Sunday, November 22, 2009

A response to '12 reasons Chrome OS will fail'

by Cylinsier

A couple days ago, I read a blog post called 12 reasons Chrome OS will fail, by Patricio Robles on This is a point by point response to those reasons and why I disagree with them. If you don't know, Chrome OS is Google's foray into the operating system market. It is geared primarily towards netbooks as a low hassle no frills OS for those that need quick access to the web and not much else.

I will quote each point before responding to it.

The web matters, but so does the desktop. With Chrome OS, Google is betting that desktop apps don't matter to the average consumer. Is that a good bet? Probably not. While there's no doubt that you can do a lot on the web today, but that doesn't mean the desktop is dead. From accounting programs (e.g. Quickbooks) to P2P software (e.g. Limewire) to the desktop software that comes bundled with devices like digital cameras, there are plenty of desktop applications that average consumers still use, or might want to use.

The reason I don't buy this argument is actually twofold. First, Robles' argument here depends on the notion that someone would buy a netbook as a notebook or desktop replacement, but considering how low the prices are getting and the obvious direction of that market, its pretty clear the netbooks are being handled as peripheral devices closer to PDAs and smartphones than actual computers right now. Second, part of Chrome OS is building a large number of applications into the web environment that were previously desktop oriented; Google documents for example. Microsoft is even catching onto this trend, something I might address in a future blog post. But for the most part, people who want a netbook aren't being duped into losing their desktop apps, they just aren't looking for them in this package.

Less isn't more. Even if 95% of what you do is on the web and Chrome OS seems like a viable choice, why buy a machine that can do less than the machine you have today? Unless the machines packing Chrome OS are significantly cheaper, the average consumers is not going to pay approximately the same amount of money for less functionality and flexibility.

I more or less answered this above; you buy this machine to work with your other gear, not in place of it. And the price is going to be pretty cheap. You can already get XP ready netbooks in the $400 dollar area; imagine how much you save with Chrome OS (which is free).

Google's focus on netbooks is short-sighted. Netbooks may not be dying, but the ultrathin is fast becoming the new netbook. Some low-end ultrathins sporting more powerful ultra-low voltage (ULV) CPUs from Intel and AMD cost as much as high-end netbooks with much less powerful processors. The question for a consumer is why you'd want to run an OS clearly designed for yesterday's netbooks on your new, more powerful ultrathin. The obvious answer: you don't.

This again overlooks the difference between notebooks and netbooks. The major draw of a netbook running Chrome is going to be the get-up-and-go speed of starting it up. Since Chrome will run off a SSD drive and is essentially a browser turned OS, you're literally talking about startup times in the seconds. What Robles is doing wrong here is comparing netbooks and notebooks as though they are competing products; they aren't.

Consumers are comfortable with Windows. Love it or hate it, Windows is in a long-term relationship with consumers. Getting them to cozy up to a different kind of OS is a huge marketing challenge. As is getting them to keep their Chrome OS machine once they realize that it's a Chrome OS machine. As an example, consider MSI, which has in the past attributed the high return rates for some of its netbooks to the fact that they were running Linux.

I don't know if I buy this. Netbooks running Windows were XP until recently. But didn't we just spend three years talking about how much we don't like Vista? How many people are already ripe to try something new? If that isn't enough proof for you, consider that Windows also had a significant head start in the mobile market with Windows CE. Where'd that get them? The most popular mobile OS is the iPhone, followed by Palm and, yes, Google Android is quickly gaining attention. Windows Mobile is lingering near the bottom. Apple seems to think this might be a talking point as well; seen all those "switch to Mac instead of Windows 7" adverts? They might be onto something.

Windows 7 rocks. Microsoft's new OS has received a lot of positive press, and as someone who is running it on a new ultrathin ULV laptop, I can say that it's a very decent OS and is much, much faster than Vista. In fact, if I owned an underpowered netbook I suspect I still might be able to get away with running Windows 7 on it. As a fun comparison, consider that (according to Net Applications) Windows 7 has already achieved greater marketshare in the OS market since mid-September than the Chrome browser has achieved in the browser market since December 2008. Yet Google has promoted the Chrome browser on some of the most trafficked properties in the world, including on its homepage. That shows the significant mountain Google faces in penetrating the OS market.

This is all fine and dandy as a talking point, but how are you going to install Windows 7 on that netbook without a DVD drive? Oh, you can't. You just have to settle with Windows 7 Starter pre-packaged on a new netbook, which will cost about $200 bucks more than Chrome by the way. Have you used 7 starter? Its nothing like the 7 you're running on your notebook. And I don't see any reason to draw correlation between browser performance and OS performance; they are very different animals.

Google doesn't have a monopoly on web apps. Chrome OS is a viable option if you can use web apps exclusively. But so is Windows, Mac OS X, Linux or any other operating system that runs a web browser. After all, you can run web apps -- including Google's -- in just about every modern browser. In other words, when you get right down to it Google isn't really offering you anything that you don't already have.

I disagree; Google is offering you a netbook that boots up faster than any other on the market, gives you quick and easy access to the internet, is light and portable, and costs several hundred dollars less than the Windows version.

Support? What support? If you're an average consumer and something goes wrong with your Chrome OS netbook, who are you going to call? Certainly not Google. And without massive usage, it's hard to see local computer techs (or services like the Geek Squad) jumping over themselves to support Chrome OS users.

This is nit-picky. When has anything Google has ever done not received substantial support from their staff AND the thousands of dedicated members of Google's community? Trust me, if something goes wrong, you will be able to Google it and get your answer in no time; who cares if its the traditional customer support phone call or an internet search? At least with the latter, you don't get some one in Asia you can't understand trying to help you with your problem.

HTML5 isn't here. Google's belief in web apps is inherently based on its belief in HTML5. There's only one problem: HTML5 isn't here and it will almost certainly be years before developers really start looking at it seriously.

So is that a death sentence? Internet Explorer 9 is already boasting major HTML5 support, and Mozilla has dropped hints about it too. Safari can't be far behind. HTML5 may still be a ways off, but Google isn't the only entity already hedging bets with it.

The interesting features are technical. Google is bringing some interesting things to the table with Chrome OS but most of them are subtle details that appeal to techies. The problem is that you can't really sell technical details to the layman with enough specificity to be meaningful.

