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Newt?? What are YOU Doing There??

Yes, my pronunciation of Romney as the Republican Nominee may have been a little premature.  I still don’t count him out.  However, I have to admit, Newt Gingrich’s rise to stardom caught me by surprise.

The thing is, objectively, it makes no sense.  Sure he has been doing very well in the debates and he is a very skillful and experienced politician, but beyond that, there simply isn’t any compelling reason for him to be as strong a contender as he has turned out to be. Every criticism you can make of Romney, you can make of him and he has weaknesses Romney doesn’t.

Can his rise be on the shoulders of the “Anyone but Romney” crowd?  Anyone who dislikes Romney should dislike Gingrich for pretty much the same reason.  Do you have a problem with Romney’s Faith?  Most people who have issues with Mormonism, have similar issues with Catholicism (Catholics are the exception here, but they tend to trend Democratic and so probably aren’t a major factor here).   Do you have a problem with RomneyCare?   Gingrich supports it – including the individual mandate!  How about flip flops on Abortion?  Gingrich’s record is as spotted as Romney’s.  His stance on Climate Change?  Gingrich loses there too.  Illegal Immigration? Romney’s stance shifted on this one –  Gingrich still supports Amnesty.

Can anyone think he is more electable than Romney?  Historically, there is no evidence for this.  Governors are electable, Speakers of the House are not.  There have only been two speakers of the house who went on to be President.  Gerald Ford was never elected as either president or vice president, and James Polk, who was elected, served both as speaker of the House AND as Governor of Tennessee.  And as Speakers go, Gingrich is one of the most polarizing.  The only speaker I can think of who is more polarizing is Pelosi, and I doubt anyone considers her to be a likely presidential candidate any time soon.  Add to that his personal and political scandals and you have a nearly insurmountable obstacle to the presidency.  I’m not saying Gingrich CAN’T surmount those obstacles, I’m just saying that no one else ever has been able to.

Gingrich still may be able to secure the nomination.  I haven’t seen anything to suggest that Obama is stronger or weaker in November if Romney or Gingrich is his opponent.  I don’t begrudge it of him if he is able to secure it.  It just greatly surprises me that he even has the chance.

The Trial of Dr. Conrad Murray is Turning into a Real Thriller

This is it.  The trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor is resuming.

I don’t wanna be startin’ somethin’.  Everyone knows what he did was dangerous.  You know he’s bad, but if he can beat it, he’ll be a smooth criminal.

Mitt Romney will be the Republican Nominee

Intrade.com has Mitt Romney’s odds of securing the Republican Nomination at 66.3%.  This is preceded by seven days closing above the sixty-five percent mark and a five-day moving average that crossed the same mark three days ago.

Mitt Romney Locked in as Presidential Nominee according to Intrade.com

Sixty five percent is generally regarded as a lock for most contests on Intrade.com.  If you can get consistently above sixty-five percent, your contest is pretty much settled.  You may not like him, but if you’re Republican, you had better get used to the idea of having him as your nominee.  Even though there are candidates that have a more coherent economic plan and there are serious issues with his candidacy in general.

Oh, and if he does get elected, remember that gridlock tends to be our country’s only saving grace.  Romney’s presidency will likely be just as bad as George W’s – if not worse.

Who Spits on the Coast Guard?

from MyFoxBoston.com:

BOSTON (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – The Coast Guard in Boston confirmed that a woman in uniform was harassed and spat upon near Occupy Boston protesters. The woman was walking to the train and said protesters spit on her twice, called her foul names and even threw a water bottle at her. Now, the Coast Guard is warning all staff working on Atlantic Avenue to avoid those protesters while in uniform.

The article goes on to say that a spokesman for Occupy Boston says the offenders weren’t part of the movement (I guess that means they weren’t on the payroll – I was previously under the impression that you joined by showing up and protesting, but I guess that’s more of a “grass roots” kind of thing).

