurricular activities, socioeconomic background and “hardships overcome”).
    “There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to -- to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less -- a slower-track school where they do well.”
    You can read that entire editorial, here, as it attempts to explain to the terminally lazy, what was actually being discussed here.

    Those (a lot of them black kids who have done quite well at very hard schools) have taken on Scalia’s questioning (in an annoying hashtag campaign, ugh!) in an effort to point out (correctly) 1)that many black and disadvantaged kids do quite well at tough schools, while being an (incorrect) participant in the Progressive meme that 2)Scalia is a racist and 3)that affirmative action is the only remedy keeping blacks from beign relegated to awful, predominantly black universities.

    The first part of that is laudably correct and I applaud these smart, successful children of color for going to bat for their race and for also being role models for others in their community.  Those voices are needed and if they inspire anyone to stick it to “the man” (represented by Scalia, if that’s what they want to do), then I applaud them.  Trotting out the exceptions to the rule, however, forgets that WE.ARE.NOT.TALKING.ABOUT.THEM. 

    We’re talking about the average and below average kids.  More later.

    The second part (racist Scalia!) is truly unknowable.  Unless you KNOW Antonin Scalia, you really can’t judge his heart and whether he’s racist.  This line of questioning, being as it is, a lawyerly effort to seek out answers to the questions that will be debated in this case, is not evidence of racism.  SO sorry, Progs, but it isn’t.  I know how much you hate Scalia and Thomas, but, just STOP.
    Item 3 is really what we should be discussing. 
    There is a school of thought, the “Mismatch Theory” and you can read more about this elsewhere, but friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed in this case in support of the Mismatch Theory.  In a nutshell, it contends that generally, African-American kids admitted to schools under race-based quotas and admission requirements, tend to have less successful outcomes than those not admitted under those circumstances and that kids with similar academic backgrounds who attend lower-tier schools have better outcomes.

    Without getting too much into what the Progressive Left considers a wildly controversial subject, let’s consider for a moment that if a kid admitted this way enters Georgia Tech and wants to be an Aeronautical Engineer, but because Tech does a highly effective job in weeding out the week from its Engineering programs (mainly through Freshman Calculus and Physics as I recall), and that kid decides after a year of stress and bad grades, to transfer over to UGA and become a Sociology major, that certainly doesn’t serve the cause of having a minority pursue a career in STEM, does it?  As sciency as sociology is, the world needs more Physics majors, not more social workers.  Mismatch Theory would suggest that if that kid had gone to say, Southern Poly (or Auburn or Clemson) and studied AE there, he would do just fine at those lower tier schools and exit with an AE degree and not just pursue his actual dream, but be given the full chance of success at it.  And, also do it in a reasonable amount of time, saving himself, or the taxpayers, or granters, or whoever is paying the bills.

    So, if you Progs want to debate that theory, and the implications of it, then let’s have that debate.  But leave the personal attacks out of it.  IK know that’ll be hard for you, since personal attacks are part of the Alinsky (and thus, your) playbook, but I’ll stop you when you devolve to that.

    Sunday, November 29, 2015

    Michael Moore - Poster Boy of Progressivism

    My bride showed me a Facebook link that one of the women I dared to unfriend me on Facebook posted from fat load Michael Moore over Thanksgiving.  

    If you asked me to create a caricature of the modern day Progressive, I suppose it'd be a toss up between Michael Moore and Al Gore, 2 fat cats who made their fortunes pushing their failure of an ideology on the gullible. Both got rich, and apparently, obese, at the expense of others.  In his defense, Moore came by his incredible wealth and position in the top half of one percent somewhat honestly.  He's a gifted documentarian, willing to bend the truth to suit his agenda, and he's made millions of dollars.  Good for him, I don't begrudge him one cent of it.

    Al Gore, a little less so.  As Ann Richards (God bless her soul) might say, Al was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and has parlayed his incoherent environmental advocacy into a cottage industry that is making him rich - and will make him richer if the climate mullahs win.

