March 30, 2009

Federal Marketing

There used to be a saying, "What's good for GM is good for America."If that is true, then the necessary corollary would be that what is bad for GM is bad for America.

GM is dead.

It died the moment it became possible that the President of the United States could demand the resignation of the CEO, and that the CEO had no option but to comply.

It died the moment GM became a government corporation. No better than Amtrak or the Post Office. Destined to be just as efficient and profitable.

If you think this to be hyperbole, consider that The One has taken over the marketing of GM vehicles by announcing that the Federal Government would back the warranties of GM cars.

The warranty on a new car, or any product that you purchase is marketing. The company can spend millions of dollars in advertising to tell you how great their product is and you just might not believe them. If they tell you that they guarantee the quality - that they will put their money on the line - that means something.

That's why carmakers are constantly try to one-up each other on who has the longest warranty or covers the most parts of the car under their warranty. That's why they advertise their warranty.

The decisions of what to warranty, for how much, and for how long, are made by the marketing department.

GM's marketing department is now the Oval Office.

There is no doubt, GM was a gravely ill company. The One just stepped in to play Kvorkian.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:33 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment


March 29, 2009

Hold The Mayo Racing Update

I have arrived - virtually - in Rio.

The yacht Hold the Mayo has completed leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race Game.

43 days: 15 hours: 40 minutes

I was doing well until the last 300 miles when a wind shift turned out to be larger than forecast.

I finished in 8,154th place out of 184,585 boats. My overall position is 3,838th.

I'm looking forward to leg six. Rio to Boston. 4,900 nautical miles starting on April 11.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:39 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


The Value of The Dollar

A lot of people have written about how prophetic they now see Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged. It is the reason it is climbing up Amazon's best seller's list and selling better now than it ever has.

Is it Prophetic? I hope not. I hope it proves to be more of a cautionary tale. A warning that we have made a wrong turn that hopefully we will see before it is too late.

Read this brief quote from the novel and keep in mind the recent Federal uproar over AIG and the efforts by the current administration to acquire the power to seize control over the entire financial industry. You can read the whole speech on the meaning and value of money here.

"Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion--when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing--when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors--when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you--when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice--you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that is does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot."

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 08:05 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


March 28, 2009

Earth Hour - Live Blog

Earth hour is about to begin - disregard the time stamp on the post I have no idea what it is set for. Here is Connecticut it is 8:25. For the next hour I will be live blogging the exciting goings on the in the Macklin house as we celebrate Life on Earth Hour by utilizing the things that make life comfortable and enjoyable. 


Here We Go!

Earth Hour Has Begun

8:30: Quick count 22 lights on in six different rooms - 4 of which have people actually in them. Plus the outside lights, and the garage and the basement.


8:35: Pulled a tube of pre-made tollhouse cookies out of the refrigerator and started to pre-heat the oven.


8:42 Cookies are in the oven now - the laundry I started earlier is ready to go into the drier so I can wash another load. The son is upset that NickToons is off the air for an hour!


(Note: Fixed the time stamp problem)


8:53: Cookies are done now. Got to let them cool for a minute or two but they’ll still be gooey and warm when we dig in.


8:57: Good Cookies. The pan is in the dishwasher and it’s filling with nice hot water.


9:00: It is a little chilly tonight - Time to turn on the gas fireplace (see post below)


9:10: The Play Station is getting a good workout in the living room. The daughter is recording some singing on her MacBook upstairs. The wife is watching television. I’m live blogging Earth Hour.


9:17: Grabbed a cold lemonade from the fridge - poured it over some ice. Think I’ll toss a  bag of popcorn in the microwave.


9:22: The washer has stopped but the drier is still going. I'm going to fire up the blender and make the kids a milkshake.


9:29: Earth Hour is over. And what an hour it has been. Short of breaking out the power tools I was running out of things to use electricity with. We did make a bit of a mess in the kitchen. I'll let the Roomba clean that up.


Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:25 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


In the Dark

Earth Hour approaches. It begins in a little more than an hour. 

We plan to celebrate. But perhaps a little differently. Despite the fact that my son was forced by his third grade indoctrinator to create a poster promoting the eco-stupidity of turning all your lights off for an hour, we will mark Earth Hour by enjoying the things that make life on earth comfortable and enjoyable.

We will watch TV, play video games, I'll probably throw in a load of laundry and run the dishwasher. I think I may live blog it.

