Tuesday, September 1, 2015

CNN's GOP Debate Promo

If you're like me, you're probably looking forward to the second GOP Presidential debate in a few weeks as you try to get a better feel for how the GOP side of things will shake out.

If you're like CNN, you're probably looking forward to an oiled-up and shirtless Chris Christie finishing his sparring session with Rand Paul that started in the first debate. Because, after all, this isn't just a bunch of (mostly) white guys from (mostly) affluent backgrounds standing on a stage reciting talking points their teams have put together after dissecting months of focus group and polling research.

No, if you're CNN this debate is WAR.

Check out the promo below that shows how they're teasing the next debate. It's so over-the-top "boxing" that I actually laughed out loud the first time I saw it.

Perhaps even more entertaining is that they didn't stop at just one commercial spot. They have a whole damn campaign of these over-the-top "Dark Knight" voice-overed spots.

It's like something Saturday Night Live would release, you know?

Maybe it'll help ratings (doubtful) but I sure don't believe this sort of over-the-top rhetoric in the way we promote political discourse is good for democracy. But then again, CNN hasn't been accused of being good for democracy in a long time...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Flying... with a gun.

I've heard a lot of horror stories about attempting to check a firearm while flying.

So,  I approached the American Airlines counter this morning with trepidation.

No need. It was very easy and painless.

The woman at the counter didn't look at me like I was crazy. In fact, I'd heard stories about people having to take their pistols out of locked cases to prove they are unloaded. In this case, I had to sign what I believe to be a standard declaration that the firearms are unloaded but I didn't even have to unlock my Pelican case.

I hope I'm not speaking too soon... I haven't boarded the plane yet. If my pistols don't make it there, I guess then I'll have a legitimate gripe. :)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I call B.S. - Bobby Jindal Edition

As my on-going series "Call B.S. on a Candidate" continues, I figured Bobby Jindal should be up next.

 After all, he's polling at about 1% so I don't have much time before he drops out of the race.

GOP Presidential Poll Results

When I think of Bobby Jindal, I've always kind of compared him to the GOP's version of Barack Obama. Maybe that's racist of me since part of the comparison stemmed from the fact that he was a minority candidate. However, his "brand" a young voice - similar to what Obama was from the other side for the Dems.

Jindal has campaigned hard to come out hard against the Democrats thus far in Iowa. Blasting Hillary and the part as a whole. Makes sense, right?

But Jindal is also doing some things to make himself seem like a fiscal conservative. Which, well, leads to some statements that I had a hunch were ripe to call out as B.S. and misleading.

Bobby Jindal at CPAC

On Jindal's website, he claims to be the "only candidate to actually cut spending".

That's great, sounds like firm conservative footing. They site a third-party (CATO) study that looked at all GOP Presidential candidates who were governors.

Cato chart on spending
Source: CATO Institute

That's where the first problem with Jindal's campaign claim comes in. Of the 17 candidates currently running, only 7 of them were governors previously. I'm not much for math but that's less than half.

Here's the other issue that comes into play -

The CATO study looked at spending as a raw number looked at raw state spending year-over-year. There were no considerations given for federal dollars flowing into the state, no consideration for population changes in a state, and no mention of economic investment or investment in infrastructure that could potentially grow the pie for the state as a whole. (Thinking roads as an example in this case).

So, for ease of argument, let's look at the population of Louisiana during Jindal's time as governor.

Hurricane Katrina damage led to a mass exodus of people in Louisiana
Damage in the wake of Hurricane Katrina
Following Hurricane Katrina, Lousiana saw it's population as a whole drastically shrink. In fact, it fell from 19th most populous state in the 1980's, all the way down to 25th in 2010.

From 2010 to 2014, Louisiana saw population increase 2.6%. Not much. During that time, the CATO study concluded that Jindal cut spending about 1.6%. Keep in mind, while the Katrina clean-up is not over - much of the heavy lifting should now be cut out of the state budget so there were very easy cuts to be made.

During that same time frame, Texas saw a population increase of 7.2%. Huge, right? The CATO study found Rick Perry backed an annual budget increase of 4% so he gets pegged as one of the "big spenders".
Texas' population has grown significantly over the past decade

But, let's look at how the math actually works on this.

Let's say 100 residents is our baseline in each state. At the start of our fake study, the state collects $1.00 from each of those residents in taxes to cover costs. So, 100 residents = $100 in state spending.

In Louisiana, Jindal cut spending by 1.6% according to CATO. So, the total pool of money he'd need from taxpayers would be $98.40. Population grew 2.6% over that 100 resident baseline so we're now at 102.6 residents.

Take the total state spend of $98.40 paid evenly by 102.6 resident and each taxpayer is on the hook for $.959.

Now, let's look at Texas.

Spending grew in Texas 4% over Rick Perry's time there. So, the pot of money they have to collect is up to $104.

Population also significantly grew (7%) so Texas has 107 residents to come up with that cash. Divide your spending by population (104/107) and you get a tax burden of just over $.97 per taxpayer.

