Thursday, January 30, 2014

2014 SOTU: The Next Day

The awareness creeps into me like a unwelcome relative inviting themselves over for dinner. My body tells me that sleep will find me again soon but the pounding in my head acts as a repellent for any sense of tranquility. The checklist of where I was and what I was doing before sleep conquered me last night is pulled out of the deep filing cabinet that is my memory and I begin to start a review while to any observer my body appears to be no better off then the sack of manure it feels like.

There was booze, holy f*** there was a lot of booze, god d*** how many bottles? I'll find out when I make it to the kitchen, since I can't imagine I was ever in a state where cleaning up after myself would have occurred to me. There was someone else in the room with me. A guy who seems so familiar yet I know I never met him. D*** this throbbing in my head, if I could just focus my thoughts for a few seconds and remember where that face is familiar from I know everything else would fall squarely into place. That face, and that voice...

State of the Union 2014, The Next Day...

A couple of alka-seltzer to help the stomach and a couple of aspirin to help the head give me the constitution of body to make it to the living room. The scene looks like scene out of a James Patterson novel. Scribbles of paper litter the floor and streaks of liquor splatter the walls, signs of bottles being thrown in rage trigger memories for the first time since leaving the warm comfort of the bed;

Why is he taking credit for his green energy initiatives and then admits it's natural gas fracking that is making us energy independent?
Did he just say that is congress makes a statement against Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, he will stand with Iran?
Why does he continue to brag about cutting the deficit in half when this deficit is stall larger then any one Obama didn't preside over since World War II?
Why does he continue to push for free trade with countries who have a fraction of the regulation we do?
Why would the congress applaud the line 'I will not wait on congress to take action!'?

My nose is assaulted by the stale scent of vomit that was caused from having to bear through over an hour of recycled ideas for improving the state of things being served up the night before. Even remembering them now makes my empty stomach turn in on itself;

Why haven't we closed these obviously unpopular tax loopholes you ran against in 2008 for companies that export jobs overseas yet?
How many more years will we still be 'winding down' operations in Afghanistan?
When he couldn't get his minimum wage raised to $9/hour last year, what makes him think that going for a number over 12% higher this year would work better?
Why do you finish up touting years of success for your 'Race to the Top' program, only to proceed with a call to do more, because we are still falling in education rankings?

The one parchment of paper that seems to have been spared from the mess is a listing of rules for a drinking game complete with chicken scratches noting a count based on the number of times choice words were used.

Middle-Class: 5 marks
Minimum Wage: 3 marks

That doesn't seem like much drinking, It's almost like the speech itself, and not the alcohol, was what made me so sick...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

State of the Union: Prediction Follow Up

Let's take a look here and see how I did on my little wager on the State of the Union;

1. He will still refer to the economy as being in a state of recovery, despite the fact the recession ended almost 5 years ago.

"The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by – let alone get ahead. And too many still aren't working at all."

That was an easy one, to deny it would admit that he's fixed all the problems left by Bush. I mean come on, he's only had 5 years.

2. He will call for a raise in the minimum wage.... again. Referencing a living wage for a single parent household, even though a living wage for a single parent raising two kids is closer to $30/hour then the proposed $10.

"Tom Harkin and George Miller have a bill to fix that by lifting the minimum wage to $10.10. It's easy to remember -- ten-ten."

And yes, he made a reference to someone who gets paid $10.10 as not living in poverty.

3. He will propose new spending on something.

"And as we reform our defense budget, we have to keep faith with our men and women in uniform, and invest in the capabilities they need to succeed in future missions."

You don't need details on what kind of capabilities, if you oppose my initiatives, you are anti-military!

4. He will call for more availability of absentee voting, despite recent video of Democratic activists talking about the ease of using voter absentee ballots fraudulently.

"Conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats are working together to strengthen it; and the bipartisan commission I appointed last year has offered reforms so that no one has to wait more than a half hour to vote."

Arguably not a very direct reference, but his committee did stress early voting, a lot.