This is actually plan B though. Plan A was to follow along. Completely. To get fully into the spirit of the event. We were going to symbolically save the planet by turning off everything electric. 

We would need to see where were going of course. Wouldn't want anyone to get hurt bumping into the furniture and all.

I figured 50 to 60 candles and a few strategically place oil lamps should light the house fairly well. And since it is just the earliest days of spring here in New England it is still quite chilly at night so a nice roaring fire to keep us warm.

Sure, it would be a lot of work to make it all happen. A trip to Wal-Mart to buy candles hit a few stores to find some oil lamps. Fire up the chainsaw to cut up some wood for the fire. Get it all set up and ready to go.

Oh… and a quick construction project to add a fireplace to the house.

But just think of what that would do for our carbon footprint.


Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:47 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


March 25, 2009

Speaking Truth to Power

I like this tradition of British Parliament that when the Prime Minister makes a visit, the members get to speak.


Wouldn't it be nice to hear something like this when The One appears before Congress.


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


Who Is Jake DeSantis?

He is the AIG executive who shrugged.


If you have struggled trying to understand the ideas of Ayn Rand and why the sales of her novel Atlas Shrugged have surged; if you have picked up the book and struggled through the John Galt speech read Jake Desantis's resignation letter.

I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.

NOTE: I would offer a hat tip to where I saw this first, but I have seen it on so may sites I can't remember where I saw it first.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 11:45 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment


March 23, 2009

My Contribution to Stimulating the Economy

It looks like I'm going to employing a carpenter or two and buying some building materials including two new garage doors. I'm doing it all with insurance company too, so this stimulus will cost me nothing!


Here is a picture of what is left of my garage and the truck that smashed into it this afternoon.


The truck was picking up a dumpster in the driveway across the street. The driver hopped out of the cab to reposition some things that were hanging over the edge of the container. He left the truck in gear.

In addition to the two garage doors and the structural damage there was damage to my wife's car that was in the garage when it was hit.

Now it's contractor estimates and insurance companies - just what I needed.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:56 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment


March 22, 2009

Hold the Mayo Racing Update

I haven't written many (any) updates on the progress of the yacht Hold the Mayo in the Volvo Ocean Race Game. It's not that I'm doing poorly in the race it's just that this is so long everyone - including myself would have grown weary of updates.


The fleet started in Qingdgao, China 37 days and 19 hours ago.

The boats I was tagging a along with went east for the first few days. It didn't do very much for our position in the fleet, I topped out at 65,859, but it was far too early in the race to sweat over that.

We made the turn south toward New Zealand, passing just west of the Fiji Islands. It was a relatively quick passage through the Doldrums and when I reached New Zealand and turned east I was in my best position ever, 212.

Conventional wisdom is that south is the way to go. Catch the fast unobstructed winds that rip across the souther ocean. However a pair of fronts took an unconventionally northern route. This put me on the bottom of the circulation, when I really want to be, and should have been at the top.

I went as high as 6,800 before I caught a break and some traditional southern ocean conditions.

I rounded Cape Horn in 4,666th place.

From there i have been on a fairly steady northeasterly course. With the exception of a quick hitch to the east to avoid hitting the Falkland Islands.

I am currently 3337th out of a fleet of 181,622 with 1259 miles to go to Rio.

Overall for the entire event I am 1,949th.


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


March 21, 2009

In Too Deep

Do you kind of have that uneasy feeling that the current President of The United States has no idea what he's doing? Sure he has his grand plan to socialize as much of the country as he can, but …


The long list of botched appointments and unfilled positions. The stupid diplomatic blunders. The cheesy gift of 25 DVDs to the Prime Minister of England that the man can't watch because they are in the wrong region format. The Tax Cheat of the Treasury. The AIG bonuses.

I could keep going.

I am not entirely incapable of sympathy and empathy. I have to wonder what torturous thoughts run through his head as he contemplates the unfolding disaster he is causing.

It must weigh heavily on him.


Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 11:23 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


March 19, 2009

Sean Hannity - Free Market Killer

I had talk radio on driving home, listening to Sean Hannity. I have to say with defenders like Hannity, it's no wonder the free market is in serious trouble.


