Friday, October 15, 2010

A Prayer For The Texas Rangers

Dear God,

I know that I am a sinner. 
I have no business asking you for anything. 
One of my earliest blog entries was based on a pun on the name of your servant, Oral Roberts.  I called it something funny just to get a lot of hits.  It's still getting them. 
Anyway, I'm sorry.  Please hear my prayer, and I'll delete it.   

Tonight, The Texas Rangers will face the despicable New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. 

The Yankees have won the World Series 27 times.  Until we put away The Devil Rays a few days ago, we'd only won one playoff game.  Ever. 

The Yankees have had Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin, and Mickey Mantle on their roster. 
The Rangers once had Mississippi taxidermist Ned Yost. 

I know that the Ballpark in Arlington is built on stolen land.  I know that George W. Bush threatened to pull the team out of Arlington unless he got a sales tax increase and a $205,000,000.00 subsidy.  I know he bought the team for $86,000,000.00 and then turned around and sold it for $250,000,000.00   I know that he never properly thanked the taxpayers. 
But the Yankees are worse.  They've won it all so many times that they now personify evil. 

I know that when Major League Baseball had their last big strike/lockout about 15 years ago, and I had to lay off about half the staff of my close-to-the-ballpark retail store as a result, I swore I would never again care about this silly game.  I know.  I know. 
This is about The New York Freakin' Yankees.  All God-Fearing people in this great Republic hate The New York Freakin' Yankees. 

Anyway, I'm not asking for much, God.  It just wouldn't be right.  We are all sinners, but can't you agree that some teams are worse than others?  I mean, seriously....

I'm not going to ask for a victory over the Yankees in the ALCS, and I wouldn't dream of asking for the Rangers to win it all. 

But is there any way you could arrange for Josh Hamilton to hit the game-winning RBI in World Series game seven?  That wouldn't be asking for too much, would it? 

The pictures of typical Yankee fans came from here.  The picture of She Whose Name Is Not Spoken came from here

Absurditopia is about to declare war on Stupidia, and you are going to lose

Since our Commander-In-Chief and some of his Republican enablers seem determined to start a trade war with China, here's an excerpt from Don Boudreaux's fantasy about what it would be like if real wars were like trade wars. 

Leader of Absurditoptia (A): I say, leader of Stupidia – we demand that you stop occupying that contested strip of land. If you refuse, we’ll have no choice but to shoot our own citizens.

Leader of Stupidia (S): You don’t scare us! That land is ours. And if you do kill some of your own people, make no mistake that we will immediately – and just as cruelly – commence to killing our own people. Courage is our national motto!

(A): Ha! You’re bluffing. But I’m not. I’ve just courageously ordered my troops to mow down in cold blood ten percent of my fellow countrymen. Take that!

(S): How dare you attack you like that! You leave us no choice but to attack us. I am ordering the Stupidian army to slaughter 15 percent of innocent Stupidians here in Stupidia. How do you like them apples?!

(A): You are cruel and inhuman to damage us by killing your people. I hereby instruct all of my fellow Absurditopians to commit suicide! Only then will you nasty Stupidians get your proper comeuppance and we Absurditopians the justice that we are due!

(S): You can’t beat us, you Absurditopian you! Listen up. I’m ordering all of my fellow citizens – Stupidians all! – to commit suicide. We’ll see who emerges victorious!

Then a long, long silence.

Try looking at it this way.  If the top executives at Neiman Marcus could pass laws to discourage you from shopping at Target, they would do so.  If the top executives at Target could pass laws to discourage you from shopping at Neiman Marcus, they would do so.  And if you learned that those executives had written those laws, you would have them tarred and feathered.  You would be outraged. 

But when U.S. companies pass laws making Chinese tires or Canadian lumber more expensive, we roll over and take it.  Go figure that one out. 

The picture of the Trade War came from here. 

This is what will happen if you don't buy what The Nice People want you to buy

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why I am a Libertarian, part 4, Ruby Sue Issa edition ! ! !

Because of reconnecting with old friends on Facebook, I've been doing a series of posts about what makes someone go from political near-apathy to rabid Libertarian.  You can hit the "Why I'm A Libertarian" label down below if you want to see the others. 

From the 3rd grade to the 12th, I was educated in a small private school in north Mississippi called North Sunflower Academy.  At NSA, generations of students learned history and social studies from a lady named Ruby Sue Issa. 

By the time the class of '79 came along, Mrs. Issa had been at it for decades.  She had a list of stories and anecdotes that she used to illustrate the topic of the day.  Most of them had been in circulation for a while, and for the most part we were all too cool to pay much attention.  But some of it, against all odds, sunk in.  Or maybe it sank in.  Sunk? Sank?  Should've paid more attention in English.  I have no idea which one is the past tense.  Mrs. DuBard, please advise.... 

