Saturday, January 30, 2010

Is Everything Now The Business of The Government?

The Banking Industry, the Auto Industry, The Health Care Industry, and now, COLLEGE FOOTBALL?
Justice Dept.: Obama administration may take action on BCS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is considering several steps that would review the legality of the controversial Bowl Championship Series, the Justice Department said in a letter Friday to a senator who had asked for an antitrust review.

In the letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch, obtained by The Associated Press, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote that the Justice Department is reviewing Hatch's request and other materials to determine whether to open an investigation into whether the BCS violates antitrust laws.

"Importantly, and in addition, the administration also is exploring other options that might be available to address concerns with the college football postseason," Weich wrote, including asking the Federal Trade Commission to review the legality of the BCS under consumer protection laws.

Several lawmakers and many critics want the BCS to switch to a playoff system, rather than the ratings system it uses to determine the teams that play in the championship game.

"The administration shares your belief that the current lack of a college football national championship playoff with respect to the highest division of college football ... raises important questions affecting millions of fans, colleges and universities, players and other interested parties," Weich wrote.

Weich made note of the fact that President Barack Obama, before he was sworn in, had stated his preference for a playoff system. In 2008, Obama said he was going to "to throw my weight around a little bit" to nudge college football toward a playoff system, a point that Hatch stressed when he urged Obama last fall to ask the department to investigate the BCS.

First, Orrin Hatch should be ashamed of himself, as should any other Republican who even thinks about signing on to this madness. This isn't "smaller government"; it's intrusive and meddling government.

I, personally, am no fan of the BCS system; it's often unfair and excludes teams that have earned the right to be included. This is, however, a matter for the NCAA to address, and not one for intrusion by the Federal Government under the guise of enforcing "anti-trust" or "consumer protection" laws.

As for Obama, I cannot say I'm surprised. He seems intent on injecting himself, and the government, into any and every facet of American life. He sees the the government as a ubiquitous solution machine and feels it to be within his puview to, as he stated, "throw (his)weight around a little bit", whenever he feels the need.

The "BCS System" is increasingly unpopular with the fans, it's not eqitable, but it's not a government issue. I want to see the system changed, but at the hands of the NCAA, not the Justice Department.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Bored With The Presidency?

Byron York has an interesting take on President Obama; a man who seemingly has been troubled with the limitations of every job he has held, thus creating a sense of boredom with each of those jobs. It's an interesting look at the President, and a fascinating read:

Has Obama become bored with being president?

Jon Stewart on Chris Matthews

Pretty funny stuff. I think that, after a year of reticence, the "Comedia" may be discovering that the Left provides at least as much fodder for ridicule as the right, and possibly more. Saturday Night Live broke the taboo, now all bets are off.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Howard Zinn, RIP

Howard Zinn, author of 'People's History' and left-wing historian, dies at 87 in California

Howard Zinn, an author, teacher and political activist whose leftist "A People's History of the United States" became a million-selling alternative to mainstream texts and a favorite of such celebrities as Bruce Springsteen and Ben Affleck, died Wednesday. He was 87.

History has a way of installing rational perspective, thus replacing contemporary reactionary propoganda. Zinn will be judged accordingly and will be found wanting. In that, I have faith. He, just like Marx and Engles, espoused fantastical solutions to practical problems. Many in the ranks of the foolish glitterati found him to be a visionary, even though his postulations have been tried, and have failed miserably for nearly a century.

Zinn was neither an historian nor a scholar; he was a small man with simplistic ideas, designed for small, undeveloped and unthinking minds who feel to much and think too little.

Let he, as well as his psuedo-philosophy, reside in the rotting, compost bin of history to be eventually used as fertlizer for true human progess.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

So NOW They Want Bipartsanship?

WSJ: White House Toughens Tone After Difficult Week

On "Meet the Press," White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said, "What we learned from the Massachusetts victory is that people are sick and tired of Washington not delivering for them."

