Monday, June 28, 2010

Dumb and dumber...

It's 1994 all over again...or maybe it's just a sequel to the mildly funny (prescient?) film starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels...except the scenes below from the new version of "Dumb and Dumber" aren't really all that funny...when you think about it...

Joe Biden gets a request from one of those pesky taxpayers…

Joe Biden tell us:We can’t recover all the jobs lost.” How about just a few?

He ordered a two-scooper...

If you’re in town with a group of other world leaders to talk about the biggest challenges facing mankind, what’s the first question you’d ask? Why, “You’ve got a lot of golf courses here, don’t you?” of course…

Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich actually considered naming Oprah Winfrey to fill Barack Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat. That would have been two untested, unqualified Chicago folks in a row…

Who's getting a Senate seat?!?!?!

FIFA=FAIL (part 348): FIFA – the despotic/idiotic ruling body for international soccer (including the current World Cup) has blown another call. According to the Wall Street Journal, “FIFA will censor World Cup match action being shown on giant screens inside the stadium after replays of Argentina's disputed first goal against Mexico fueled arguments on the pitch.” So FIFA decides not to use video replay to judge crucial calls and decides to censor stadium scoreboard replays so that their officials don’t come under criticism. That sounds just about right, considering the source of the decision.

FIFA=FAIL (part 349): So the argument against any instant replay is that it will take the game down a “slippery slope?” I can understand that. I mean, who wants a game with integrity…right, FIFA?

It doesn’t look like the Al Gore’s masseuse-assault allegations problem is going to have a happy ending…

Is that a poodle cut?

Why is Vietnam increasingly spelled “Afghanistan?”

Robert Byrd giving the White Power salute...

The first rule of Fright Club is...

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Making things McChrystal clear...

Today, the president's handpicked chief warrior in Afghanistan lost his job.

And the previous president's chief warrior in Iraq, who had been lambasted by many of the current president's closest friends and supporters, was given the former's job.

After what can only be described as the strangest (or lamest) decision in PR history - to let a Rolling Stone reporter chum around with a military leader - and the ensuing reportage detailing derision aimed at the civilian leaders in the Obama Administration by Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his staff, the president removed the general for "exercising poor judgment."

The Rolling Stone article that rolled downhill - and onto McChrystal...

To his credit, the president did it all just right.

When the story first came to light, it was hard to imagine why Barack Obama, the Commander in Chief, wouldn't get on the hotline to McChrystal and summarily boot the general. After all, he is the Commander in Chief and public insubordination, disrespect or dissent cannot be tolerated among his military.

Instead, he had the SpecOps warrior hightail it to the White House for a face-to-face. Not only did it give the general one last opportunity to explain what he had done (or hadn't), it also gave the president the opportunity to get The Next lined-up.

The Next just happened to be Gen. David Petraeus - the author of the Iraq Surge (George W. Bush's general) - who also had been McChrystal's boss.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss...

My longtime colleague, Tunku Varadarajan (in The Daily Beast) writes, "Barack Obama, who has in recent days turned haplessness into an art form, played a masterstroke today, making perhaps the canniest, wiliest, even wisest decision of his generally rudderless presidency. I refer, of course, to his appointment of David Petraeus to the Afghan war command, in place of the Rolling-Stoned Stanley McChrystal. In doing so, Obama has, at a stroke, taken Petraeus out of the 2012 presidential race."

Been there, done that - a previous dressing down of McChrystal by Obama...

Regardless of whatever strategies went into Obama's choice, it's a good one. Petraeus is a brilliant commander with a record of achievement. Even if the president/his team saw the new Afghanistan chief as less of a political threat if he were dealing with Taliban, it was probably the very best choice he could make.

What will be interesting now is to see how much - if any - McChrystal's plans and execution differ from Petraeus'. Since the latter was the former's boss (and is actually thought to be the architect of the overarching strategy), the bet is not will be apparent. He's unlikely to be on the battlefield on SpecOps with his troops (like McChrystal was known to do), but he'll likely get more traction on Capitol Hill - and with allies - than his sometimes combative and seemingly indifferent predecessor did.

Defense Sec. Robert Gates, Obama and Petraeus at today's news conference...

