October 27, 2009

Re: A Big Win

I got an email from Chris "Friend of Angelo" Dodd trumpeting the victory of the government option being included in the Senate version of the Socialized Medicine bill. (all emphasis in the original)

Dear Stephen, 

Have you heard the great news? Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he is sending a health care reform bill to the full Senate with a robust public option. 

Yes, Senator Countrywide, I heard the great news. I also heard the great news that even the RINO Olympia Snow was so disappointed that she could no longer hear the call of history. I truly celebrated the great news that Dirty Harry added in the one thing that will probably insure the defeat of Socialized Medicine in the Senate.

Thank you Mr. Reid.

This is a huge victory for us. It came after days of negotiations, where I joined Senator Reid, Senator Max Baucus, and others. Every day I walked into those negotiations, I knew that I wasn't speaking for myself alone. I was speaking for you and for everyone who shares our belief that real reform of our health care system must include an effective public option that keeps insurance companies honest. 

Senator, you will not be speaking for me until the day you stand in the well of the Senate, confess your corruption, admit that you are complete scum with neither integrity nor honor and resign.

I don't know how you expect anyone to believe that a government run health insurance plan will do anything to keep anyone honest when the government is wholly incapable of honesty. And you Mr. "Friend of Angelo" have no place in the universe to make any comment on the honesty of others.

Your support, including the powerful personal stories many of you have shared with me, made it possible for me to move these negotiations in a positive direction. You had a direct hand in the victory that put the public option in this bill, and you should be very proud. 

I am extremely optimistic that a health care reform bill with a public option will make it to President Obama's desk for his signature. But make no mistake -- this fight is not over yet.

Our opponents -- including corporate health care interests and virtually all of the Republicans in Congress -- will do everything they can to stand in the way of health care reform. If they are successful, we won't have a public option in the bill. They'd prefer it if we didn't have any reform at all! 

You are correct that the fight is not over. Those of us who believe in individual rights, individual liberty and individual responsibility will fight the advance of socialism in America every step of the way. We will fight because we believe this is what America stands for.

You, sir, stand for nothing. You label corporate health care interests as your opponent only because they haven't given you enough. I'm sure if you didn't have the gold plated health insurance program provided to members of congress by the people of this nation, you would have gotten a sweetheart deal from one of those corporate interests, and feigned ignorance again when it was discovered.

I will be calling on you again in this fight. I will need your support, just as I did at that negotiating table. And with your help, I know we will succeed in passing reform that ensures every American has quality, affordable health care. 

You can call on me the moment you decide to abandon the cause of turning this nation into Socialist cesspool and become a champion of truly free-market competitive reforms. I'm talking about capitalism, Senator. Things being bought and sold on the open market. Something with which you have great personal experience.

Congratulations on this great victory, and thank you for everything. 

There was a button at the bottom which I could use if I wished to donate money to an organization called "Friends of Chris Dodd." Sometimes the jokes just write themselves.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:45 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

October 26, 2009

Checks and Balances

I have seen references to this video all over the web but never took the time to stop and watch it. I am familiar with Lord Monckton and his views on the Holy Church of Climate Change so I didn't think there was going to be much to gain in watching another 4 minute speech.

I was sort of wrong. The video is alarming - or at least it tries to be with promises of the end of U.S. Sovereignty and One World Government.

But there is one fact that Monckton missed or ignored in his prophecy of doom.

Monckton seems not to know or to be purposely ignoring the fact the President of The United States does not possess the authority to bin the nation to a treaty with a stroke of a pen. The President can sign a thousand treaties and none of them have the force of law until they are ratified by two thirds of the U.S. Senate.

Thus when President Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol he never bothered to submit it to the Senate for ratification knowing that it would fail. It never became law.

As it stands now, the Democrat majority in the Senate cannot muster the votes to pass the Cap and Tax bill. It's worth keeping an eye on, but I don't share Lord Monckton's level of concern.


Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:23 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

October 25, 2009

Sign of the Times

I got another interesting response to the Socialism Sucks sign in the back window of my car yesterday. A woman in the supermarket parking lot asked rather indignantly, "What gives you the right to drive around with something like that in the window of your car."

Ever quick with a snappy answer I replied, "The First Amendment."

I know it's technically not correct. The First Amendment does not grant me the right to free speech but protects that right from interference by the government but I suspect such nuance would have been beyond her understanding.

She responded with my favorite (because I already have a stock answer) "Well I don't like it at all."

