Since I’m Already Going to Hell

Since I’m already going to hell, let me be the first to say it: I’m sick of the coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting.

There. I said it.

My sympathy is with the victims, don’t get me wrong. But don’t expect to turn the news on and expect actual news for several days as the news media attaches itself to this story and competes for the most speculation-ridden, emotional coverage.

Currently on the cable news networks: MSNBC – Were the guns legal purchases?; CNN – Kiran Chetry on campus, What do we know about the weapons?; Headline News – All about the guns, the criminal weapon of choice; Fox News – Shepard Smith on campus, Survivors’ stories.

The president has spoken. The congress has rescheduled important hearings. The talk radio circuit will be unlistenable today. But for every other working American, it is Tuesday. We will all go to work, complete our jobs, go home, eat dinner, and go to bed. In the grand scheme of things, this story only truly effects those who are directly involved.

OK, we get it. It is a big story. Now let us please move on.

But no, we’re going to have this crammed down our collective throats for the next week, all under the headline of “breaking news.”

We’re going to see anti-gun stories. We’re going to see stories about poor security and poor response plans. We’re going to see an endless parade of victims. We’re going to see non-stop press conferences where nothing new is revealed, and on the rare occasion that new information comes to light it will be breaking news all over again. We’re going to hear about proposed legislation at the local, state, and federal levels that will likely not be enforced or enforceable, and only serves to restrict the rights of law abiding citizens and not the crazy nuts who are going to break the law anyway.

Currently on MSNBC – Commercials (gotta profit from tragedy, right?), but with a scroller giving us non-breaking breaking news; CNN – Kiran Chetry, talking with more victims with a non-breaking breaking news banner; Headline News – cancellation of athletic events, more non-breaking breaking news with the dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks Robin Meade; Fox News – Virginia Tech president talking with Geraldo from yesterday, more non-breaking breaking news.

Let’s move on. Please, let’s move on.

Mitt Romney: No shot at the presidency

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, is running for president. He is going to lose, and I am going to tell you why.

I have a new theory for presidential politics. It goes something like this:

“If I haven’t met someone with the same first name as a candidate, the candidate will not win.”

It’s that simple.

I have never met anyone named “Mitt,” and my money says that you haven’t either.

Heading over to the Baby Name Voyager and plugging in “Mitt,” you’ll note a few things:

- The name “Mitt” does not register for boys.
- The name “Mittie,” as a girls name, peaked in popularity in or before the 1880s.
- The name “Mittie,” as a girls name, practically disappeared prior to the end of the 1940s.

“But his name is ‘Willard,’ not ‘Mitt’,” you say.

Who cares?!

He calls himself Mitt. His friends call him Mitt. His family calls him Mitt. His constituents call him Mitt. His colleagues call him Mitt.

His name is Mitt.

And he is going to lose because of it.

Mike

John McCain: No shot at the presidency

So John McCain is again running for president.

For those of you politics junkies (like me), you will recall that McCain lost the 2000 Republican nomination to our current president, then mostly unknown except to sports fans and reformed hard drinkers. McCain did fairly well, but second place is the same as last place in terms of a presidential nomination.

Now McCain again thinks he has a shot at winning the Republican nomination for president. For some reason he has convinced himself that enough people think he best represents the Republican party. Well, McCain is going to lose, and I’m going to tell you why.

I can sum it up with one word: AGE.

John McCain was born on August 29, 1936. That means that he is currently 70 years old. If he were to win the presidency, he would be 72 when he theoretically took office. That means that he would be 80 when he leaves office, or earlier if mother nature were to intervene. 80!

At the time of his inauguration he would be the oldest president ever to take the oath of office, beating Reagan by 3 years.

I think that America is well past the age of geriatric presidents.

We don’t want a president who is old enough to have grandchildren who are old enough to be president.

We don’t want a president who is one slip-and-fall, hip replacement, and infection away from Amendment the 25th.

We don’t want a president who has spent over two and a half decades in Washington with no breaks to live as a private citizen under the laws he has created.

Senator McCain, give it up. It is time to allow the sunset provision on your political career to take effect. Retire and enjoy the years you have left.

