Monthly Archives: November 2010

Sesquicetennial of South Carolina Secession. “The reason for the treason.”

12/20/10: Sesquicetennial of South Carolina Secession. “The reason for the treason.”  
“ATLANTA — The Civil War, the most wrenching and bloody episode in American history, may not seem like much of a cause for celebration, especially in the South.

“And yet, as the 150th anniversary of the four-year conflict gets under way, some groups in the old Confederacy are planning at least a certain amount of hoopla, chiefly around the glory days of secession, when 11 states declared their sovereignty under a banner of states’ rights and broke from the union.”

Readers interesting, sad and scary comments can be found here.

There are 18 pages of them totaling 432 comments as of Nov. 30, 2010; just 10 days after the article’s publication.
 Apparently, even after 150 years, there are still some hard feelings…



Tycho Brahe, “Hamlet” and “Cat Ballou”

A bit of trivia…


When only 20, Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe lost a chunk of nose

in a duel. He subsequently wore a gold and silver prosthetic nose.


Tim Strawn, the ‘villain of the piece’ in “Cat Ballou

” (1965) wore a silver prosthetic nose.


Tycho Brahe was rumored to have had an affair with the queen of Demark, and to have fathered the next Danish King, Christian the IV. This is said to have inspired Shakespeare’s play, “Hamlet”.


Surely there’s some kind of nefarious plot that can be found in these remarkable coincidences.



In Re: Leslie Nielsen’s “Ben Hur” ScreenTest

It’s interesting (to me ;) to note that the role Leslie Nielsen auditioned for in “Ben Hur” was the one that eventually went to Stephen Boyd.

I never much cared for Boyd as an actor, and have no idea how he got so much work in the 1960s. He’s wooden and uninteresting to watch. I speculate that he got selected over Nielsen for at least three reasons:

1) He looks meaner,
2) He’s generally darker complected with dark hair,
3) Nielsen’s coloring was too much like Charlton Heston’s, thus not distingushing them sufficiently when they were in the same scenes.

Nielsen looked more nothern European and, frankly, looked too nice to be chopping up Ben Hur’s wheels in the chariot race.

Maybe if he’d dyed his hair and sneered more in the screen test …

Leslie Nielsen: Tribute by Roger Ebert

From Roger’s Twitter Account. Surely you’ll want to see the Ben Hur screen test. (But don’t call him Shirley.)

ebertchicago Roger Ebert Leslie Nielsen, RIP. With four film clips, including his screen test for “Ben Hur.”

ARTICLE: Age-related Degeneration Reversed In Mice For The First Time


Brain and testes growth, improved fertility and the recuperation of cognitive function were observed for the first time by scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, according to an article published in the scientific journal Nature. The laboratory mice were injected with a controllable telomerase gene – these genes maintain the telomeres – protective caps that shield the ends of chromosomes.

Low telomerase levels are linked to tissue degeneration and functional decline in elderly humans, due to erosion of telomeres.

Interesting Articles and Their Links

Note that NY Times Articles usually get archived for subscribers-only after 14 days.

A Dying Banker’s Last Instructions (NY Times)

Family’s Fall From Affluence Is Swift and Hard (NY Times)

Eating the Irish, By PAUL KRUGMAN (NY Times)

The Real Threat to America, By ROGER COHEN (NY Times)

Doing the Math on a Groupon Deal, By JAY GOLTZ  (Business Blog, NY Times)

Dealing with the best and worst gift cards

Interesting article from Forbes via MSNBC.

The best and worst gift cards (if that’s not in itself an oxymoron). Click on the article link, and also go the the website they researched.

Dealing with the best and worst gift cards:

North Korea: What’s to do?

North Korea sinks South Korean war ship. North Korea shells South Korean Island. North Korea refining uranium and building atomic bombs.

