Thursday, February 2, 2012

Last Call

Orange Julius apparently objects on Constitutional grounds to requiring institutions linked to religious groups to make birth control available to women under employee insurance plans.  Apparently Boehner's logic is "because none of the Founding Fathers were black, the fact that President Obama is doing anything clearly violates the highest law of the land."

The mandate, authorized under the Affordable Care Act, holds that employer-provided health insurance plans must provide birth control to women without co-pays. Houses of worship are exempt, and religious nonprofits are allowed an additional year before they begin complying. But conservative religious organizations and their allies on Capitol Hill say that’s not enough.

“I think this mandate violates our constitution,” Boehner told reporters on Thursday. “I think it violates the right of these religious organizations. And I would hope that the administration would back up and take another look.”

Can you tell it's an election year?   I'll tell you what, Boehner has a deal if churches across the country lose their tax exempt status.  Otherwise, I don't want to hear it.  Either that or do your duty, Mr. Speaker: if you believe the President is violating the Constitution, let's see your Articles of Impeachment.

Otherwise, shut it.

Crossing The Rubin Con On Romney

Oh, Jennifer Rubin.  You really are a terrible hack, and why the Kaplan machine keeps inflicting you upon the populace, I’ll never know.

Romney as the nominee will be flyspecked and criticized over every word. He needs to avoid actual gaffes. But he can’t keep the media from editing out all the inconvenient parts of every sentence, paragraph and interview. He’ll need to work on talking directly to voters, making his case in ads and debates. The good news for him, at least in the primary, is that the media that are predisposed to pounce on every (other) word and offer the most negative interpretation of his every statement and performance appear to have zero influence among voters. Perhaps a less crazed approach to covering Romney would restore their credibility.

To recap, the woman that used her position at the Washington Post to push silly Holocaust denial garbage, who “apologized” for blaming last year’s deadly terrorist shooting in Norway on Muslims before the information was in by saying Muslims are all terrorists anyway (and this after howling that the Left jumped to conclusions on the Giffords shooting), who accused the President of losing the war in Iraq the second he agreed to send our troops home and called the move the “worst error” of his presidency, barely pulled up from fully accusing the President of being an anti-Semite, and who has enough strikes against her to, in a sane world, never have been hired at the Post in the first place, is now worried about the journalistic credibility of “the anti-Romney right” and “the anti-Romney left.”  Effing really?

Jennifer Rubin probably deserves to have a dump truck full of her “credibility” deposited on her front lawn.  It’s a level of sheer, overwhelming absurdity that would drive Beckett and Pinter to sit around in their underwear all day reading Lolcats and drinking moonshine because they couldn’t deal with trying to process it.   The woman has credibility the same way a moldered cinder block in a New jersey landfill has a fascinating appreciation of the political ramifications of the Dutch Tulip Bubble.  Why is she still employed other than to give every other journalist in the country a reference point of just how awful they can be without being fired?

That she’s hitched her wagon to the Least Interesting Man In The World is significant in ways I could only apparently try to grasp if I were actively killing brain cells with alcohol and laughing at pictures of kittens conquering cardboard boxes in a manner befitting Alexander the Great.

Dear America

"Gays and robots are the only things having sex in Japan right now.  This is the logical endpoint of feminism, and we're next."
--Tom "Vox Day" Beale

Bonus verbatim stupid:

People often point out that "a real woman" is better than the autoerotic options, but the fact is that a) the real women tend to come with considerably more negatives than they did 50 years ago and b) the gap between a real woman and autoerotica has narrowed considerably in that time, especially for men who are not in the upper half of the socio-sexual rankings.

Vox wouldn't know a real woman if it ran over him in a monster truck.  Twice.

What We Can Gain (And Lose) By Facebook's IPO

According to some reports, there is a lot for us to lose and one nifty thing to gain by Facebook going public.  CNET's Molly Wood literally begs people not to buy stock.  She explains very carefully how it works, and how it isn't a bad thing but the common folks won't stand to make much.  The first investors will snap up the choice price, and we will be left generating profit for the beast.  The only thing that might change her predicted outcome is if Facebook explodes into a new level of service, for example if they grew a Google-like appendage and brought in millions of new users.  As she also points out, it will be a long time before stock can be purchased, so there is time to watch this develop.  Just don't let hype override common sense.

However, if they go public there is an outstanding chance they will have to disclose more information, including privacy investigations.  Because the interested parties have listed their facts, we know some of what has gone on behind closed doors.  While Wired reminds us there are no guarantees, there will likely be more for us to know about Facebook and its processes.

All About Email

I am shocked at the number of people who are going online for the first time, or setting up an email account with no idea how email works.  These waves of newcomers are the reason we have Internet growth.  They are also the reason we get "send this to everyone you know in ten seconds and your wish will come true!!!!!" messages.

With those folks in mind, here is a consolidated email handbook.  Feel free to send it to anyone you want, either because they annoy the crap out of you or because you are afraid someone is driving them insane (sure, we can pretend it's the latter).

1.  Think before you send.  I know this sounds too obvious, but it really is the root of most problems.  Do you really believe this angel email will cure cancer if you send it to everyone in your address book, or do you think that angel email will be more likely to accidentally offend or hurt someone who has fought or lost a loved one to cancer?  I don't care how great the charity, or how terrifying the story is, check before you contribute to the stupid part of the Internet.