And do it now, while you still have a chance at retiring with dignity.

Mike

Self-Disaccreditation

No change in political climate by Ellen Goodman.

I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.

Ellen Goodman’s self-disaccreditation comes in the form of two laws of online debate.

First, Benford’s Law of Controversy, which states “Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available.

Ms. Goodman is very, very passionate.

Second, Godwin’s Law, which states that “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one“.

We’ve hit that point. Those, like Ms. Goodman, who have fallen victim to Benford’s Law of Controversy are now venturing into Godwin’s Law territory. This is demonstrated through the insane emotion-over-reason accusations of those who insist that scientific evidence consist of indisputable fact as opposed to simple and assumptive consensus.

Ms. Goodman should be ashamed at the parallels she has attempted to draw between people who literally murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent people and those who insist that fact should be provable.

Ms. Goodman should also be upfront on her own credentials: She has a degree in modern European history– not climatology, not meteorology, not anything that even remotely solidifies her abilities to evaluate or consider scientific evidence.

And that, my friends, brings us right back Ms. Goodman’s violation of Benford’s Law of Controversy.

Mike

Why I Dislike Sean Hannity

Well, this post has been a long time coming. I just haven’t had enough time to get it down.

I dislike Sean Hannity. Let me first give Mr. Hannity some credit before I proceed to tell everyone why I dislike him.

If it weren’t for Sean Hannity, there would be no America’s Debate. See, Jaime and I used to like watching his show. We can’t really be blamed for that. There was a point where Hannity & Colmes was unique. Every show on cable news has not always had outspoken hosts who will belittle their guests into submission.

So, as “fans” of Hannity & Colmes, we checked out Hannity.com in our search for civil and constructive political debate. Man oh man, were we amazed at what we saw. Hannity– a man who claims to uphold values and morals both personally and politically– had a site that was full of profanity and full of racism. Remember, this was right after September 11, 2001– the Muslims were out to get us (sarcasm, don’t complain to me).

The very fact that Hannity allowed this crap on his website, and the very fact that his employers in both his television and radio show were fine with the content of his site was disgusting! Thank you Mr. Hannity for being as low as they go, allowing us to shine and grow as well as we have!

But that is not my contention with Mr. Hannity today. My problem with him today is that his skills of being “minimally observant” (as I like to call it) are gone.

Mr. Hannity always refers to the “mainstream media.” “Combating liberal bias in the mainstream media,” he likes to preach to his minions.

Mr. Hannity– YOU are the mainstream media. A good portion of the mainstream media bias is YOUR bias.

Mr. Hannity’s Bio:

Sean Hannity is a multi-media superstar, spending four hours every day
broadcasting in front of millions of American people on radio, television and the
Internet.

He is the host of the The Sean Hannity Show, which is approaching 500 affiliates on
the ABC Radio Networks. He also co-hosts the highly successful Hannity & Colmes
on the FOX News Channel.

Moreover, Hannity’s website, www.Hannity.com, is among the most visited political
websites on the Internet with more than 20 million page views and 350,000 unique
visitors each month. Audio streams of The Sean Hannity Show average more than
190,000 unique listeners per month, making it among the most listened to Internet
broadcasts in the past year, according to Arbitron.

He is a three-time consecutive winner of Radio & Records National
Talk Show Host of The Year Award (2003, 2004 and 2005) as well as the National
Association of Broadcasting’s 2003 Marconi Award for Talk Show Host of the Year,
and the Talkers Magazine 2003 Freedom of Speech Award.

In addition to his “on-air” duties, Hannity is the best selling author, most recently, of
Deliver Us From Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism (Harper Collins/
Regan Books, 2004) which shot to #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list during
it’s first week and remained in first place for five straight weeks. Hannity’s critically
acclaimed first book, Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty Over Liberalism
(Harper Collins/Regan Books, 2002) rode the New York Times bestseller list for
remarkable 17 weeks.

Let’s see.

500 affiliates for the radio show (he once claimed it was the “fastest growing show in radio,” and that is one instance where I am inclined to believe him).

#1 show in the timeslot on the #1 most watched cable news network.

