Romney’s Mistake?

So, Mitt Romney has

compared the current anti-Wall Street protests to “class warfare.”

This is interesting.  If Obama is vulnerable next fall, it will be be due to the economy.  I fully expect that the Republican nominee will talk of little else.

I also expect the Republican nominee to be Mitt Romney.

All those people protesting Wall Street would not be there if the economy was humming along and unemployment was five percent.

Romney has now gone on the record of saying that people who want the economy to improve are conducting class warfare.  That does not strike me as the best way to woo the votes of those unhappy about the economy.

Giving the Customers What They Are Looking For

Over two years ago I posted an entry about Meijer coming to town and the strange store layout they had and how Walmart responded.  Since that time, I have continued to receive a lot of visits from people that had Googled “Walmart store layout” or something similar.

This entry probably does not really help those seekers out, but maybe.

Walmart built a new store in Connersville, Indiana and opened it up this past summer.  Here is a pic of the new store layout (clicking on it should give you a larger version):


Only a Matter of Time?

President Obama has received no end of grief over his rush to compromise right out of the gate.   I have felt all along that this was due to his insistence when campaigning that he would change the tone of the debate in Washington.

For some time now it has been more than clear that it takes two to change the tone and that the Republicans were not participating.

So now Obama is finally putting bills with progressive ideas in them on the table and insisting that they be passed, as well as bringing out the veto threat in what seems a more serious way than previous.

So how long will it take before a Republican accuses Obama of breaking his campaign promises to change the tone in Washington?

The National Anthem

This morning I participated in the Fort Wayne’s Women’s Bureau Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.  This was the fourth consecutive year that I have done so (walking in three inch heels is no more difficult than standing in three inch heels…unfortunately, standing in three inch heels is quite painful).

Just before the Walk began, there was a singing of the Star Spangled Banner.  I believe this has been done every year, but I do not have an actual memory of it.  This is probably because previous years were done just like this years.  A local singer performed the anthem and the rest of us stood and respectfully listened.  I admit to the possibility that this was the first year they had the anthem sung due to the next day being 9/11.

The singer this year did a fine job of it, but it seemed to me that she sang it even higher than it usually is sung and she threw in enough flourishes that it would have been difficult to follow along.  And no one followed along.  Except for what happened later in the day and the fact that I am blogging this, I doubt I would have any memory of her performance next year (as I have no memory of previous years performances if there were any).

This evening, Debby and I attended the 2011-12 opening night of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic.   The lights went down and the conductor came out, took his place, raised his baton and the music commenced.  Unexpectedly, it was the Star Spangled Banner.  There was a chorus singing.   Sounded good!  I was looking around to see where was the chorus?  Then I realized that there was no chorus, the fine singing I was hearing was the audience.  I joined in (arguably diminishing the quality of the singing, but enhancing the quality of the event).  The orchestra played a fairly standard rendition and people sang when they could and did not sing when they could not.

It sounded great.  And we were all (ok, most of us) actively involved in affirming our shared love of our country.  The contrast with the morning performance is stark.

Which One Is Right? I Know This! Why Don’t You?

I heard this on the radio yesterday morning, but by the time I got home I could not remember what it was I had heard and wanted to blog about.  Well, I figured someone else would mention it to jog my memory.  And someone else did!

Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly posted today with the same thought (but better expressed) as I blogged yesterday.  At the end, he postscripts

Just as an aside, Perry also believes public-school science classes should present students with both science and religion, assuming young people are “smart enough to figure out which one is right.” Here’s a radical idea: maybe Perry should consider a similar approach to sex-ed?

Well, yes, maybe he should consider a similar approach to sex-ed.  That would be refreshing.  But my thought is that Perry assumes young people are smart enough to figure out which one is right despite the fact that he himself is not smart enough to do so.  But of course, he is smart enough.  He “knows” that creationism is right!  So he figures kids are smart enough to always choose creationism?  He figures that some kids will choose creationism and some science and he’s OK with that?

Of course, it is not a matter of choice.  Too bad Perry isn’t smart enough to figure that out.


Data Driven, or Not

When The Weekly Standard began publishing back in 1995 they initially gave the subscriptions away for free.  I received an offer for the free subscription and I gladly accepted.  I assumed that they bought the mailing list from The New Republic to which I was a long time subscriber.

My memory is that the free subscription continued for two years, but maybe it was only one.  At any rate, there was a decent length of time where I was reading both The New Republic and The Weekly Standard on a weekly basis.

I was struck by one difference in particular between the two magazines.  Articles in The New Republic, even when labeled “opinion”, were almost always data driven; articles in The Weekly Standard were rarely data driven.

