Monday, June 30, 2014

Tea Party Claims Another Scalp: Evan Alvarez leader of the Mississippi Federation of College Republicans

It seems that the extremism and economic stupidity of the Tea Party has claimed a young College Republican.

In his resignation letter on Monday, Alvarez slammed the tea party and other “extremists.”

“When I ran for chairman in the spring, I ran to be chairman of the Mississippi Federation of College REPUBLICANS, not the Mississippi Federation of College “Tea Partiers,” Alvarez wrote. “Also, I believe that the Republican Party has allowed these groups of extremist[s] to have too much of a voice and because of that, the platform of the Republican Party has shifted too far to the right in my opinion.”

Yup I mean they are resulting to dirty tricks and filming bed-ridden women with dementia in order to get their "message" out. I still wish there was a Moderate party where men like this Alvarez fellow can join and probably do quite a bit of good.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Tea Party Leader in Mississippi Kills Himself after Leaking Photos of Thad Cochran's Bedridden Wife

Now this might be a new low in the history of politics.

Mayfield was one of three men accused in May of conspiring with a blogger to illicitly take photos of Cochran's wife, who has dementia, in her nursing home for use in a political video against the six-term incumbent.

Mayfield was charged with conspiracy to photograph someone without permission, an allegation met with shock and some skepticism in the legal community.

It is sad that this guy killed himself but what he did is beyond reason. What possible gain could these Tea Party assholes have had from photographing the bedridden wife of a politician for a political video. If these are the kind of people in the Tea Party maybe they do need to go right into the dust bin of history.

Ann Coulter Shits On Soccer: Here is a Point By Point Refutation of Her Article

I used to like her snarkiness when she went after liberals but I guess this is how it feels when she goes after something I actually enjoy.

1) Individual achievement is not a big factor in soccer. In a real sport, players fumble passes, throw bricks and drop fly balls -- all in front of a crowd. When baseball players strike out, they're standing alone at the plate. But there's also individual glory in home runs, touchdowns and slam-dunks. 

Tell that to Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis "Man-eater" Suarez, Thomas Muller, Robin Van Persie, Neymar etc. Those guys are world superstars because they score goals and prop up in some cases entire national teams. Unfortunately all of these guys are not American so Coulter does not approve.

(2) Liberal moms like soccer because it's a sport in which athletic talent finds so little expression that girls can play with boys. No serious sport is co-ed, even at the kindergarten level. 

Spoken like someone who has never played the sport before. It is hard and you have to be fit. Girls and boys play together in baseball and even football at lower levels. She doesn't shit on those sports.

(3) No other "sport" ends in as many scoreless ties as soccer. This was an actual marquee sign by the freeway in Long Beach, California, about a World Cup game last week: "2nd period, 11 minutes left, score: 0:0." Two hours later, another World Cup game was on the same screen: "1st period, 8 minutes left, score: 0:0." If Michael Jackson had treated his chronic insomnia with a tape of Argentina vs. Brazil instead of Propofol, he'd still be alive, although bored.  

First of all soccer is divided into 2 halves and not periods. Also there were only five 0-0 ties out of the 48 games played this world cup. One of them was awesome in Mexico vs. Brazil. Scoring doesn't make this sport great. It is everything that goes into scoring that does it. No other sport can put you on the edge of your seat like soccer.

(4) The prospect of either personal humiliation or major injury is required to count as a sport. Most sports are sublimated warfare. As Lady Thatcher reportedly said after Germany had beaten England in some major soccer game: Don't worry. After all, twice in this century we beat them at their national game.

Soccer has some of the most brutal injuries you can imagine. Compound leg fractures and head injuries have happened quite a few times. Also Google Barbosa if you want a tale of personal humiliation that haunted a man his entire life for not stopping a single goal.

(5) You can't use your hands in soccer. (Thus eliminating the danger of having to catch a fly ball.) What sets man apart from the lesser beasts, besides a soul, is that we have opposable thumbs. Our hands can hold things. Here's a great idea: Let's create a game where you're not allowed to use them!

Hockey uses sticks and technically only one guy is supposed to use his hands and that is still a sport.

(6) I resent the force-fed aspect of soccer. The same people trying to push soccer on Americans are the ones demanding that we love HBO's "Girls," light-rail, Beyonce and Hillary Clinton. The number of New York Times articles claiming soccer is "catching on" is exceeded only by the ones pretending women's basketball is fascinating. 

Just use your lying eyes in places like Chicago and Kansas City. They had massive viewing parties that can rival anything that is happening in Europe. Soccer is catching on because more and more decision makers played it as kids through AYSO. I'm sure there are a host of enemies labeled "the same people" in Ms. Coulter head but that is quite another story.