#1 books on the best sellers list.

Mr. Hannity– how can you possibly consider yourself as anything but a part of the mainstream media? And if you are part of the mainstream media, what are you doing to combat your and the rest of the liberal republicans’ bias?

Why the AP Sucks.

Really, I don’t know why the AP sucks, I just know that they do.

I imagine they suck as a result of several factors, some of which include:

- They are too big and have too many employees
- They are more concerned with breaking news/exclusive stories than they are with accuracy.
- They have poor proofing skills
- They have a poor grasp of what is fact
- They have a poor memory of current events.

Case in point, this article:

Gore: New TV Channel Won’t Be Partisan

I have uploaded a screenshot to demonstrate their error:

The AP Sucks

The article states in reference to Al Gore:

The 2004 Democratic candidate for president was asked if he was concerned the 24-hour news and information channel, called Current, would be perceived as having a political slant.

Now, I would like to think a journalist, who is much more likely to align herself with the Democratic party than the Republican party, would at least know who was the freaking candidate in 2004, and who was the candidate in 2000!

Get with it, AP. And by “it” I mean good quality articles that are authored by smart journalists, proofread by smart proofreaders, and given the green light only after a full review by smart editors.

Mike

Saxby Chambliss Email Address

He likes you to use his web form so that he can route the email to the appropriate deletion folder. Don’t do that– use his real email address, which is:

saxby_chambliss@chambliss.senate.gov

I assume that this will work with all senators, such as Johnny Isakson:

johnny_isakson@isakson.senate.gov

If you want to have a lot of fun, make sure your email client is set to forward all email you mark as spam to your senators’ email addresses.

Good times will be had by all…

Let’s talk numbers

Citizens Against Government Waste issued a press release yesterday outlining pay increases for House staffers:

Maximum salary: $156,848/year
Increased from: $153,022/year
Increase percent: 3.71

Congressmen are issued a Members’ Representational Allowance based on their district’s demographics and their distance from Washington, D.C. The MRA is used to pay their staffers and cover their office expenses. According to CAGW, the MRA for House offices ranged from $701,136 to $1,636,750 in fiscal 2004.

According to the Members’ Congressional Handbook, Members of the House are allowed a maximum of 18 permanent employees.

Enter the Constitution.

Article I, Section II
The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative;

Let’s explore this for a moment. As of this instance, Census.gov claims there are 295,343,316 people in the United States. If we divide that number by thirty thousand, we arrive at the maximum member count for the House of Representatives– a whopping 9,844!

Exploring further, we can take the total number of people in the United States, and divide that by 435, the total number of Congressmen, to arrive at the average constituent count per Representative– an incredible 678, 950 people! Imagine that– your Congressman could be representing you and 678,949 other people.

So, we’ve got 435 representatives, and it is theoretically possible that we could have 9,844 representatives. Each representative has to have a district of at least 30,000, but the average is over 23 times that.

Let’s take a break with the numbers, and I’ll try to tie this together a bit. Those of you who know me from America’s Debate know that I am a conservative– at least I claim I am. I’m not one of those new-fangled neo-conservatives. I consider myself to be a real conservative.

I take a very literal read on the Constitution. I consider it to be the proverbial “rules of the game,” and I consider it to be the definitive guide on the role, function, and limitations of the federal government.

I have a definition of “liberal” and of “conservative” that is outside the mainstream, although certainly much more accurate. My definitions of these easy-to-apply labels start and end with the Constitution.

If you believe that the power of the federal government is limited to what is specifically outlined in the Constitution, you have a conservative read of the Constitution, and you are a conservative. If you believe that the power of the federal government is not limited to what is specifically outlined in the Constitution, you have a liberal read of the Constitution, and are by definition a liberal.

By my definition, nearly all elected officials at the federal level are liberal. They are willing to assume powers not bestowed upon them. This means that congressmen from both sides of the aisle are liberal in my eyes. Yes, I truly believe this.

I provide the background information so you may understand that I am not merely a liberal in conservative’s clothing when I suggest that we should dramatically increase the number of Members of the House of Representatives. I’m not certain of the number, nor do I have any effective or logical means by which we can determine the appropriate amount of Representatives, but I do imagine it could be quite high while still providing a substantial reduction in operating costs for the House of Representatives.

