Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Real State of the Union

If you catch the president making the State of the Union speech tonight, try listening to it through the filter of some realities that probably won't be mentioned...not even by the useless Democrat response. I'm a libertarian...I don't carry water for either party. This is how I see the state of our union.

The baby boomers are a disproportionately large demographic in this country that are demanding an unprecedented level of benefits (read: entitlements) from the United States Government. Without intervention we will go broke meeting their alleged needs.

Acting as the world's policemen we must maintain a military force designed for National Offense instead of National Defense. This is not only expensive but requires our country to have standing Armies in dozens of nations around the world.

We continue to mount debt because we spend more than we take in through tarriffs, excise taxes, and the income tax. We print money to buy bonds to offset our debt and rely on the voluntary devaluation of currency from our great friends China to sustain our more and more worthless US Dollar.

We worry about Roe v. Wade, which would hardly impact the laws that most states have on the books if it were overturned, while Social Security continues to be a broken, pay-as-you-go system designed for the year 1929 and not 2006.

Most citizens are concerned with illegal immigration though we refuse to create and maintain a provision for large amount of workers from other countries (trying not to say Mexico) to make a living here. The same agency tasked with deporting immigrants is also tasked with giving them proper documentation. Is it any wonder they don't bother to be documented?

We continue to trade with too few nations. As once said, "If good and services do not cross borders, eventually armies will." Trade is an ignored key to peace.

Lastly, with all of our problems...we're still better than Canada.

May God continue to bless the United States of America.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Hamas will eventually lighten up

All I've read in the news lately is about how the middle-east and the Palestine area is in a state of panic over the Hamas party victory in the recent Palestinian parliamentary elections.

Now that they're in power their focus will eventually have to turn from 'Death to Israel' to 'Let's try to keep the lights on and have the garbage trucks rolling.' Right now Hamas is saying all sorts of goofy things like wanting their militants to be used in the military and demanding that Israel change their flag. They are new at this and are feeling out their power structure. Eventually they'll be discussing things like campaigning to keep power, foreign diplomacy, etc...and their role will be that of a meddling government before long.

I'm not saying that they'll eventually be friends with Israel, but the nature of political power will eventually get the best of them and they'll seek to preserve their power instead of wage war with their neighbor.

Who knows, maybe they'll get an NHL Hockey franchise...they can be the Palestine Pythons or something.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Superbowl and Bandwagons

This is a different kind of post, but please read anyway.

Here in Seattle we've had only a handful of championship memories when it comes to our sports teams. The 1979 Supersonics and the 1991 Washington Husky Football team make up the only pair of champions we can claim to be our own.

In 1995 the Seattle Mariners came back and beat the Yankees in a five game series and transformed how folks in Seattle look at baseball. You can trace almost all Mariner fans back to 1995 and most of them have never heard of the likes of Floyd Bannister, Mickey Brantley, and Bruce Bochte. In other words...a new bandwagon.

Now our Seahawks are in the Superbowl and everyone cares. Hell, I care too!

I used to never miss a Seahawks game. Starting from 1976 I watched them every Sunday. I remember my dad scored two tickets to a game in their first year and we took a bus to the Kingdome and watched the Seahawks win their FIRST home game against the Atlanta Falcons.

I guess I began to lose interest in the Seahawks and the NFL in general after the player strike and eventually when a bad owner tried to move the Seahawks to Los Angeles. Generally if I had just one day to watch football during a weekend, it was on Saturday, not Sunday. I've followed the Seahawks but only as a casual fan attending a game whenever I had a chance. I am a bit of a bandwagon fan.

But my friend Ken is not. Ken has followed them through the bad years and through everything. He is now being rewarded for following them so closely all these years and will watch his team in the Superbowl. If they win, I'd bet he'll cry. Ken kicks ass.

I'm a bit sad that I don't have that fire for watching the NFL anymore. I really enjoy it but not like the college game. Thankfully this time I'll watch the Superbowl for something more than the commercials and the awful (and I mean absolutely dreadful) halftime show.

I will not cry, but it will be moving. Congratulations Ken, enjoy this.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

When a lame joke backfires

I like juvenile jokes. Anything an 8th grader will laugh at will generally get a laugh from me. It was only a year ago that I asked my mom, "What are you eating under there?" She cooperated fully by stepping into the trap of a 14 year old's mind by responding "Under where?" I jumped on it immediately while laughing, "You're eating underwear?!?!" She looked at me like I was retarded.

I had a guy who worked for me named Arnold. He was from mainland China and spoke English very well. I wanted to try on one of these jokes as he really wasn't as familiar with American Junior High culture so I figured he'd appreciate some light-hearted jocularity.

I bent my index finger over and showed it to Arnold while asking the question, "Do you know what this is?"

Arnold played along and replied, "No, what is it?"

"It's buttpickers cramp...do you get it?" The idea is to illicit some recognition of the joke by getting the response "Yeah, I get it I guess." This allows you to reply with "How often?"

Arnold blew the joke up though. His reply was:

Yes, I understand. Your finger is cramped from picking your butt.

I was stunned as this joke has never backfired before. Now I was the one with buttpickers cramp and had the bent finger to prove it.

The moral of the story:

I have no idea.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Minnesota - The Land of Lots of Lakes

I just put a Minnesota state quarter in a vending machine and looked at it briefly. It celebrated that they are the land of 10,000 lakes and it reminded me of a story...

I was on a business trip with a buddy of mine and we were flying over Minnesota and would eventually land for a short layover in Minneapolis. Looking out the window I noticed that there were truly lots of lakes out there. On our row my buddy was sitting on the aisle and between us was a guy from Minnesota. Here is how the dialogue went.