What can be done about North Korea? Not much. Even China, their only important ally and key supporter, can’t get a handle on what to do about North Korea. Continue reading

Boston prep school nixes all the books in its library, replaces them with 18 e-readers

By Laura June posted Sep 5th 2009 8:45AM (

We love looking to the future here at Engadget. And while real, paper books hold a special place in our heart, we’re fairly certain no one will accuse us of being Luddites for scoffing at a recent development at a Boston prep school. James Tracy, the headmaster of Cushing Academy, says that he sees books as an “outdated technology,” and to that end, he’s taken the drastic and expensive step of ridding the school’s library of every single one of its books. Replacing the books will be a high tech “learning center,” housing three flat screen televisions, laptops, 18 e-readers, and a coffee bar. The project — which is costing somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000 — is one of the first of its kind. So, excuse us for our cynicism, but unless there are only 18 students at Cushing Academy, we’re pretty sure the e-reader supply is going to come up short.

Lamar High’s Library Ousts Books, Re-Opens as Coffee Shop (

The fundamental tenet of ThinkWing Radio is that “Education is a prerequisite for a democracy.”

The article below is one of a pair that I’m posting, because I see them as steps away for this ideal rather than toward it. I believe that they are classic examples of seriously misguided attempts at being ‘leaders’ in the use of educational tools in the information age which will contribute to further degrading our already teetering public (and even private, apparently) educational system in this country.

Culling out-of-date books from a library is a reasonable and useful practice. Science books from 1995 would be a good example of books that are in dire need of updating.

But the dismantling of a library of books, and replacing it with a few computers, lots of e-books and a for-profit coffee shop?! (Yes, it’s run by students, but the idea is still to make a profit off of other students, at the expense of library space.)

Let’s not even talk about the wrongheadedness of addicting kids to caffeinated coffee!!

This article and the one I’m posting after it make some good points about why these ‘upgrades’ are bad ideas: Not everyone has a laptop; not everyone has internet at home; not everyone has a Nook, or Kindle, or whatever. I’ll make some others: Not all worthwhile books are available as e-books; many worthwhile out-of-print books are now available only in the old print versions remaining in libraries.

Last year I wrote an article for which addressed other concerns I have about the current state of e-books.

I don’t know how we can prevent these seriously misguided ‘educators’ from taking us down this road, but someone needs to figure out a way.

Mike Honig

PS: I suggest going to the actual article to read some of the comments. I’ve included one below The range from informed and thought-provoking to frightening.


By Margaret Downing, Tue., Nov. 23 2010 @ 9:00AM

We love the smell of burning literature in the morning.

We love the smell of burning literature in the morning.

Just adding a coffee shop to a neighborhood library so people can feel like they’re in Starbucks and ultra hip was apparently too passe a trend for Principal James McSwain of Lamar High School.

Finishing up a week ago, McSwain has thrown out nearly all the books and filled the space they were unnecessarily taking up with couches and coffee and food and told his students that they can access the exciting world of reading through e-books! And if they don’t have a laptop of their own and Internet access to do so, they can use one of the laptop computers in the library coffeeshop!

He’s even expanded the library coffeeshop hours to 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. which works great if you’re one of those kids with your own transportation and not one who is too young, too poor or with rotten parents who won’t let you drive to school yourself rather than riding the bus.

And he’s bought 35 new laptops! For a Houston ISD flagship school with more than 3,000 students in it.

A veteran educator who visited the school a few weeks ago said most of the books were already gone by then. “There were a few down one side. They assured me they’re getting rid of those as soon as they could. The plan is to turn the whole space into a coffee shop run by students.”

Students will be able to access places online such as Questia, an online resource facility where you can get articles about anything that you want, she told Hair Balls. There’s books online, too, but as she put it, the selections are limited. Her reaction:

“I was appalled. I was stunned by the whole thing I can’t imagine what he was thinking. I’m assured this is old school thinking and we should just appreciate that they’re not old school thinkers.”

The change, she said, was “designed to impress the new superintendent [Terry Grier] with the forward thinking nature of that particular principal at that particular school. ”

She said she was told one teacher who had kids after school working on their volunteer hours was asked to send them to the library to “get rid of the books.” She said he asked what they meant and “They said they didn’t care; just get them out of here.”

“He couldn’t bring himself to throw away books. He said it didn’t seem like a good thing for the kids to do. They got somebody [else]. My impression was that most of the books were thrown away. Some of them may have been donated.”

