Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Really Gay

A nice liberal columnist as finally defined what it means to be "really gay". Apparently it involves sending lurid IM messages to underage boys. Not ALL that surprising, since as was pointed out, for at least gay Democrat members of the House of Representatives it also involved having sex with underage boys AND keeping your job for over twenty years.

Leonard Pitts lays it all out for us here. You see Republicans and the "religious right" hate gays because they don't want gay marriage. I guess that is sort of like hating business if you want higher taxes, or hating security for Americans if you want lower military spending. We all know that Democrats and the MSM are totally on board with those ideas, so their views on thinking of gays and gay marriage are totally warranted.

He also points out that Republicans only like blacks that "don't remind anyone they are black". I guess that is sort of like Abdul Jabbar failing to remind people he is tall when he walks into a room. Tallness and being black aren't something apparent, they are much deeper issues. I can only assume that he means that Republicans only like blacks that don't "act black". If pedophilia is part of being gay, I'm wondering what he would require to be certifiably black? Drug use? A criminal record? The mind wanders, but for some reason black people like Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powel just don't meet his definition. It must fail to include intelligence, dedication, character and career success. Pity, those are the kinds of attributes that evil Republicans find to be completely applicable to both gays and blacks.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Foregone Conclusion

In listening to MPR and looking at CNN on the Web, the message is out that "the only way the Republicans can keep control of the House or Senate is if the election is fixed". MPR is positively gleeful that from their polling, virtually every Republican out there including Pawlenty and our local Congressman are going to lose. They can already feel the anticipatory joy of beginning Bush impeachment proceedings.

They may certainly be right, they have used thousands of hours of airtime presenting that the economy is supposed to be bad in the face of record growth GDP, jobs and new market highs. They have presented Iraq as "another Vietnam", even though the casualty figures are an order of magnitude different, and the similarities in most every other way than the media seeing it as "hopeless" are completely DISsimilar. Any sort of Republican ethics issue has been presented as "an example of the corruption of the party", where many similar and worse Democrat issues ($90K of cash in a freezer, Harry Reid with land deals and using campaign funds for "the help") have been barely touched on. The media has fully done their job to fix this election, any allusions of being "even handed" have been fully left behind. It may well be enough.

The following gives another view. It has already been used on the left as "proof that Rove must have a deal with Dibold". I can't help but wonder if some of the certainty hasn't gone too far, and they may be keeping their own base at home because "this election is won for the Democrats". We shall see, even if they win the people that usually end up taking the biggest loss from their policies are the very people that they claim to be helping.

Rove Sees Victory

Karl Rove had lunch with the editors and reporters of the Washington Times yesterday. He apparently exuded confidence:

White House political strategist Karl Rove yesterday confidently predicted that the Republican Party would hold the House and the Senate in next month's elections, dismissing fallout from the sex scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley.

"I'm confident we're going to keep the Senate; I'm confident we're going to keep the House."

Rove said it s "almost impossible" for Democrats to take the Senate; he cited Jim Talent's race in Missouri as one that is moving in the right direction.

Rove's optimism stems in part from the Democrats' dismal record on national security:

"I think they have given us here, especially in the last couple of weeks, a potent set of votes to talk about. You had 90 percent of House Democrats voting against the terrorist-surveillance program, nearly three-quarters of Senate Democrats and 80 percent of House Democrats voting against the terrorist-interrogation act. Something is fundamentally flawed."

Rove also sees Republicans having the financial resources they need for the last three weeks of the campaign; he was confident enough to laugh at some mainstream media reports that exaggerate the Dems' chances:

In the hourlong interview, Mr. Rove was upbeat, telling stories from the campaign trail and joking about skewed political coverage that disproportionately shows Democrats poised to take control of Congress.

Mr. Rove said Republican candidates still hold a huge cash edge over Democrats, which will give them clout in the final three weeks of the campaign.

