Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's The Economy, Stupid

As usual, it appears that the biggest issue in the upcoming election will be the economy.  Yes, Obamacare, illegal immigration, full rights and civil trials for terrorists, the Ground Zero Mosque, voting irregularities (much more on that in the next day or two), and many other things are also still on the table...but the economy is the biggie.

So how is the economy doing after the 'summer of recovery' that Obama and the Dems promised us after throwing away trillions of dollars?

Well...if this is a recovery, it's hard to imagine what a downturn might look like.  Unemployment is still riding close to 10% (if you factor in those who have given up even looking for a job, it's actually over 17%).  Record numbers of Americans depend on the government for basic needs.  The only job growth that has occurred in the past three years is that of public sector (i.e. government) employees, and even those are about to disappear because they weren't real jobs in the first place.  In that same timeframe, the true engine of of real economic growth, the private sector, has hemorrhaged almost 10 million jobs!!!  We are currently living through the longest stretch of 9%+ unemployment since the Great Depression.  We're looking at the worst Presidential jobs record in history, including Herbert Hoover himself.  Even mainstream media outlets are now wondering if this is indeed the beginnings of a total collapse.

Interestingly, the recession of the late 1970s/early 1980s looked a whole lot like the one that hit in 2008.  The main difference is the recovery and how that recovery came about.  Ronald Reagan cut taxes and reigned in the size of government, opening up new avenues for private investment and entrepreneurialism.  Barack Obama is raising taxes and expanding government like a bad rash, locking down investment with heaping new regulations and threatening businesses within a hair's breadth of their very existence.  Which worked better?

And we all know how the economy took off like a rocket a year or two later, prompting two decades of huge economic success.  Kind of a no-brainer, really.

What's the adminstration's response to these facts?  There have been many, actually:

- Hey, it could be worse (I agree: the longer Obama and the Dems stay in charge, the worse it's going to get)
- Lie about how bad the deficit really is
- You mere citizens are just too shtoopid to comprehend Obama's genius in terms of what he's done, so they don't need to explain it to you
- It's all the bankers' fault!
- Um, you remember all those shovel ready jobs we shelled out hundreds of billions of stimulus dollars for?  They didn't exist.  Oops.  But don't worry about that, we've got things under control now...just ignore us while we send $1 BILLION in stimulus checks to dead people...
- Heck, sometimes they just turn off the microphone of the guy asking the question!

And even the administration itself admits those jobs aren't coming back.  Now, let's have a little history lesson, shall we?  I love visuals.  They're so easy, fast, and impacting.  Let's take a visual look at the unemployment rate over the past 15 years, which includes the Republican leadership of Congress up until 2007, when Nancy Pelosi and the Dems took over:

Hm, very interesting.  I think I see a trend.  How's about we remember the lesson this time and simply acknowledge that Democrats cannot be entrusted with the leadership of this nation?  At least, not if we want this nation to be an economic juggernaut rather than an anemic European socialist state.  Our next chance to change hands is Tuesday, so don't miss it.

Of course, not every state is suffering quite so badly.  Guess which state has actually created almost 120,000 private sector jobs over the past year?  Texas.  Why?
What does Austin know that Washington doesn’t? At its simplest: Don’t overtax and -spend, keep regulations to a minimum, avoid letting unions and trial lawyers run riot, and display an enormous neon sign saying, “Open for Business.”
Yes, it really is that simple, and it works every time.  Unfortunately for us, Barack Obama and his radical Leftist Democrat Congress are doing precisely the opposite.

Over the past two years, the Obama administration and the Democrat Congress has racked up a mind-boggling $3 TRILLION in new debt.  Keep in mind this is after Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress pledged to refuse any additional deficit spending in 2007.  We weren't in terribly great shape before, but this is like emptying a small lake into a 5-gallon bucket and wondering why the carpet is getting wet.  In fact, they're so anti-business that the Dems have even demonstrated the sheer gall to attack Reps for ***GASP!!!*** meeting with business leaders.

The fact of the matter is that liberal Democrats genuinely don't understand how to create jobs.  They think it's done by government when the reality is exactly the opposite.  Check out this recent debate moment from Connecticut to illustrate:

You see, this is what happens when you have the most progressive, radical Leftist government in decades.  When you base your economic policy decisions on things like gender and ethnic quotas, environmentalist wacko screeching (despite all real-world evidence that this is a bad idea), and political pandering or triangulation rather than actual history and economics, it's a train wreck waiting to happen.  Actually, in this case, it's a train wreck that has already happened, and we're trying to deal with the clean-up now.

One of the biggest failures of this Democrat Congress is the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003.  Specifically, that they were set to expire at the end of this year.  Everyone knew it, and Republicans were pushing hard to get those tax cuts extended or made permanent.  Dozens of rank-and-file Democrats agreed with them, but unfortunately for all of us, the Democrat leadership closed up shop early and skeedaddled out of town to avoid having to vote on it.  That's right, by not taking action to extend those tax cuts, the Democrats have effectively raised taxes on every American man, woman, and child who earns a paycheck.