Hair Balls tried to reach McSwain; he would only speak to us through HISD Sarah Greer Osborne. This is what she told us:

“The school library has been updated. It’s got a lot of new electronic equipment. Most of it’s e-books and new laptops and they’re putting their money, instead of into paper, they’re putting it into electronic resources.Yes, there are still books there but most of it is now e-books where the kids can check out the book and as long as they have Internet access they can read the book. The library is now open from 6:30 to 6:30, a.m. to p.m., and he says the kids are eating it up; they have never seen so many kids in the library before. They only did this a week ago and he says the number of e-books being checked out is through the roof.

He says the kids love it. They did put coffee and food in there so the kids when they’re staying after school and before the kids can have a little coffee, read a book it’s just like Starbucks. Except they’re providing the books as well. The kids are eating it up that’s what they want. They want the e-books.”

The veteran teacher wasn’t as excited. “It’s just stupid. It just boggles the mind. I’m sure there’s more to the story and I’m sure that they can make it sound better than I’m making it sound to you but in the end it’s a terrible story. There’s no way in my mind that you can gloss this story and make it seem like a good idea.

“There’s no way to get hold of a book on the campus to read for pleasure or to use to write a paper. If you don’t have access to a computer of your own then you have to compete for one of the computers that are in the coffee shop. And you have to find a way to get it done during the time the coffee shop is open.”

The teacher said the whole thing breaks her heart; but she can walk away from it. At least she’s not the Lamar High librarian, whose library has been “repurposed” (a favorite educator buzzword these days), presiding over a coffee shop with all those swell couches.

Tags: books, HISD, Lamar High School, library, Terry Grier


Supplemental Links:

Emily says: Here is a piece on the project from the River Oaks Examiner. This provides some insight from the library about why the change is being made.

As a librarian I completely understand the need to provide more access to ebooks. Similar projects have occurred at private institutions – The difference being that these schools may provide better access to the equipment needed to use electronic materials.

This discussion about the need or desire to switch to only electronic resources is going on all over country in many different types of libraries.

It will be interesting to see how this project pans out. It can become a dangerous situation for librarians as our role as knowledge navigators is replaced by Google.

Posted On: Tuesday, Nov. 23 2010 @ 1:20PM

Thinkwing Seasonal Sign-off

It’s been 6 months since Thinkwing Radio with Mike Honig went on the air. It’s been an amazing experience, and I’ve enjoyed it more than I can say.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year, a lot of you will be really distracted with preparing for the holidays, including yours truly.

So now it’s time to take a break. The November 19th show will be the last for 2010, and I hope to be back after the first of the new year.

In the meantime, I’ll be adding to with articles, opinion pieces and links to miscellaneous interesting stuff, so keep coming back to the web site for news and updates.

I also will be looking into BlogTalkRadio as an additional medium for my conversations with you, and I’ll still have guests, commentaries and call-ins.

Remember that I’m always in need of sponsors to keep the show going. If you or anyone you know may be interested in promotional opportunities which will also support the show, please contact me at

I’ll be keeping you informed about all these changes and new opportunities at, so keep checking in.


Mike Honig
Host and Producer
ThinkWing Radio


Friday, November 19th, 2010. From 1pm-2pm.
My guest for this show is Dr. Shawn Novak.
Dr. Novak has received awards for his work at both Lamar University and Boise State University, where he has been a faculty member since 1996. He has substantial expertise in several areas relating to taxes, tax structure, and tax policy. His research and writing have been published in prestigious industry journals, including National Tax Journal, Journal of Corporate Taxation, and Public Finance Review. He has authored and edited chapters for a number of different tax and accounting textbooks. He is a graduate of Virginia Tech, got his Masters from UT/Austin, and received his PhD in Accounting from the University of Houston.
The topic will be tax policy and the economy, so if you listened to the show last week, this will be authoritative.
The call-in number is 713-9-650-650.
Remember that the first caller to speak to me on the air will get a free dinner to Casa Ole on 34th St and 290.


A Tax Cut-Related Email I’m Just Now Sending to Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow

Dear Keith and Rachel, 

There’s an aspect to the tax debate that seems to be consistently ignored: The numbers being discussed always relate exclusively to adjusted gross income!

