October 31, 2013
When You've Lost the Women...
A majority of Americans – 52 percent – believe the health care law needs either a major overhaul or to be completely eliminated, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds.
Forty-four percent think it either needs minor modifications or that it’s working well as is.
The Obama administration maintains that the health insurance exchange website can be fixed, but acknowledges major problems.
“In these early weeks, access to Healthcare.gov has been a miserably frustrating experience for way too many Americans,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday in testimony on Capitol Hill.
President Barack Obama addresses the issues facing healthcare.gov Wednesday during a speech at Boston's Faneuil Hall.
The number of respondents who said the law was a good or bad idea was relatively unchanged from earlier this month. But support for the law has slipped with one key group – women, who traditionally rank health care as a higher priority than men, and who are seen as an important plank in selling the law.
When You've Lost....
...I expected more from Obama. I expected more at the Veterans Administration, since the President said that making sure that our veterans received the best treatment really mattered to him. It is remarkable that five years on, Obama still hasn’t resolved the dispute between the VA and the Department of Defense about providing a unified electronic medical records system that would follow active-duty personnel into retirement. The waste, heartache and delay caused by his inaction is appalling..
And I certainly expected more from the Affordable Care Act, since it is the most significant piece of social welfare legislation since the 1960s, and an absolutely crucial piece of our social safety net going forward. It is early days for the ACA and we should reserve judgment about whether this legislation was just too big and complicated a mess to implement. But, surely, SOMEONE–maybe many people–should be fired for these opening pratfalls. And we should also be able to get some of our money back from the private contractors who failed to implement the exchanges.
There is a larger point here. It lies in the nature of government work. It is near-impossible to fire anyone in the civil service–and without the fear of firing, the incentives for hard work diminish. (There are also very few rewards for finding creative solutions.) This is the 130th anniversary of our Civil Service system, enacted by Chester Alan Arthur. It may have been a good thing in 19th century, when even Abraham Lincoln was hiring political hacks to run the post offices–but it has transformed agencies like the VA and HHS into lugubrious sludge glaciers in the 21st century.
The President should set the tone for the way the federal government operates. This President hasn’t done that. He still has three more years in office to get it right, perhaps even to propose some radical changes in the work rules governing federal employment. He could even force DOD and VA to agree on the unified electronic records system that he promised.
Otherwise, there is a danger that the Obama Administration will be remembered as not even good enough for government work
And then there's this, which took real courage:
When the website doesn't work and the promises of 2009 and 2010 are revised, questions of credibility infect everything the administration says. This can lead to a death spiral as administration officials make bold assertions to distract from the current challenges. White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett tweeted Monday night: "FACT: Nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans. No change is required unless insurance companies change existing plans." Of course the insurance companies wouldn't have had to change plans if it hadn’t been for Obamacare. This is spinning—which is to be expected from a president's defender—but its legalistic dissembling seems particularly weak in light of the president's initial promises. (It isn’t the only time the administration has claimed a FACT recently about health care that isn't one).
For congressional Republicans, these credibility challenges help obscure their recent flirtation with utter collapse. It's not just that Republicans benefit when the president’s signature legislation falters. This debate over his initial claim lends credibility to their longstanding opposition to the law. House Speaker John Boehner's office quickly provided reporters with a quotation from the GOP weekly radio address from September 2009, delivered by Rep. Tom Price: “On the stump, the president regularly tells Americans that ‘if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.’ But if you read the bill, that just isn’t so. For starters, within five years, every health care plan will have to meet a new federal definition for coverage—one that your current plan might not match, even if you like it.” A key critique of the Republican Party's recent attempt to defund Obamacare was that it was a strategy born of limited vision. They couldn’t see that it was doomed to fail spectacularly. Four years ago, with the Affordable Care Act, they saw this moment coming.
October 30, 2013
The Reality of ObamaCare Offers a Teachable Moment
"Someone please tell me why my premium in January will be $356 more than in December?”, asks Sue Klinkhamer, a former Democratic staffer and ACA supporter who is shocked to learn that the insurance policy available under the Affordable Care Act isn't actually affordable.... for her.
In the video below, she makes the following points:
1. Some of the mandatory "essential" services required by the ACA were already included in her old policy. So she's not getting better care or a lot more services under ObamaCare.
2. She's not buying the administration's line that only "junk" policies are being cancelled. She liked her old policy and it was affordable for her.
3. [Shocker alert] Though her premium is going up, she isn't eligible for a subsidy.
4. She thought she'd be placed into a pool with other "healthy" people (which is why her old policy cost less), but instead she's being placed into a pool with unhealthy people whose "affordable" health care policies (and lifestyle choices) she's going to have to subsidize.
It must really bite, finding out that *you're* one of the folks being asked to pay for other people's medical care. It's even worse when you consider that many of them suffer from entirely preventable "lifestyle" diseases.
Klinkhamer's disappointment highlights the huge gap between what voters support in the abstract - fluffy, feel-good notions like income equality and affordable health care for all - and what they support in the real world (giving up part of their hard earned salary to pay for those fluffy, feel good ideas). Most people, regardless of political affiliation, think they've earned their salaries and their success. Few of us think it's "unfair" when we succeed and others don't. And the idea of equality is far more attractive in campaign speeches than it is when it hits us right square in the pocketbook.
In the real world, providing "affordable health care for everyone" means that for the rest of her life, even if she is responsible and takes care of herself, Ms. Klinkhamer will be paying for other people's decisions not to. Because she is subsidizing other people's insurance, Klinkhamer no longer has the freedom to earn lower premiums by taking good care of herself and minimizing her chances of contracting one of the many preventable (and costly) medical conditions Americans are particularly susceptible to.
This strikes the Editorial Staff as one of those "teachable moments" the education lobby are always yammering on about - the perfect moment to point out that all those unpleasant tradeoffs conservatives were mocked for worrying about turned out to be depressingly real. We can't help wondering if ObamaCare will turn out to be the Prohibition of the 21st century - one of those teachable moments that future generations will use to demonstrate that even the best intentions often produce painful unintended consequences?
October 29, 2013
Take Halloween Back
The sexy pirate wriggled her way between a phalanx of Stormtroopers, linked arms with them and stuck a bare leg out — red carpet style — for a photo.
“Why is she dressed like that?” asked my 9-year-old son, who was waiting in line to take his photo with the Star Wars battalion. “She just looks — disturbing. Pirates don’t dress like that. She’s not even wearing pants.”
Or much else.
It was a moment that won’t last. He’ll come to a different conclusion soon enough.
But at last weekend’s annual Halloween party at the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum — the Air and Scare — the sexification of the holiday remained mostly in a galaxy far, far away.
The sexy happy-hour costumes were almost as scarce as that pirate lady’s pants. It was a gathering of geeky costumes — perfect Padawans, an orange pool-noodle bowl of mac n’ cheese, Spock covered in Tribbles, those Stormtroopers. It was also a reminder of how trashy Halloween has become elsewhere.
This year’s hot-selling costumes online are the Sexy Pizza or Sexy Watermelon slice (minus one strategically placed bite). There’s the Sexy Hamburger and Miley Cyrus’s teddy bear onesie.
The models in the Halloween costume catalogue that came in the mail this year showed more flesh than the women of Victoria’s Secret.
I guess that’s inevitable as adults take over a holiday once celebrated primarily by children.
So... what are you going to be for Halloween? Possibly offensive/NSFW if the sight of a giant ladyparts costume is something you don't want to see.
October 28, 2013
I Wonder What They Expected?
I remember reading about these guys last month.
"MOSCOW – The environmentalist group Greenpeace says two of its activists have been arrested after climbing onto an oil platform in Russia's Arctic waters. It claims warning shots were fired across the organization's ship."
I know (but don't agree) that ignoring US borders is generally consequence-free, however, the vast majority of the world's countries look down their collective noses at such actions....especially if all you're there for in the first place is to pick a fight.
A couple weeks later, as I read a follow-up article
"The environmentalists were detained last month as Greenpeace's boat, the Arctic Sunrise, sailed towards the Prirazlomnaya oil rig in the Pechora Sea. Two activists attempted to board the rig, and Russian border guards intervened, descending on to the boat from helicopters. They later forcefully towed the Arctic Sunrise back to Murmansk."
I commented to MH that I didn't think they were going to enjoy the Russian prison system. To which he added, "I don't think they'll enjoy the accomodations either with winter coming."
"Geneva (AFP) - Three of the Greenpeace activists held in Russia following a protest against Arctic drilling have given an insight into their detention conditions in comments published Sunday, with one complaining he was kept in isolation in a cold cell.
'The solitude is weighing on me and I am miserable,' Swiss activist Marco Weber, 28, said in a letter published by the SonntagsZeitung and Le Matin Dimanche weeklies."
It's closing in on early winter now, (when isn't it in northern Russian?) shirley the heat's been cranked on for at least a month...
"Weber said he had to remain huddled up in his winter jacket to try to keep warm in the unheated cell, and his feet were cold."
The food, naturally, completely meets your specific dietary wants and desires, though, right?
"Bryan complained about the food -- lunch was a soup and fish stew that 'tastes like an ashtray full of seawater' -- and admitted his disappointment when the 'chicken' he had looked forward to turned out to be inedible pigeon."
Yeah,...no. So, all in all, you're sitting in a tiny cell, eating crappy food, there's no heat and you get one hour to exercise a day.....hmmmm, sounds to me like you're...
wait for it...
What did you expect?
October 25, 2013
Let the Judgement Begin
Apparently the picture for the caption contest didn't quite get the Oink Cadre as excited as I'd hoped. Although, vet66 did spot the photographer with the biggest lens.
Still, there were a couple of snorters delivered. So, without further ado:
First place goes to our inimitable spd rdr for -
""And next up we'll be bidding on Dustin's Hoffman's head, body sold separately, of course."
Second place belongs to Yu-Ain Gonnano with -
"Despite the fantastic view afforded Jack Black, he seems more intrigued by the hors d'oeuvres Dustin Hoffman is sneaking behind the wall.
Mr Hoffman later explained to Mr Black, "These are not the hot buns you are looking for."
