Posted by: oatmealbear | December 30, 2009

Death to the Great Satan

What do you do when your citizens are protesting everything you hold true and dear?  Why protest their protest of course! (And call for their immediate public execution). There’s nothing quite like a government-organized protest to warm your day.  It’s cheap, to the point, and great fun for the whole family.  I’ll let the LA Times article say the rest:

Reporting from Tehran and Beirut – Thousands of Iranian government supporters at a central Tehran rally today called for the death of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi and the hanging of anti-government protesters, state television reported.

Clad in black and holding portraits of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, they chanted slogans in support of the Islamic Republic and against its opponents.

“Death to Mousavi!” they chanted. “Death to opponents of velayet faqih,” a reference to Iran’s theocratic political system.

The rally came in response to a weekend of large-scale anti-government unrest coinciding with the religious holiday of Ashura. Iranian officials condemned the earlier protest as part of a foreign-backed plot to weaken the Islamic Republic.

“I advise Mr. Obama and some European leaders to learn a lesson from the fate of their predecessors and do not think that by creating scenes and kicking up ballyhoos they can disturb the united ranks of the Iranian nation,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said to reporters along the sidelines of a Cabinet meeting, according to the pro-government Fars News Agency.

Iran’s minister of intelligence claimed that Marxists and exiled opposition groups were behind the weekend’s unrest and that some already had been captured.

“We are convinced that the unrest that took place on Ashura was planned by anti-revolutionaries, and these agents used the opportunity to reveal their true identity,” said Heydar Moslehi during the Cabinet meeting, according to the news website Tabnak. “Key individuals have been arrested.”

Iran’s leaders have long been able to conjure crowds for political demonstrations. Amid an ongoing crackdown on opposition supporters and dissidents, Iranian authorities encouraged employees of government offices and state-owned businesses to attend the 3 p.m. rally.

Public schools were told to dispatch pupils to the event. The manager of the Tehran Cement Factory flatly ordered staff to attend, according to one employee. Authorities established free shuttle buses and waived subway entrance fees to draw crowds.

After promoting the protest for days on television and radio, they broadcast the large demonstration in Tehran’s Enghelab Square live on state television, which also reported official rallies in other cities.

Conservative Iranian groups protested what they called the “defiling of Ashura” by anti-government protesters.

A speaker addressing the crowd said “the great Satan,” America, was behind the unrest in the country, and the crowd chanted slogans of “Death to America,” “Death to Israel” and “Death to Britain.”

Meanwhile, Mousavi attended the funeral of his 43-year-old nephew, Ali Habibi-Mousavi, who was shot Sunday during the protests in a case that remained unresolved.

Opposition websites said Habibi-Mousavi was buried amid heavy security in Tehran’s main cemetery. His body had been taken from the morgue and returned to the family on condition that the funeral would be held out of the public eye, opposition news sources said.

Western officials have decried the violence in Iran, which is already under international pressure regarding its nuclear program. Iran’s office at the United Nations denied a widely circulated Associated Press report that Iran was trying to illegally import refined uranium from Kazakhstan.

“Such fabrications of news are parts of psychological warfare to serve the political interests of hegemonic powers,” said a statement issued by the Iranians, according to a report today in Tabnak.

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Posted by: oatmealbear | December 30, 2009

Quasi-Top 10 Games of the Decade

Yahoo has released their picks for Top Ten Games of the Decade.

The list is comically tragic, ranging from questionable to groan- inducing. (GTA III, really? Really?)  Please note that I’m basing my reactions on their own stated criteria: “Taking quality, influence, sales and general greatness into account, here are our picks for the top ten titles released between 2000 and 2009.”  Yes, many of these games are fun and widely popular.  That alone does not mean greatness.  For reference, I direct your attention to the cinematic masterpiece called Twilight.

10.  Super Mario Galaxy: Fun with the gravity flipping mechanic but more solid than outstanding.

9.  Half Life 2: If the argument is that it became the basis for better games like TF2, then yes it was a cornerstone.  Top 10? Have you actually played it?

8. Wii Fit: Interactive and easily understood, true.  Popular?  Apparently.  Amazing and groundbreaking? Negative.

7.  Bejeweled:  Highly addictive in the classic puzzle arcade tradition and widely popular.  Definitely up there but again we’re talking about the ENTIRE DECADE here.

