Friday, February 27, 2009

Laying Down Groundrules

Entertainment is everywhere these days, and as parents we need to be careful what our children are exposed to. My kids are still pretty young, but already we need to keep a close eye on things. But how do we keep an eye on our kids and still show them we trust them?

Well, these parents seem to have struck a decent balance:
Evan Spencer wanted to play “Call of Duty: World at War.” So he asked his dad.

Hugh Spencer wasn’t initially thrilled about the idea of his son playing the World War II-based game. “I’ve never really enjoyed first-person shooter games,” he confesses. “They’re just not my favorite aesthetic.”

But the elder Spencer agreed to his son’s request, on one condition: Evan would have to read all four treaties from the Geneva Conventions first. And then, agree to play by those rules.

An important piece of information is glossed over here, but his son had to ask to play the game. That implies that the parents have established control...but that they're still open enough to their children's requests that they feel okay about asking rather than just going behind their backs...well, much. The son did admit eventually about having played the game at a friend's house first. But still. He seems to have sensed that the game would be controversial but still trusted his parents enough to give asking a shot.

The father agrees to do an interview, in which the reporter asks how they keep tabs on their kids' playing habits and wonders if the dad plays, too.
I have hopeless hand-eye coordination, I don’t play anything (laughs). One thing is that you listen very carefully. We do actually monitor what they play quite extensively. It’s not a serious monitoring and we have to trust them, but I think the fact that they actually ask us about ratings (shows) that they’re carrying through on what we’re trying to do.

Did you catch that? He and his wife "listen very carefully". I've already noticed that with my kids. If they're interested in or excited about something it'll come up in their conversations with each other, even if they never talk to us about it. Parents can't be too wrapped up in their own lives to not be paying attention to what their kids are doing and saying.

You mentioned that your son is “relentlessly reasonable” and outlined his reasons for playing the game. How did he present his case?

...He presented the merits of the game as being good as a game, in terms of interactivity. He did actually ‘fess up and say that he’d played over at a friend’s house but hadn’t played it very much. He knew that the violence wasn’t too graphic. And he said that he really liked the fact that he could play online with his friends and they got to work cooperatively, and he enjoyed that. …

I felt that I had to take this request seriously. So I looked at the game … I didn’t play it, I looked at the box at the store and thought about it, contemplated it … and said “OK, you can get it.”

Again, they're showing trust in their son. When he says the game isn't too graphic the parents believe him. I don't know the game personally, so I can't speak to that, but it sounds like they have standards to measure by. And it sounds like the kid didn't just asked, but asked in a respectful, thoughtful way. The dad picked up on that and took the request seriously. In return, when the dad raised the "Geneva Convention" stipulation, the kid took it seriously.

But I think the main thing was that I didn’t want (Evan) to go into a scenario that was clearly in violation of that, and you slaughter a bunch of prisoners. They usually don’t set up the scenarios in that way, so it was more just to have that discussion and to have that basic check.

So, he has to play by all of those rules?

Well, sort of. Whether he actually incorporates that … I don’t think he actually holds up the page, but he’s aware that there are things called “Rules of War.”

It seems to me that this is metaphorical, really. Don’t just mindlessly go in and do anything in life, but think about the rules and moral implications of your actions, even in play. Is that what you were getting at here?

Yeah. I didn’t expect him to paste the thing by the console. He’d get killed immediately, checking his notes! (Laughs.) It was more like, give it some thought, particularly because it’s based on something real.

Bingo. Dad recognizes the difference between reality and a game, and hence so does the son. I think this dad handled the situation beautifully.

What would you advise other parents wrestling with this whole violence-in-games issue?

You really have to take a deep breath. I think every parent has to (do) what they feel is the responsible thing. I think it has to be informed — that’s the main thing. The other thing … you’re being judged on the level of these discussions. And the more decisions you make that seem arbitrary, the less they’re going to listen.

This dad gets it. I hope I get it as well as he does when it's my turn.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You're Looking For WHAT?!

Since I started actively looking for a new job I've received some rather odd emails from various recruiters, insurance companies, financial advisory companies, and scammers. I got one yesterday, though, that really caught me by surprise. It was a legitimate job inquiry from a recruiter looking for someone with C++ experience. I wasn't sure why anyone would be recruiting ME for a C++ job, as I don't have that much experience with it, and what I have is over four years old now.

But I glanced through the job description anyway for curiosity sake. Then my eyes hit the educational requirements: College Degree in Music. MUSIC?! That would explain why I came up on their search. It turns out it was for a developer position with a company producing music notation/playback software.

I have to wonder how many people came up in her search. I know of at least one other musician-programmer--possibly two--from my graduating class. I'll bet we're not that odd a combination, really. Still, it was interesting to see someone actively looking for someone like me. It made me wish I had more C++ experience.

The position is in Greensboro, North Carolina, which was also an eye-brow raiser. One of my favorite writers lives there.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Obama's Power Grab

One wonders if Obama knows that he's a one-term president. What if he's decided to be the "sacrifice play" to get the winning run over the plate?

According to Orson Scott Card, that may very well be the case. Obama's recent move to place the census under the control of the White House has been amazingly under-reported, even though if the same things were done under George Bush it would have been decried for the blatent attempt at a coup that it is.

First, he explains how the natural migration of the population from Rust Belt states to Sun Belt states is already turning formerly conservative states into swing states. But that's not enough. Obama wants to clinch the deal:
But no, the Left wants to go after the Census itself. They want to "adjust" the Census by adding "estimated" numbers of uncounted homeless, poor, and illegal immigrants.

This is functionally identical to the practice of the old Democratic Party machine in Illinois, where dead Democratic voters in Chicago turned out in large enough numbers to counterbalance all the Republican votes downstate.

Now it won't matter how many voters there are. If the Census has been jimmied to give Democratic-leaning states more congressional seats and more electoral votes than the actual count of real people would justify, the Democrats will have their "historic realignment" without having to actually persuade anybody new to vote for their candidates.

And Obama has set himself up to rig all future American elections, not through any democratic process, but by fiat. Just like a dictator.

He recommends you lobby your state government to protest this move.

I'd prefer to think that this couldn't be true. But quite frankly I can't see any other good reason why the census should be under the control of the White House. It ain't broke. Don't fix it. Though I do think "fix" is the operative word here.

Newsflash: Obama a Good Speaker

I was nearly impressed with Obama's Non-State of the Union Address last night. I almost fell for the rhetoric and believed he can turn things around and introduce real (and positive) change in Washington. But then I remembered that this is the same person who approved funding to save Pelosi's Mouse and yet told us last night that there are "no earmarks" in the stimulus bill.

(Technically, he's correct. Nothing was in the bill that couldn't have been reviewed before the vote. It's just that they purposely made it as difficult they could to review the bill before the vote. It's still dishonest, and it's still pork. Call it whatever else you may.)