One likely - positive - outcome: it's safe to bet that Petraeus will be able to buy more time now for his troops to beat the Taliban. Originally, 2011 was the start date for withdrawal and it's hard to imagine the U.S. will have vanquished the Islamist militants by then. Petraeus will likely get more support from the Democrats in Congress in an effort to boost Obama, including more time to finish the job we set out on years ago.

Bonus item: the future Commander in Chief at his future general's Iraq hearings. Because he was busy building a personal highlight reel, he didn't really get any questions to Petraeus. Telling/typical...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Leading indicators...

OK, it’s The Bliss Index®, you say to yourself…so what does it indicate?

Many things, gentle reader. Many things.

That's just one way to look at your level of Bliss®...

Without further adieu, I present the latest installment of The Bliss Index® Leading Indicators™:


If you listen really hard, you can hear someone tell us,I will not rest until the leak is stopped.(Which doesn’t include going to sports events, golfing, attending concerts, etc…of course.)

We're listening...

Catch a rising star: All The Abused, a band out of Orange County, Calif., fronted by the hugely talented Sky Green, got out of the blocks with a great effort, “A Never Ending Story.” Her driving guitar and vocals distinguish the band and its music from so many rockers out there today. The title track is a fave and “I Don’t Care” has a Ramones-esque flavor that is infectious. Likewise, “I’ll Never Be A Rockstar,” is one of those tunes that will have you coming back for more. ATA’s lyrics are a bit heavy on the “issues” but they’re obviously heartfelt. It will be interesting to watch/listen to Green as she continues to mature as a musician, vocalist and songwriter. It’s always a thrill to catch a star on the rise and she’s one, for sure. You can listen/buy here.

Sky Green of All The Abused...

To…the voice of the great inventor, Thomas Alva Edison. After more than eight decades of being tucked away and forgotten, audio recordings of Edison were discovered (and uncovered). After a painstaking couple of years, researchers have brought Edison’s voice back from the great beyond.

Here comes the sun. No, not The Beatles’ version…to the actual sun’s.

In case you missed it, we sat in for Dave Congalton (KVEC-AM 920) this week. The show - featuring Bill Whalen, political analyst/columnist (looking ahead at the November elections); Jeff and Melissa Purchin (local swim school owners/operators) on what parents can do to safeguard kids this summer; Bill Morem of the SLO Tribune; and Dr. Joe Astroth, Autodesk chief education officer (on education, natch) – is available on podcast (here).


World Cup – live. If you’re Koman Coulibaly, watch the game you’re in charge of

Would you like to see what passes for sports fans these days? Check out the videos from the LAPD and help weed-out the idiots.

Click, actually, to see where opportunities are

Rising (political) star/Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) explaining entitlements:


---- MY DAD SAYS, by Justin Halpern. (It Books/HarperCollins, $15.99.) The Twitter feed is hilarious, so if you’re into compendiums…why the heck not? (But a TV show? Well, Shatner© is involved…)

Cool bicycling gear. (Just remember what Lance says: “It’s not about the bike”…so does that mean it’s about the accessories?)

Sprint’s new 4G phone – Just not everywhere. “Salem, Oregon; Milledgeville, Georgia; York, Pennsylvania. New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami are among those not yet operational but scheduled for later in 2010.”

The scariest storyever: “Goodnight Moon.” (Why is that old lady saying, “Hush!”…anyway?)

anything but Euros!



Invictus – The Clint Eastwood directed flick (now on DVD) starring Morgan Freeman (as Nelson Mandela) and Matt Damon (as the captain of newly democratic South Africa’s national rugby team) is interesting. It is, of course, a dramatized/sanitized version of the events, but it’s an interesting look at a nation that’s always struggled with its sense of identity – and justice. The script is so-so and it’s not one of Eastwood’s best directorial efforts, but Freeman’s performance as the South African leader looking to build a new nation on compassion, forgiveness and unity is remarkable. Damon, likewise, takes a somewhat forgettable character, deepens him and makes the guy likeable.

Worth watching...


Pasta and pools - they just don't mix...