I remember Mrs. Issa talking about the U.S. Constitution, and the issue of illegal search and seizure.  One of Mrs. Issa's stories had the Mississippi Highway Patrol pulling someone over for speeding, and they pumped his stomach because they thought he ingested a baggie of some sort.  Mrs. Issa was outraged. 

Our class, however, didn't understand the outrage.  Even those who had "illegal smiles" knew, just knew that if you were carrying weed or anything else, that's just the risk you take.  Why, if the Highway Patrol can't pump your stomach, how are they supposed to do their jobs?  Plus, regardless of lifestyle choices, we we knew that all badness must be punished by any means necessary. 

But Mrs. Issa planted a seed that day, and it grew into this:  I belong to me, and you belong to you.  I own myself, you own yourself.  We don't belong to King George III, George Washington, George Bush, Barack Obama, or The Mississippi Highway Patrol.  This is mine, dang it.  Keep your grubby little hands off of it.

She did her best to teach us about the Constitution and how it shouldn't be abused, even if intentions were good.  She saw history as a long, long story that kept looping around and repeating itself.  A story where people kept making the same types of mistakes over and over again.  The purpose of the Constitution was to be sure that we avoided those mistakes in the future, regardless of the "emergency". 

Before Mrs. Issa started teaching me, I used to wish that I had grown up in a place where history happened.  Somewhere near Civil War battlefields, or New York City, or anywhere except the Mississippi Delta. 

Mrs. Issa told us about what it was like when her husband's cafe in Ruleville was first integrated, and what a big change that was for her.  She told us about the sit-ins and the Freedom Riders.  This was in a segregationist academy, and Mrs. Issa was a product of her time and place, just like all of us were (and still are) regarding race, but I think she kinda enjoyed holding up contradictions between our supposed ideals and our actions.

Bob Fisher and I both remember the time she told us that "All barbarian invasions come from....The North."
She told us (multiple times) about Bob Dylan coming to Greenwood in 1963, and playing "Only A Pawn In Their Game" at a Civil Rights rally.  We didn't get it.    By 1978/1979, Bob Dylan was as dated as Bing Crosby, and by the standards of the time, Bob Dylan couldn't sing.  (I now own every non-bootleg Bob Dylan has ever recorded, BTW.)

But because of Mrs. Issa, it eventually dawned on me that I was growing up in a place where important things were happening.  I was in The Most Southern Place On Earth, the Ground Zero of our biggest societal change since the Civil War.  I started paying attention to the news, and seeing U.S. history as a story of our progress toward liberty - first for white landowners, then for white men, then for black men, then for women, then for gays, lesbians, people who want to smoke weed, people who don't want to buy health insurance, people who own 200 guns, or guys who want to put on womens' clothing and walk around the mall. 

I own me, you own you.  If it doesn't harm you, it's none of your business. 

So it has taken me about 30 years to figure it out and to acknowledge it.  Thank you, Mrs. Issa.  Some of us really were paying attention.  It sunk in.  Or sank in. 

Mrs. Issa's picture came from Duff Dorrough's Facebook page.  One other thing....Mrs. Issa was a huge fan of Teddy Roosevelt.  Here's a picture of President Roosevelt riding a swimming moose, just in case you ever need one. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Andrew Marr fears socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men who can type

From a British civil service lifer named Andrew Marr, who feels threatened by amateur typists....

Mr. Marr is the former political director of The BBC, which would sink like a stone if the British government allowed a true competitive market in broadcasting. 

"A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting. They are very angry people," he told the Cheltenham Literary Festival. "   "....the so-called citizen journalism is the spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night."
Marr is wrong, wrong, wrong.  I'm not young ,socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed. spewing out drunken rants late at night. 

I'm fairly old and married.  The late night drunken rants are produced at my own dining room table.   

Here's a little more on the BBC, where Andrew Marr is still employed.  This is courtesy of Wikipedia  (Yeah, Wikipedia.  I'm in a hurry.  Gotta get a lot of work done early so I can get drunk tonight and start typing....)
. The BBC is an autonomous public service broadcaster that operates under a Royal Charter.  Within the United Kingdom its work is funded principally by an annual television license fee which is charged to all United Kingdom households, companies and organisations using any type of equipment to record and/or receive live television broadcasts;  the level of the fee is set annually by the British Government and agreed by Parliament. 
Good Lord, can you imagine the self-righteous crap we would have to endure if National Public Radio and Public TV were 100% supported by the Feds with some help from involuntary "donations" from every U.S. household?  And no real competitors were allowed ?
Hell, the hardware stores would instantly sell out of torches and pitchforks. 