You see, Obama's current best plan is to tax the 'rich' into making the nation whole again. Just one wee little problem - you simply cannot tax the 'rich' enough to make our economy whole.  Literally.  Obama's plan would require the 'rich' pay a tax rate of 134% for a decade (and ignore the vacuum that would leave in the real world functioning of the economy at the same time) to close the current deficit.  It cannot be done, period.  So, Obama's plan of trying to rob Peter to pay Paul isn't a viable long-term option because at some point you always run out of other people's moneyThe White House says that allowing Bush's tax cuts to expire is what 'every' objective economist says is the best way to get out of the hole we're in.  Hm, they must have neglected to ask the several hundred economists (including a Nobel laureate), all of whom disagree on that small point, and who signed an official letter attesting that fact.

But there will be other ramifications to the Dems' economic failures, too.  Kiss your free checking goodbye.  Watch out for your 401k accounts.  Save up your gas money.  These things are all potential targets for the lame duck Congress.  This bunch of radical Leftist Democrats may get thrown unceremoniously out of office by the American people, but they could very well leave with their middle fingers defiantly flying since they've got nothing left to lose.  Just watch out, and remember who did this to the nation.

How will those tax increases hit you?  Just get ready to have less money from each paycheck, and expect the price of darn near everything to go up.  For those of us in Missouri, we can expect to see almost 14,000 jobs lost each year for the next decade and tax increases of almost $5,000 a year per household over the next decade.  Go here if you want to check the numbers for yourself.  This is the gift that Obama and the outgoing Democrats wrapped up nice and special for you while they're flying the coop and flipping you the bird.

And here's the final shiv to the ribs - the Tax Commission or Blue Ribbon panel, or whatever they're called.  Several months ago, Obama called together a bunch of hoity-toity former politicians to 'study' our current economy and make some recommendations for what needs to happen.  In a completely unamazing coincidence, they're going to issue their 'findings' shortly after the election.  I'll bet you any amount of money that their recommendation will be to raise taxes in order to try to shrink the deficit and national debt (which won't work for the reasons stated above).  Of course, Obama and the lame duck Dems will 'reluctantly' go along with it because it's such an urgent mission (never mind the fact that they took months to come to that conclusion), and ram it through before the new Republican-led Congress is sworn in next January.  They're banking on the old guard Washington Republicans to refuse to buck the system too much and fall right into the trap, so once again it's up to us, We The People, to knock some sense into their heads and get them moving in the right direction.

Let's be real.  America's primary economic problem really isn't even spending or's the politicians.  The only hope we have is to throw them out and put in new people who came from US, from the normal, every day, hard working, honest people like you and me.  

This election is historic for a number of reasons.  I believe we are skating on the edge of a sword blade, and at this point our nation could topple either way.  If we do not bring some fiscal sanity back into this nation's leadership immediately, this nation's economic future is forfeit.  We absolutely must not allow an elected representative who helped contribute to this mess to remain in office, regardless of which party he or she may be in.  It's time for new blood, blood from among us rather than Washington 'elites'.  Professional politicians have proven their utter unreliability, incompetence, corruption, and failures.  Now it's time for We The People to get busy pulling America out of the mess they made.

Go vote on Tuesday...your economic future quite literally depends on it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Am I The Only One Who Hates reCAPTCHA?

You know, that crazy word generator that pops up on lots of websites to make you prove you're a real person rather than some kind of webbot.  I understand the need for this sort of thing for security purposes, but there are better ways to do it than force people to guess at squiggly nonsense words, aren't there?

I was looking at Ticketmaster today and had to deal with these wonderful examples:

Seriously?  How about this...if we absolutely must deal with this aggravation, how about you at least give us real, normal words?  Pretty plasedzseadase?

Awesome Tech

I love living in the 21st century!  Not only is technology making life more fun and much easier, but it also has the promise of truly saving and improving lives.  Check this out...
Pentagon-backed scientists are getting ready to test thought-controlled prosthetic arms on human subjects, by rewiring their brains to fully integrate the artificial limbs.
Already in recent years, we've seen very lifelike artificial arms, monkeys nibbling bananas with mind-controlled robotic limbs, and even humans whose muscle fibers have been wired to prosthetic devices. But this is the first time that human brains will be opened up, implanted with a neural interface, and then used to operate an artificial limb.
It's a giant step that'll transform the devices, which were little more than hooks and cables only 50 years ago. And the progress is courtesy of Darpa, the Pentagon's far-out R&D agency, who've been sponsoring brain-controlled replacement limbs as part of their Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program.
Incredible stuff, straight out of Star Wars, don't you think?  Read more here.  But that's not all.

More here.  Speaking of HULC...

For a full-body version, check out Raytheon's XOS2:
More here.  But that's still not all...
Until now, all other artificial heart transplants were just temporary relief. A 15 year old boy from Italy became the first person to receive a permanent artificial heart, due to the Duchenne syndrome which was wasting his muscles away.