He also told us "The U.S. does not torture." Technically true. But he reserves the right to do so if we deem it appropriate.

He told us "...the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it." A lot of critics are pointing out that it was a German who invented the automobile, but that misses the point entirely. When I heard that statement I asked myself "Why not?" That's like saying we have to dump more money into innovations around the light bulb just because we invented it. If someone else can make it better and/or cheaper, then let them do it. Why keep us enslaved to outdated technology?

No, seriously, I say "the nation that invented the automobile should be looking harder for the technologies that will revolutionize the automobile or render it obsolete altogether.

He wants to spend more money while cutting the deficit. He wants to get that money by taxing the rich, while cutting taxes on "the rest of us". Nice idea, but let's see the details.

He wants to go through the budget line by line and remove wasteful spending. Good luck with that one. The president does not have a line-item veto. His budgets are the beginning of the funding process, not the end. Any budget he submits will have to pass through Congress, who will simply put back in everything he wanted to remove. They are the ones who put them in there in the first place.

He wants to reform health coverage in a bi-partisan manner. So? The Democrats have already proven they don't need the other party to do what they want. Even if Obama is serious about coming up with a moderate plan I doubt Pelosi and Reid are. If socialized medicine is what they want, that's what we'll get.

He wants to improve education and increase the number of college graduates. That sounds good on the surface, but he is once again forgetting basic economics. If the number of college graduates increases we run the risk of surplus (especially if those grads are not in the areas needed). When there is a surplus of something competition increases and the cost of it goes down. So unless the demand for college graduates also increases, all he will really be doing is driving down income and devaluating the college degree.

If college graduates get paid less, then that pushes the threshhold of what they will accept down as well. They'll start looking for work in jobs formerly filled by high school graduates or even dropouts. Employers, who look for the best they can get for the least they can pay, will start raising their standards--because they can get what they ask for. Do we really want a college degree to be a requirement to drive a truck or build a house? That just pushes those who formerly held those jobs into lower-level jobs. The entire working population takes a step backward in pay, tax revenues fall, taxes go up higher on the rich, more rich sell their business rather than see more of their money disappear, and more people are out of work looking for lower-paying jobs. It's a nasty cycle.

Education is a good thing, but making it universal just makes it unimportant.

He spoke about expanding benefits for our soldiers, but last I heard he planned to cut the military budget. So that means we'll have well-cared-for soldiers who lack the equipment to fight and the means to deploy. Are we turning isolationist? We'll see what he really submits, but I'm dubious about this one.

The bottom line is this: everything he said sounded good. But he's already shown us time and again that what he says and what he does do not always match up. He claims he wants transparency, and yet he swears all the military leaders to secrecy regarding his budget. And he's also proven that he either agrees with or lacks the guts to oppose Pelosi and Reid.

If he's not willing to cross his own party then it really doesn't matter what president tells us. We may as well put Pelosi on the platform and let her tell us what to expect for the next four years. I'm waiting for him to prove he's not just the official spokesperson of the Democractic Party.

Forgetting to wait for Pelosi to officially introduce him doesn't count.

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner!

I've been thinking about what to do with my various and disparate blogs. I seem to be getting more of them, not fewer, and the quality (yes, that's presumptuous of me) and quantity of all are suffering.

You see, I have three blogs, and a fourth in the works. That's just plain nuts. If I were a full-time professional blogger I could maybe keep up with that many. I'm not, and I can't. So I've made the following decisions:

1) Body Polytick, my political blog, will be merged into this one. It fits the "potpourri" theme, and I've learned that I just can't resist the urge to pontificate on political matters from time to time. You'll probably notice that I've already imported a bunch of political posts into here. For those of you who don't like politics, or just don't like my politics, I'm sorry. Start contributing to my tip jar and I'll be more inclined to cater to your personal likes. ;-)

2) The Making of a Company, a new blog I recently started to track my progress on starting my own business, will slow down, and may disappear altogether in time. My progress on setting up my own business is likely to be slow, and I can't really afford to try filling in the gaps. I could use that time for better things.

3) The Joy of Making Things is a new blog (so new I've yet to post to it) I'm starting. It's focus will be to discuss the joy and satisfaction of doing things yourself. Like creating funky Excel spreadsheets to manage your budget. Or building a playhouse. Or writing a book. It's a blog celebrating the fun of doing things, of trying things, of surprising oneself with what you can do.

4) This blog will continue, and with the inclusion of my political blogging, will likely be updated more often. I'll certainly try.

5) I would like to make some money at this. Not a lot, probably, but a little to fund some of my other hobbies would be nice. So I'll be adding advertising soon, and setting up a tip jar. This is not an appeal for cash. I'm just saying that if you like what you're reading and feel like it's worth something to you, you'll have options to encourage me.

And there you have it. All my changes in a nutshell. Stick around! Look around! I hope you'll like what you see.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Just Who IS In Charge?

President Obama is scheduled to give his State of the Union address tonight. I will probably watch, but I'm not sure why. He is not in control of the economy. He wants everyone to think he is. He talks like he is. The reality is different.

If Obama were really in control then careless posturing by Sen. Chris Dodd about privitizing banks wouldn't send stocks into a tailspin.

If Obama were in control they wouldn't have passed an enormous spending bill so complex that no one was able to read it before having to vote on it.

If Obama were in control his administration wouldn't feel the need to respond to criticism from Rick Santelli.

If Obama were in control he wouldn't have to hit the road to drum up support for his programs. The press would be doing it for him.

If Obama were in control he wouldn't have been caught off guard by so many of his cabinet picks being sunk by various corruption charges.

If Obama were in control we would not have so many Democratic members of Congress under investigation for various corruption scandals.

But the fact of the matter is either that the Obama who we voted into office in November is NOT the Obama who took office, or he is completely unable to do his job. Neither one is acceptable.

But the fact of the matter is this: there is no one clear voice from Washington calling the shots. There is no clear leadership. Obama is going one way, while Pelosi, Reid, Dodd, and Schumer are going their own ways. Tim Geithner is falling flat.

It's almost as if none of these people have met to come up with any coordinated plan. No one is in control of the message. It's almost as if they are purposely trying to break the economy down further.

I'm not one of those conspiracy theorists who believes that they're doing this on purpose in order to keep us scared enough to accept further hidden social restructuring (even Schumer was surprised by some of the provisions in the stimulus bill and vowed to roll them back). The thought has crossed my mind, but 2010 is not that far away. If they don't want to get thrown out of office they need to show clear progress by then. They would be foolish to dig themselves too deep of a hole.