And I replied, "Well then you would really hate the t-shirt."

I was going to let this comment pass without noting it here, even with the obliviousness of the concept of rights and the Constitution, but then I read this article and decided that none of this crap should ever pass without comment.

The Federal Reserve joined the Treasury Department on Thursday in imposing new limits on executive pay, extending the government's control over compensation at taxpayer-owned companies to institutions that are merely government regulated.

The restrictions were the latest in more than a year's worth of government intervention in matters once considered inviolable aspects of the country's free-market economy and represent a signal moment in the history of the American economic experiment. After years of setting minimum wages, the government is now telling some companies how they should structure pay for those who run them.

The actions Thursday put the United States more in line with European governments.

Essentially, if you're an executive at an institution that falls under the regulatory authority of the Federal Reserve, the government will be determining your salary. It doesn't matter if you have a contract with your employer, the government will decide what you are worth to them and how you will be compensated.

However, the Fed's proposed rules have wiggle room: The guidelines would let banks set their own compensation but give the Fed veto power over pay practices that it determines could threaten the safety and soundness of a bank. They would extends the regulators' reach into pay practices affecting tens of thousands of bank employees, from senior executives to traders of complex securities. (emphasis added)

Just to be clear, these Federal Reserve guidelines are above and beyond payroll czar Kenneth Feinberg's slashing the salaries of executives at TARP recipient corporations. These rules apply to all regulated institutions. Even U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies.

They claim to be doing this in the name of minimizing risk by removing incentive for executives to make risky decisions. This of course ignores the reality that making risky decisions is what these people are hired to do. The better they are at assessing risk and acting, the more they are worth to the company. That is why they get paid very well.

The problem is that with the federal government having taken the position that it will assume all risk with taxpayer money, there is no reason for executives not to bet the farm. They will not crash and burn but come to a nice soft landing on a pile of fluffy pillows stuffed with our money.

The woman in the parking lot may have been partially right the sign may have to come out of my window because it is wrong. This is looking more like Fascism every day. The only problem is how to work in the Obama logo and how to deal with the alliteration.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:25 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

October 18, 2009

It's a Major Award

I have been officially banned from commenting at Little Green Nutballs. I'd like to feel like I've been inducted onto some exclusive club, but in truth it's more like I've been kicked out of some vaguely totalitarian secret society.

It wasn't very hard to get banned either. There was this picture on an "open thread" (a huge contradiction in terms at that site) that showed the end of pier. I simply asked "Is this the long awaited official photo of precisely where this blog went off the deep end?"

In less than a minute the comment was deleted and my account was blocked. What they lack in a sense of humor and thickness of skin, they certainly make up for in efficiency.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:09 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

October 15, 2009

This I Cannot Do

This was going to be another in the "GET A JOB" series of posts but it changed.

I saw an ad for a Graphic Designer at The Daily Beast. I have never visited the site though I know what it is. A news/commentary site that takes the approach that CNN and MSNBC are too conservative. I was going to write about the thought process behind the question "could I work there?" I could do the job required easily enough, but could I look myself in the mirror long enough to shave in the morning?

I probably would have toyed with the idea of submitting an application, but including a link to this site as well as my portfolio. Just to see what response, if any, I would get.

I couldn't do a post like that, or make a decision like that, without doing some basic research first. The decision to not submit an application was fairly easy to make after reading this by Peter Beinart, Senior Political Writer for The Daily Beast, Professor of Journalism and Political Science at City University of New York and Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation.

Mr. Beinart thinks liberals are being too hard on The One. Unfortunately most of his own defense of Dear Leader comes off as damning with faint praise. Let's examine the piece in some detail:

He’s on his way to an historic health-care win. The stimulus was huge. The market’s back. The left should stop complaining the president hasn’t accomplished anything.

If by a historic health-care win you mean passing a bill out of a senate committee that will fail in the house, or passing a bill in the house that will fail in the Senate, or that only way they are going to win anything in the senate is through parliamentary tricks then yes, he's on his way. If by health-care win you mean that the White House crafted a dynamic heal-care reform package and and is successfully steering it through Congress then I think he has a long way to go.

Yes the stimulus was huge. At least the the cost was huge, the stimulation, not so much. The One told us that if they passed Nancy Pelosi's and Harry Reed's massive spending pork-fest it would keep unemployment somewhere around 8%. Unemployment is poised to top 10% and keep climbing.

