It’s Labor Day (AKA The Jimmy Hoffa Memorial Cement Integration Day)
I've worked in three places that were unionized. In every one of them, productivity was negatively impacted by the union. I saw workers on probation being told to slow down and work less, because they were making the rest of the employees in their shop look bad. I saw shops file grievance after grievance against other shops in the same plant for doing their work. I saw union workers watch somebody do work, then file a grievance, rather than telling them it wasn't their work. I watched union workers commit major safety breaches, get fired, then rehired on arbitration, with full back pay. I saw union workers go on strike just because it was the third Friday of the quarter. I saw a union organize a hostile takeover of another union, resulting in a loss of pay and benefits for the workers involved. (BTW, that was the SEIU.)
I'm sure there are good unions out there somewhere. I'm sure there are shops where the union works with management for the benefit of all.
Of course, I also believe in the Tooth Fairy.
From the Mouths of Babes
My Two Friends Updated.
HCP Logjam Easing
Now I want to kick it up a bit. Stocks, lights, pistol grips, whatever. I'm not really interested in lasers or major optics because, well it's a shotgun. Effective firepower without supreme accuracy is kinda the point.
According to Contessa, Calling a Woman a Slut is OK, as Long as it’s a Joke
First the setup.
David Letterman thought it would be funny to say during his Monday monologue that Willow Palin, Gov. Palin's 14 year old daughter was "knocked up" by New York Yankee player Alex Rodriguez during the seventh inning stretch. Tuesday night he continued his assault on the Palins by insinuating that Willow was a prostitute.
Yeah, he's a riot that Dave. His humor is always on the cutting edge.
Apparently Dave is miffed that Palin refuses to do his show, so he figured he would just go after her child as revenge.
Now the last New York person to make a crack like this was Don Imus when he insulted the Rutgers basketball team a "joke" that cost him his job on the radio. Will Letterman, whose offense is far worse than anything Imus said, face similar repercussions?
Of course not. Imus insulted a team of young black women; Letterman insulted a young white girl from a conservative family. That makes it okay. We're already seeing the media rushing to his defense.
Check the video below from MSNBC. Contessa Brewer interviews John Ziegler and asks why Sarah Palin would be upset about being called slutty. Think about that for a moment. Either Brewer had no idea what actually was said, which given the current state of journalism is not that hard to believe, or she knew exactly why Palin called Letterman "pathetic" and deliberately chose to try and change the subject from sexual assault to simple slander. Again, given the state of modern journalism, not too hard to believe.
Aside from the fun of watching Ziegler make Brewer look completely incompetent and unprofessional, this interview demonstrates just how out of touch MSNBC is. Think about it. Brewer doesn't operate in a vacuum. She has producers, editors and such who have to buy off on a proposed segment. All of them thought that this interview was a good idea, that it would be hard for Ziegler to explain why Palin was offended. Apparently they thought they could focus all of the attention on the "slutty" remark and defuse the time bomb of implied statutory rape. Thanks to John Ziegler, they failed miserably.
But what will happen to Dave? Will he pay a price? Probably not. He's already released a statement that when talking about Palin's daughter, he was talking about Bristol, not Willow. That's just self serving BS and I don't buy it for a second. Willow was the one in New York with Gov. Palin. She was the one at the ballgame. And she was still the daughter in New York when he made his second attack Tuesday night. He knew exactly what he was doing, and that's why he didn't use her name, to give himself deniability.
Not only is he an ass, he's a coward as well.
Presidential Report Card: Employment
They draw a clear,unambiguous and unbiased picture of progress, or the lack of progress. There's no spinning, no nuancing. There's just a plainly understandable picture. It says "Here's where we are. Here's where we thought we would be." And then the follow up would be to account for the difference,and that's where you can start to work the numbers.
So let's look at the numbers.
Let's get our bearings. The light blue line is the Obama administration's prediction of what unemployment would do if we didn't act immediately in passing his economic recovery package. The dark blue line is the administration's prediction of the effect their stimulus package would have on unemployment. The brown dots show what is actually happening.
You see how much fun this is? We can see clearly exactly how closely President Obama is meeting his own goals. Unfortunately,he's not doing so well on this one. There's a significant gap between his expectations and reality.
Of course,Obama is a Democrat,so this is not entirely unexpected.
Now that we have the data, the next step is the follow up question. Why aren't we where we thought we would be?
Well, let's look at the numbers.
