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Blog Posts for December 2009

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Third Party

I'm a Rush 24/7 subscriber, and I generally listen to at least the first 15 minutes of Limbaugh every day. I like the ability to access the content any time I want.

Listening tonight while coding, I hear Rush tell me - plead with me - that there are differences so vast between the Democrats and the Republicans. He intones:

Republicans aren't Marxists. Republicans aren't apologizing for America around the world. Republicans don't loathe our military.
I paraphrase him above, but by that logic, he argues, there is no rationale for a third party for Conservatives.

His argument is that just as Perot eroded support for Bush I and got Clinton elected, so too would a third party erode support for a Republican in 2012 and continue Obama's presidency and Democrat domination nationwide.

Having participated in the Tea Party here in Iowa, I can tell you that many people don't see much difference between Democrats and Republicans. I'll counter Rush's insistent rhetoric:

  • Republicans spend and earmark money just like Democrats.
  • Republicans hold statist positions, wanting to use government to implement their morality - just like Democrats.
  • Republicans use their power for personal gain, just as Democrats do.
I'll point out that Rush has a famous parody entitled, "Citizen McCain," wherein McCain asserts that he is a conservative, "except for campaign finance reform, illegal immigration, tax cuts... and global warming." Rush has lampooned McCain for not being a Republican or a conservative for a long time.

Is McCain a capitalist? No, he's not.
Is he a statist? In some respects, yes.

And many other Republicans are like him: Snowe, Collins, Graham, Bennett, etc. Those big government solutions will kill our kids with debt.

I get what Rush is saying: a third party for conservatives is a victory for Democrats. And he's right.

But Rush had an opportunity to push the Republicans further toward embracing individual freedom, and passed it by.

Though he'll never see it, here's my memo to Rush: it's good for the Republicans to sweat right now. If they want to quash a third party, the best way to do it is by becoming the party that thoroughly believes in small and limited government. And today, that's not the Republican party.

by Brett Rogers, 12/2/2009 1:01:04 AM

Little Dictators

I'll never live in a neighbor governed by a Homeowners Association. Some Gladys Kravitz would get her undies in a wad and tell me I can't have a fence or that my garden is too big or that I can't have a flagpole from which to fly the American flag.

90 year-old Colonel Van Barfoot has until Friday to remove the flagpole from his yard.

Barfoot lives in the Sussex Square community in western Henrico County. He moved there in July, and was ordered to remove the flagpole from his front lawn when he flew the flag on Labor Day, and again on Veterans Day.

The homeowner's association doesn't explicitly forbid flagpoles but they must be "aesthetically appropriate". Short flags are allowed on porches, but Barfoot says that's not the way he was raised to respect the flag.

Flying the flag is not "aesthetically appropriate" to Gladys and the ninnies that run the HOA? See, it's rules like that... who decides "aesthetically appropriate??"

Of course, the HOA issued a bullshit statement, but come on... HOA's were designed to prevent disrepair and meadows where lawns are supposed to be. The US flag, flown on a flagpole, is never an eyesore. This is classic overreach. No doubt a liberal is chairperson.

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 12/4/2009 8:00:33 AM

Today's Beauty

The rendering is beautiful...

The artist, Robert Crumb, is a truly warped individual, but his art is amazing and iconic.

What's above displays his sheer artist talent. He didn't draw with a pencil, but with an ink pen. I listened to the documentary, Crumb, in the past two days. If vulgarity doesn't faze you, it'll make you think.

by Brett Rogers, 12/5/2009 12:38:16 PM

For Ruby

With a kiss...

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 12/6/2009 10:18:48 PM


1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 12/6/2009 10:47:38 PM

Out of Fashion

If I were the head of the Harcourt Pencil Co. that created these, heads would roll in the design department.

"It's turned out to be really ugly," Jones said. "We're trying to get them out of the schools as fast as we can. It's a total nightmare."
Yes, it is. On so many, many levels...

by Brett Rogers, 12/7/2009 8:56:17 AM

The Myth of Regulation

The purpose of government regulation is to provide standardization and stability, and to protect the consumer and businesses alike from unfair business practices.