(7) It's foreign. In fact, that's the precise reason the Times is constantly hectoring Americans to love soccer. One group of sports fans with whom soccer is not "catching on" at all, is African-Americans. They remain distinctly unimpressed by the fact that the French like it. 

We have played soccer in this country since 1862 which is when the Oneidas of Boston when the first American soccer club was formed. It is just about as old as baseball and it was invented by the country that was formally our colonial masters. I'm sure she knows basketball was invented by a Canadian and football came from British Rugby. It is about as foreign as Benedict Cumberbatch. Also strange praise for African-Americans at the end of that statement as well.

(8) Soccer is like the metric system, which liberals also adore because it's European. Naturally, the metric system emerged from the French Revolution, during the brief intervals when they weren't committing mass murder by guillotine.

The metric system is scary! I'm glad we have Ann Coulter to stand up against its insidious practice.

(9) Soccer is not "catching on." Headlines this week proclaimed "Record U.S. ratings for World Cup," and we had to hear -- again -- about the "growing popularity of soccer in the United States."
The USA-Portugal game was the blockbuster match, garnering 18.2 million viewers on ESPN. This beat the second-most watched soccer game ever: The 1999 Women's World Cup final (USA vs. China) on ABC. (In soccer, the women's games are as thrilling as the men's.) 

Yeah, but the only sport it didn't beat was football and that is our national pastime so it shouldn't come close to it. It beat out NBA basketball and the World Series so there is that. "Catching on" means there are more viewers than the last World Cup. That is a true statement no matter how Ann Coulter feels about it.

In any case just cheer that some American guys went to Brazil and did well. (Some of them were German-American but they still wear our colors on their backs.) In this case they did better than Italy, France, Portugal, England, Spain, and even Russia. Support your entire country for once and don't break it into liberals and conservatives, light-rail lovers, African-Americans and Coulters's mental enemies aka "the same people." Just support our country or you could change the channel to Fox News and forget the World Cup is even going on. 

Obama Literally Checks Out: Leaves White House for One-on-one Time with Americans

This seems like an okay idea to me because everything he does in Washington seems like a scandal or a foreign policy blunder.

A poignant letter from one of those Americans prompted Obama to fly to Minnesota to spend time Thursday with Rebekah Erler, an accountant and mother of two whose tale of financial struggle made its way to Obama's desk, one of the 10 letters from Americans that Obama reads each night.

As he joined Erler, 36, for burgers under dim neon lights advertising beer at Matt's Bar, her quest to do right by her family despite economic headwinds animated the president's rallying cry for Washington to pay attention to the plight of the American middle class. It's a popular theme for Democrats in a midterm election year.

Erler complained about high costs of groceries, childcare, her husband cannot find a good job and how much student loan debts she has to pay. Well if Obama really wants to do some good create a national child care initiative. 

For single women child-care is a huge deal and prevents some from working and others from getting a higher paying job. Obama can create a public and private partnership where the Government licenses nannies and child care centers that are privately run. Then provide a tax break for child care that can be claimed on your taxes if you put your child into one of the licensed centers or have a relative take care of them. I'm sure the GOP wouldn't vote against a bill that will help mothers with young kids.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

College Drop-out Factories? I Guess this is a Thing Now

Hmm now there needs to be something done about places like this.

School reformers, including President Obama, often talk about high school “dropout factories.” These are the roughly 2,000 public high schools, about 15 percent of the total, with the nation’s highest dropout rates. The average student at these schools has about a fifty-fifty chance of graduating, according to the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University. But the term “dropout factory” is also applicable to colleges. The Washington Monthly and Education Sector, an independent think tank, looked at the 15 percent of colleges and universities with the worst graduation records—about 200 schools in all—and found that the graduation rate at these schools is 26 percent. (See the table at left for a listing of the fifty colleges and universities with the worst graduation rates.) America’s “college dropout factories,” in other words, are twice as bad at graduating their students as the worst high schools are at graduating theirs.

The bottom 200 schools only have a 26% graduation rate? That is absolutely awful. Especially when people are going into debt in order to fund 1 or 2 years of college then end up dropping out.So they borrow a bunch of debt that cannot be gotten rid of and they don't get a college degree to prop up their earnings. It seems these places are kept in business due to perverse economics:

As for helping your students earn degrees, why bother? State appropriations systems and federal financial aid are based on enrollment: as long as students keep coming, the money keeps flowing. And since the total number of college students increased from 7.4 million in 1984 to 10.8 million in 2009, colleges have many students to waste. “It’s like trench warfare in World War I,” says Michael Kirst, a Stanford University education professor. “You blow the whistle, and they come out of the trenches, and they get mowed down, but there are always more troops coming over. It’s very easy to get new troops. If 85 percent of them don’t finish, there’s another 85 percent of them that can come in to take their place.” 