6. Wii Sports: I’m noticing a trend here, and if lowest common denominator is the yardstick then sure why not.

5. Halo: Definitely gave some credibility to console shooters and probably one of the most widely marketed franchises.  Deserves to be on the list but not so high.

4. Guitar Hero: I personally never saw the appeal, but it made “rhythm games” hip and acceptable for parties everywhere.  A grudging nod it doth deserve.

3. The Sims: Barbie dolls times infinity.  Add Godlike omnipotence.  Profit.

2. World of Warcraft: The definition of gaming addiction.  Still not top 10.

1. Grand Theft Auto III:  Ugh. Controversy does not mean quality, and the actual environments of Liberty City were bland and uninspired.  Vice City was actually a better iteration of Rockstar’s game model.  If anything, it was a prime example of mainstream news providers examining games on the most superficial level.

If I’ve insulted a game you love, don’t take it personally.  I just don’t think many of these titles deserve to be considered the 10 Top Games of an entire decade.

Posted by: oatmealbear | December 29, 2009

Christmas Semi-Miracle

Survival Of Autoerotic Asphyxiation Closest Thing Man Got To Christmas Miracle

All hail The Onion:

Miracle-ish

Herb Fosbeck got a very special present this holiday season, or something like it.

DUNDEE, IL—Amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, sometimes there’s a little miracle in store for all of us.

And that miracle was more or less what Dundee resident Herb Fosbeck received this past Christmas, when the 38-year-old survived a near-fatal session of oxygen-deprived masturbation.

“The doctors told me I’m lucky to be alive,” said Fosbeck, who almost suffocated to death after tying a belt to the base of his showerhead, wrapping the leather strap around his throat, and cutting off his body’s circulation in order to heighten climax.

Added Fosbeck, “Somebody up there must sort of like me.”

At first glance, the overweight and single Fosbeck might not seem like the kind of character you’d normally see in a heartwarming Christmas tale. And, basically, he isn’t, because this is not exactly that type of story. On the other hand, Fosbeck did learn something about the true spirit of the season, albeit in a rather disturbing way. And he didn’t die. So if you think about the whole thing with that in mind, it’s almost hopeful.

“This is what Christmas is all about, I guess,” said police investigator Randy Haverscham, who, along with two other officers and several neighbors, discovered Fosbeck’s unconscious body after responding to complaints of a loud crash. “Not really. But still.”

A time for hearths, mistletoe, and sharing cider with those you love, Christmas largely passed the solitary Fosbeck by. Not invited to any festive get-togethers, and with no one to curl up with save the hollow-eyed actresses in his vast pornography collection, the middle-aged man’s yuletide plans were limited to the fleeting satisfaction of choking himself while tugging weakly at his swollen member.

As Fosbeck slung the restrictive strap over his head, doing his best to ignore the sounds of carolers outside his open window, did he perhaps think he’d finally hit bottom? We can only assume so. But that turned out not to be the case because, right in the middle of furiously pumping his erection, he slipped in his bathtub, and suddenly found himself spasmodically dangling from his homemade noose.

“I remember putting the belt around my neck, and I guess I must have gotten pretty excited and started moving around too much, because the next thing I knew I was strangling to death,” said Fosbeck, who was released from Dundee General Hospital’s intensive care ward on Jan. 1. “I don’t remember much after that.”

Indeed, few could predict that Fosbeck was only moments away from getting the biggest Christmas gift of all. At least, in a just-barely-not-dying-while-tethered-to-a-bathroom-fixture sort of way.

Using his last gasps of air to scream out for help, the flailing unemployed carpenter suddenly heard in the background the faint jingling of Christmas bells. Was it the arrival of a guardian angel, coming to rescue Fosbeck? Or was it simply an auditory hallucination caused by the lack of oxygen to his brain? We may never know.

One thing, however, remains clear. With a sudden jolt, Fosbeck’s showerhead ripped clear from the cheap plaster of his bathroom wall, sending the unconscious loner plummeting free, naked as the baby Jesus.

“He was still tumescent when we found him,” said neighbor Bob Ngyuen, who followed police into Fosbeck’s apartment. “We put a towel over him before we called the paramedics, just to give him the slightest shred of dignity. It was Christmas, after all.”