But if they don't get their act together that is precisely what they will do. And they can ignore or belittle Santelli as much as they like, but they're failing to recognize what he started. Yes, HE may be a former commodities trader--a so-called poster boy for everything that went wrong with the economy--but his frustration is universal. There are a lot of people who are upset with how things are going and what the Administration is doing about it.

I am one of them. I am NOT a commodities trader. I'm a business systems analyst. I bought a house three years ago right before the top of the bubble. I had mortgage brokers encouraging me to buy bigger houses, but I knew what I could afford. I didn't bite. I didn't gamble on an adjustable rate mortgage to get more house. I knew what my budget was, and I knew how much of a house payment I could handle. I paid 20% down.

I save close to 15% of my income each year. I pay my taxes without complaint. I do not carry a balance on my credit cards. I live within my means. In short, I am responsible.

And I've had it with the government propping up all the irresponsible people. Because of all the irresponsible people I'll be losing my job soon. I am not happy about that. I am not happy to see nearly $800 billion dollars--only about 10-20% of which is actual stimulus--added to the public debt in my name, while the bulk of it is actually to appease Democrat supporters and advance socialistic agendas. Frankly, the mortgage rescue is the least of my concerns.

I'm concerned about a government that seems to have lost its mind. I'm concerned about an administration that can't control its message or its people. I'm concerned about a future that not even the people who sold us this stimulus mess will go on record saying will get better soon.

And that's probably why I don't want to listen to Obama tonight. I'm already depressed. I don't need to feel any worse.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Clinton Thinks Obama Doing Fine But Needs More Optimism in Message

Former President Bill Clinton gives President Barack Obama an "A" grade for his first month in office, but tells ABC News that Obama needs to put on a more positive face when speaking to the American people about the economy and must keep pressure on Republicans who try to obstruct his plans.

I'd argue on the "A" personally, but then I'm not Bill Clinton. But Clinton continues...
"Look, the American people, I think, know the president has tried to reach out to Republicans," Clinton told ABC News' Chris Cuomo. "And it takes two to tango. I think there are some of them who really believe that just-say-no politics is good politics.

"It was -- briefly, only briefly -- in the '90s. It isn't anymore," he added. "So, sooner or later, I think if he just keeps chugging along, just keeps the door open, invite 'em to every economic conference, invite 'em to every meeting, eventually, he'll start getting some votes" in Congress.

You're forgetting something, Bill. Add "listen to them and use their ideas" and you'll have a winner. Just inviting them isn't going to do the trick if they still feel it's only for show.

On the other hand, even that is more than the Congress Democrats have been doing.

Stimulus and Rescue Backlash?

From Mark Whittington at Associated Content:
The markets are not reacting very well to Barack Obama's latest spending plan, which is to spend about seventy five billion dollars to rescue people who can't pay their mortgages. CNBC host Rick Santelli believes he knows why.

Rick Santelli, who also an experienced investment strategist and trader, put it simply that the government would be promoting bad behavior by subsidizing mortgages given to people who ought not to have had them to start with.

Rick Santelli went on to compare what is happening to America under Barack Obama to Castro's Cuba and to suggest a kind of "Boston Tea Party" anti spending revolt. Rick Santelli's impassionate speech on CNBC brought cheers on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, from where he was reporting.
More importantly, Rick Santelli's attack on the Obama mortgage bailout scheme seems to reflect a growing disquiet over President Obama's spending schemes, which started with the stimulus package, and will now not only include a bailout for mortgages but also a new bailout for the car companies and perhaps even a second stimulus. That disquiet has been manifest in recent days by protest rallies in Seattle, Denver, and most recently in Mesa, Arizona.

I think a lot of us are getting fed up. Yes, one can use the economy as an excuse to do almost anything. And the Obama administration has. But they are not acting like anything they're doing is actually going to help. It's as if they want to wreck the economy.

Perhaps they do, so they can use it as an excuse to push even more rubbish disguised as stimulus.

A poll on Instapundit asks if I would join in any protests should one be called in my area. I said no, that I'm not the protesting type, but I'm starting to reconsider.

Update: More from Kathryn Jean Lopez at NRO's The Corner:
I think people are hungry for someone who is fed up with the way things are and who seem to believe in something enough to know there in an alternative worth fighting for. Some of the voices may be far from perfect, but Americans are looking for signs of the life of an alternative. And so if a representative pops up — someone who appears to have roots and energy, folks will cheer them on in the hopes there’s a candidate here. Maybe not a presidential candidate, but a leader of some sort. Someone who can offer a vision of something other than a culture of bailout.

Today, Rick Santelli was that sign of life.

People are fed up with the administration.

Bear in mind that this administration is barely a month old.


According to Instapundit, the article I quoted yesterday about the response of students to Obama's visit has been significantly changed to eliminate any critical statements.

Yes, heaven forbid we show that our education system has actually been doing what we've paid it to do--teach our kids to think.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

And A Child Shall Lead Them

Phoenix's East Valley Tribune has a story on high schoolers who watched Obama on TV while he was at their school giving his address on housing relief, and gave their impressions. Some interesting points:

"Overall I think it's a good idea, but he's not addressing the issues of the economic crisis," said Daudfar, a John McCain supporter who added he leans more toward being a moderate conservative. "The spending bill he just passed is just progressing the Democratic agenda rather than addressing the economic issues in the country."

Daudfar thinks Obama's plan is backward and deals with the "less important stuff" first. "Bailing out businesses" and "providing better regulatory systems for giving out money to businesses" should have been first, he said.

"If businesses can't afford to hire people, then people won't be able to work and pay off their mortgages," he said. "It's kind of like putting money into a funnel."

Albach, who is also a Republican, said Obama's plan sounds good but questioned how Obama can want to rely on "people's responsibility" when that is "what got us in this economic crisis in the first place."

I couldn't have said it better myself.
"Even though I don't support him, I think it's cool he's here," said Miller, 18. "I just don't believe all the things he's telling us. His goal is just too big and broad."

Good...respect for the position, but critical evaluation of the occupant. There is hope for the future.
The students also questioned why Obama chose their school for his speech since he wasn't talking about education and wondered how much money the district spent on beautifying the campus while district positions and services are being cut.

And they say no one is teaching critical thinking any more.

Who Is Blocking Investigations?

I have no idea how this is supposed to stimulate the economy:
In the name of accountability and transparency, Congress has given the RAT Board the authority to ask “that an inspector general conduct or refrain from conducting an audit or investigation.” If the inspector general doesn’t want to follow the wishes of the RAT Board, he’ll have to write a report explaining his decision to the board, as well as to the head of his agency (from whom he is supposedly independent) and to Congress. In the end, a determined inspector general can probably get his way, but only after jumping through bureaucratic hoops that will inevitably make him hesitate to go forward.

So far no one is claiming credit for the provision.'
Snuck in by whom? It’s not entirely clear. “I intend to get down to the bottom of where this comes from,” Grassley vowed. “And quite frankly, it better not come from this administration, because this administration has reminded us that it is not about business as usual, that it is for total transparency.”