As long as there is another group of minority students that will fill the seats the next semester armed with their financial aid, their student loans, and state money. WW1 trench warfare does sound like a very apt metaphor for these schools. 

The Tea Party War on the Export/Import Bank is Just Stupid

It is as if the Tea Party has a bad a grasp of economics as anyone on the anti-capitalism far left. Everything is "crony capitalism" to them.

Has Ex-Im finally discovered the elusive free lunch? Suppose it’s true, as the bank reports, that 205,000 U.S. workers owed their employment to Ex-Im-supported exports in fiscal 2013. This is not evidence of job creation; it’s evidence of governmentally-assisted job allocation. Resources that Ex-Im helped steer to Boeing, et al., might have created the same number of jobs, or more, at other firms. 

Yeah, they are called firms and jobs that will be in other countries. Why should we dismantle our loan guarantees when China, Japan, and European countries refuse to dismantle theirs? So we can maybe save $2 billion in 10 years? I would rather have that money going to Boeing and jobs in the US than some foreign competitor. In fact this is pocket change when compared to subsidies to other business. I would gladly exchange all the targeted subsidies for a corporate tax cut to an average of the 10 largest economies.

Sour Grapes Tea Partier Chris McDaniel Cries Foul That Blacks Voted for Thad Cochran

And people in the GOP wonder why blacks don't vote for them.

“The conservative movement is alive in Mississippi,” McDaniel, who has not conceded the race yet to Cochran, said in a Wednesday night statement. “The Republicans who voted last night made it clear they’re looking for conservative change in Mississippi.”

“But the results also tell another story,” McDaniel continued. “They tell the story of some members of our party who are willing to engage in tactics unbecoming of the party of Ronald Reagan. It’s no wonder so many conservatives don’t feel welcome in the Republican party.”

Are "tactics unbecoming the party" appealing to black people? Or is it appealing to the entire actual electorate? If McDaniel was so into making sure there is ideological purity then why don't they just close the election to GOP party members only? That way it will be a Tea Party vs. Establishment Republican fight off.

It Seems Technology May Have Forced FIFAs hand When It Came to the "Italian Diner" Suarez

I have to agree that FIFA could not sweep the whole having a bite of Italian thing under the rug.

This is also a victory for technology and social media. FIFA often gets these decisions wrong, and the endless loop of replays and photos and Internet discussion of Suarez's behavior surely made the soccer authority's decision unavoidable. Consider: Suarez is one of the most poorly behaved athletes in the world, and he hasn't received a single red card in the last four years. He was not given even a yellow card for his bite, despite the obvious marks on Chiellini's left shoulder. Chiellini himself summed it up best when he said after the incident: "Suarez is a sneak and he gets away with it because FIFA wants their stars to play in the World Cup," he said. 'I'd love to see if they have the courage to use video evidence against him.'

A 9 game ban is a pretty big deal and he cannot even watch his team play because he is banned from all soccer activities. What is interesting too is that this guy might be known more for biting people then he is for any of his play on the field. It seems that World Cup glory and enmity follows a player around for a long time depending on your nation.

Klinsmann Pens Excuse Letter to Let Americans Off Work to Watch the Game

It really looks like it was written by a German as well.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Interesting Student Loan Bankruptcy Plan Advocated by the Weekly Standard

I'm sure some economist could poke holes in this idea but it might be a good thing for the CBO or someone to give this idea a green-eyeshade once over.

If we are concerned that allowing students to escape student debt via bankruptcy might open up the college loan market to the same moral hazard problems that befell the mortgage market and will leave the government on the hook, we could make the institution of higher learning assume their loan payments after a bankruptcy. That might make schools think twice before they admit a marginal prospect and charge them thousands of dollars for an education that might not do them much good, and it might make students think twice about disdaining lower-price options, such as the junior college near their home.

If the school had to write off the debt and have a large "allowance for doubtful accounts" line item put onto their books it might change the landscape of college. I know there would be know 8% or more per year tuition raises and I have a feeling that many marginal colleges might close their doors. Those small private schools with the $36,000 a year tuition does not look as good if they would be on the hook for those bankrupt students.

Family Wealth has Plunged in the Last 10 Years

I guess this might be a reason why families are freaking out and feel like there is actually a recession on instead of a recovery.

