24 March, 2012

March 24, 1989

The Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker bound for CA, runs aground on Prince William Sound’s Bligh Reef.

This will become the worst oil spill ever in U.S. waters. A record that will last until 2010.

Press reports at the time will blame the accident on Captain Joe Hazelwood, who was drunk at the time. The press reports neglect to mention however, that while Hazelwood was drunk, he was also asleep. It was the third mate who was at the helm and ran the ship aground.

Obama’s Campaign Theme–Distraction

President Barack Obama (D-USA) is campaigning for re-election. That’s not news. He’s been doing so for a year now. However, I’ve recently noticed a pattern to his methods.

To get a full sense of the pattern, you have to watch the entire campaign team in action. This includes Media Matters, ThinkProgress, the Associated Press, NBC et al. Even Public Policy Polling has gotten into the act.

None of these people want to talk about the economy, unless it’s one of those rare weeks where there’s actual good news. None of these people want to talk about the mountain of debt we’re accumulating. No one wants to talk about gas prices. None want to compare our situation to Greece or the rest of the EuroZone. And, most especially, no one wants to talk about the ever increasing cost of ObamaCare.

You can’t blame them, of course. If my hero was Barack Obama, I wouldn’t want to talk about any of these things either.

And that’s why they’re talking about anything else they can find, etch-a-sketches, Trayvon Martin, Rush Limbaugh, contraception, field trips for the first children, birthers, the religion of the President, etc. Even if some of these make their hero look bad, they know that they can spin it to make the right look worse. The way they tell it, it’s the right wasting all of everyone’s time constantly talking about these things instead of “what’s important” (of course, “what’s important” is always a vague, or implied thing, as they don’t want to actually talk about “what’s important”).

And, you notice they haven’t picked just one thing. That was their habit in the past. Instead now they’re hitting the right with a new thing every day, and from a new angle or two every day. The goal is to keep the right off message, and to make us look foolish.

Frankly, this is just a variation on Cloward-Piven, used as a messaging system. They’re trying to overwhelm the right, leaving us unfocused and off-balance until we collapse upon ourselves.

So far, their tactic appears to be working. We’re falling for it.

But, they still have a couple aces up their sleeve. Watch for them. I mentioned one last week, gay marriage, and it’s already popped up. The other ace, they hope, is Israel.

Obama knows he’s in trouble with the Jews. He also knows that without overwhelming Jewish support, he could be in trouble in November. He also knows that Netanyahu has an itchy trigger finger, and has just about run out of patience with Iran. On a personal level, Obama would love nothing better than to see Israel wiped off the map by the Iranians. Of course, he can’t say that publicly, but actions speak louder than words, and the part of the Jewish community that’s been paying attention realizes this.

How then to dupe the Jews again has been one of the biggest questions for Obama’s team. But now they think they have figured it out. This is how they’re hoping this will play out. Watch for it. They’re going to keep scrambling publicly and privately to keep the tensions between Iran and Israel at a low boil all through the spring and as much of the summer as possible. They can’t let it go to a full boil, but they don’t want it to die down either.

Then, in late summer, they figure they can let it bubble over into a shooting war. Obama will quite publicly decry the violence from both sides, but make a strong public show of working with Netanyahu and supporting him, while privately dragging his feet and doing nothing of substance. They think this public display will be enough to mollify the American Jews long enough to get them to come out and vote in November. Then, by Thanksgiving, watch the re-elected Obama voice his opinion that Netanyahu has become impossible to deal with, and blame him for the degenerating situation, saying that it’s out of our control now and there’s nothing we can do.

This whole thing has a double purpose, not only does it get the Jewish vote back in his favor (they hope), but the Isreal-Iran conflict would once again be a distraction from all the things that Team Obama doesn’t want to talk about.

As I said in Twitter this week, Obama’s campaign can best be summed up in that single word: distraction.

Don’t be distracted. Don’t get off message. Hit Team Obama where it hurts, not where they want you to hit. This is the message to everyone on the right, from #tcot to former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA), to Rush Limbaugh, to Sarah Palin, and to NRO.

The good news is that the right can use this method too, and we have more effective tools at our disposal than the left does. If we use them correctly.

That’s for a future post.

23 March, 2012

March 23, 1933

The Enabling Act was passed by Germany's Reichstag and signed by President Paul von Hindenburg on 23 March 1933. The result of this act is that Adolph Hitler was established as Führer and given dictator powers.