Maybe not this time. When I inquired with the office of a Democratic senator, one who is a big fan of inspectors general, I was told the RAT Board was “something the Obama administration wanted included in this bill.” When I asked the White House, staffers told me they’d look into it. So for now, at least, there’s been no claim of paternity.

Somehow I think this just the tip of the iceberg of bad provisions we were forced to accept in the name of saving the economy. More and more it's looking like the bill was a trojan horse for fundamentally changing our government. This seems like "change" intended to dash "hope".

It would be beyond ironic if the Democrats actually DO what they ACCUSED Bush of.

Freedom of Speech Under Fire?

(hat-tip Instapundit) An Oklahoma City man gets pulled over for having sign on his vehicle reading "Abort Obama, not the unborn". The policeman confiscated the sign and informed the man he was now part of an investigation. Internal Investigations later returned the man's sign. But next the Secret Service show up at the man's house and ask to walk through the house to make sure the man wasn't part of any hate groups.

Somehow I don't think anyone would have looked twice if it had said "Abort Bush". The double-standard here is quite sad, and disturbing as well.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Motivation, Efficiency, and Corruption

Ben Stein raises some good points about the "excesses" displayed by leaders of various companies in America:
We all want efficiency and frugality. But banning highly productive means of travel such as private planes is simply misguided. We all want people to work. But keeping them from having face time at large gatherings with their colleagues -- in essence, keeping them from being well-informed -- is a step away from productivity. And kicking the towns that accommodate these meetings is just plain cruel.

I hadn't thought about it from that angle where the automakers were concerned, but making Wells Fargo cancel its Vegas retreat for its top loan officers struck me as heavy-handed--and clueless about how business works. Did anyone stop to consider how much money those being rewarded made for the company in proportion to how much was being spent on rewarding them?

While I'm sure that level of productivity has its own rewards, I'll bet the yearly Vegas trip was at least part of the movitation for a lot of them. Take that away, and chances are they're not going to work as hard next year. How does that help the bank? How does that help its investors? How does that help its depositors?

I'm willing to bet that the amount of money they would have spent on the retreat is less than 10% of the value of the loans these people wrote. And yet if they're 5% less motivated to perform next year? In a year when people are less motivated to take out loans? It could spell the difference between survival and bankruptcy.

Let's not forget that these people are the TOP money-makers. Not only do these people make money for the company, their example (and the subsequent rewards) also serve as a motivation for the other loan writers who didn't make the cut this year--but could next year if properly motivated. Cutting the rewards for the top loan-writers doesn't just demotivate them, but the entire company.

I'm against wasting taxpayer money as much as anyone. But micromanagement of bailed-out companies--by some of the most notoriously bad money-handlers in history--is not the way to economic recovery.

Such political witch-hunts are counterproductive. It also keeps attention away from the real perpetrators of this mess: the government. Every time we start figuring out who the real enemy is they simply point at Wall Street and yell "There's your enemy! Not me! They're wasting millions of dollars!"

And then they sit down to add billions more pork into the Stimulus Bill to help stimulate their next campaigns. And take retreats to Virginia and the Caribbean.

This Much Is True

From President Barak Obama:
“All of us are paying a price for this home mortgage crisis,” Obama said in remarks prepared for delivery at a ceremony announcing the program at a Phoenix area high school.

...and for the banking crisis, and for the automakers crisis, and for the Democratic Wish-List Funding Deficiency crisis, and for the supporter payback crisis...

At least it's coming from money that's already been wrung from our dissicated corpses.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Obama Delays Signing "Emergency" Bill

From the DC Examiner:
“Sunlight Before Signing” faded into darkness with the first bill that came across Obama’s desk. The new president signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act two days after it was passed by Congress — and without posting it on the White House Web site.

Then he signed the second bill of his administration, an update of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, within hours after Congress passed it.
As Gibbs spoke, the massive economic stimulus bill was racing through Congress, and the spokesman stressed that Obama’s campaign pledge specifically exempted “emergency” legislation. “If we get this [stimulus] bill, this would certainly meet the president’s test of emergency legislation,” Gibbs explained. “And if we’re lucky enough to have it pass, we’ll sign it rather quickly.”

Then, late Friday, after House and Senate Democratic leaders moved heaven and earth to pass it, the bill was ready for the president’s signature. And did President Obama sign it rather quickly? Not at all.

He also chose not to sign it on Saturday. And not to sign it on Sunday. And he chose not to sign it on Monday. Only on Tuesday, with a big campaign-style event in Denver, would the president finally be ready to put his signature on the bill.

He signs nonemergency legislation in the blink of an eye. And he lets emergency legislation sit for days before lifting his pen.

I don't see the sense in this, either. Either it was an emergency or it wasn't. Weren't we facing the end of civilization as we know it if the bill wasn't passed quickly?

If he didn't plan to pass it for four days, why not let us all have those four days to look it over? I think we know the answer to that one. "Sunlight" was not something this vampiric bill could tolerate for long.

I think he was expecting to see a massive Wall Street rally today. Had he signed it on Friday the markets would have been closed and we would have missed seeing the seas receding and the blossoms blooming. Except today there was no rally. The Dow fell nearly 300 points today. Wall Street, it not impressed.

I think this "emergency for thee, but not for me" moment will come back to bite him.

Bailout Banks, Not Hobble Them

The Chicago Tribune criticizes language in the Stun-ulus Bill to cap executive compensation:
But keep something in mind: Taxpayers are now deeply invested in the companies that receive a federal bailout. We want these companies to succeed.

Compensation caps would hurt the ability of these firms to attract and retain top talent. If salaries are higher at robust firms that aren't taking federal help, that's where talented people would go. Taxpayers are not going to be better off if the best business minds in the land avoid working at firms that receive federal help. The comp rules may also persuade execs at troubled firms to leave the federal assistance program before those firms are on sound footing.

I think that is right. If you're going to tinker in businesses, why not just insist that the boards fire the bad eggs, but don't hamper their ability to replace them with good ones. These banks are still struggling. They're going to need all the help they can get to survive. Just throwing money at the problem is not going to help. They need better management.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Legos Up the Nose

It finally happened.

Every parent seems to have a "my kid stuck a {item} in their {orifice}" story, except us. Until now.

Last night I was playing legos with my boys when the youngest started crying for no apparent reason. I tried to get him to tell me what was wrong, but as anyone with young kids can attest, it's hard to understand them when they're crying, even if you can get them to answer. But I thought I heard "lego" and "nose".

He was starting to get panicky by this point, so I figured action was the best course of...action. I picked him up and hurried him upstairs to the master bathroom, which is the brightest room in the house and where we keep most of the first aid supplies.