In general, it's to help.

From Wikipedia:

Efficient regulations are defined as those where the total benefits to some people exceed the total costs to others.
In short, a net positive.

When the sum effect of regulation is to excessively increase the cost to the business and to the consumer, and destabilizes the free market, government is no longer an agent for help, but works to erode business and reduce jobs.

And at that point, government must be limited by its citizens, or there won't be any income to tax as our expenditures outrun our revenue.

America can regulate itself out of existence, and I'd say we're about at that point.

Regulation can be a mechanism for growth - if growth is the goal - but clearly, nothing being suggested today in Washington promotes the growth of anything but more government. That impulse by our current crop of politicians is the only thing that needs regulation.

by Brett Rogers, 12/8/2009 12:03:07 AM

The Champ

As his polling numbers steadily approach Tiger Woods' 9-hole golf score (or the number of women who've slept with Tiger while he was married), this quote is hilarious:

Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport responded: "Gibbs said that if Gallup were his EKG, he would visit his doctor. Well, I think the doctor might ask him what's going on in his life that would cause his EKG to be fluctuating so much."
Our resident Super Genius has the lowest score of any president ever at this point in a presidency.

Of course, it doesn't help that the majority of Americans don't want health care reformed by the government.

And it doesn't help that Obama can't do math - he just spends our money as though he can endlessly print it.

No matter how cool you think someone is, if he keeps working to collapse your quality of life and doesn't hide his willingness to take money from your children, eventually his coolness doesn't matter. While the rubes will keep cheering for their guy (to their harm), the rest of the country sees this bullshit for what it is.

ETC: There's a great difference between Obama and other presidents, like JFK and Reagan. JFK and Reagan thought that the American people were the best engine for economic growth, and so they passed across-the-board tax cuts to give money back to the people of America and each time it was tried, the economy roared back.

Obama doesn't believe that at all. He believes that government is the best engine for economic growth - which has never worked to revive the economy. According to him, the government hasn't spent nearly enough of your money for you yet. He's no man of the people; he's the man of government. He's crushing our kids with debt.

What an immoral jerk.

by Brett Rogers, 12/8/2009 10:16:07 PM

Today's Beauty

by Brett Rogers, 12/9/2009 8:58:52 AM

And a Stoplight on Every Corner...

Oh, the promises politicians give the rubes. I offer a parable to showcase the lunacy of the left.

There was a small town in middle America. It had its streets, its downtown, its people, and their cars. They drove all over town, getting to and from work. Somewhat frequently, there was an accident. In this town, there were no rules of the road, no stop signs - it was left to everyone's common sense.

The mayor suggested that a few rules would be good. So she and the city council voted for speed limits, turning etiquette, right-of-way laws, and they implemented lanes.

The people of the city were elated. Traffic flowed much smoother. Fewer accidents took place. Emboldened by her innovation, the mayor suggested that there should be stop signs at the city's major intersections near the downtown, where some accidents still occurred.

Some of the townsfolk complained about this new mechanism to control traffic, but accidents were now reduced to almost nothing. The mayor was more popular than ever, but it started to annoy some people that they had to stop at every corner for several blocks in the busier parts of the city.

A fella on the council owned a business that created lights of all kinds. One night, the idea hit upon him that a stoplight could replace the stop signs, and that by engineering the start/stop signaling, the lights could be timed for the busiest routes so that once a car started down the street, it could sail through without stopping. It would be like smart stop signs.

The people of the town liked the invention so much that they elected him to be the new mayor. And he made good money doing it. It was good for the town, and good for his business.

His wife then suggested that if he implemented more stoplights throughout the city, accidents would be further reduced and he would profit all the more.

So he pushed the measure through the council. They passed it, though narrowly, and what he envisioned came to pass - fewer accidents yet, and he made a ton of money. His wife was so pleased. With all of the extra money, they essentially bought her a seat on the council to replace one of the people who'd voted against the measure. And passed yet more legislation for more stoplights.