This is really just a matter of opinion. I think a lot of the things Google does appeal to technophiles more than the common user, but they're still popular. There's a substantial market out there for Chrome even if it is only for the tech savvy.

Only 'referenced hardware' will be supported. Chrome OS may be open source but it will only run on hardware Google chooses to support. There are obvious, logical reasons for this but make no doubt about it: this is a huge barrier to adoption and in my opinion will even make it difficult for Chrome OS to compete with Linux. That's bad news for Chrome OS, since we know how well the Ubuntus of the world have fared.

This hasn't stopped Mac OSX.

The Chrome browser hasn't taken the world by storm. While one could debate how respectable Google's results with the Chrome browser are, one can't debate a simple fact: Chrome is clearly not taking over the world. Which begs the question: if consumers aren't flocking to download Chrome the browser for free, why will they flock to pay for machines with Chrome OS when the key selling points are largely the same? Answer: they won't.

Already addressed above, but I'll repeat; I see no reason to draw a correlation between browser performance and OS performance. And this argument is posited as if consumers looking for netbooks have competitive options; price-wise, they won't. The reason someone will buy a Chrome OS netbook is because they're going to spend the money on the netbook anyway and they will spend less on this one. If anything, Chrome browser is a boon for Google, giving users something akin to a free trial of the OS. And say what you will about Chrome browser, but its easy to use.

At the end of the day, Chrome OS is the Chrome browser. When you take a few steps back, all Google has really done is built an 'OS' to run a web browser. Not a big deal.

Still separating the hardware from the software when that is not the point. Chrome OS sells on the fact that there is a market for netbooks and they are already buying; the question is simply which one they are buying. Chrome offers faster startup and simple internet access. Most people who use netbooks don't want to replace their power machine. Google recognizes this and sees that you're not going to want to be doing a lot of desktop work on such a small platform anyway, but if you are swinging by Panera and need to send a quick email or Google map your drive to a friend's house, you can be on that wifi in seconds. That's a huge advantage over other netbooks who still boot to OS with all the extraneous desktop steps despite the SSD. That's why Google has a chance to hit a home run with Chrome OS.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Fox News Delusion

by Cylinsier

A short while ago, reports started circulating that more people watch Fox News than any other cable news channel, and ever since the far right conservatives of the country have been creaming their jeans over it. Nevermind the fact that celebrating this basically meaningless statistic lends a lot of credence to the claims that Fox News is the mouthpiece of the GOP, something that these same orgasmic fans deny. The fact of the matter is that its a bunch of horseshit, a clever twisting of viewership numbers to sell a premise, that Fox News broadcasts the best shows, that is simply not true. And there are a large number of reasons why, so many that its hard to decide where to start.

But of course, I did decide. However, before I get to that, I'm going to be comparing data sets from two different studies from the same source. The first is Network News viewership and the second is Cable News viewership.

So, let's start with Cable News compared to Network News. This one is pretty easy. We'll compare prime time viewership of cable news with nighttime viewership of network news; its not a totally fair comparison because they are two different products, but its a good indicator of where people are going to get their news. Viewership is in amount per night.

Using CBS news to represent the networks (because it is the lowest in ratings of the three), network news brings in a hair over 6 million viewers. Compare that to 4.5 million viewers FOR ALL OF CABLE NEWS, and you will see that more people grab their news from CBS before bed at night than do CNN, HN, MSNBC and Fox combined. And if you really want to blow it away, combine all three networks. Together they comprise close to 23 million viewers. You could compare nighttime network viewership to daytime cable viewership if you wanted, but the disparity is even greater. Despite the fact that cable news is on all day, that one block of network news at night still pulls in more viewers. If nothing else, this at least frames the cable news debate as what it is: not really important.

But this isn't about where people get their news anyway. Its about which cable channel entertains the most and pulls in the most viewers. So which is it? Fox News, right? Well, not really. See, the research that got conservatives foaming at the mouths about how great Fox News is was a listing of top rated cable news shows. Huffington Post (sorry, but they had the data spelled out the best, so live with the cite, conservatives), points out that 9 out of 10 of the top rated cable shows are on Fox News. Hey, we're not even talking cable news at this point, but all of cable! Pretty good...they also score 2 and a quarter million viewers in this poll to CNN's 1.1 million (the next closest cable news network). My cable news source above corroborates those numbers in this graph:

Cut and dry? Not quite. It really depends on the method you want to use to measure viewers. The above graph uses the nightly method of measuring how many viewers are watching a program at any one time, the method that almost everyone uses to measure ratings. But there is another method of measurement, cumulative viewers per year. That method measures the total number of unique visitors in a year, not unlike measuring unique hits to a web site. Well, how do you think the news channels stack up in that regard?

CNN has over 10 million more viewers a year? And by the end of 2008, MSNBC was tied with Fox? Oh, the humanity!

Of course, Fox quickly discounts this method of measurement because it is considered inaccurate by advertisers. Fair enough, I can see how an advertiser wants to put their money down on a time slot with the most viewers at any one time, not try to take a shot in the dark from a cume measurement. But outside of advertising, it is a pretty telling measurement of how the channels are doing on the whole. This can mean only that Fox gets great viewership for those 9 shows in the top 10, and then everyone stops watching. Or, it might mean something else, something that isn't broached upon in these studies. It might mean people watch more than one cable news channel.

It is important to point out that the above graph (at least I think) is combining CNN proper and Headline News into one number. If you split them apart, would they both rank below the others? I don't know because I don't know how much of the total each channel represents, but probably. That would leave Fox News and MSNBC in a dead heat for first in cume. But this illustrates another point that is overlooked by Fox News fanatics, and that is that Fox News and other cable news are apples and oranges. If you want to watch crazy people, you have one channel to choose from: Fox News. There is no competition. If you want to watch non-crazy news, you have a lot more choices.

The best way to illustrate the point of this is with an analogy. I stole these numbers off various internet sites but since they are just being used for the analogy, assume they are correct without me posting ten sources. Let's say Fox is booze, CNN is Coke and MSNBC is Pepsi. Every year, Americans consume around 30 million gallons of alcohol. They consume around 25 million gallons of Coke and a little less than that of Pepsi. So alcohol is the most popular beverage. Yes, if you break the competition down into sub-categories. But if you combine all colas, Americans consume 50 million gallons a year, a pretty good margin of difference.