If you look closely, you can see a slight break between the first two dots, which not only follow the curve but are part of the basis for the curve,and the subsequent dots. The rate of rise of unemployment is steeper in real life than in the projection. There are only two ways to account for this break. Either the problems were more severe than the Obama team recognized, demonstrating either a lack of vision or a disconnect with reality on their part, or their were events taking place at the time, like TARP and the Freddie/Fannie bailouts, that introduced new pressures on the employment market.
The next thing to notice is that the Obama team predicted a sharp decrease in the rate of rise of unemployment as soon as the stimulus package was issued. Clearly that did not happen. Again, their are only two ways to look at this failure. Either the design of the stimulus package was flawed or the projected effect was deliberately overstated.
The third thing to notice is that the projected peak for the non stimulated curve is second quarter 2010 while the peak for the stimulus is third quarter 2009. The real curve has already exceeded the worst case projection of the Obama administration, and while the rate of increase is slowing, we're still losing jobs at a fairly high pace. Where and when the peak will come is very difficult to predict. What is very easy to see, however, is that the Obama stimulus package has not had any positive effect, and may have actually had a negative impact.
So why is this important?
Well, yesterday, President Obama said that he was going to create or save 600,000 jobs over the summer by accelerating the stimulus. The chart clearly shows that he has set an impossible goal. If we project the curve out for the next three months, we can predict that the economy is going to lose another 500,000 jobs or so. (I'm being optimistic.) That means that the economy must show a net gain of at least 100,000 jobs over the summer for Obama to meet his goal.
Not gonna happen.
Let me explain. The rate of increase in unemployment is slowing. Fewer people are losing their jobs each week. We lost half a million in April and about 300,000 in May. Extrapolating that gives me roughly 220,000 in June, 160,000 in July, 100,000 in August. No matter what combination of saving and creating you use, because the goal is greater than the predicted losses, we will have to see a net gain of jobs. So in order to claim victory, Obama will have to shift the goal posts. He's going to have to come up with some rationale for claiming that the employment picture is even bleaker than it actually is. For example, if the economy does shed another half a million jobs over the summer, Obama will have to claim, and explain, why the economy would have shed 1.1 million if he hadn't accelerated the stimulus. That will be a tough sell since he has spent so much time and effort to convince people that things are getting better.
See why I like numbers?
The First 100 Days
Well, let's see.
- He's nominated more tax challenged people to his cabinet than any other president.
- He passed the largest piece of corporate welfare ever seen, without reading it or understanding it.
- His proposed budget produces deficits as far as we can project.
- His early tax refund scam will give us an average of $300-400 but his budget will cost each of us around $46,000.
- The economy this quarter contracted far more than expected, but not as much as last quarter. Economists say this means the recession is continuing to deepen at a rapid pace. The White House says this means that we're coming out of it.
- Swine flu has broken out in several US states after crossing the Mexican border. He said he was not concerned.
- Chrysler has declared bankruptcy despite the bailout package Obama voted for.
- He fired GM's CEO.
- He genuflected before a king.
- He apologized to everyone who would listen for America.
- He utterly failed to build any international support for our efforts in Afghanistan, or to convince any other nation to drink the Kool Aid of massive public spending leading to massive debt as a solution to carrying too much debt.
- He did pretty well on his March Madness picks.
- He failed to notice a large grassroots demonstration against government overspending and arrogance.
So, how do you think he's doing?
Swine Flu? What Swine Flu?
Then this is not a crisis.
Yes, I know contagious diseases spread geometrically, meaning we have to nip an outbreak in the bud, but good night! The media's all out running around like Barney Fife crossed with Chicken Little screaming about the Swine Flu Pandemic, presenting special reports and interviewing bemused epidemiologists who all basically say the same thing.
"Yes, we have some cases of Swine Flu, but nobody has died, and we're concerned, but not alarmed."
Even Obama isn't alarmed. Of course, he wasn't overly concerned about the pirates/hostage situation either, but that's just because he's so cool.
Here's the deal. Swine flu is most contagious during the first five days of infection. What this means to you and me is that the folks who present the greatest risk of transmitting the disease are likely to be the folks who don't even know they are sick yet. In other words, they are still running around, riding airplanes, subways and going to Dollywood, despite waking up this morning with a bit of a headache. When the flu really hits its stride along about day 3 or 4, they've already exposed hundreds or thousands of people. In other words, by the time an outbreak is spotted, and remember, it takes a lab test to confirm that the patient has swine flu and not a garden variety cold. Given transit time and culturing, 2 to 3 days may go by before the diagnosis is confirmed. The point I am making is that by the time doctors recognize that there is a swine flu outbreak, it's too late to contain it.