    I choose Moore as the progressive caricature.  First, there's the fat thing.  I love that this big giant, obese, lardass is lecturing Americans in the bottom 99.5% about their excesses.  Seriously.

    Then, there's the several homes that he owns.  How many of you guys have 7 homes, and a primary residence worth over $2M?  I think it's great that he's a homeowner, but come on, is this the height of liberal hypocrisy?

    No, because Moore is also a huge gun control guy.  Except, of course, when it comes to him.  http://www.examiner.com/article/anti-gun-crusader-michael-moore-s-bodyguard-carries-a-gun

    He's entitled to armed security and to even carry himself.  He's an American citizen and a target.  I recommend to him that he take appropriate measures to protect himself.  But, Mikey, STFU telling an inner city single mom, who might be threatened by her ex boyfriend that she can't carry a gun to protect herself because you don't like guns.

    These are just a few, I could go on.  He's created completely dishonest documentaries on the Iraq War, Cuba, even Roger and Me, that started it all, is patently dishonest.  His methods, fine. But let's stipulate that much of what Moore "documents" is fiction.

    I do have some caution for any of you who listened to his thanksgiving message.  If you believe Progressivism is winning because there's a black president, gay marriage is legal, and marijuana is legal, and according to Moore 81% of the electorate will be women, minorities or people 18-34 (which are incorrect figures, but whatever) you need to look at some more objective data.

    How about this:
    In the age of Obama, Republicans hold 30 governorships, the majority of statehouses, and have won literally hundreds more down ballot races.
    The US house is in a period what will remain dominant republican control for years (sorry, Rachel Maddown fans, it's not gerrymandering, it's the country), and Obama's awesomeness led to an historic wipe out for Dem senators in 2014.

    Gay marriage was won because you convinced a single robed idiot that there's some new right of "dignity."

    Marijuana legalization has been a libertarian item for longer than Moore has been fat.  That bulwark of modern liberalism, National Review was calling for legalization before Bill Buckley could be grossed out by Michael Moore and back when Al Gore's dad was voting against the Civil Rights Act.

    You climate change agenda is laughed at. Abortions are actually in decline, and your coalition of interest groups is eating themselves.

    Your presumed presidential nominee is a brain damaged, old geezer, drunkard crony capitalist who's husband takes in $500k per speech from whatever Middle Eastern potentate will fork it over for influence peddling.

    We may not have beaten Obama in 2008/2012, but our party is the one with a black man, a white woman, two Latino candidates in our presidential pool, and 2 Indian-American Governors, one Latina governor, the single black senator, and we didn't have to buy these people with cash from the federal teat.

    Some of my more strident friends may find me a little too establishment, but, I like where the GOP sits. At least there are some principled politicians within it unwilling to sell out their souls to keep their hands in the levers of power.

    That, my friends, is what progressives do.

    Sunday, September 20, 2015

    Ben Carson: No Muslims in WH

    Ben Carson says:

    "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that."
    And the AP adds, "He did not specify in what way Islam ran counter to constitutional principles."

    This is what we used to describe in nuclear power school as "intuitively obvious to even the most casual observer."

    The problem with Bernie...

    Kirsten Powers says Bernie Sanders is going to have problems expanding his appeal once the Democratic primaries move from the predominantly "white, liberal" areas to the South.

    And that, folks, is the problem with Socialism, the only people who can afford it are white liberals.

    Carly on FNS today

    Just watched Chris Wallace's short segment with Carly Fiorina on FNS.

    I make no secret, she and Rubio are my current two choices for the GOP nomination (with the fading Walker as my 3rd choice), but today I wasn't thrilled with 2 of her answers to Wallace.

    On the question about the "fact checking" of the CMP planned parenthood videos, I think her answer is fine for a low information voter, but I don't think she's harmed by saying:

    "I stand it.  The video is clear in what is described and what is shown, and I challenge anyone, especially Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, to watch the actual video to defend these practices. Period."