Yet aside from myself on my radio show, I’ve only heard one other person say that, and he was a guest on one of your shows.

This is not a trivial distinction! A couple who claims $250,000 as their adjusted gross (i.e., taxable) income is usually actually grossing much more before all their itemized deductions. A number I’d feel safe with is $300-500k per year.

I find it amazing, remarkable, frustrating and puzzling why this is never mentioned. Not by you or Congressional Representatives or Senators or President Obama.

If the $250,000 tax cut is on adjusted gross (taxable) income, then it DOES already apply to people making $300-500,000 per year.

Please do not gloss over this fact in your discussions and interviews on this subject. If the Republicans are too sly to mention it and the Democrats too stupid, at least you folks should make a point of it for your viewers.


Mike Honig

Host, ThinkWing Radio with Mike Honig

Scary and Ironic Humor

(Warning: Some Strong Language in these videos.) 

Government finance made scary! Confused by our current economic mess? Check out “Quantitative Easing Explained” on the YouTube.  (Watch the video, and you’ll understand.)

Feeding The Beast: 24/7 “news” cycle satire clip from Funny or Die.

The Reign of Right-Wing Primetime: Is pleasing Republicans necessary for a hit show? You betcha. Why the GOP matters more to mainstream TV than you know

Here’s a quote from the article to chew over:
“The big shows with mass appeal tend to have above-average scores from Democrats and Republicans but with higher concentrations of Republicans,” says John Fetto, senior marketing manager at Experian Simmons. “Looking at the Democrats side, I don’t mean to make light of it, but they seem to like shows about damaged people. Those are the kind of shows Republicans just stay away from.”
12:40 AM 11/10/2010 by James Hibberd

I’ll name a hit TV show, and you guess if it’s more popular among Republicans or Democrats.

First, NCIS — investigating military crimes on CBS. Safe bet conservatives love it, right?

How about ABC’s Desperate Housewives — a racy soap, female audience. Little more tricky.

Now things get tough: CBS’ geeky, atheist-friendly The Big Bang Theory, Fox’s mega-rated American Idol, ABC’s progressive Emmy winner Modern Family.

Which of these shows is favored more by Republicans?

All of them.

According to months of data from leading media-research company Experian

Simmons, viewers who vote Republican and identify themselves as conservative are more likely than Democrats to love the biggest hits on TV. Of the top 10 broadcast shows on TV in the spring, nine were ranked more favorably by viewers who identify themselves as Republican.

Liberals appreciate many of the same shows, mind you. But their devotion typically is not quite as strong as right-wingers, and Dems are more likely to prefer modestly rated titles.

Like Mad Men.

The Emmy favorite has struggled to get a broad audience on AMC. It scores through the roof with Democrats (does anyone in Santa Monica or on Manhattan’s Upper West Side not watch it?), but it has one of the weakest scores among Republicans. The same is true for FX’s Damages, Showtime’s Dexter, HBO’s Entourage and AMC’s Breaking Bad.

And it’s not like Republicans have something against cable shows: The GOP has plenty of love for White Collar, Pawn Stars and American Chopper.

“The big shows with mass appeal tend to have above-average scores from Democrats and Republicans but with higher concentrations of Republicans,” says John Fetto, senior marketing manager at Experian Simmons. “Looking at the Democrats side, I don’t mean to make light of it, but they seem to like shows about damaged people. Those are the kind of shows Republicans just stay away from.”

That also goes for the soft-rated, critically beloved 30 Rock. Its score is highly polarized in favor of Democrats. The only show on NBC’s Thursday night comedy block that Republicans rate highly (slightly better than Democrats, even) is The Office … which happens to be the one bona fide hit in the bunch.

All this isn’t to suggest Republicans are a perfect oracle of ratings success. Age certainly is a factor: Younger shows are more likely to be popular with Democrats, as is just about everything on the CW, as well as animated comedies like the Fox hit Family Guy. Republicans vote strongly for reality-competition hits, but such popular youthful docusoaps as Jersey Shore and Kourtney & Khloe are best appreciated by Dems. Likewise, left-wingers have a stronger affinity for certain veteran crime procedurals, including The Closer and Law & Order, as well as anything that appeals strongly to women.