Over the years I have come to think that this may be one of the defining differences between liberals and conservatives.  Conservatives stand on principle, consequences be damned.  Liberals are interested in results and are prepared to make changes when the results are unacceptable.

And yes, the above is not true for every conservative and liberal.

But it may well be true for Texas Governor and candidate for president Rick Perry.  This post at The New Republic has a wonderful video of Perry trying to square his principles with reality.


Another book I read over vacation (see previous post) was Damia by Anne McCaffrey which I believe I picked up at the dollar store (for $1.00 obviously).  This is a sequel and I have not read the first book, but I did not notice that I was missing anything.  336 pages, but, again, just another science fiction novel.

336 pages and I found one paragraph of mild interest:

Jeran and Cera paused long enough in their mildly competitive application of color to blank paper to smile at their father.  He patted them affectionately, for Jeff had no trouble being demonstrative with his children.  Then he became the host, offering to top up glasses before he poured one for himself and settled next to the Rowan on the circular couch.

You can see why the author had to explicitly state that Jeff “had no trouble being demonstrative with his children” since the scene certainly fails to demonstrate such a trait.

I laughed when I read it.   Given the rest of the book, I do not think it was intended to be funny, but maybe.


I am near the beginning of a long term project of letting go of books, especially books that I picked up inexpensively over the years.

Over vacation I read a couple.  One was The Eye of the Heron by Ursula K. LeGuin.  A short novel of 179 pages.  A very fast read.  Pretty standard science fiction fare, nothing exceptional about.  But there was one line that I liked:

In the self-important…there is always room for a little more self-importance.

The Magic of the Budget

Back in April, Dave Lindorff had a post up at Truthout concerning the portion of the federal budget that went to defense.  It turns out it is 53%.  For that 53% we get the largest military in the history of the world.  In 2009 US military spending accounted for 47 percent of all money spent globally on war, weapons and military preparedness.

Today, on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, (I think at about the fourteen minute mark) Robert Samuelson explained that half of the federal budget consisted of taking money from the workers and paying it to the retirees.  He was on NPR because he had just written a column on the subject.  From his column:

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other retiree programs constitute roughly half of non-interest federal spending.

So it would seem that the entire budget is nothing more than defense and moving money from workers to retirees.

But wait.  Samuelson also says:

In 1960, national defense was the government’s main job; it constituted 52 percent of federal outlays. In 2011 — even with two wars — it is 20 percent and falling.

So is Defense half the budget or twenty percent of the budget?

Well, the budget Lindorff considers does

not count… funds collected for Social Security

but does include

$94 billion in non-DoD military spending, $100 billion in veterans benefits and health care spending, and $400 billion in interest on debt raised to pay for prior wars and the standing military.

These two factors would obviously increase the percentage, but from 20% to 50%?

Although he does not say so in his column, I believe Samuelson did mention on NPR that some veterans benefits are included in his “workers to retirees” column and so, presumably, not in his defense numbers.

If you wondered why the budget is not well understood by the electorate, the above numbers explain some of that.

Also, note that Samuelson says Defense is 20% of the budget and falling.  Lindorff says that defense is increasing at 9% which would require the overall budget to increase at a greater than 9% pace for its share to be falling.

I have no idea who is right here.  But I would point out that the Social Security Trust Fund is not in any real trouble, a little tweaking and it is fine.  Medicare is a serious long term budget issue.  If defense inflation is 9%, then it is also a serious long term budget issue (especially if it is 53% of the budget!) .

Finally, Samuelson makes the point that

In 2011 — even with two wars — it [defense] is 20 percent and falling.

I would argue that if we have managed over fifty years to take defense from 50% of the budget to 20% of the budget (with the budget increasing from about 30% to 40% of GDP over that span), that that is something to be very proud of!

With so many ways of making the budget appear the way one wants it to, you would think we could use that magic to solve our budget problems!



There’s Bound To Be Some Doozies

On Saturdays, Daily Kos posts samples of the hate mail he received that week.  This week he features several emails he has received over the past year all from the same writer, “George Rockwell.”    Included is a copy of the letter Mr. “Rockwell” wrote to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

If you go to the site, the letter (at least as of this writing) is at the bottom of Kos’ post,  about 1/3 down the page (due to comments).  It is amusing.

While reading that letter, it occurred to me that there must be quite a treasure trove of amusing letters addressed to various Supreme Court Justices over the years.   I’ve always been aware that Presidents get a wide variety of letters, but it never occurred to me that Supreme Court Justices do too.

Seems like a compilation is in order.