I keep wondering how much longer the Brits are going to put up with this. 
Be afraid, Andrew Marr.  Be very afraid.  We're angry, pimpled, inadequate, and drunk.  And we're proving that ANYBODY can sit down and start typing. 

The picture of Andrew Marr's pasty Brit complection (that doesn't show his baldness level) came from here. 

The Federal Government Wordle

Here's a Wordle based on the recent Gallup survey of opinions about our Federal government

If you need some help finding the correct answers:

The word "sucks" is hidden away inside the second "O" of "Too Big". 
"Crooked" is above the "T" in "Too Big". 
"Out Of Control" is immediately above "Incompetent". 

Jan Schakowsky defends the constitutionality of ObamaCare. Kinda. Sorta.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bill Clinton attacks Rand Paul and Republicans and gets some of it right

From Bill Estep, of the Lexington Herald-Leader.  This is ex-President Bill Clinton, on Wannabe Senator Rand Paul's radical ideas:

Former President Bill Clinton stumped for fellow Democrat Jack Conway on Monday, delivering a strongly-worded repudiation of Republican Rand Paul and his “radical ideas” for a smaller government.

We might as well start there, with the "radical ideas" for a smaller government.  There is no moderate, prudent, incremental way to get out of a 14 trillion dollar debt.  Screw it, it can't be done. 

Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race is between a practical, progressive moderate who has a plan....

....O God, another Democrat with a plan.  He's also a "moderate".  I'm sick of moderates who reach across the aisle in a bipartisan effort to work with the other side to move the agenda forward and "get something done for the American people".  I wish we could boil our choices down to the extremists in each camp. 

Moderates have almost compromised us out of existence. 

.... versus a guy “with radical ideas and no record to back it up,” Clinton told a few thousand people gathered outside the Administration Building at the University of Kentucky.

Once again, the job is going to require radical ideas.  Radical ideas aren't a defect.  They're a selling point. 

Clinton said Paul would roll back federal protection for people with disabilities....

When time permits, go here to see how much the Americans With Disabilities Act has helped Americans With Disabilities.  (Their employment rate was increasing nicely until our government decided to help 'em out.)

.... while pushing tax cuts for rich people.

This dead horse has been beaten until it's a pulpy mess that even vultures are avoiding.  The top 50% of the earners pay 97% of the taxes.  If taxes are going to be cut significantly, if we're going to get more money out into the productive economy, if we're going to stop politicians from giving your money to their friends, contractors, military suppliers, drug warriors, hangers-on, deadbeats, regulators, worry-warts, global warmists, human barnacles, bureaucrats, slot-fillers, inspectors, teachers who can't teach, African Genital Washers, border guards, obesity police and ethanol subsidizers, then the tax cuts are going to have to go to the people in the top income levels.  It really is that simple.  You can't cut any lower than zero, and the non-rich are already at zero. 

He also mentioned the possibility of cuts to food safety....

These are the people who gave a huge thumbs-up to Oxycontin, but continue to outlaw medical marijuana.  For decades, they advised that you eat 6-11 daily servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta. 

....air traffic control....

Heck yes !  Privatize it !

Oh, for the love of God and all things holy.  Is there any dollar amount that will ever be enough?  In the last 25 years we've almost doubled the spending on education, and the needle hasn't budged.  Privatize it tomorrow.  Let a thousand flowers bloom.  See what else works and watch parents flock to it. 

 and workplace training

In the last 9 months, I've probably cycled through 100 Temp Employees.  Almost all of them have been through some kind of workplace training, courtesy of Community Colleges, Job Training Boondoggles, or even Porkulus funds.  One of them, one out of a hundred, could do a halfway decent job of making some numeric signs with Microsoft Word.  I think we can cut Uncle Sam's workplace training programs with no loss of national productivity. 

....among other things. Republicans try to portray Democrats as the party of big government spending while claiming to be the party of restraint, Clinton said.

Well, he got that right.  Until Obama, Reid and Pelosi made them look like skinflint penny pinchers, Republicans spent more than Democrats.  If you're interested, here's something I wrote back in the bright sunshiny period of 2008, back when I actually thought that there was no way ANYONE could EVER outspend George W. Bush.  It's pretty funny to look back on. 

Sheesh.  Obama has made Bush look like Ebeneezer Scrooge. 

Anyway, back to my point....There is no moderate way to get us out of a 14 trillion dollar hole.  Seriously, can you imagine the Republicans shutting down the Department Of Energy?  It's the biggest waste in Washington, but no Republican candidate has mentioned closing it.  Department of Education?  No way.  How about privatizing Social Security, or at least letting us opt out of the program?  Nope.  That's the 3rd rail. 