He had a caller who was debating him on socialized health care. Hannity brought up the rationing and long waits issues. The pragmatic, unphilosophical argument against socialized health care. I think a more effective and important argument is the basic idea of freedom. The idea of being able to make your own medical decisions. The freedom to live your life. If you're argument is that socialized medicine is less effective then you've accepted the premise that it is right and you're debating the details.

He countered the callers socialized medicine ideas with Medical Savings Accounts. The caller agreed they were a great idea but challenged Hannity on how he would get enough people to participate.

Hannity's answer "I'd make it mandatory." 

There are a couple of problems with that.

First there's the concept of freedom that I touched on above.

Second, once government mandates that we all have Medical Savings Accounts you can bet your last Medical Dollar that they will be dictating what you can spend it on. So in essence his alternative to forcing us all into a system of government run health care is to force us all into a system of government run health care.

In closing out the call and segueing into a commercial Hannity proudly proclaimed, Free solutions always work and are always the answer.

No. I'm not kidding. I can't recall the exact quote because I spent the next two minutes loudly ranting at the radio, but that's what he said.

 Hannity broadcasts this nonsense to millions. If this is what his audience accepts as Free Markets, were in a lot of trouble.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:46 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


A Bonus Conspircy

Break out the tinfoil - it's going to be a bumpy ride.


Something is off about the whole AIG Bonus controversy. Yeah on the surface it's in poor taste to pay bonuses to employees of a failing corporation that has received billions of taxpayer dollars. But if you look beyond the surface it'd not that big a deal.

On the dollar scale alone the $165 million AIG paid in retention bonuses is minute compared to the billions of their bail out money. Also these were not "performance" bonuses. These were rewards paid to people who stuck around to help dissolve the corporation - not exactly a job with a great career path. And having AIG Financial Products on your resume probably isn't going to do a lot for your future prospects outside the burger industry. And according to the stimulus amendment that Countrywide Chris Dodd wrote before he didn't write it, before he did, they were a contractual obligation that had to be paid.

And really, what was the whole point of bailing out AIG if not to soften the blow of their collapse by allowing them to continue to meet their obligations on the way down? And if they weren't paying people to manage the slow destruction of the company we would have gotten the collapse we were trying to avoid.

But something smells a little funny around the Dodd Amendment - and not the just BS the Friend of Angelo has been throwing around.

It's all about the timing.

Over and over we were told that the stimulus bill had to be passed as quickly as possible. It was a crisis. If we didn't get this done we might never recover.

At the 11th hour, during the House and Senate conference on the bill, the loophole grandfathering in bonuses that were contracted before the bill was signed was added to the Dodd amendment.

When Congress completed their mad dash to pass the unread behemoth, The One let it sit for days before signing.

This brings up a lot of questions.

Why the wait?

What was the date on those retention bonus contracts at AIG?

How many other TARP recipients signed bonus contracts under the wire?

Who are we not supposed to be looking at while we vent our outrage at AIG?

I'm just asking.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:31 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


March 18, 2009

Quote of the Day from The One

Speaking yet again on the AIG bonus issue the one said:


And it's appropriate for us to have some regulatory mechanisms in place to ensure that we never have a situation where the government has to step in or you've got taxpayers who are having to foot the bill for other people's mistakes.

I agree 100%

Yes, that's right. I said I agree with The One.

I agree there should be a regulation that prevents the government from stepping in and footing the bill for other people's mistakes. I'll go even further and suggest that there should be a Constitutional Amendment expressly prohibiting the government bailing out failing companies and barring the federal government from taking ownership of any percentage of a corporation.

I'm starting to think though that maybe The One and I aren't quite on the same page on this.

Here's a couple of points I wish would penetrate his Teleprompter veneer.

1. If the government insists on running corporations via statute and regulation, government, and therefore the taxpayers, will always always be footing the bill for the results.

2. If you don't want the tax payers footing the bill, stop writing the checks.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:41 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


March 16, 2009

The Best and the Brightest?

Via Michelle Malkin I read through the letter of AIG Chairman and CEO, Edward Liddy in response to the Obama administration's outrage over recently announced bonus payments. It reads in part:

I would not be doing my job if I did not directly advise you of my grave concern about the long-term consequences of the actions we are taking today. On the one hand, all of us at AIG recognize the environment in which we operate and the remonstrations of our President for a more restrained system of compensation for executives. On the other hand, we cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the AIG businesses - which are now being operated principally on behalf of the American taxpayers - if employees believe that their compensation is subject to  continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury.