5. He won't mention anything about the disarming deal with Syria. (At least not from any accountable or actionable perspective)

"American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated, and we will continue to work with the international community to usher in the future the Syrian people deserve,"

It was a fleeting nod that defiantly does not meet the criteria of something tangible or any call to action or anything resembling an actual update on the situation considering Syria was supposed to begin disarming "Totally and immediately". Any honest review of this deal makes it obvious it's not going well. 

6. He will propose new spending on something else.

"And if Congress wants to help, you can concentrate funding on proven programs that connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs."

Ready-to-be-filled? Filled in with that shovel over there perhaps? <snark>

7. He will make some snide reference to the bickering and gridlock in Washington being partly to blame for the Affordable Care Act Obamacare Affordable Care Act roll out failures.

"But let’s not have another forty-something votes to repeal a law that’s already helping millions of Americans like Amanda. The first forty were plenty. We got it."

That got a pretty hearty laugh for a response.

8. He will brag about deficit reduction.

"Our deficits – cut by more than half.And for the first time in over a decade,"

Even a half sized Obama deficit is larger then any other President's deficit since World War II.

9. He will propose new spending on something, that will not add one dollar/dime/cent to the deficit.

"We’ve got a down payment to start connecting more than 15,000 schools and twenty million students over the next two years, without adding a dime to the deficit."

You may have me that this was proposed last year, but considering the extreme lack of any new initiatives in this State of the Union, I think you have to give me this one.

And Lastly;

10. He will say "The state of the union is getting stronger."

"Tonight, this chamber speaks with one voice to the people we represent: it is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong."

Ok, this one was a nice little trick. The President dodged answering the question of how the state of the Union actually is, and instead focused specifically on positive elements that hold the key to make this country strong. 

If I'm grading my own paper, I'd give myself a 9/10. To bad, I'm pretty sure the minimum donation on a tax form is $2 <snark snark>.

Friday, January 24, 2014

State of the Union Predictions

The 2014 State of the Union address is right around the corner. Last year, I watched with two flavors of margarita's in hand. It was a swig of Peach Margarita for 'Jobs', and Classic Margarita for 'Fair Share'. This year the buzzwords are going to be 'Minimum Wage' and 'Middle Class', still deciding on the drinks, Thinking a two fisted beer venture with  Black Lager and Belgium White or some combination that celebrates diversity in an horribly inappropriate manner. Wish me luck, if you want to do the complete State of the Union drinking game, check out the rules here.

But, what makes politics better then drinking? Drinking while Gambling! I've decided that for each one of my predictions that I get wrong below, I'm going to donate $1 on my tax forms where it asks if I want to donate any money to a political party. Of course I'm offended by this option on tax forms and don't actually plan on doing this, that's why I've made some pretty sure bets on what Obama will touch base on and what he won't. Check back in next week to see how I did. (Not too soon, I'll probably need some time to recover.)

1. He will still refer to the economy as being in a state of recovery, despite the fact the recession ended almost 5 years ago.

2. He will call for a raise in the minimum wage.... again. Referencing a living wage for a single parent household, even though a living wage for a single parent raising two kids is closer to $30/hour then the proposed $10.

3. He will propose new spending on something.

4. He will call for more availability of absentee voting, despite recent video of Democratic activists talking about the ease of using voter absentee ballots fraudulently.

5. He won't mention anything about the disarming deal with Syria. (At least not from any accountable or actionable perspective)

6. He will propose new spending on something else.

7. He will make some snide reference to the bickering and gridlock in Washington being partly to blame for the Affordable Care Act Obamacare Affordable Care Act roll out failures.

8. He will brag about deficit reduction.

9. He will propose new spending on something, that will not add one dollar/dime/cent to the deficit.

And Lastly;

10. He will say "The state of the union is getting stronger."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How Government Works: A Cotton Case Study

When the government has a problem with spending, they sometimes try to solve it using their default solution; spend.