But honestly, who spits on the Coast Guard?  Are you protesting rescuing stranded sailors?  fighting pirates and drug runners?  saving Cubans on rafts from drowning?  The coast guard patrols OUR coast!  Even if you are opposed to every military action this country ever took, you don’t have a beef with the Coast Guard.  They don’t invade countries, drop bombs, shoot civilians, interrogate prisoners or do ANY of the things protestors accuse the military of doing.  They defend OUR country in the manner closest to the way the military ideally would – by physically staying right here on OUR borders!

Historically, the coast guard was the refuge of the very same people who are spitting now – the Coast Guard is the branch of the military you joined if you DIDN’T want to go to Viet Nam!  It was the refuge of the draft dodgers who didn’t like cold Canadian winters. protesting the Coast Guard is saying you are against that – that you actually SUPPORT a military draft sending young men to foreign lands for political agendas.  Spitting on the Coast Guard is like spitting on the Peace Corps!

These people need to take a step back, think about their actions and find a coherent message and stick to statements that support it.  Spitting on the Coast Guard doesn’t do any of that – it just pisses the rest of America off.

RIP Dennis Ritchie

Dennis Ritchie died last weekend – about four days after Steve Jobs’ death.  He is the inventor of C and co inventor of Unix.

C is the second most popular programming language in the world.  It also influenced the following languages:
C++, C–, C#, Objective-C, BitC, D, Java, JavaScript, Perl, PHP, LPC, AMPL, AWK, csh, Go, Limbo, LPC, Pike and Processing.

Unix is an operating system designed to handle multiple users and multiple processes effectively.  It, and its variants are what the Internet is built on.  It influenced Linux, MINIX, BSD variants and Apple’s OS X

In other words, he and Steve Jobs represent the bulk of Microsoft’s competition and are probably all that stood in the way of Bill Gates owning the entire planet at this time.

Rest In Peace.

Darth Vader IS Leia's Father

And stop kissing your brother!!

Perry is the Left’s Greatest Assett

I don’t understand why the left is demonizing Rick Perry at this point in the game. I mean sure, if he were the nominee, attack him because you want your candidate to win, but until then, he’s their best chance at winning or at least cutting their losses. Have they not learned anything from the Obama disaster?

Consider history and the lessons it teaches. Consider your own history because you at least should know that much – you lived through it! Consider the nomination and subsequent presidency of your own candidate. They teach two very important lessons.

Remember the things Hillary had going for her? She had experience. She had a strong political agenda and knew how to get it enacted and she had political clout. Her big weakness, however, was the fact that she was politically polarizing. She was beatable in a way Obama was not in that she was sure to mobilize conservatives and right leaning independents to show up on election day because she was “the Lizard Queen” and “Had already BEEN president when Bill got elected” and “would give us MANDATORY National health insurance!!!” Obama was the outsider, the third way, the one with the chance to reach across the aisle and get things done. He was suave, politically agile and charming. He didn’t raise instinctive hackles and, as a result, with Palin polarizing things on the other side, he won the election easily.

The lesson here is, if you want to win an election, LET the other side do the polarizing. Perry polarizes, Romney does not. In a general election, Romney has a better chance of winning (and therefore beating the candidate on the left) than Perry.

Now, remember more recent history. Remember national healthcare (hey! didn’t Obama oppose mandatory coverage?). Remember how long it took to get passed. Remember how long it took before Obama did more than just sit back and let congress flail about trying to put something together (all the while, jobs were hemorrhaging and the economy was weakening). Remember how many different forms it took and how, when it finally passed, almost no one knew the actual details of what was even in it. We then had a midterm election. Since Obama didn’t take a major role in its creation, congress was left to pay for the debacle of the process and its final form. If Hillary HAD been elected, most of the circus would have been eliminated – she would have OWNED Healthcare from the beginning, gotten a vote on it in half the time, and moved on to more important stuff – like jobs, handling oil leaks and the economy in general. She may not have done a better job, but she absolutely would have taken a stronger stance as a leader. The 2008 election would certainly have been less damaging to the general democratic candidate and 2012 would be on a more secure democratic footing.