“Brothers” – This film (currently on DVD) should not just be avoided…it should be shunned. Not only does it take cheap shots at vets, but it only serves to strengthen prejudices against members of the U.S. military (especially its field officers). I’m not going to link to it, because I don’t want any part of helping this putrid pile of melodramatic anti-U.S. bile. I’m not one who believes in “book burning,” but let’s just say any DVDs of this stinker I find will likely become drink coasters. If you know/love a veteran, current member of the U.S. armed forces, or just plain love this country, don’t do the writers/director/stars any favors by giving this film any of your hard-earned money.

Nuf said...

Luxury yachting – if you’re connected with BP.

Golfing – if you’re supposed to be “doing all that [you] can” to get a handle on the oil catastrophe in the Gulf. (That goes for you, too, No. 2.)

Golfing = leadership?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Signs of the times...

First, we saw this on Facebook today. Couldn't help ourselves...

We’re from the government and we’re here to help: BP Oil Spill: As Pay Czar Promises Money, Workers Turned Away From BP Claims Center (ABC News)

Hi-ho, hi-ho...

We’re from the government and we’re here to help, Part 2: Hundreds of Construction Workers Forced Into Unpaid Leave to Accommodate Obama Photo Op. (JammieWearingFool)

We’re from the government and we’re here to take your money: Obama v BP - America’s justifiable fury with BP is degenerating into a broader attack on business. (The Economist)

We’re from the government and we’re here to take your money, Part 2: Obama Admin. Argues in Court That Individual Mandate Is a Tax. Remember when we were told that the individual health insurance mandate is not a tax. The Obama Administration just appealed to the courts, “…the individual health insurance mandate is a tax.” (American Spectator)

Oh, oh! - Campbell Soup recalls 15M pounds of SpaghettiOs (

Maybe the problem is that Spaghettios and chlorine don't go together...

Why did I get rid of my sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads? - U.S. Testing Pain Ray in Afghanistan. (Wired/Danger Room)

If only there was a way they could legally “take” money from tourists to help pay for things -Nevada's unemployment rate tops in nation, 14%. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Casinos - aka: Nevada's personal ATMs...

I always love it when people say “communism works, it just hasn’t been done right.” Tell me, does anyone do it like the Norks? - North Korea Turns To Private Markets In Effort To Avert Second Famine (Outside the Beltway)

Take a guess where people and money go…where government takes less of their money, intrudes less on their lives and where opportunity exists. Surprised? America as Texas vs. California: Who’s Moving Where Edition. (The Enterprise Blog)

It’s always interesting when you have a press secretary who doesn’t understand the media (and its audiences): Robert Gibbs Defends Obama, Takes Shot At Cable News. (New York)

Bonus: As we approach the November elections, Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire pegs the biggest mistakes of the run-up. Here they are –

Top Ten Campaign Gaffes of 2010

"The year is not even half over and First Read already has a pretty good list of political gaffes made so far on the campaign trail" -

1. Gordon Brown's "
bigoted woman" remarks

2. Martha Coakley says
Schilling is a Yankee fan

3. Sue Lowden and
Chickens for health care

4. Vaughn Ward's
Puerto Rico is a country

5. Arlen Specter and the
College Republicans

6. Carly Fiorina's
hairy situation

7. J.D. Hayworth's
history lesson

8. Jim Gibbons --
the mistress and the airplane

9. Jerry Brown and
Nazi propaganda

10. Bob Etheridge gets
too close for comfort

He's No. 9 on the list but at the bottom of many others...


Gee, I wonder if this is going to make soccer (sorry, "football") any more attractive to Americans...?

Funny...every time Americans put their trust in international organizations to do the right thing, to exhibit fairness and honesty - it comes back to bite us...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

This week on the radio...

Tuesday, June 15 (afternoon): I’ll be filling in for Dave Congalton at KVEC-AM 920, from 3-5 p.m. (PacTime). My guests will be – political analyst, Bill Whalen; Melissa and Jeff Purchin (with summer/swimming safety tips); Reuter’s White House correspondent Jon Decker; and Dr. Joe Astroth, Autodesk chief education officer.

Tuesday, June 15 (evening): I’ll do my (increasingly) regular wrap on the John Batchelor Show at 9:50 p.m. (Pacific Time).