It was this syndrome which meant he couldn't receive a heart transplant, causing doctors in Rome to insert the 4cm-long electrically-activated hydraulic pump "heart' in his left ventricle. A plug behind his left ear and battery attached to his belt powers the heart, which will gift him another 20 - 25 years of life that he wouldn't have had without this operation.
Sure, these are early prototypes, but we had to have the Model T before we got to the 2010 Ferrari, you know?  Just think what could happen when you put all this stuff's amazing! It is good to live nowadays.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

High Profile Readers

I love it when this happens...

Apparently, I have some extremely high-profile readers on my little blog...!

Wow, the biggest talk radio host in the country and a sitting Senator both must have read my words from a few days ago, when I said this:
Personally, I'd love to see the new GOP majorities pass legislation to repeal Obamacare on a monthly basis simply on principle, forcing Obama to veto it over and over and over again, and nailing the Dems on record for it, too.  Who knows?  If enough Dems are scared enough, maybe those veto-proof majorities would materialize after the third or fourth veto...
Or, it could simply be different people arriving at the same conclusion because the principles espoused in conservatism remain constant.

Nah, it was probably my blog.

Regardless, it's a good plan.  We'll see if they do it.

Over the next few days, I'll have two more big election-related posts, one on the economy (which is almost always the single biggest factor in elections) and one on the election fraud that is already being perpetrated upon Americans.  You won't want to miss either of these, so be sure to come back, and forward the information on to other people you know so they can be informed before they go vote next Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Elitism And Wealth Creation

Here are parts two and three of Bill Whittle's series on defining conservatism.  These are both excellent, but pay special attention to the wealth creation one.  It's hard to get a much better explanation of the key differences between the liberal viewpoint and the conservative viewpoint than this.

Hot Air adds this analysis regarding the wealth creation video:

This really is the fundamental economic divide between the Left and Right.  If one believes that wealth is a zero-sum game and that people can only accrue wealth at the expense of others, then redistributionism and socialism make perfect sense (except that neither works in practice, which comes into play in a moment).  If, however, wealth creation is an unlimited process and real wealth can and does grow, then open markets and something approaching laissez-faire makes more sense for an economic system.
Which one works?  All we need to do is look at history for the answer.
The short version is that the U.S. is based on the latter, and command-and-control economies like Communism and Socialism are based on the former.  Ironically, it is the command-and-control economies that are based on the idea of taking assets from one group and simply giving them to another group based on political whims.  This is precisely what the Left is constantly accusing the U.S. and free market systems of doing, though the reality is the opposite.

And oh, by the way, a whopping 75% of Americans think the free market is a better system than a government-controlled system.  If you split that number out into the Political Class and the Mainstream voters, it's even worse: 90% of Mainstream voters prefer the free market...but only 34% of the Political class do.  Is it any wonder the American people are revolting at the hands of their Political Class overlords right now?

Thus we're now seeing lots of polls like this one from right here in Missouri where only 9% of voters approve of the job Congress is going.

What happens when the Political class govern against the will of the people?  They get tossed out.  Just more week, and you'll see a wave of tossing that I believe will be unlike anything we've seen before.

It'll be the first step toward saving America.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Obamacare Update

It's been six months since Obamacare became law.  Let's take a look at how's it going now.

The most general effect of the new law is that -- contrary to what Obama promised -- it's going to cost a LOT!  Current studies are showing it'll be about 600% worse in the first year than even the falsely rosy projections the Dems tossed out while ramming it into law.  It's going to be so bad that even now millions are already seeing higher prices, even on plans for sick children, when they're not dropping them altogether.  College students may get dropped, as well.  States are getting screwed, too, and some (like Arizona) have already seen premium increases for employees.  Small businesses will be hammered, perhaps more than anyone else.  It appears that doctors will actually be penalized for offering high quality care.  Study after study shows premiums rising...until coverage is dropped completely, that is.  And no, the so-called tax incentives the administration loves to tout won't really help.  Obamacare will make the current doctor shortage vastly more painful for everyone.  And what about seniors?  Not only will their coverage become more expensive, too, but some Democrats have crassly joked about outright denying them end-of-life care.  Hmmm...death panels, anyone?  But don't ask the Medicare czar tough questions about things like rationing - he won't answer.  And don't bother HHS Secretary Sebelius, either - she'd rather talk about 're-educating' Americans into blindly accepting Obamacare.  Speaking of seniors, recall that one of the models for Obamacare was that nifty system in Massachusetts; unfortunately, it appears that major insurers in Massachusetts are planning to dump thousands of seniors off of their Medicare Advantage plans by next year.  Why?  Because it was not viable in the long-term.  But don't worry, the national Obamacare plan will be different.