"This morning, I loved it: The [Associated Press] ran a story saying these Democrat congressional candidates outraised their Republican incumbents in the third quarter. Well, what they didn't say was that part of the reason that they did is that we raised the money earlier so that we'd be able to deploy it," he said.

Rove points out that for most of the undecided voters who will determine the outcome of the election, the campaign has only been going on for around two weeks. He notes that over the next 21 days, Republicans will spend $100 million in targeted House and Senate races.

Rove could be wrong, of course. But I think it is noteworthy that he is not laying the groundwork to deflect blame for defeat by, for example, moaning about the unforeseen consequences of the Foley instant message flap. Instead, he is once again staking his reputation on victory. I find that comforting.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Pirate Looks at 50

While as I commented, Jimmy Buffett isn't very consistent, but I did enjoy the book. It is great that a guy that writes and sings songs, performs, and writes books can create a life as cool as his. Is he really happy? Well it sounds like after a lot of drugs and analysis, and finding a way to finally get along with his second wife, he just may be, at least at a superficial level.

He certainly comes in pretty well on the "he who dies with the most toys wins" scale. Having both a Cessna Citation and a Grumman Albatross is pretty big in the toy department, but it sounds like there are other planes in his private airforce as well. On top of that, houses in Key West, Long Island, Aspen, and it sounds like a Caribbean Island for two. Lack of money and things are not on his list of problems.

It seems that he has discovered a couple of hobbies that he cares about deeply: flying and fishing. He has the resources to be able to pursue those way farther than most people, but he is interested in personally doing well at both of them, and uses the money to help that with guides, co-pilots, training, equipment, etc, but he does get fulfillment out of the accomplishments. He enjoys music, performing, and in many cases the interactions with his fans.

Sort of like the song "Wasting Away in Margaritaville", he pretty much sells escape. The whole Caribbean, Gone Fishing, gone flying, on vacation mentality. He must be a good deal more of a businessman than he lets on, but that is probably part of the deal. To some degree, he IS the product. He is the poster child for the "Jimmy Buffett lifestyle".

The book is well written and fun. While it seems unlikely that the planet could support very many folks living his lifestyle, it is pretty amazing that there is one ... and he doesn't even feel rich!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Top Secret Leak

The following from Michael Barone

The Labor Department Friday announced that the number of jobs increased between April 2005 and March 2006 not by 5.8 million but by 6.6 million. As an editorial in the Wall Street Journal notes, "That's a lot more than a rounding error, more than the entire number of workers in the state of New Hampshire. What's going on here?" The most plausible explanation, advanced by the Journal and by the Hudson Institute's Diana Furchgott-Roth in the New York Sun, is that lots more jobs are being created by small businesses and individuals going into business for themselves than government statisticians can keep track of. Newspaper reports on the number of jobs usually focus on the Labor Department's business establishment survey. But over the past few years, the Labor Department's household survey has consistently shown more job growth than the business establishment survey. The likely explanation: The business establishment survey misses jobs created by new businesses. Our government statistical agencies do an excellent job. But statistics designed to measure the economy of yesterday have a hard time reflecting the economy of tomorrow.

The federal budget deficit has been cut in half in three years, three years faster than George W. Bush called for. Why? Tax receipts were up 5.5 percent in FY 2004, 14.5 percent in FY 2005, and 11.7 percent in FY 2006. That's up 34.9 percent in three years. And that's after the 2003 tax cuts. When you cut taxes, you get more economic activity, and when you get more economic activity, the government with a tax system that is still decidedly progressive gets more revenue.

The bottom line: The private-sector economy is much more robust and creative than mainstream media would have you believe.

Wow, good economic news, now THERE is something that the MSM is REALLY able to keep totally secret. The more I let The Long Tail sink in, the more I realize that we are seeing yet another fundamental economic / business / technical change in my lifetime. From a 10K view:

WWII to Mid to late 60's - The post war boom. If you could manufacture with reasonable capability you could make money. The era of the big mass market, the big corporation, and big labor.