Republicans spend like there's no tomorrow, usually on a war against drugs or terror or imported wheat or illegal Messicans. 

So please consider the Libertarian Party this November.  We don't want to run anything, we simply want to kill The Beast.  We don't want to lead you, we want you to be left alone.  We want to march on Washington and demand.....nothing. 

And remember what Bill Clinton said, and what has been the case for the last 30 years or so.  If you want a smaller government, voting Republican is a wasted vote. 

A letter from home

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tennessee Titans 34, Dallas Cowboys 27, and The Tower Of Babel

Please gather around, boys and girls.  Our children's sermon today is the sad story of The Dallas Cowboys, The Tennessee Titans, and the recently constructed Tower Of Babel.  Did you know that the Tennessee Titans just beat the Dallas Cowboys 34-27 ???  
Children, have you heard of the Tower Of Babel?  The Tower Of Babel is in Arlington, Texas.  I'll show you pictures of it in a few minutes.
This story is in a book that we call "The Bible", and this little story is from the Bible's book Of Genesis, Chapter 11.

1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.

2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

3 They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.

4. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves....

and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building.

6 The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.

7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."

8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city, (and they also stopped any plans for being in a hometown Super Bowl).

9 That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

And that, boys and girls, is what happens if you steal peoples' homes to build a sports arena.  God gets angry, and your team loses.  

Pics for this epic came from here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

In Praise Of Temp Services

A friend and I have been having Spontaneous Entrepreneurial Seizures (that means we want to start a small sideline business). 

We've been brainstorming the thing for a while, looking at possibilities. 

This afternoon, I was going through an online checklist of things to consider before taking a large step like this one.  One of the items was employees.  Where are you going to find them?  What are you looking for?  How much will you have to pay to attract the talent you need? 

Without even thinking about it, I made a note to myself to call a couple of Temp Services on Monday. 

Temp Services?  What the heck? 

1) Temp employees cost anywhere from 50% to 100% per hour more than the same employee is willing to work for as a permanent employee. 
2) The temp will leave you at the drop of a hat if he finds something better (and he often has the temp service in his corner working to achieve that objective.)
3) My "keep to hire" rate with temps is somewhere below 2%, and I bet I've worked with more than 100 this year alone.  I spend a lot of time re-training. 
4) My "keep for the lifetime of the project" rate with temps is somewhere below 25%.  Many of those guys are not invited back to work the next day.  Some don't even last until the first 15 minute break. 

So why in the world would anyone hire a temp, instead of hiring the worker outright? 

1) The employer doesn't have to mess with tax witholding (income tax withholding has been a temporary wartime measure since 1943).  I don't want to be in charge of paying anyone's taxes for them.  It is totally insane. 
2) If I hire an employee who doesn't work out, he or she can sue me for a large number of real or imaginary offenses should I end the work relationship.  It is totally insane. 

3) There's something in the works called ObamaCare ® .  You may have read something about it.  It is totally insane. 

4) The business we're considering is not particularly dangerous.  But have you looked at Worker's Comp insurance rates lately?  I'd rather insure an offshore oil rig than 10 typists.  It's totally insane.  Temp Services take care of insurance for you.  Yeah, it's included in the rate you pay, but the Temp Service deals with the government, not you.     

5) Then there's the gloriously mis-named Employee Free Choice Act, which would do away with secret ballots in unionization votes.  It's totally insane.   

6) In all of our conversations about starting this little sideline, we haven't had a single conversation about "Saving And Creating Jobs".  Not a single one.  We've only talked about creating something that people will value more highly than the amount it will cost us to produce it.  Can you imagine us pitching our idea to a legit bank or investor and starting the conversation with "We've come up with a way to create 50 jobs ! ! !"

No, if we want to be taken seriously, we'll have to walk in the door with a scheme that involves fewer people, not more.  The current bunch of Thieves & Looters in D.C. seem to reward people for taking the opposite approach, don't they? 
So until that mindset changes, I don't see us hiring anything but short-term temps.  The current political mess it totally insane.   

7) All businesses are forced to pay into an Unemployment Compensation Fund.  The amount you are charged depends on the number of people you release back into the marketplace without just cause.  I don't want to go through a demeaning song and dance of finding reasons to fire someone who hasn't done anything wrong, when I could pay a bit extra and have the problem taken out of my hands.  The mess my employer goes through in Human Resources is....totally insane.   

That's the way I see it right now, on 10-10-2010.  I could change my mind tomorrow.  Temp Services rule ! !

OK, Next question:  Why aren't more businesses hiring?

Fresh coats of Whitening to here and here and here and here for the pics.