June 1st, 2010

The Swallows have won!

Some conclusions from Koehler's political harakiri

What did you say was the new weekly topic? Political scandals? Now here's what I call a scandal!

So, the German president Horst Koehler has quit his post after a diplomatic gaffe. After a snap visit in Afghanistan, he made a radio interview where he implied that the Germans should acknowledge the fact that their troops might be going on military missions abroad for the purpose of protecting the economic interests of their country ("Securing the safe trade routes" were his exact words). There was a huge uproar back in Germany, and Koehler eventually decided to resign, much to the shock of his ally Merkel and causing schadenfreude outbursts in his political opponents on the left (particularly the Greens).

There are two conclusions that I can make out of the whole thing:

1. Yes, words indeed are stronger than weapons. A sentence, when slipped at the wrong place in the wrong context, can do a lot of damage and even end political careers. But that's the least of issues that we should care about. It's his problem, and besides the president of Germany has largely ceremonial functions. Still, he may have thought that he was setting some example about political ethics (which some of his other western, and definitely most of his eastern, counterparts might be never able to live up to). The direct consequence for Merkel is that she's losing even more ground, after some recent setbacks on the domestic front.

2. The more important conclusion (for me) is that neglecting the all-pervasive Political Correctness even for a minute tends to be cruelly punished, with no way back. The so-called "public opinion", which is largely hypocritical in most respects, is sure to jump at anybody's throat, the minute he utters something which he's not supposed to utter. Even if it's the TRUTH. Yep, you heard me. What he said in that interview is the truth itself. You can easily see how he's a guy who knows exactly what he's talking about, given his past record as the former chairman of the IMF. So he was careless enough to drop his PC defenses, and he got duly guillotined for that by the public. They sniffed blood and they weren't late to get him by the throat. It's how politics works. Don't go swimming around the corals if you're afraid of sharks. Or something.

So, to every potential future politician who's planning to run for office some day (you know who you are), I say this: It's not enough to just make sure all your prom party nude pics have been erased from your HD, and your ex girlfriends' photo albums have been seized and burned to the last one. You should also emphasize on training your political correctness reflexes and instincts to perfection. Make them totally automatic, so even if you're abruptly awoken in the middle of the night and someone asks you a question like "What do you think about our mission in the world?", you should be able to respond instantly with "Oh, I support our troops who are risking their lives and putting themselves in harm's way to protect freedom and liberty, and the democratic values that we stand for". Or something.
me in front.

Universal Health Coverage

In the USA, at present, you get healthcare if you have Health Insurance. And in most cases, you have to pay for this.

Right wingers are proud to say that America spends more on healthcare per capita than Switzerland does. And that is going some. But does spending a lot more give outcomes that are any better?

Let me ask you all - If you live in the Rest of The World, do you have Universal Health Coverage where you live and how do your figures compare to the USA?
What is it like for life expectancy, for IMRs, for war veterans, in your home country?
And yes, Americans, can we see your figures also?

Americans were pointing out to me last time that the USA counts ~all~ live births, and that some countries cheat. Now thiis is true. All American babies , born premature, will be counted, and in in some countries, a live birth is not counted as an IMR if it's a premature birth and the baby dies.
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  • paft

Disposable People: The Unemployed Need Not Apply

From Clickorlando.com 6/1/10:
Job hunters are facing a new hurdle: businesses asking recruitment companies to keep unemployed people out of their job pools.

Video here.

Yes, you read that right. Some businesses are now placing job ads that exclude all those icky unemployed people. A trend I first mentioned back in July of last year is continuing and, according to this story, growing.

So, many of the unemployed face, not only the cutting off of their unemployment benefits, not only potential employers holding bad credit ratings, (often a byproduct of not having a job) against them, they now are increasingly being barred by potential employers from applying for job openings -- because they are unemployed.

Apparently in today’s society, more and more, once you’re out, you’re out.

Think of the weapon this hands employers. The saying, so beloved of free market types, “If you don’t like the job, quit and find another one,” is becoming not just a platitude, but a mocking sneer. Quitting is no longer an option, being fired, or laid off, no longer a relatively minor blip in someone’s working life.

If this trend continues, unemployment itself could become a catastrophe that knocks someone permanently out of full time work.
  • 404

Rules of the road

Msn posted this mini-quiz on the rules of the road, well, whether or not you'd pass a driving test. It's only 20 questions so take it and report!


I got an 80% on it, below average it seems for my gender and age bracket :P

Speaking of driving tests, I almost failed the parallel parking portion of the test, but was saved because the instructor was friends with the guy I hired to teach me to drive, whew! On that topic, do you think DMVs should test for parallel parking? Only recently have I even had to parallel park (moved to Savannah), where I lived at the time (Atlanta) you never need to. Is there one thing that you see constantly in drivers that you'd like to see concentrated on at the DMV? I'd like to see people use their turn signal more, and less getting cut off would be nice as well.
  • mijopo

Libertarianism reductio

Last week a friend on FB posted a Tom Tomorrow comic about a doomsday bomb and I joked that tort law would effectively discourage anyone from producing such a device.  Well, those darn libertarians make it hard to parody their positions.  John Stossel is seriously claiming that tort law will suffice to get BP to fix the Gulf and mend their ways and the government should be doing less to regulate the oil industry.  We don't have to worry about the Tea Party, in a week Rand Paul and John Stossel served up two big fat juicy reductio ad absurdums. 

(Leonard Pitts reminds us of a simpler time when Bobby Jindall used to also say things like "There has never been a challenge that the American people, with as little interference as possible by the federal government, cannot handle.'')

x-posted to my journal