And if that wasn’t enough of a semi-miracle, or miracle-ish thing, or whatever you want to call it, when Fosbeck finally awoke in the hospital, his mother, whom he hadn’t seen in four years, was standing over him, re-united with her estranged son on Christmas night.

“The police said I had to come, because they legally can’t release a patient with potential brain damage unless they’re with a relative or somebody to make sure they get home okay,” Elaine Fosbeck, 70, told reporters using her electronic larynx. “Herb was always a disappointment, even as a child.”

As Fosbeck looked into the face of his elderly, alcoholic mother, he uttered a familiar phrase, one often used to close holiday stories such as these.

“God bless us, every one,” Fosbeck said. “All two of us. Not counting the nurse, who I didn’t know.”

Posted by: adoseofliberty | December 28, 2009

Federal Employees: Recession? What Recession?

According to USA Today, an analysis of federal salary data shows that the “number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession.”

Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession’s first 18 months — and that’s before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.

The amount of the highest-paid federal employees has been the source of the largest increases.  Employees earning $150,000 or more in the Defense Department increased from 1,868 in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009 and employees making $170,000 or more in the Transportation Department blossomed from only one person to 1,690 employees.

This six-figure trend is taking place all across the federal government, “in agencies big and small, high-tech and low-tech.”  Which is interesting, since performance-based raises and bonuses would rarely apply to more than one department in such a short period, especially during a major economic recession.  This growth in six-figure salaries has “pushed the average federal worker’s pay to $71,206, compared with $40,331 in the private sector.”

According to the article, the primary cause of the salary changes are “substantial pay raises and new salary rules.”  These include scheduled,  annual, across-the-board pay raises of 3-4% approved by former President Bush as well as “longevity pay hikes” that average 1.5% per year.  Also, merit-based pay was implemented (for the first time??) in January 2008, for the Defense Department and were larger than expected (but were, not surprisingly, voted by Congress to cease in 2012).  And lastly, paycaps, which prevent employees from making more than their leaders, are eased when the boss’ salaries increase.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, a first-term lawmaker on the House’s federal workforce subcommittee throws out one of my favorite “r” words:

“There’s no way to justify this to the American people. It’s ridiculous.”

However, there might be a reasonable basis for these large salaries:

Jessica Klement, government affairs director for the Federal Managers Association, says the federal workforce is highly paid because the government employs skilled people such as scientists, physicians and lawyers.

Although she does not provide any numbers on employee type distribution to back up her statement.  Klement does claim that federal employees make 26% less than private workers for comparable jobs.  However, this may be skewed since, according to the Federal Government news and resource Web site, FedSmith, federal employees are offered “cash awards, time off awards, or promotions or within-grade step increases during the year.”  The site also issued a report stating:

“Since 1990, average compensation has increased 115 percent in the government and 69 percent in the private sector, while average wages have increased 104 percent the government and 65 percent in the private sector.”

On top of all of this, the federal sector provides “employment security that is unique in the American workforce.”  We all have heard the joke that in order to get fired as a government employee you have to kill someone, or it would require an act of Congress, or it would take a nuclear war, etc.

The FedSmith site even goes further, saying, comfortingly, that the “[t]he federal civilian workforce has become an elite island of secure and high-paid workers, separated from the ocean of private-sector American workers who must compete in today’s dynamic economy.”  The poor, private-sector proletariat.  Having to compete and all.  None of that on this island!

Posted by: adoseofliberty | December 27, 2009

Global Warming #21

Howard Bloom, founder and head of The Space Development Steering Committee, in an op/ed in the Wall Street Journal, explains that although climate change activists are right in their anticipation of significant climate shifts, they’ve got the wrong suspect.  It’s not man.  It’s Mother Nature.  The estimated $27 trillion solution by the world’s governments is bound to be a colossal failure and an unnecessary waste of capital that is increasingly essential in the modern world economy.

We’ve been deceived by a stroke of luck. In the two million years during which we climbed from stone-tool wielding Homo erectus with sloping brows to high-foreheaded Homo urbanis, man the inventor of the city, we underwent 60 glaciations, 60 ice ages. And in the 120,000 years since we emerged in our current physiological shape as Homo sapiens, we’ve lived through 20 sudden global warmings. In most of those, temperatures have shot up by as much as 18 degrees within a mere 20 years.

