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Friday, February 26, 2010

True astroturfing from the masters

Over at Organizing for America they have an interesting thing going on. The President’s own campaign to generate calls into radio programs around the country and plead for health care reform.

I have no problem with people calling in to radio shows and expressing their opinion – free expression and discussion of ideas is key to our functioning republic – but this just smacks of hypocrisy since Nancy Pelosi brought the word “astroturfing” into the modern lexicon. If they really think the American people want this, then why the need to convince people to argue for it? If it were really that obvious there would be no need to “make it clear” with speech after speech and then when that fails drum up a fake grass roots campaign.

Better still, they still don’t get the argument. In fact they are pushing the same (and I hate to use this tired phrase but) bleeding heart arguments in favor of their position. The site provides some discussion points but no concrete facts and urges their callers to

Use the discussion points on the right in your conversation – but remember that the most important part of your call is your own story about why you support reform.

So they think that calling into radio shows with sob stories is going to sway the regular listeners who have been listening to facts for the past year? Not a chance – unless the American public really is as dumb as the OfA people seem to think.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Its how much?!

The 1st Quarter deficit of 2009 and 2010 are larger than the annual deficits of the previous seven years – with the exception of 2008 which is about equal. But sometimes a graph says it all.

You just can’t do this.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Obama saved us! Even before the election

This email just in from the folks at otherwise known as Organizing for America

One year ago tomorrow, … the President signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.… This chart makes it clear: We're on the road to recovery.

Learn more about the stimulus and the road to recovery

The implication is clear: Obama saved us by signing the act.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the graph is correct. (I’m too lazy right now to double check it against the true stats).  There are two fundamental problems with this spammed message that implies Obama is fixing the economy.

First, it takes a while for any legislation to have an effect on the economy. The economy has inertia. This graph shows the jobless rate starting to top off in November 2008 – the month of the election. The shown loss is pretty much flat for Q4 of 2008 and Q1 of 2009.

Second, they consistently refuse to acknowledge the passage of the massive Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 at a cost of $152 billion. While I strenuously disagree with the soundness of such a stimulus package, if we using their economic logic – it should definitely be accounted for when looking at this graph. Last time I checked, Obama wasn’t the one who signed it.

In any event, you cannot attribute a bill signed in mid February to a dramatic change in job loss in April. Its like jumping into a bobsled halfway down the track and claiming a gold medal for the effort.

Stimulus worked because it kept the governments big

The DNC thinks creating any job is a good thing. Here is what DNC Chairman Tim Kaine cited this morning as evidence that the stimulus plan was successful at job creation.

[As governor] I had to write a budget before the stimulus passed. And then I got to rewrite it after it passed and I can tell you it's not a theoretical matter at all. Thousands and thousands of state local employees jobs were on the chopping block and likely would have their jobs had not passed.

The problem is not necessarily total jobs, it is also the right jobs. We don’t need more government jobs. Creating more jobs is creating more government. I would also argue that reducing total government jobs is a net positive for the country overall. Reduce the things they do. Reduce the people needed to do them. Reduce the financial requirement to support those people to do them. With that saved money, private jobs will be created.

Lets not even get into whether or not the federal money should be used to pay for state and local governmental positions…

Here NBC, you’re welcome!

Here is the idea – take it and run with it.

Figure Skating with the Stars.

Forget the occasional broken toe and rib fracture caused by dancing. If you put those guys on ice you get the Olympic female viewers plus their husbands will stick around because someone is going to fall and blood will spurt on each and every episode!

No warrant? No problem.

CNET has a disturbing story up about warrantless tracking of cell phone data. The feds want to be able to retrieve any third party data about you without a warrant and argue that you have no expectation of privacy on data gathered between you and your cell carrier.

the Obama administration has argued that warrantless tracking is permitted because Americans enjoy no "reasonable expectation of privacy" in their--or at least their cell phones'--whereabouts. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers say that "a customer's Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records" that show where a mobile device placed and received calls.

I understand the need to get access to data like this in criminal investigations, but that is why we have a warrant process. It’s a reasonable check on the process of mining into people’s private affairs. But you only need a warrant to get information that is not volunteered.

There is bigger issue here is not being addressed. Why is the phone company eager to hand over this data? It varies from company to company, but I’d expect some sort of privacy agreement to be in the contract between the user and the service provider. I want my phone company (or anyone I do business with) to have a clause in the agreement that says “We won’t hand over any data collected without a warrant.” If you don’t have something like that, then you absolutely have no expectation of privacy.

This case may not be just about your cell phone location, but about any sort of information held by anyone you do business with.

A) The government doesn’t have any inherent right to this information

B) Unless you have something in your agreement, you don’t have any right to prevent them from seeing it.

<HT: GorTechie @ Gormogons>

Thursday, February 11, 2010

When good robots go bad

Remember the news about the new sex robot? I initially just shrugged this off as another News of the Weird item, but John Stossel apparently seized on this line of the article.

Initially, he set out to create a health aide for the elderly, but all the red tape pushed him into the red light district.

Then followed up with the inventor himself. This is now my newest favorite example of human nature and government red tape. The guy wanted to build a robot that would help his elderly father when they were not together. but he found that as a “medical device” it would require extensive red tape as well as open him up to liability suits. Rather than go through that hassle, its now an “entertainment device”

He should ship it with a naughty nurse costume just for the irony.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Run, Forrest! Run!

I’m guessing that just through natural selection the local track team does pretty well.55 mph speed zone

Monday, February 1, 2010

Still bowing, but a Mayor?


The real question now is whether this suggests (a) a deeper narcissism than first realized. “Yes it is *I* who am bowing to you. I hope you realized the significance of this grand gesture.” or is it (b) a heretofore unrecognized deep seated self esteem issue.

or is it (c) Obama needs to get new contact lenses that don’t pop out at the slightest shake of his hand.

Obama vs BCS

Its good to know with the whole health care thing mostly done that the White House is now ready to start focusing on things that really matter. They are ramping up to go after the BCS in order to push it to a playoff system.

Really, Mr President? Is this what you want to be know for?




Wind turbines require electricity to spin?

This is awesome!

  1. Minnesota builds wind turbines
  2. Turbines have hydraulic fluid
  3. The fluid apparently can’t handle the cold Minnesota winter
  4. Officials decide to use electric heaters to warm the fluid

This reminds me of a similar attempt to save energy by a northern town which converted all their stop lights to LEDs from regular bulbs. It worked great until it snowed. LEDs arent hot like bulbs so the traffic lights all filled up with snow making them useless. They then decided to hire someone to drive around in a car cleaning out the lights.

I will just continue to repeat this phrase uttered by my 10 year old boy - “Why don’t people think things through?!?!”

Wind power is nice and all but can *not* be a primary source for electricity.

(HT: Hot Air)

Community Organizing 101 in High Schools across America

I subscribed to the announcements over at Organizing for America a while back just to see what kind of oddball shenanigans they might come up with but I missed this one because I don’t have a kid in high school yet. (and nothing in this story sets of my hoax alarm yet)

According to Atlas Shrugs one readers 11th grader came home with sign up material for a political organization. It came from OfA. She asked if there was a Republican option and was told no.

I’m very curious as to how this material made it into the classroom. Was it just the government class’s teacher being really stupid and short sighted or was this a sanctioned item that came from the administration. Either way, since this is a compulsory activity and funded by the taxpayers, any politically infused items (even extracurricular) that are propagated must either by balanced or better yet, left to the parents.

Atlas has all the details but I loved this bit. Its a multi week program and guess what is one Week 1’s suggested readings?