"The Market's back." It's nice to see someone on the left touting the success of greedy Wall Street capitalists as a good thing. But there are problems with the rise of the stock market. One is that the price of gold has also gone up as much or more than the market. So in terms of gold purchasing power, the market has done nothing. Another is that this is a tax dollar rally built on tremendous moral hazard. The Federal Government bought the concept of too big to fail at cost of hundreds of billions of dollars. I'm sure there are lot of players on The Street who are investing with the idea that there is little or no downside risk. Sure you've got a payroll czar telling AIG and CITI Bank what they can and can't pay in bonuses but what does that really mean? It means they have to make their millions in other ways such as using tax dollars to drive up the market to enhance their own portfolios.

I agree that the left should stop complaining about how little The One has actually done. Because if he listens to them he might try to do more.

Then there was this line, it actually appears toward the end, but Beinart or his editors thought so much of it they used it a decked quote:

If he gets health-care reform, Obama will have done more to rebuild the American welfare state in one year than his two Democratic predecessors, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, did in a combined twelve.

He writes that like it's a good thing! We don't need a rebuilt and vastly expanded welfare state. All the existing welfare state does is perpetuate the state of welfare. We need greater self-reliance and self-responsibilty not greater dependence on government.

Then we get into the damning with faint praise which starts with equating what Beinart sees as The One's inevitable comeback with sexual harassment.

Barack meets public; Barack loses public; Barack regains public. Bill Clinton was great this way: Whenever things were getting monotonous, he’d grope an intern just to make life interesting.

So Bill Clinton wasn't a perjurious, adulterous sexual predator after all. He just hooked up with Monica Lewinski to get some good press.

The One is different though.

Obama, on the other hand, is relentlessly disciplined, pragmatic, and calm. Beneath the fascinating exterior, he’s dull as hell.

I don't personally find his exterior all that fascinating mostly because it seems rather transparent and that there really is no interior. But If my supporters were singing my praises by labeling me as "dull as hell" I'd be little ticked off and a little concerned.

After describing the not so stimulating stimulus as "one of the most important pieces of liberal legislation in decades," Beinart closes with a completely ridiculous non-sequitor.

Obama is both lucky and good, and he’s well on his way to a successful first term. Oh, well. We still have Sarah Palin.

I think I made the right choice in not applying. There is no amount of money they could pay me to design anything to advance crap like this.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:03 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

October 14, 2009

They're Kidding, Right?

Here's another in what could become a long running series of posts on how depressing it is to be looking for a job. Here's an opportunity that I was excited to read about - until I to the end. It appeared on Craig's list a little while ago. While it may not be a common topic for a "Fisking" I'm going to have a go.

We are seeking a graphic designer/marketing staffer for a [withheld] based company. 

Great,  job in the town I live in is better that commuting any day.

This position is in a very exciting industry and allows for a lot of creativity. 

Sounds like there's some creative freedom too - this is starting to look good.

We are a well established company with strong ties to the community. 

Well established is good - I don't want to have to be going through this job hunt thing again soon.

This is an excellent opportunity to work for a great company with plenty of room to grow your existing talents. 

This is very encouraging - a company that at least claims to be wiling to let you grow creatively.

We expect you to be a diligent worker who is willing to work long hours and can meet several deadlines per week. 

Not a problem since I'm used to meeting several deadlines a day.

You must present a strong portfolio. The most qualified applicants will have html knowledge in addition to a full working knowledge of the adobe suite. MAC or PC. 

I've got that, though there are a few new projects I need to put on the portfolio site.

Our marketing will consist of your creative input into our current and ongoing projects. We market through traditional and untraditional methods. You would be expected to contribute your ideas and efforts to helping these campaigns become successful. 

This sounds almost too good to be true - they actually seem to want input from the creative into the business. I am definitely going after this job.

Another valuable part of the position will consist of your ability to form relationships and partnerships with advertisers and community sponsors (no sales). 

I can do that. I've learned from running my own little design business that I'm actually better at that than I would have expected of myself.

Please send samples or link to portfolio along with resume.   

I guess I better get those new projects on line now.

This is a full time position and in-house position. No telecommuting.

No problem I'm local - no commuting at all.

Salary ranges from 25k-35k DOE.

WTF? Are they serious.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:33 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

October 13, 2009

Toward a Color Blind Society?

Job hunting is a painful and ugly process. First there's networking. A bunch of unemployed people sitting around a table desperately hoping one of the other unemployed people knows someone who can help them get a job.