Such is the case when it comes to cotton, that's right, cotton, the fabric of our lives. Back in 2002, the country of Brazil went to the World Trade Organization (WTO) with a beef about all the pork the U.S. was putting into it's crops, figuratively of course. They argued that the U.S. was illegally subsidizing its cotton farmers. They won. The U.S. appealed the decision, and lost the appeal as well.

The U.S., as part of it's farm bill, subsidizes just about everything under the sun, quite literally since we are talking about crops that grow outside. The issue then arises that because this is written into the law, and until Obama gets his way about the Trans Pacific Partnership, the law of the land still trumps the law of other lands. Meaning it would take an act of congress to actually comply with the WTO ruling. For those of you who have been living in a cave on Mars with their eyes shut tightly and fingers placed in their ears, let me bring you up to speed on how getting something passed in congress works. It doesn't.

Even during the Bush administration, nobody in congress wanted to be tarred and cotton-balled by passing legislation specifically repealing free goodies to farmers in order to comply with an international court, so the law stood. Leaving Brazilians feeling like Alaska during a Presidential election campaign season.

As time went on with no real chance of complying with the WTO ruling, Brazil threatened to retaliate with trade sanctions if the U.S. didn't stop subsidizing cotton.

And so finally, in 2010, U.S. representatives made Brazil the only offer that makes sense to a United States politician, they offered to subsidize Brazilian cotton as well. The subsidies to U.S. cotton farmers will continue for as long as the current Farm Bill is in place. Therefore, until the next Farm Bill passes that agrees with the WTO ruling, the U.S. will pay Brazilian cotton farmers $147 million per year.

$147 million a year, enough to match the revenue of Brazil's most lucrative soccer team, simply given over to Brazil because the alternative would be to stop giving billions to our own cotton industry. Of course when money is paid off to an industry by congress to an American company it's a subsidy, typically when it's paid off to a foreign industry it's called something else. A bribe.

Why would we feel threatened by a trade embargo with Brazil? Because we already have a lot of money and resources vested in the area trying to compete with Chinese state companies over the large oil reserves located in the area. A battle we are already loosing.

But then, last October, the money didn't show up. Tom Vilsack, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former Iowa Governor, says he did warn the Brazilians last summer that the payments were about to stop. That's because the U.S. promised to make the payments until the next farm bill passed, and Congress planned to pass a farm bill last year. Presently, we are operating with no farm bill. No money for us, no money for you, sounds fair right?

Unfortunately, many of the Brazilian trade representatives who have looked at current drafts of the bill say the cotton subsidies are going right back in there, just in a different form (Look to section 1208 of the bill passed in the senate). If that's still the case when the bill passes, the Brazilians will almost certainly take the whole thing back to the WTO and the whole process gets rebooted like a J.J. Abrams Movie.

If that is the case, then there is nothing to prevent this entire cycle from starting over. Congress gives money to farmers to help them sell their wares. Other countries say that's unfair, congress pays them off to stop wining, promising that in 2018, the proposed sunset for the next farm bill, that they will start to play by the rules, billions of dollars exchange hands in the meantime.

Meanwhile, the cheapest cotton shirts are still made in Taiwan.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Who Needs Candidates? Election Season is Here!

In Iowa, The bitter bite of a cold winter is synonymous with the bitter bite of political ads. At least, that is the case every four years when we are 10 months out from a presidential election, thanks to Iowa's 'First in the Nation' Caucus status. Now, even with 10 months to go before the midterm congressional elections, some states political and ideological groups are already on the airwaves, attacking incumbents they hope to take down in November. While other groups are attacking individuals just for the very thought of running.

One race that's attracting early advertisers is in New Hampshire, where Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is seeking a second term, and two tax-exempt social welfare organizations (Ending Spending, and Americans for Prosperity) are risking the wrath of the IRS by buying ads against her prior to April 15th.