And, last but not least, third place to George Pal for his trip down movie memory lane -
"Psssst, tootsie... Tootsie! If a tree falls on someone in a forest does it matter if it's not on me?"
Those are the winners for last week. Hopefully this week's picture will generate a little more *excitement*.
Yeah, I know, cruel trick. But what'd you expect from a Dark Lord?
Have at it peoples.
And, no, I have no idea what that is in her hand, but I'm sure a few of you will come up with *something*. In fact, I'm counting on it.
Epistemic Closure Alert, Joan Walsh Edition
If Ms. Walsh weren't so gosh-darned obliging, the Editorial Staff would have to make this sort of thing up:
Every time I’m ready to blame President Obama for his political troubles, and yes, he deserves some blame, there’s a story like the one about Rep. Pete Sessions telling the president, to his face, “I can’t even stand to look at you.” (The White House is now saying this story is based on a misunderstanding. Stay tuned.) I can’t even stand to enumerate the ways in which this president has been insulted in ways unknown to white presidents, Sessions aside.
Every time Walsh starts to believe that the man we hired in 2008 to run the country just *might* be partially responsible for the way the country is run, along comes another sensational bit of unsubstantiated (and apparently untraceable) gossip:
The disputed story - first shared publicly on his campaign Facebook page by the Senate’s number two Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois - that an unidentified senior House Republican Leader during negotiations over the debt ceiling and partial government shutdown told President Obama “I cannot even stand to look at you” made its way from the White House to the Senate via White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors, sources tell CNN.
Nabors told the story to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Durbin, and the two other Senate Democratic leaders, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, on Tuesday October 15, sources tell CNN. Reid then told the story to the entire Senate Democratic caucus, sources in the room at the time tell CNN, identifying the House Republican leader as Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who denies the story. Durbin posted it on his campaign Facebook page without mentioning Sessions' name.
Sessions isn’t the only one who denies it; on Wednesday when White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked about it at his daily briefing and said “I looked into it and spoke with somebody who was in the meeting and it did not happen.”
The statement upset Senate Democrats, since they had heard the story from the White House’s Nabors and the White House was now accusing Durbin of sharing an untruthful story. Durbin did not back down. “Senator Durbin stands by his comments,” said Max Gleischman, a spokesman for Durbin, on Wednesday.
On Thursday a White House official accepted some blame for the story, saying, “While the quote attributed to a Republican lawmaker in the House GOP meeting with the President is not accurate, there was a miscommunication when the White House read out that meeting to Senate Democrats, and we regret the misunderstanding.”
If only we could find out where this slanderous story came from. Or more importantly, we'd learn why the aptly-named
Dick Durbin is using an incident he didn't witness (and which the White House says didn't even happen) to raise money:
Durbin expressed his outrage on Facebook early this week, saying a Republican congressman meeting with Obama about the shutdown told the president: "I cannot even stand to look at you."
Unfortunately for Durbin, White House press secretary Jay Carney said he looked into Durbin's story, even spoke to someone at the meeting, and told reporters the presidential face was not dishonored.
"It did not happen," Carney said.
That seems clear enough.
And it would have started to fade away, except we learned Thursday that Durbin had sent out a fundraising letter. The senior senator from Illinois cited the apparent outrage to Obama's face, but suggested he'd feel a lot better if Democrats sent him $16.
In his fundraising pitch, Durbin writes:
"Let me ask you: What are the chances of an honest conversation with someone who has just said, 'I cannot even stand to look at you'?"
A few paragraphs down he writes "Please, click here to send my campaign $16 — one dollar for every day of the reckless and irresponsible Republican Shutdown — or whatever you can afford."
That's right, Durbin was so upset that President Obama's face was disrespected — by a Republican who the White House says does not exist — that Durbin is willing to take 16 bucks.
Sixteen bucks to assuage a mythical insult to a president's face? How noble is that?
Gee. It's almost as though Senator Durbin doesn't trust the White House. Never fear - we're sure every effort will be spared to get to the bottom of this deplorable incident.
Fans Were Used....
This, on the otter heiny, is all natural:
IRS Flagged Groups Using "Anti-Obama Rhetoric"
...and the saga continues:
ABC, CBS and NBC have so far refused to report the latest bombshell in the IRS scandal - a newly released list from the agency that showed it flagged political groups for "anti-Obama rhetoric." On September 18 USA Today, in a front page story, reported the following: "Newly uncovered IRS documents show the agency flagged political groups based on the content of their literature, raising concerns specifically about 'anti-Obama rhetoric,' inflammatory language and 'emotional' statements made by non-profits seeking tax-exempt status."
Not only have ABC, CBS and NBC not reported this story they've flat out stopped covering the IRS scandal on their evening and morning shows. It's been 85 days since ABC last touched the story on June 26. NBC hasn't done a report for 84 days and CBS last mentioned the IRS scandal 56 days ago on July 24.
The article by Gregory Korte went on to report: "The internal 2011 documents, obtained by USA TODAY, list 162 groups by name, with comments by Internal Revenue Service lawyers in Washington raising issues about their political, lobbying and advocacy activities. In 21 cases, those activities were characterized as 'propaganda.'
Never attribute to malice what can be easily explained by ... incompetence?
...the larger failure of public administration that has been endemic in the Obama White House... is probably the president’s most significant weakness…
Obama failed to fill the key post of IRS commissioner for FIVE YEARS. A savvy commissioner, in place early on, would have understood the potential train wreck ahead over the long-term IRS mishandling of 501(c)4 and (c)6 applications, and would have set up a process to create a bright line both to eliminate or ameliorate the political abuses of the tax code by groups like American Crossroads GPS and to give the career staff the clear guidelines they needed. And an experienced executive-branch veteran and public-management expert inside the White House would have seen the problems emerging with HealthCare.gov and begun the urgent management repair work earlier…
Or lack of interest:
And there is the enduring mystery of why the president, who in his career has attempted to persuade the American people to have greater faith in and reliance on the federal government’s ability to help, continues to go forward with an astounding lack of interest in the [actual effectiveness?] of government.
He talks but he doesn’t implement, never makes it work. He allows the IRS under his watch to be humiliated by scandal, waste, ill judgments prompted by ideological assumptions. He allows his signature program, the one that will make his name in the history books, to debut in failure. In response he says bland, rounded words that leave you wondering what just got said.
...or perhaps just the unbearable ennui of boooooring national security briefings:
... at the State Department, some officials were fuming about what they felt was a broken process and a lack of strategy... The administration took more than a year to nominate a replacement for Jeffrey D. Feltman, a veteran Arabic-speaking diplomat who had coordinated the State Department’s Middle East policy...
...Even as the debate about arming the rebels took on a new urgency, Mr. Obama rarely voiced strong opinions during senior staff meetings. But current and former officials said his body language was telling: he often appeared impatient or disengaged while listening to the debate, sometimes scrolling through messages on his BlackBerry or slouching and chewing gum...
Please pay no attention to the man in the ginormous white house where the buck used to (as recently as the end of July) stop. Yes, he's technically in charge of the country. And the State Department is technically part of the Executive branch. But Obama can't be held responsible, you see. It's not his fault that embassy staff in a turbulent nation with troubled relations with the West can't be trusted to obey direct orders. Or that - apparently - they had not been instructed to consult with the White House on matters of this delicacy. Or that Libyan diplomatic staff were working in an insecure environment...
One could be forgiven for sensing a pattern here.
October 24, 2013
OK, We Totally Did Not See That One Coming....
On the otter heiny, this was a no brainer (so to speak):
Perceiver mode results when the bottom-brain system is highly utilized in optional ways but the top is not. Think of the Dalai Lama or Emily Dickinson. People who habitually rely on Perceiver mode try to make sense in depth of what they perceive; they interpret their experiences, place them in context and try to understand the implications.
But they don't make and execute grand plans. By definition, such people—including naturalists, pastors, novelists—typically lead lives away from the limelight. Those who rely on this mode often play a crucial role in a group; they can make sense of events and provide a bigger picture. In business, they are key members of teams, providing perspective and wisdom but not always getting credit.
This seems to be our day for quizzes. We took a management style one earlier today and came up "Flexible Adaptor".
Positively Kama-Sutraesque, we are. If you knew anything about our day job, you'd know why we found this so amusing.
Chill Wind Alert
Mediaite captured a revealing moment today on CNN. As anchor Carol Costello hosted a segment on the senior White House aide recently fired for — not making this up — inappropriate tweets, she admitted that the Obama administration has no problem getting “nasty” with reporters who dare to report any negative story about Obama.Costello agreed with panelist Jason Johnson that the Obama administration can be thin-skinned, and said that “President Obama’s people can be quite nasty. They don’t like you to say anything bad about their boss, and they’re not afraid to use whatever means they have at hand to stop you from doing that, including threatening your job.”
Days after Bob Beckel called for a delay in the implementation of Obamacare, a former “highly placed” White House official called him and “absolutely bludgeoned” him over his comments.
[Assistant to the President of the United States and Senior Advisor to the President for Strategy and Communications] Dan Pfieffer then tweeted the link to PolitiFact’s launching of the factchecking of pundits and added, “There should be some sort of penalty for over and incorrect use of breaking news alerts by media organizations”
Dang. They warned me if I voted for a Rethug, journalists would suffer the Chill, Freedom-Harshing Winds of Heavy Handed White House Intimidation! Kinda makes one long for the good old days when Keith Olbermann got paid several million dollars a year for screaming at the top of his lungs about how the Bush administration was trying to silence him.
Oddly, we never actually saw any evidence that the Bush administration was trying to silence him, but he totally felt silenced, sitting there on national TV with one of the world's biggest megaphones. And several million dollars in his checking account.
Exhibit D: ObamaCare operator fired for talking to media:
On the top of Thursday's broadcast of his radio show, Sean Hannity revealed Erling Davis, the Obamacare operator he called early in his Monday show, got fired. Hannity quizzed her on how well the law is being received by applicants and she revealed no one liked it...
Oh well, at least she wasn't working for an insurance company:
The Obama administration asked North Dakota’s largest health insurer not to publicize how many people have signed up for health insurance through a new online exchange, a company official says.