Then there is the great black hole of the internet. The black hole into which you feed resumes and never get even an auto-generated email acknowledging its receipt. Forget about getting any kind of response as the disposition of your application. You just have to assume that if enough time passes you didn't make the cut.

There are occasional moments of levity such as when the headline on a job posting says the company is confidential and the job description mentions the company's name and products multiple times

Today there was this under qualifications in a listing seeking an Art Director for a major retailer: (Name redacted to protect my chances at the job!)

Ability to view and differentiate the color spectrum. [Company] is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to a diverse and inclusive work environment.

My guess is they had a serious problem in the past with a color blind designer, but this sounds like blatant discrimination. I guess diverse and inclusive doesn't include the color blind.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:50 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

October 12, 2009

Obama Denied Nobel Prize

In shocking news today it was announced that despite his massive economic stimulus package designed to keep unemployment under 8% The One did not win the Nobel Prize for Economics.

The prize committee cited Elinor Ostrom of Indiana University “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons” and Oliver E. Williamson of the University of California, Berkeley “for his analysis of economic governance, especially the boundaries of the firm.”
Ms. Ostrom becomes the first woman to win the prize for economics.

Senior White House officials and Congressional Democrats will soon be citing the blatant racism of the Nobel committee as the primary reason for the decision.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:43 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

October 11, 2009

Long Time Fugitive Arrested

I wonder how long it will before the elites of Hollywood start signing a petition to free Louis Armando Peña Soltren?

Soltern, 66 was arrested on charges stemming from his involvement with the highjacking of a Pan American flight in November of 1968.

Nearly 41 years ago, Mr. Soltren had come to the very same airport, where he boarded Pan American Flight 281 bound for Puerto Rico on Nov. 24, 1968. As the Boeing 787 was flying just south of Bermuda, carrying 96 passengers and seven crew members, Mr. Soltren stormed the cockpit with two other men, armed with guns and knives they had smuggled onboard in a baby’s diaper bag, according to the decades-old indictment. (It was signed by the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Robert M. Morgenthau, who was 49 at the time.)
The men ordered the pilot to change course for Havana — a startlingly common occurrence at the time. In 1968, more than 30 planes were hijacked or attempted to have been hijacked to Cuba, including two that day.

Passengers on the Pan Am flight described the plane being escorted by Cuban Air Force fighter jets as it approached the island. As it landed, Cuban soldiers cheered, according to news accounts at the time.

One of the hijackers had scrawled inside the plane, “Long live free Puerto Rico.”

Over the next decade, Mr. Soltren’s two accomplices were arrested and sentenced for their role in the hijacking, as they returned to the United States. But Mr. Soltren never left Cuba, where he was protected from prosecution. On an island full of fugitives from the United States government, he eventually became known as one of the longest staying guests. (In recent years the American government has estimated the number of federal fugitives in Cuba at about 70.)

According to the Roman Polanski standard, Soltern should released then given a parade and life-time achievement award.

1. His crime was committed even longer ago than Polanski's.

2. He has certainly suffered a lot - the man spent 40 years in Cuba.

3. The Airline he highjacked doesn't even exist anymore.

The man highjacked a symbol of American industry and took it to one of the left's favorite worker's paradises. Surely that must have as much cache as drugging and raping a 13 year old girl.

I do see this a being more of Sean Penn, Michael Moore cause but I expect speeches and petitions to begin immediately.


UPDATE: I forgot the other quote I wanted to include:

“It is an example of the principle that, for the F.B.I., fugitive cases don’t become closed cases until the fugitive is brought to justice,” Joseph M. Demarest Jr., the assistant director in charge of the F.B.I.’s New York office, said in a statement.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:38 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

Bush Derangement Prize

Three consecutive anti-Bush Nobel Peace Prize awards have succeeded in rendering the prize a useless punchline.

Jimmy Carter one of monkeying around and interfering with Bush's foreign policy in Korea.

Al Gore won the Nobel because he lost Bush v Gore.

Now The One has been awarded to peace prize just for not being George W. Bush. If I had known that was all it would take I would have nominated myself. The prize money would have made being unemployed a lot easier to take.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:35 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

Come on and take Free Ride

No this is not a post about the Edgar Winter Group, sorry to disappoint. It is yet another post about America's journey into socialism.

I was reading an interesting debate in the comments to this post at the Volokh Conspiracy. The post deals with the story of a retired couple in Massachusetts facing a $1000 fine because their insurance coverage that was one adequate under the state's insurance mandate is no longer acceptable.