A new study published by the Russell Sage foundation helps explain why many families feel like they’re falling behind: They actually are. The study, which measures the average wealth of U.S. households by income level, reveals a startling decline in wealth nationwide. The median household in 2013 had a net worth of just $56,335 -- 43% lower than the median wealth level right before the recession began in 2007, and 36% lower than a decade ago. “There are very few signs of significant recovery from the losses in wealth suffered by American families during the Great Recession,” the study concludes.

Most of this is due to housing prices being low and real inflation (food and energy) cutting into their purchasing power as their wages stay stagnate. I would be apoplectic if I was down 30% in net worth in just 10 years.

What also sucks for those families is that I bet they were gun-shy of the stock market after 2008 and kept their money in cash and T-bonds. If they had bought stocks like I did they would be up huge right now and actually feeling a little better about things. Instead they have anemic savings rates from "stimulus" and have to dip into the market after missing the huge upward move. I think another train might hit them if they aren't careful.

World Cup Advancement Math for Tomorrows US vs Germany Game

In the words of late Los Angeles Raiders owner Al Davis: "Just Win Baby!" But if we don't here is all the things that can happen tomorrow.

Win and advance. This seems to be Jurgen Klinsmann's main goal and it should be, given the U.S. will need a victory in order to not only secure a spot in the next round, but also avoid the arguably stronger team that will emerge from Group H as the winner. The odds say this will probably be Belgium, while Algeria, Russia or South Korea are all still in the race for the potential second seed.

Meanwhile, a draw will ensure the U.S. advances as the group's runner-up, no matter what Ghana and Portugal end up doing.

However, there is one scenario that should be called "screw America by lots"

If Portugal prevails over Ghana 2-0 and the U.S. loses 3-0 to Germany or Portugal beats Ghana 3-1 and Germany beats the U.S. 4-1, the U.S. and Portugal would be tied in points, goals differential and goals scored. Since both sides played a 2-2 draw against each other, FIFA would draw lots in this instance to determine who advances.

I'm pretty sure the Ronaldo-rules would be in effect and FIFA would magically draw Portugal to get through to the knock-out stage. I mean FIFA would make more money if Ronaldo gets another chance to shine (or fail) on the world stage.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

World Cup Getting Great Ratings in the US

The US might be finally transitioning to being interested in the World Cup at long last. The US-Portugal game was a ratings hit eclipsing most non-football US sporting events.

The Nielsen company said that Sunday's gripping game was seen by an average of 24.7 million viewers on ESPN and Univision. That matches it with the 24.7 million U.S. viewers who watched the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands.

ESPN said an additional 490,000 people streamed coverage of the game on their mobile devices through the company's app. Streaming numbers for 2010 weren't immediately available, but it's very unlikely they were that high because streaming apps were not as sophisticated then.

That streaming number will probably shoot through the roof because the next game will be played during the day on Thursday. Too bad we can't get a soccer holiday like Brazil does whenever their national team plays.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Is the world of "Disruption" a good thing?

This article gave me food for thought on the subject of disruption and how it is supposed to be changing the world.

Ever since “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” everyone is either disrupting or being disrupted. There are disruption consultants, disruption conferences, and disruption seminars. This fall, the University of Southern California is opening a new program: “The degree is in disruption,” the university announced. “Disrupt or be disrupted,” the venture capitalist Josh Linkner warns in a new book, “The Road to Reinvention,” in which he argues that “fickle consumer trends, friction-free markets, and political unrest,” along with “dizzying speed, exponential complexity, and mind-numbing technology advances,” mean that the time has come to panic as you’ve never panicked before. Larry Downes and Paul Nunes, who blog for Forbes, insist that we have entered a new and even scarier stage: “big bang disruption.” “This isn’t disruptive innovation,” they warn. “It’s devastating innovation.”

The problem with "disruption" is that it not always creates a better world in its wake. This article goes into it in great detail and I have to agree with Jill Lepore's assessment. She takes apart the Innovators Dilemma point by point and proves that disruption doesn't kill all companies. She also states that disrupting may not be good for some companies.

She does skirt the fact that Blockbuster was killed by Netflix because they didn't catch the digital download wave fast enough. Also Best Buy is slowly being killed off by Amazon because they cannot match their prices and selection because they have to maintain stores. The record store was killed off by iTunes and being able to buy a song at a $1 each. Finally, the book store is slowly being killed by Kindle and the e-book in whatever form. It just seems like the scrappy startup "disrupting" the world is only true for a time until the big boys step in.