Back to the numbers. Well, the numbers we have. It seems that finding information on how much Congress allocates for itself is very hard to find for some reason.

We know that each office gets between $701,136 to $1,636,750 a year, so we can, for the sake of continuing, calculate that each office gets somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,168,943 per year. Multiply that by the number of Congressmen, and we arrive at $508,490,205– a half of a billion dollars. Add in the actual salaries that we pay the Congressmen themselves (base pay $158,100 = 68,773,500) and we arrive at the price of our Congress: $577,263,705 per year. Of course, that figure is most certainly off, but I’d be happy to recalculate it if someone can find me the accurate numbers.

Now, what could we do with $577 million. At the current annual salary of $158,100 per year, we could pay 3651 Representatives. Of course, that wouldn’t cover expenses. When calculating expenses, we have to consider that a dramatic increase in the number of members of the House of Representatives would dramatically reduce the workload for each Representative. If we doubled the number of Representatives, we would halve the number of constituents, halve the district size, and halve the number of staffers on the federal payroll.

Continuing with our rough estimates, expenses should not exceed $365,000 per year. A thousand dollars a day is a lot of money to spend, especially when you consider the following. If each Congressman was allotted $365,000 per year, that would put the overall cost of each Congressman at $523,100. At that price and using our $577 million total-cost-of-Congress figure from above, we can afford 1,103 Representatives. That is nearly 2.5 times the Representatives! We could increase the total number of Representatives even further by decreasing their salaries to a more reasonable figure.

So, with 1,103 Representatives, would we be better represented? Well, using the census figure from earlier, the average Representative would have a constituent base totaling 267,764– quite a considerable difference compared to two-thirds of a million people. In theory, that would mean better representation for the average citizen.

A congressman could definitely manage with a constituent base of that size with two staffers supplemented with interns. If anything, it would be a lesson in time and financial management. If they can’t manage their own time and money effectively, the likelihood that they can manage our money effectively is quite small.

We are under-represented and over-governed. Maybe this would help.

The new and improved food pyramid

We are all familiar with the food pyramid, technically called the “United States Department of Agriculture Food Guide Pyramid.” Apparently, this guide was initially released in 1992, although I thought it was much older.

In its current form, the Dept. of Ag. recommends:

Fats, Oils, & Sweets: Use Sparingly
Milk, Yogurt, & Cheese Group: 2-3 servings
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, & Nuts Group: 2-3 servings
Vegetable Group: 3-5 servings
Fruit Group: 2-4 servings
Bread, Cereal, Rice, & Pasta Group: 5-11 servings

The government released the new food pyramid today. Well, that isn’t technically correct. Even though Google News lists 157 articles summarized as “US Unveils New Food Pyramid,” it is clear after reading a few of the articles that the new pyramid will not be officially released for several more months.

Apparently, we (the taxpayers) picked up the tab for 13 doctors and scientists to get together and decide how much everyone should eat. The panel basically said that we should restrict transfats, eat more fiber, eat less salt, and– get this– up the fruit and vegetable count to 13 servings! Additionally, they have decided that Americans are too stupid to determine the quantity that constitutes a serving of certain items, and they are now recommending that the food pyramid should be setup for these items to use ‘cups’ instead.

The part that really gets me is the 13 servings of fruits and vegetables. 13! Now, I understand that is the recommendation for people who are extremely active– not for people like me who spend most of the day in front of a computer. But that still seems to be excessive. That’s 13 cups of salad, or 6.5 cups of carrots. You could opt for 13 baked potatoes, or over 1/2 gallon of tomato juice. Either way, you’re going to be eating a heck of a lot of food.

Add to that the fact that you’ll be eating up to 11 servings of the Bread, Cereal, Rice, & Pasta Group, and you are consuming an amazing amount of food.

So what does the future of the food pyramid hold? Eventually, the Fats, Oils, and Sweets Group will be a mere speck in the pyramid. I imagine it will be something like this:

Future Food Pyramid