Saturday, January 15, 2011

What you need to know about the unemployment rate

Everything you needed to know about unemployment, including participation rate and its implications.

From MISH'S Global Economic Trend Analysis:
"Reader Question Regarding 'Dropping Out of the Workforce'; Implications of the Falling Participation Rate"

Bear in mind as you read this that the unemployment rate you hear on the news does not include all the people that are truly out of work or people who have settled for a job other than what they would like to have.

So what will Obama do about jobs? Funny you ask. They have a plan. Also from MISH'S Global Economic Trend Analysis:
"Janet Yellen Says Fed Asset Purchases Will Create 3 Million Private Jobs By 2012"'s+Global+Economic+Trend+Analysis)

If you believe the Fed's plan I've got a bridge to sell you. What a load of crap.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Why do we have czars in the United States anyway?

These are the United States. Why do we have so many czars? Why do we have ANY?

From American Daughter:
"The Compleat List of Czars" by Nancy Matthis

And from the Washington Post, as published in the Concord Monitor:
"Obama and his 32 czars - President is skirting legislative branch" by Eric Cantor

If are to have czars, why so many? For example, why would we have and Auto Recovery Czar AND a Car Czar? Do we really need czars with overlapping responsibilities?

Note this quote:
"The biggest problems that we're facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that's what I intend to reverse when I'm president of the United States."

That was Barack Obama, when he was a Senator in 2008. Seems like Obama didn't really believe in reversing the flow of power to the executive branch after all! Although I do agree with his quote.

MISH also has some great commentary on this. From MISH'S Global Economic Trend Analysis:
"Republican Introduce Bill to Eliminate Presidential Czars; How Many Czars are There? Obama on Czars Then vs. Now; Vanity of Barack Obama"'s+Global+Economic+Trend+Analysis)

In 2009 Republicans introduced H.R.3226 - Czar Accountability and Reform (CZAR) Act of 2009. It didn't go anywhere. But Republicans have re-introduced this legislation. With Republican control of the House this bill will gain more traction and hopefully some publicity, even if goes nowhere in the Senate. Needless to say, I support these bills.

Mish also discusses Obama's narcissism in his post for some bonus content. Too much to get into here, but suffice to say I agree with Mish (as usual).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wait, do I agree with Bernanke???

I never agree with Ben Bernanke, because I don't believe in the cartel we call the Federal Reserve. Nevertheless, he said something I agree with for a change. So, to give credit where credit is due...

From MISH'S Global Economic Trend Analysis:
"Bernanke Rejects Bailing Out State and Local Governments; A Look at Meredith Whitney's Municipal Bond Call"

"We have no expectation or intention to get involved in state and local finance," Mr. Bernanke said in testimony before the Senate Budget Committee. The states, he said later, "should not expect loans from the Fed."

Bailing out irresponsible states would simply encourage more such behavior. It's enough to make you wonder why irresponsible businesses (GM, anyone?) should have been bailed out.

Body Language

I don't know how accurate this is, but it sure is interesting. Body language, if you can read it, might be able to tell you a lot.

From the Daily Mail:
"Why you mustn't trust a word this woman says ... and other body language secrets that reveal what people are really thinking" by Peter Collett and Lorraine Fisher

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This doesn't usually happen in Atlanta

For those of you who can't believe that Atlanta was shut down by a little snow, check this out. Bear in mind as you watch these videos that Peachtree Street is THE MAIN DRAG in downtown Atlanta. Notice not only the ice but the complete and utterly amazing lack of traffic. I've never seen Peachtree Street so deserted.

"Peachtree St. Ice Rink in Midtown" by A.Nendel

"Peachtree St. Ice Rink in Midtown #2" by A.Nendel

Let me just say: This doesn't usually happen in Atlanta!!! Normally I take my "I'm from the North!" attitude and laugh at the incompetent drivers. But I don't care where you are or where you're from, that is slippery. And Atlanta has more hills than people realize.

Of course, there is another possibility. Maybe I'm just getting soft after living down south for too long. :)

Augmented reality, courtesy of Google?

Do you love your smartphone? Do you hate how hard it is to use, with its tiny screen (okay, they're getting bigger) and its lack of a real keyboard? Well help is on the way. Augmented reality anyone?

What does augmented reality mean? It means speech recognition. Real-time voice translation. And computer vision (information about what you're looking at, like the Terminator had!).