However, does this "disruption" make for a better world? I mean you no longer have to drive to the video store to pick out a video to watch on a Friday night. You just have to thumb through page after page of Netflix selections and end up watching reruns of Frazier or something. The bad thing is the tactile sense of things is disappearing. You no longer have a sense of the weight of things. You don't have a DVD or VHS tape in your hands and stored away. You have bytes on the cloud and it creates an ephemeral and disposable thing in your mind. You now have a 1000 movies that you can watch at any time but probably won't come close to watching them. One lucky thing though is Netflix is creating content that is very good. People are enjoying their TV shows and they are critically acclaimed.

This sense of "disruption" especially hard to take when it comes to the book store. I used to spend a solid afternoon reading about all sorts of different topics and thumbing through magazines and books. Now I can just go to Kindle and have 1000s of books at my fingertips but end up not buying any of them. I can't hold them in my hands and thumb through them then I usually don't want to have to buy them. It is especially tough when you know you are paying like $25 for a file that costs Amazon like 1/10th of a penny to make. That whole book store experience is slowly dying for the sake of carrying around a 100 books on your "disruptive" device. It is the cry of the grognard but what can you do?

This is mostly nostalgia talking but some aspects of the "disruptive" world rubs me the wrong way. The idea of dizzying speed and constant "devastating innovation" seems to be making the world a course place. Everyone seems to be rushing around and chasing the newest tech toy or just fleeing obsolescence. People just seem to be more angry and hostile because of it. We have more information at our fingertips than ever before but we also seem more anxious as well.

Part of the reason why the middle class is hurting is because their jobs got "disrupted" away. A solid middle class job like travel agent got taken over by and bank teller got taken over by your Citibank app. Now Uber is coming for the taxi cab driver and Wealthfront goes after your financial adviser. You can talk all you want about the manufacturing sector moving to China and the call center moving to India but Kayak, Amazon, and Android apps are doing their fair share of damage to the middle class. They are "disrupting" some middle class people right out of a job.

Finally there is less control over things and every device seems to be talking to one another while the NSA sits in the dark stealing your data and doing whatever with it. Soon your refrigerator is going to be sending you a Facebook message that you need to throw away your expired Yogurt. Losing your phone is now a terrible thing but soon it is going to be catastrophic. Hell, terrorist groups are Instagraming their mass murders and killers writing YouTube manifestos for everyone to watch. The "disruptive" world brings with it quite a nasty side sometimes. I guess it is the price to pay to have all the worlds knowledge at a click on a device you can fit in your pocket.

Obama Faces a Terrible Choice on Iraq: Yeah it is a Shit Sandwich and He Has to Take a Bite

I would not envy this new foreign policy conundrum the White House is facing. Every choice sucks as far as I can tell.

1. Team up with Iran to fight the insurgents with air power. Its the Great Satan and and Axis of Evil member in a tag-team match for the soul of Iraq. This is pretty much the US flying drone strikes for the Badr Brigade and the Iranian Republican Guard. That cannot look good if you are against Iranian nuclear ambitions and pro-sanctions. Also these are the same guys that were trying to kill our troops just a few years ago.

2. Do nothing. We get a ring side seat for genocide and a civil war that impacts a nation that is a huge oil producer that we recently fought a war to "liberate." In fact it is an honest-to-goodness regional conflict because ISIS is taking the looted tanks and weapons from the Iraqi army to go fight in Syria. The Syrian war just escalated. That seems to happen when you don't do anything except write red lines and pass out MREs in a conflict. If you don't lead you end up having to have conditions dictated to you.

3. Boots on the Ground. We get sucked into a regional civil war between the Sunni and the Shiites that have been going on since Mohammed died. We shouldn't have left in the first place but this is the kind of thing that happens when we do. We have to come back into the picture but the battlefield is already tilted against us. In fact not signing a status-of-forces agreement might get the Iraqi government killed if ISIS invades Baghdad.

All of these things are terrible choices. Maybe some Great Game playing with us aligning with and arming the Kurds might be in order. It will piss off Turkey but you have to pick the side that would be the most beneficial to your nation in the long run. You might have to partition the country though in order for this to succeed and I'm sure the UN would not want that to happen.

Obama's Foreign Policy Flubs Taking Their Toll

It seems that Obama nearly endless screw-ups on the foreign stage is hurting his poll numbers.

According to the poll, just 37% of respondents said they approved of Obama's handling of foreign-policy issues, an all-time low. Meanwhile, 57% said they disapproved, an all-time high.

And the foreign-policy approval rating for Obama might be artificially high. The poll was conducted before the crisis in Iraq — a situation for which Obama has been roundly criticized — bubbled up and grabbed international attention.