Here's a bit of news for you Mr. Liddy. I'm not really quite sure how you managed to miss it. Your company lost $67 billion last quarter. It doesn't seem to this American Taxpayer that you are doing a great job of hiring and retaining the best and the brightest talent. You may be doing a bang up job of advising the Tax Cheat of the Treasury of your grave concerns, your not doing so great with the whole run a corporation thing.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:24 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


March 14, 2009

But Wait... There's More!

I'm here to report that despite two or three mentions on this site, AND a link from Ted sales of my Socialism Sucks merchandise have been non-existent. But I'm not giving up on the Free Market just yet. I'm not beaten. I just need better marketing. 


Maybe I should hire Billy Mays.

Hi, Folks, Billy Mays here. And I'm here to tell you that socialism has ruined every country that has ever tried it and now they want to try it here. They think that's a good idea. But I'm here to tell you its not. You don't need the government controlling every part of your life. You need Freedom. You need Liberty. You're not going to get that with bigger and bigger government. So you need to send a message. And you can do that with this strikingly designed merchandise bearing the slogan "Socialism Sucks."

We've got t-shirts. Different styles. Different colors. All with the powerful message that Socialism Sucks.

Have enough t-shirts? Don't worry. We've got bumper stickers to tell the world that Socialism Sucks. Get the 10 pack and save $8.00!

Don't have a car? Don't worry. We've got buttons and magnates designed to send the clear message that Socialism Sucks. Both available in 10 packs with a huge savings of $18.00!

You can't be heard if you're not speaking so act now to take advantage of this special offer...

Mail In Rebate

From now through the end of June 2009 email me a copy of your Cafe Press receipt and receive by mail a $1.00 rebate. That's right. Forward your Cafe Press receipt to blogmail (at) optonline (dot) net and I'll mail you a crisp clean $1.00 bill. (Limit one per receipt and it might be whatever wrinkled old bill I have in my wallet.) 

Order a t-shirt, a bumper sticker, a pin or magnate with the Socialism Sucks slogan and receive by mail a $1.00 rebate.

But that's not all...

Don't want another t-shirt bumper stickerpin or magnate? You'd rather have a hat  or a coffee with the Socialism Sucks graphics. No Problem. Let me know in the comments and I'll make hats available. 

Anything available on Cafe Press can be yours with the Socialism Sucks graphics.

And if you act now and forward me a copy of your receipt you will also receive by mail a $1.00 rebate.

But Wait... There's More!

In addition to your $1.00 rebate, while supplies last, you will also receive at no additional cost a Socialism Sucks bumper sticker. A $4.49 value yours absolutely free!

Send a message to anyone driving behind you with this powerful Socialism Sucks bumper sticker.

So act now to get your Socialism Sucks t-shirt and forward me your receipt to receive by mail your $1.00 rebate and Free Socialism Sucks bumper sticker (While supplies last.)

Remember folks you can't be heard if you're not speaking. So tell the world.

Socialism Sucks.

Offer void where prohibited. Allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.

Thanks, Billy, I hope it helps.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:57 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


March 11, 2009

How Big is a Trillion?

I'm a visual person by nature and profession a rather helpful synergy actually. I knew as the bail-out and government stimulus numbers were thrown around that they were really big. But I didn't really have a concrete to go with the abstraction.


Someone calculated that if you started spending a million dollars a day at the birth of Christ you still wouldn't have spent a billion dollars. That was a nice context but it didn't make it real for me. (Maybe that time reference just doesn't resonate with an atheist!).

But today I found what I needed to get a visual grasp on the magnitude of the spending. With a hat tip to The New Clarion I give you What does one TRILLION dollars look like?

It is truly frightening.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:55 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


March 10, 2009

Oh Ye Of Little Faith

Do you know what I really hate about religion. The rank hypocrisy of the pious. I saw this at Powerline explaining how the state of Minnesota is offering Sharia Mortgages. I'm not going to get into all of the problems with the state being involved. My problem is with the Faithful worshipers of Allah.


The problem with home loans for Muslims is that they are barred by their faith from paying interest. So a truly pious Muslim can only buy a house if he can pay cash. Not an easy thing to accomplish. But why let a little thing like your faith get in the way when you can come up with a work-around.