Wednesday, June 16 (“Hotel California”): Due to a birthday in the family, I will not be behind the microphone for the usual 6-10 p.m. stint on the John Batchelor Show.

Thursday, June 17 and Friday, June 18: Off.

Saturday, June 19: I’ll be co-hosting the John Batchelor Show from 6-8 p.m. (PacTime). Check back for the guest list.

Check back for additional shows/airtimes/details.

And, as always, thanks for listening!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Learning as we go...

On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama will speak to the American people about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – nearly two months after BP’s Deepwater Horizon blew-up unleashing the worst ecological disaster in U.S. history.

According to the NY Times, “President Obama will use his first Oval Office speech Tuesday night to outline a plan to legally compel BP to create an escrow account to compensate businesses and individuals for their losses from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, administration officials said on Sunday.

Here comes the speech - nearly two months later...

“President Barack Obama's upcoming schedule makes clear he is almost entirely focused on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but the president is forging ahead with a full legislative agenda,” according to a report by The Hill. “Aides to the president say Obama is able to "chew gum and walk at the same time," but the spill has clearly become the top issue at the White House as Obama will spend two days in the Gulf this week before addressing the nation on Tuesday and meeting with BP officials on Wednesday. To be sure, the president has given a few talks to the people and the press, but this will be the first speech of this magnitude – nearly two months after the disaster began.”

Deepwater Horizon - nearly two months ago...

During the nearly two months since the catastrophe ensued, we’ve learned a great deal about what has and hasn’t been done – mostly what hasn’t:

As essayist David Warren points out, “We learned a simple thing this week: that the BP clean-up effort in the Gulf of Mexico is hampered by the Jones Act. This is a piece of 1920s protectionist legislation, that requires all vessels working in U.S. waters to be American-built, and American-crewed. So while, for instance, the U.S. Coast Guard can accept such help as three kilometres of containment boom from Canada, they can’t accept, and therefore don’t ask for, the assistance of high-tech European vessels specifically designed for the task in hand. This is amusing, in a way: a memorable illustration of … the sort of stuff I keep going on about. Which is to say, the law of unintended consequences, which pertains with especial virulence to all acts of government regulation.”

  • We know that administration officials got tough with BP, “[ripping] ripped up BP's plans for increasing the amount of oil being captured from the leaking well, saying they were insufficient. The company was given a 48-hour deadline, due to expire last night, to come up with plans that would capture more of the oil, which is still leaking at a rate of 30,000 barrels a day.” (Just so you know, the deadline came and went…)
  • We learned that all of this is really someone else’s fault.
  • We found out that “according to the Center for Responsive Politics and financial disclosures, over the last twenty years of oil-giant BP’s political action committee, the largest recipient has been President Obama.”
  • We’ve learned that when it comes to the opinions of celebrities, media and assorted hacks, the overriding tack is, “Hear no evil, speak no evil…”
  • We know Interior Secretary Ken Salazar falsified a report by experts in order to have a moratorium on offshore drilling put in place.

The tragedy continues to unfold...

Closing quote: "Even though I'm president of the United States, my power is not limitless. So I can't dive down there and plug the hole. I can't suck it up with a straw." -- President Obama, quoted by the Washington Post, on the BP oil spill in the Gulf.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up: "Business As Usual"

Once again, The Bliss Index©, dutifully provides a weekend wrap-up of news…

So much for "keeping big money out of politics" – Apparently, $5,000 gets you an hour-long breakfast (aka: healthcare shakedown) with Nancy Pelosi

You know, $5,ooo isn't all that much to pay someone to carry a big hammer around...

And that promise about keeping your own health insurance: Um, yeah, not so much. According to Investor’s Business Daily, “Internal White House documents reveal that 51% of employers may have to relinquish their current health care coverage by 2013 due to ObamaCare. That numbers soars to 66% for small-business employers.” Now is that the Hope™ or the Change® we were told about?

To be expected: From Politico, “Enviros give Obama a pass on spill - As the greatest environmental catastrophe in U.S. history has played out on Obama’s watch, the environmental movement has essentially given him a pass — all but refusing to unleash any vocal criticism against the president even as the public has grown more frustrated by Obama’s performance.”