I parked him on the counter and tried to see up his nose, which was, as most noses are, dark. By then my wife had caught on what was happening, and I sent her to get a flashlight. Sure enough, there was a small, green lego stuck up my son's nose.

I got the tweezers and was going to try grabbing it, but realized I couldn't get a clear view of the edges and was afraid I'd just succeed in shoving it farther in. Instead I opted for another approach. I held his mouth shut and told him to blow out through his nose.

I don't know if he managed to do it (our kids are not particularly good at blowing their noses for some reason--perhaps an aversion to it gained from hearing their allergic father honking like a foghorn every day), or if he was just exhaling naturally, but the lego popped right out.

Poor kid. His mother and I immediately started laughing. He usually has a pretty good sense of humor, but that's one he couldn't bring himself to laugh along about. I think the whole thing spooked him a little.

And that's probably a good thing. Perhaps he'll be a little less eager to stuff things in his nose in the future.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Job Update

Yes, I had an interview yesterday. I can't say for sure how it went. From the follow-up questions on some questions I can assume they had some concerns with what I said. On other questions I'm pretty sure I hit it out of the park (or they are clueless and I don't want to work there). It ultimately comes down to a) what they're looking for, b) who else has applied, and c) how they weight the various questions.

I'm pretty sure I'd be a good fit for what they're looking to do. I'm pretty sure I'd have fun doing it. I'll find out on Wednesday what they think.

I interviewed for a Data Analyst position with a local internet wunderkind known as I do have some concerns about working for a bodybuilding supplier, but I know several people already working there, and if they can work there I probably can handle it, too.

I also applied for a QA engineer position there. I know their QA manager, so I know that either a) he'll be glad to see me, or b) have expectations I can't measure up to, or c) both. We'll just have to see.

Finally, there's a position open at the place I'm being laid off from now, though it's in another part of the company. I've applied for it, though there's certainly no guarantee that I won't be shown the door in another couple months even if I do get the job. But hey, that's that much longer, and that much more savings put away if so.

Meanwhile, thanks to my brother, Dan, I've got a business idea germinating. This one is so good I've even been able to get Terhi excited about it. Details to follow...someday. For now, it's still forming. Let's just say I've already purchased domain names, and today I've learned some very exciting things about how websites work. I've got a good feeling about this idea. Even if it doesn't pay off, it's going to be a lot of fun, and very educational. The low startup costs are just icing on the cake.

And with that I'll walk away and leave you hanging. ;-)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tell How You Really Feel!'s Politics section sports the following headline today:
"Obama urges Americans to follow Lincoln"
The snide cynic in can't leave that one alone, of course! Just how would he like us to follow Lincoln? Based on the rubbish he's been pushing lately I think he means:

Drop dead, America!

Or is he admitting that he's a lousy president? "Don't follow me anymore! Follow Lincoln! A dead guy would be better than any of our so-called leaders right now!"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Read My Lips, Chuck

Charles Schumer of New York has declared that when it comes to the pork in the Stimulus bill, the American People don't care.

To that I can only say Chuck, pull your head out of your butt so you can hear better. We care. Remember, both McCain and Obama campaigned on cutting pork. It wasn't that long ago that Obama promised to veto any bill that crossed his desk with pork in it. It was a part of what got him elected.

We care. We're sick of it. STOP IT! You are wasting my money, you're wasting my children's future. Just stop, you frickin' idiot.

Not Change, Not Even Business As Usual

The behavior of the Congress Democrats is utterly disgraceful. They're acting like they don't even have to acknowledge the opposing party--or even America--anymore. They won the election, but they're treating it like the succeeded in a coup. Case in point: The Senate/House negotiations to reconcile the two separate Stimulus bills. According to Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, an agreement on the bills was reached around noon today. Republicans weren't invited to the negotiations until 3:00 pm.
“My name’s Tom Price and I represent the Sixth District of Georgia and [am] the privileged chair of the Republican Study Committee,” Price said. “It’s now noon on Wednesday. I’m standing outside the office of the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. The door is closed. We just heard news break there’s been an agreement between the House and the Senate on the non-stimulus bill."

Negotiators were slated to meet later in the day. However, since news of a deal was leaked to the media, Price questioned if there were “shady deals” going on.

“It’s curious because Republicans were invited to a meeting they said at 3 o’clock this afternoon,” Price continued. “What this means is there are more shady deals going on behind closed doors -- without the public, without Republicans in attendance.”

Either they just don't care about winning the next elections or they figure they can do all their damage before then. Either way, this does not bode well for the country.

Well, THIS Is Good News!

Nick Gillespie at has some data to suggest that the Recession may have already ended, based on the fact that the Stimulus Bill (or ARRA, as in "Arrrrrrra, Matey!) is about to be passed. Read the whole thing, but based on previous recessions and stimulus plans, it appears that the stimulus almost always comes about the same time the recession is ending, if not already over.

In this case, just in time to cause the next one.

And if that doesn't fill you with confidence in our elected officials, how about this Rasmussen poll that suggests that 2/3 of American think they could do a better job on the economy than Congress.

It wouldn't even take an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters. I'm thinking two or three dozen, tops.

Change?! We Don't Need No Stinkin' Change!

Obama nominee Kagen is all set to reverse Bush's policies. NOT!:
Elena Kagan, Dean of Harvard Law School and nominee for Solicitor General, announced that she believes that the government has the authority to detain indefinitely terrorism suspects because the country is "at war" with Al Qaeda. Because I am busy finishing edits on a law review article, can someone please explain to me how this differs from Bush's position, which liberals condemned, bashed and burned in effigy? (from Dissenting Justice via Instapundit)

Oh, times they aren't a-changin'....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Eh? What's That?

A few days ago when the stock market was rallying the headlines indicated it was rallying in anticipation of the Stimulus Bill's passage and the Bailout Plan being revealed.

So how come today, when both actually occur, stocks are tanking? Even the headlines blame it on these events:
Stocks Tumble as Bailout Plan is unveiled (MSNBC).

At any rate, let me get this straight. Congress is looking to spend as much as $839 billion, and this bailout plan will cost $1 trillion? We're not talking about the same money, are we? Where is all this money coming from?! We're talking about a 10-20% increase in the national debt load here, folks!

According to this source, the total value of mortgages in the US is about $3.6 trillion. So we're already half-way to buying back every mortgage in America. In fact, as someone where I work was saying yesterday, why don't we do just that? Instead of all this crap they're proposing, why don't they pay off all the mortgages on primary residences?

Consider that. I'm currently paying about $800 per month on my mortgage. If I suddenly didn't have to pay that I would probably invest much of that and spend the rest on stuff. Both moves would stimulate the economy. Now multiply that by every mortgagee in America. That, folks, would be stimulus. Plus the banks would be able to close out the books on the bulk of their bad mortgages at the same time they'd see a massive influx of cash. That would free up credit.