All this took place without smokestacks and tailpipes. All this took place without the desecration of nature by modern man.

Mr. Bloom outlines the astronomical reasons behind the continual see-saw between “steamy tropical heat” and “icy freeze”:

The Earth is a traveler. Its angle as it sweeps around the sun produces the massive weather flips we call seasons—the dance from summer to winter and back again. But there’s more. Our planet has a peculiar wobble—its precession. And that precession produces upheavals in our weather, weather alterations we cycle through every 22,000, 41,000 and 100,000 years.

He continues this analysis by explaining the similar traveling nature of the sun, which circles the galaxy’s core every 226 million years, its orbiting planets in tow.  Every 143 million years, we “pass through a spiral arm of the galaxy, an arm that tosses tsunamis of cosmic rays our way”, which produce massive climate change.

The bottom line? Weather changes and the occasional meteor have tossed this planet through roughly 142 mass extinctions since life began 3.85 billion years ago. That’s an average of one mass extinction every 26.5 million years. Where did these mass die-offs come from? Nature. There were no human capitalists, industrialists or cultures of consumerism to blame.

Posted by: adoseofliberty | December 26, 2009

Aloha For Some

A bill that would allow native Hawaiians to establish their own government was approved in the House last week.

The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, sponsored by Senator Daniel K. Akaka of Hawaii, would transfer a portion of public-owned lands within the state of Hawaii to this new native Hawaiian government.

According to Senator Akaka in local newspaper Hawaii 24/7, “the bill provides for a structured process of reconciliation for both Native Hawaiians and non-Native Hawaiians to finally address and resolve longstanding issues resulting from Hawaii’s painful history.”

A Wall Street Journal editorial on the matter states, “the legislation would collect some 400,000 ethnic Hawaiians scattered across the country into a newly affiliated tribe, eventually endowed with the powers of a sovereign state, including freedom from state taxes and regulations and separate police power.”

Although this idea of granting rights of self-determination to indigenous people is similar to those given to certain Native Americans tribes which are composed of “tightly knit populations that have lived together continuously”, this plan enables participation to anyone “able to trace their roots back to a Native Hawaiian ancestor, no matter where they now reside.”  The Journal article continues:

U.S. Civil Rights Commission member Gail Heriot told Congress in June that, “If ethnic Hawaiians can be accorded tribal status, why not Chicanos in the Southwest? Or Cajuns in Louisiana?”

Under the current version of the Akaka bill, the determination of who qualifies as a Native Hawaiian “would be handled by a nine member commission staffed by experts in native Hawaiian genealogy.”  Ah yes, another commission.  One with experts on race.

That, says the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, amounts to racial discrimination and would “subdivide the American People into discrete subgroups accorded varying degrees of privilege.”

The land transfer based on the bill could be significant.  Given that 38% of Hawaiian land is publicly-owned, it is possible that “state tax and land lease revenue lost annually could range from $342.8 million to $689.7 million”, depending on how much land is ceded to the new government.

The state could also expect to lose as many as 20,000 private sector jobs and more than $200 million in investment. The burden will fall on non-Native taxpayers, costing the average taxpayer between $705 and $1,461 in real disposable income a year.

Elaine Willman back in 2006, when the Akaka bill was first introduced, wrote that passage would mean

the legal door is open for indigenous Mexican homeland claims being pursued by the Aztlan Movement to overturn the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in order to restore 525,000 square miles of the Southwestern United States to the indigenous Mexicans.

Posted by: adoseofliberty | December 25, 2009

Stockholm: Burn the Christmas Goat!

All that's left...

Photo: EPA

In Stockholm, Sweden early Wednesday morning, arsonists set fire to a giant 12-meter tall straw statue of the Swedish Yule goat in the town square.

“It’s a tradition to burn it down,” Lofberg said. “It’s happened an untold number of times since the 1960s … it’s been burned down more years than it’s survived.”

Before Santa Claus became popular, Swedish men would “dress up as goats and hand out presents to well-behaved children.”

Police have tried a range of tactics to stop would-be arsonists, including posting guards near the straw goat, coating it with flame retardant and training security cameras on it.

But vandals have usually found a way around the foils and their assaults have become more elaborate: in recent years the goat has been run over, dragged into a river and attacked by arsonists dressed as Santa Claus and the Ginger Bread Man.