What you learned, you tone-deaf moron, was that people are tired of Washington continuing spend money like it was water, while unemployment continues to rise. Maybe, Ms. Jarrett, the people don't like what you're delivering - nothing, at an enormous expense to the taxpayer.
Republicans said Mr. Brown's victory was a repudiation of the Obama agenda, not just of Democratic dithering. Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) urged the president to move to the center and engage Republicans.

McCain is often wrong, but this time he's dead-on. It's a shame that they didn't "engage" Republicans before bringing us to the brink of ruin.
Mr. Obama did that on one issue. On Saturday, he endorsed legislation in the Senate to create a bipartisan commission to tackle the budget deficit, with an up-or-down vote in Congress on its recommendations at the end of the year. A vote on creating that commission is scheduled in the Senate for Tuesday, and it is not expected to pass.

White House officials hope the president's endorsement of the bill will soften Republican opposition to his plan to create a similar commission by executive order. That commission will need GOP cooperation to fill eight of the 18 seats on the panel with Republicans.

Same old crap from these people; the Democrats singlehandedly created this budget nightmare with total control of the Executive and legislative branches; now they want to form a "bipartisan commission" to solve it. It's funny that there was no bipartisanship for the past 12 months while the problems were being created.

Of course, then he was "the Messiah", now he's just the Democrat hack that many of us knew he was all along.

Republicans should hold his feet to the fire for a while and demand that a lot of these expenditures, primarily the worthless "stimulus" be rolled back. He wants cover; don't give it to him.

MULTI-TASKING and Other Foolishness

“Buzz Words” have long been a staple of American business (I’m sure foreign business has their own, but let them deal with theirs in their own way).

These words and phrases are shorthand for concepts that, far too often, the users don’t really understand. Subsequently, these words and phrases have become concepts unto themselves. It has become increasingly clear that many Americans have lost the ability to clearly and effectively communicate within the confines of the English language. Nowhere is this more evident than in American business; an environ increasingly populated by people who utter these words and phrases as though they are sacred mantras. They are not mantras, or even intelligible; they're foolishness, transcribed into easily digestible word-bites by unthinking cheerleaders to be gobbled up as a source of motivation.

The one currently most popular is also the one that particularly enrages me:

MULTI-TASKING: This form of foolishness conjures up the image of one performing multiple tasks simultaneously; having a phone conversation, working on a spreadsheet or report and perhaps reading or answering an email, all at the same time. The truth is that this creates a stress absorbed work environment, where very little is actually accomplished. The results of a “high multitasking individual” are a trail of undone or poorly done projects because no single issue is given the amount of concentration it deserves. “Multitasking” is an excuse for a disordered mind that has been redefined as an attribute to which we should aspire. Alas, it is even listed as a requirement for most jobs today.

Do FOCUS and CONCENTRATION no longer have value?

I expect management to assign tasks, and prioritize those tasks (A, B, C, D, etc.) Is that too much to ask? If asked what I am working on, and my response is “A”, and then I am immediately quizzed on how “B” and “D” are coming, my response is generally “well, I have been working on ‘A’, has there been a change in priority?” Then, I am often admonished that “multitasking” is a skill that I should develop. “Multitasking” is not a skill; it’s a disorder and I have no interest in developing it. I have enough problems already. Perhaps prioritization is a skill that management should develop, rather than raising “willfully acquired ADD” to a paragon of virtue. Perhaps they would, but they may be to busy "multitasking" to actually think.

Have you ever been watching TV, while engrossed in thought about another subject that's on your mind, and suddenly realize that the visuals and sound eminating from your TV have totally eluded you and you have no idea, whatsoever, what has been happening? That is multitasking!

Not only is "multitasking" impossible to do with any degree of efficiency, it is highly undesirable in a work environment.