In the comments there was a lot of discussion of the concept of Free Riders. It kicked off with this comment:

Underinsured people are free riders. Something catastrophic happens, and they’ll be in the ER, demanding treatment at their neighbors’ expense. The Joneses are doubtless comfortable betting that nothing like that will happen to them, but why should we agree?

Here is my problem with using the concept of eliminating Free Riders as an argument in favor of increasing Socialism: Socialism is a system based on Free Riders.

The concept of Free Riders is that they are people who get a benefit without bearing the cost. Since a large number of people equate "Government Provided" with "free" they thus consider government provided healthcare - socialized medicine - to be free. Particularly when an increasingly large portion of the population pays no federal income tax.

They are blissfully unaware (as in ignorant) of the fact that they pay embedded taxes on everything they purchase. They are blissfully ignorant of the fact that the inevitable reduction in the quality and quantity of care available to them represents a tax - that rationing of the care they receive is a way to pay for the system.

They believe they are getting a free ride.

Socialism is an attempt to evade the reality that nothing is free, by using other people's money to pay the bill.

The other price that everyone pays for socialism is the loss of freedom. When the state is buying everything for you, the state is the one to make the choices about what you can and cannot have. We have been crawling down the road toward socialism in this country for decades. The current administration seems intent on turning it into a sprint. I do not believe it is too late. I have hope that we can change the future. But we have to decide.

We have to decide if we are going to become a nation of Free Riders or move toward once again being a nation of Free People.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:38 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

October 04, 2009

Healthcare Take-Over In the News

I came across a bunch of Healthcare Nationalization stories via Google News. Each of them had something interesting to offer.

From the Washington Post "Key Democrats Still On the Fence About Reform." Here's the best quote:

(Sen. Ron) Wyden (D-Ore.)is concerned that under the legislation, nearly 200 million Americans who receive coverage through an employer would be barred from shopping on the new exchange. And he worries that providing a "hardship waiver" to families that cannot afford insurance, leaves too many without coverage.

"People don't hold rallies saying thank you for my exemption," he said. "Rather, they want us to deliver more affordable coverage."

Strange but I don't seem to recall a lot of rallies of people complaining that the proposals don't do enough. I seem to recall that the focus of the vast majorities of the healthcare related demonstrations was that the government was trying to do way too much and needed to back-of. The expression Don't Tread on me hasn't been heard as much since the Revolution.

The Chicago Tribune helpfully points out that you really can't believe a word of what The One says when he talks about health care under the headline "Health care reform: Privately, Barack Obama strongly backs public option."

Despite months of seeming ambivalence about creating a government health insurance plan, the Obama White House has launched an intensifying behind-the-scenes campaign to get divided Senate Democrats to take up some version of the idea in the weeks just ahead.

President Barack Obama has long advocated a so-called public option, while at the same time repeatedly expressing openness to other ways to offer consumers a potentially more affordable alternative to health plans sold by private insurers.

But now, senior administration officials are holding private meetings almost daily at the Capitol with senior Democratic staff to discuss ways to include a version of the public plan in the health care bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., plans to bring to the Senate floor later this month, according to senior Democratic congressional aides.

Just like when he says "If you like your current plan you can keep it" there isn't a word he says on the subject that you should accept at face value. Except for that old YouTube video of him saying he supports a Single Payer heal care plan.

From the Miami Herald we get the summer that never happened. "As Senate panel winds up, historic health debate to start."

Both houses of Congress are poised to start a historic debate on sweeping legislation to overhaul America's health care system, yet despite months of committee deliberations, some major issues remain unsettled.

I read through the whole article, there was nothing about the contentious debate that marked many Townhall Meetings during the August recess. There was no mention of the Tea Parties. No mention of the vast public opinion against the proposed legislation. No mention of The One's speech to a joint session of Congress. It would have been the hight of Irony if they had mentioned The One's comment in July that "The time for talk is through," but they didn't. According to the Herald this is the first anyone has heard of the issue.

I no longer know what saddens me more, the state of American politics or the state of American journalism. Perhaps the problem is that they have become one and the same and are sharing the ride into the sewer.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:18 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment

October 02, 2009

Going For The Gold

The One flew off to Copenhagen in an effort to win the 2016 Olympics for his hometown of Chicago. The result can only be described as a failure of Olympic proportions as Chicago was eliminated in the first vote.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:08 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

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