And then there's this:
All those photos of Richard Nixon and not one single mention of Barack Obama. Makes a person wonder what all those brave, truth tellers are afraid of? The whistleblowers at the end of this video are being prosecuted by Barack Obama's administration.
And his name is never mentioned. Once.
"You are a Data Analyst"
"Your talent is to see relationships in what everyone else sees as chaos. What confuses and overwhelms your colleagues fascinates you until you can find how all the puzzle pieces fit together. Your beautiful mind would most enjoy being a data analyst."
To find out what kind of thinker you might be, take the test. And don't forget to post your results in the comments so we can all marvel at your *beautiful mind*, too.
Oh For Pete's Sake
A change to the Marine Corps’ uniform hats could take the hard-nosed Leathernecks from the Halls of Montezuma to the shops of Christopher Street.
Thanks to a plan by President Obama to create a “unisex” look for the Corps, officials are on the verge of swapping out the Marines’ iconic caps – known as “covers” — with a new version that some have derided as so “girly” that they would make the French blush.
“We don’t even have enough funding to buy bullets, and the DoD is pushing to spend $8 million on covers that look like women’s hats!” one senior Marine source fumed to The Post. “The Marines deserve better. It makes them look ridiculous.”
The thin new covers have a feminine line that some officials think would make them look just as good on female marines as on males — in keeping with the Obama directive.
“The Marine Corps is being ‘encouraged’ by DoD to standardize on a unisex/universal dress and service cap,” Marine brass noted in an internal memo obtained by The Post.
The idea that Barack Obama - a man who was hard put to spend a few rushed minutes on the tarmac conferring with his senior commander in Afghanistan and, by his own admission, finds out about major news stories involving his subordinates from the news media because he's too busy to actively oversee the rollout of his signature legislative achievement - is micromanaging the design of Marine headgear
is borderline delusional deserves to be met with extreme skepticism.
A July 15th article in the Marine Corps Times suggests this idea came from the Commandant, NOT the White House:
Common dress blues uniforms for Marines, regardless of gender, could be on the horizon pending results of a multimonth wear test underway at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.
Women stationed there have been wearing men’s white dress covers since the start of this year’s parade season. A select few also are wearing a modified version of the male dress blues jacket featuring its distinctive mandarin-style collar trimmed with the Corps’ gold eagle, globe and anchor insignia.
The experiment began quietly this spring, an initiative led by the commandant, Gen. Jim Amos, and the barracks commander, Col. Christian Cabaniss, said Capt. Jack Norton, a spokesman there.
A more recent article (also from the Marine Times) points out that this is hardly the first time unpopular uniform changes have been proposed:
The Marine Corps Uniform Board may recommend the adoption of a universal cover for men and women to be worn with dress and service uniforms.
The change could take one of two forms. Either women could begin wearing current male covers with slight modifications, or all Marines could begin wearing new “Dan Daly caps,” according to a Marine news release. Daly caps feature a smaller crown, similar to the cover worn by two-time Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Maj. Dan Daly, known best for his World War I exploits at Belleau Wood.
To gather feedback from both active duty and Reserve Marines, the Uniform Board distributed a survey across the Corps via sergeant majorsthat will run through Friday. The board will convene Oct. 29 and take the survey results into consideration, although they are not binding.
In years past the Uniform Board has made recommendations counter to the desires of rank-and-file Marines who communicated their opinions via surveys. That includes the decision to wear utility uniform sleeves rolled down all year — even during the summer.
The movement to make female uniforms more similar to those worn by men comes as the Defense Department begins to open more roles in combat units to women. But, the Marine Corps has considered changes to female uniforms, particularly dress blue uniforms, several times over the years and has been met by resistance each time.
Most recently, women at Marine Barracks Washington conducted a field test in which they wore male covers and dress blue uniforms with Mandarin collars rather than lapels. The results of those tests were not immediately available, however Marine Corps Times readers — men and women — voiced strong opposition.
This country has far more serious things to worry about than whether arguably the most disengaged and disinterested Commander in Chief in modern history has been suddenly overcome with an inexplicable urge to design hats. Even if the (so far completely unsubstantiated) rumors were true, the Marines are perfectly capable of standing up for themselves.
While we're at it, can we also stop with this nonsense?
Nine senior commanding generals have been fired by the Obama administration this year, leading to speculation by active and retired members of the military that a purge of its commanders is underway.
Hint number one: Admirals are not "generals".
Hint number two: The military is a pyramid with many lower ranking folks at the bottom and a very small number of flag and/or general officers at the top who are at or near the end of their careers. Those at the top are SUPPOSED to be held to a higher standard than those at the bottom. We expect more from them than we do of PFCs, Ensigns, 2nd Lieutenants, and sailors right out of basic training.
Senior leaders can and have been relieved with no more explanation than, "I've lost confidence in your judgment". If you really want to destroy the military, start whining about senior leaders being held to the same standards they get paid to enforce upon subordinates.
A long history of holding leaders accountable is what makes (or used to make) the military categorically different from most of America:
On the sea there is a tradition older even than the traditions of the country itself and wiser in its age than this new custom. It is the tradition that with responsibility goes authority and with them both goes accountability."
"This accountability is not for the intentions but for the deed. The captain of a ship, like the captain of a state, is given honor and privileges and trust beyond other men. But let him set the wrong course, let him touch ground, let him bring disaster to his ship or to his men, and he must answer for what he has done. He cannot escape...."
"It is cruel, this accountability of good and well-intentioned men. But the choice is that or an end of responsibility and finally as the cruel scene has taught, an end to the confidence and trust in the men who lead, for men will not long trust leaders who feel themselves beyond accountability for what they do."
"And when men lose confidence and trust in those who lead, order disintegrates into chaos and purposeful ships into uncontrollable derelicts."
Sorry for the display of spleen, but this sort of thing just frosts our cornflakes (and not in a good way).
UPDATE: When I'm right, I'm right:
As a Marine veteran who knows how these changes actually happen, I can tell you the story is 100% B.S. The bottom line: The President doesn't involve himself in what troops happen to be wearing.
But just to make sure, I called Headquarters Marine Corps and a spokesperson confirmed that the process for making changes to Marine uniforms hasn't changed since I last left the service in 2010.
Every year, a board (made up of senior enlisted Marines) meets and goes over things that they may want to change with uniforms. In 2007 for example, the board made a change that outlawed "sleeve" tattoos — and I don't remember thinking that was all President George W. Bush's fault.
"The President in no way, shape, or form directed the Marine Corps to change our uniform cover," said Capt. Maureen Krebs, a spokesperson for the Marine Corps. "We're looking for a new cover for our female Marines for the primary reason that the former manufacturer went out of business. The Marine Corps has zero intention of changing the male cover."
If there's someone to blame about a change in a uniform, the buck would stop at Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos, who has the final say.
Once again I am reminded of my favorite comedy routine of all time. The punch line was,
"These people need your money. To buy hats."
October 23, 2013
Things That Make You Go Hmmmm.....
I love sports. The young Dark Lord was an anomaly in the women's sports world of the time: as good as the guys but nowhere to play other girls at that level. I have my favorites - football, baseball and women's college basketball. I don't follow them all, but I know and understand most of them enough to be able to watch a game intelligently. And if I don't know the game, I know enough to watch intently and (try) not to ask (too many) stupid questions.
With that in mind, let's look at a few things happening in the sport's world:
Seems, once again, that the rinse and repeat contrived controversy over the Washington Redskins team name has reared it's greasy head yet again. Fortuately for us, though, we have Super Divider-In-Chief who loves nothing more than sticking his nose into any business that doesn't have the slightest relationship with actual governance-- the more divisive, the better. Shortly after that, football fans tuning in to Sunday Night Football were *treated* to yet another opinion of announcer Bob Costas during the halftime interval:
"Redskins can’t possibly honor a heritage or a noble character trait. Nor can it possibly be considered a neutral term. It’s an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present-day intent."
Can't possibly honor a heritage? No matter how benign the present-day intent? Which one is it? Costas' rant reminds me of this ESPN commercial. It would be nice if the people who get up on their soapbox would at least take the time to have some cursory knowledge about that with which they would preach:
"Goddard shows that the term redskin is a translation from native American languages of a term used by native Americans for themselves."
The origins of the term "redskins" were as benign then as Costas' so-called present-day intent. (Question: If the present day intent is so damn benign why are we having this discussion yet again?) And, as Goddard stated in an interview, "When it first appeared as an English expression in the early 1800s, 'it came in the most respectful context and at the highest level,....These are white people and Indians talking together, with the white people trying to ingratiate themselves.'"
Costas, however, hasn't been paying attention to the world outside this tiny corner inside his pc bubble:
"Try as they might, the liberal sports media's efforts to shame the Washington Redskins into ditching their team name out of political correctness concerns hasn't significantly moved public opinion. A brand new Associated Press-GfK poll found 79 percent of respondents favored keeping the name."
Maybe the reason Costas isn't paying attention is because somebody else is paying it for him. Or as the twitter user protein wisdom put it,
"Thank goodness Bob Costas finally weighed in on how offensive Washington Redskins team name is in this, his 30+ year of sportscasting!
(@proteinwisdom) October 14, 2013
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the Beirut bombing. An event that spurred MH to join with Uncle Sam's Misguided Children the following April two months before graduating from high school.
Many site have memorial posts about this day to include the ever-faithful Michelle Malkin. My favorite post, however, comes from out own Angel, MaryAnn, over at Soldier's Angels.
Please, read them both and remember.
Doubling Down On Stupid
One of the more amusing Twitter memes to come out of the White House's National Park Service antics was #SpiteHouse. No, we didn't link to it, but we laughed just the same. So we can't help wondering how this sort of thing is any different from the Obama administration's recent display of pettiness?
SHOULDA TAKEN THAT LIFE PRESERVER THE GOP WAS READY TO THROW: Jeanne Shaheen: Hey, maybe Obama should think about delaying that individual mandate. “You know they’re all thinking about it, even if they won’t all say so.” If I were the GOP, my position would be that that ship has sailed, and you’re going to have to live with the results.
The problem ought to be obvious here. Obama isn't going to have to live with the results, because his health insurance doesn't depend on the successful operation of the federal exchanges. Neither do the policies of Congress or cabinet members like Katherine Sebelius.