It's called a "cost plus sale." Basically they take the price of the house. Calculate the interest on a 30 year loan and add that to the price of the house. They then borrow that money, less a down payment (I hope).

Despite the prohibition against paying interest, it is apparently OK as long as the don't call it interest. It's just a word game. They are paying interest.

Any faith that can be so simply subverted is an empty meaningless sham.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:19 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


Democrat's Billboard Pwned?

I got an email from Jen O'malley Dillon, Executive Director, Democratic National Committee. She wants me to vote for my favorite headline for their taunt Rush Limbaugh billboard. I read through the list of finalists and I have to wonder if the whole silly thing isn't the latest victim of Rush's Project Chaos. The finalists, no doubt chosen with the blessing of The One (if he wasn't too tired to read the list) are:


American's didn't vote for a Rush to failure.

Then please explain the big hurry to pass the Stimulate the Grown of Government Bill. The One certainly does seem to be in a rush to cram his agenda down our throats. American's didn't vote for a Rush to failure but that seems to be what we're getting if the stock market is any indicator. Actually I like this one. I think it would be great sign for Tea Party.

Hope and Change cannot be Rush'd.

Again if that is the case, why is The One in such a hurry to fundamentally change the nature of America?

I actually know the answer to that. If he went too slow, people would begin to understand exactly what it is he is changing America into and he would no hope getting it done.

Failure is not an option for America's Future

I couldn't agree more, and I'm certain Limbaugh feels the same way - because he said so. I heard it. Eventually America will succeed. The One is just making it harder.

We can fix America, just don't Rush it.

We understand that America can be fixed and we know we can't rush the solution. We have to wait until at least 2010 to start making a dent in undoing The One's damage.

Rush: Say yes to America.

That's an easy one. I'm absolutely certain Rush would be more than willing to comply with this directive. He would say yes to individual liberty. He would say yes to individual responsibility. He would say yes to the American people. He would then say No to The One. No to the socialization of America. No the the expansion of government and the erosion of freedom.

I can say that with absolute certainty because I've heard him say all those things before.

I'm not a huge Rush Limbaugh fan, but I stand in awe of his ability to completely own the billboard the Democrats put up to mock him.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 11:39 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


March 09, 2009

The Last Founding Idea?

People in he office have been lightheartedly complaining about the loss of one hour of their weekend with the beginning of Daylight Savings Time. I don't tend to regulate my own bedtime based on the clock but rather on how tired I feel. Getting up in the morning is another story - that's on a fairly rigid schedule so today I am feeling the effect of missing an hour of sleep. (My own fault I know)


The idea behind Daylight Savings Time originated with Ben Franklin in an essay making fun of the French.

Here's what I've been wondering all morning. Why do we still do this every year since we seem to have already abandoned most of the other ideas of the Founders?

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 11:14 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


Show Me The Money

Talk Radio host Neal Boortz highlights this letter to the editor from the Rockdale Citizen. Boortz focuses on the overwhelming class envy and wealth hated. What Ayn Rand termed the hatred of the good for being the good.


For me it brings to mind a question that I'd like to ask this moron and every other philosophically and economically ignorant idiot that agrees with this crap. And yes, I include The One in that.

Here's the letter with emphasis added:

"From the headline, 'Trillions in Fed Spending: Obama's first budget quadruples the deficit.' President Obama is giving us the change we can believe in, just like he promised. How do all the retirees feel about their life savings being worth half now? If you hadn't been so greedy all these years and had paid more in taxes we wouldn't be in this mess. I hope that before long, the president with the help of the Democratic Congress will get all of your retirement money and give it to the poor, and then you will know what it feels like. I hope and pray that we will soon have free medical care that President Obama promised. The rich have always had the insurance and money to go to the doctor, and soon you rich people will know what it's like to have to wait in line to get treatment with the rest of us. No more going to the front of the line just because you have money. During the campaign every time Obama pressed the economy his number went up and McCain's went down. The American people have spoken, we won the election from Bush. He caused all the problems and now you Bush supporters just whine about your problems, well get over it. It's a new America, and we are the Man now."

Are you ready idiots - here comes the question. I'll try to keep it simple so your heads don't explode. I won't ask you to consider any moral principles. I won't question why you think you have the right to take other people's property. I'll ask it in a way that a moral and financial parasite can grasp.

After you finish making all the rich people poor like you, who is going to pay for your free health care?

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 08:23 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


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