Posted by: adoseofliberty | December 24, 2009

Change Nobody Believes In

The Wall Street Journal pulls no punches in its analysis and critique of ObamaCare since the debate began earlier this year.  This week’s Review & Outlook is no different:

And tidings of comfort and joy from Harry Reid too. The Senate Majority Leader has decided that the last few days before Christmas are the opportune moment for a narrow majority of Democrats to stuff ObamaCare through the Senate to meet an arbitrary White House deadline. Barring some extraordinary reversal, it now seems as if they have the 60 votes they need to jump off this cliff, with one-seventh of the economy in tow.

Mr. Obama promised a new era of transparent good government, yet on Saturday morning Mr. Reid threw out the 2,100-page bill that the world’s greatest deliberative body spent just 17 days debating and replaced it with a new “manager’s amendment” that was stapled together in covert partisan negotiations. Democrats are barely even bothering to pretend to care what’s in it, not that any Senator had the chance to digest it in the 38 hours before the first cloture vote at 1 a.m. this morning. After procedural motions that allow for no amendments, the final vote could come at 9 p.m. on December 24.

Even in World War I there was a Christmas truce.

The rushed, secretive way that a bill this destructive and unpopular is being forced on the country shows that “reform” has devolved into the raw exercise of political power for the single purpose of permanently expanding the American entitlement state. An increasing roll of leaders in health care and business are looking on aghast at a bill that is so large and convoluted that no one can truly understand it, as Finance Chairman Max Baucus admitted on the floor last week. The only goal is to ram it into law while the political window is still open, and clean up the mess later.

***

• Health costs. From the outset, the White House’s core claim was that reform would reduce health costs for individuals and businesses, and they’re sticking to that story. “Anyone who says otherwise simply hasn’t read the bills,” Mr. Obama said over the weekend. This is so utterly disingenuous that we doubt the President really believes it.

The best and most rigorous cost analysis was recently released by the insurer WellPoint, which mined its actuarial data in various regional markets to model the Senate bill. WellPoint found that a healthy 25-year-old in Milwaukee buying coverage on the individual market will see his costs rise by 178%. A small business based in Richmond with eight employees in average health will see a 23% increase. Insurance costs for a 40-year-old family with two kids living in Indianapolis will pay 106% more. And on and on.

These increases are solely the result of ObamaCare—above and far beyond the status quo—because its strict restrictions on underwriting and risk-pooling would distort insurance markets. All but a handful of states have rejected regulations like “community rating” because they encourage younger and healthier buyers to wait until they need expensive care, increasing costs for everyone. Benefits and pricing will now be determined by politics.

As for the White House’s line about cutting costs by eliminating supposed “waste,” even Victor Fuchs, an eminent economist generally supportive of ObamaCare, warned last week that these political theories are overly simplistic. “The oft-heard promise ‘we will find out what works and what does not’ scarcely does justice to the complexity of medical practice,” the Stanford professor wrote.

• Steep declines in choice and quality. This is all of a piece with the hubris of an Administration that thinks it can substitute government planning for market forces in determining where the $33 trillion the U.S. will spend on medicine over the next decade should go.

This centralized system means above all fewer choices; what works for the political class must work for everyone. With formerly private insurers converted into public utilities, for instance, they’ll inevitably be banned from selling products like health savings accounts that encourage more cost-conscious decisions.

Unnoticed by the press corps, the Congressional Budget Office argued recently that the Senate bill would so “substantially reduce flexibility in terms of the types, prices, and number of private sellers of health insurance” that companies like WellPoint might need to “be considered part of the federal budget.”

With so large a chunk of the economy and medical practice itself in Washington’s hands, quality will decline. Ultimately, “our capacity to innovate and develop new therapies would suffer most of all,” as Harvard Medical School Dean Jeffrey Flier recently wrote in our pages. Take the $2 billion annual tax—rising to $3 billion in 2018—that will be leveled against medical device makers, among the most innovative U.S. industries. Democrats believe that more advanced health technologies like MRI machines and drug-coated stents are driving costs too high, though patients and their physicians might disagree.