Who's going to suffer the most if Republicans cut their constituents' noses off to spite the DNC? People like Elise, who had their own insurance but received cancellation letters from their providers. People who didn't ask for the so-called Affordable Care Act to be foisted upon them and are now suffering the consequences of a policy they opposed from the start:
I’m pretty sure I can buy health insurance directly from my current carrier, without going through the exchanges. At first glance, it looks like I can get a policy that will cost about the same as the one I have now but with much higher out-of-pocket costs. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am about that. Seriously thrilled about knowing I won’t have to choose between using the exchanges and going without coverage. Sarcastically thrilled about getting less for my money.
People who have spent the last few weeks desperately trying to secure coverage from a broken system:
Over at NRO, David French has written a post entitled “The Tea-Party Plan to Delay/Defund Obamacare Was Not Only More Realistic, It Was More Compassionate”:Not only did the tea-party plan have a chance, it was far less cynical and far more compassionate than the Republican alternative. The Republican alternative to the tea-party plan boils down to this: Let the people suffer (also called ”let Obamacare implode”), then they’ll come to us, we’ll win a [bunch] of elections over several cycles, then we’ll make it better.
Well, step one is working (if that’s the right word to use). People are suffering. Over the weekend, NBC News reported that 460,000 Americans in just two states (California and Florida) face insurance-plan cancellations as they’re being driven to the non-functioning exchanges. That’s ten times more people facing cancellations in just two states than have (allegedly) enrolled in Obamacare plans nationwide.
Imagine being a middle-aged man or woman, staring at a cancellation notice, and desperately trying to sign up for new insurance through a website that doesn’t work. How would you feel?
I don’t have to imagine - I am staring at a cancellation notice and at a website that doesn’t work. And all the Republican glee about how bad the roll-out has been is making me, what’s the word, oh, yeah - bitter.
Elise, a thoughtful writer whose judgment I respect, makes an excellent point in the comments:
What I see, in Washington and in the writings on both sides of the political divide, is a lack of connection to the reality of human lives. I don't think that kind of connection necessarily manifests itself as Right-leaning or Left-leaning; it manifests itself as an understanding on some gut level that political struggles have repercussions outside the ballot box and the corridors of power.
As much as conservatives like to think of the electorate as some sort of fictional, rational organism, voters are human. Yes, they think (and few writers I've seen are as dispassionate and fair as Elise when she's dissecting an issue). But they also feel, and when people who pride themselves on being self sufficient and planning for the future suddenly lose their insurance through no fault of their own, they are right to worry about how it will be replaced and what the new policy will cost them.
The last position opponents of ObamaCare need to take now is, "You broke it - you bought it". It's our country and one sixth of our economy that is being broken, and real people will suffer as a result.
Gloating or saying (in effect), "I hope Obama and the DNC choke on their own incompetence" isn't going to play terribly well with the public because powerful Democrats won't suffer any of the consequences of their failure to plan. The reflexive urge to score points on the opposition or resist what they think of as political correctness (or sometimes just common human decency) has lured conservatives into some pretty spectacular own goals of late.
"It was just weird. I mean, to me, you know, hey, if he said, 'Hey, you got really hot breasts man, I'd love to suck on them.' Then like, yeah, cool. But like, he didn't say that," Shaftan explained. "It was like kind of like, I don't know, it was like what a gay guy would say to a stripper. It's the way he was talking to her. It's just like like there was no sexual interest at all. I don't know. To me, if I was single and you know like some stripper was tweeting me, I might take advantage of the perks of the office, you know?"
We need to remain true to our own professed values. We can't criticize the White House for acting spitefully and then do the same thing ourselves.
Self restraint used to be a revered practice among conservatives. When our own rhetoric infuriates people who share our beliefs and are already inclined to vote for conservative policies, I'm pretty sure we're not doing politics right.
And by "incroyable!", we mean the suggestion that not bothering to check with your subordinates about the status of your signature achievement before it goes live is any form of responsible or acceptable leadership:
President Barack Obama didn’t know of problems with the Affordable Care Act’s website — despite insurance companies’ complaints and the site’s crashing during a test run — until days into its now well-documented abysmal launch, the nation’s health chief told CNN on Tuesday.
In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted that there is concern in her department and the White House over the technical debacle surrounding the Obamacare website rollout, saying “no one could be more frustrated than I am and the president.”
Not micromanaging is one thing, but no leader or administrator in his right mind seriously believes that subordinates require NO supervision or direction.
It is just stunning that Sebelius seems to think "We had no idea what the people who work for us - who are being paid with taxpayer money! - were doing ... and we didn't bother to ask until it was too late." is an effective excuse. For anyone who actually takes his or her job seriously, that's about as damning an admission as we can imagine.
One of the reasons the Editorial Staff don't write as often as we used to is that a few years ago, we got promoted and now have a team of people who work for us. Management requires time and effort - a LOT of time and effort. There's training, and prioritization (and constant re-prioritization) of work, and quality control, and continual status checks of ongoing projects. We are fortunate to work with a very talented team who don't require constant supervision but only a complete moron thinks NO supervision is a good way to run anything.
The entire point of leadership is to get out in front of things - something Obama seems constitutionally incapable (pun fully intended) of doing:
Think of health-care reform. The White House outsourced this enormous project (whose goals, by the way, I’m all for) to a Democratic Congress guided by the principle that “elections have consequences” -- meaning, never mind the other side’s objections and the idea that a reform of this scope should have bipartisan support. Republicans did push back and Obama did make concessions, but the president was never in charge and never wanted to be.
Or think of fiscal policy. What has Obama done to advance the discussion that the country still needs on tax and entitlement reform? He appointed a presidential commission to advise on the issues and then, in effect, disowned it. All one can really say about the president’s fiscal preferences is that he thinks higher taxes on the rich and higher public spending are, other things equal, good ideas. Obama doesn’t stand for fiscal discipline; he has fiscal discipline thrust upon him.
Or think of states’ rights. This is a politically divided country, with big divisions running along geographical lines. An arrangement that circumscribes the federal government’s role, leaving as much as feasible to be decided by states -- an arrangement like the one envisaged in the Constitution -- has much to be said for it. Obama could speak up for that idea, but doesn’t. He could acknowledge, and perhaps even believe, that the burden of proof lies with those who propose expanding federal powers, but doesn’t.
It's almost as though he likes the status and attention that go with leadership but is terrified of actually being a leader.
October 22, 2013
Double Standard? Or Strained Analogy?
VC asks. You decide.
Grim links to this graphic, and comments:
A friend of mine sent me this picture, which I found rather surprising. I don't think it's a double standard, so much as their just not being interested in the quality of boys' toys to the same degree. I had honestly never thought of their point at all. Of course I remember He-Man, who was just a cleaned-up kids version of Conan, a physically similar character.
The double standard analogy struck us as rather strained, unless of course one believes that little boys seriously imagine there's some kind of real world analog to a fantasy superhero with supernatural powers that come from a magical sword.
Perhaps we should not be so dismissive: who among us doth not continually fantasize about wielding a ginormous Magical Sword?
But let's suspend disbelief and consider the conceit for a moment. To do that, we should compare aspiring to be like Barbie when one grows up with aspiring to be like He-Man. To aid in the discussion, we took the liberty of concocting a side-by-side comparison matrix:
Hmmmm.... if this is your child (male or female) which role model seems most worthy of emulation?
On a more frivolous note, our curiosity about best selling Barbies led us to find a picture of our one-and-only Barbie doll, received in 1964 upon the occasion of our 5th birthday.
Mom was not thrilled - she thought that Barbie dolls were not a fitting toy for a 5 year old. Honestly, we can't say we played with her a lot. She was boring because she didn't DO anything. Dressing her up didn't exactly fire the old imagination. This all got us thinking about how we spent most of our time when we were just a rosy cheeked little Editorial Staff.
We distinctly remember taking great pleasure in our collection of trolls. We spent many happy hours braiding their hair and teasing it into beehive hairdos:
We also liked pretending to be a Mommy:
But then we also liked camping (yes, that's the Editorial Staff at about 10 - not exactly the most graceful age. We hadn't quite grown into our arms and legs yet):
Riding bikes was a major pastime, as were playing tag on summer nights, practicing gymnastic stunts and walking on stilts, playing football and War, and re-enacting episodes of The Girl From UNCLE:
Oddly, we don't remember much pink, Barbies, or princess fantasizing. So, were we some sort of aberration, or is the fervent longing to possess a pink Dream House inextricably intertwined with having two X chromosomes?
With Friends Like These...
Once again, the Blog Princess is reminded why she hates Facebook. And Twitter. And pretty much all social media.
Promising Hope, Selling Helplessness
Thomas Sowell on self fulfilling prophecies and the politics of despair:
Years ago, someone said that, according to the laws of aerodynamics, bumblebees cannot fly. But the bumblebees, not knowing the laws of aerodynamics, go ahead and fly anyway.
Something like that happens among people. There have been many ponderous academic writings and dour editorials in the mainstream media, lamenting that most people born poor cannot rise in American society any more. Meanwhile, many poor immigrants arrive here from various parts of Asia, and rise on up the ladder anyway.
Often these Asian immigrants arrive not only with very little money, but also very little knowledge of English. They start out working at low-paid jobs but working so many hours, often at more than one job, that they are able to put a little money aside.
After a few years, they have enough money to open some little shop, where they still work long hours, and still save their money, so that they can afford to send their children to college. Meanwhile, these children know that their parents not only expect, but demand, that they make good grades.
Some people try to explain why Asians, and Asian-Americans, succeed so well in education and in the economy by some special characteristics that they have. That may be true, but their success may also be due to what they do not have -- namely "leaders" who tell them that the deck is so stacked against them that they cannot rise, or at least not without depending on "leaders."
Such "leaders" are like the people who said that the laws of aerodynamics showed that the bumblebee cannot fly. Those who have believed such "leaders" have in fact stayed grounded, unlike the bumblebees.
A painful moment for me, years ago, when I was on the lecture circuit, came after a talk at Marquette University, when a young black student rose and asked: "Even though I am graduating from Marquette University, what hope is there for me?"