    When confronted with the "PP does all these other wonderful things, do you NOT want women to get these essential services?" or some-such gibberish, I'd just like this simple answer:

    "There are thousands of women health services across this country who can, and do, perform these services.  What I would like to see is the $500 million of taxpayer money that goes to Planned Parenthood, and, make no mistake, allows them to remain the nation's largest abortion mill, instead go to those other women's health services who provide only services that serve the woman's health and doesn't murder an unborn son or daughter."

    Much more difficult for her is going to be the defense of her record at HP.  Everyone wants to point to Romney and say that even acknowledged outstanding business leaders (and there can be no doubt that Romney was this) can't be elected because the Dems will use their tenure as a cudgel against them.  This line of thinking would eliminate every businessperson who has ever made any tough decisions from pursuing public office, and is wrong headed and should be resisted.  I actually think this is the entire political class (not just Dems) likes this lien of reasoning, for obvious reasons.

    I think Romney was so dumbfounded by it that he let the attacks against him stand.  The Romney campaign did many things to lose the election, but his business experience had less to do with it than the 47% remark and trying to coast after he cleaned Obama's clock in debate #1.

    That aside, Carly has to make a more spirited defense of her record as CEO of HP.  The core charge seems to be that HP's stock lost value, and she responds, correctly, that most tech companies stock lost value in the tech bust that wasn't recovered for 15 years.  Then they point to the firing, and she needs to turn this into a positive.

    One thing the business world does that the public world does not, is hold people accountable when they don't live up to expectations.  I'd like to see Carly just flat out say tat she fought the board at HP and the board won and showed her the door.  That's the way it works in the business world.  Even if you do great things, where she can weave in her standard awesome growth things she did for HP,  if you don't satisfy your management, you get fired.

    That's incredibly different from the  government, where incompetence seems to get you promoted, or at least protected, in the case of say...Hillary Clinton.

    Say that having experienced this, she would bring that worldview to a Fiorina Administration.  Unlike President Obama, if you fail to deliver services to Veterans, if 4 Americans, including an Ambassador, are murdered on your watch, if you're using the tax power of the United States to harass opposition in a Fiorina administration, you are going to be called to answer for that by President Fiorina and you are going to be fired, just like she was.

    Now, get me my bumper sticker before I switch to Rubio.

    Saturday, August 29, 2015

    Grover Norquist's Influence on Department of Education Spending

    Someone mentioned in a Fecesbook thread I was on that Grover Norquist once famously declared he'd like to cut the federal budget in half and cut it again, so that it could be strangled in a bathtub.

    This was said in relaton to a discussion about education, implying that conservatives want to cut education spending via this method, and somehow deny everyone in the country a chance at a K-12 education.

    In that context, there are many things wrong with equating anything Grover Norquist says to education spending, with just a couple of them being:

    1. He was talking Federal spending, not at the state and local level where the vast. vast. vast majority of spending on education occurs.
    2. The statement, as inviting as it may be as red meat to conservatives, just doesn't pass the historical reality test.

    Let's use just one, relevant to the discussion, test.  That will be federal outlays to the Department of Education.  Since that's the only Federal spending that Norquist could realistically hope to cut in the education realm, how have conservatives been doing on the quest to cut this spending by half, then by half again?

    I mean, to listen to liberals, we must be gutting the Department, since teacher pay is so low and student outcomes are so bad. That's the only explanation, isn't it? Dastardly Republicans, cutting education spending on the backs of teachers and well meaning administrators country wide?  That's got to be it, right????


    So, just for fun, the US Department of Education publishes every year a history of their budgets, conveniently (for me) in Excel and PDF format!

    In 1980 (this would have been Carter's last year), the DOE appropriated budget was $14.01B.  The next 8 budgets would have been that bastard Reagan, who we all knew hated poor people, was a dunce (and felt education was unnecessary) and gave all those Rich People tax cuts.  What did DOE's budget look like in say, 1989, Reagan's last budget year?