But if you look at the list of broadcast shows that are Republican favorites, it closely mirrors the Nielsen top 10 list, whereas Democrats tend to gravitate toward titles likely to have narrower audiences.

To Hollywood, the data suggest a potentially disquieting idea: The TV industry is populated by liberals, but big-league success may require pleasing conservatives.

Was TV always like this?

There certainly was a period during the mid- to late-1990s when the Clintons were in the White House and Nielsens were topped by NBC’s young, progressive urbanites such as those on Friends, Mad About You, Will & Grace and Seinfeld, along with liberal-skewing dramas like The West Wing. But even back then during a progressive primetime heyday, there was plenty of Nielsen love for Home Improvement, Touched by an Angel and Everybody Loves Raymond.

“Historically, the shows that have done better are populist, mainstream and give us confidence in our public institutions,” TV historian Tim Brooks says. “For a while in the 1960s and early 1970s, shows started representing social rebellion, but broadcast quickly reverted to Happy Days.”

What has changed is the explosion on cable that has allowed networks to appeal to more specific viewpoints, from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart to Fox News’ Glenn Beck. Moreover, if you’re a liberal viewer in a major city (which typically correlates with higher education) and you have such titles as Mad Men and Dexter to watch each week, are you going to also be interested in seeing a paint-by-numbers crime procedural on broadcast or a laugh-track-boosted sitcom? On the scripted side, at least, the explosion of complex dramas on cable may have ceded some of the broadcast ground to what one might label Republican tastes.

Of course, a broadcaster can attempt to program a cable-style complex drama, but then you’ll likely watch the show die faster than you can say Lone Star (or, for that matter, NBC’s longtime struggling Friday Night Lights, which skews Democrat in Experian data despite being about small-town football in Texas).

All of which brings us to …


Sarah Palin’s Alaska. TLC is set to make one of the biggest bets of the year by taking arguably the most polarizing figure in politics and giving her a reality show. The broadcast hits on Experian’s index tend to have at least some bipartisan support, but the lower ratings bar set for cable shows mean they get away with appealing to only one side or the other.

“Look at what happened in the election: A lot of people will tune in for Sarah Palin,” says Gary Carr, senior vp at media buyer TargetCast.

TLC president and GM Eileen O’Neill is likewise confident Palin will pay off.

“I’m really optimistic,” she says. “I think it could be one of our strongest shows out there. There’s a lot of buzz.”

Based on Experian’s data from last spring, TLC’s audience isn’t any more Republican than most other cable networks: But the channel gradually has been adding more heartland-friendly titles one would expect conservatives to appreciate. In addition to Palin, there are several “breeder” titles like 18 Kids & Counting. The network also just ordered a limited series, Homecoming, showing surprise military-family reunions.   

Given the utter ratings domination of Fox News, demonstrated again during this month’s midterm elections, an entertainment channel branding itself as right wing could be a big idea. O’Neill, however, says TLC is apolitical.

“We’re doing hearth-and-home, and if that’s watched by people from various political perspectives, that’s their choice,” O’Neill says. “They’re mainly shows that Middle America finds enjoyable. We have a fairly diverse lineup, with liberal talent and characters around the schedule.”

Would being known as a conservative-friendly channel be such a bad thing, though?

“I don’t think a political agenda is the first thing viewers put on when choosing their channel — except in the news area,” she says.

Ideological-skewing shows don’t necessarily turn off advertisers, though. O’Neill says Alaska has sold very typically for a reality program, not particularly high or low.

“Palin’s going to be talking about Alaska: the Alaska salmon, the Alaska grizzly bear, the Alaska moose,” says Aaron Cohen, executive vp and chief media negotiating officer at Horizon Media. “As long as she doesn’t end up shooting the moose, I don’t think it will become a controversial program.”

And that’s key — controversy. Ad buyers agree an audience for a show can be 100% conservative or liberal, as long as the show’s content doesn’t make advertisers itchy or risk putting them in the crosshairs of a boycott campaign.