How is Obamacare making things more expensive?  Aside from the rather obvious issue of essentially writing blank checks for unlimited health care for 'free', it also includes loads of new regulations, rules, and hoops to jump through.  Let's look at just one.  In Section 9006 there is a mandate that all small businesses must fill out a 1099 form for every other business with which they spend at least $600 in a year.  Stop and think about that.  As an individual or family, to how many different companies do you pay at least $50/month?  Cable bill...cellphone bill...water bill...QuikTrip for gas...groceries...heat and air conditioning...daycare...Walmart or Target...McDonald's...the mortgage company...trash collection...and so on.  And that doesn't even include those one-time purchases that come up, like tires for the car, braces for the kid, plane tickets to see Grandma and Grandpa at Christmas, etc.  Can you imagine having to fill out a tax form for each one of those?  Now imagine how many forms a fully functioning business with suppliers, vendors, repairs, and inventory would have to do, and you're starting to see how much extra time and hassle was created by just a few lines of this 2000+ page monstrosity!

Companies like McDonald's (and an increasing number of others) are already announcing plans to ditch their health care plans because they will be too expensive.  Of course, this was the whole point of Obamacare - to drive out private insurance companies, then sweep in with government 'insurance' -- providing exactly what they say you can have according to your worth to society regardless of your willingness or ability to pay for yourself -- to save the day.  Of course, the government hasn't quite gotten its own plans together yet, so if companies drop their people now there really is nowhere else for them to turn.  Oops!  Speaking of extreme competence, the federal government has failed to meet a full third of their own self-imposed deadlines for rolling out Obamacare.  Don't get me wrong, I'm okay with that...I just thought I'd point it out to suggest that maybe they aren't capable of running health care at all.

Oh, and remember all those promises about how you can keep your current health care if you like it?  You can...for a couple more years.  It is estimated that as much as 69% of current plans will fail to qualify under Obamacare by 2013.  Too bad, so sad, take the pill and go die quietly in the corner, would you?

But aren't the Dems who fought so bravely spat in the face of the American people to enact Obamacare just bursting with pride?  Well, let me answer that question by asking another question: six months after the Obamacare bill was signed into law, guess how many Democrats in national races are running ads bragging about how proud they are of what they've done?  Zero.  In fact, some are even running ads against it themselves.  Of course, that doesn't mean they'll actually support a, this is all about political expediency, not principles.  It's probably too late, though, since new polling data shows that voters intend to punish representatives who supported Obamacare and other massive Obama initiatives.

Here's one example that's close to home.  If you work for Boeing, here's what Obamacare has done to for you:

Deductibles, the share of medical costs that employees pay annually before their plan kicks in, will go up to $300 for individuals, an increase of $100. For families, the new deductible will be $900, an increase of $300.

In addition, Boeing is instituting a copayment of 10 percent after the deductible has been met. The copayment will rise to 20 percent in 2012.

I'm not sure how this is bending the cost curve down, but that's what we were promised, as I'm sure you recall.  My company just distributed our new benefits information for next year, and it's getting more painful for us, too:

"Beginning January 1 associates will pay a $25 pre-tax premium, or may choose to waive participation in the medical plan.  There will also be an increase in the cost for dependent coverage, with slightly higher annual deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums."

What?  We have to pay in order to participate in a medical plan that is now more expensive as the result of Obamacare?  Funny, I thought Obamacare was supposed to make things less expensive!  Ah, but there are other new benefits, such as the opportunity to participate in "educational programs" to teach me how to be healthy because I'm too stupid to figure it out for myself.  Cool, that makes all the extra costs worth it!

Keep in mind all this is happening before Obamacare really gets going - the first year it really goes into full force is 2014, with a gradual ramping up until then. is your own coverage changing?  Might want to take a look before you go vote.  You can find out more about how badly you personally will be hit by Obamacare with this Obamacare impact calculator.  Hopefully you won't be one of the several hundred thousand of people who won't have a job because of Obamacare.  Another fun factoid: did you know there's a real estate tax hiding in Obamacare?  This was truly a legislative gem, wasn't it?

And that brings us to the pushback.  There are lawsuits against Obamacare in over 20 states now, including Missouri.  Heritage provides a way to keep track of them if you're interested.

Think it's a moral imperative to provide healthcare to everyone?  Then you should probably check out this intriguing look at Obamacare shows how it violates all ten of the  Ten Commandments.

So how does this play out in the real world?  If we win this election as big as we think, understand what it means.  As long as Barack Obama is in the White House, he'll veto any attempt to repeal Obamacare, and there's no way we'll have veto-proof majorities after just this one election.  But...the critical factor is the control of the House of Representatives, where all budgetary measures originate.  If a conservative GOP controls the House, they can simply refuse to fund Obamacare, thus delaying its rollout until the GOP takes back Congress and the White House.  At that point, it's repeal city, guns blazin'.  But, that's all in the future - let's start with step one, and that means getting every possible Dem OUT right now.  And, in fact, let's throw out the Washington Republicans, too, some of whom are also making it clear that they don't plan to support the repeal effort.  Bottom line: get rid of anyone who supported Obamacare or is talking down the idea of repealing it.  Whether they have a D or an R by their name, those are the people who think the government should control your health care, and those are the ones who present the biggest danger to our way of life and our core freedoms.  Personally, I'd love to see the new GOP majorities pass legislation to repeal Obamacare on a monthly basis simply on principle, forcing Obama to veto it over and over and over again, and nailing the Dems on record for it, too.  Who knows?  If enough Dems are scared enough, maybe those veto-proof majorities would materialize after the third or fourth veto...