Fox News is booze. CNN, MSNBC and Headline News are cola, just different brands. Yes, Americans drink more booze over all than they do any one brand of cola, but when you consider that Americans only drink less Coke because they also have Pepsi, Dr. Pepper and Root Beer to choose from, it makes sense that Coke would have a decreased performance; they have competition. Booze, when there's only one source of it, is booze. If you want booze, you drink from that one source. If you want crazy people, you watch Fox News because you have no choice.

Just one more thing. A recent study indicates that the average age of Fox News viewers is 65. This is the highest of the cable news channels. The current life expectancy in the US is 78 (and bound to go down now that we've stopped checking for breast cancer and can't get reform through Congress). There are only two scenarios that explain this high age, and neither is good for Fox. The first is that no young people watch them, meaning if their oldest viewers are around 80, then their youngest viewers are around 50. That brings out an easy 65 average. The other option is that young people do watch Fox News. But if they do, there are very few. Because few people get past 80, the number of people over 65 would have to be much higher than the number of much younger viewers to pull the average back up. Either way, Fox News is looking at a significant drop in viewership in about 15 to 20 years, or when the baby boomers start to drop. Glory is fleeting.

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Please read about Kate and Peter Ambrusco

By Ellipses

I understand that this content isn't typical of The Elliptical Press. Bear with me.

This morning, a state representative from Pennsylvania tweeted a link to a blog that is written by Amy Ambrusco that details her life after her two children were killed in a car accident. It goes without saying that the blog itself is heart-wrenching and is best digested piecemeal rather than all at once. That said, the frankness with which Ms. Ambrusco recounts her daily struggles coping with her loss is touching and reaffirming on a number of levels. I immediately saw myself in some of her comments... rather, I saw myself eventually reacting to certain stimuli in a similar manner as she.

Because of that instantaneous connection and the feeling the it evoked in me, I submitted a link to her blog to Reddit, a social news website where submissions are voted up or down based on their relative quality within the community. The reaction to it has been positive and the comments to the submission confirm that Ms. Ambrusco is speaking to the world in a language that is familiar to many people. It came to my attention that Ms. Ambrusco and her ex-husband are raising money to construct a playground in their children's memory near their former school. Since we have a number of regular readers as well as a greater number of spontaneous first-time readers that stumble onto our blog, I wanted to basically create another spot on the internet where this story is made accessible to people.

Click here to read the Callapitter Blog

Click here to read about the fundraising efforts to build a memorial playground.
There is an address to which donations may be sent at the bottom of that article.

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Gold, Glenn Beck, and making the right financial decisions

by Cylinsier

I was going to write this blog last night so it would be more timely and the topic would be fresh in my mind, but I was unexpectedly delayed in returning home. Yeah...Lincoln Town Cars suck.

Anyway, before experiencing that physical and emotional trauma, I bravely subjected myself to far worse mental trauma in the name of objectivity. I watched the last half of Glenn Beck's show on Fox News while eating dinner. I did not vomit, although I did lose a bit of my appetite.

Now I don't have cable at home, so I don't watch any of the cable news channels regularly. When I travel and find myself in a hotel, I tend to watch Headline News because it gets right to the point, but then it starts repeating itself so I turn it off and don't watch anything. I have no patience for regular CNN because its chock full of boring shows.

The last time I was in a hotel, I watched MSNBC because I never had before. I enjoyed it a lot actually, in the same way I occasionally enjoy Saturday Night Live or Youtube videos. But it wasn't really "news."

So it came time to cross briefly to the dark side and witness what is apparently the most watched cable news channel. I had watched Fox News on occasion back at the beginning of this decade, but not for years, and not since Glenn Beck joined them. I saw my chance to rectify that and took it.

So I sat down, sipped my soda and watched. Becky Glenn was in the middle of some diatribe involving his chalk board and something akin to math. I paid attention and tried to follow his logic, but he was yelling at me and it was a little distracting. The math didn't really back up the argument he was trying to make, but he kept insisting that the math was not real, but made up, like how the Dow was back around 10,000 but that wasn't real. I guess when you're crazy, shit that's really happening isn't real because the voices in your head tell you so.

Okay, a commercial. This is interesting. They're trying to convince me that my finances aren't sound and I need accounting help. Hm, now they are trying to sell me gold. And now they are trying to get me to go to the casino in Wheeling. I'm noticing a theme here: Fox News wants me to spend money and things that aren't products.

Glenn Beck is back and he is making it abundantly clear that he hates government. He admits that he is insane, which is a refreshing blast of honesty, but then continues. I'll include a clip of this last segment of the show for your own...enjoyment.

Becky is apparently a little perturbed that the vast majority of Americans are having government forced down their throats in the form of health care, assuring us that just because you can't hear them, or see them, or physically locate them on this plane of existence, it does not mean that this vast majority does not exist(in his mind)!

Bombshell alert! The Glenn Beck show, come January, is going to change. Becks will be moving...FORWARD. It must be a big move if its going to take him until January. It seems this Saturday in Florida (presumably chosen as the location due to the inordinately high number of morons; see hanging chads, circa 2000) Becko will unveil his master plan to all, which involves taking defibrillator paddles to the heart of personal responsibility in this country and shocking it back to life. As he vehemently states, people in the federal government refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Cough cough, Dick Cheny, cough, George Bush. We're off health care and back onto spending again by the way. And my favorite Glenn Beck quote, "Failure is Good," which epitomizes his entire career.

We're back on commercials, and they're trying to sell me gold and financial advice again. Apparently, my money situation is so bad that I need to give more of it away.

Coming back, we're greeted by the Glenn Beck chalk board with the word Truth scrawled on it in big letters. I wonder, does Glenn Beck just assume his viewers have the education level of third graders and that's why he has to write his crap on a chalk board, or does he need the board to keep reminding himself of what he's talking about? Maybe both.

We've gotten on to unions now. And illegal immigrants. I feel a little numb in my mind trying to draw logical conclusions from Beck's wild jumping around on topics and HOLY FUCK ANOTHER COMMERCIAL. I bet they're going to try to sell me gold again, maybe with a celebrity this time?