Back in the 1950s, when I was a student, I never encountered any fellow black student who expressed such hopelessness, even though there was far more racial discrimination then. We knew that there were obstacles for us to overcome, and we intended to overcome them.
The memory of that Marquette student came back to me, years later, when another black young man said that he had wanted to become a pilot, and had even planned to join the Air Force in order to do so. But then, he said, he now "realized" that "The Man" would never allow a black guy to become a pilot.
This was said decades after a whole squadron of black fighter plane pilots made a reputation for themselves in World War II, as the "Tuskegee Airmen." There have been black generals in the Air Force.
Both these young men -- and many others -- have learned all too well the lessons taught by race hustlers, in their social version of the laws of aerodynamics, which said that they could not rise.
"Glitches" Aside, the ACA is "Good". And You Should Be More Patient.
On the long drive home from work last night, the Editorial Staff flipped from radio station to radio station in a futile attempt to avoid hearing Barack Obama offer vague, hope-y promises that that the hope and change he promised in 2008 aren't nearly as bad as they seem.
They are, in fact, good. Really good. We know this because the takeaway - "Health care reform is good for you" - was relentlessly, remorselessly, repeatedly driven home:
I want you to know what’s available to you and why it may be a good deal for you
...It’s really good.
...Through the marketplaces, you can get health insurance for what may be the equivalent of your cell phone bill or your cable bill, and that’s a good deal.
...[People under 35 in Maryland and Connecticut] understand that they can get a good deal at low costs, have the security of health care, and this is not just for old folks like me -- that everybody needs good quality health insurance
... The product is good. The health insurance that’s being provided is good.
...it’s fair to say that nobody is more frustrated by [those insignificant rollout glitches that you should be more patient with] than I am -- precisely because the product is good, I want the cash registers to work.
... here’s the bottom line. The product, the health insurance is good. The prices are good. It is a good deal.
...People can now get good insurance.
...it’s time for folks to stop rooting for its failure, because hardworking, middle-class families are rooting for its success. And if the product is good, they're willing to be patient.
In what could be seen as an eerie echo of the heady days of the 2008 campaign, the President's closing remarks were punctuated by the collapse of a pregnant woman standing behind him on the stage. As she began to waver, the President of the United States turned from the podium and steadied her in his strong arms. Verily we say unto you, America: not even the fall of a sparrow shall go unnoted by this administration. Admittedly, there's nothing new about women fainting at the sound of The Lightworker's deft rhetorical stylings. That sort of thing has been going on since 2008:
I'll be the first to admit that I enjoy the sheer pleasure of listening to Obama speak, his cadences and crescendos, the optimism I've demonstrated myself when writing self-help books. Yes we can! His speeches stir me like a full-bodied symphony—although I sometimes can't recall his positions on particular issues later.
Of course back then, the Faithful fainted from sheer ecstasy (or what Science calls "elevation"):
Elevation evokes in us "a desire to become a better person, or to lead a better life." The 58 million McCain voters might say that the virtue and moral beauty displayed by Obama at his rallies was an airy promise of future virtue and moral beauty. And that the soaring feeling his voters had of having made the world a better place consisted of the act of placing their index fingers on a touch screen next to the words Barack Obama. They might be on to something. Haidt's research shows that elevation is good at provoking a desire to make a difference but not so good at motivating real action.
Now they faint from boredom. Or low blood sugar that could be successfully treated if they only had affordable health care. Or something.
The President assures us that the Affordable Care Act is more than just a website that doesn't work. It's also an 800 number that refers you back to the website that doesn't work. Or terminates in a busy signal. Or a message to call back later.
If there's a theme in all of this, is that no one involved in passing or rolling out the Affordable Care Act has time to think through the details. These are Busy People doing Important Things. Their lack of careful planning is everywhere you look - from a Congress that snootily informed us we'd have to pass the bill before we could see what was in it to a front end so poorly thought out that it essentially overloaded itself because it was designed that way to a President who confidently predicted millions of applicants and then blamed the website's failure on exactly the kind of "unanticipated demand" he had been telling us for years that he was expecting, to a White House that didn't know when their own mandate penalty deadline kicked in.
Obama would like us to believe that the website failures are unimportant. After all, the website is only a small part of The Wonder That Is ObamaCare.
There's just one problem with his arguments. Software, by its very nature, demands careful thought about the requirements. It demands the ability to think ahead - to foresee (and plan for) potential problems and put measures in place to handle them. And the software - which is, by the President's own admission, "only part of the ACA" doesn't do this. It failed because its designers did not carefully, methodically think their way through just part of how this new law would be implemented.
If this worries you, be patient. A mere three weeks ago, the President assured us that the HealthCare.gov problems were being blown out of proportion by wicked Tea Partiers. There were no serious problems with the site's architecture - the minor "glitches" were entirely due to unexpectedly (!) high demand. The President said this, knowing full well that light pre-launch load testing of the website had failed miserably:
Days before the launch of President Obama’s online health insurance marketplace, government officials and contractors tested a key part of the Web site to see whether it could handle tens of thousands of consumers at the same time. It crashed after a simulation in which just a few hundred people tried to log on simultaneously.
Despite the failed test, federal health officials plowed ahead.
Since that time, the President's views have evolved significantly. This tends to happen whenever his previous well thought-out position becomes politically untenable or is contradicted by the evidence. The problems he knew about before the site was launched, far from being trivial and overhyped, are now "unacceptable", and "no one is madder than he is" about them. Not even the hundreds of thousands of currently insured Americans who are now receiving cancellation letters on the policies the President promised them they could keep.
The failures of lesser beings really make the President angry. You, however, should be more patient because the Affordable Care Act is good for you. Really, really good! Just look at all the people it's helping!
... I’m pretty sure I can buy health insurance directly from my current carrier, without going through the exchanges. At first glance, it looks like I can get a policy that will cost about the same as the one I have now but with much higher out-of-pocket costs. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am about that. Seriously thrilled about knowing I won’t have to choose between using the exchanges and going without coverage. Sarcastically thrilled about getting less for my money.
Get a grip, America.
October 21, 2013
Coffee Snorters, Mental Health Break Edition
The Editorial Staff wish to apologize for the dearth of posts and thank the Dark Lord Sly for filling in during our absence. 10+ months into the year, we thought it might be a good idea to take some of that vacation time on the books before it vanishes.
Today is likely to be busy, but we promise to get something interesting up tomorrow. In the mean time, here are a few items for your perusal:
Upon Elise's strong recommendation, we finally saw Pacific Rim last night and loved it. Giant robots whomping on giant monsters from outer space, coupled with great characters that were fun to root for. It made us feel like a kid again.
What's not to like?
Dad, keepin' it real:
More later as our Inbox permits.
October 16, 2013
And now for something completely different...
Completely different in that, unlike our cream-cheese danish bikini wearing Princess, I actually judge my contests.
Have at it, peoples.
All Kinds of Kinds
So, apparently the Princess' meat-space job has distracted her enough to where she left her keys to the house out where a Dark Lord could find them.
So, naturally, I made a copy.
Hey, the itinerant Eskimos might have been starving or had their typewriter ribbons dry out (cause she hasn't even upgraded them to word processors - not even Casios or Brothers off of E-Bay!), but mostly because the little buggers have been getting into my private stash in the back of the corner cabinet. I had been saving it for when Mr. DeBille drags his neon blue thong-clad butt back here, but *somebody* didn't lock everything up one night.
"If it bleeds, it leads."
That was the mantra of the 20th century media. Well, that and "Sex sells", and it worked so well that it became a cornerstone of journalistic thought. No longer was the evening news just a "We're telling' you what happened, folks"- styled show, sensationalism was the new cutting edge. People didn't have to just happen upon a car wreck to rubberneck as they drove by. Now, it could be beamed right into their house from four different angles! Of course, with the advent of, and consequent advancements in, computers, followed by the Goricle's discovery of the internet, it really does seem these days that the only thing you can find is head-on-collisions. And, quite frankly, it gets to me. Reading about nothing but hate and discontent (that I had no hand in!) along with illegal deeds committed by elected individuals, who absolutely know better, can wear on the soul. It gets me thinking about the last time this country was in a similar situation....
Back when I was a Dark Lord-in-Training, I remember news programs trying to adopt a more "upbeat" tone. Seems people didn't like how dour and negative the evening news had become. The news broadcasts were reluctant to change though. They mistakenly believed that their viewers would rather hear about the latest multi-vehicle accident or murder on the "other side of town" than the local drive-thru manager that did the right thing. Now I know that, as a responsible citizen of the Body Politic, a certain amount of exposure to the emanations from Foggy Bottom is required to stay informed. Not to mention, as a parent of a teenager, trying to keep up with the ever-changing landscape that is education these days, from zero tolerance policies with zero intelligence to unbelievably crass (and potentially illegal) invasions into their privacy.
Lately, though, I gotta tell ya, it's downright depressing some days. Well, ok, a lot of days. So what I've been trying to do is find one good story, one good sign somewhere on the innertubes...
perhaps something the aforementioned teenager has found...
Something to end the day with a good feeling about the world that that teenager is, all-to-quickly, going to be joining. They say it takes all kinds of kinds to make this world spin. IMNSHO, I prefer *some* kinds more than others.
October 14, 2013
Oh Lord, Send Us Moderate Republicans....
...but please, don't send them to us just yet:
Earlier this weekend, a compromise proposal by Sen. Collins to end, or at least postpone, the fiscal showdown failed to gain traction due to lack of support from Democrats. Collins is the quintessential “moderate Republican,” the alleged disappearance of whom from the Senate causes such hand-wringing in MSM circles.
Collins’ proposal would have extended government funding for six months and boosted the debt ceiling through the end of January. By way of a fig leaf for Republicans, it also would have delayed a medical device tax in the health care law for two years and instituted an income verification requirement for qualifying for Obamacare subsidies.
Democrats rejected the plan not because of the Obamacare fig leaf, but because they want more money for the government. Collins’ proposal would have retained the spending levels established by the sequester, though it would have provided the government with much-needed flexibility in spending this money.
During a heated exchange with Collins on the Senate floor, Patty Murray, No. 4 in the Senate leadership, said it is unacceptable to lock in cuts at the sequestration spending levels. She took this approach even though the “clean CR” Democrats have been demanding would have locked in those cuts.