Republicans are opening up their coin purse for an albeit small, but still surprisingly early, investment of $3100 into ads targeting the vulnerable member of congress who supported The Affordable Care Act, or Obama-Care. Surprising, when any fair and honest coverage of the Healthcare.gov roll out or the 'You can keep your plan....' statements would be sufficient for driving the point home. These 'reminder' attacks to a sitting incombent seem weak compared to Democrats taking steps to begin character assassinations of people who aren't even necessarily running.

Many New Hampshire Republicans hope that Shaheen will be challenged by former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who recently moved into the state full time. National and state Democratic committees have run a few ads sniping at his old Senate record from a group much more ominously called 'Senate Majority PAC', who is going beyond the coin purse and cashing in some Bar Mitzvah bonds to the tune of $150,000 to call dibs on casting the first stone.

One of the high points of the 2008 election for me. The general election was, relatively speaking, free of major smear and attack ads. Granted, the main reasons wer that Obama didn't need to and McCain didn't want to come across as a racist. Unlike the 2012 Presidential election where Obama had to come after Romney to paint him as one of the super rich snobs rather then defend his record. And, Romney was obviously being racist when he talked about things like 'law and order' and 'love of family'. Wait a minute, I have to self correct here, McCain did say anything about Obama, and that made him a racist.

Going back to the example from New Hampshire as a microcosm of what may be coming to the nation stage this election cycle leaves one with a bleak outlook. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, surely to go up into the millions as we near the actual election, being spent smearing and attacking people just for thinking about running. With so many big names already being tossed around for a Presidential run in 2016, I would not be terribly surprised if we begin to see attack ads against Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz this time next year, 2 years before the election and 6 months before anyone announces their candidacy.

There is plenty of fodder out there for the mid term election. What little the congress is doing is at best horribly polarizing and at worst paving the path off a tall cliff for this country to careen off of. From NSA to IRS to ACA, there is no shortage of acronyms that rise the ire of many Americans, and therefore no visible limit to how nasty this next election cycle is shaping up to be. Forget global warming, it will be cold and bitter just by turning on your TV.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Breaking Evan's Rule

I do no envy anyone who has to make the call that this economy is official recovered. but a little over a year ago the federal reserve announced plans to enact some extraordinary measures that would remain largely in place until either a falling unemployment rate hit 6.5% or a rising inflation rate hit 2.5%.

As of Today, Unemployment fell to 6.7%. 

I continue to be miffed by just how all over the place predictions on how this recovery is supposed to take place. I'm just as miffed by the fact that it is 2014, over 6 years when the economy started to topple in the twilight of 2007 and we are still referring to this economy as an economy in recovery. Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics gave us the kind of jobs report that reminds us just how out of whack everything can become so quickly.

Most of the predictions for the December jobs report expected another ho hum, move things at a snails pace back towards the total number of jobs that we had before the great recession began, but that's not what headlines this morning are reading.The headline number is bad, really bad. The BLS says the economy added 74,000 jobs in December, which would be the worst result in a good, long time. Last time numbers this bad came out, you where probably listening to 'Like a G6' on your iPhone 4.

And yet the household survey showed a very large drop in unemployment, all the way down to 6.7%, the lowest we have seen since we thought Tobey Maguire was a shoe-in for 'Spider-Man 4'. 

One way for unemployment to drop even as job growth stalls is for huge numbers of people to drop out of the labor force. And we have seen labor force departures all year and that continued their downhill slaloming this month. The lowest rates since Lou Ferrigno  appeared on television doused in Green Paint. The participation rate did actually jump a bit in November, but still appears to be on a downward trend. Divergences between the two surveys just sometimes happen and you usually need to wait a month or two for the revisions to straighten things out. 