Under the Act, the government had acquired the authority to pass laws without either parliamentary consent or control. Unprecedentedly, these laws could (with certain exceptions) even deviate from the Constitution. The Act effectively eliminated the Reichstag as active players in German politics, though the existence of the body, alongside that of the Reichsrat and of the office of President were protected under the Act (nonetheless, the two latter were abolished in April and August 1934, respectively). Together with the Reichstag Fire Decree, which curtailed basic civil liberties and transferred state powers to the Reich government, the Act transformed Hitler's government into a legal dictatorship.

The Act also effectively removed Presidential oversight, as Hindenburg's representative had stated that the aged president was withdrawing from day-to-day affairs of government and that presidential collaboration on the laws decreed as a result of the Enabling Act would not be required.


Though the Act had formally given legislative powers to the government as a whole, these powers were for all intents and purposes exercised by Hitler himself; as Joseph Goebbels wrote shortly after the passage of the Enabling Act:

The authority of the Führer has now been wholly established. Votes are no longer taken. The Führer decides. All this is going much faster than we had dared to hope.[9]

The passage of the Enabling Act reduced the Reichstag to a mere stage for Hitler's speeches. It only met sporadically until the end of World War II, held no debates and enacted only a few laws. Within three months after the passage of the Enabling Act, all parties except the Nazi Party were banned or pressured into dissolving themselves, followed on July 14 by a law that formally made the Nazi Party the only legally permitted party in the country.

It’s hard to believe a legislative body would willingly give up its power to an executive, unless you’ve watched the workings of the Senate the last 3 years.

Sixty-seven years later to the day, another enabling act was passed in America.

Path to Prosperity 2012 Version

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI-01) released this year's version of his Path to Prosperity this week. I give him credit for it, but it's really the work of the House Budget Committee, which he chairs. This will be the starting point for the 2013 budget prepared by the House of Representatives. The Senate is required to prepare their own budget, but they won't. The Senate Majority Leader is a spineless, lying, sniveling coward, who knows that a budget prepared by Democrats would destroy their party.

But, I digress.

This year's version shares quite a bit with last year's version. It greatly simplifies the tax code, and cuts the corporate tax rate to 25% (which is still 25% too high, sadly--but at least it's identical to the top marginal rate). And, based upon CBO's conservative growth estimates, it balances the budget around 2040. Which is far too slow, but I'll get back to that later. Obviously, it also assumes pretty much a complete repeal of ObamaCare.

The major differences lie in two areas: Medicare & Medicaid, and dealing with the sequester. The Medicare/Medicaid section is quite a bit different. Not sure if it's better or worse, but different. Ryan clearly understands the heat he & the Republicans took on this issue last year and is trying to address it in a more palatable way. This part is the same as what was released last year and is commonly called the Wyden-Ryan plan for Medicare, co-authored with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The heart of the Wyden-Ryan plan is to use competitive bidding to allow private insurers to compete with traditional, 1965-vintage fee-for-service Medicare. If you want to learn more about competitive bidding, see this piece I wrote about Mitt Romney’s proposal for Medicare reform. If that doesn’t quench your thirst, you can read the definitive book on competitive bidding:Bring Market Prices to Medicare, by Robert Coulam, Roger Feldman, and Bryan Dowd.

The basic idea behind competitive bidding is that, say, on a county-by-county basis, you let private plans and traditional Medicare offer plans with the same actuarial value compete, to see who can offer the same package of benefits the most efficiently. Each plan in a given county will name a price for which they are willing to offer these services, and seniors are free to pick whichever plan they want. However, the government will only subsidize an amount equal to the bid proposed by the second-cheapest plan. If you want a more expensive plan, you have to pay the difference yourself.

I have some concerns with this, like what happens when private insurers can't compete with an unfunded government plan, but overall, at least Ryan can't be accused of pushing grandma off a cliff. Also, this clearly is an arrow to the heart of IPAB ("death panels"), one of the most offensive parts of ObamaCare.

As for Medicaid, this section appears to be unworkable to me. Funds are fixed based upon an inflation and population index. That assumes that healthcare services remain static. Generally, not only have healthcare services increased in price, but also in quantity. You're offered a lot more healthcare choices today than you were 50 years ago. In other words, there are more opportunities for you to spend your hard earned dollars on healthcare related costs. This is one of the reasons programs like Medicare and Medicaid always expand beyond expectations. It doesn't seem like to me that the Ryan plan would deal with that, leaving further Medicaid burdens on the states. Maybe that's ok. But I know it'll be a criticism from the left.