With that in mind, consider the following series of articles from Xconomy. These articles are FASCINATING:

"Inside Google’s Age of Augmented Humanity: Part 1, New Frontiers of Speech Recognition" by Wade Roush

Voice recognition on a limited scale is one thing. But Google's push to make it ubiquitous is really amazing.

"Inside Google’s Age of Augmented Humanity: Part 2, Changing the Equation in Machine Translation" by Wade Roush

Remember the universal translator from Star Trek? It may be coming soon to a cell phone near you.

"Inside Google’s Age of Augmented Humanity, Part 3: Computer Vision Puts a 'Bird on Your Shoulder'" by Wade Roush

They describe this as a "bird on your shoulder" but the word "Skynet" keeps coming to mind (!). I've said it before and I'll say it again: Treat your Android phone well. Maybe the machines will kill you last. :)

I love how Google is the place where all this is coming together. We have the resources (brilliant people, tons of data, and massive data centers) to make it all happen. I would say that I can't wait--except Voice Search on Android phones is already scary good. As is the Google Translate app I have on my phones. (Did you hear that the latest Google Translate for Android is already doing "Conversation Mode" between English and Spanish?) I don't have an iPhone but I've heard about an app called Word Lens that does instant visual translation. And apps such as Layar are already taking the first steps towards computer vision.

So what's the next step? Consider this article from
"Android 3.0 Honeycomb Has Google-Built Augmented Reality?" by Evan Blass

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords, and the rush to censor, ban, and blame

It was inevitable. Time to ban guns again. That I expected. From Politico:
"Carolyn McCarthy readies gun control bill"

"Gun control activists cried it was time to reform weapons laws in the United States, almost immediately after a gunman killed six and injured 14 more, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in Arizona on Saturday."

But I was a little surprised by the desire to limit free speech. I guess I shouldn't have been. From CNN:
"Shooting prompts legislation to protect lawmakers, officials" by Mark Preston

"Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pennsylvania, said he will introduce legislation making it a federal crime for a person to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a Member of Congress or federal official."

This is crazy, just crazy. This is basic First Amendment stuff. Furthermore, if it is a good idea to ban such speech, what makes congressmen so damn special? Re-read Animal Farm. We're all equal. Except those damn pigs (politicians, but I repeat myself) who are more equal than the rest of us.

"As for support for the bill, Brady said, 'Why would you be against it?'" I'll tell you why: Because speech is not illegal.

I also have to comment on the flak that Sarah Palin is taking for using crosshairs on her website. What is wrong with left-wing commentators? Honestly, would any reasonable person think she was advocating that her supports kill these congressmen? Of course not. Furthermore, I don't recall left-wing commentators yelling about civility when a film was made about killing George Bush in 2006. I don't recall left-wing commentators recoiling in horror when Barack Obama said this, in 2008: "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."

So who is this right-wing individual who gunned down Giffords for political reasons? In short, he's a nutjob. He's not a Tea Party member at all, contrary to what idiots like Paul Krugman think. Krugman's piece tells us a lot more about Krugman (completely blind to facts, always looking to blame the other side based on pure speculation) than it does about events in Tuscon.

His name is Jared Lee Loughner. And if anything he's a left-wing whack job. A former friend, Catie Parker, said he was "left wing, quite liberal. & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy" based on when she knew him in 2007.

Loughner was also a pot smoker. Any chance these left wing legislators will try to ban pot like they want to ban guns? From the Stranger:
"Reefer Madness" by Dan Savage

As this article points out:
"Marijuana is illegal—illegal to grow, sell, distribute—and federal, state, and local governments spend billions of dollars annually trying to stamp out pot. And yet pot remains cheap and readily available. They can't keep it out of prisons. Yes, some people shouldn't smoke pot, just as some people shouldn't, oh, own guns."

The article points out something that seems counter-intuitive at first but is actually quite logical when you think about it:
"Look, David, pot is as accessible as it is because it's illegal. So long as it's illegal to sell pot to anyone, an unlicensed pot dealer has no incentive to make distinctions between selling to a child or a nut or a responsible adult. Indeed, he has an incentive to sell to anyone, to move his supply. But if pot dealers were licensed to sell their product—if pot dealers had licenses they could lose—they would be very careful not to sell pot to children or nuts, just as bar owners with liquor licenses to lose are careful not to serve minors or over-serve drunks."

For even more information, take a look at some of Loughners YouTube videos. From boingboing:
"The YouTube videos of Arizona shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner, with full text transcripts"

Summary: This dude is crazy.