“The Senate isn’t hearing those of us who are closest to the patient and work in the system every day,” Brent Eastman, the chairman of the American College of Surgeons, said in a statement for his organization and 18 other speciality societies opposing ObamaCare. For no other reason than ideological animus, doctor-owned hospitals will face harsh new limits on their growth and who they’re allowed to treat. Physician Hospitals of America says that ObamaCare will “destroy over 200 of America’s best and safest hospitals.”

• Blowing up the federal fisc. Even though Medicare’s unfunded liabilities are already about 2.6 times larger than the entire U.S. economy in 2008, Democrats are crowing that ObamaCare will cost “only” $871 billion over the next decade while fantastically reducing the deficit by $132 billion, according to CBO.

Yet some 98% of the total cost comes after 2014—remind us why there must absolutely be a vote this week—and most of the taxes start in 2010. That includes the payroll tax increase for individuals earning more than $200,000 that rose to 0.9 from 0.5 percentage points in Mr. Reid’s final machinations. Job creation, here we come.

Other deceptions include a new entitlement for long-term care that starts collecting premiums tomorrow but doesn’t start paying benefits until late in the decade. But the worst is not accounting for a formula that automatically slashes Medicare payments to doctors by 21.5% next year and deeper after that. Everyone knows the payment cuts won’t happen but they remain in the bill to make the cost look lower. The American Medical Association’s priority was eliminating this “sustainable growth rate” but all they got in return for their year of ObamaCare cheerleading was a two-month patch snuck into the defense bill that passed over the weekend.

The truth is that no one really knows how much ObamaCare will cost because its assumptions on paper are so unrealistic. To hide the cost increases created by other parts of the bill and transfer them onto the federal balance sheet, the Senate sets up government-run “exchanges” that will subsidize insurance for those earning up to 400% of the poverty level, or $96,000 for a family of four in 2016. Supposedly they would only be offered to those whose employers don’t provide insurance or work for small businesses.

As Eugene Steuerle of the left-leaning Urban Institute points out, this system would treat two workers with the same total compensation—whatever the mix of cash wages and benefits—very differently. Under the Senate bill, someone who earned $42,000 would get $5,749 from the current tax exclusion for employer-sponsored coverage but $12,750 in the exchange. A worker making $60,000 would get $8,310 in the exchanges but only $3,758 in the current system.

For this reason Mr. Steuerle concludes that the Senate bill is not just a new health system but also “a new welfare and tax system” that will warp the labor market. Given the incentives of these two-tier subsidies, employers with large numbers of lower-wage workers like Wal-Mart may well convert them into “contractors” or do more outsourcing. As more and more people flood into “free” health care, taxpayer costs will explode.

• Political intimidation. The experts who have pointed out such complications have been ignored or dismissed as “ideologues” by the White House. Those parts of the health-care industry that couldn’t be bribed outright, like Big Pharma, were coerced into acceding to this agenda. The White House was able to, er, persuade the likes of the AMA and the hospital lobbies because the federal government will control 55% of total U.S. health spending under ObamaCare, according to the Administration’s own Medicare actuaries.

Others got hush money, namely Nebraska’s Ben Nelson. Even liberal Governors have been howling for months about ObamaCare’s unfunded spending mandates: Other budget priorities like education will be crowded out when about 21% of the U.S. population is on Medicaid, the joint state-federal program intended for the poor. Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman calculates that ObamaCare will result in $2.5 billion in new costs for his state that “will be passed on to citizens through direct or indirect taxes and fees,” as he put it in a letter to his state’s junior Senator.

So in addition to abortion restrictions, Mr. Nelson won the concession that Congress will pay for 100% of Nebraska Medicaid expansions into perpetuity. His capitulation ought to cost him his political career, but more to the point, what about the other states that don’t have a Senator who’s the 60th vote for ObamaCare?

***

“After a nearly century-long struggle we are on the cusp of making health-care reform a reality in the United States of America,” Mr. Obama said on Saturday. He’s forced to claim the mandate of “history” because he can’t claim the mandate of voters. Some 51% of the public is now opposed, according to National Journal’s composite of all health polling. The more people know about ObamaCare, the more unpopular it becomes.

The tragedy is that Mr. Obama inherited a consensus that the health-care status quo needs serious reform, and a popular President might have crafted a durable compromise that blended the best ideas from both parties. A more honest and more thoughtful approach might have even done some good. But as Mr. Obama suggested, the Democratic old guard sees this plan as the culmination of 20th-century liberalism.