“There are people who are particularly polarizing to certain audiences, and advertisers will occasionally avoid that programming,” Cohen says. “[But] as long as they are buying clients’ products and services, I don’t care if they’re socialists.”

So, what have we learned today?

We’ve learned Republicans like winners. The shows might be considered fluffy, but they’re generally programs that make people feel good. If you’re a broadcast network executive weighing whether to buy a show, you might ask your uncle who voted twice for George W. Bush if he likes the idea. We’ve learned Democrats are, depending on your perspective, discriminating viewers who prefer highly original, well-written series or are cynics who enjoy watching jerks. We’ve learned Sarah Palin’s Alaska has the ingredients to be a hit, and one shouldn’t confuse TLC for being Republican just because its friends are.

Finally, we’ve learned that all this brain-baking data can only tell you so much.

Because it is still possible for a scripted broadcast series to rank higher among Democrats than Republicans on Experian’s index.

It’s even possible for that same program to top the Nielsen ratings week after week.

Particularly if that show is Glee.


— Marisa Guthrie contributed to this report. Story from Hollywood Reporter’s second weekly print edition, cover photo here.

Accompanying chart shows some of the highest scoring shows from Experian’s Republican Index and Democrat Index. Other top-ranked shows include several CW titles on the Dem side (like 90210), partisan shows from the cable news networks (like Beck and Olbermann) and a few other titles with similar formats to the ones listed. See the latest issue of THR’s weekly edition for an exclusive poll offering more insight into partisan TV picks. 

“The big shows with mass appeal tend to have above-average scores from Democrats and Republicans but with higher concentrations of Republicans,” says John Fetto, senior marketing manager at Experian Simmons. “Looking at the Democrats side, I don’t mean to make light of it, but they seem to like shows about damaged people. Those are the kind of shows Republicans just stay away from.”

And Now, For Something Completely Different… Star Trek: The Rap

 I’m sure that by this time, many of you who have been reading my posts think I’m a humorless, chronically annoyed and frustrated Liberal.

Well, okay… I won’t deny that. I am. Three out of four. But not humorless!

I’m also a longtime science fiction fan and will even  plead guilty to having pointy sideburns for a year when I was in high school. (We’re talking around 1966, when the ST:TOS episodes — Star Trek: The Original Series, in case you didn’t know — were still new, un-rerun and uncut.)

Having been to many science fiction conventions, I can tell you that there is more than a grain of truth to at least some of the stereotypes of obsessive fans focused on obscure, niggling details of some shows, movies or books you’ve never hear of.

I thus point you to the MSNBC story , “Star Trek correction incites Internet nerds“.

Your thoughts are invited.

ALERT! If you see this Email, DO NOT REPLY!!!


I’m pasting it below only for you information:


MSN Account Verification !!!

From: Windows Live Team

Sent: Saturday, November 06, 2010 3:38 AM
To: Windows Live Team
Subject: MSN Account Verification !!!
Dear Account User,


This is email from Windows Live Hotmail® and we are sending to all account user for  safety. Due to the anonymous registration of our account which is causing congestion to our service, so we are shutting down some account and your account was among those to be deleted,so the purpose of this email is for you to verify that you are the owner of this account and you are still using it by filling the information below after clicking on the reply button:
You will have to confirm your E-mail by filling out your Login Info below after clicking the reply button or your account will be suspended within 48 hours for security reasons.
*User Name:
*Date Of Birth:
*Country Or Territory:
Sincerely,Windows Live Alert Team
Microsoft Corporation

Hotmail is part of Windows Live.

* This assumes a reasonable growth rate.
Microsoft respects your privacy. To learn more, please read our online Privacy Statement.
For more information or for general questions regarding your e-mail account, please visit Windows Live Hotmail Help.Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399, USA © 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


Election Day 2010 has come and gone, and if you’re a Democrat, it’s been a tough week.

The Democrats lost the House and have a much reduced majority in the Senate. John Boehner is likely to be the new Speaker, and 3rd in line for the Presidency.