Bobby and Becky spend spring break in Mexico, and while they are there, they get exposed. Three days later, while flying back to Mainstreet USA, Bobby is sneezing and running a low grade fever. When they change planes in LA, 50 of the two hundred passengers aboard their flight, and 2 of the flight crew are now carrying the virus. The next day, Bobby still feels tired and achy, so he goes to the hospital. Here, we catch a break, because we're going to assume that a very smart ER physician notices that Bobby is too young and healthy to be battling the flu this hard, and he gets suspicious and sends a culture off to the CDC. Meanwhile, Bobby transmits the virus to 20 other people in the emergency room. By the time our bright young ER doc gets the results back, the 2 members of the flight crew have been flying for 3 days, but they've only been infectious for one day, so they;ve only infected 150 passengers travelling all over the US. At the same time, the 50 people Bobby infected on the plane have each infected 50 more, and they have no idea they have anything more serious than a cold.
What I'm saying is very simple. It's already here. And it doesn't matter where you are when you read these words; wherever you're at, it's there. That's the bad news. Forget the google maps and tracking the spread of the disease. The information you're looking at is days out of date.
On the other hand, there's very good news. Swine flu is relatively hard to catch, requiring some form of contact with the infected fluids. Additionally, while it is serious, it is by no means always or even often fatal.
In September 1988, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman was hospitalized for pneumonia and died 8 days later. A swine H1N1 flu virus was detected. Four days before getting sick, the patient visited a county fair swine exhibition where there was widespread influenza-like illness among the swine.
In follow-up studies, 76% of swine exhibitors tested had antibody evidence of swine flu infection but no serious illnesses were detected among this group. Additional studies suggest that one to three health care personnel who had contact with the patient developed mild influenza-like illnesses with antibody evidence of swine flu infection.
76% had been infected, with no deaths among the folks handling the infected pigs. It's just not that deadly.
The worst thing we could do would be to allow a media desperate to draw attention to itself tp overhype a non-event, and to indulge in some kind of mass panic, or allow ourselves to be stampeded into making a rash decision. Sadly, there are always people who look to take advantage of fear, like Rahm Emmanuel, who never wants to let a good crisis go to waste. And it isn't just the nannies on the left who will want to use this. For every one of them crying that this proves we need socialized medicine, there will be a righty shrieking that we need to be able to close our borders to illegal immigrants.
As for me, well, I went to Dollywood on Sunday where I mexed with people from all over the country, and a good chunk of the world.
I feel just fine.
Releasing Memos is not the Same as Reading Them
Consider the Justice Department memo of May 30, 2005. It notes that "the CIA believes 'the intelligence acquired from these interrogations has been a key reason why al Qaeda has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West since 11 September 2001.'
And this bit:
Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques "led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the 'Second Wave,' 'to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into' a building in Los Angeles." KSM later acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast.
And this bit:
The Office of Legal Counsel memo states "we discuss only a small fraction of the important intelligence CIA interrogators have obtained from KSM" and notes that "intelligence derived from CIA detainees has resulted in more than 6,000 intelligence reports and, in 2004, accounted for approximately half of the [Counterterrorism Center's] reporting on al Qaeda." The memos refer to other classified documents -- including an "Effectiveness Memo" and an "IG Report," which explain how "the use of enhanced techniques in the interrogations of KSM, Zubaydah and others . . . has yielded critical information."
In other words, contrary to the President's statement, and the slobbering coverage by our national media, the enhanced interrogation techniques yielded valuable information.
Now here's the thing; I do not support or condone the use of torture in interrogation, regardless of the subject, and techniques like water boarding come awfully close to crossing the line. In all the debates I've seen and participated in over torture, nobody on the left has been willing to give a definition of torture beyond the old chestnut "I know it when I see it," and that makes any reasonable discussion difficult if not impossible. Adding outright fabrications and lies to the table as the President and his lapdogs are doing doesn't make things any better.
So, Do You Like What I’ve Done With the Place?
Expression engine has some neat features that weren't available on Moveable Type that should cut down on the admin load, leaving me more time for writing.
That may or may not be good news depending on your point of view.
Anyway, there's still some housekeeping to do here, plus a completely new site to design and build.
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