So, you don't believe me? Will you believe Stanford University?
Media multitaskers pay mental price, Stanford study shows
Think you can talk on the phone, send an instant message and read your e-mail all at once? Stanford researchers say even trying may impair your cognitive control.

Attention, multitaskers (if you can pay attention, that is): Your brain may be in trouble.

People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time, a group of Stanford researchers has found.

High-tech jugglers are everywhere – keeping up several e-mail and instant message conversations at once, text messaging while watching television and jumping from one website to another while plowing through homework assignments.

But after putting about 100 students through a series of three tests, the researchers realized those heavy media multitaskers are paying a big mental price.

"They're suckers for irrelevancy," said communication Professor Clifford Nass, one of the researchers whose findings are published in the Aug. 24 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Everything distracts them."

Social scientists have long assumed that it's impossible to process more than one string of information at a time. The brain just can't do it. But many researchers have guessed that people who appear to multitask must have superb control over what they think about and what they pay attention to.

Is there a gift?

So Nass and his colleagues, Eyal Ophir and Anthony Wagner, set out to learn what gives multitaskers their edge. What is their gift?

"We kept looking for what they're better at, and we didn't find it," said Ophir, the study's lead author and a researcher in Stanford's Communication Between Humans and Interactive Media Lab.

In each of their tests, the researchers split their subjects into two groups: those who regularly do a lot of media multitasking and those who don't.

In one experiment, the groups were shown sets of two red rectangles alone or surrounded by two, four or six blue rectangles. Each configuration was flashed twice, and the participants had to determine whether the two red rectangles in the second frame were in a different position than in the first frame.

They were told to ignore the blue rectangles, and the low multitaskers had no problem doing that. But the high multitaskers were constantly distracted by the irrelevant blue images. Their performance was horrible.

Because the high multitaskers showed they couldn't ignore things, the researchers figured they were better at storing and organizing information. Maybe they had better memories.

The second test proved that theory wrong. After being shown sequences of alphabetical letters, the high multitaskers did a lousy job at remembering when a letter was making a repeat appearance.

"The low multitaskers did great," Ophir said. "The high multitaskers were doing worse and worse the further they went along because they kept seeing more letters and had difficulty keeping them sorted in their brains."

Still puzzled

Puzzled but not yet stumped on why the heavy multitaskers weren't performing well, the researchers conducted a third test. If the heavy multitaskers couldn't filter out irrelevant information or organize their memories, perhaps they excelled at switching from one thing to another faster and better than anyone else.

Wrong again, the study found.

The test subjects were shown images of letters and numbers at the same time and instructed what to focus on. When they were told to pay attention to numbers, they had to determine if the digits were even or odd. When told to concentrate on letters, they had to say whether they were vowels or consonants.

Again, the heavy multitaskers underperformed the light multitaskers.

"They couldn't help thinking about the task they weren't doing," Ophir said. "The high multitaskers are always drawing from all the information in front of them. They can't keep things separate in their minds."

The researchers are still studying whether chronic media multitaskers are born with an inability to concentrate or are damaging their cognitive control by willingly taking in so much at once. But they're convinced the minds of multitaskers are not working as well as they could.

"When they're in situations where there are multiple sources of information coming from the external world or emerging out of memory, they're not able to filter out what's not relevant to their current goal," said Wagner, an associate professor of psychology. "That failure to filter means they're slowed down by that irrelevant information."

So maybe it's time to stop e-mailing if you're following the game on TV, and rethink singing along with the radio if you're reading the latest news online. By doing less, you might accomplish more.

Among my other least favorites:

Thinking “Outside the Box”: Has the simple term “creativity” lost its punch? Is not “The Box” the corporate mindset? If we need to exit “The Box” to think creatively, perhaps we should rethink the whole concept of “The Box”, no? Venturing too far outside "The Box" is a dicey proposition.