Interestingly enough, the Obama administration has already granted waivers to a few dozen companies which will basically exempt them from the disastrous consequences of Obamacare.  Um...doesn't this prove our point?  If it's too expensive for these companies, then isn't it too expensive for all companies?  And if the Obama administration grants exceptions to their own legislation, doesn't that render it completely meaningless?  Is this not governing by whim rather than governing by law?  Is that really the kind of country we want to live in?  Also, think about this: with those waivers in place, those companies are now beholden for their very survival to the good graces of the federal government.  With the threat of waiver withdrawal on one side, and prosecution for not providing health care on the other, these companies -- and their employees -- are quite literally dependent upon the government for their survival.  This just continues hammering nails into the already pin-cushioned lid of the coffin on whether or not Obama is simply gunning for supreme control of American citizens rather than giving a damn about your health care.

Bottom line: from just about any objective angle the message from the American people to Republicans and Democrats alike is very simple: WE DON'T WANT THIS.  Accept nothing less than repeal from your elected representatives.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Up Is Down, Black Is White

Okay, what's wrong with this picture?

AFC West Team W L
1. Kansas City Chiefs 4 2
2. Oakland Raiders 3 4
3. San Diego Chargers 2 5
4. Denver Broncos 2 5

Well, now that I think about it, the Chiefs really shouldn't have lost that game to Houston, so what's wrong is that they should be 5-1.  Still...remember where we landed last year?  Their record was 4-12 when all the dust settled.

From 4-12 to 4-2?!

And it's only now that we're coming up on the soft part of the schedule:

Buffalo (0-6)
Oakland (3-4)
Denver (2-5)
Arizona (3-3)

In fact, the Chiefs only face one team that currently has a record better than .500 in their next eight games (Seattle).  So, even accounting for the fact that we might drop a flukey loss or two, there is every reason to think we're heading toward 10+ wins, a division championship, and a really good spot in the playoffs.  Some perspective: the combined win total for the Chiefs in the previous seasons was...10.  How's that for a turnaround?  There is no doubt that the Pioli/Haley magic is starting to take effect, and I can't wait to see what happens in the next 5 years.

With both the Chiefs and the Wildcats looking at strong seasons (improving on last year in both cases) and likely post-season play, it's finally good to be able to enjoy football season again!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

KSU Football Update

Well, nuts.  It's not often you score 42 points and still lose.

K-State just didn't quite have enough in the tank to pull out the win tonight against a very for-real Baylor team.  The offense was genuinely working for most of the night in all the important categories - Thomas ran for 100+ yards, Coffman was 20/29 for 230+ yards, they scored 6 touchdowns, and KSU managed to pick up a couple of crucial red zone stops when Baylor was knocking on the door...but Baylor was just a bit better.  The difference appeared to be Baylor stopping KSU a couple more times on defense.

You know how after some games you feel like your team just wasn't in it, or that the other team got lucky (or cheated)?  I didn't have that feeling tonight.  I think Baylor was just a bit better.  Had it been in Manhattan, I suspect the score would have been similar but in the Wildcats' favor.  It was just that kind of game, and Baylor earned the win.

I think it's good to see them finally have some success after being a complete doormat for a couple of decades, and I sincerely hope they beat an over-rated Texas and Oklahoma to win the South division in the Big 12's final year of twelve teams.

Looking at KSU's remaining schedule, I think it's going to get worse before it gets better.  The next three games are against Oklahoma State, Texas, and at Missouri.  The Cats will be the underdog for all three of those games, but I have this feeling that Snyder will somehow pick off one of them.  We've had Texas' number in recent years, and playing them at home with them potentially looking ahead to OSU will help set things up for a possible victory.  Dunno.  It's certainly a reach, but it could happen.  We should win the last two against Colorado and North Texas, though, so whether we're 7-5 or 8-4, it'll be a step up from last year and get us into a bowl game.  And that's what counts, at least for this year.  Aside from Daniel Thomas, we're just too mediocre in too many spots, and the defense just isn't quite where it needs to be yet.  Give Snyder another year or two, and I think we'll see some serious runs at 9- or 10-win seasons again.

For now, we just need to enjoy the wins we do get and have patience.  Rome wasn't built in a day (not even the second time around).

PS - is anyone else LOVING the fact that Iowa State beat Texas today, too?  Sweet...!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cartoon Brilliance

If you followed my previous blog, you know I liked to post political cartoons by Michael Ramirez.  Here are a few excellent ones that really hit the nail on the head for issues over the past couple of months.  Enjoy!