"It's Not Cheating. It's Allowed"
Intentionally not working as many hours so you can sponge off harder working taxpayers, that is:
People whose 2014 income will be a little too high to get subsidized health insurance from Covered California next year should start thinking now about ways to lower it to increase their odds of getting the valuable tax subsidy.
"If they can adjust (their income), they should," says Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow with the Kaiser Family Foundation. "It's not cheating, it's allowed."
Under the Affordable Care Act, if your 2014 income is between 138 and 400 percent of poverty level for your household size, you can purchase health insurance on a state-run exchange (such as Covered California) and receive a federal tax subsidy to offset all or part of your premium.
If your income falls below 138 percent of poverty, you qualify for Medicaid, which provides no-cost health care to low-income people. In California, it's called Medi-Cal.
Only chumps work hard and take pride in pulling their own weight. Why exert yourself when you can kick back and let someone else pay your way through life?
And don't worry about those even less fortunate than you are. You have no duty to help them - put the oxygen mask over your own face first!
Now *that's* a change Americans can believe in.
October 11, 2013
Coffee Snorters: Wait 'Til Your Father Gets Home Edition
A state appeals court on Tuesday tossed out child abuse findings against a frustrated Northern California mother who spanked her 12-year-old daughter hard enough with a wooden spoon to cause bruising.
The 6th District Court of Appeal in San Jose reversed the child abuse determination made by the Santa Clara County Department of Social Services. Social workers waned to report Vernica Gonzalez to the state Department of Justice's child abuse database with a "substantiated" abuse determination. That determination was upheld by a trial court judge.
The appeals court said the spanking came close to abuse, but that social workers and the lower court judge failed to consider the family's entire circumstances.
Gonzalez and her husband testified that other forms of punishment such as groundings and taking away her phone had failed to persuade their 12-year-old daughter to do her schoolwork and avoid gang culture. The parents said that other family members had testified that spankings in the household were a rarity.
A rare victory against the Zero Defect Parenting mind set, and in California, no less! Context: it's not just for breakfast anymore.
"Nobody really thought about Marilyn Monroe having plastic surgery. It was always speculation - did she or didn't she?" said Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien's Auctions. "They thought she was such a natural beauty, they didn't want to believe."
Gurdin’s notes explain that Monroe had a chin implant in 1950 and the X-rays include images of the star’s nose and chest.
"Also at that time, going back to the 1950s, people didn't go for plastic surgery procedures," Nolan said. "This is very, very new."
We always thought she was beautiful even in the early years, and the biggest part of her beauty came from the joy and infectious sense of fun she was able to project. Sad to think that wasn't enough.
Two articles highlight our schizophrenic attitudes towards pornography. We're not sure whether to file the first one under "All men do... " or "All men lie about...." (two equally idiotic memes):
Just 12 percent of online adults said they watched "adult" videos, with a pretty big gender gap of 25 percent of male respondents vs. 8 percent of female respondents reporting they're watching porn. But since the survey relied on respondents' honesty, Pew notes that "this may reflect a reluctance to report the behavior among some adults."
Some adults? 75% is "some"? Doesn't make a whole lot of sense unless, of course, we admit the possibility that either:
a) "All men" don't actually watch porn. Add that theory to the long, long list of other things that "all men" don't do: watch sports, cheat on their wives, crush the souls of oppressed womynfolk, hate shopping... Then there's the even more deliciously amusing possibility:
b) All men do, but 75% of them are ashamed to admit doing so, even in an anonymous survey.
In other news, the incoherence appears to be of the equal opportunity kind:
Apparently Swarthmore College feminist-activist students hate fraternities so much they want to join them. That’s the circular logic unfolding at the notoriously liberal liberal arts college in Pennsylvania.
The fraternity Phi Psi recently put out a fall rush pledge flier made up of a collage of tiny pictures of mostly half-naked women, and these angry female students have billed that mosaic as sexist, misogynistic gender discrimination.
Apparently feminists at Swarthmore are unaware pornography – watching it, posing for it, making a career out of it – is liberating for women.
...this is the same campus that, last spring, formed a masturbation club. This is the same campus known for Crunkfest, an annual sexcapade typically held in a dorm’s courtyard during Easter weekend. A witness to Crunkfest described it as a “nude celebration” of sorts, in which students take part in circle jerks and similar activities.
This is the same campus that has another spring fling called “Genderf**k” in which students “are expected to defy normal gender standards by cross-dressing and/or wearing very little clothing.”
But those things don’t get public rebukes at Swarthmore – they get celebrated.
And we are supposed to get all up-in-arms over one flier with minuscule pictures of scantily-clad women that you can barely make out unless you squint? The Swarthmore Independent, the conservative campus newspaper, also weighed in on this latest drama with a quasi-eyeroll, and rightly pointed out the flaws in the demand:While we find the flyers sexist and call on Phi Psi to apologize to the Swarthmore community, campus activists have truly outdone themselves with the ridiculousness of this “defund” movement. Defunding the fraternities on the basis of these flyers, however offensive, would set a dangerous precedent for all funding decisions to follow. Under the petition’s standard, SAC funding could be withheld from any group engaging in speech that any subset of the student body finds offensive.
...Should Genderf**k, with its hyper-sexualized and derogatory “girls wear less” slogan, also get the ax?
Whenever we read idiotic screeds about how "all men do X" or "all women do Y", we can't help imagining hordes of entranced zombies marching in rigid lockstep to the harsh, guttural cadence of their Inner Ovarian or Testicular Overlords.
How do we manage to get through the work day?
The Chill Wind of Hope gooses the Associated Press:
...To bypass journalists, the White House developed its own network of websites, social media and even created an online newscast to dispense favorable information and images...
...Kathleen Carroll, AP's executive editor, said the report highlights the growing threats to independent journalism in a country that has upheld press freedom as a measure of democratic society for two centuries.
Must be part of that whole "restoring American moral legitimacy in the eyes of the global community" The Won kept yammering on about during his first inaugural speech.
Not much gets past the media. It only took them 6 years to notice what was going on right in front of them.
More evidence (as though it were needed!) that the Pachyderm is a wise and noble beast.
Men of VC, PAY ATTENTION! "Science" has spoken:
UPDATE: Wow. Stay Classy, buddy.
The countdown until some blogger starts blathering about "#WARONMEN" starts in ten...nine...eight....
How the IRS Helped Break the Tea Party Fever
This may be old news to many of you, but a study the Editorial Staff missed earlier this summer quantifies the Tea Party's effectiveness at getting out the Republican vote:
It is a well-known fact that the Tea Party movement dealt the president his famous "shellacking" in the 2010 mid-term election. Less well-known is the actual number of votes this new movement delivered-and the continuing effects these votes could have had in 2012 had the movement not been de-mobilized by the IRS.
In a new research paper, Andreas Madestam (from Stockholm University), Daniel Shoag and David Yanagizawa-Drott (both from the Harvard Kennedy School), and I set out to find out how much impact the Tea Party had on voter turnout in the 2010 election. We compared areas with high levels of Tea Party activity to otherwise similar areas with low levels of Tea Party activity, using data from the Census Bureau, the FEC, news reports, and a variety of other sources. We found that the effect was huge: the movement brought the Republican Party some 3-6 million additional votes in House races. That is an astonishing boost, given that all Republican House candidates combined received fewer than 45 million votes. It demonstrates conclusively how important the party's newly energized base was to its landslide victory in those elections, and how worried Democratic strategists must have been about the conservative movement's momentum.
The Tea Party movement's huge success was not the result of a few days of work by an elected official or two, but involved activists all over the country who spent the year and a half leading up to the midterm elections volunteering, organizing, donating, and rallying. Much of these grassroots activities were centered around 501(c)4s, which according to our research were an important component of the Tea Party movement and its rise.
The bottom line is that the Tea Party movement, when properly activated, can generate a huge number of votes-more votes in 2010, in fact, than the vote advantage Obama held over Romney in 2012. The data show that had the Tea Party groups continued to grow at the pace seen in 2009 and 2010, and had their effect on the 2012 vote been similar to that seen in 2010, they would have brought the Republican Party as many as 5 - 8.5 million votes compared to Obama's victory margin of 5 million.
President Obama's margin of victory in some of the key swing states was fairly small: a mere 75,000 votes separated the two contenders in Florida, for example. That is less than 25% of our estimate of what the Tea Party's impact in Florida was in 2010. Looking forward to 2012 in 2010 undermining the Tea Party's efforts there must have seemed quite appealing indeed.
Unfortunately for Republicans, the IRS slowed Tea Party growth before the 2012 election. In March 2010, the IRS decided to single Tea Party groups out for special treatment when applying for tax-exempt status by flagging organizations with names containing "Tea Party," "patriot," or "9/12." For the next two years, the IRS approved the applications of only four such groups, delaying all others while subjecting the applicants to highly intrusive, intimidating requests for information regarding their activities, membership, contacts, Facebook posts, and private thoughts.
As a consequence, the founders, members, and donors of new Tea Party groups found themselves incapable of exercising their constitutional rights, and the Tea Party's impact was muted in the 2012 election cycle. As Toby Marie Walker, who runs the Waco Tea Party, which filed for tax-exempt status in 2010 but didn't receive approval until two months ago, recounted recently: "Our donors dried up. It was intimidating and time-consuming." The Richmond Tea Party went through a similar ordeal, and was only granted tax-exempt status in December, right after the election--three years after its initial request. Its chairman explained the consequences: the episode cost the Richmond Tea Party $17,000 in legal fees and swallowed time the all-volunteer network would have devoted to voter turnout, outreach in black and Latino neighborhoods and other events to highlight the constitution and "the concept of liberty."
Kind of puts a different spin on the media's "What happened to all those Tea Partiers?" gloating, doesn't it?
October 08, 2013
Law, Cultural Consensus, and the Bent Twig Problem
'Tis education forms the common mind, Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined.
- Alexander Pope, Epistles to Several Persons 1732
For the past few weeks, the Blog Princess has been pondering the moral legitimacy of laws. Most discussions of this issue begin with bold assertions of how things are (or ought to be). While I would have loved to begin with the answer, I'm having a tough time understanding how one gets to the assertion stage without first asking a few questions.