Even more about the shooter, from
"The Media & The Shooter" by Erick Erickson

"Let’s be crystal clear: this is the supposedly objective news media doing this, not the openly, partisan left, though it is fueling the media witch hunt. And from what we now know, it is not just media malpractice, but a lie."

This article summarizes a lot of information that indicates, quite clearly, that Loughner was not an agent of the Tea Party but a left-wing nut job. That doesn't even matter, though, so much as the fact that he was plain crazy. I don't think these murders had anything to do with left-wing or right-wing.

What IPOs tell us about Facebook and Google

Does corporate culture matter? How is corporate culture even revealed? Aren't all Silicon Valley companies virtually identical?

Well, it turns out that Silicon Valley companies are NOT all the same. And their different cultures shine through quite clearly at times. Their initial public offerings (IPOs) are some of those times. Consider this story from Umair Haque:
"A Tale of Two IPOs"

This article quite clearly demonstrates the difference between Google and Facebook. Once company cares about its users (or at least it did at the time of its IPO--whether it still does to the same degree is debatable). And the other, despite being all about "social" and "friends," does not.

"When Google IPO'd, it explicitly refused to play by Wall St's rules--instead, issuing equity in a relatively open Dutch auction."

"...According to its filing, Google seems willing, eager even, to start off life as a publicly traded company on the right foot, hoping to steer clear of some of the sweetheart dealmaking that characterized the last wave of go-go IPOs. Instead, Google plans an auction of its shares to raise up to $2.7 billion; a process open to all bidders."

"Today, we have Facebook--not challenging Wall St's rules, but, instead, endorsing and subscribing to them. Facebook's quasi-IPO is a deal with Goldman to build an SPV through which high-net-worth investors can essentially buy blocks of Facebook equity.

"The contrast couldn't be more striking. A closed SPV for a tiny number of clients, which skirts the SEC's rules on venture finance, is the antithesis of Google's open Dutch auction."

According to this article, Google believes in democracy and "a set of principles for creating enduring value." Facebook does not.

In the opinion of the author, "Companies that have philosophies are resilient--they're able to weather the fiercest of storms, because they focus on enduring value, not transient gains. What Facebook's Goldman deal might tell the astute observe of strategy is this. Facebook has no philosophy, no set of guiding principles that focus it on enduring value. Instead, it is focused--as it has been focused--on building an extractive ecosystem rife with subprime economics and tail risk, not creating value that matters, lasts, and grows."

To take this one step further, Google was so adamant about adhering to its principles that it cut Goldman Sachs out of its IPO. From Wired:
"Snubbed by Google, Goldman Sachs ‘Friends’ Facebook"

"As Google prepared to go public in early 2004, its top executives sent a message to the Wall Street bankers salivating to get a piece of the $2.7 billion IPO: no backroom jockeying, no sweetheart deals. Goldman Sachs’ then-CEO Hank Paulsen promptly ignored the directive and reached out to powerful venture capitalist John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins, one of the earliest Google investors, hoping to get an inside track on the deal.

"Big mistake. When Google’s top executives found out that Paulsen was trying sneak behind their back and finagle Goldman’s way into the IPO, they went 'apeshit,' as Charlie Gasparino reported in the May 10, 2004, issue of Newsweek. Thanks to Paulsen’s blunder, Google immediately cut Goldman out of the IPO, costing the bank over $130 million in fees — fees that Goldman thought it was entitled to as the premier underwriter of hot tech issues to that point.

"This anecdote is instructive because it is just one of many examples of the contrast between how Google went public in 2004, and how Facebook is conducting itself now, ahead of a widely expected IPO in 2012. Facebook seems intent on not following Google’s path, and in fact, taking an almost-diametrical approach.

"Far from shunning sweetheart deals, Facebook has enthusiastically embraced them, as evidenced by the $1.5 billion private placement for the super-rich that the social networking website has granted to none other than Goldman Sachs."

"Google’s Dutch auction–style IPO was designed to put regular investors on the same footing as the richest bankers at the top Wall Street firms. It didn’t matter if you had $100 to invest or $1 million. All investors were treated equally."

In fact, some people seem to think that this is already the beginning of the end for Facebook. From CNN:
"Facebook hype will fade" by Douglas Rushkoff

"But appearances can be deceiving. In fact, as I read the situation, we are witnessing the beginning of the end of Facebook. These aren't the symptoms of a company that is winning, but one that is cashing out."