The people of the town were now forced stop in areas of the city where there was virtually no traffic. People argued that the stoplights were unnecessary, and some said that the new mayor was lining his pockets. But the mayor produced a study that showed the stoplights were bringing accidents almost to zero. Using the results of the study as the catalyst, he coerced yet another vote for more stoplights. He paid some on the council to vote for the new lights. The vote was close, but it went in his favor.

Now, nearly half the corners in town had the stoplights. To pay for the stoplights, the council raised taxes. Some in town supported the lights, saying "What is the price of saving lives?" Others argued, "Why are our freedoms being stripped away and our money taken from us?"

In the next year, there was one traffic fatality and it occurred at a corner with no stoplight at the far edge of town. The mayor published pictures of the horrific accident, and insisted that all traffic be regulated with a stoplight.

Business owners and much of the town stood in protest. "This will kill all commerce!"

A few citizens shouted back, "Greedy and uncaring!"

The mayor strong-armed the council and forced a vote on the unpopular measure. After much bribery, it passed. Because productivity and retail dropped considerably for the difficulty in just getting around throughout town, jobs were lost. Unemployment skyrocketed. And tax revenue fell to a fraction of what it had been.

The moral of the story?

Only rubes think that a society riddled with stoplights is smart. Most citizens will calmly watch their freedoms stripped away because a few idiots complain and then rise to power to take advantage of the situation.


1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 12/12/2009 8:04:46 PM

Merry Christmas, Mr. President

America sees right through you.

23% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President.

42% Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -19.

Today is the second straight day that Obama's Approval Index rating has fallen to a new low.

Among those who consider fiscal policy issues the most important, just 1% Strongly Approve and 81% Strongly Disapprove.

Math. If only Barry had studied basic math.

Then there's this, which highlights the problems with socialism once again:

Desperate to calm investors, Greece's new Socialist government promised to outline emergency cuts next week. The prospect of those cuts eased pressure on its bonds on Friday after their biggest sell off in more than a decade. But they also raised the specter that Greece's economy could take longer to recover while heightening fears of civil unrest.

The Socialist government came to power in October vowing to protect state salaries and public spending, "but now it's going to have to do the opposite - they need to bring down spending," said David Riley, head of global sovereign ratings at Fitch. "This is part of the credibility problem they face - they will say they are going to tackle the budget, but will they really be able to do it?"

My, doesn't that sound familiar?

Socialism sucks, every time it's tried. Merry Christmas, Mr. President, you immoral jerk.

by Brett Rogers, 12/13/2009 11:51:32 AM

Attention, All Super Geniuses

Straight from Harvard:

My Harvard colleagues Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna have recently conducted a comprehensive analysis of the issue. In an October study, they looked at large changes in fiscal policy in 21 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. They identified 91 episodes since 1970 in which policy moved to stimulate the economy. They then compared the policy interventions that succeeded - that is, those that were actually followed by robust growth - with those that failed.

The results are striking. Successful stimulus relies almost entirely on cuts in business and income taxes. Failed stimulus relies mostly on increases in government spending...

But of course, Obama is brilliant and uber-intellectual, so he knew that already. He just hates business, so he's working very hard to kill it.

The best part:

A growing body of evidence suggests that traditional Keynesian nostrums might not be the best medicine.
Gee, ya think? As I recently said, Keynes wasn't too keen.

by Brett Rogers, 12/14/2009 8:30:33 AM

Zero Hour

Supposedly, ObamaCare passage in the Senate is right around the corner this Christmas. Harry Reid is working furiously to get it passed.

The Republicans are doing next to nothing as this goes on. It's hard to know what's in or out of the bill, and the Republicans could be doing the public a huge service by illustrating what's in the bill. If the bill is being hidden and not released, they could be working to highlight that. But as politically aware as I am, I can't tell you what the Republicans are doing. Which comes off looking like nothing.

If this passes, it will pass the House, and then get signed by the Super Genius.

Which will make repeal the number one legislative priority.

I'm tired of politics. Tired people will want to jettison the whole body politic, rather than spend the energy to parse and choose selectively.

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 12/19/2009 7:54:32 AM

Me, Paint, and the Seven Seas

Beatcanvas... part of the reason I named the web site that was to tell my journey through art. But, then the government interceded and made life harder and threatened my kids' future...