    It was $22.9B. What?  That's more than a 50% increase from when he entered office.  What happened, was Reagan possessed by some crazy Liberal demon?  What would Gorver Norquist say?  Was Reagan an apostate to Norquist for this increase?  I don't know, we can actually say that in 2 of Reagan's budget years the DOE budget decreased, but...there is an explanation for these.

    The 1982 budget saw a very tiny decrease, and that was at the height of the 1979-1982 recession.  1986 saw a slight reduction, and that was a result of the Gramm-Hollings-Rudman budget control act, which instituted mandatory cuts.  The bottom line is in 1989, federal spending at DOE had increased over 50% in Reagan's time.

    If you're a conservative who was this sell-out?

    What happened in Bush 1's term?

    By 1993, Bush 1 had increased DOE to $32.5B.  Holy shit, in just 4 years, Bush 1 had increased DOE's budget another 50%.  I guess viewed in this light, Reagan really was a budget cutter!

    Clinton, 94-01 budget years.  What happened?  In 1994, Clinton's first full budget year, and a year before the Gingrich congressional takeover, DOE spending decreased!  Yes, down to $27B.  An almost 20% reduction, under Clinton.  Amazingly, after that (and I think it's with the GOP Congress to help with this) during the next few years, DOE's budget grew, but at a much slower pace than the Reagan/Bush years  In 2000, if was $38.5B, which was only about a 20% growth rate in the next 6 years.  However, in his final budget, and with a chastened GOP, the 2001 budget was $42.1B, so Clinton increased it by only 30%.  So, compared to Reagan and Bush 1, Clinton was a draconian education cutter.

    Now, Bush 2.  What did the guy who came in as the Education President, who gave us "no Child Left behind" with Tedy Kennedy, do?

    Take a guess the increase just from Clinton's last budget of 2001 of $42.1B to 2002, Bush 2's first.

    Go ahead, guess, just guess.

    Ok, you ready for this, in ONE YEAR, DOE's spend went up to $56.2B.  Got that?  The horrible Repiglican, education-hating W, INCREASED DOE's budget by 34% IN ONE YEAR.

    He wasn't done yet.  By FY2008, his next to last year, it was up to $64.9B.  So, in W's tenure, we saw DOE's budget increase 54%.

    From here, it's a little complicated.

    Reality hit and with the 2009 recession, we got a Congressional appropriation for the DOE of just $40M, so a significant cut.  In fact, a cut down to the 2002 level.  However, the 2009 Recovery Act came to the rescue, and we saw an additional appropriation of $98.2B to the DOE.  Ok, so get that - in a recession year, Obama and the Dems in Congress allocated a total of $138B to DOE, a more than 100% increase from the year before, which represented an historic spend itself.

    Interestingly, in this time the states were actually reducing their education budgets, since in the recession they were forced to meet state constituional reaquirements for balanced budgets, and they couldn't deficit spend to keep their bloated education budgets aflot.

    But, at the federal level, it was an education spendfest.

    Where is Grover Norquist at this time?  The guy probably was contemplating suicide.

    Anyway, in 2010, we returned to just normal excess and the 2010 budget went to $63B, which was slightly less than the last real Bush budget in 2008.

    After 2010, though, we elected a Republican Congress, and you may recall the Tea Party was focused on fiscal concerns, and we had Harry Reid governing us by continuing resolution, so, now, we got some fiscal reality handed to DOE.  In nearly every year prior to this, the DOE had received from Congress an amount close to what the president had requested, but in 2011, Congress cut DOE significantly, from the 2010 level (Pelosi's last year as Speaker) to $44B.  That's an unheard of cut, and you can thank the GOP Congress for that, it's nearly 30%. And that level of cutting continued, through 2013, when DOE got just $40B.

    Grover Norquist would be proud.  He had gotten, finally, the first half of that strangling, at least at DOE.

    All good things, though, must end, and in 2014, the profligacy continued, as the appropriation went back to $55.3B.  And in 2015, our current budget year, the DOE is getting...$87.4B.  And guess what, even with a Reublican controlled Congress, that's more than Obama even asked for ($82.3B)!