Finally, the other significant change in the Ryan plan this year is dealing with the sequester. From the actual doc:

Reprioritizing sequester savings to protect the nation’s security:  The defense budget is slated to be cut by $55 billion, or 10 percent, in January of 2013 through the sequester mechanism enacted as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011. This reduction would be on top of the $487 billion in cuts over ten years proposed in President Obama’s budget. This budget eliminates these additional cuts in the defense budget by replacing them with other spending reductions.  Spending restraint is critical, and defense spending needs to be executed with effectiveness and accountability. But government should take care to ensure that spending is prioritized according to the nation’s needs, not treated indiscriminately when it comes to making cuts. The nation has no higher priority than safeguarding the safety and liberty of its citizens from threats at home and abroad.

As an aside, Ryan points out that the entire $400B of "savings" from President Obama's (D-USA) plan comes from shredding the military budget (emphasis mine).

Yet,  the defining characteristic of the President’s new defense posture is a reduction in the administration’s own defense plan from last year, bringing the total reduction to $487 billion over the next ten years. This number stands out as significant for several reasons. In the President’s latest budget proposal, total spending increases by $1.5 trillion and taxes increase by $1.9 trillion, for a total of around $400 billion of deficit reduction over ten years. A clear‐eyed look at the numbers reveals that American taxpayers and the Department of Defense are being asked to bear the entire burden of deficit reduction under the President’s budget.

Overall, as I said last year, the Ryan plan is a good start. But it still has areas that concern me. In no particular order:

  1. There's no way to bind future Congresses to his plan. So, really, any budgetary saving after FY2013 must be taken with a grain of salt. However, with our baseline budgeting, it would establish the "baseline". So, future Congresses would have to explain why their future budgets differ from the baseline. For once, baseline budgeting could play in our favor. Maybe.
  2. Spending vs. GDP (based on CBO forecasts) is still too high. It's still over 20% GDP through 2030. That is unacceptable. The President's "plan" never drops below 25% GDP and is nearly 40% GDP in 2050. As I have mentioned numerous times in the past, the President is ignoring our impending financial crisis. The best you can say about his plan is that it may kick the can down the road a bit. Let me repeat this for what seems like the thousandth time. Our impending financial crisis is real, huge, and unavoidable. And the longer we wait to deal with it, the worse it's going to be. We can do something now and maybe have a soft landing, that won't be too terrible. Or we can destroy the economy for a generation or more. The President has chosen the latter. That last statement is not hyperbole. It's not even opinion. It's demonstrable fact..
  3. It takes too long to balance the budget (based on CBO forecasts). The budget isn't balanced until 2040. That is also unacceptable. And unrealistic. And disappointing. But it shows the depth of the 2008 financial crisis and how much worse the current White House occupant has made things. It may take decades to undo the damage that he has done to America.
  4. Finally, a minor quibble, but I don't think Path to Prosperity is a good name for the document. It's truthful, but not a powerful enough statement. It should be called. Path From the Brink or something. Perhaps even Saving America From Bankruptcy.

Ok, that's the bad news. There's some good news. All of the economic projections are based on low growth estimates from the CBO. That includes the spending vs. GDP projection and the deficit projections. Ryan has released a supplemental document called "The Budgetary Impact of The Path to Prosperity Under Alternative Growth Scenarios". The tax reform and budgetary reform outlined in the plan should act as a giant shot in the arm to the economy. Also, moving towards deficit and debt reduction will make investors less skittish and increase economic investment, which will also boost the economy. Finally, corporations with profits sheltered outside of the U.S. will be allowed to invest this money back in the U.S., further stimulating economic growth.

Currently, U.S. companies have an estimated $1.4 trillion parked offshore and are reluctant to repatriate those funds back home due to the significant taxes that could be incurred under the current U.S. tax system.7 A worldwide tax system essentially locks this money out of the U.S. economy, where – if it were repatriated – it could be used to fund investment, business expansion and job creation in the United States. Policymakers on both sides of the aisle have proposed a temporary repatriation tax holiday in order to give businesses an incentive to send these funds home and put them to work in the U.S. economy. A switch to a territorial tax system would give U.S. businesses a permanent incentive to do exactly that.

This three pronged economic stimulus package (and it actually really would be one), makes the CBO's low growth estimates far too limiting.