Peter Graves is trying to sell me gold. Not quite the level of celebrity I'm hoping for, but then again the only celebrity you're going to convince to peddle gold to people is going to be the out of work variety. And more financial advice. And more casinos.

Beck is back and he's decided to dress it up. The pink shirt tucked into jeans was apparently not classy enough, so we've added the navy blue sport jacket. It doesn't make him look less idiotic. Beck's guest, some guy who works for a group I've never heard of, is saying Obama is taking over private business. All of it. Through the unions. His private union army. The evidence is that Andy Stern has been to the white house 22 times (Beck comments that we are spinning ourselves into oblivion; good, that explains my headache). The next accusation is that the government wants to drag the standard of living of America down. They want to do this because? OH SHIT, we'll never know, because its time for ANOTHER FUCKING COMMERCIAL.

Buy some gold and some financial advice and play the slots. I have a feeling that if I bought REAL financial advice, they'd tell me NOT to play the slots, NOT to invest in gold, and NOT to watch Fox News anymore. I can also see why Glenn Beck's master plan is going to have to wait until January to be set in motion; its going to take him that long to spell it out between commercial breaks.

Beck is back and reminds us to catch up with him Florida where we will "look each other in the whites of the eyes." ...the fuck does that mean? Anyway, thanks, Glenn, for the experience. Its one I won't soon forget...or understand. Then the show cuts off and I guess maybe we're going to commercial again. I don't know, I was done eating and walked out at this point. I had a date with a Lincoln Town Car.

I think what I took away from this experience is that Glenn Beck, and by extension Fox News, isn't any different from MSNBC or CNN. All three channels claim to be news but show very little actual news, instead choosing to jam pack their schedules with talking heads who make bold and wild analytical observations about subjects they do not understand and have no educational background in. Each channel caters to a different audience.

MSNBC looks to grab people that are smart enough to realize that its all crap and are just their for the laughs...which is why they are failing. Those people are also smart enough to spend their time on better things than watching shitty cable news. CNN looks to grab the attention or people looking to fall asleep to something, and they are very effective. Fox News draws in the dumb, gullible, psychotic, and masochistic. That's really the best audience to go after because they are easily manipulated into believing everything you say, and if they believe everything you say they will believe they need to keep watching. Except for the masochistic, who do it because they enjoy pain.

Me, I don't have the stomach for that. Now that my foray into cable news is complete, I've decided to leave more detailed research to those with a stronger will and more time to spare. I'll stick to other sources for now. But it was fun.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Charlie Bit My Finger... AUTOTUNED!

By Ellipses

Autotune makes everything better:

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Riding the Google Wave

by Cylinsier

Just a quick plug; as some of the tech savvy among you may know, Google Wave is in its beta stage and a handful of us have been fortunate enough to get an invite from Google or another friendly waver and join in the fun. Well, e and I are two of those lucky wavers and we now have a presence on the Wavosphere. If you are also among the first wave of...wave...then please fell free to find us and chat. Just search for us once you're logged in:

with:public elliptical press

Looking forward to playing in the waves with you.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Iconoclast: Part Trois

By Ellipses

In this, the third installment of my Iconoclast series investigating the self-evident truths of the anti-reform movement, I am tackling the issue of insurance industry profits.

A substantial part of the health care debate has been on the issue of insurance industry profits juxtaposed with high premiums and denials of claims. Reform proponents point to the explosive growth of insurance companies' gross profit, that is, the number of actual dollars reaped over and above costs, as a sign that the scale is tipped in favor of the corporation over the individual. Opponents to reform will inevitably point to the fact that the market segment "Health Care Plans" is the 86th most profitable market segment with a mean profit margin of 3.3%. They may highlight the fact that railroads have a net profit margin of over 12%, telecoms often operate in the 20% range, and the lowly Tupperware corporation is rolling in 7.75% profit margins. Clearly, the evil insurance companies are not living high on the hog, right?

Wrong. Or, I could take the Penn & Teller route and say "Bullshit." Or, I could take the Mythbusters route and say "Busted."

First, let's take care of a really basic issue: Why do companies generate profit? That seems simple enough, right? They earn a profit because... well, their end product or service is more valuable than the component parts? They worked hard and kept costs down? They want to reward their shareholders for fronting the capital to produce their shit? They want to build the value of the company?

Wrong. Well, not so much "wrong" as "off-target."

From year to year, a company can project sales and costs, but cannot absolutely predict them. Along with the unpredictability of the business environment, there is the added unpredictability of the competition. You don't know how your competitors are going to try to fuck you from one day to the next. You need to build value within your company so that you have capital available to weather a downturn, diversify your product offerings, cut your margins to undercut your competitors, buy emerging competitors out, or otherwise leverage cash to facilitate maintaining or growing your position in the market. That's "WHY" you generate profit. Adding value to raw materials, specializing in a service in order to deliver it efficiently, cutting costs... those are all ways that help you generate more profit, but the reason that you want to end the year with more money than what you paid out is that the excess cash frees you up to do things to stay in business.

If you are a railroad, you have shit to maintain. You have thousands of miles of rails, huge-ass energy bills, giant vehicles that weigh millions of pounds, employees that load shit, drive shit, and unload shit. If you want to have a railroad business, you have to buy lots and lots of stuff. It takes a lot of capital to do ANYTHING in the railroad industry. Therefore, you can rock 12% margins even after being in business for 150 years.

Similarly, the telecom industry has a relatively high infrastructure cost, but it is also highly competitive. Not only do you have to maintain a bazillion miles of fiber, but you have to be able to subsidize handsets, buy millions of dollars in TV advertising and take a loss on 2/3 of a triple play bundle just to stay competitive with the cable company and Google, who gives shit away for free. Once you have all that stuff in place, though, it doesn't actually cost you anything to transmit a text message, but you can get teen girls everywhere to sell half their vag just for the ability to send an unlimited amount of them. So, you get 20% margins and relatively low levels of pushback.

For Tupperware, you are being assaulted from all sides. You have ziplock making the exact same thing as you. Hell, grocery stores make the shit you sell and sell it under their own name. You have NO idea what the market is going to bear next year. If the economy rebounds and people stop cooking their own food, you have to be able to compensate for that lack of business. Not to mention the fact that your product lasts for goddamn ever and there are women out there putting their broccoli cheese casserole in the same fart-locked bowl that they got for their wedding back in 1977. It's amazing to me that tupperware is still in business. 7.5% is a goddamn crime if you ask me.