The sick '70s - Nothing kills like success. Japan began to undercut us, fuel prices went up, government regulation and taxes had the golden goose of economic growth on the mat. The unions priced and powered themselves out of relevance. It looked like curtains for the US, and Carter told us the best days were behind us.

The go-go 80's and 90's - Reagan cut the regulations and taxes and freed the engine of US business and the US economy sprinted by Japan and Europe with ease. It was a new economy though. Competitive, non-union, low cost, high stock return, and high innovation. "Just showing up" no longer cut it.

The new millennium bubble and beyond - The "new new economy". Efficiency, connectivity, organic growth, the long tail, usage improving the product and the age of very tight TECHNOLOGICAL customer relationships.

There is a great article on this at O'Reilly Web 2.0. The combination of political bias and attachment to the old world of the late 60's means that much of what counts as "intelligentsia" in the MSM and government is now a few generations behind current.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Turning 50

A week ago today I turned 50. It has been a very busy time at work, but I've also done a bit of celebration with family and friends, including my oldest son coming home from college for the weekend to help wish me a happy birthday. Our house is also completely torn up since we are remodeling the family room in the basement, moving my younger son downstairs to a larger bedroom, and re-doing my beloved office with Techline desk, cabinets, and a bunch of really nice bookcase cabinets. A major change that I'm really looking forward to now, but not to be completed until mid-November. I suppose I can be a bit patient at 50.

Some thoughts on turning 50 seem to be in order. The biggest thought is how important it is to maintain an attitude of thankfulness vs one of anger / outrage / sadness / etc for the blessing of living to 50 in generally good health, great wife, great kids, SUPER cats (they demand top billing), great friends, a job that is way better than many, excellent church home, neighborhood ... and literally on and on. The list of things to be thankful for is literally endless, but thankfulness is not a natural human state.

Case in point, my eldest son got me the book "A Pirate Looks at 50" by Jimmy Buffett. It is a fun book, I'm enjoying reading it, and I'm glad that the writer of "Wasting Away in Margaritaville" is a multi-millionaire with a Grumman Albatross seaplane and a Cessna Citation jet, apparently among other planes, along with houses in Aspen, Key West, Long Island and a couple other spots. It sounds like an absolutely amazing life, but I'm struck by a couple of things. First of all, he is obviously liberal, and I suspect that hardly a single liberal out there thinks that Jimmy ought to change his lifestyle. Certainly not Jimmy.

There is a point in the book where he talks about talking to his wife and daughters up in their Citation while he is flying his Albatross below at 150 MPH. Right about that time he breaks into talking about how good he feels about the work he does to protect the environment and how important the environment is. Here is he is with two monster planes sucking as much as fuel as a small town of SUVs would in a year, and it bothers him not at all to point out the poor job the US does on the environment. A few pages later, while talking about checking into the same compound in Costa Rica that Bush I used when he stays there, he comments on how "Americans need to be more humble". I can tell from the writing he sees no irony in this at all, because he "feels good about it in his heart".

Again, it is fine with me that he does all that he does. That is his business. It is also funny to read that he DOESN'T consider himself rich, because he feels he can't afford a Gulfstream IV jet. He has to get by with a Citation. It shows that it truly is all very relative when it comes to money. He has a descent amount of "righteous indignation" about US foreign, environmental, and economic policy (among other things I'm sure). He just has that while celebrating his 50th B-day while flying around Central and South America with two large planes and an entourage of friends and servants. It is indeed a wonder to live in a free country.

Personally, I feel very lucky to have achieved the much more modest level of wealth that I've been blessed with, even though if falls WELL short of the point where either a Albatross or Citation are in my future. I suspect that it may be that money earned by having a hit song gives less of an insight into the "cost of making money" than a 28 year career at a major corporation. He seems to love entertaining, and when you are good at entertaining, you are very highly paid.