In its range of estimates, CBO found that the economy under The Path to Prosperity could be 1 percent larger in 2030, 3 percent larger in 2040 and 6 percent larger in 2050 relative to its long-term base case. By contrast, under the path implied by the extension of current tax and spending policies, the econ0my would shrink by as much as 10 percent in 2030 and 28 percent in 2040. In other words, the difference in outcomes between these two trajectories could sum to as much as 11 percent of total economic output in 2030 and over 30 percent of output in 2040.


A larger and faster-growing economy leads to significantly higher revenue than the base case. This higher amount of revenue, when compared to the spending levels outlined in The Path to Prosperity, leads to a much-improved fiscal path. Assuming higher growth within the range cited above – percentage-point increases of 0.5 (lower-bound AGS), 0.75 (mid-point AGS), and 1.0 (upper-bound AGS) – the budget could achieve balance in the mid-to-early 2020s, with the upper-bound growth assumption producing budget balance within the ten-year budget window – much sooner than CBO’s estimated balance date of 2039.

In the spirit of a picture painting a trillion words, see below. The red line is the President's "plan". Based on his plan, you can expect total economic collapse sometime between 2030 and 2050. By "total economic collapse", I mean that you should consider an event like the Great Depression as a best case scenario.


I have a couple more posts on this plan coming up. I think they'll be a bit shorter. I want to hit a couple sections of the document and point them out specifically, as I think Ryan makes some incredibly important points that aren't being made elsewhere, or at least aren't being made loud enough.

21 March, 2012

What I’ve Been Up To

And now, time for my apology for disappearing for a while.

So, what happened? Well, a little of everything. I think some burnout. Last year was my most prolific blogging year by far. And there’s my sports ratings app, that I’ve mentioned previously. I’m still working hard on it. It’s closer to my vision of it than it’s ever been, but probably still a year away. I never did get around to modifying it to project polls and votes. It’s possible, but unlikely that I’ll have something ready there for the November elections. Most likely I’m looking at 2014.

Also, had a lot going on with the family, some illnesses and whatnot to deal with that have kept my mind and spirit focused elsewhere. And, while I love blogging and tweeting, and love CJB Ratings, I don’t get pad for either of those. The job I do get paid for has been a bit busier than usual as well.

But these are only part of the reason. There’s one more that’s far more significant than most of the above. Not sure if I’ve mentioned it here before, but I’m diabetic. It’s Type II and manageable with medication, but I’ve always had this pseudo-goal in my mind to get off the medication and just manage it through diet and exercise.

Well, last fall I had an epiphany, a long overdue one. I realized just how artificial it is to manage my blood sugar through the medication, and what an enabler of bad behavior that it is. I had noticed that if I’m taking my meds consistently and my sugars are good consistently, that my weight goes up. In short, I get fat. The reason I get fat is because I know with the meds that I can eat pretty much what I want, and I don’t have to push myself to be good.  But getting fat actually makes it harder to manage my sugar, and makes me more dependent on the meds.

However, if my blood glucose (bg) is out of control for a little bit, then I lose weight, because that’s what happens. Your body is starved for carbs, and it eats up whatever fat or anything else it can find. The point is though, that you’re losing weight because your body is smarter than you are, and it’s trying to get you back into balance.

So, I realized last fall that I need to pay attention to my body when that happens. So, when my bg went a little crazy for a while, instead of bumping up the meds a little bit, I worked with my body rather than against it. I went on a weight loss and exercise plan. And I really kicked it into high gear starting at Christmas, 2011. I have now worked out 87 consecutive days.

The result? My bg is fine, and I could be in one of those commercials where the guy says “I’m 45 years old and in the best shape of my life”. And it’s all natural, for once, not artificial. I feel better than I have in years. I have an appointment with my doc soon, and I expect that this time I will actually be able to achieve my long time goal and get off the meds completely. I am, at this point, for all practical purposes, no longer diabetic.

Some hard numbers for you? As of today, I’m 65 pounds down from my all-time high weight, about 35 pounds down from last summer, and a whopping 17.5 pounds down since Christmas. There’s actual tapering from my chest to my waist for the first time in my life, and I actually have discovered that I have biceps. Not that my biceps are going to scare anyone, but they’re there, at least. I can do 100 push ups (and the way my “trainer” makes me do them is pretty hard) now. I’m not sure if before last Christmas if I’d done 100 push ups total in my entire life.