So, is Jindal really the only candidate who cut spending?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Straight Outta Kenya!

Nah, I don't really believe it. No birther argument here but I couldn't resist a little trollin'. :)


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Call B.S. on the Candidates: Part 1 - Carly Fiorina

In light of this week's big debate on Fox News, I've been doing some more digging into the backgrounds of the GOP candidates trying to figure out where my support should go.

I haven't been old enough to vote for long but it doesn't take decades of ballot-experience to realize there is no such thing as a perfect candidate. So, with that in mind, I'm going to attempt to call B.S. on some of each candidate's own spin.

I don't do this because I have anything for or against one candidate over another. At this point, I'd classify myself as "undecided". My hope is to maintain the stamina required to find at least one point from each candidate that sets off the ol' bullshit detector.

I Call Bullshit - Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina speaks to Republicans at CPAC

Why is it that politicians think Americans love a rags-to-riches story? (Maybe it's true). If you watched the debate, you likely heard Marco Rubio mention living paycheck to paycheck and his father's job in a local tavern.

With a lot of buzz about Carly Fiorina's performance in the first of the two debates this week. I thought I should learn some more about her. It didn't take long to find some things that didn't exactly match-up with reality when it comes to the narrative her team is spinning.

From her "meet Carly" page:
"Only in the United States of America can a young woman start as a secretary and work to become Chief Executive of one of the largest technology companies in the world."
Wow, she started as a secretary? Amazing climb through the corporate ranks, right? It sounds like she sure had a humble start to life!

The campaign reiterates the story on the same page of their website. Wow, they're really pushing this humble "picked up by her own bootstraps" narrative!
"Carly started out as a secretary for a small real estate business. She typed, filed paperwork and answered the phone. Eventually she would become a leader in technology, business and charity."
Fiorina was born in Austin, Texas in the mid 1950's. While her very first job may have been as a secretary for a real estate company. It's not like she had grew up in the urban ghetto and had to beg, borrow and steal her way to a degree from a public university.

Fiorina is the daughter of a law school dean and federal judge and attended Channing School, a private institute in London for girls. Today, the school charges the equivalent of $8,000 per term for their "junior school". Are you paying $8,000 per semester for your child's elementary education?

Fiorina attended the Channing School in London
Channing School in London, England

That secretary gig? Well, she worked it summers before she attended Stanford - another private institution - and earned the VERY valuable degrees of philosophy and medieval history.

Nothing says "get stuff done" quite like a Philosophy degree.

Fiorina also holds degrees from the University of Maryland and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Not exactly the rags-to-riches story her spinsters would lead you to believe.

You might be asking - So What?

You're right. There's nothing necessarily wrong with her background. However, she's not from a typical middle class background. Why won't they just acknowledge her as such. If her team is glossing over this point, what else aren't they being transparent about? When it comes to credibility and trust, marketing gets in the way of these candidates and this is an obvious example of it.

From Fiorina's website:
"It is time to declare the end of lowered expectations. It is time for citizens to stand up to the political class."
So... if Fiorina has it her way, you'll replace the "political class" with the daughter of a federal judge. To me, that sounds like bullshit and frankly, this story line needs to be replaced by her campaign with an actual platform. At this point, I can't find any information on her website about where she stands on any issues from guns to the economy - there is nothing.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Celebrating Freedom With A New Pistol

Happy belated 4th of July, Independence Day, etc.

I think it's strange that there isn't more politically correct guidance about the 4th of July. You know, those pricks that would be like, "it's not the 4th of July, it's 'Independence Day'!"

Celebrated some freedom with a new pistol - I'd be eyeballing a full-frame 9mm for a while. Carrying the Walther PPS I know it's not ideal for home use so I picked up a Sig P226 (MK25). By the way, this might be old news for guys with the cash to buy a couple or more guns per year but I picked the Sig up at Bud's and I'll never pay the listed price for a gun on their site again.

"Sticker" price was $950 or so and I offered $840 on the "name your price" tool, which was accepted. Now I just feel dumb having paid the sticker price for guns in the past.

First trip to the range was a pleasure. Definitely a better experience than shooting several boxes through the PPS in terms of recoil and stamina.

Check out the difference at 21' below firing Sellier & Bellot 9mm, 115 grain:

Targets fired at from a Sig Sauer P226 and Walther PPS

I didn't time my shooting so this is far from exact science but I can tell you the per round fired is about the same between the two. I'd always expected my accuracy was better with a full frame but never was able to visualize it side-by-side like I did today.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Breaking: I Just Can't Help Myself

I give CNN a hard time.

I will continue to give CNN a hard time.

Wolf Blitzer Didn't have a beard in the '70s

Alternate title posts:

  • "When Self-Promotion Goes Wrong"
  • "Update on Wolf's Facial Hair Status 40-years Ago"
  • "Hillary Still Isn't Talking So Here's Wolf's Beard"