"Likewise, Rupert Murdoch's 2005 purchase of MySpace for $580 million coincided pretty much exactly with the website's peak of popularity. People blamed corporate ownership for the social network's demise, but the cycle had already begun.

"Now, it's Facebook's turn. This week's news that Goldman Sachs has chosen to invest in Facebook while entreating others to do the same should inspire about as much confidence as their investment in mortgage securities did in 2008. For those who weren't watching, that's when Goldman got rich betting against the investments it was selling."

"Unlike a public offering of shares, this private offering to Goldman's clients doesn't obligate Facebook to come clean on its real profits. It doesn't have to submit to standard accounting practice, or indicate how well it's really doing or isn't doing. It gets to remain in the safe cloud of hype that protects all such ventures until they either make a real profit or die trying.

"The object of the game, for any one of these ultimately temporary social networks, is to create the illusion that it is different, permanent, invincible and too big to fail. And to be sure, Facebook has gone about as far as any of them has at creating that illusion.

"If you were there for Compuserve, AOL, Tripod, Friendster, Orkut, MySpace or LinkedIn, you might have believed the same thing about any one of those social networks. Remember when those CD Roms from AOL came in the mail almost every day? The company was considered ubiquitous, invincible. Former AOL CEO Steve Case was no less a genius than Mark Zuckerberg."

"Yet social media is itself as temporary as any social gathering, nightclub or party. It's the people that matter, not the venue. So when the trend leaders of one social niche or another decide the place everyone is socializing has lost its luster or, more important, its exclusivity, they move on to the next one, taking their followers with them."

"We will move on, just as we did from the chat rooms of AOL, without even looking back. When the place is as ethereal as a website, our allegiance is much more abstract than it is to a local pub or gym. We don't live there, we don't know the owner, and we are all the more ready to be incensed by the latest change to a privacy policy, or to learn that every one of our social connections has been sold to the highest corporate bidder.

"So it's not that MySpace lost and Facebook won. It's that MySpace won first, and Facebook won next. They'll go down in the same order.

"The longer the company can maintain the illusion of great profits without alienating its user base, the longer they can delay the inevitable decline. But given that Facebook has already begun cashing in its chips, that moment has quite likely arrived."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter in the South

Yes, it snowed again in Atlanta yesterday and today. It actually snowed quite a bit. And then it turned into freezing rain. So travel really was dangerous.

I've posted about this before, when we had a snow storm last year. This my "Southern 'Drivers'" link from last year. I've also added this content below, to this post.

At least this year there were very few drivers on the roads. Unlike last year when many incompetent drivers ventured out, at least this year the weather was bad enough to keep them at home.

However, there were still a few people out. See the following pictures.

In the first picture, we see police cars parked side-by-side on Factory Shoals Road for no good reason. I drove up slowly, and an officer got out and waved me by. They were just parked there, of all places, to stop and chat. I'll stop my comments there. If you can't say something nice...

In the next series of pictures we see a bunch of trucks parked on Riverside Avenue. Turns out I was able to make it through with some creative driving.

On a related note: Do people eat more in bad weather? This is a serious question. Whenever there is even a hint of bad weather down here people run to the store and buy everything. The forecast is for ONE DAY, maybe two, of bad weather. Do you really need to stock up for weeks, people?

Finally, I'll repeat my web post from last year.

Southern "Drivers"
Summary: Southern drivers suck.

Snow in Atlanta on the night of Thursday, January 7, 2010. Roads were very slick as the snow packed down, melted, froze, etc. Drive home was treacherous. Everything was closed, both on Thursday night and Friday morning.

Roads were still very bad Friday morning. I made the safe choice and left the Acura Integra (no anti-lock brakes, somewhat old tires) at home. I took the Ford Escape (purchased when I lived in the Twin Cities and drove regularly to da U.P.--all-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, tires that are only a couple months old) to work. It was the right choice.

I thought it was going to be an easy drive in because few people would be on the roads. With no traffic and clean roads I can make that drive in 20-25 minutes. With empty roads and a little ice I could go out, slide the car around, and have some fun on the ride in. Unfortunately, it didn't work out like that. The drive ended up taking about an hour longer than that. And the few Southern drivers that did venture out made it a very dangerous drive. In general, I had to drive much more slowly than usual. But there were a number of specific things that delayed me.

Point B on Map
First of all, I had to pass a Toyota RAV4 on a neighborhood road (Highview Drive SE). This guy was doing about 3 mph (literally). Just amazing. Not sure what he was thinking (if anything). If I had to guess, though I would say that it appeared that he had recently pulled out of his driveway and was second-guessing whether he should even be venturing out on roads like these.