Let Me Pick your Brain: A particularly disgusting mental image. Can we no longer just ask for an opinion, a personal view or outlook, without conjuring a mental image of some sort of pseudo-surgical procedure? I suspect that many of these “brain pickers’ are representing the “brain boogers” they accumulate as their own.

Team Player: Old, jaded and useless. The fact that one has to stipulate this fact says a lot about the state of corporate America and those that inhabit it. Essentially, this states that “I am not a back-stabber and I support my peers, as well as the goals of the company”. Would a back-stabbing, self-absorbed narcissist actually admit it? Clearly not; back-stabbing, self-absorbed narcissists seem to rise to the top of the corporate ladder with increasing frequency.

With all of this in mind, is it really that surprising that American business is in its current state of woe?

In 1969, Dr. Laurence Peter and Raymond Hull wrote “The Peter Principle”. Originally meant to be humorous, clearly, its precepts have become the norm:
The Peter Principle is the principle that "In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence." It was formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 book The Peter Principle, a humorous treatise which also introduced the "salutary science of Hierarchiology", "inadvertently founded" by Peter. It holds that in a hierarchy, members are promoted so long as they work competently. Sooner or later they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent (their "level of incompetence"), and there they remain, being unable to earn further promotions. This principle can be modeled and has theoretical validity.[1] Peter's Corollary states that "in time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out his duties" and adds that "work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence".

"The Peter Principle" continues to be an instructional and cautionary work, yet we have failed to recognize its simple wisdom.

In April, 2009, Business Week published an article: The Peter Principle Lives: Now 40, The Peter Principle resonates even more today, when a lust for accomplishment has led an unprecedented level of incompetence.

It states, in part:
The Peter Principle made us laugh, but it also made us aware of the importance of simple competence—and of how elusive it could be. When people do their jobs well, Dr. Peter argued, society can't leave well enough alone. We ask for more and more until we ask too much. Then these individuals—promoted to positions in which they are doomed to fail—start using a bag of tricks to mask their incompetence. They distract us from their crummy work with giant desks, replace action with incomprehensible acronyms, blame others for failure, cheat to create the illusion of progress.
Dr Peter died in 1990, but I must wonder what he would have to say about "multitasking".

I cannot speak for him, but I think it facilitates our rise to "the level of our incompetence".

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Keep Talking, America!

“I expect to be held responsible, but I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don’t mind cleaning up after them, but don’t do a lot of talking.”

President Obama took office a year ago, with a formidable Democrat majority in Congress that has virtually rubber stamped his every whim. What has he done?

*He's virtually nationalized the auto industry as well as a large part of the financial industry.

*He's more than quadrupled the budget deficit in just one year.

*He's decided to try the architect of 9/11, in New York, as no more than a common criminal; affording him the same rights as a citizen.

*Were it not for quick thinking on the part of a passenger, we would have suffered the first terrorist attack since 9/11 and, again, the perpetrator will be tried as a civilian, rather than the enemy combatant that he clearly is.

*After spending nearly $800 billion in a misbegotten "stimulus" effort, unemployment is over 10%; higher than the 7.6% when he took office.

*He has attempted (and thankfully failed) to nationalize our health care system.

The fact is that, despite his rubber stamp Congress (or, likely because of it), he has turned a manageable recession into economic chaos, attacked capitalism at home and disparaged his own country abroad. He's alienated our friends and coddled our enemies and has developed an incomprehensible foreign policy.

All of this has been brought to you by Democrats. He, and his ilk, have "cleaned up" nothing; they've made everything infinitely worse.

He's had his year, and the opposition leaders didn't "do a lot of talking", but the PEOPLE have been talking for months. In the most unlikely state in our union, Massachusetts, no less, that talking has borne fruit.

Keep talking, America.

Monday, January 04, 2010

White House Unbending on Plan to Send Gitmo Prisoners back to Yemen

Yemen is clearly the new hotbed and training center for Islamic terrorism; it's considered so dangerous that both the UK and the US have closed their embassies. The Chrismas Day "Underwear Bomber" was trained and supplied in Yemen.