So that brings us to health insurance. It is an actuarial business, not unlike slot machines, by which the house always wins given x customers paying y dollars and maintaining a z rate of claims submissions. For every health care segment, from cardiac care to cancer to pneumonia to flu to food poisoning to broken bones, there is a data table showing a range of probability of any given ailment befalling a person no matter what their age, income, occupation, ethnic background, and other health/lifestyle indicators. All you have to do is maintain a subscriber base and charge more than the cost of the risk threshhold. There is no variability in your costs. You pay agents a fixed commission structure for their sales of your product. Once a sale has been made, there is very little churn within your industry. It's not like you have to re-sell insurance to every customer every month or every year. Hell, most of the time, you are selling a package deal to a business and they are distributing it to their employees for you. How much does it cost to write a policy? From one year to the next, what investment do you need to make in your product to retain your customers? The entire industry is built upon predictability. Which brings me to my point:

If your business is predictable, you can opt for higher compensation INSTEAD OF high profit margins because you can reliably generate revenue from year to year. You don't need excess cash to fix a thousand miles of rail. You don't need a big nut to subsidize a hot new handset in order to attract new subscribers. You don't need to pour money into developing new lighter, stronger, more microwave friendly polymers to remain competitive. All you have to be able to do is forecast how many heart attacks you are going to have to pay for, how many breast cancer cases you can expect, how many births, deaths, broken legs, and torn scrotums you will have to pay out for... and then fulfill claims within those forecasts.

For the purpose of this article, I will be using Aetna as an example. Their financials are available, free to the public, through any financial news outlet that allows you to research individual companies.

This past year, Aetna's profit margin was 3.87%, which sounds wholly reasonable. But what is that in terms of actual dollars? Well, their gross profit was 8.2 billion dollars. Their earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) was 2.69 billion dollars. Their net income was 1.31 billion dollars.

The first question that begs to be asked is: Did Aetna deny any claims during that year? Sure, in fact, they denied over 40,000 claims between 2007 and 2008. Would those claims have amounted to more than the 1.31 billion dollars that Aetna kept as profit? Perhaps. But with 40,000 claims denied, you absolutely cannot deny that Aetna's profit came at the expense of individuals' financial well-being and overall physical health. Someone was denied payment on a medical claim so that Aetna would generate 1.31 billion dollars in profit. That is undeniable.

But still, 3.87% is such a small profit margin. Aetna had revenues of 33.77 billion dollars. Certainly, they would have expensed out a huge amount of cash to cover approved claims, but aside from claims approval, they have to pay their 35,000 employees and incentivize their sales staff to grow their member base. Aetna CEO Ron Williams recieved 24 million dollars in total compensation last year. The first 3 million was in base pay, and the rest came in the form of stock options, 401(k) matches, and fringe benefits such as use of corporate jet, financial planning services, and vehicle allotment. Again, not to begrudge someone's earning potential, but how many claims were denied in order for Williams to make that last 4 million dollars in salary? If his total compensation were 20 million instead of 24 million, would someone be alive today who put off treatment due to their claim being denied? Would a family have not filed for bankruptcy due to medical expenses if Mr. Williams "only" made 15 million dollars?

Certainly, there are those of you among us who would point to the fact that medicare's claims denial rate is .05 HIGHER than Aetna's. That sounds like a reasonable argument to make. How much profit did medicare generate last year that could have been used to pay for a denied claim rather than to enrich shareholders or pay the administrator's salary? Zero? Less than zero? Imagine that... an insurance program that ONLY caters to the oldest and most infirm among us not being able to generate billions of dollars in profit. Whoda thunk?

So, my conclusion? Insurance is an industry in which the house always wins. The only variable is "by how much?" Because the industry is able to reliably and consistently generate formulaic revenue, formulaic expenses, and formulaic growth, the actual margin of profit is negligible. Rather than produce margins in excess of 10, 20, or 30%, the revenue exceeding the base costs of doing business are plowed back into the employees who comprise the revenue engine. And even then, the dollar value of that single digit profit margin is enough to pay for thousands of operations whose claims are routinely denied, at least initially, in order to reward everyone except the person whose life and property are at risk. The logical side of me says that if a single claim is denied, the insurer should report $0 profit and 0% profit margin. If you have satisfied every claim, if you have exercised zero instances of rescission, if you have not increased your premiums, then you can reap the rewards of your due diligence. Until then, every dollar of profit, regardless of the margin, comes at the expense of the health and well-being of the customers you are supposedly serving.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

The Battle Continues

by Cylinsier

A couple days ago, I posted a video of Jon Stewart making fun of Sean Hannity. I later updated that post with Hannity's response. Well, as hoped for, Jon Stewart has returned the ball back to Hannity's side of the court in hilarious fashion:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sean Hannity Apologizes to Jon
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Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Carrie Prejean is the dimmest bulb on the Christmas Tree

By Ellipses

Carrie Prejean appeared on Larry King Live to prove that she's dumber than a bucket of hair. I believe she's probably the frontrunner for Palin's running mate in 2012 after this clusterfuck.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Are we even surprised anymore?

by Cylinsier

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck's Protest Footage
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Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

No comment needed. Just watch.

UPDATE: Mr. Hannity admits that Jon Stewart caught him red handed and the way only a true asshole can.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mike Castle Vowes to Cockblock Delaware!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Better Know a District - Delaware's Mike Castle
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

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On a lighter note...

By Ellipses

I have been so ridiculously busy lately, I haven't really had much of an opportunity to contribute much to the blog outside of some promotion and playing around in the comments. Last night, I had a brainstorm just as I was falling asleep during the 3rd quarter of the Steelers' prison-raping of the Broncos on Monday Night Football. I present to you the most awesome tattoo idea ever:

It's the dramatic prairie dog coming out of a guy's asscrack, and it is awesome! Not only is it awesome because it's dramatic prairie dog, but there is the added layer of awesome in that when you really have to take a dump, and that little Joe Lieberman is poking his Gollum head out of your hobbit hole, I call it "prairie doggin'."