So that’s what’s been keeping my focus. Plenty have asked for more specifics on the how, and if you’re interested in that, read on, otherwise, thanks for reading so far. I warn you, though, that it may start to sound like an infomercial from here on out, as I’m going to name specific products that I have used.

But, first, the bad news. There is no magic routine or magic diet that will do it for you. It’s all about a state of mind. If you have that state of mind (and can keep it), then you’ll get in better shape. If you don’t, you won’t.

Now, the first thing for me is that I had to find something I could do that wouldn’t allow me to make excuses. I’m terrific at wimping out and rationalizing. Going to a gym just wouldn’t work for me. I don’t know how to use hardly any of the equipment. I don’t know the appropriate settings are for me, or how many reps of anything I should try to do. And I don’t know what kind of sequencing I should do, or what kind of pace I should set. I know that everyone starts at square one, and you can learn all these things. But I also know myself, and know that I would feel incredibly self-conscious about everything I’d be doing, and I’d use the above as an excuse to wimp out and not go.

Yes, I know I could get a personal trainer to help me learn all that, but I’m not exactly rolling in dough, either. Smile

So, the gym’s out.

A home gym would be out for a lot of the same reasons. I could get a nice weightlifting set, but I wouldn’t know where to begin with one. I could get a Bowflex or something similar, but they’re rather expensive, and I don’t really have the room for it.

So, forget the home gym.

I love to ride my bike, and at one time was an avid bike rider. I’ve also done a lot of walking and running in my life. But, there’s that whole excuse thing. “It’s raining. It’s cold. My knee’s bothering me. My allergies are bugging me. I got up too late. It’s too dark. It’s too late. I have a cold. I have a headache.” And so on. As I indicated before, I’m a master at excuses.

And, while running, walking, bike riding are all good for you, I really need some strength training stuff to build some muscle mass. That’s what will help long term in managing my diabetes.

How about videos? Sweatin’ to the Oldies, Abs of Steel, that sort of thing? Not enough feedback, and generally too repetitive for me. I’d get lazy, not do the stuff right, or I’d get bored, followed by annoyed, or possibly all three.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re either incredibly curious or much like me and you’re wondering what in the world helped, when I’ve already said that none of the above were good options (at least for me).

So, what worked?

Now the infomercial part. Smile

For Christmas, I got my kids the Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board. And I’ve ended up using it much more than they have. I do recommend the Wii Fit Plus, as opposed to just the Wii Fit. It has more exercises, and more and better games. If you already have the Wii Fit, you don’t have to buy a new balance board. You can get the Wii Fit Plus software only. It’s relatively cheap.

The exercises and games on the Wii Fit are fun and challenging. Especially if you’re completely out of shape like I was. And even I can’t make excuses. I can do everything in the living room. There’s enough variety of exercises and games that it doesn’t get boring. And the variety in intensity means that as long as you’re strong enough to get out of bed, you can do a 30 minute workout. I get feedback if I’m doing something wrong. If I get up late and don’t have time in the morning, I can do it in the evening. It’s inside, so no weather or allergy worries.

But after about a month,  I felt like it was starting to get a little easy for me, and I wasn’t pushing myself as hard as I’d like. Don’t get me wrong. I still do something on the Wii Fit every day. A few of the yoga poses still kick my butt, and I have to work to do the advanced strength training exercises. But most things had gotten routine for me.

So, after 42 days, I added the EA Sports Active: More Workouts.EA has three exergames in this series, Workouts, More Workouts, and Workouts II. More Workouts is the middle one, and from everything I’ve seen and read, is the best. YMMV. I like this game quite a bit. It has entire exercise routines set up for you, and a six week challenge, where you go through a pre-set series of workouts. However, EA for some reason didn’t think anyone would be buying More Workouts who didn’t already have Workouts, so they neglected to include some of the accessories you’ll need. I purchased the EA Sports Active Wireless Workout Kit For Wii, but I think I actually would have been better off with the EA Sports Active Training Kit for Wii, as I found the wireless stuff didn’t work very well. After a few weeks, I also ended up purchasing the Wii Activ3 Workout Kit because I wanted the flexibility of having multiple resistance bands of different strength. I use the leg strap from the Wireless Workout kit, because the one from the Activ3 Workout kit sucks. And the resistance bands from the Wireless Workout Kit are more comfortable and easier to use as well. So, if you don’t want the Activ3, it’s no big deal.