With all of that in mind, the Administration is hell-bent on releasing Gitmo prisoners into Yemen:
On Fox News Sunday, top White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said the administration "absolutely" intends to keep sending Guantanamo prisoners to Yemen. The administration has sent seven detainees to the country, Brennan said, with six of those sent in December. "Several of those detainees were put into Yemeni custody right away," Brennan said. He did not elaborate on how many is "several" or where the other Guantanamo inmates sent to Yemen might be today. But he said the U.S. has faith in Yemen to handle the situation. "We've had close dialogue with the Yemeni government about the expectations that we have as far as what they're supposed to do when these detainees go back," Brennan said.

I don't see this ending well, and that's an understatement.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

What do YOU See In These Pictures?

And the close-up image:

Do the words "arrogance", "contempt" and "narcissim" come to mind?

(h/t Instaundit)

Is There Something Here That I'm Missing?

December 18, 2009:
Six Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay to be repatriated
The Obama administration is planning to repatriate six Yemenis held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a transfer that could be a prelude to the release of dozens more detainees to Yemen, according to sources with independent knowledge of the matter.

January 3, 2010:
U.S., U.K. Embassies in Yemen Close Over Al Qaeda Threats
SAN’A, Yemen — The U.S. and Britain closed their embassies in Yemen on Sunday in the face of Al Qaeda threats, after both countries announced an increase in aid to the government to fight the terror group linked to the failed attempt to bomb a U.S. airliner on Christmas.

At one point, we have plans to release "dozens" of terrorists in Yemen, then, two weeks later, we are closing our embassy due to the danger. Has it just now dawned on us that Yemen has long been a hotbed of terrorism, and one of the most dangerous countries on earth?

This is a virtually failed state, incapable of even basic self-protection:
Hundreds of al-Qaeda militants are planning terror attacks from Yemen, the country’s Foreign Minister said today.

Abu Bakr al-Qirbi appealed for more help from the international community to help to train and equip counter-terrorist forces.

His plea came after an al-Qaeda group based in Yemen claimed responsibility for the failed Christmas Day airliner bomb plot.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, alleged to be behind the attempt to blow up an American-bound aircraft, spent time in Yemen with al-Qaeda and was in the country only days before the failed attack.

Dr al-Qirbi said: “Of course there are a number of al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen and some of their leaders. We realise this danger.

“They may actually plan attacks like the one we have just had in Detroit. There are maybe hundreds of them — 200, 300.”

Dr al-Qirbi said it was the “responsibility” of countries with strong intelligence capabilities to warn states such as Yemen about the movements of terror suspects.

The United States, Britain and the European Union could do a lot to improve Yemen’s response to militants on its own soil, he added.

“We have to work in a very joint fashion in partnership to combat terrorism,” he said. “If we do, the problem will be brought under control.

“There is support, but I must say it is inadequate. We need more training, we have to expand our counter-terrorism units and provide them with equipment and transportation like helicopters.”

Mr Abdulmutallab is said to have told US agents that there were more people “just like him” ready to carry out attacks.

A logical question would be; were we given forwarning of this situation prior to the Christmans bombing attempt, or is the Yemini government being "suddenly cooperative" in an effort of CYA?

Even though Yemen seems to know quite a bit about these terrorist trainees, Obama's top terrorism advisor still claims that there was nothing that could have been done:
WASHINGTON -- U.S. intelligence agencies did not miss a "smoking gun" that could have prevented a failed attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day, President Obama's top counterterrorism adviser said Sunday.

The adviser, John Brennan, told Fox News that there were a series of what he called lapses and errors in sharing intelligence about the Nigerian man accused in the unsuccessful attempt.

"There is no smoking gun," Brennan said on "Fox News Sunday." "There was no single piece of intelligence that said, 'this guy is going to get on a plane."'