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Monday, November 9, 2009

A look at the Democrats who plan to screw us over

by Cylinsier

Let's have a look at the Blue Dog Senators who are bound to undermine any chance of seeing health care reform, at least this year, and compare them to how their respective Representatives voted on the House version. Kudos to this map for helping me out. And thanks to this link for adding additional information.

Max Baucus of Montana, already looking foolish for thinking he could woo Republicans to vote for anything brought forth under a Democratic congress, will likely vote against a public option bill. Minnesota has 3 Republicans and 5 Democrats in the House. One Democrat voted against the bill, Collin Peterson, who is a Blue Dog; McCain won his district in 2008. The others voted for.

Evan Bayh of Indiana is a Blue Dog so he's a likely candidate for voting against the bill. Indiana has 5 Democrats and 4 Republicans in the House. All 5 Democrats voted for the bill.

Maria Cantwell of Washington is a Blue Dog as well. Washington also has a 5 to 3 Democratic advantage in the House. Of those Democrats, only Brian Baird voted against the bill. Baird is not a Blue Dog and is in a district that went to Obama in 2008. Baird explains why he voted against the bill on his site.

Tom Carper of Delaware is a Blue Dog. Delaware has one Representative, Republican Michael Castle.

Kent Conrad of North Dakota is a Blue Dog. North Dakota has one Representative, Earl Pomeroy. He is a Democrat and he voted for the bill.

Dianne Feinstein of California is a Blue Dog. California has 34 Democrats and 19 Republicans in the House. All the Democrats voted for the bill.

Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is another Blue Dog. Of the 7 Representatives there, only one is a Democrat, Charlie Melancon, and he voted against. He is a Blue Dog as well and McCain won his district in 2008. It is worth noting that the lone Republican supporter of the bill, Anh Cao, is from Louisiana.

Superstar Joe Lieberman, "Independent" Blue Dog, hails from Connecticut. All 5 of Connecticut's Representatives are Democrats and all 5 voted for the bill, leaving Joe as the odd man out among his state's Congressional representation in terms of support of the reform bill.

Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas is a Blue Dog. Arkansas's other Senator, Mark Pryor, is also a Blue Dog. Arkansas has 1 Republican and 3 Democrats. Democrat Mike Ross voted against the bill. He is a blue dog and his district went to McCain.

Bill Nelson of Florida is a Blue Dog. Florida has 15 Republicans and 10 Democrats in the House. Of those 10 Democrats, Allen Boyd and Suzanne Kosmas voted against the bill. Boyd is a Blue Dog. Both of their districts went McCain in 2008.

Ben Nelson is a Blue Dog from Nebraska. Nebraska has 3 Republican Representatives and that's it.

Ron Wyden of Oregon rounds out the Senatorial Blue Dogs. Oregon has 4 Democrats and 1 Republican. All the Democrats voted for the bill.

The Conclusions I draw from this:

Max Baucus, Tom Carper, Mary Landrieu, Bill Nelson and Ben Nelson are all conservative Democrats in very conservative states. They more or less have no choice but to remain skeptical of the public option at best or they will be replaced in their next elections. Its their jobs to represent their voters so you can make the argument that they are just living up to their end of the bargain of getting elected.

Evan Bayh, Maria Cantwell, Blanche Lincoln, and Mark Pryor are on the cusp. Their states seem to be split down the middle if not in favor of the public option. Therefore, if they were to vote against it, I think there would be a legitimate question as to whether they were serving the best interests of their voters or just their own interests.

Kent Conrad, Dianne Feinstein, Ron Wyden, and especially Joe Lieberman have absolutely no business voting against the bill if they think they are going to convince their voters to elect them again. North Dakota's other Senator is also a Democrat so Conrad will be alone in opposing the bill in his state if he does so. North Dakota seems to be too liberal to accept him opposing the bill. Its a similar story with California. Overwhelming Democratic support for the bill in the House, another Democratic Senator in Barbara Boxer who will clearly support the bill, and Feinstein left trying to cater to the minority conservatives of her state if she votes against. Ron Wyden's state, Oregon, also has a Democrat as its other Senator. The voters of Oregon clearly favor the Democratic platform and Wyden will be going against that to stand in the way of the bill.

And of course we have Joe Lieberman who is unpopular with pretty much everyone in his state. Complete support for the bill in the House. Chris Dodd is the other Senator. HEAVY support for the option in Connecticut. One struggles to find sane reasoning for Lieberman's sudden crusade against the reform bill. The most logical conclusion is that he's catering to his wife, who works as a health insurance lobbyist, but who really knows? One thing is for sure; he is likely in his last term as Senator from Connecticut.

So, we have 5 Senators who can vote against the bill and probably remain in office, 4 who run a risk no matter what they choose, and 4 who may be signing their walking papers by voting against. Of course, the only one threatening to actually aid a Republican filibuster, Lieberman, is also the one who by far has the least business pretending to be against the bill for noble reasons. It will be interesting to see how the above Senators decide to act in the coming weeks of bill debate and how they reconcile that with their voters' wants. Note: its worth mentioning that most Blue Dog districts are probably in support of the public option, meaning the cases where Blue Dog Representatives voted against it might have been less than fair representation.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Sometimes you just need to laugh at the imminent collapse of our country

And who better than Jon Stewart to help us do that?

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Health Care: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The 11/3 Project
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The first one is a rip on the health care debate in general, and the second is probably the best Glenn Beck impression I've ever seen. Enjoy! Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Take your hands of my interwebz!

by Cylinsier

Ellipses hooked me up with a recent story on net neutrality that's worth a read and was also the impetus for this blog post. The writer, Larry Downes, makes an argument against the concept of net neutrality (hence forth referred to as NN), and its not a bad one.

The FCC seems to be chomping at the bit to be in charge of enforcing NN, but Downes questions their ability to do so effectively. He points out that the FCC would only have control of NN via ancillary jurisdiction, which sort of means they made up a rule to try and adopt the net as their baby. They've already been challenged on this jurisdiction once by Comcast and would no doubt be challenged again if other private companies felt threatened.