Long story short, we are getting very close to the Federal Reserve’s 6.5%unemployment
threshold, and despite that the overall labor market looks weak. That means the distinction
some Fed officials have drawn between a automated 'trigger' to start tightening money as soon as we
reach 6.5% unemployment rate and a 'threshold', meaning nothing is automatic, is about to become very
relevant discussion. Because, if you add on the difference in the participation rate from now to pre-recession numbers (66% to 62.8%) to the unemployment rate, using the number of 9.9% may be a better indicator of the health of the jobs market in this economy. The threshold approach is a much better one for people with a lot vested in low interest rates, but at her impending first meeting and press conference Janet Yellen may find she needs to clarify exactly what the term 'threshold' means faster than she was hoping.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Keynesian Theory: Fighting a Splash with Water

I’m not a big fan of assigning hard to pronounce proper names to basic concepts. I can only pronounce or even begin to understand either Boson Particles or Schrodinger’s cat thanks to the Big Bang Theory. Theories such as Ekpyrotic Universe, I would be better off trying to properly pronounce after a heavy night of drinking and getting slugged in the jaw a few times. However, as I watch the debate about the role of government in dealing with the countries current economic hardships, I think having a decent understanding of Keynesian theory helps to understand the good intentions of this theories proponents. That way, we can better mock and ridicule them.

Image a pool of water, it could be a swimming pool, perhaps a small fishing pond, it could even be the Pacific Ocean as long as you scale up the other aspects of this analogy accordingly, it doesn't really matter, it just has to be relatively placid. The water represents all the factors of the economy, from jobs, to retail exchange, to investment. When the water is calm, everything is fine, moving along with subtleties and undercurrents. The occasional ripple in the water represents a small adjustment in the markets. Perhaps “Jim’s Liquor, Guns, and Ammo” went out of business when their core demographic met with a sudden spike in suicides. Overall, everything is calm.

Now picture a major disruption to the market. Take the 2007 recession for instance. Too much money getting dumped into retail investments created a huge bubble that finally popped, causing a huge loss of wealth. In our pool of water example, it would be the equivalent of taking a huge stone and tossing it in the middle of our pool. The more money and other factors involved in the disruption, the bigger the stone that is breaking the crest of the water. This water directly underneath the stone is displaced causing strong transfers of water around the stone and throughout the pool, just as the collapse of the retail market disrupted fortunes of people who had money directly tied in with property, then rippled through the rest of the economy.

Some ardent supporters may take offense and argue that true Keynesian would prevent the stone from being dropped in the first place, by establishing government organizations that oversees and regulates the mortgage industry and promotes proper housing development. To which I say, HUD already exists, it spends billions manipulating the market, and it arguably made my proverbial stone much bigger by artificially inflating the housing market with subsidies and tax incentives.

When the Housing market crashed, lots of people with money tied up in real estate, mortgage lenders, and the financial firms that held those mortgages got hit big time. Severe ripples and splashes emanated from the impact spot and hit the construction industry and developers quickly. These ripples continued to spread over the entire pond making the recession hurt with almost no regard to what industry or part of the pool you were in. What the Keynesian theory attempts to do at this point, is to fill the initial hole in such a way that there are no ripples caused by the splash of a stone being dropped in it. A Keynesian would do one of two things to make it better and to fight the splash, supplement the money flow (try to keep the water in our pool flowing the way it did before the rock hit) or refocus demand so that aggregate demand stays the same (pour in water to the pool at the same time it’s splashing out).

The problem with the former idea is that it would require so much interference to so many parts of the pool well before stone hit that the pool would no longer be recognized as a pool. The inherent freedom of the water would instead become a bed of metal pipes with hardly any water actually running through it. This is the communist economic system that if everything is planned and structured then it is impossible for the stone to disrupt anything.

The issue with the latter idea is that even if you replace the water in the hole created by the stones impact, the disruption to the pool is still going to be violent and affect everything and now you are adding another element that could just as easily prolong the effect of the waves since you have to pour the water in, and the water you are pouring in has to come from somewhere, probably scooped up from a quieter part of your pond wasn't being effected by the initial splash as badly to begin with. In short, you are messing up everything else in the pool to make the big splash seem less bad.