The Other Guys

My better half and I recently had the opportunity to go to a movie, and it was my turn to pick.  Comedy is always a good compromise for us, so I chose "The Other Guys" with Will Farrell and Mark Wahlberg.

I usually enjoy Will Farrell movies, but it seems that most of them are really formulaic.  The first half hour is hysterical as Ferrell does his usual masterful job of portraying the idiosyncrasies of his character, but once the plot really starts rolling forward, much of the humor tapers off to mere chucklers rather than side-splitters.  Personally, I found "The Other Guys" to be an exception to this rule, as it remained very funny throughout the entire show.  It also excelled at generating incredibly awkward moments between the on-screen characters, which really amplified the punchlines. 
It begins with two New York cops who are your stereotypical guns-blazing, car-crashing, foul-mouthed, invincible heroes, single-mindedly pursuing bad guys and never failing...until one day they do something mind-bogglingly stupid and get themselves killed (I won't spoil it for you).  So, there's a vacuum on the police force which Farrell and Wahlberg kind of end up filling.  Of course, they're not supercops, they're not heroes, they're not invincible - they're the other guys, the guys stuck behind a desk.  I'm sure you can envision all kinds of humorous plot points here, and most of them do turn up in the movie.  Lots of language and a bit of typical cop-movie violence and color, but all in all I thought it was a winner, and one of Ferrell's better movies.  From "desk pops" to the "Chechen version of Dora the Explorer", I was laughing out loud from beginning to end.

Which reminds me...the end credits were IMHO the best part of the movie.  No, not outtakes.  Something even better.  The words on the screen began talking about Ponzi schemes, starting with Charles Ponzi himself and then walking through a few notable scammers through American history until it landed on...***drum roll please***...the U.S. government with its TARP bailout, its takeover of the financial industry, etc.  I was completely surprised to see anything of the sort coming out of Hollywood actually make such an assertion -- true though it might be -- and it perfectly capped what I thought was a great movie.  I may just have to buy it when it comes out on DVD.

Online Storage...For Free!

One of the things I wanted to do with this blog is to highlight cool technology.  It is absolutely amazing to live in the 21st century and see what gizmos and whiz-bangs we have available to us, and since I play in this space all day every day, I thought it might be helpful to share some of what I see with you.  If you have specific requests or questions, please feel free to drop me a comment about it!

We'll start with online storage.  Ever get frustrated by the inability to access your files and documents because you're not sitting at your computer?  Lose a bunch of your data because of a computer crash?  Want to share your pictures with family but don't know how?

Fret no more, because there are solutions out there, and many of them are even free.  I use a couple of free online storage websites, and Dropbox. is very fast to set up and really doesn't even require a password.  Simply go to the site, click the Create button, and write down the URL.  You get 100MB of storage space free and can start uploading files immediately; when you send other people the URL, they can download the files onto their computer in a snap.  If you want to set up specific permissions for visitors, customize the look of the drop, or utilize some of their other features, you'll need to create an account, which is easy and still free.  You can get more storage space for a monthly fee.

Dropbox is rapidly becoming a major player for online storage and access.  A free account here gives you 2GB of storage space, more than enough for pretty much any document collection.  It may not be enough for your home videos and family pictures, but $10/month gets you 50GB and $20/month gets you 100GB, and those should cover all but the biggest of collections.  The thing I like best about Dropbox is that it syncs automatically to and from your home PC.  So, all you have to do is set up your account online, create a Dropbox folder on your PC, then drop files into that folder.  Voila!  Dropbox automatically uploads the files from that folder on your PC to the online account, and you can then access them from any other computer with Internet access.  Sync'ing goes both ways, too, so if you upload something from a friend's computer, you can then download it on your own.  You can even sync your Android phone, as well, which is really slick and gives you about as much portability as you can get with your files.

These are the two that I use, but there are others out there, as well.  Mozy, Fabrik, and Carbonite all have similar basic functionality and features in terms of backing up your computer for about $50-60 a year.  Mozy and Fabrik also give you the first 2GB for free.  Another option is your PC's manufacturer.  My Dell computer came with an online backup program that is very similar, with 2GB of free storage space just for setting up the account, and I would imagine others have a similar deal, too.

The only question left is whether or not you trust your files to the Internet (the increasingly popular term now is the 'cloud').  This is a legitimate concern, but one that I think is decreasing with each passing year.  Technology is getting more and more reliable, and there is a lot more emphasis on having your stuff available all the time, so companies are racing to achieve the ideal scenario for their customers.  While a local backup (say, an external hard drive sitting in your desk drawer) is excellent -- and I highly recommend doing that -- it doesn't provide remote access to your files, and it doesn't really help you if your house burns down.  Thus, online storage and backup is certainly worthy of your consideration.