Mitch McConnell is still Minority Leader in the Senate, and he’s made it plain that his top priority for the next two years isn’t jobs or budget balancing or anything that will do any good for the average American. In his own words, his top priority is to make Obama a one-term president.

In my opinion, what he’s saying could reasonably be paraphrased as, America will have to wait a couple of years for us to do anything really productive (if then), because our Republican political agenda comes first. America comes second.

I’m sure [today’s guest, conservative talk show host Natalie Arcenaux] will take exception to that interpretation and we’ll likely discuss McConnell’s remarks during the show, so I won’t expand on them here.

In any case, after a reasonable grieving period, Democrats are going to have to start picking themselves up and looking toward to 2012.

As we go forward, we need to look at these election results and figure out what the takeaways are for next time.

The first big takeaway is that Democrats can’t win if they don’t show up to vote. According to every poll I’ve seen over the past several years, among eligible voters who express a preference, Democrats have a clear advantage over Republicans in terms of favorability and in terms of who will fight for the Average American.

Republicans, however, are more likely to actually vote. Why?

I can give you my theory. It starts with this old business truism: “90% of your complaints come from 10% of your customers.” Why? Because most customers are satisfied, indifferent or apathetic if they have a minor problem. But about 10% of your customers tend to be very vocal when they’re unhappy, and there’s a significant fraction of the population that is very hard to make happy.

I don’t have a statistic on that, just my personal experience. But I’ll tell you that in all my years in retail and customer contact, there are some folks that just refuse to be satisfied, no matter how much you try to help them with their problems.

A cartoon I once saw sums it up this way… A customer service person says to an obviously irate customer, “What if we refund your money, fire the salesperson, shoot the manager and close the store. Will that be satisfactory?”

So, how does that analogy apply here?

I think that Republicans and Conservatives, generally, just tend to be chronically irritated. They’re irritated about government,  and particularly about Democrats, Liberals, taxes and social programs.

Irritation often translates into action, and action in this case is voting.

Democrats, on the other hand, will often complain to each other about this or that, but too many Democrats don’t make the connection between the challenges in their lives and their votes, so they stay home.

But there are some bright linings for Democrats in this year’s dark clouds.

Exit polls are very clear: Ballots were cast by roughly equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans. The balance was decided by so-called Independents.

Generically, these Independents actually prefer the Democrats over the Republicans, but were unhappy with the economy. Polls show that most were NOT voting FOR Republicans, but were casting a ‘protest vote’ against Congress, which was controlled by the Democrats. That doesn’t change the totals, but it does mean an opportunity to win them back.

There’s also this big point to remember. This was a pretty good turnout for an non-presidential election year. Current estimates are that about 40% of eligible voters turned out. But in Presidential election years, you usually have about half again as many voters coming to the polls. Close to 60% or more. And young voters who tend to vote Democratic often stay home during Congressional elections, but turn out more heavily for presidential elections.

I’m not alone in believing that this year’s election results didn’t come about because Democrats did too much. I think they didn’t do enough. They compromised too much on the promises that got them elected in 2008, and too many folks were unhappy with the result.

So what are the lessons for 2012?

  • Do what you promise, or at least show that you really tried
  • Don’t be ashamed of your beliefs. Stand or fall by them
  • Speak your mind loud and often, or your opposition will do it for you on their terms
  • Don’t be embarrassed to call yourself a Liberal. Remind people what Liberals have done to benefit people in America since the early 20th Century.
  • And the really, really big one: SHOW UP TO VOTE. All the whining and moaning is meaningless if you don’t express your opinion at the polls every election day. If you don’t participate in the choice, others will make the choice for you.

 We can safely assume that Republicans in the next Congress will do what they usually do: Tax breaks for the 3% of Americans who are rich and powerful; tax breaks and favorable treatment for the 3% of corporations that earn 90% of business profits while sometimes paying less taxes than you; and enacting into law Libertarian anarchist principals that will send working Americans back to the 19th century in terms of wages, benefits, protections and social safety nets.

American voters may be fickle, but they’re not stupid. Democrats just have to remind them what the Republicans are doing, and remind them loud and often.

And keep reminding them that they have to show up to vote.