Point C on Map
I lost a bunch of time when I had to turn around due to the closure of Concord Road in the "covered bridge" district. There is one bridge that crosses a creek, and to get to that point you have to descend a hill down a narrow two-lane road to get to the one-lane bridge at the bottom of the valley. I can see why it was closed in retrospect. Cars would have been sliding down the hill, and some would have failed to make it up the hill on the other side. In fact, on the drive home yesterday I was sliding downhill in my Integra heading northeast on Concord approaching the bridge from the other direction, and I ended up turning onto Covered Bridge Drive as a safety turn off to scrub some speed. I wasn't in a bad situation but I was feeling some slipping as I approached the steepest part of the road and made the safe choice.

Point D on Map
Okay, so I turned around at Point C, as shown on the map on this page. Unfortunately, not long after I turned around I got another taste of Southern driving. There was a woman doing 10 mph or less, literally, on Concord road. Concord is a 35 mph road, a major commuter route. Yes, the roads were slippery. But 10 mph?

Point E on Map
I looped to the north to get around the road closure. At the intersection of Hurt Road SW and Harris Road I got my first taste of running red lights. I had a solid green and a car came through a solid red (southbound on Harris), right in front of me (I saw this developing so I was not in danger). No attempt to stop or even slow down. I don't know if the intersection was so slippery that he felt he couldn't slow down or stop or if he was just focusing on the icy roads so much that he didn't even bother to glance at the light. Either way, Southern drivers suck.

Along Hurt Road I got caught behind a slow van who was behind an even slower car. At least the car driver pulled off the road when he realized that going 10 mph was greatly inconveniencing a number of people behind him.

Point F on Map
For the second time, I saw a car run a solid red light (southbound on Floyd). Not even close. No attempt to slow down.

On Floyd Road, which is two lanes in each direction, I got my first taste of coordinated blocking. It's frustrating when you have one lane and someone is blocking it. But when it's two lanes, and drivers gang up on you to drive slowly, side-by-side, in both lanes, it is even MORE frustrating.

Point G on Map
More coordinated blocking of two traffic lanes. Really, people? You can't drive one behind the other if you're both doing 15 mph?

Point H on Map
Some of the most incompetent driving I have ever seen in my life. More on this later, including pictures.

Point I on Map
And for the third time, I saw a car run a solid red light (eastbound on Six Flags Drive). Same story.

My drive into work, Friday morning, January 8, 2010

View Larger Map

Point H on Map

Here are some pictures of the most interesting moment in my drive in to work this morning. A Chrysler Concorde and I approached the following scene. A minivan and small truck had crashed (?). A Suburban had apparently been unable to climb the hill and was stalled just beyond them. This is a four-lane road, no turning lane in the middle.

The Chrysler driver paused for a little while, then made the decision to try to drive around the Suburban, into oncoming traffic lanes. Visibility is not great so this was not an obvious choice, although it was the only logical choice.

Problem was, like any horrible southern driver, she went so slow that she lost traction and could not get going again. She also stalled her car, just a bit forward of the position shown in Picture 2, below.

All of the above is understandable. But what I can never figure out in situations like this is: WHY DO YOU JUST SIT THERE? I waited, 5+ car lengths back, for her to decide what to do. Back up a little, try to find better traction, and try again. Back up in a "Y" turn and turn around (don't attempt the pass on the hill). Back up all the way down the hill to get a running start at the hill. Anything. It all starts with this simple piece of logic: If you can't go forward, go backward. I left her plenty of room.

But no. They all just sit there. They freeze and do nothing.

After 3-5 minutes of this (I really waited, I swear), I couldn't take it anymore. Now I have to analyze my choices. I can turn around (I really don't want to do this). I can go around the Concorde, into the one remaining oncoming traffic lane, for which I don't have good visibility (not a good choice). Or maybe, just maybe, I can drive forward, squeeze between the Concorde and the truck, then turn hard to the right to get around the Suburban. Which is what I did. Worked perfectly.

Picture 1, Initially Approaching the Scene

Picture 2, The Obstacle Course

Am I a racist?