    In the 2016 budget, Obama has "only" requested $73.8B, so, we'll see what the new GOP congress does with that.  If they give Obama every penny he wants, it will be about a 12% reduction.  I doubt it, though, with these clowns, I expect we'll see a $100B DOE budget for FY2016.

    So, in the 35 years of the department of education, it's budget has grown from $14B to $87.4B, a 625% growth.  To put it into perspective, that's double the inflation rate.

    So, are the Republicans gutting the DOE to cut the size of government?

    Demonstrably, with the exception of a couple of years during DEMOCRAT presidencies, they have been woefully, horribly, terribly unsuccesful at such a thing.

    It makes one think Grover Norquist's ability as a shaper of Repulican party politics is the thing of myth, and Liberal talking points, not of reality.

    Thursday, July 23, 2015

    "Managing" is not "Leading:" a small case study from everyday business

    Here's a little story that illustrates to me the difference between leading and managing.  I will say up front it is told from my perspective, so I may not have some of the information that was available to the decision maker in this, but I can say unequivically, that this leader did not seek out additional information I possessed, so that is a strike against him.

    The story...

    I lead an effort across our company to replace users' PCs.  We have about 6000 to be replaced over a 3-4 year period and the replaced machines are very old.  We struggle financially, so this was delayed and the machines have become quite aged.  But, everyone is in the same boat, and when we did get some money in 2015 to start large scale updates, we started from oldest to newest.  It's fair, and given the age, the old ones had to go first.

    We also have over 100 locations throughout the US, so those replacements are scattered, so that entire offices do not get replaced en masse.  Therefore, you could get a new PC and be working next to a guy with a 3 year old machine.  I am sure this is common across companies with 5000+ employees.

    In all companies, you have people with PC envy.  Ours is no different, and we have a particular pair of managers, who shall remain nameless, who at the very beginning of this effort made every effort to get included at the beginning, despite their machines being among the newest of the old.  Their machines were not slated for replacement until 2016 and to move them ahead of about 2500 people was patently unfair, not to mention pulling 2016 budget into 2015, a technical no-no, though something that would be no big deal for a couple of people. My manager and I resisted and these manager's VP even agreed and helped provide cover for us and this ceased after a while as they accepted their lot in life.

    Note that in this, never did these guys express much concern for their 20 or so direct reports, suffering along with similarly aged equipment.  No, it was always about them personally.  So, I won't say what I think of these two as leaders in this case.

    Fast forward now a few months.

    Our team has moved into a new organization, with a new VP and C level ourselves and lo and behold if these guys haven't found the correct pressure point. Within a week of this occurring, we're told to provide these 2 and 4 other managers new PCs.  When we resist, the rationale is that they're ahead of quota and this can be looked at as a reward and not special treatment of these people.

    Ok, whatever.  This is where my problem with my VP/C level begins.

    You were handed a leadership opportunity here, and you managed instead.

    You could have contacted the two people with the years (yes, years) of experience with this group and talked to us, gotten some deeper understanding and developed a course of action that would represent leading, instead of just managing to close a problem.

    We could have asked the questions, if the team is doing so well, why just reward the 6 managers in this team?  The other 24 people are in the same boat, and arguably, they have more to do with the results than these 6 managers.  Why is it fair for these people to walk in with brand new PCs and the others to be told they're continung to wait until 2016?  Perhaps you could have challenged these managers and proposed replacing the other 24 first, that it would be a great leadership example to say, "You did a great job, lool what we're doing with our IT partners, getting YOU the new hardware you deserve, and when you're done, then we managers will take our turn."

    You could have done that, or even lobbied for the entire group.

    Instead you bowed to the pressure provided and caved,  Instantly.

    Then justified it based on the reasoning they provided.

    In any organization, not just the military, leaders have to be responsive and accepting of forceful backup, willingly provided.  But first, they have to seek it and consider it.

    That was not done in this case, and I find it's really rarely done at all.

    It's sad.

    This was a lost opportunity at leadership, and albeit a relatively small one, but, it speaks volumes to me.