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Public Service Announcement



Ok, so I decided to do some of the most difficult work I’ve done since I was laid off in Mid January.  Which is to bring to you a public service announcement.  This is extremely important information, so pay attention.

I watched the must go to Colorado Obama Stimulus Speech and signing of the bill extravaganza. Alright, I watched but didn’t really listen which was good, but I wasn’t not listening because the drone hurts my ears. I was watching and not listening because I wanted to count how many times Professional Telepromptman would swing his head from side to side. I discovered some very interesting results.

During the speech Obama swung his head side to side approximately 259 times.

Do you all have any idea how exhausting and mind numbing this task was for me??  But no worries, I completed it.

Then I decided I needed to bring forth more information. So I did the math to determine how many words Obama reads off of each teleprompter before jostling his head in the other direction to read off the other. Remember, he has two of them. So I found his prepared remarks which totaled 2,068 words.

This means:

Obama reads approximately 4 words from a teleprompter before he swings his head to read the next four words from the other.

But HOLD ON, I didn’t finish there folks! I timed the speech which was about 15 minutes. This allowed me to calculate how many times Obama swings his head left to right in the span of a minute.  Here are the results:

Obama swings his head left to right approximately 17.3 times total  per minute.

Let me tell you gathering this information was not easy and I do hope you all appreciate the great amount time, effort and absolute dedication it took to accomplish this task. I am happy to have brought you this very interesting information.  You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

P.S.  if you want to know how many ummm, errrrs, and ahhhs, you will have to do it yourself.  That is just too much to ask of one person.

He’s Just Not That Into You, Dave


Dave Sirota discovers he was just a booty call:

I forgot how weirdly rigid the social hierarchies are at official political events, but I was reminded when, as a member of the press, I was corralled into a steel cage (see right) and cordoned off from the audience, as if under quarantine. Oh, and I was also set apart from the “traveling press” – the national reporters that travel on Air Force One. They got the good seats, and the local media was put in the back (no sour grapes, I swear – I’m just happy to have gotten in).

That last sentence is full of sad.  Dave must still be longing for a repeat of the day they spent together because he’s still infatuated:

Is President Obama rediscovering the economically populist voice that fueled his campaign? After spending a week traveling to locales outside the eliteosphere in Washington, D.C., it seems like he certainly might be:

The president, as reported by the Detroit Free Press, “said he believes there is no economic risk to workers organizing and making a living wage.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer, meanwhile, quoted Obama as saying he didn’t “buy the argument that providing workers with collective-bargaining rights somehow weakens the economy or worsens the business environment.” Moreover, the paper reported that Obama “would not urge a delay in consideration of the Employee Free Choice Act.”

When I read this, my reaction was a fist pump – perhaps the first full-on fist pump I’ve been moved to engage in since the inauguration.

Fist pumps?  Doesn’t Obama even have the courtesy to give you a reach-around?  C’mon Dave, put down the Kool-aid and step away from the punch bowl.  If he cared about you he wouldn’t avoid you in public. 

When was Obama ever an “economic populist?”  When he was bashing NAFTA in Ohio while secretly telling the Canadians he didn’t mean it?  Would an economic populist want to privatize social security?  Wouldn’t an economic populist make universal health care a top priority?

Haven’t you figured out yet that you have to parse Obama’s words carefully?  How come Obama didn’t say he “would not urge a delay in passage of the Employee Free Choice Act?”  Quit falling for all the smooth talk and demand a commitment.  As my grandma would say “It don’t mean a thing if you don’t get that ring.”


Try Squaring This Circle

Crossposted from Heidi Li’s Potpourri

Two headlines, side by side, at Rasmussen:

Comment: I understand that one could tell a statistician’s story that would make sense of these headlines and some others on Rasmussen’s home page today, such as: Confidence in U.S. Banking System Plummets
Voters Predicted Congress Would Approve Stimulus Package Without Reading It

But to me, this sounds like a population in panic, mistrustful and nervous about its government and its banking system. When people are gripped by fear they do not reason coherently. In any event one could believe the latest measures by our Congress, taken at the urging of President Obama, will do some good but not very much. This is sort of how I think of Jimmy Carter’s entire domestic-side Presidency. Maybe some of what Carter urged did some good, but not very much. And that’s part of why he ended up a one-term wonder. (True enough, the Iran hostage rescue debacle didn’t help either.)

President Obama needs to stabilize the fear that he unleashed in his inaugural address and his primetime press conference. Maybe he thought being grim and scary would ensure action – it worked for Bush when he wanted to send U.S. troops to Iraq – but grim and scared people do not function well in most social environments.