So instead we have this vast expansion of federal control. Never in our memory has so unpopular a bill been on the verge of passing Congress, never has social and economic legislation of this magnitude been forced through on a purely partisan vote, and never has a party exhibited more sheer political willfulness that is reckless even for Washington or had more warning about the consequences of its actions.

These 60 Democrats are creating a future of epic increases in spending, taxes and command-and-control regulation, in which bureaucracy trumps innovation and transfer payments are more important than private investment and individual decisions. In short, the Obama Democrats have chosen change nobody believes in—outside of themselves—and when it passes America will be paying for it for decades to come.

Posted by: oatmealbear | December 24, 2009

Labor Dept: Available Labor Rate Increases To 10.2%

The Onion delivers again:

WASHINGTON—In what is being touted by the Labor Department as extremely positive news, the nation’s available labor rate has reached double digits for the first time in 26 years, bringing the total number of potentially employable Americans to an impressive 15.7 million.

This is such an exciting time to be an employer in America,” said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, adding that every single day 6,500 more citizens join America’s growing possible workforce. “There’s such a massive and diverse pool of job-ready Americans to choose from. And each month the number only gets higher.”

“While our current available labor rate of 10.2 percent isn’t quite as robust as it was in 1982 or 1933, we’re happy to say that reaching that benchmark is no longer out of the realm of possibility,” Solis continued.

According to the Department of Labor’s report, nearly 200,000 more Americans suddenly became fully hirable in October alone. And November saw unprecedented gains in the number of high-quality auto workers, teachers, lawyers, part-time retailers, and even doctors who could be employed.

The report also explained that, because of the booming would-be-employee market, college graduates are having an easier time than ever joining the ranks of those ready and able to receive monetary compensation for work performed at some point.

Moreover, it found that, while all Americans were benefiting in some way from the new trend, the nation’s African Americans appeared to be in the best position to take advantage of the upward swing in potential employment, with 15.7 percent of all black citizens now situated to have a chance of becoming wage-earners someday.

“We are very lucky to be living in a time when so many people can just go out whenever they feel like it and get a job application,” Deputy Labor Secretary Seth Harris announced. “Compare that to the late ’60s or late ’90s, when the available labor rate plummeted to 4 percent and employers didn’t have their pick of millions upon millions of Americans dying to put on a hard hat or suit jacket for practically peanuts.”

Added Harris, “Those were scary times in America.”

Though Labor sources said the new figures were encouraging, officials were quick to point out that the exact number of those now possessing the capacity to be offered work someday is actually much higher.

“Our findings don’t take into account all the men and women who are available for work but haven’t applied for a job in the last month,” Solis said. “That’s another 2.4 million Americans out there who can proudly say they wake up every day, get their kids ready for school, and then sit in their living rooms praying for the phone to ring.”

Solis told reporters she is also encouraged by the vast number of citizens in every state who are willing to take jobs beneath their personal dignity and education level.

The Labor Secretary cited the fact that California boasts an impressive available labor force of more than 2 million citizens, while in Oregon, 11.5 percent of the state is ready to fill out a growing stack of empty W-2 forms. In Michigan, more than 15 percent of all citizens said they could start work either today, tomorrow, or right this very second if that’s what it takes.

“I’ll do anything,” said Ohio resident Garret Landry, who was last not available for steady employment more than 10 months ago. “Seriously, anything. Cars? I could learn how to fix cars. Manual labor? An office job? Just say the word and I’m there.”

“I’ll transcribe what you’re writing for $50,” Landry added. “Okay, $25.”

Posted by: adoseofliberty | December 23, 2009

In Spears We Trust

The Sacramento Bee revealed an entertaining yet sobering poll done by Philip Tirone, a Los Angeles real-estate broker, who has been campaigning to repeal the 10 percent increase in personal income tax withholding included in the July California budget changes.

Californians would just as soon allow the meltdown-prone pop princess Britney Spears to run their family budget as they would leave their finances in the hands of their state legislators, according to a new poll.

Thirty-five percent of respondents said they would opt to have the Legislature manage their money, with 31 percent preferring to put Ms. Spears in charge. Thirty-four percent of those surveyed either didn’t know or refused to answer the question.

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