Even better, society seems to feel that entertainers are "worth it". Somehow a guy writing a song about drinking too much and ending up with millions is way more acceptable than somebody working their way up some corporate ladder for a lifetime and getting a similar amount of money for taking a CEO job where they are responsible for 100s of K of employees, 10s of billions of dollars of revenue and billions of dollars of profit, and likely 10s or 100s of billions of dollars of market capitalization. It is "unfair" that a guy can make the big bucks for that kind of job, but a good drinking song for the same kind of cabbage goes down a lot easier. That is just the kind of world many folks live in, consistency is truly not an issue.

Given the track that I chose, the "cost of making money" has been plenty, and I have zero desire or envy for the CEO that makes the millions. If I could write a book that made me some millions in the cosmic dollar lottery, that would be great, since I suspect that I'd enjoy writing the book. It isn't that I don't enjoy many aspects of my corporate job, I've just realized over a long career that they tend to not pay you the most for the parts of the job that are the most fun. Programming is so much fun that a lot of folks do it for free in Open Source Software today. Even if they don't, it is now being done in India, China, and beyond. Allocating dollars to tasks, tracking tasks, fighting about what business trade-offs to do make and asking people to do work and bothering them when they are late, off course, or it is just hard to understand what they are doing ... those things tend to be less fun, but often better paid.

As I write on, I realize there is a bit of wistful jealousy in my soul. It would certainly be "nice" to be extremely highly paid for exactly what one wanted to do. There is a core difference there between the conservative and the liberal soul. Yes, it would be nice. It would be nice to be able to eat like a pig, not exercise, and be in great shape. Some folks have the genetics to come a lot closer to that than I do, I guess that is "unfair". The liberal looks at such "unfairness" where they can and tries to figure out how to "fix it" ... or really, how to get someone else like the government to fix it. Conservatives have all the same emotions I think, but at some point we pulled up our socks and said that even falling well short of "nirvana" on our own was way better than a life of bitching and ingratitude.

It is always very human to bitch, and from the vantage point of 50, I can guess that age will always throw some curves that will make it even easier. I'll do my best to remain thankful.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Whose Ox?

The old saw about "whose ox is being gored" is certainly operative with the treatment of the Foley story. Anybody remember Gary Studds? No? Odd isn't it?

This is only Wikipedia, but anyone with a bent that isn't 100% MSM sheep can find a lot more.

Gerry Eastman Studds (born May 12, 1937) is a retired American politician, born in Mineola, New York. He served as a Democratic Congressman for Massachusetts from 1973 until 1997. He was the first openly homosexual member of the US Congress and, more generally, the first openly gay national politician in the US. In 1983, he admitted to having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old male page in 1973 and was censured by the House of Representatives.

NOTE, he had SEX with an under age page in '73, and he STAYED as a DEMOCRAT in congress until '97. Slightly mild difference in treatment there isn't there? There wasn't any talk radio, Fox News, or Internet then. The MSM was pretty busy getting rid of Nixon, so what is a little gay sex with an intern as long as the Congressman has a D next to his name? So like "where was their leadership"?

It looks pretty likely that this particular incident is an "October Surprise" to keep the Republican base at home and let the Democrats take over congress. My bottom line though is that if we lose because we have different principals that Democrats, then great. If Politics is just "win at any cost", then it truly isn't worth paying attention to. Bill Clinton perjured himself before a grand jury. Impeaching him cost the Republicans votes. The right thing is worth doing even when it costs something, and really ESPECIALLY when it costs something. Those are Christian, Conservative and RIGHT principals. They are not to be found on the left, in the modern Democrat party, or in the MSM.

Some combination of the MSM or the Democrats got a hold of a good nasty card and they played at exactly the right time. Most likely it isn't recoverable. If Hastert knew there was a problem and he did nothing, then he ought to go down too. To do anything less would be to behave like the Democrats and the MSM, and then not only politics but life becomes meaningless.