Am I a racist? Just because I think Michael Vick is a terrible human being? Apparently a local columnist thinks so. From the Atlanta Post:
"Understanding The Frenzy Over Vick and White Folks’ Love of Dogs" by Charing Ball

The whole article is complete crap, which is obvious if you read it (I wouldn't blame you if you didn't). So I won't take the time to comment on individual points. But I will say this: I understand that Vick served his time. I don't happen to think he served as much time as he should have, but that's not my call to make. But just because someone served his time does NOT suddenly make him a good person. It does NOT mean he is suddenly redeemed. It only means that he is a scumbag ex-convict. That's it. And it's not racist to point that out.

P.S. My dislike of Michael Vick has nothing to do with the fact that his new team, the Eagles, played the Packers yesterday. In fact, I disliked him long before I knew that he tortured and killed dogs. His personal behavior, including giving the finger to Atlanta fans--while he played for the Falcons--showed what he was all about.

P.P.S. The one positive part of Ball's article is when she refers to the Stuff White People Like blog. This is a GREAT blog. It pokes fun at white people by pointing out, as you might guess, stuff that white people like. Sample: "... white people like the World Cup because it allows them to pretend they are European for a few weeks, and more importantly, it allows them to get drunk at odd hours."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords and political civility

By now you've all heard of the tragic shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (among others) in Tuscon yesterday. So many thoughts come to mind. I'll try to put down a few.

First of all, I don't know what to think of Giffords. She is described as pro-gun and as a motorcycle rider (I saw pictures of her on a BMW). She successfully ran her family's tire business (El Campo Tire Warehouses, founded by her grandfather). I saw film clips of her saying that our excessive spending is the main problem we are facing. She didn't vote for Pelosi for speaker this year. So far so good.

But when you look deeper you find that she has "a D+ rating from the NRA and a D- from the GOA" according to Wikipedia. So she's not really pro-gun. Amazing how the media report the lie that she is pro-gun over and over, just because that's how she erroneously describes herself.

She "voted for Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, and for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009" (again from Wikipedia). So she doesn't give a damn about wasting money. Blue Dogs are hypocrites of the highest order, in my opinion. I have never seen a shred of evidence that they are any more fiscally conservative than any other flaming left wing liberal.

Although she didn't vote for Pelosi, she voted for the corrupt John Lewis to be speaker of the house. That's like telling your Packer-fan friends that you're a good person because you don't root for the Bears--without mentioning that you actually root for the Vikings! She wanted to be able to tell her constituents that she didn't vote for Pelosi, without mentioning that she voted for someone just as bad. It was a gimmick, which most sheeple won't notice. They'll just hear "didn't vote for Pelosi" and be satisfied.

She also has a 100% NARAL rating, which shows what little character she has.

And she voted for the recent health care reform bill.

In short, she's a ... politician. With all the negative connotations of that despicable word.

None of which means that she should have been shot, of course. In fact, you're probably wondering why I would mention all of this here.

I apologize for speaking ill of her here, but I do it to lead into a larger topic: political civility. There has been a lot of talk generated by this event, about how we need to have more respect for each other. As if this will magically happen somehow. Which, of course, it won't. Because NOBODY, none of the supposedly intelligent commentators, even bothers to discuss the root cause of the the anger an incivility. Nobody.

So WHY is there more anger? Why so little respect? I'll tell you why, two reasons: Because the stakes are too high. And because politicians show us no respect.

So much power is concentrated in Washington that politics has become a blood sport (I don't mean this literally, despite what happened to Giffords, but the usual metaphors all seem offensive after an event like this). People fight so hard because so much is at stake. The debt we are building, the way we are eroding what made this country great

One of the ways the politicians are doing this is by greatly overstepping their constitutional bounds. When government needs money they just raise taxes and take it. They don't really consider reducing their spending. They take money because they can (death tax, anyone?) without any justification for it in terms of the services they are providing for confiscating that money. And they impose unconstitutional mandates on U.S. citizens, the health care bill, for example. Can anyone find the justification for this in the Constitution?

We do need to have more respect for each other, of course. But it needs to go both ways. The politicians cannot keep growing government, at the point of a gun (try not paying your taxes and resisting as long as you can). Without this government power grab, if government did only what it was chartered to do, there would be much less to argue about. In short, it is the unconstitutional growth of government has has led to this incivility and lack of respect that we now face.

Meanwhile, here is a profile of another victim that saddens me more than Giffords being shot. Christina-Taylor Green was 9 years old with an extremely bright future, by all accounts. Born on 9/11/01. I think this affects me because my girls are 9 years old.

"With a Birthday on 9/11, She Was Patriotic, Interested in Politics"