Americans wouldn't have any mortgage interest to deduct on their taxes. Tax revenues would increase. Many people might just roll their current mortgage payment into buying up some of the depreciated and un-sellable houses currently on the market. That would stimulate demand on housing and raise property values again, further stimulating credit and the economy.

Yes, I'm sure I'm oversimplifying, and there would be other consequences (ie. banks also writing off good loans that would have earned the 100-150% returns over time, and perhaps inflation from the sudden supply of money when production is actually down), but I don't think it's any more lame-brained than what we're currently being force-fed. If we're going to put the country that far into debt, we may as well do something that increases the likelihood of getting back OUT of debt as soon as possible.

I don't see how my plan is any worse than what we're getting.

You're Making Me Sick! reports on the various medical reforms hidden in the Stimulus Bill, which seem to be going completely unnoticed by both sides of Congress:
Hiding health legislation in a stimulus bill is intentional. Daschle supported the Clinton administration’s health-care overhaul in 1994, and attributed its failure to debate and delay. A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition. “If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it,” he said. “The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol.”

President Obama can warn of national apocalypse until he's blue in the face. Senate protocol is there to protect us from idiotic moves such as this. We're being given a trojan horse, and it's not all chocolates and daisies inside. We're being force-fed worms fried in dung-sauce, told its for our own good, and forced to vote for it quickly before anyone can really understand what's in there.

The president who promised us unparalleled transparency is throwing a thick cloak over everything he's doing, and it's going to cost us all very, very dearly.

Read the whole thing. If it doesn't make you sick, then you'd better hope you never get sick after it passes.

More Publicity, Please!

I followed a link from Instapundit this morning to an article in the DC Examiner about a House Democrat with a much cheaper and more targeted alternative to the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) stimulus bill:
His START plan is a $170 billion “bare bones” pure stimulus approach that would put $100 billion immediately into the pockets of low- and middle-income Americans, then use the other $70 billion for basic infrastructure projects that create jobs. START requires that all funds not spent by 2010 be returned to the Treasury. START also stops stimulus spending when the nation’s Gross Domestic Product increases in two of three previous quarters, and all START payments are required to be posted on a public website.

Who is behind this revolutionary approach? Walt Minnick, the brand-spankin'-new representative from Idaho.

I had the opportunity to vote for Minnick. I listened to him talk in the debates and thought his ideas sounded good, while his GOP opponent rubbed me the wrong way. But he's a Democrat, and the last thing I wanted was more Democrats in Washington. I couldn't see him standing up to Pelosi.

I'm becoming a believer. He was one of the few Democrats who voted against the stimulus bill. And now he's prepping a much better backup plan. Keep it up, Walt, and I'll vote for you next time!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Beautiful Words

"We'd like to bring you in for an interview."

It's not until Friday, and chances are I'm over-qualified, but it's sure nice to make it this far. A little positive reinforcement goes a long way.

Lincoln With Waffles In His Hat

I had an odd dream this morning. I was back working at the department store I worked for during college, only nothing and no one looked familiar. No biggie. We then went outside for an employee picnic and before long got a softball game going. When it was my turn at bat I realized that the pitcher was Joe Biden.

And he was a lousy pitcher. No aim whatsoever. Everything (to me, at least) was more like he was lobbing artillery shells at nothing in particular. In hindsight he may have been trying to walk me (not sure why, since I stink), but I was having none of that. I kept trying to chase the pitch down to hit it, and before long struck out.

So there you go. I was struck out by the Vice President of the United States. Make of it what you will.

You Still Need to Ask?

Jennifer Rubin at Pajamas Media asks "Have They No Shame?"
A lesser-noticed development in Washington lately is that Obama has moved jurisdiction over the 2010 Census under the White House instead of the Commerce Department.

I can't think of a good reason for that. Can you? Neither can Rubin:
Had this stunt been attempted during the Bush years one certainly would have heard a hue and cry from good government groups, the media, and academics. We no doubt would have heard a chorus of opposition: “The professional public servants are being shunted aside!” And from those so aghast about attempts to suppress or manipulate voting, we would have expected the shrieks: “This is an attempt to politicize the census and stack the deck for reapportionment!” It is not hard to imagine the reaction if the Bush White House had suggested that a supposedly unbiased statistical undertaking should be directed by, say, Karl Rove.

More Support For "Do Nothing"

(hat tip: Gateway Pundit)
The Congressional Budget Office predicts the recession will end in 2009 even without the stimulus. Actually, they're even predicting the stimulus will hurt rather than help.

So hurry up folks! Let's pass that bill soon so we can take the credit for something that would have happened anyway--unless of course the bill destroys any hope for that predicted rebound...

National Security Council Expanded

Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post has the details:
President Obama plans to order a sweeping overhaul of the National Security Council, expanding its membership and increasing its authority to set strategy across a wide spectrum of international and domestic issues.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Too soon to tell. It's a known maxim in business that "to err is human, but to really screw things up requires a committee". All I know for sure is that if this were Bush making this change there would be all sorts of protests.

Pres. Obama - Insurance Salesman is running the following lead paragraph today:
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama takes to the road this week to promote his plans for reinvigorating the economy.

Except it's not his plan. Pelosi and Reid wrote the thing, remember? So why does Obama have to work so hard to sell their plan?

I think Pelosi and Reid see Obama as a useful fall-guy. If their plan is defeated, or if it doesn't work, it'll have Obama's name and fingerprints all over it, so it'll be his poltical neck.

What gets me is that Obama is not stupid. Why is he sinking so much political capital into this?

My guess is that the Democrats--and perhaps the Republicans, too--see this issue as the battle. If the Dems win it the Republicans may be forced to roll over and sit things out for awhile. If the Republicans win it they're suddenly a party to be reckoned with again, and their minorities in Congress become less symbolic.

Both sides realize the importance of this issue. Still, it bothers me to see Obama taking the role of foot-soldier instead of general. It would be different if it were his plan, but it's not. If he's not careful he could become a lame duck before he completes his first month in office.


Toby Harnden of the Telegraph has an interesting take:
After a distinctly rocky start to his presidency, he has admitted he "screwed up" and is returning to one thing in his political career that he has perfected – campaigning.
Already, however, he is struggling, and the product he is now selling is not himself but a near-trillion-dollar economic "stimulus" package loaded with pet Democratic spending projects that has awakened slumbering Republicans in Congress and is now supported by barely a third of Americans. In between the Indiana and Florida stops, he will return to the White House for a prime-time press conference in which he will appeal directly to citizens and seek to rekindle the magic of his campaign.

Read the whole thing for additional insight on Obama's presidency and the Stimulus Bill.