[UPDATE] This post will “stick” to the top of the page.

Inside the Meltdown, watch online or on air beginning Tuesday, February 17, 2009. FRONTLINE investigates the causes of the worst economic crisis in 70 years and how the government responded. The film chronicles the inside stories of the Bear Stearns deal, Lehman Brothers’ collapse, the propping up of insurance giant AIG, and the $700 billion bailout. Inside the Meltdown examines what Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke didn’t see, couldn’t stop and haven’t been able to fix.

Tuesday: GM dumps retiree health care

Isn’t that special? Now, the rest of us can pick up the bill for them:

Mr. Gettelfinger, for his part, is trying to protect one of the jewels of the U.A.W. contract, which is essentially health care for life for anyone who worked on the assembly line and their surviving spouses. G.M. has already canceled health care for more than 100,000 of its salaried retirees.

“The U.A.W. at this point understands that it can very well turn into the villain of this whole thing by insisting that its workers receive health care benefits that few workers do,” said Gary N. Chaison, a labor expert at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

U.A.W. members are bracing for bad news, and worrying that their health care plan will be sacrificed to keep G.M. from going bankrupt.

“Where does it all stop?” said Mike Green, president of U.A.W. Local No. 652, which represents workers in Lansing, Mich. “It would be devastating. Our typical person works between 30 and 40 years. They did their part. Why should they have it taken away with the sweep of a pen?

Or, GM could stop thinking in the present like it has been doing since the first oil crisis and turn out cars and trucks that are actually energy efficient and well designed.  It could stop hiring CEO’s who live in the moment and oppose universal healthcare until the enormous cost of it threatens to bring down their industry.  They could stop blaming labor for all of their problems.

Did you ever notice that whenever there is a crisis in an industry, it’s always labor’s fault for demanding too much?  They’re damned it they work with no protection and damned if they work with it.  If they get laid off these days, they get blamed for the cost of unemployment.  Industry would work so much better if the damn workers would just show up, do their jobs for free and go away when they’re not needed any longer.

But NOooooOOOoo.  Now we learn that the unions enjoy privileges that most workers do not.  We can all point our fingers at them and say, “They are getting more than we are.  That’s not fair!” instead of saying, “Which bozos were in charge in the past 30 years who allowed this to happen?”

As for the retirees, I feel bad for anyone with a fixed income and a health problem.  It’s too late for them to find jobs.  If they were promised healthcare, someone needs to deliver on that promise.  But instead of determining whether the company bargained in bad faith, knowing that they wouldn’t ever be expected to deliver on their future promises, we are supposed to see the UAW as the villain for trying to collect on deferred compensation.  What did the UAW concede when it struck the “retiree health care” bargain in the first place?

It sets a really bad precedent to treat retirees in one industry badly because that kind of bad behavior has a tendency to spread if no one is held accountable for promises.  What about the rest of us who have been paying our taxes and have been promised pensions, 401K’s, cash balance plans and social security?  If the UAW is forced to sacrifice for their industry, who’s next?

Ahhh, here’s the problem:

But G.M.’s plan to shrink its way to profitability will not mean much without an agreement with the U.A.W.

There is apparently no other way that GM can make a profit without getting concessions from the unions.  They can’t make better cars.  No, no, that’s completely off of the table.  And it can’t stop stupid finance deals or cut executive pay or ask their shareholders to forgo their dividends until the American auto industry gets back on its feet.  No, profitability hinges on screwing the workers.  And Obama has decided to appoint Tim Geithner and Larry “Women are intrinsically incapable of doing higher level math” Summers to supervise the agreement that gets hammered out.

How strange.  In the case of the banks, there is a decidedly hands off approach to how the financial bailout money gets spent.  The taxpayer is a silent partner while the bankers divvy up the spoils and reward themselves with lavish bonuses.  To interfere with THAT is taboo and unAmerican.  We can not direct how executives are compensated.  But with the auto industry and their measley $14 billion, well, that’s a different story.  For that, we need Geithner and Summers to supervise directly.  And unlike Wall Street, there are unions that are to be considered.  And these union members have to make concessions or the industry is unprofitable.

Ok, I see where this is going now.

Hey, don’t blame us.  We didn’t vote for him.

On another note:

Marie Cocco hits the nail on the head: the middle class benefitting from the fruits of its productivity.  We aren’t making enough to maintain a middle class lifestyle.  It’s not that we took on too much debt.  It’s that we can’t make it on what we earn these days.  Oh sure, there are always going to be people who live beyond their means intentionally.  But what about the people who live beyond their means *unintentionally*?  Why are so many people struggling with mortgages and student loans that will take a generation to pay off?