This is the approach we took in 2009. Spend a bunch of money that we got from god knows where and start pouring it in the hole that was made by the splash. Financial institutions got hit hard and fast but then were filled up, secondary industries still felt waves and waves of disruption, tons of water splashed out of the pool and will take some time to trickle back in and return things to normal. And the proponents of this approach, when asked why there is still such a mess and turbulence in our pool simply say, “We didn't use enough water.”

What is the alternative? The prominent counter is the Austrian Economic theory. This theory takes a “S#*% happens” approach. Stones will come and go, waves and ripples will be felt, as long as your water is well educated and free to pursue a new current you will have less of a manufactured swimming pool regulated by a bunch of idiots running around with buckets trying to change the tide as they lose track of splashes caused by a stone dropping by accident and when a bucket is dipped in on purpose. Rather, you would have a beautiful lake were a splash may instead be caused by a fish, revealing that over time our pool of water may bring more to offer then just a drink.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Motivations of Bigotry

In politics, bigotry isn't always connected to ideology; sometimes it simply stems from opportunism.

Last week, in a year in review segment, a hearty laugh was shared among a group of comedic commentators over a family photo of the Romney's in which one of Romney's grandchildren is an adopted African American child. Taunts of "One of these things is not like the other..." and "Look, it's a Republican convention and you have to find the one black person." Melissa Harris-Perry did take time from her show weekend yesterday to apologize for the insensitivity of the remarks, and Gov. Romney has accepted the apology. This instance of poor judgement when it comes to addressing race is closed, but it once again spurs the discussion of how political commentary addresses race in today's political climate.

During the 2012 election, and even in 2008, I tried to veer away from the issue of race when discussing politics with friends and family. I thought it shouldn't make a difference the color of skin for a candidate to public office. There is no color in the words a candidate speaks. Today, however, it is getting harder and harder to not address the issue of race in American politics. The reason that we seem to be forced into acknowledging the color of someones skin is simple: the Republican Party is getting more diverse, and liberal and democrat's are gaining more and more by mocking it.

Commentary is becoming less and less to do with stances on issues or personal integrity when it comes to political leaders of color. Individuals are so often branded simply based on this attribute that it can be frustratingly difficult to hold a serious discussion. Especially when it comes to riddicule of members of the Democratic Party. Now, the Republican party has is duly electing people who are members of minorities. An African-American senator from South Carolina, Cuban-American senators from Florida and Texas, Indian-American governors in South Carolina and Louisiana, and Mexican-American governors in Nevada and New Mexico. A whole generation of prominent conservatives is also forming with the likes of Rep. Allen West, Herman Cain, Rep. Arthur Davis, Thomas Sowell, and Micheal Steel.

In the early sixties of America, southern white voters who opposed the Civil Rights act voted strongly in favor of Democrats, not because their views coincided with a large central government and progressive tax system that was favored by the national democratic party, but because democrats from the south, frequently referred to as 'Dixie-crats' were the strongest voting block against Civil Rights. It is because of these Democrats that Civil Rights passed with a larger margin of Republican support (80%) then Democrat support (63%). Republicans saw an opportunity to gain the votes of disenfranchised voters not because they wanted to repeal the Civil Rights act (though listening to left wing commentators today you would think that), but by appealing to them with a personal liberty and states rights-centric view that was the ideological core of the Republican party, that also appealed to these citizens.

Today, faced with increasing GOP diversity, the Democratic Party will be tempted by bigotry for the same reason Republicans sought out their support in the post 'Dixie-Crat' era, because bigots have votes too. In 2012, for instance, the Obama campaign never directly attacked Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. Still, Montana’s Democratic governor, Brian Schweitzer,suggested that women would not back Romney because his father was “born on a polygamy commune in Mexico.” A group named Catholics for Obama was accused of calling Pennsylvania voters asking, “How can you support a Mormon who does not believe in Jesus Christ?”. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has also had to deal with comments from state Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian about both her origins and she had been compared to Adolf Hitler's mistress, she also had to field questions about tipping Sikh taxi drivers better. Try picturing a reporter asking President Obama if he tips African-American waiters more.