No Bleeding, No Leading

Michael Totten goes to Sderot, Israel and reminds us why Israel's response to the Gaza rocket attacks was disproportionate:
Living under Qassam and Grad rocket attack doesn't sound like much fun, but it's worse than the low body count makes it seem. Thousands of rockets have fallen on Sderot. And every rocket launched at the city triggers an air raid alert. Everyone within ear shot has fifteen seconds to run into a shelter.

Imagine sprinting for cover 5,000 times.
“The small number of physical casualties is not because their weapons aren't working,” he said. “The small number is because the population understands the protection guidelines. They know that they have fifteen seconds to find shelter.”
(Major Chezy Deutsch, IDF)

So the reason why the Israeli death toll was so low is not because Hamas can't hit the broad side of a barn, or they weren't trying that hard. It's just that the Israelis are very good at hiding.

Read the entire article for a reality check on what Israelis are up against. If Americans were going through this we'd be demanding Obama pull out the nukes. Yet the world expects Israelis to sit down, shut up, and take it.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Dogma Dogma Dog ma' Dog is Brown

The debate over god and religion is currently being waged on the sides of busses in London.

It started with an atheist campaign in which a sign on the sides of busses proclaimed "There's probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

Several religious groups and churches have responded with upcoming ads of their own:

"There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life."
"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God."
"There is a God, believe. Don't worry and enjoy your life."

What is most interesting, however, is the response from the head of the organization sponsoring the atheistic ads.
Hanne Stinson, chief executive of the British Humanist Society, said the society supported the right of religious groups to post their messages but said the advertisements were "dogmatic and declaratory, leaving no room for reason and debate."

"Our ads were undogmatic and funny, with the addition of the 'probably' in line with the continuing openness of humanists to new evidence," she said in a statement on the British Humanist Association Web site.

She misses the point--and her own hypocrisy. There were two prongs to the atheist's attack. The first prong, contrary to what she says, is only less dogmatic (to be truly "open" they might have said "there may be no god", whereas "probably" implies a statistical weighting that does not exist). While some religous persons might still get upset at this declaration, most would just shake their heads and move on. I'm sure most relgious people have entertained at least once the thought that there may not be a God.

No, it's the second prong that is likely to elicit objection, and is dogmatic and declaratory. It's the strong implication that religious people A) are unduly worried because of their belief in God, and B) do not enjoy their life as a result. Conversely implied is that atheists are not worried and do enjoy life. They don't seem to be leaving the door open for reason or debate on what causes this worry, even though the current economic climate, for one, seems every bit as likely a candidate.

Furthermore, what exactly is funny about calling a group of people fussy and depressed? It's only funny for people who agree with you. So the British Humanist Society ads are divisive, dogmatic, discourage reason and debate, and are intentionally insulting. Hence I also have reason to doubt Stinson's " new evidence" based on the dogmatism of her own statements.

In short, Stinson's belief seems to be "We are open-minded and clever. They are depressed, close-minded, and daft. End of discussion." She's a true humanitarian--in the culinary sense.

Now if open, respectful debate were the goal, I'd have kept the whole debate off of busses. Such advertising--on both sides--does not provide a forum for discussion. It thrusts inflammatory statements in front of people while giving them no means to respond. Other than buying an ad of their own, anyway, which excludes the average person lacking the $22,000 to splurge on legalized graffiti. This is bound to leave most people with any strong beliefs to the contrary feeling publicly attacked and helpless to respond. Neither of which is likely to endear them to one's cause or convince them to listen to you.

The BHS fired the first salvo. Stinson can defend the message of the ad all she wants, but she purposely or ignorantly fails to mention or defend the reason for the ad in the first place. What exactly were they hoping to accomplish? Funny or not, if I were to buy a bus ad that stated "People who wear red are probably covering for their own insecurity", I should not be surprised if people who like red get upset with me and ascribe uncharitable motives to my actions.

No, such unprovoked and insulting attacks (for that really is what it is) are little more than bully tactics: build camaradarie with the presumed majority who agree with you by putting down the presumed minority who do not. It is reinforcing unfair and unsubstantiated stereotypes in an attempt to establish them as truth by repetition.

So let's call a spade a spade, Stinson. You attacked a group in an attempt to demean and cow them. Your gracious support of their right to respond is both unnecessary and irrelevant. Your conceding them a right they already possess does not give you the high ground. That is only an attempt to both confirm your self-righteousness and deflect the issue.

What's more, you couldn't even support their right to a response without taking another potshot and implying that A) you won, and B) you're still right and better than they are. Why are you so insecure in your position? If you were at all secure you wouldn't have needed to buy the ads in the first place, let alone fell a need to defend them.

Unfortunately, Stinson saw, in her insecurity, a wrong that must be righted. Oh dear, oh dear! People are sad and uptight! It must be because of their belief in a god! I must save them from themselves! Quick! To the bus company! We shall win them over with a clever and carefully worded ad! Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't that make Stinson the one who needs to stop worrying and just enjoy her life?

Would it have been so wrong to have the ad simply read "Don't worry! Enjoy your life while you have time!"? Leave it up to the reader to decide what it is they really shouldn't be worrying so much about. I fail to see how that would have made the ad less effective, unless it truly was meant as an attack.

And if it was meant as an attack, that doesn't speak well for humanists. We've got enough to worry about without dragging religion into it and turning us against one another. Or is she just trying to prove that humanism can be just as devisive as religion is reported to be? If so, who needs it? To quote from Star Trek, "We need no encouragement to hate humans!"

Au contraire, my dear Stinson.

Insurance Salesman Salesmen

Just how many insurance companies are there in America? I'll tell you in a few more days. Ever since I refreshed my profiles on the job sites I've been getting an endless stream of emails and phone calls from people who have--supposedly--read my resume and are convinced I have everything it takes to be a successful insurance salesman.

They must be referring to my other, super-secret resume--so secret I don't even know about it.

I'm in IT, for crying out loud! Name me one aspect of IT that would tell any reasonable person I've got great potential in sales? Aren't IT people supposed to be geeks and nerds who got into the field because we wouldn't have to interact with people that much?

Each of these job sites have "premium upgrades" you can pay for to enhance your visibility. How about a premium upgrade to make your profile invisible to insurance companies? I'd be sorely tempted to pay up.

I'm tempted to call one of these people and ask them "Just what was it on my resume that caught your attention." Anyone want to bet me they've never even read it? Their emails are always very complimentary, but always lacking in specifics. And invariably they ask me to send them a resume. They could get my resume from the job site if they really wanted it.

**Sigh** I hate job hunting.

We Have Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself

Fear sells. We all know that. Salesmen especially. I've had salesman after salesman, selling vitamins to vacuums, use fear to peddle their product. Our environment is poisonous, and our food is losing its nutrition value. We need super-vitamins to survive. There are dustmites everywhere, and they'll kill you! Buy our vacuums. When people don't already have a need for something, create that need. Fear sells.