The Iraq crisis will get even worse for Obama (and the Iraqis) as we go along. Also it seems that the public is not behind trading 5 Taliban generals for 1 possible defector by a large margin.

According to the poll, 44% of respondents said the administration should not have made the exchange, compared with 30% who supported it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

More Obama Incompentence: They Put the CIA chief in Kabul's name on a Handout to Reporters?

I think the entire White House is asleep at the switch. This is inexcusable.

The White House said on Wednesday it has put corrective measures in place in response to the accidental public outing of the CIA station chief's name during President Barack Obama's trip to Afghanistan late last month.

During the trip, personnel at Bagram Air Base gave to White House communications personnel at list of people who were meeting Obama. The White House gave the list to reporters covering the trip and among the names was that of the CIA official.

"Here is a top secret list of people that Obama will be meeting at Bagram" says an Air Force official with a TS clearance. "Thanks" says incompetent White House communications peon while he hands it to a bunch of reporters in attendance. 

I'm sure one of the reporters then says "I didn't know that Bob is the Station Chief in Kabul I thought he was a independent contractor for Boeing." Bob the Station Chief in Kabul's gets to spend the rest of his career in Washington thinking of ways to kill off that incompetent White House peon.

Obama in the Bubble: Why the Bergdahl Swap Went Sour so Quickly

This makes sense why the White House fumbled the Bergdahl prisoner swap so badly.

And this is precisely the problem. President Obama felt “very strongly” that he had made the right decision — and nobody who worked for him was about to tell him otherwise. “There was not a dissent on moving forward with this plan,” Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, told Time magazine. 

In other words the Obama White House and the "Sun King" Louis XIV court are starting to resemble one another. A team of yes-men that can't tell the monarch any bad news at all. This article goes on to suppose that congress wasn't called about the prisoner deal because they might tell Obama some bad news. I can see someone like Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the intelligence committee chairman saying "Bergdahl might be a defector so it would be stupid to trade 5 Taliban Generals for him."

The White House then does a Rose Garden victory lap and then has to make a tortured explanation why the Bergdahls where there in the first place. I'm sure someone could have said "wait on the victory lap" until we can at least call Dianne Feinstein or can talk to Bergdahl to see if he is a defector or merely a deserter.

Finally, having Susan Rice go on the morning shows (which was such a good idea during the Bengazi debacle) and say Bergdahl served with honor and distinction was a total unforced error. This seemed to bring out the soldiers who Bergdahl abandoned to tell the real story on what happened. If the White House kept their mouth shut maybe the story of why Bergdahl fell into the Taliban's hands would have remained a mystery. In any case "Sun King" Obama might want to leave the Court every now and then and hear some unvarnished truth if he can take it.

Tea Party Darling, Dave Brat, who Beat Cantor Did it Through Attacking Big Business

Well it seems that immigration reform wasn't Cantors only Achilles heel. He was also attacked because he was pro-business.

"The central theme of Brat’s campaign is that Cantor is beholden to business — specifically the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable," wrote Politico in April.

“If you’re in big business, Eric’s been very good to you, and he gets a lot of donations because of that, right?” Brat said at a local meeting of Republicans in Virginia, according to Politico. “Very powerful. Very good at fundraising because he favors big business. But when you’re favoring artificially big business, someone’s paying the tab for that. Someone’s paying the price for that, and guess who that is? You.”

Said like a guy who is a professor at Randolph Macon College that doesn't have to worry about the bottom line like people in the private sector. He seems like a Tea Party version of the pointy-headed liberal college professor who has a lot of ideas passed down from the Ivory Tower.  He actually sounds like the conservative version of Obama who hasn't worked at an actual business anytime in his life.

Also what in the hell is an "artificially big business?" Is that a successful business? Is it merely a successful business that doesn't have to rely on $35,360 a year in tuition (and the pile of debt that is created) to survive? Is that a company that employs 10,000s of Americans and makes it so they can support their families and maybe get into the upper middle class without begging for tenure from some high-priced university?

Anti-business Tea Partiers make me sick because they treat large corporations how liberals do. They think these companies are monolithic entities and not hundreds of thousands of people all striving to make capitalism work (and are hopefully being paid a nice sum doing it.) An "artificially big business" will create more growth and more jobs than a 100 pointy-headed college professors combined. In any case Dave Brat will probably get smashed by whatever Dem they put up against him anyway so it is all a moot point.

Mark My Words: Eric Cantor's Loss Means the Dems Hold the Senate and Hands Hillary the White House

Well it seems that the Tea Party know-nothings have sniped a big target.