The lesson here, the more capable candidate is generally going to be better for your side and worse for the other side. Now I’m not saying Perry is incapable. He has been governor of a major state for more than a decade and has undoubtedly learned a thing or two in the process, but these are the undisputed facts: Romney is smarter than Perry (sorry Perry, a law degree and MBA from Harvard trump a BS in animal husbandry from Texas A & M). He had a very good record as well when he was governor (with less controversy and a good deal of positive accomplishments – including a balanced budget and improved economy). He successfully ran a major business taking it out of a financial crisis and then turning a spinoff into a runaway moneymaker earning him millions, understands economics on a plethora of levels and successfully brought the Olympics to Salt Lake City, turning it into a money-maker as well in the process. In short, he’s going to get his agenda adapted more successfully and more quickly than Perry will. And just to remind you, Romney’s agenda is anti-abortion, anti gay marriage, anti gun control, anti welfare and anti Mandatory nationalized healthcare. In short, Romney will do more to HURT the left’s agenda than Perry. Yet you attack Perry when he’s all that stands in the way of Romney running against your candidate for president in 2012 and, according to most polls, very possibly winning.

So much as you may dislike him, Perry is your most powerful weapon in the battle to the presidential election. And you throw him away only to your detriment.

Oh, and your second most powerful weapon? Did you notice all the good things I said above about Hillary? And did you notice how no one is talking about how polarizing she is anymore? I – and a fair amount of other people – think she is currently more electable than poor Barry these days.

If You Value Limited Government, Don’t Vote Republican

Perry is slipping to Romney in the polls. For the left, the good news is that Romney is slightly more moderate than Perry and so less likely to pass extreme measures. The bad news for the left is that Romney is just as politically deft, a good deal more intelligent, more able to outmaneuver his liberal opponents and still pretty much guaranteed not to support Roe v. Wade, Gun control, welfare, gay marriage, taxing the rich or national health care (don’t believe the rhetoric – given the beating he’s taking over the issue he’s probably MORE likely to push for a repeal than Perry, not less). He’s also more likely to beat Obama in 2012.

This last bit is bad news for the rest of us as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t support Obama. I don’t agree with his policy decisions and I don’t think his agenda is good for the economy. The thing is, Obama isn’t the only politician in Washington. And he’s not the only one facing re-election either.

Odds are, 2012 will bring in a Senate with a Republican majority and the House Republicans will hold their majority. Also, the Supreme court, which is leaning 5 to 4 towards the Republicans, could easily see the retirement of two liberal judges – Ginsberg and Breyer. This sets up the Federal Government to be the most lopsidedly single party we’ve had in recent memory. And much as I dislike Obama’s policies, I dislike the idea of a single party government even more.

Gridlock has always been the biggest ally of limited government we have had. The country has NEVER done well without it. It has been a major factor in the disaster that was the first part of Obama’s presidency (face it, pretty much everything he has done to worsen the economy happened before the republicans took over the house). It was the worst part of Clinton’s Presidency and caused him to reverse course in the middle of his first term (remember in 96, when he said “the era of Big Government is over”? How about when he reduced the capital gains tax? Guess which party was in control of Congress at that time. Then guess which party was in control when he balanced the budget and we actually had a surplus.), it was the worst part of Bush Jr’s presidency (He didn’t veto one single bill his entire first term and he enacted “no child left behind”. This is also when pretty much all of his increases in spending occurred) and it proved so disastrous for Johnson that he refused to even run for a second term and allowed formerly unelectable Nixon to get into office.

With a Republican president, senate, house and supreme court, the country effectively loses its brakes. That means that even if we DO start off in the right direction, if we veer off or overshoot, nothing will be in place to avert a crash. Indeed, with everyone pushing in the same direction, we’ll only accelerate.

What’s worse is that even the small, internal checks and balances will be plowed under. For instance, with a 5-4 split in the supreme court, there is wriggle room for swing votes. With a 7-3 majority, however, the supreme court will become a rubber stamp for the Republicans. Not even FDR had THAT kind of freedom. At that point, we no longer have a Republic, we have an oligarchy.