I did 42 days with More Workouts at medium intensity. Or, in other words, I completed the six week challenge. There’s actually only 24 workouts in the challenge, as you get three off days every week. I did the More Workouts in the mornings, and then some lighter Wii Fit stuff in the afternoon/evenings. Not because I wanted to do two workouts a day, but because my lifestyle is very sedentary, particularly in the winter. Both the Wii Fit and the EA stuff expect you to have some daily physical activity outside of their program, so I used my afternoon “workout” to simulate some actual physical activity like golf, or basketball, bowling, etc. My one complaint with the More Workouts is that at the beginning, I didn’t feel like it was pushing me very hard. And by the end, I didn’t feel like I was getting anything out of my afternoon sessions on the Wii Fit, either. In other words, I was getting in better shape, and needed to move on again.

One other thing that helped is that after the first week or so of this six week challenge, I also started using MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal is a website that helps you track your calories and exercise. They also have apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android. The website and the apps are free. It’s just like most other calorie counters you’ve seen, but what sets them apart are three things, their extensive database (had the Dos Enchiladas meal at Don Pablo’s, or a half dozen Oreos? they’re in there), and the ability to add in your own recipes. You input the ingredients you use in your recipe, and how many it serves, and it spits out the nutrition information per serving. Finally, it shows more than just calorie intake, but also protein, carbs, fat, fiber, sodium, etc.

And where am I now?

I’m now still doing the More Workouts, but I’ve upgraded to the high intensity workout, and I’m using the red resistance band from the Activ3. Make no mistake about it, this is hard. And I’ve only done the first two workouts out of the 24 so far. They get harder as you move on, so I can’t imagine what the last two weeks will be like. For my afternoon “workout”, I’ve mostly moved on from the Wii Fit, finally, although I still do just a few from yoga and strength training, for variety. In it’s place, I’ve added cardio boxing from Gold's Gym Cardio Workout. The two of these together are kicking my butt. I feel like I did the day after Christmas again. Every workout makes me sore, and I know at the end that I’ve pushed myself. Hard.

And that’s the story. Sorry so long, and if you read the whole thing, I congratulate you.

I don’t know what I’ll do at the end of this 42 days. Maybe repeat. Maybe move on to something else. But I know I’ll be in even better shape than I am now.

One final note: Nintendo does not recommend the Wii Balance Board if you’re over 250 pounds. But you can do the EA Sports Active stuff, as well as the Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout without it. There are other good exergames out there as well, and for other platforms, not just the Wii. Go to Amazon and read the reviews to try to find something that you think might work best for you.

19 March, 2012

Serious Question: Why Would You Vote For Obama?


I assume if you’re planning on voting for President Barack Obama (D-USA) in 2012, that you voted for him in 2008. Furthermore, I would hope that your vote in 2008 actually had something to do with what he campaigned on. So, let’s roll the tape, shall we?

Major campaign issues from 2008:

  • The Economy. Well, with now a record 37 months at 8% or higher unemployment, you’d be hard pressed to argue that he’s turned around the economy, despite a $787 billion stimulus package (hey, where’d that money go, btw?)
  • Close Gitmo. Last I checked, Gitmo is still open.
  • Get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan. No. And…no.
  • Maybe you’re a supporter of gay marriage. Well, how much progress has been made here by the Obama administration? Err…none. In point in fact, I do expect Obama to make a serious push on this front later this year, closer to November. But remember, from January 2009 to January 2011, Obama had both chambers of Congress in his pocket. He could’ve passed anything he wanted to pass related to gay marriage. In a snap. But he didn’t. Remember this post when something doesn’t pass this year and he blames it on the Republicans. If you don’t, I will. And I’ll remind you. Again.
  • High gas prices. Ooops.
  • The federal deficit and exploding debt. He was going to cut the deficit in half. Last Thursday, Obama passed President George W. Bush’s deficit total. It took him 38 months to pass Bush’s 96 months of out of control spending. Yes, the economy exacerbated that. But I’ve discussed this before. And, surely, if that matters to you, then you’re upset about the fact that our credit rating has been downgraded? And you’re upset about the Democrats failure to pass a budget? But wait, that’s not Obama’s fault, you say! Well, is he, or is he not the leader of the Democrat party? If he pressured Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) to pass a budget, would one get passed? Bet the farm on it.
  • Improve race relations. Well, I think we can all agree that hasn’t happened. And isn’t going to as long as that racist thug runs the Department of Justice.
  • Tax cuts for 95 percent of working families. Never happened.
  • No new taxes for middle class. Well, sure, as long as you don’t count cigarettes, healthcare, or don’t own a small business.
  • Improve foreign relations, particularly with the Middle East. Based on this search, that doesn’t appear to have happened.
  • He did get ObamaCare passed, but let’s be honest with ourselves. This is not the law that even liberals wanted or were promised. It costs more, does less, and pretty much ensures that every single conservative criticism is going to come true.