“My understanding from talking to people down in Richmond was that the real issues seem to be that he wasn’t strongly enough anti-immigration reform, that he voted to end the government shutdown and he voted to raise the debt ceiling,” Bobbie Kilberg, who heads the Northern Virginia Technology Council and held a May fundraiser for Cantor, told TIME. “And you know, at some point in time, these people need to understand you just simply have to govern. These people need to understand that we need immigration reform. And these people need to understand that Eric Cantor was a conservative on all those issues. He was a mainstream conservative.”

Yup, and save the world economy as well when he voted to raise the debt ceiling. In any case immigration reform is probably dead for maybe a decade since no Republican is going to back it and have an opportunity to lose their primary. By then the Hispanic vote will be firmly in the Democratic pocket so there may never be another Republican President in decades for sure. The Tea Party fighting "amnesty" has probably won it for Hillary Clinton and maybe even Chelsea Clinton if she wants to run in 2024.

Also we might have a bunch of Tea Party asswipes beating establishment candidates and then losing to Democrats in their general elections. So the establishment guys can either do nothing (which is usually a good bet) or tack right to try to win the Tea Party vote. Tacking right will make them unpalatable to independents and they will lose in the general. So the Senate will probably stay in Democratic hands in November.

In any case more idiot Tea Partiers will be shutting down the government or defaulting on our debt and making it hard for this economy to grow. Hopefully, Cantor lost because he was more interested in Washington power and less interested in Virginia's 7th district. However if this is a sign that the Tea Party is turning the tide against mainstream Republicans then the Dems can be in power for a very long time.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Smart Phone Innovation from MSFT: Yes I said Microsoft

A company known for saying "Me Too" only 2 years after any innovation from the Android and iPhone camps actually made something that sounds cool.

While Kinect has not yet proven to be an essential must-have for gamers who own Microsoft’s Xbox consoles, it could be extremely useful if ported to the smartphone realm. Among other things, Warren says that Kinect in Windows Phone will let you answer your phone just by holding up to your ear and to turn on speaker phone just by placing your phone down on the table when you’re on a call with someone. You’ll also be able to end your call by putting your phone into your pocket, as Kinect will be able to automatically tell what you’d like to do based on lighting and positioning.

That actually sounds like something iPhone and Android would want to copy and not the other way around. If they can improve the voice activation as well then the Windows Phone actually sounds like something that a consumer might rush out and buy. You add this to the Kinect-less Xbone and you have MSFT actually listening to consumers instead of telling them what they want.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Iowa GOP Hopeful Joni Ernst Smacks Down the "War on Women" Charge

Hmm, I think this woman can become the first woman Senator in Iowa history with bold words like these.

“Soon we’ll be hearing about the phony war on women,” Ernst said Tuesday night. “Well, I have a message for them: I’ve been to war. 

I’ve seen the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make every day to defend our freedoms. If Democrats want to start throwing around words like ‘war,’ they better be doing it to honor those men and women.

As for their cheap political attacks, well…I look forward to hearing Bruce Braley… lecture me… about what’s best for women.”

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Intel Provides us With a Glimpse of the Wireless Future: You can Charge Your Phone By Setting it On Your Table?

I think things are getting all Warhammer 40K when Intels new plans come about.

During its presentation at Computex, Intel gave a demonstration of wireless charging technology based on A4WP standard Rezence that you can install under a table surface and can charge your laptop through up to two inches of wood. Even more impressively, the technology can charge multiple devices at once, which could make it particularly useful for crowded cafes where lots of people now crowd into small spaces competing for power outlets.

So this means Starbucks can install one of these devices on their tables and you can just put your phone or laptop down and it will start charging. That is first of all weird because intuitively you would think the charging table would put an electric charge into you but I guess it doesn't. Hopefully this can be scaled up to something you can put on your car dash or storage compartment so you can kiss plugging in your car charger goodbye.

In addition to wireless charging, Intel also showed off a new wireless docking system that will let you beam what’s on your computer screen to other screens wirelessly without the need for a clunky docking system.

I guess this is something that can be used to beam what is playing on your tablet to your TV without needed a Chromecast. I would love to see how seamlessly this will work but it does seem like we are entering a future where you can charge your phone by setting it down on your table which is pretty cool.

Movie Review: Maleficent: Go See It

Well I recently saw the new Disney film Maleficent and I have to say I enjoyed myself quite a bit. It is basically a retelling of Sleeping Beauty from the point of view of the Evil Queen. However, she really isn't evil and you understand why she did what she did.