One potential downside is that there's no way to know if one of these companies goes belly up until it's too late.  From what I've read, they simply shut down the website and that's it.  Even if you get a small window of warning, you probably won't be able to pull down much of your data because everyone else is frantically doing the same thing, and there just isn't enough bandwidth to go around.  But, I'd say there's a pretty small chance of that, especially with the bigger name companies that are as reliable as it's going to get.  And, don't forget that their business is protecting your data so they are highly motivated to do it right.  They want you to feel comfortable enough with the free 2GB that you're willing to pay them for a bigger chunk of space, so they're very interested in making you feel secure.

Bottom line: my suggestion is to have a local backup that runs frequently, as well as online storage for access on the go and catastrophic recovery.

If you know of any other good online storage places, or if you've had any particularly good or bad experiences with any of the ones I've mentioned, I'd love to hear about it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What Is This Tea Party Thing?

I'm sure most of you have heard of "Tea Parties" or "Tea Partiers", most likely in a negative sense, but if you've only heard the mainstream media's reports, you haven't heard the real deal.  No matter what you may think or know about the Tea Party movement, there is no doubt that it will play a huge role in this next election.  So, for anyone wondering what the deal is with Tea Partiers, this awesome tutorial is matched in its usefulness only by its non-threateningness.  This is outstanding stuff:

So there you go.  Are you a Tea Partier?  If you're like most Americans nowadays, the answer is yes.

I'll post part two whenever it comes out.

Worldwide Recognition: Spain, India, Brazil...Kansas City, MO?!

Believe it!  Just a fun little online article about the top 33 strangest buildings throughout the world, one of which is right here in Kansas City, Missouri:

This is actually just down the street from where I work, and I walk by it regularly when going to meetings in other buildings.

It's good to get positive news about one's hometown, so this is pretty cool stuff.  Check out the other buildings, too - some of them are incredible.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Commencing Possible KC Sacrilege In 3...2...1...

I realize that this post may amount to a sacrilege for people who were born and raised in Kansas City, but it's something that must be said: is it just me, or is Len Dawson the worst football color analyst in the NFL?  I can't stand listening to him!

The normal setup on a radio broadcast is to have two jobs: a play-by-play guy and a color guy.  The play-by-play guy is the one who describes in words what is visually happening on the field.  The color guy is the one with the funny stories, the background info, the interesting factoids, the strategies of both teams, and all sorts of other stuff to spice up the downtime between plays.  In terms of listening to a game on the radio, a good color man is priceless.  Len Dawson is not priceless.

I realize he was a great QB back in the day, he took the Chiefs to a Super Bowl win, he's in the Hall of Fame, yadda yadda yadda.  Fine.  But just because he was an outstanding player doesn't mean he's any good at analyzing.  Those are two completely different skill sets that have nothing to do with each other.  Read the brief bios of the Chiefs' broadcast team and ask yourself what's different about Dawson compared with all the other guys.  The rest of them all contain significant accomplishments and/or tenure in their respective fields...but not Dawson.  Holthus has been doing play-by-play for decades, Gammon was a former player for years, the other guys are long-time broadcasters, etc.  What do they list as Dawson's experience as a color analyst?  Um, he was a really good player back in the day.

I was thinking about this again over the weekend as we listened to part of the most recent game while driving around, and I think that it's a good thing Mitch Holthus is outstanding at what he does.  He's so good that he does the play-by-play and most of the color commentary.  Who tosses out the interesting factoids about the players?  Holthus.  Who informs the listener of a team's history and tendencies?  Holthus.  Who's talked to the coaches and players to gain insight into the strategies being used in the game?  Holthus.  Seriously, what does Len Dawson add to the broadcast?  All I heard were a few brilliant witticisms like "If they don't get a few yards closer, they're going to be out of field goal range" or "Player X appears to be limping off the field...hopefully he'll be okay".  Really, Len?  Is that the best you can do?  Because I'm pretty sure I could have figured that stuff out on my own even without a Super Bowl ring from 40 years ago.  I half suspect Mitch Holthus was sliding him a Post-it Note with even those sentences on it, anyway.

I think this is nothing more than the media stations in this city wanting to have bragging rights about having LEN DAWSON on their team rather than about providing a quality experience for listeners.  Too bad Holthus -- and the Chiefs nation -- is stuck with him.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We're Just Two Weeks Away...

...from one of the most critical elections in modern history!  I truly believe that.  I'll have some more commentary on that in the coming days, but let's first look at what the next election has in store at the moment.

In anticipation of the upcoming election, the GOP has rolled out their official new plan, called the Pledge To America.  It's basically a promise to get back to conservative governance, focusing on smaller government, less spending, lower taxes, and traditional values.  The reaction was pretty mixed on the Right, everything from anger to ridicule to pretty strong support.  If there is any kind of consensus that I've seen, it seems that the new pledge is at least a starting point.  The key is to re-connect with the Republican base while emphasizing the differences between the two parties.