Anyway, in about 24 hours, I'll be boarding a big boat and heading to the Bahamas. The site will be chill during that time (unless PR wants to post something while I'm gone).

During that time, no computer for me. But I brought art supplies, so hopefully I'll get some painting done.

I hope you have a great Christmas with friends and family, in spite of the government coal being issued in the form of "health care" this holiday season.

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 12/19/2009 11:36:52 AM

What I've Relearned in the Last Week

Painting is something that I've always enjoyed, and I'm a decent painter. With practice, I might become quite good, but I'll tell ya - my game sucked when I got on board the cruise.

Things I had to learn (again) and discipline myself:

  1. Painting is drawing before it is anything else. If I don't get the drawing right, I don't have anything - unless I'm going for abstract, which I never do. I had to force myself to remember this truth several times, and I proved to be a slow learner. Evidently, I'd gotten myself in a big hurry about life prior to the cruise.
  2. Streaky colors in my brush kill the confidence of my painting. Determine the solid color that I need, mix it well, and then paint that section. Streaks of color can be a technique, but only when it's rare and deliberate. When it happens by accident, it's not a cool effect. It's like changing font in mid-sentence. Colors that are bold and strong are confident. Streaks only weaken the work.
  3. Let a section dry before going over it with a new color - otherwise it becomes streaky. See previous point... use the time to change water, study the subject harder, go for a stretch break, etc.
  4. Really stop to focus on the section and forget what I'm looking at. It's never a bottle of mustard - it's just colors. Paint the colors and shapes, not the object my mind tells me that it is.
When I get home, I'll post pictures of my efforts. I'm not overly proud of anything I did, but it's always about the journey, and not the destination. I journeyed a long way, and I'll be a better painter for it.

All of the work I did was plein air - no working from a photograph, just live and in person based on what was in front of me. I need an easel for that kind of painting, and I never had one. An easel sets the canvas straight, allows the eye to move very little from subject to canvas, and forces me to look at the subject more often to drop my assumptions.

The big lesson I got from this round of painting was this: first impressions are never the complete picture.

That applies to a lot of life. We seek patterns, and we love to categorize. It allows us to move more quickly. Assumptions help us - if we recognize them as assumptions. Too often, we don't. We believe that our first impression, which is really just a proud assumption, is true.

What I believe is that first impressions allow us to move intuitively in the right direction, but it's rarely the final direction. It takes fine tuning, and that only happens when we continue to look at the subject for what it is. I can take a mustard bottle and paint it in the sunlight, not touch it at all, and I guarantee that before I finish it, it's become a completely different bottle of mustard because the light changed for the movement of the sun upon it. It can't be the same painting again.

A lot of people watched me paint on the trip. The first fifteen minutes that happened, I was self-conscious. Then that feeling left me. At one point, I sat at the first table on the huge patio in Margaritaville in Grand Turk. A ton of people moved past me, several of them commenting on how I was doing. It was a cool experience.

A couple of comments about the trip:

  • I left programming behind for 6 days. I needed that. Usually, I code while traveling. Not this time, and it helped me. The next year is gonna kick my ass, and I think we'll try to do this a couple of times in the next year.
  • I've always wondered what I would have done in centuries past. No question now - I would have been a sailor and an explorer. I love the ocean. Staring into it, it's impossible for me to tire of it. The infusion of millions of bubbles into the blue water as the massive boat cuts through it brings this play of turquoise and white and sky blue. Fascinating. I can't count the number of times I stood on our balcony just looking into the water.
  • The lives of the crew... we had fantastic people working hard to make our trip wonderful, and they succeeded. Mark, our steward, and Romel, our evening waiter, have very interesting stories. My heart goes out to them and I'm thankful to have met them.
  • Politically, I'm a changed guy. The early-December conference I attended started that change, and this trip has expanded upon that. I didn't pay attention to the news of the day, but I did see that Obama's theft of health care passed the Senate. There are two directions I can go from here: I either work to make as much money as I can before it all comes down, or I double down on my political work. The answer is probably both, with the former preceding the latter. I'm convinced that the Republicans are worthless to defeat the Democrats. I thought I might try to work with them, but they're completely hapless and don't believe in preserving freedom. But you know who's even more hapless than Republican politicians? Republican voters. I worked my butt off this past year to help organize them, and I'm done trying to light a fire under their collective butts. It's a waste of time. I'm skeptical of right-leaning politicians, and even more skeptical of right-leaning voters. I have no idea how much corruption and theft in Washington it takes to get people off the couch for more than a rah-rah session, but I'll spend my free time working on other more productive things. (I've met a few real patriots, but they're very uncommon. I love them, and God bless them.) (P.S. Yes, I'm pretty torqued about politics...)
I got lots of pictures of the trip, and I'll upload some when I get home.