The acting was spot on with Angelina Jolie pretty much carrying the movie. You can feel her pain and see her joy at various turns of the plot. She doesn't devour scenery like some actors but she does subtle and angry as well as any Oscar winner. She does a great job of going from loving pixie to evil queen to "fairy godmother" and everywhere in between. You can sympathize with her plight as the guy she loved disfigures her so that he can become King. She pulls off the pain and loss in the scene where you see her wings cut off and you almost wince with her. This is yet another example (after Gravity) that a female lead can not only carry a movie but also bring in big box office numbers as well.

The rest of the characters were decent enough and even the fairies that look after Princess Aurora did not become annoying like what happens in some Disney movies. This could have been a place where you would sigh and have to endure scene after scene of them hamming it up. Instead they did a solid job and did not waste too much screen time. Elle Fanning did a good job playing Princess Aurora and did not become treacly and stupid at any time. She reminded me of Rapunzel in Tangled for some reason as a plucky girl with heart. The King was sufficiently evil but was not over the top or just pure evil like some Disney villains. There was a good amount of motivation and pathos and the actor did a good job of portraying it.

I have also got to hand it to the cinematographer Dean Semler as well. I was so taken aback by how everything looked so I had to look up the this guy in order to see who it was that did such a great job. The sets looked sufficiently fairy tale but done in a realistic way as to look like an actual place. The costumes were excellent and I was just amazed on how well everything held together. I thought Game of Thrones was good at making a fantasy world come to life but the world of Maleficent has raised the bar. This really feels like we are in the Golden Age of fantasy movies.

In fact I would love to see the Maleficent treatment given to more Disney properties as well. I can very easily see a retelling of Aladdin or Alice in Wonderland if they keep to the high-standards that Maleficent has brought about. Hopefully, the big box office on this film will at least give Disney the idea of refreshing some of their older properties in a live action format. It can easily crap out but I would love to see them make an attempt at it. I was really thinking how an Alice in Wonderland without Johnny Depp using a Maleficent formula would be a great time in the theater.

Finally, the movie is a little dark for kids but I think they will enjoy it right along with the parents for the most part. It wasn't too long and it kept to the Disney blood-less death format that you would expect from this kind of movie. But people die and get hurt and there are evil deeds and such so a kid needs to understand that going it. I know if I saw it as a kid I would seriously love every minute of it. The sets and costumes alone would have fascinated me. In any case I will be watching this again when it comes to the small screen and I am glad I had a chance to watch it in all its glory on the big screen.

Obama Just Can't Win: It Looks Like the Guy We Traded 5 Taliban Senior Figures For might Be a Deserter

I'm sure Obama felt it was a good deal and may have broken the law to make the prisoner exchange but it seems that Bowe Bergdahl might not have been a POW after all.

Nathan Bethea, a former soldier who says he served in Bergdahl’s unit, recently wrote that he and his colleagues had been forced to stay quiet about the truth of Bergdahl’s case.
"And that the truth is: Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down," Bethea wrote in The Daily Beast Monday. “Bergdahl was relieved from guard duty, and instead of going to sleep, he fled the outpost on foot. He deserted. I’ve talked to members of Bergdahl’s platoon—including the last Americans to see him before his capture. I’ve reviewed the relevant documents. That’s what happened.” 

I think they pulled the trigger on the prisoner exchange to take some heat off the VA scandal and this bit the White House in the ass. If Bergdahl was a deserter they need to charge him and send him to jail. However, it probably won't happen because the White House will do everything they can to sweep it under the rug. You have to be at a very high level of incompetence to have a scandal develop from the thing that you are using to distract from a different scandal.

The GOP Might be able to Elect a New Female Senator in Iowa

It seems that the GOP might be getting one step closer to taking control of the Senate.

In a party eager to develop female talent, state Senator Ernst is a dream come true. Her campaign began to take off in March with a grabby ad touting her skill castrating hogs – and a desire to cut spending in Washington. The ad went viral on YouTube, and she never looked back.

“I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork,” Ernst says in the ad, which cost $9,000 to produce.

On Tuesday, Ernst crushed the competition with 56 percent of the vote. Her nearest opponent, radio host Sam Clovis, won 18 percent. Ernst and Congressman Braley will compete in November to succeed retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D).

I saw her ad on the Daily Show and it was pretty funny and of course snarky-assed Jon Stewart made fun of it but it got people talking. You cannot ask for a better return on your $9000 investment. She is also a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard who served in Iraq and Kuwait. I can take those bonafides over brainless Sarah Palin any day. If the GOP can get more women like Ernst into power then this whole war-on-women nonsense can finally fade away.