Overall, the election itself is shaping up to be pretty horrendous for the Democrats, with Tea Party candidates winning primaries all over the country and Dem fundraising suffering.  Big name pollsters and pundits are predicting huge gains for the GOP -- anywhere from 55 to 116 seats in the House -- and Barack Obama is wailing about how the 'Empire' is striking back.  Nice.  It's no wonder he's got angst, though, because even Obama himself can't sell out a moderately sized venue at cut rate prices anymore.  Personally, I would not be a bit surprised if the GOP made an historic (i.e. 75+) gain in the House and possibly re-take the Senate (maybe even with a huge majority).  But the reporting has, up until the last few days, been other-worldly in neglecting this tsunami of disapproval from American voters-to-be.  In fact, the rhetoric coming out of the media is eerily similar to that of 1994, right down to the narrative that we've been hearing for several weeks - it really won't be that bad for the Dems.  I'm a big fan of looking at actions rather than words, though, so here are the dots that need connecting:
- Obama's approval is scraping its lowest levels yet, and the number of people who would like to see him re-elected is well below 40%
- 71% of GOP voters now support the Tea Party
- Dems are resorting to tactics like
buying votes with food...
- ...and having Michelle Obama break election law by campaigning inside a polling place
- Hispanics are drifting back to the GOP
- and, actually, so is everyone else...including the health care industry (more on that later)

It's not going to be pretty.  In the past few days, the media -- which is essentially a voluntarily state-controlled organism of the liberal Left -- has grudgingly started running stories on how badly the situation really is for the Democrat party.  I suspect it's in part an effort to depress turnout on the Right (if it's a sure win, then maybe some people will stay home), but I think enough people are angry enough right now that the effort will fail.

All in all, this is what happens when you actively govern against the will of the American people.  Make no mistake, that's exactly what has happened.  Look at any of the 'signature' items that Obama and the Dems have passed in the past two years -- Obamacare, TARP, bailout after bailout, the GM takeover, the financial industry takeover, etc. -- and you'll see that those pieces of legislation were phenomenally expensive behemoths that no one read and that had solid majorities of the American people AGAINST them.  The Dems passed them anyway.
The result?  The country has now seen the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda -- a European style socialist model of nanny state government that results in government control over all aspects of life -- and doesn't want it.  For many reasons, the Dems are almost certainly going to suffer massive losses in this election, and there is a real possibility that they will lose control of both houses of Congress.  The preemptive spin is already beginning, and you can bet that voting tallies will be twisted and bludgeoned into as crooked a shape as the Left can possibly make them to try to save their own bacon, so it is critically important to make sure you get to the polls and vote.  There are many more of us than there are radical Leftists in this country, so it all comes down to how many of us get out and vote.  Let's guarantee a monumental shift in the political landscape!

Two last points worth examining.  I think it's also interesting to note that the vast majority of Americans -- a whopping 81% -- think that politicians are lying sacks of garbage.  I think that's something we all know anecdotally, but to see that high of a number through professional polling...well, wow.

Finally, while I may rant and rail on Democrats, I honestly don't view most elected Republicans as being much better.  If you're a conservative, you probably know exactly what I mean.  Ever hear of the term RINO?  Republican In Name Only.  Basically, these are the people who run in their home areas as right-wingers because that's what gets them elected but *ahem* migrate to the Left once they're in office.  Notice there's not such thing as a DINO; this is a one-way street.  It's easier because the vast majority of the media complex is Left-wing, and they treat politicians according to their perceived amount of Lefty-ness.  It's human nature to want to be liked, and it is also much more difficult to stand firm on your principles against constant heckling from the media, so many Reps slide to the Left once they're in office.  So, not only do we as conservatives have to fight the Left, but we also have to fight these establishment/career/Washington Republicans, too.  Here's a great example - rather than celebrating noted conservative Senator Jim DeMint's astounding success in getting true grass roots conservative Republicans lined up for major victories all over the country, establishment Reps are instead plotting how to marginalize DeMint.  Why?  Because these grass roots candidates are like you and me - normal people who are sick and tired of government failure, incompetence, and corruption, and are determined to cut it back to where it should be.  That threatens all career politicians, Dems and Reps alike.  When I see this stuff, it's obvious how the Dems have gotten so good at the divide-and-conquer strategy, because career Washington Reps are, quite simply, idiots, and hand it to them on a silver platter.

If you feel compelled to donate money to support candidates who want to make government smaller, reduce spending, and restore an environment where we can see a genuine economic recovery but don't know how to do that, DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund is absolutely the place to start.

So, there's the current update on the election landscape.  Mark your calendars for November 2nd.  For the past two years, we've been living under the most Leftist government in American history, and we've seen government intrusion and takeovers of vast swaths of the American capitalist society.  This next election is a referendum on just how much government American citizens like you and me want in our lives.  If you're not terribly excited about copying Europe's failed socialist policies, plan on voting out your incumbent.  I'd say a rule of thumb is that if you can cite three policies your current guy/gal has supported that you really like, keep 'em...otherwise, vote 'em into retirement.  Yes, that goes for both parties.

More later...