Obfuscation

On House of Representatives Rejection of President Obama’s Budget:

I’m not sure what I was supposed to take away from this article, but whatever it was there has to have been a better way to communicate it.

First, the headline:

GOP-run House easily rejects Obama budget

The whole story is about how the entire House of Representatives voted 414-0 to reject the budget. What does the modifier “GOP-run” add to this – like it was only the Republicans voting against it?

The first sentence:

The Republican-run House has overwhelmingly rejected President Barack Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget for next year after a vote forced by GOP lawmakers to embarrass Democrats.

Apparently the Democrats voted unanimously with the Republicans – how was this embarrassing for Democrats? Embarrasing would have been if the Democrats supported the bill and lost. The vote appears to have been aimed at embarrassing the President, not Democrats in general.

Democrats have defended Obama’s budget priorities but they largely voted “no” Wednesday night.

“Largely voted?” They were unianimous. Largely would be the correct term to indicate a large majority. In this case, the word “all” would have been more accurate.

Campaign Nepotism

Here’s a report from ABC News about nepotism on the campaign trail – Congressman hiring their relatives and paying them from campaign funds.

One of the great things about having a $0 campaign budget (like your’s truly) is that you’re not tempted to do things like this. But I can promise you that if I ever did receive a donation I would use it to buy signs – not to pay off the ultimate insiders.

The Unemployment Trap

For long-unemployed, hiring bias rears its head:

“There’s much more subliminal discrimination against the unemployed that’s hard to document,” said Lynne Sarikas, director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University’s College of Business Administration. “Hiring is an art, not a science. You rely on a gut reaction.”
For example, employers may suspect that an unemployed applicant is seeking an available job for the wrong reasons, she said.
“A manager is going to get the vibe that they’ll take anything to get a job and if something better comes along they’re out the door,” Sarikas said.
Also, some long-term unemployed applicants may come across as too urgent for work, “and desperation doesn’t translate well in an interview,” she said.

How many of the unemployed passed on available jobs early in their unemployment, waiting for a better opportunity, because the continued extension of unemployment benefits from the government made this possible? They would have been better off in any job, rather than become long-term unemployed. The longer they stay unemployed the more their confidence and skills atrophy. Yet another good example of unintended consequences from a well-intentioned government.

Climate Change Questions

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2012/03/17/effective-world-government-will-still-be-needed-to-stave-off-climate-catastrophe/

Mr. Stix posits some intellectually honest questions regarding implementation of climate change policy.

How do we overcome our hard-wired tendency to “discount” the future: valuing what we have today more than what we might receive tomorrow?

I agree it’s hard-wired. So “overcoming” it is clearly the role of religion.

Would any institution be capable of instilling a permanent crisis mentality lasting decades, if not centuries?

Fear of going to hell has worked for many religions for centuries….

How do we create new institutions with enforcement powers way beyond the current mandate of the U.N.?

May I suggest “The Prince” – these power-consolidation problems have well known solutions…

Could we ensure against a malevolent dictator who might abuse the power of such organizations?

Please re-read “The Prince” (I’ll save you some time – the answer is “No”…)

Ned Rico

Rick Santorum invited me to attend a campaign rally with him in Puerto Rico this weekend. Right before the event we had a free hour so Rick tried to grab a few rays, and I took a swim. Of course one thing you learn on the campaign trail is that you really give up a lot of your privacy so the next thing you I’m back on the Drudge Report again…

Putting the “Strategic” in Petroleum Reserves

When they named is the “Strategic Petroleum Reserve” I’m not sure the sitting president’s re-election strategy was the one they had in mind…

U.S. and Britain Agree to Emergency Oil Stocks Release

Rising world oil prices have pushed the cost of gasoline in the U.S. up sharply, threatening to stall economic recovery ahead of Obama’s bid for re-election in November.

Also

While there is no significant disruption of world oil supplies at the moment, sanctions on Iran are expected to cut its output when a European Union embargo takes effect from July.

Since there are no major supply disruptions that are artificially driving up the price, it stands to reason that prices are rising because of fundamentals and will simply go back up once our “strategic” release is over. This release is an attempt to temporarily juice oil prices to the downside for political reasons.

“The Obama administration can only take so much political pain from rising gasoline prices, which pose a serious threat to the economy and the president’s re-election,” said Bob McNally, a former White House energy adviser and head of U.S. energy consultancy Rapidan.

Candidate Ned hereby pledges not to use public resources for his personal political benefit.

High Tech White House

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/print/9225132/White_House_CIO_s_first_40_days_included_worst_day_ever

“The White House CIO office had one data center, said Colangelo. “We had no redundancy,” he said

“When it was all said and done, in the first 40 days of the administration we were down 23% of the time,” said Colangelo. ”

You thought that the most powerful man on the planet had state-of-the-art tech?  Or, heck, even an email server that worked?  No, actually it is worse than what an impoverished kid living in a hut in Brazil gets for free from Gmail.

“Colangelo was also open to new ideas.
An intern in the Council of Economic Advisors, who had a computer science background but was working on projects unrelated to his training, sparked the effort. When asked to update a spreadsheet or a memo, he automated it using macros or some other type of technology to make it move faster. ”

Wait, “using macros” was a “new idea”?  The intern probably blew the office away when he introduced them to “track changes.”

“The program also led to the development of survey tools, memo generators, and an online tool that replaced paper-based goods and services processing.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done here,” said Colangelo. ”

You should be, Mr. Colangelo.  You should be.  The six-figure salary that you earn to deliver 1990’s tech is not nearly the compensation that you deserve for producing such a monumental achievement.

Now, if only we could get these guys to run our healthcare system…