Remember when the oil clean-up folks said they didn’t know about the oil booms that company in Maine has/offered? Yeah, um, not so much. (They knew back on May 21…)

The president visits the Gulf (looking for some ___ to kick?)...

Add Gulf oil spill fib: According to Powerline, “The administration has decreed a six-month moratorium on exploratory drilling in the Gulf, based on a report that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wrote for President Obama. Salazar claimed that a panel of seven experts selected by the National Academy of Engineering had peer reviewed his report. It turns out, though, that the seven experts never saw the recommendation for a moratorium, and in fact oppose it.” This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Salazar for what he is

Last add Gulf oil spill fib: Remember when clean-up authorities promised that"the media will have uninhibited access?" Um, yeah, not so much – Press photo flyovers prohibited; photos in public areas (namely beaches) are verboten; media boats kept away from spill areas; journalists harassed and threatened with arrest. I guess that’s just the administration’s policies on transparency at work.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar: at least he's getting "thumbs-up" from someone...

Add Obama Administration’s media relations: – After almost a year and a half in office, this administration has surpassed all previous presidencies in going after “leakers.” Hiding something?

I guess they were absent the day they taught about this in Econ 101: “Pension Plans Go Broke as Public Payrolls Expand.” Gee, who’d a thunk it?

From the “putting a (D) after your name doesn’t make bigotry OK” dept.: According to Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire, South Carolina State Sen. Robert Ford (D) was quoted by the Charleston Post and Courier as saying, “No white folks have an 'e' on the end of Green. The blacks after they left the plantation couldn't spell, and they threw an 'e' on the end." Ford, a Democrat, was trying to explain his view that race could have played a role in Alvin Greene's (D) surprise victory in the primary elections since he was the only black candidate in a primary with a majority of black voters.

Add bigotry/idiocy: Looks like former-California governor/hopes-to-be-governor-again Jerry Brown really stuck his jogging shoe in his mouth. Seems Brown and KCBS-AM 740 reporter Doug Sovern bumped into each other while they were out exercising and Brown let loose about his opponent, GOPer Meg Whitman. From Sovern’s Sovern Nation blog – Brown boasted about his legendary frugality. "I've only spent $200,000 so far. I have 20 million in the bank. I'm saving up for her." It's true - his stay-on-the-sidelines, bare-bones primary run cost him almost nothing, at least in California political terms. But he also fretted about the impact of all those eBay dollars in Whitman's very deep pockets. "You know, by the time she's done with me, two months from now, I'll be a child-molesting..." He let the line trail off. "She'll have people believing whatever she wants about me." Then he went off on a riff I didn't expect. "It's like Goebbels," referring to Hitler's notorious Minister of Propaganda. "Goebbels invented this kind of propaganda. He took control of the whole world. She wants to be president. That's her ambition, the first woman president. That's what this is all about." It’s one thing to oppose your political opponent, it’s entirely another (and intellectually lazy) to compare political rhetoric with the evils of Nazism.

Jerry Brown: what will he say next?

Another reason why the private sector is often a much better choice than the public (government): Costs (duh). According to the Wall Street Journal, “It costs about $12 more per hour to employ a state or local government worker. Meanwhile, a breakout of private workers showed that it cost more to employ union workers than nonunion employees. The largest share of the costs comes from wages and salaries for both sets of workers: 70.6% for private employees and 65.9% for government workers. The rest of the payment comes in the form of benefits. It costs state and local governments $3.16 per hour to pay for employees’ retirement and savings plans, compared to 96 cents for private workers. Another $4.52 goes to health insurance for public workers, compared to $2.08 for private workers. And governments spend $3 per hour for its workers’ paid leave, compared to $1.88 for private workers. Compensation for union workers cost $37.16 per hour compared to $26.67 for non-union workers.” Dear California, now do you understand?

Will this be business as usual? - Because we’ve officially got World Cup fever here at The Bliss Index©, we’ll tip our caps to the U.S. soccer (er, football) squad as it walks away from Game 1 of pool play against the Brits. It wasn’t the prettiest game and the Yanks got lucky with a ball that shouldn’t have found England’s goal - but we’ll take it. Next opponent: Slovenia (June 18).