Given the increasing diversity of the American political scene, future race, religion, and ethnicity based baiting may come in unusual forms. Imagine, for instance, a Democrat linking Marco Rubio’s lack of support for programs that benefit African-Americans to white Cuban prejudice against their darker skinned co-islanders. Or a group of South Asian Americans slamming Bobby Jindal for abandoning his Hindu heritage. Or, as in my opening to this post, the belated attack on a Mormon for having an adopted African-American grandchild.

The point is that progressives and liberals need to realize that Democrats aren't immune from racism. In politics, bigotry isn't always connected to ideology, and is not limited to one demographic's oppression of another. Sometimes, it stems simply from an opportunity that is too good to pass up. Melissa Harris-Perry is in a constant ratings foray, putting up a picture of a Republican's family and mocking it appeals to people that she is trying to court for an audience. This is not to say that Melissa is targeting people who think Mormons adopting black kids is funny specifically, just that there are similarities in the audience she is courting, and people who do find it funny. Not unlike politicians who are trying to score political points in certain demographics in hopes that it translates to votes. It's an attention-getter. And, with more minority Republicans seeking high office, Democrats will have more opportunities to get people's attention using this method in the years to come.

Melissa Harris-Perry admitted she crossed a line, her apology was sincere and Gov. Romney accepted it. However, until we delve more into the motivations behind the segment in the first place, this is a mistake we are doomed to see repeated again.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Personal Top 10 for 2014

A list of the ten things that I am personally excited about in the coming year;

10. Business Traveling - For the first time I get to leave the state on someone else's dime. Well, not counting that time I got married and my parents sent me away with the new misses to Florida. That was pretty awesome also. Hopefully it will just as much fun when you are expected to work every day and your wife is alone back at home.

9. The next season on The Walking Dead - Or more precisely the second half of the current season. Having read most of the published comics I have a pretty good idea of where the story may be going, but the show deviates enough to keep you guessing what it's going to do next.

8. Getting out onto the golf course - I feel like for the first time in a long time, my overall game took a step forward last summer after sporting some new clubs. Hoping to build off that so I can stop using my toes to tally up my score on every hole.

7. Midterm Elections - I'll call up Vegas and place some heavy bets that not a lot is going to change in congress, probably retain 95% of them. Also, what margin will Branstad win his seemingly millionth re-election bid. Who doesn't love to see Democracy in action?

6. Whatever movie Marvel comes out with - Not since Star Wars do I believe a movie franchise raised expectations and engrossed so many geeks then what Disney/Marvel have been able to do with the Avengers universe. Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy both look pretty epic!

5. My wellness test scores in the spring - As is the trend in many places, my place of work has hired a bunch of people that are not doctors to come in and tell us how unhealthy we are under the threat of higher insurance premiums and having to sit through a full year of 'life coaching' if we do not hit certain metrics. For the most part I pass these tests, but last year, despite my overall scare clearing the level where I could be classified as 'healthy' They decided my cholesterol was too high and stuck me in their program anyway. I'm hoping some subtle changes this year lowered that number just enough to get me out of these awkward, borderline harassing meetings each month with a non-doctor about how I'm living my life.

4. Jacobson Family Vacation - Sounds like we are spending a weekend in Chicago again this year with the In-Laws. Hoping the Cubs don;t suddenly get good as to keep ticket prices nice and low, but then miraculously become epic-y awesome the day we catch a game.

3. Watching lots of Kernels Games - My hometown professional baseball team. The Low-A Minnesota Twins affiliate Cedar Rapids Kernels. Last year we saw Byron Buxton and Javier Baez, both of whom appear to be on pace to be huge names in 2-5 years. Can't wait to see who takes the field this year.

2. Summer - Maybe only because it's 8 below outside right now, and next week they are talking about it being 25 to 30 below before windchill with snow, but something is making me long for warmer days.

1. 5 Year Anniversary - Still don't have any plans for what we are going to do come September (and am very receptive to suggestions) It will be hard to top last years trip to Denver. I still can't believe it's been 5 years already.