Did I miss something? Did something really, you know, awesomely awesome occur in the last 3 years? Or are you just too stupid to realize that the man is a liar who hates America, wants to destroy it, and will say anything to get your vote?

My Mobile World

In addition to my political blogging, you might see a bit more of my tech-y stuff this year as well, such as my recent tepid review of “the new iPad”.

I’m a longtime smartphone user. I’m currently on my 4th smartphone, and this summer or fall I will likely buy my 5th. I’m not quite so much on the bleeding edge with tablets, as my iPad 2 is the first tablet I’ve owned.

Both my 3rd and 4th smartphones were Android devices, and obviously my iPad is an Apple one. These were easy decisions on both counts. My HTC EVO 4G still makes the iPhone 4S look like a tinker toy, and I replaced that phone almost 9 months ago with an HTC EVO 3D. On the tablet front, it’s the same. The iPad is a better form factor (very few Android tablets are more than 7”), and with a few exceptions is a much more pleasing UI than available on Android tablets.

But the next round will be much harder. The sleeping giant, or elephant in the room, if you prefer, is awake and active. With Windows 8, Microsoft will be running essentially the same OS across three different form factors, desktop, tablet, and phone. From an enterprise customer’s perspective, that’s an extremely difficult combination to overlook. Run real Office on my tablet with Outlook and not iWorks and the mind-numbingly awful mail application that Apple delivers with iOS? Sign me up! Twice! Of course, MS isn’t going to be able to charge $500 for an office suite on a tablet or a phone, so I’m very curious as to how they’re going to manage pricing.

The other problem is application compatibility. Not only is Windows 8’s Metro UI a big change, where non-Metro apps stick out like a sore thumb, but there’s also the Intel vs. ARM factor. Most desktop computers run Intel chips (or Intel clones from AMD, etc.). Most phones run ARM ones, and it sounds like the Windows 8 tablets will be a mix. Well, obviously, you’re only going to get full application compatibility on Intel-based devices, and it will take a while for ARM-based apps, or apps that can run on both, to be prevalent. So, if you buy an ARM-based tablet, you’re going to most likely be running mostly phone apps to begin with. This was true early on with the iPad too, until developers started making stuff for that form factor. But it remains to be seen how quickly the Microsoft Market will mature, and if it will grow nearly as quickly as Apple’s App Store (I imagine not). Of course, you could just get a tablet with an Intel chip, but since the ARM devices are growing up from a phone rather thank shrinking down from a desktop, they typically have much better power management. So, your Intel tablet might not last all day on a charge. That’s going to be extremely frustrating.

So, what will I do? Well, I’m eligible to upgrade my EVO 3D on July 1. By that time, it sounds like the next generation EVO will be available, based on the recently announce HTC One line. Windows 8 phones will be available later this year, but probably not until 4th quarter. I don’t know what I’m going to do there. Sprint has stopped allowing me to upgrade my phone every year, so whatever I get this year, I’ll be stuck with it for two years. I suspect I’ll end up getting an Android phone again, but it’s no slam dunk decision. Not this time. I’ll definitely be watching the rumor mills this summer to see what kinds of Windows 8 Phones are expected and when.

And a Windows 8 tablet with an ARM chip that has the kinds of apps you see on the iPad, and has comparable hardware? Not this year. It’ll take at least 6-9 months before you’re going to see acceptable app volume in the marketplace, I think. So, that’s mid next year. At best. And it could easily be twice that long. Which puts us into 2014. By that time there will be another new iPad as well. And by that time, I suspect Apple will have caught up to Microsoft in terms of offering a single user experience across all platforms. However, if their business applications are still crapware, MS may be in the driver’s seat by then for enterprise customers. So, these are all reasons I might actually end up with “the new iPad”, as I think in the tablet world, the key dates are going to be late 2013/early 2014. By then we’ll know if MS can make a serious challenge, and hopefully Apple will have released another iPad that’s more appealing as well.