It was great way to end the year and I'll be uber-productive going into the new year. Time to kick ass for my family.

by Brett Rogers, 12/26/2009 1:30:05 PM

Cool Artist

On the cruise, I found a cool artist whose murals decorated some of the hallways. Her name is Devita Stipek Writer and she heralds from Alaska.


by Brett Rogers, 12/27/2009 3:32:02 PM

Incompetent Boobs Abounding

I'm currently on the drive back from Florida and I've caught up with all of the news. I could say that the Incompetent-Boob-in-Chief surprises nobody on the right we certainly saw that coming from a long way off - but it's a pleasure to see the left dumping on him finally. Not that I expect it to continue, but hey - Jennifer Loven is no ordinary lefty. She's a lefty's lefty - a leader of the swooning White House press corps. With all of those international flights doing her faux journalism for the AP, I bet she's a bit worried about her safety and the safety of her pals as well.

Because now it matters, you see. It's affecting her.

And then there's Bob Herbert - another lefty's lefty. Columnist for the New York Times, ol' Bob disses on ObamaCare, noting this big problem:

The bill that passed the Senate with such fanfare on Christmas Eve would impose a confiscatory 40 percent excise tax on so-called Cadillac health plans, which are popularly viewed as over-the-top plans held only by the very wealthy. In fact, itís a tax that in a few years will hammer millions of middle-class policyholders, forcing them to scale back their access to medical care.

The tax would kick in on plans exceeding $23,000 annually for family coverage and $8,500 for individuals, starting in 2013. In the first year it would affect relatively few people in the middle class. But because of the steadily rising costs of health care in the U.S., more and more plans would reach the taxation threshold each year.

Within three years of its implementation, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the tax would apply to nearly 20 percent of all workers with employer-provided health coverage in the country, affecting some 31 million people. Within six years, according to Congressís Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax would reach a fifth of all households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually. Those families can hardly be considered very wealthy.

Wow - go figure. Utopia's expensive. Welcome to math, Bob.

Some Republicans came out with strong statements in support of freedom, like this:

"Today's vote should be a major disappointment for all of us who want to see affordable health care reform. Instead of lowering health care costs, this bill will result in increased taxes, higher premiums and cuts to Medicare."
Oh wait - that wasn't in support of freedom. That's in support a smaller government solutions. Okay - well how about this one:
As I have said, any true reform must meet the three-fold test of reducing costs, improving health outcomes, and protecting vulnerable persons.
I love it when Republicans look to the Constitution to discern their authority. Thank goodness for that Jeffersonian approach - improving health outcomes - that's exactly what the founding fathers knew government could do best. It's good to know that the Republicans get it, showing us that we can trust the politicians in Washington to do better than anyone when it comes to "improving health outcomes."

Good lord. We get to choose between Marxism and Marxism-lite.

by Brett Rogers, 12/29/2009 10:24:56 PM

2010 Action Plan

I have a mailing list of about 600 local tea party folks. I sent this to them yesterday.

What will the new year, 2010, bring to you?

If Obama and the Democrats continue to get their way, the new year will bring you more national debt, higher unemployment, increased government in your life, endless legislation and regulation...