The point of NN, if anyone doesn't know, is that the internet should be made available to everyone at a fair price without the interference of private providers throttling back speeds. The reasons they would do this are to slow down access to websites that might be considered competitors of your provider or to decrease speeds for features like downloads and video streaming in an attempt to sell more expensive plans that would advertise faster access to these assets. Considering that the internet is fast becoming the number one resource for access to breaking news and events, you don't have to think too hard about it to see why it would be important to keep access available to everyone including those who can't afford premium plans. Imagine how many people might have gotten out of the Towers in New York if internet news traveled as fast in 2001 as it does now. You also don't need an MBA to see how putting a muzzle on that access will inspire those who can afford it to pay more to take that muzzle back off.

Downes mentions fears that the FCC could impose ridiculous decency regulations on the internet, something I find highly unlikely by virtue of it being nearly impossible to enforce, but he mostly suggests that any role the FCC tries to play in this theater would nothing more than a paper tiger. He argues that the FCC hasn't exercised any potent enforcement over the properties it does control, pointing to their inability to retain the half million dollar fine levied for the infamous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction (a federal court threw it out). Why then, he asks, should we expect them to wield any power over a medium that can look and operate completely different in a matter of months? I would personally point out the failures of the MPAA and RIAA to stymie illegal file sharing as an example of the viscosity of the internet; the technology to do so simply moved too fast and became too hard to track for those agencies and now the organizations that make such file sharing possible consistently manage to stay one step ahead of copyright law. Even when a file sharing giant is taken down, ten new outlets tend to pop up in place of them.

While Downes recognizes the threat to both consumers and the industry from any hasty agency action, he mostly is advocating a wait and see approach based on the previous point. The internet is changing too much too fast to believe that any regulations put into place now will be adequate literally 24 hours from now, especially if enforced by the FCC.

Downes is not the only one arguing against NN. Many ISPs and investors argue that NN will vanquish competition in the market and undercut the incentive to innovate. Others follow Downes' line if questioning if the government can handle such a responsibility, and if it should. The arguments in favor of NN are often made by consumers as well as major internet companies (NOT providers) like eBay, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, Vonage and Microsoft. In other words, those that would clearly benefit from NN. They claim that ISPs hold too much power over access and have no incentive to make it affordable to consumers or said companies who also require access to be affordable to profit from online business. They also claim allowing ISPs to be the gatekeepers creates an unfair business model and additionally that its unfair to hold different internet content to different standards of bandwidth allowance. See below for sources.

Wait a minute, industry claiming competition will be stifled and the incentive for innovation will be destroyed? Consumers claiming monopolistic business models make price gouging unavoidable and that government intervention is needed to level the playing field? Its amazing how much this is starting to sound like one of our favorite topics around here.

Just like the aforementioned topic, NN is largely an issue of lots of money and who should get it. Its also an issue of the governments' role in the lives of its population and whether or not they can be trusted to act fairly.

My opinion? Downes makes a good point in recognizing the nature of the internet and the difficulty in regulating it. In fact, the point he makes is exactly why I have very little fear that our government could really dismantle the peoples' access to the internet, even if they wanted to. Some want us to view the government as big brother in relation to a lot of issues right now, but that's fairly unrealistic. I'm pretty sure that in no point in history has the population of a country voted a totalitarian dictatorship into power. Well, maybe the Old Republic in Star Wars III. But that was a long long time ago. Most dictatorships come as a result of a coup. Seeing as how we're all still free voters and our government still turns executive leadership over to a different administration at a maximum interval of every eight years, the fear of a government takeover overnight is more or less propaganda. We heard it from the left over the last eight years and we are hearing more loudly from the right this year, but as long as voters retain a modicum of intelligence and a smidgen of motivation to cast votes in elections, the government will remain simply the bureaucratic mouthpiece of the people, never especially effective and always a source of irritation, but about as scary as a twenty foot tall pillow man. The population remains in complete control of the makeup of the government so long as they remember that they do. Its no coincidence that the ones always decrying government involvement are the ones in the party not in control at the time.

As far as the need for NN, I don't think we're far off. I can personally attest to this as I watch my internet bill inexplicably continue to rise every six months or so. As a business, an ISP should be allowed to continue to flourish and certainly has ways to offering luxury plans to high paying consumers, but as internet access comes closer and closer to being a necessity, its very important that it remain affordable to everyone and that said affordable plans aren't crap. After all, how do you expect people to get jobs to pay those high internet bills if they can't mail resumes to employers?

The ultimate goal here is finding a way to keep the doors open for internet consumers without interfering with the nature of the content of the internet whatsoever. I firmly believe that anything short of an outright attack against ISPs will not hinder their ability to profit, so there isn't much to consider in the way of damaging them; just make sure they are forced to make affordable and fair access available and leave it at that. ISPs continue to thrive, consumers retain access, end of story.

Small digression: I imagine that someone somewhere will suggest a "public option" for internet access. A government run option for health care has been proven to work in other countries and presents no real opportunity to screw it up that the voters can't fix in four years. But the last thing you want to do is give the government control of the internet. Frankly, I don't trust conservatives to wield it fairly if they return to control. I'm just bringing this up because I know someone else is going to if I don't. The difference here is that health care is for making your citizens healthy. There is absolutely zero incentive for the government to do anything but try to keep as many voters as healthy and alive as possible so they can continue to vote. Everybody wins. However, if the government controls a significant portion of internet traffic, there's every incentive in the world to use that as a method of telling the voters what to think and when. Bad idea. We've seen government agencies work well across the world in many areas including health care. We've also seen times when the government has controlled the media and it has never worked. So, anyone who starts thinking "public ISP," don't.

It is my belief that the FCC is extremely ill-suited for the role of NN regulator. I think you need a new agency for this, one who's role exists solely at each end of the wires and nowhere in them; the greatest appeal of the internet by far is its total freedom. Its the wild west, the very embodiment of a new and constantly explorable frontier with the added benefit of anonymity and accessibility to basically everyone. The internet is nothing if not a (relatively) consequence free environment where free speech flourishes in a way not available anywhere in the real world, including the USA, and for that reason alone, it is imperative that it not be touched, even in spite of all the dark and treacherous happenings in the back alleys of the digital world. If something gets on the internet that shouldn't be there, that will always remain in the jurisdiction of the real world in my mind. Cut off the source, not the medium. As I have said, I doubt in full the FCC's ability to hinder this environment, but I don't think they won't try. That's why the responsibility needs to fall in a new agency with crystal clear jurisdictional boundaries drawn for them.