What does it mean for law to have moral legitimacy?
Should such legitimacy be grounded in shifting cultural consensus or time tested moral principles the current culture may no longer endorse? How does practicality factor into the equation?
Cultures vary widely, but they all recognize law to some extent. Is there some sort of cultural baseline, below which the rule of law cannot establish itself? How does a law come to be viewed as settled? No law is universally accepted, and it's not difficult to think of laws that have been "settled" for decades, yet are still vigorously challenged and debated.
What's the right test for each of these criteria?
Then there's the question of enforcement. What are the acceptable (democratic vs. anti-democratic) ways to challenge a law? What means can governments use to enforce the law?
Finally, is current public morality really the right foundation? A wicked and lawless society will never view any law as legitimate or settled. Neither will a society that views unfettered individual freedom as the chief benefit or goal of civil society. Civilization, by its very nature, absolutely requires both external and internal curbs on individual freedoms and desires. Without the reciprocal willingness of individuals to negotiate a balance between competing individual interests and rights, civilization cannot survive.
Civilization also requires willingness to submit to some higher authority than one's own will. The other day, we stumbled across a discussion about "effective discipline" methods for parents of teens that brought that last point home forcefully. Here's a short summary of the Q and A:
How do I respond appropriately to a 14 year old boy's fresh mouth without overreacting and having things end in an argument?Look for a pattern. Does he need more responsibility and power? Is the sassiness a cry for respect? Know that when we pay attention to the rudeness, we get MORE of it!
My daughter is 11 (will be 12 in Jan). The one thing she does that drives me crazy is not complying when I ask her to do something...How do I communicate with her that she needs to comply the FIRST time I ask without it developing into me having to lose my temper with her.Call a meeting and decide what needs to be done. Allow your daughter to decide when and how it will be done, and make her accountable.
Everyone signs the contract, and she can decide the consequence of not having it done...Avoid the "It needs to get done NOW" fights. It hurts everyone.
What do you do with a young teen when threats, or consequences, don't work?...you need to rebuild your relationship. Let go of the rules and the threats and all that.
Find a way back into his life. You have to aggressively love him, collect him, rejoin him. A teen will take the bullet before he takes the knee, so you have to be the loving force. Start spending time with him that shows you LOVE him and that he is THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON TO YOU. Laugh. Have joy. HUG HUG, SMILE SMILE SMILE.
With your kids, what are the most effective consequences?My best consequences are NONE. Meaning, I do the best when I use proactive measures to create cooperation, love, and compassion.
Consequences are ususally [sic] code for PUNISHMENT, and that creates separation and anger.
Whenever possible, I use Special Time, Family Meetings, Family Meals, SNUGGLING, long walks, listening, HUGGING HUGGING HUGGING, and note-writing to find a way into my child's heart.
When we finished
PUNCH PUNCH PUNCHING THE DRYWALL HUG HUG HUGGING our inner child and telling it that IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE UNIVERSE, we found ourselves imagining how her techniques would play out in the workplace:
BOSS: "Last week I tasked you with preparing the firm's quarterly tax return. I told you to submit it to me for review by Friday to allow time for possible revisions to be completed before the quarterly filing deadline this Wednesday."
"Friday has come and gone, and the report is not on my desk. Now it's Monday, and there are only two days left to review and file the report. Where are you on this?"
EMPLOYEE: "I didn't feel like working on this last week. And frankly, this week isn't looking good either - I'm just not in the mood."
EMPLOYER: [HUG HUG HUG SMILE SMILE SMILE!!!] "Uh oh! I can see that my failure to proactively create feelings of love, cooperation, and compassion is causing problems AGAIN! Let's call a meeting, and you can decide when and how the tax return will be completed and what the consequences will be if your goals are not met."
Whatever you decide, I want you to know that you are still THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON TO ME! More important than the IRS. More important than avoiding late filing fines or legal sanctions that could destroy the business I've built and cause me to fire you! More important than.... well, pretty much ANYTHING! [SNUGGLE SNUGGLE, SMILE SMILE!!!]
As a young parent of two sons, there was absolutely no question in my mind that my primary task as a mother was to train my sons to live in the world as it is, not as I wanted it to be. And the real world is full of consequences - often harsh ones like being fired or going bankrupt - for breaking rules none of us has much control over. The best case scenario for thumbing our nose at the rules is that we don't get caught. The worst case scenario can be imprisonment or even death.
There was also absolutely no question in my mind about who was going to be in charge in our household (and the answer didn't involve holding meetings or signing contracts).
I can still remember the first car pool we formed to ferry my oldest boy and other neighborhood children to school. My neighbor, who had three children, almost invariably got into a tussle with whichever one of her three kids had decided that day that he or she didn't want to go to school, or that he was feeling sad, or sick or... whatever.
It drove me insane. Going to school wasn't a decision when I was growing up, and it wasn't something I negotiated with my sons. I told them to do it, and they did it.
That's pretty much how the outside world works - no one wants to enter protracted negotiations every time their current inclinations conflict with what needs to be done in a particular situation. I always thought that the central idea behind the socialization of children was instilling in them the notion that they aren't the center of the universe. Rather, they live in a world where literally every other person they encounter has his or her own desires and opinions and goals - all of which have to be balanced. We are each part of several overlapping groups: family, neighborhood, class, school, community, country. Each group has its own tasks and goals, and every group membership confers benefits to and levies costs upon the individual.
What this woman is teaching her children is a form of tribalism, in which only the [weak and force-fed] bonds of affection between family members can induce individuals to show respect to others, do what they're told to do ... now, or restrain themselves. There is no real authority - no one with the acknowledged right to direct the actions of others.
So here's the question: if we can't dismiss the way this woman's raising her children as some kind of outlier, and there's virtually no overlap between her view of how the world should work and how the world actually does work, what is the basis for the legitimacy of laws (which are, in the end, only another set of rules)?
October 07, 2013
"Works As Designed"
Thank Gaia the Smart People are finally running things:
Information technology experts who examined the healthcare.gov website at the request of The Wall Street Journal said the site appeared to be built on a sloppy software foundation. Such a hastily constructed website may not have been able to withstand the online demand last week, they said.
Engineers at Web-hosting company Media Temple Inc. found a glut of stray software code that served no purpose they could identify. They also said basic Web-efficiency techniques weren't used, such as saving parts of the website that change infrequently so they can be loaded more quickly. Those factors clog the website's plumbing, Media Temple said.
The identity-checking foul-ups are also triggering problems for state-run exchanges, which rely on the federal system.
...Stephen Push, a 52-year-old early retiree living in McLean, Va., said he tried to log in to the website a dozen times last week, and was thwarted by website errors each time. On Friday, he called a hotline set up by the administration to help people enroll, but the customer-service representative was also unable to access the online marketplace.
On Sunday, Mr. Push said, he was able complete an application to begin shopping for insurance by telephone. But he said he was told he would have to wait two more days to log in and begin shopping for coverage, a delay the customer service representative attributed to the identity-checking system.
"After what I've been through, I'm a little suspicious," Mr. Push said, adding that he hoped to see premiums lower than what he pays now.
Separately, a system that determines whether people are eligible for federal subsidies to buy insurance, or Medicaid, a state-run program for low-income people, continued to make some inaccurate determinations, despite improvements, people familiar with the matter said. By late last week, officials worried they may have to notify some applicants that they weren't eligible for programs they enrolled in, one person said.
The website and enrollment problems don't "matter so much in October, but for the actual enrollment campaign, this all needs to get fixed by November or they won't be able to process the volume they're going to get," said Jon Kingsdale, an exchange expert who helped set up a similar marketplace in Massachusetts in 2005 and who now works as a consultant for several state-run exchanges.
And then there's this, via Texan99:
One possible cause of the problems is that hitting "apply" on HealthCare.gov causes 92 separate files, plug-ins and other mammoth swarms of data to stream between the user's computer and the servers powering the government website, said Matthew Hancock, an independent expert in website design. He was able to track the files being requested through a feature in the Firefox browser.
It is not clear why the upload function was included.
"They set up the website in such a way that too many requests to the server arrived at the same time," Hancock said.
He said because so much traffic was going back and forth between the users' computers and the server hosting the government website, it was as if the system was attacking itself.
There's a joke in there somewhere, we suspect.
Coffee Snorters, Zero Tolerance Edition
But this. will. not. stand.
Ladies and gentlemen, we present the latest Looming Threat to Good Order and Discipline in our Public Schools:
The Geico 'Hump Day' ad has many people laughing across America but teachers at Vernon Center Middle School in Vernon, Connecticut, would prefer to put the chatty camel in detention.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary P. Conway told WFSB that some sixth-grade boys at the school were impersonating the camel so much that teachers claimed it was disruptive.
'Everybody's walking around in the hallways and saying its hump day in that weird voice,' student Brooke Lewis said.
The issue got a bigger rise as some students began imitating the camel during the entire week and not just on Hump Day.
'Sometimes it's the counting down to when it is,' Lewis said.
Wethinks Dr. Mary needs to cut back on the caffeine. Perhaps then, sanity will have a fighting chance.
The common Beagle. It is a fearsome creature:
How many people have died because of Communism?
In introducing the Black Book, lead author Stephane Courtois, Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris, offers the following rough breakdown of the numbers of people that communism killed:
USSR -- 20 million
China -- 65 million
Vietnam -- 1 million
North Korea -- 2 million
Cambodia -- 2 million
Eastern Europe -- 1 million
Latin America -- 150,000
Africa -- 1.7 million
Afghanistan -- 1.5 million
Communist movements, parties not in power -- 10,000
In total, this is not far short of 100 million deaths at the hands of a single ideology.
“The Congress of the United States is in deep trouble,” one eminent columnist wrote. “More than ever before, the public attitude toward Congress is a mixture of indifference, amusement and contempt. . . . Never before in history has Congress talked so long to accomplish so little.”
...On a more somber note, Alsop opined: “When the citizens of a democracy begin to hold their legislature in contempt, democracy is itself in danger.”
Well, we’ve been hanging in there for a long time.