Brennan is leading a White House review of the incident. Brennan didn't say whether anyone is in line to be fired because of the oversights.

Obama has said there was a systemic failure to prevent the attack, which he said was instigated by an affiliate in Yemen of the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

Obama ordered a thorough look at the shortcomings that permitted the plot, which failed not because of U.S. actions but because the would-be attacker was unable to ignite an explosive device. The president has summoned homeland security officials to meet with him in the White House Situation Room on Tuesday.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab apparently assembled an explosive device, including 80 grams of Pentrite, or PETN, in the aircraft toilet of a Detroit-bound Northwest flight, then planned to detonate it with a syringe of chemicals. Passengers intervened, and the plan failed.

The 23-year-old suspect's name was known to intelligence officials, and his father had passed along his concern about the son's increasing radicalization.

"We had bits and pieces of information," Brennan said on CNN's "State of the Union." The father's warning, he said, was "one set of data."

But Brennan said other information available didn't provide the details needed to map it and attach it to Abdulmutallab.

"What we need to do as an intelligence community, as a government, is be able to bring those disparate bits and pieces of information together so we prevent Mr. Abdulmutallab from getting on the plane."

He stood by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, although he acknowledged she has "taken some hits" for saying that the airline security system had worked. It didn't, and she clarified her remarks to show she meant that the system worked only after the attack was foiled, Brennan said.

It seems that CYA is rampant and the more they try to explain, the more foolish and incompetent they sound. These people aren't trying to protect our country, they're trying to protect their jobs.

From top to bottom this is a group that is clearly in over it's head and that fact becomes more evident by the day.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Chasing Shadows

Napolitano announces international airport security campaign

The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday announced it would launch a campaign next week to strengthen security screening procedures at a host of international airports.

The effort is part of the White House's heightened response to a Christmas Day attempt to bomb Delta Flight 253 in Detroit, a flight that originated in Amsterdam.

“As part of the ongoing review to determine exactly what went wrong leading up to Friday’s attempted terrorist attack, we are looking not only at our own processes, but also beyond our borders to ensure effective aviation security measures are in place for U.S-bound flights that originate at international airports,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement Thursday.

Does this incompetent administration realize that all four of the 9/11 flights were domestic, not international?

Do they realize that all of the "red flags' were clearly visable?

Then this, from The Wall Street Journal:
A U.S. government that has barred the phrase "war on terror" has nonetheless acknowledged that a failed Christmas day bomb attack on an airliner was a terrorist attempt. Can we all now drop the pretense that we stopped fighting a war once Dick Cheney and George W. Bush left the White House?

The attempt by 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab follows the alleged murders in Ft. Hood, Texas by Islamist-inspired Major Nidal Hasan in November. Brian Jenkins, who studies terrorism for the Rand Corporation, says there were more terror incidents (12), including thwarted plots, on U.S. soil in 2009 than in any year since 2001. The jihadists don't seem to like Americans any better because we're closing down Guantanamo.

This increasing terror tempo makes the Obama Administration's reflexive impulse to treat terrorists like routine criminal suspects all the more worrisome. It immediately indicted Mr. Abdulmutallab on criminal charges of trying to destroy an aircraft, despite reports that he told officials he had ties to al Qaeda and had picked up his PETN explosive in Yemen. The charges mean the Nigerian can only be interrogated like any other defendant in a criminal case, subject to having a lawyer present and his Miranda rights read.

Yet he is precisely the kind of illegal enemy combatant who should be interrogated first with the goal of preventing future attacks and learning more about terror networks rather than gaining a single conviction. We now have to hope he cooperates voluntarily.

What I want to know is how, or if, these "watch lists" and "no-fly lists" have been maintained during the last year and if the need to "not offend" has overridden our need to "defend".

Alas, I don't think, for one moment, that we will ever get an honest answer to that question; the rogues and charlatans that infest this White House, as well as our legislative branch, will see to that.