Sorry this was so damn long. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Conservative Gambit

by Cylinsier

There was a stretch of time from 1952 to 1994 during which the Republican party had not held a majority in Congress even once. When, in 1994, the Republicans finally regained the legislature, they called it the Republican Revolution. With it came the end of the Conservative Coalition and for all intents and purposes, any form of bipartisanship. Newt Gingrich took control of the House and instituted a policy of complete conservative isolation from the liberal side of the aisle, giving birth to modern partisanship.

Fast forward to the 2008 elections. As the extremely unpopular Bush Administration enters its golden years, the Democrats are nursing a majority in the House and a split in the Senate (with tie-breaker privileges going to the most evil man alive, Darth Cheney). The writing is on the wall at this point; the Democrats are about to absolutely clean house in the coming elections. The Republican congress had more than overstayed its welcome, and in one of history's greatest examples of choosing poor timing to fuck up, the Republican administration had mired itself in two costly wars, one of which was unpopular enough to all but guarantee change in party regardless of who ran.

If the Republican party wanted us to think they didn't realize this, they wouldn't have nominated the single most moderate member of their party, John McCain, as their potential President elect. Of course, his team screwed it up by talking him into Sarah Palin, repelling any and all moderates, and the rest is history. And now we find ourselves with Democrats in control of 2 and a half of the 3 branches of government. The GOP must be wondering where they went wrong...or are they?

The Republican Gambit, as I refer to it, is the GOP's all-in strategy to regain power of as much of the government as possible. It is a get-rich-quick scheme, and like all schemes of that type, it carries with it considerable risk and a high liklihood of failure, which seems like an odd course of action for a party that describes itself as conservative.

The Republican Gambit is simply this: sacrifice everything, EVERYTHING, to see that Obama fails. As a person, Obama became a symbol of hope and change for the people of America. And when he won, the Rpublican party no doubt saw it coming, because they already had a plan in place to confront it. That plan was and still is to stonewall everything and to label Obama as failure from the start.

This is kind of like a football team claiming it has won a game when it leads the opponent three to zero at the end of the first quarter. Unfortunately, there are three quarters to go and anything can happen. If the gamble pays off, the braggart team look like geniuses brimming with confidence. If not...well, the term "laughing stock" comes to mind, as does the phrase, "death rattle."

The GOP has chosen to declare Obama the worst President this nation has ever seen. Most of the fringe right were making this statement as early as March. I think most polite people with a modicum of intelligence would find this to be premature and odd behavior. Those of us with less manners would describe it as batshit insane. Football games don't end after one quarter and neither do Presidencies end after one year.

But the GOP will stop at nothing to convince those in the middle that Obama has already failed. They lead tea party rallies and cover them substantially via puppet network Fox News, implying that 50,000 people represent the majority of America (population 300 million if you were curious). The somewhat more sensible ask simply, "what has he done so far?" Or, if they are feeling daring, they tell us, "Obama has accomplished nothing, even with a Congressional majority." But it sounds less like a statement of fact and more like a desperate grab at the fleeting wisps of power.

What some in the GOP must realize is that they are facing a very grim set of circumstances. America sent a very clear message in the last election; Democrats are, well, Democrats. Moderates and Independents had grown weary of the dishonest methods of the supposed party of personal responsibility. And the Republican base? Well, as a minority, they've split off and gone the other way, wanting to be given free reign over their money and power and seemingly nauseated that they must share this nation with the common man. The result is a party with no identity, no support and potentially no hope. And so they make the only move that they think they have left. They active the propaganda machine and try to destroy what stands in their way.

As Democrat numbers slowly ebb away, Republican numbers also continue to dwindle. The GOP doesn't care. Times are too dire to worry about the nuisance of public appearance. There is only once chance. Act as dead weight and ensure that Obama accomplishes nothing, then run on that as the only thing you have resembling a platform come election time. Conservative values are last decade. Liberalism has a huge head of steam. If the GOP can just make Obama look like an underachiever, they might have the slim chance of retrieving the power they so crave, the power the grew drunk on and addicted to. But the penalty for failure is huge. If the GOP cannot claim either the White House or at least a split in power in one of the House of Congress by 2012, then the gambit has failed. The results could be as tame as decades of irrelevance or as dire as the death of the party and the birth of a new, likely socially moderate, conservative party in its stead. After all, the lifeblood of the conservative fringe is the prominently older generation, those that can remember strong careers under Reagan, as opposed to those of us only learning about him in school.

The GOP has to go all in because they've been bled dry of new life. They have to hope that by declaring victory now, they will be vindicated in a few years and look like the prophet saviors of Patriotic America. The consequence of failure is probably utter destruction.

Here's the problem; the Republicans want to convince the rest of us that the Democrats are failing. But are they? Let's take a look at what Bush II accomplished in his first year as President.
Five bills signed into law, three of which are directly related to 9/11. Let's see what Obama has accomplished 10 months in.
If we want to be fair, we can argue that 9/11 changed the priorities of the nation, so we can compare just the records from September 10 and earlier, but that still puts Obama up 11 to 1. The Conservatives making the "too much too fast" argument at least have numbers on their side. But the "what has he done" Conservatives...well, they just aren't paying attention.

The only thing left to debate is quality of law, since quantity clearly favors the current administration. The former will of course be highly subjective. For some, neutering the freedoms of America in the name of preventing future domestic terrorism trumps the rights of women to receive equal pay, gays to receive protection from violent discrimination, AIDS/HIV positive individuals from traveling freely in the country, and every American's right to be treated fairly by their credit card company. Others do not actually have their heads up their asses.

But one fact is clear: the GOP's kamikaze attack against Obama is not only likely to fail, its already failing. It was an ill-advised strategy to begin with because it is so transparent. But now, as much as the fringe right will try to convince us otherwise, it is in the process of eroding at the foundation, and the structure of propaganda and misdirection above is threatening to topple. If the GOP needs one more reminder why, just think about the legislation listed above being signed into law. Obama was elected by a clear majority to pass exactly the things he is passing above. His support may be dwindling a bit, but the voters voted for those laws. Come election time, what makes you think they are going to do an about face and vote for someone who is going to tear that down as opposed to someone who is building, just slower than was hoped? Think about it, or think about anything at all for a change instead of just talking out of your ass. It would do you all some good. Sphere: Related Content