The triumph of ideology is one of the great political upheavals of recent decades. It is, of course, partial; it coexists with interest-group politics and always will. It’s also full of paradoxes. On both the left and right, many activists are intelligent, sincere and hardworking. But the addition of so many high-minded people — usually “true believers” in some cause — to the political system has made it work worse. It increasingly fails to conciliate or, on many major issues, to decide.
President Obama has become the Hamlet of the West Wing: One minute he's for bombing Syria, the next he's not; one minute Larry Summers will succeed Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve, the next he won't; one minute the president is jetting off to Asia, the next he's not. To be in charge, or not to be in charge: that is indeed the question.
MS. HARF: No numbers.
QUESTION: Why don’t we have any numbers on furloughs?
MS. HARF: We just don’t have any to provide at this point. We’ve said it’s a very small number in these offices. If we have numbers to share, we will.
QUESTION: Well, it’s small, like what – like under 10 or 50 or –
MS. HARF: I know you ask the same question every day, and we just don’t have numbers for you at this point.
QUESTION: Why not?
QUESTION: My question is: Why.
MS. HARF: Why?
QUESTION: Why are you unwilling to provide the numbers?
MS. HARF: Right. Well, we – I just don’t have those numbers in front of me. I know our folks are looking at them now.
QUESTION: How long does it take? It’s been going on for days.
QUESTION: But I didn’t ask you whether you had them in front of you. I asked why, and Deb asked why.
MS. HARF: Well, I said that’s why I can’t provide them, because they’re not in front of me.
QUESTION: Why? No, but that’s – look, tautologies like this don’t help anybody. There’s got to be a reason why you’re unwilling to provide the numbers. What is it?
Most. Transparent.Administration.In.History.(It starts at the top):
In November, a presidential memorandum instructed all government departments and agencies to set up pervasive “Insider Threat Programs” to monitor employees with access to classified information and to prevent “unauthorized disclosure,” including to the news media. According to the policy, each agency must, among other things, develop procedures “ensuring employee awareness of their responsibility to report, as well as how and to whom to report, suspected insider threat activity.” Officials cited the Manning leak as the kind of threat the program is intended to prevent.
A survey of government departments and agencies this summer by the Washington bureau of McClatchy newspapers found that they had wide latitude in defining what kinds of behavior constitute a threat. “Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material,” it reported in June. “They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for ‘high-risk persons or behaviors’ among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage.”
Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, told me that the Insider Threat Program has already “created internal surveillance, heightened a degree of paranoia in government and made people conscious of contacts with the public, advocates and the press.”
At the same time, revelations in the documents Snowden gave to The Post and Britain’s Guardian about the NSA’s collection, storage and searches of phone, text and e-mail data have added to the fear surrounding contacts between reporters and sources.
“People think they’re looking at reporters’ records,” Post national security reporter Dana Priest told me. “I’m writing fewer things in e-mail. I’m even afraid to tell officials what I want to talk about because it’s all going into one giant computer.”
This President has prosecuted more Americans under the Espionage Act than every other President combined. Kind of makes all that Bush-era blathering about Chill Winds look overblown, doesn't it?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delivered a striking mea culpa on the Senate floor Friday as he opened the chamber, saying he and his colleagues have simply gotten too personal and nasty in their floor debates.
A day earlier Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, had scolded Mr. Reid for attacking Sen. Ted Cruz, another Texas Republican, by name as they debated the government shutdown. Mr. Cornyn read directly from the Senate Rules that prohibit members from impugning each other’s motives or conduct.
“There’s no question, Reid is now the quarterback,” said a Senate Democratic aide.
That became clear when Reid persuaded Obama last month to abandon an effort to set up a bipartisan meeting of congressional leaders before government funding expired.
Gosh - even Dubya didn't let Dick Cheney speak for him.
"Based on estimates drawn from CBO and OMB data, 83 percent of government operations will continue. This figure assumes that the government pays amounts due on appropriations obligated before the shutdown ($512 billion), spends $225 billion on exempted military and civilian personnel, pays entitlement benefits for those found eligible before the shutdown (about $2 trillion), and pays interest costs when due ($237 billion). This is about 83 percent of projected 2014 spending of $3.6 trillion."
So the government shutdown, at least as measured by money spent, is really a 17 percent government shutdown. Perhaps that is why the effects of the shutdown, beyond some of the most visible problems, like at the monuments and memorials on the Washington Mall, don't seem to have the expected intensity. Seventeen percent of federal expenditures is still a huge amount of money, and the shutdown is affecting many people. But many more who are dependent on federal dollars are still receiving their money, either as salary, transfer payment, or in some other form.
October 04, 2013
Well, They Said They Were Opening A Marketplace....
This kind of thing doesn't exactly fill one with confidence about the competence of the federal government to manage... well, anything:
A portion of the website of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) was apparently hacked as long as two months ago. SAMHSA is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS also runs the new Obamacare insurance marketplace, Healthcare.gov.
Dozens of pages hawking retail merchandise have been uploaded to the SAMHSA site, ranging from NFL jerseys to Ugg shoes to Armani fragrances.
...All of the instances uncovered by this investigation are under the sub domain nace.samhsa.gov, which is the Native American Center for Excellence. The first breach discovered dates back to July 29 of this year, and the unauthorized pages are still on the site.
In September, a portion of NASA's website was hacked by a Brazilian group protesting reports of spying in that country by the National Security Agency.
Don't worry though. We're sure your confidential data is perfectly safe.
October 03, 2013
But.... MEN-AND-THEIR-BEASTLY-URGES! THE PATRIARCHY! RAPE CULTURE!!!!
The Editorial Staff are sorry, but we don't care who you are.
Four former employees of the National Association of Professional Women, a women’s networking group, have sued the organization and three of its executives, claiming that a manager had sexually harassed them and that their paychecks had been docked in violation of New York State labor law.
In a complaint filed in Federal District Court in Central Islip, N.Y., on Sept. 25, the four — Lisa DeLisi, Crystal Alexander, Monique McCabe and Anika Cosbert — said that their former manager, Krissy L. DeMonte, had regularly pinched and grabbed their buttocks and called them vulgar names. After they complained, they said, they were fired or forced to resign because of intolerable working conditions.
In a separate lawsuit filed in New York State court in Nassau County in January, Rose Costantino, another former association employee, said that Ms. DeMonte had approached her from behind on many occasions as she sat at her desk and grabbed, squeezed or rubbed her neck and then dropped her hands “to touch, rub and/or feel the top” of her breasts.
In a written statement on Tuesday, the association called the allegations “completely unfounded,” adding that four of the five plaintiffs had been terminated for documented deficiencies in performance and violations of policies and procedures. One plaintiff herself, the association said, had exhibited “a pattern of inappropriate and unprofessional conduct.”
The association went on to say that an independent investigation unearthed no evidence to corroborate “the ridiculous allegations” against Ms. DeMonte.”
The sad thing is that we tend to believe the accused.
This is what happens when well intentioned nitwits think the answer to every human problem that has ever existed is to make it easier for people to sue each other.
Sex Sells (ObamaCare)
Seriously, folks? Seriously?
Winter White Russian Dwarf hamster mouse on a swing seem positively inspired.
October 01, 2013
Uh-oh. Looks like someone doesn't quite have their fluffy ducks all in an adorable row:
And I saw when The Lightworker opened one of the seals and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the 232 beasts saying, "Come and see".
And I saw, and beheld a white horse: and he that sat on him had a face of orange; and Lo! a bomb was strapped to his chest. And he rode forth to wreak havoc upon the economy in the midst of the worst Recession since, well... ever, really.
And when The Lightworker had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say with the false consciousness of a token Hispanic, "Come and see".
And there went out another horse that was sickly red and reeking of coded racism and ill concealed misogyny: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth and free contraceptives from struggling Georgetown coeds and bread from the mouths of innocent babes, the elderly, and the near-poor.
And the Little People began to fight one another for food stamps. And there was given unto the Beast a great sword called "Sequester", with which he began to hew down our noble, brave, raping-and-murdering troops perpetuating the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And when The Lightworker had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, "Come and see". And I beheld, and lo there appeared a black horse; and he that sat on him held a pair of balances in his hand.
And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, "A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou change not the Congressional health care plans, for it is not meet that our leaders should share the fate of the hoi-polloi.
And when The Lightworker had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, "Come and see".
And I looked, and beheld a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and the Fourth Bu$hReich followed with him. And power was given unto the Two Hundred And Thirty Two Beasts over the fourth estate, to kill with sword and famine and death and much raping of the environment.
And when The Lightworker had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were imprisoned for Speaking Truth to Power, and for the testimony which they held:
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, Obamessiah, most bright and clean and nice-looking, wilt thou refrain from smiting the beasts that afflict this great nation? Wilt thou not call down thy unmanned drones upon the wicked, as thou has done to lesser terrorists? For the presence of these kidnappers and murderers and hostage-takers is as a powerful stench in the nostrils of those who clamor for civility and abhor violent rhetoric".
And white robes were given unto the Tea Party racists, and The Orange Beast said unto them that they should recess for a little season, until people of cholor and women and the transgendered and every other group they had made war upon should be killed in the streets.
And I beheld when The Lightworker had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; the Capitol was rent in twain and the sun became black (not that there's anything wrong with that) as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood (which was kind of cool, in a nonsexual, sparkly vampire kind of way);
And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a money tree casteth forth her filthy lucre when she is shaken by
a mighty wind Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson.
And The People cried out to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us, and hide from us the coppery visage of him that sitteth in the Speaker's chair, and save us from the wrath of the Bitter Gun Clingers":
"For when the great day of death and destruction is come, who shall be left to organize the useful idiots?"
But upon the stroke of midnight a unicorn of purest white did appear; and on him sat The Lightworker. And from His mouth issued forth a fierce fusillade of words. And the 232 beasts quailed before the furious onslaught of Shaming Language and stinging taunts. And The People took heart, saying to themselves, "Oh, SNAP!"
Yeah, the suffering of the beasts was grievous to behold.
For debt ceiling crises endure but for a moment, but His affordable health care is for a lifetime. Hyperbole and hyperventilation may last for the night, but perpetual credit limit increases shall surely come in the morning.