Right now, Intrade.com has the presidential race results undecided about which party ends up in power. Essentially there is a 49% chance that our federal system of checks and balances will be suspended. That should give anyone who values limited government – even the most devoutly Republican one – cause to re-evaluate what he wants to come out of this election.

If nothing else, consider what happens to the party in power every time gridlock breaks in this country – re-electing Obama may actually be GOOD for the Republican party.

When to Teach Your Ten Year Old Son Drinking Games.

Yes, my wife taught our ten-year old son a drinking game. Yes she even played it with him. Yes, she had my approval for all this. Yes we do regret it (a little).

Z1 – our oldest son, got sick. He had a fever and a cough and a sore throat. Never all that good at staying hydrated even when healthy, he stopped eating and drinking. We found we had to stand over him just to get him to take a few swallows. He wouldn’t take water, juice, Gatorade, punch or anything else and we were getting worried. Finally, to get him to take in some fluids, for his own good, my wife came up with a plan.

She pulled the Star Wars Drinking game off the web, took two bottles of Gatorade out of the refrigerator, grabbed “A New Hope” off the shelf and introduced Z1 to a subject normally not covered until college.

And it worked too! He finished off the entire bottle in short order and had fun doing it. He even wanted to play again later on with “The Empire Strikes Back”!

It started getting out of hand though. He kept talking about the drinking games he had played, bringing up rules in various situations and even thinking up a few new ones. finally it came to a head as he announced to the family that he had written a drinking game for the Bionicles movies we owned. We realized that, having a normal child’s boundless enthusiasm for games and movies, he was bound to try to share this with his friends – primarily homeschoolers with parents who would NOT understand or appreciate his efforts. So, my wife, who created this monster, took him aside and explained to him what drinking games were commonly used for and why he should probably keep his new one out of the limelight.

This was one of those conversations you never think you will have with your children.

No Zoe, Preschool is NOT That Important

Zoe Pollock uses a correlation to launch into a plea for better pay for preschool teachers as well as metrics to track which ones were getting the most effective results. The correlation is that people who went to preschool “have higher lifetime earnings, are more likely to be employed, and were less likely to be incarcerated.”

If this argument gives you a feeling of deja vu, you have likely been listening to any of a number of public service announcements reminding you of how much better college graduates have it than their less educated peers. The problem with these correlations is that they don’t take some MAJOR other factors into consideration and simply leap to the conclusion that the schooling caused these results.

In the latter case, this conclusion ignores the fact that for many employers, college is used as a sieve to collect the people with the intelligence, work ethic, talent and determination to make it through college – in many cases not even caring what the degree was in. It also ignores the fact that college DOES separate people with employable characteristics from those tho don’t. Essentially, comparing college graduates to non college graduates is comparing a more capable crowd to a less capable one – it says nothing about the process of going to college itself.

But what about preschool? Employers don’t look at your preschool record when hiring,the aptitude of a four year old is not exactly the primary criteria for getting into preschool and, for the most part, graduation is a foregone conclusion. So why does the fact that going to preschool correlates with better outcomes not necessarily mean that going to preschool causes these outcomes?

The problem with leaping to this conclusion is selection bias. If you send your child to preschool, you likely have a certain set of traits. First, you likely value education, which means you will likely make graduating college a priority for your children. Second, you have enough money to send your kids to preschool (which is not cheap), which suggests you are reasonably successful yourself. This means that you are more likely to be able to give your child assistance throughout his childhood and young adulthood that give him an advantage. Certainly you have enough money to ensure your child is adequately fed and taken care of. That alone will increase their chances of getting a good job and staying out of prison.

But what if there is some quality of preschool that makes your kid smarter? In that case, consider whether it is the ONLY source for that intelligence boosting. Perhaps providing a homeschooled alternative to preschool can achieve the same thing. There is certainly a very strong correlation between success in life and the amount of time parents spend interacting in a meaningful way with their children. If you simply spend a couple of hours playing, reading and talking to your child instead of letting them watch tv you will likely have provided at least as much as they will get from any preschool. And in addition, you will have helped them be more secure, happier and even nicer than they would have been if they had gone to preschool. Isn’t that at least as desirable as getting more money as an adult?