So what do you do if you're the candidate of hope and you've got a major expenditure to sell? Drop the hope, pump up the fear:

"A failure to act, and act now, will turn crisis into a catastrophe."
-- President Obama, Feb. 4.

Catastrophe, mind you. So much for the president who in his inaugural address two weeks earlier declared "we have chosen hope over fear." Until, that is, you need fear to pass a bill. (Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post)

The lead story on today is jobs: Worst Job Loss Since '74. Meanwhile the Dow is up 174 points. Wall Street has taken a nasty beating, so I don't know why they would be unduly optimistic at this point. But if you look over the last six months you'll see the markets have largely flattened out. We're bouncing around between 8000 and 9000. We've spent about four months in that range now. This would seem to suggest a bottom.

In short, things may be poised to start getting better. So act now, before the Democrats lose this golden opportunity! Pay no attention to the good news coming in. Things are BAD! Trust us on this! We're the politicians that, through our economic ineptitude, brought you this recession in the first place! We KNOW what we're talking about (this time)!

I've said it before. Now could very well be the time for our leaders to boldly stand up and do nothing!

I Can't Afford To Take That Job

Here's an angle on the economy I hadn't considered: Because of the housing bubble, people can't afford to move to where the work is.
More than one hundred thousand Americans have just lost their jobs. According to psychologists who study happiness, that is the most miserable experience many people will ever endure. Getting back to work is the best medicine. For thousands of workers and their families, getting back to work means packing up and heading to a new gig in a new town. But many will find it difficult even to consider a move. Because it's tough to sell a house you could never really afford in a town now bleeding jobs.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Patriotism Vs. Business

It's easy to be hard on companies who accept bailout money and still continue their lavish ways.

However, correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't there a bunch of other banks who were asked to accept bailout funds even though they didn't want them, just to help with a) protecting the anonimity of some of the other banks, and b) to stimulate the economy?

So if you're one of these banks that took money they didn't need, and now you're being told you have to abide by certain rules, including some that didn't exist when you accepted it, doesn't this actually interfere with their successful operation?

In other words, no good deed goes unpunished. This should make anyone else who wants to be helpful in the future think twice.

UPDATE: JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon criticizes the restrictions and makes a few good points:
“Pay got a little exuberant, and there were some legitimate complaints,” Dimon said. “But I don’t think the president of the United States should paint everyone with the same brush.”

New York-based JPMorgan, the second-largest U.S. bank, doesn’t have so-called golden parachutes or retirement packages, and all top executives must retain 75 percent of their stock- based compensation, Dimon said.

This is essentially government micromanaging businesses. Yes, there needs to be some concession from bailed-out institutions, but I don't think the Federal Government is a good candidate to determine how business should be run. After all, this is the group that has posted losses that make the banking sector look successful by comparison. And whose top officials don't feel obligated to pay taxes.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Good News? Maybe.

Daschle feels the heat, gets out of the kitchen. I'm still waiting for Geithner and Rangel. I'm not holding my breath.

And frankly I'd feel a bit better about all of this if it was Mr. "I will change the way Washington does business" Obama calling for their withdrawal. But no, he fully supports them. It's up to THEIR consciences to get the better of them. But I guess what likely got to Daschle was Nancy Killefer's withdrawal over a mere $1000 tax lien. His sin was 128 times that.

Republicans in the Senate at least managed to block $25 billion in more spending being added to the Stimulus, though I note the total has somehow grown to $885 billion. And this would be more comforting if Minority Leader McConnell hadn't pledged to make sure the bill passes in the end.

Audit Them All!

I'm not the only one upset by all the tax cheats in the administration. A comment on Instapundit is calling for a moratorium on audits for the middle-class for a year. Others are calling for an audit of all public officials.

That's a great idea! Just Geithner and Daschle owed more in taxes than I make in three years. You want to bolster the government coffers? Shake down the "public servants" who are obviously making boat-loads of money while dodging boat-loads of taxes.

Let's deploy our auditing assets where they can do the most good--and save a bundle on transportation costs!

Either that, or we launch a tax revolt. No taxation without reciprocation!

Show-me State

Megan McArdle addresses her commenters who claim it should be up to the opponents of the Stimulus to prove it won't work.

Her response:
Let's recall that the evidence for this kind of stimulus working in this kind of situation basically rests on a single instance (World War II)--the other two times it was tried (Japan in the 1990s and America in the 1930s) the economy basically rolled along in the doldrums for the rest of the decade.

Proponents say that that's because there wasn't enough stimulus, which is possibly true, but not really satisfying, because first, how do we know this package is enough, and second, that leaves us with a belief in the virtues of stimulus that is essentially non-falsifiable. We might as well move macroeconomic policy to the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.

Amen, Sister!

As I keep saying, this isn't about Stimulus, it's about "Getting Our Way--Finally!" It's not a recession to these guys. It's Christmas!

The Senate was supposed to inject some sanity into the bill. Instead they're injecting more spending. At this rate our only hope is that they get this thing passed and signed before it gets any bigger.

I applied for a job with a government contractor yesterday. I hope I get it, as the government seems to be the one industry that is NOT cutting back.

Draining [Into] the swamp of Gov't Corruption

Weren't the Democrats going to clean up Washington? Oh, they're setting the bar on ethics, all right. As low as they can get it.

RepublicanAmerican has a round-up of "honest mistakes" from the Democrats that would get you or me sent to prison, but gets them cabinet posts and senate seats.

Monday, February 02, 2009

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Rules!

As mentioned before I will be laid off from my job in two months, so I've been doing a lot of thinking about how to further my career. And then it hit me--the one critical thing I can do to improve my marketability:

Don't pay my taxes.

It would be the first step in a glorious political career. Then I can join Geithner, Daschle, Rangel, et al, in running the country and making rules for everyone else to follow.

Is there anyone left in Washington with any moral fiber?

You Won't Hear This Anywhere Else

Michael Totten has been in Israel lately, and reports on an interview with Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, who offers a fresh, apolitical viewpoint on Israeli-Palestinian relations. Based on what he says, it sounds like the Bush Administration really screwed up in that area. Yes, Hamas is a terrorist organization, but he feels that when they won the election and we refused to accept them--and worked to undermine them by backing the corrupt Fatah movement--we showed ourselves as hypocrits and only bolstered Hamas' position.

Read the whole thing. It provides a lot of context we never hear about in the West because it doesn't "fit the narrative".

We need journalists like Michael Totten. I'm losing my job soon and had to cancel my subscription for now, but I'll promote him as much as I can in the mean time. If there is ever such a thing as the truth, you're more likely to learn it from Michael Totten than any mainstream media outlet.