I know that you don't want to allow that to happen. Fight back effectively and make a difference in 2010:

1) Find a Constitution-loving candidate for office that you can support and commit your family to volunteer for that candidate two to three hours per week from now until the election this coming November. Dad, Mom, kids... heck, have your dog wear signs in a parade. Be creative and find a way for everyone to get involved.

2) Give money monthly to support your candidate of choice. Elections take cash. Cash is your First Amendment in action. Cash given to the right candidates protects your freedom. We pay for Netflix every month. We pay for cable. We pay for dinner out - whether at McDonald's or Olive Garden. What is freedom worth to you? Ours is a representative government, and if you're not financially supporting those who will represent you - at least once a month - then you will lose your freedom to those who persist in the fight to take away your rights.

3) Attend a Constitutional seminar this year. I attended one put on by SOAR that was taught by an instructor from the National Center for Constitutional Studies. That day, 150 people walked into the seminar somewhat ignorant of our Constitution and by the evening, they walked out knowing it better than the so-called Constitutional Law professor now in the White House. It was the best $25 that I spent all year. We ought to have one running every month through 2010.

4) Spend your time with freedom-loving patriots. Everyone who fights socialist politicians are our friends and they deserve our support and alliance. No matter what their religion, background, status, career... the fight for freedom is a fight that can only be fought together. Allies don't have to be perfect. You just need to be able to work together toward a common goal, and that goal is freedom. Find a local group. Or start one of your own. Let me know if you need some direction - I'll be glad to help you get plugged in.

2010 can be the most patriotic year in the last century, or it can be the year that America slid away. Our children deserve the most free America we can pass on to them. Join me in making firm resolutions in this new year to be the most effective that we can be.

by Brett Rogers, 12/31/2009 9:53:56 AM


We went to the Caribbean on a cruise, my first time ever on a cruise or out of the country, to help my in-laws celebrate their 50th anniversary. Here's a picture of Tamara with her sisters and her parents.

We had a great time. I took the opportunity to paint again.

As I said in a recent post, my painting skills somehow meandered away. One day, I had found my way to into a San Juan midtown cafe.

The people there were fascinating. I watched one man chase his child around the town square playfully, adopting several different characters as he did. He would have made a great actor. His daughter giggled as she skipped away from him each time.

So I painted as I sat there. Normally in my day, I take and make myriad phone calls, write code, care for my dogs and the house, and life is generally busy. I haven't painted for a long time. It was obvious that I'm way out of practice.

I had to relearn it all. How to see what's really there, how to draw, how to mix paint, how to apply the brush... I came to it with many assumptions. I didn't paint in hued sections, but instead painted shutters and slats. It was a lazy effort.

In Margaritaville, I sat poolside and felt more like I was doing the right things. Not really happy with the result, but a step in the right direction. I painted from the back to the front, I studied the color before I mixed and applied it...

The effort was smarter.

Ironically, my best efforts were done on the ship itself, when I woke up in the morning and went to Lido deck. I sat at a table and painted the ketchup and mustard that were on the table. Different days, the ketchup first and the mustard on the last day of the cruise.

I did the ketchup with a 1" filbert brush and with Amsterdam (Van Gogh) acrylics. I didn't like the paints. Too watery for me. You can see that in the streaks of the lighter areas of the bottle. If you look at these areas, you can just about see the exact shape and form of the bristles on the brush.

Then the mustard. By this stage of the cruise, I no longer saw the subject of the painting as what I knew it to be, but as shapes and colors. As I worked it, I did it more like I should.

Still had problems, but the methods were sound.

I live as two different people. The artist in me is a more likable, more people-friendly guy. He's well aware of his flaws, doesn't really think about politics, and sees things in the world around him that exist in the moment.

The businessman / programmer in me is inward, driven, protective of his family. He's well aware of his strengths, connects remote dots together, intakes massive amounts of detail and facts, and doesn't really notice the immediate world around him.

The artist in me loved the cruise. It was nice to get some air. I'll work to see if I can paint more frequently, perhaps even daily. I'm better as a united whole.

by Brett Rogers, 12/31/2009 6:46:19 PM

Christmas Vacation Beauty

by Brett Rogers, 12/31/2009 9:19:13 PM