Me: Wow, there sure are a lot of lakes down there.

Minnesota Guy: (nods)

My buddy (what is Tracy up to?)

Me: They should call Minnesota the "land of lots of lakes."

MG: It's "10,000 lakes"

Me: I don't think there is that many, but it's still alot.

My buddy (oh no)

MG: It's "The land of 10,000 lakes."

Me: Yours is good, but I like mine better.

MG: No seriously, it's called the land of 10,000 lakes.

My buddy: Don't listen to him, he's yanking your chain.

MG: (to my buddy) I'm right, it's our state motto.

Me: Now I know you're joking, Minnesota is not a state.

MG: What?

This is what I do when I'm bored on a plane talking to a guy from Minnesota. I've had this same conversation with people from Minnesota on at least three different occasions. This from a guy who comes from the state of "lots of green trees."

Exit Strategies

A friend of mine is in the U.S. Army. He's glad to be in the Army and I suspect he may retire while still in the Army years from now.

The last five years have been very telling in regard to where he has been stationed. While Democrats and a few Republicans are clammering for an exit strategy, it seems that these strategies are more rare than you might think. Once you enter a country and fight a war, you're very likely to stay there awhile. Look at where my buddy has been stationed over the last five years.

South Korea - No exit strategy since the cease fire agreement in 1953.

Germany - No exit strategy since the Allied powers defeated Hitler's Germany in 1945.

Iraq - Look above. I think we'll see servicemen spending a tour in Iraq for decades to come.

I think those wanting an early exit strategy from Iraq are just trying to make political hay. If you really want to create an impact and bring our military home, you'd start by reducing troop numbers from our older wars.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A chance to explain how taxes work

Check out this report from the Associated Press

WASHINGTON - (AP)The federal government posted the first budget surplus for December in three years as corporate tax payments hit an all-time high, helping offset a record level for spending, the Treasury Department reported Thursday.
Click here for full article

When a politician asks questions like "how do you expect to pay for these tax cuts?" it proves they don't know the first thing about economics. With marginal tax rates lower than they've been in decades you'd think it would be impossible to see "corporate tax payments hit an all-time high." After all we know that the rich pay squat in taxes so that they can keep their wealth while school children have their lunches taken away and drink poisoned water...oh and grandma has to eat cat food to pay for her medicine. Of course this is all a myth as school children don't eat their lunches anyway and cat food is way too expensive for even grandma to eat.

While record tax receipts will go largely unreported so will the "record level spending" that our government continues to levy against future generations. Supply-siders have it half right...you can get more revenue by lowering taxes rates but it isn't a license to spend $1.50 for every dollar of revenue.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Women Owned Businesses

I was just reading the latest issue of Seattle Woman magazine which bills itself as being "intelligent, insightful, and involved." Why was I reading it? That's a post for a different day.

An article by Marianne Scholl entitled "What Certification Can Do For You" poses the importance for women to certify their business as "Woman owned and operated." Without going over the whole article the gist is that it is important to certify your business as a woman owned business so that your company can officially be seen for what it is. Below is a quote from the article that explains the need:

But what if Microsoft or the Washington State Department of Transportation is a potential customer? Like many government agencies and most large corporations, they have supplier diversity programs to ensure that women-, minority-, or disabled veteran-owned business enterprises are considered in their purchasing decisions. Because they want to be absolutely certain that the business they assist through these programs are what they say they are,...

This article really pissed me off. In another part of the article Scholl describes women and minority owned businesses as "disadvantaged." What this certification is attempting to do, along with many idiot lawmakers, is repeal the laws of economics.

First, a disadvantaged business is one that is not owned and operated by women but instead is one that is owned and operated by people who suck at running a business. If you provide a good product at a competitive price and are willing to back it up with service and support you will be successful. My friend of 15 years owns a painting company. He is honest, backs up his work, very competitively priced and treats his workers with respect. He is not allowed to bid a job for a state agency because he is non-union. Apparently his business is only good enough to collect tax revenue from so that they have money for someone else to put paint on their walls. Is his business a disadvantaged one?

Secondly, when you do business with a company, you're not 'assisting' them as the article claims. You're doing business with them. The state has an obligation to smartly spend the money they take from me, and not give it to a business to do a job because they fit some arbitrary criteria. The only criteria should be: Best quality for the best value...period.

Lastly, people tend to own businesses where they know the industry well or know people who are interested. For example I've not known many men who start craft stores, and the same can be said that most women don't dream of opening a corner hardware store. Each business will succeed and fail based upon the same factors...and gender isn't one of them.

Next post: Why was I reading Seattle Woman magzine.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sandra Day OConnor

Did anyone else notice a sense of irony about Sandra Day OConnor's role as grand marshall of the Tournament of Roses and the Rose Bowl Game?

She'd always been known as a "swing-vote" on the court and with that famous distinction she's invited to the Rose Bowl game to flip the coin. I wonder how many times she used the same deciding technique while on the bench.

Perhaps an activist judge would've merely told us how the coin was going to land despite how it actually landed. Texas won the toss of the coin and the game which can obviously be blamed on the Bush administration.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Real tree, real picture

So here is what it looked like:

Working train around the tree and everything!!! WOO HOO!

Also, notice to the left there is a neat little picture book of the story of Christmas and milk and cookies for Santa...does that kick ass or what?

Too bad only my mom showed up for Christmas and the rest of my family didn't. Such is life with my family...not having them for Christmas still beat the explosive diarrhea I had at Thanksgiving.

Thanks to everyone who gave advice on what to do for my first Christmas Tree in 11 years.