2.  Know the difference between "reply" and "reply all" and if you don't know the difference, promise me right now you will never use reply all.  That sends a message to every single person listed on the message, and is a sure way to bug your friends.  And if you do hit reply all just to send "okay" or something like that, I will hunt you down and shoot you myself.  You have been warned.

3.  Protect people's privacy.  Use BCC (blind carbon copy) to hide multiple email addresses.  If you send a message to ten people and BCC them, that means they will not be aware of other recipients.  Don't give out someone's email address without their permission.  And for the love of baby Facebook, do not sign them up for specials using their email address.

4.  Do not send jokes or political messages to a work email address.  I don't care how funny it is, or how strongly you feel that this should be shared.  Work email is monitored, and is often checked for phrases or content that could land your friend in hot water.
5.  People don't answer within seconds.  Accept the fact that every person checks their messages on their own schedule.  They also may prioritize when and how they answer.  Do not get bent out of shape if you feel your message has been neglected.

And here are a couple from my own personal set of standards:

1.  Use spell check.  Seriously.  Give a damn about your spelling and grammar if you are going to use written communication.  Don't use all capitals.  Don't use all lowercase.  If you do not know how to create a sentence or spell basic words, invest your time in learning that rather than taking on email.

2.  Your newbie status is no excuse for stupidity.  Just because you don't understand why the points above are important doesn't mean they aren't.  It means you don't understand.  Someday, you too will roll your eyes at an email telling you how friends are like roses, or opinions are like assholes.  You will read a poorly typed message that makes you work hard to comprehend, when the writer could have taken thirty seconds to clean it up a little.  And you will get mails from the Nigerian royal family because some idiot gave out your address to win a prize or be helpful.  If you're an overachiever, you may even embarrass yourself or someone you love by hitting reply all and sharing too much.  You will eventually learn the reasons behind the tips above, but until then... trust a geek.

Washington Leading The Way

Washington state, that is.  A measure allowing same-sex marriage in the state has easily passed the State Senate, is expected to pass the State House as early as next week, and could be on Democrat Gov. Chris Gregoire's desk before the end of the month.

“Regardless of how you vote on this bill, an invitation will be in the mail,” Senator Ed Murray of Seattle, the prime sponsor in the Senate, said in his final remarks before the vote. Mr. Murray, who is gay, has noted many times publicly that he and his longtime partner hope to marry in their home state. 

The measure, echoing one passed in New York last June, includes language assuring religious groups that they would not be required to marry same-sex couples or allow them to marry in their facilities. 

Washington would join New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Iowa as states where same-sex couples can marry. Washington, D.C., also allows same-sex marriage.

Washington has steadily expanded rights for gay and lesbian couples since 2006, when it approved domestic partnerships. In 2009, it passed a so-called everything-but-marriage bill, which was challenged in a public referendum and upheld by voters, 53 to 47. Opponents of the marriage bill say they will challenge it in a referendum this fall. The Roman Catholic Church is among the opponents. 

The floor debate late Wednesday was civil and relatively succinct. 

Before the final vote, senators rejected an amendment to put the matter before voters in a referendum. Some people who later supported the bill also supported putting it up for a referendum. One of the leading opponents, Senator Dan Swecker, a Republican, said he worried that approving same-sex marriage would “create a hostile environment for those of us who believe in traditional marriage.” 

As opposed to the absolutely hostile environment that banning same-sex marriage creates for the LGBT community?  I don't buy it.  Neither do Washington state lawmakers, and the slow journey towards equality continues across the country, despite states using the tyranny of the majority whenever possible.

It took the courts to get rid of segregation and anti-miscegenation laws.  It'll take the courts to get rid of marriage inequality too.  The speed of that happening depends entirely on the person in the Oval Office who gets to appoint justices to the Supreme Court, and that alone should be guiding people's votes in November.

Something Special In The Error

American Airlines is solving its bankruptcy problem by pulling the eject lever on 13,000 current employees and cutting health and retirement benefits for tens of thousands more.

The parent of American Airlines wants to eliminate about 13,000 jobs — 15 percent of its workforce — as the nation's third-biggest airline remakes itself under bankruptcy protection.

The company proposes to end its traditional pension plans, a move strongly opposed by the airline's unions and the U.S. pension-insurance agency, and to stop paying for retiree health benefits.

AMR Corp. said Wednesday that it must cut labor costs by 20 percent. It will soon begin negotiations with its three major unions, but the president of the flight attendants' union quickly rejected the company's ideas as unacceptably harsh.

CEO Thomas W. Horton said Wednesday that the company hopes to return to profitability by cutting spending by more than $2 billion per year and raising revenue by $1 billion per year.

AMR lost $884 million in the first nine months of 2011, and $904 million for December alone. It has lost more than $11 billion since 2001.

"We are going to use the restructuring process to make the necessary changes to meet our challenges head-on and capitalize fully on the solid foundation we've put in place," Horton said in a letter to employees.

AMR's 88,000 employees have braced for bad news for weeks. 

And boy, did they get it.  American is vowing if the unions don't eat these massive job cuts, the company will have all union contracts tossed in bankruptcy court and cut the jobs anyway.  They also want unions to drop pensions and go to 401(k) plans and want further health benefit cost-cutting for retirees...and all indications are they'll get every single one of those "requests" from labor because American at this point has no real reason not to go to a bankruptcy judge and demand the abrogation of all union contracts.  Laws passed by Congress and President Bush have seen to that.

The assault on workers in the US continues, and the country is being told that getting rid of these awful, evil, despicable unions is the first step towards job creation.  That's true.  It just means those jobs won't be created in the US.


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