Thursday, October 31, 2013

Obamascare Video -- Haunting the District of Calamity

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) continued his campaign to #MakeDCListen by releasing a video which tells the scary truths about Obamacare.

The video "ObamaScare--It's Coming to a Mailbox Near You" is remarkable for several reasons.  Cruz did not end his efforts to oppose Obamacare after his 21 hour plus hour quasi-filibuster from late September.  Nor is Senator Cruz taking his cues from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who cut a backroom deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)  for a short-term Continuing Resolution and Debt Ceiling Hike with no quid pro quo.  Moreover, McConnell promised not to use the prospects of another government shut down as the next deadline approaches.

Through this ObamaScare video, Cruz continues to point out the real world consequences of Obamacare implementation, specifically skyrocketing premiums for lesser coverage and people losing their current health insurance.

Senator Cruz is capitalizing on social media to get the message out, rather than relying upon the liberal elite media (a.k.a. the Lamestream Media).  The message is timely, full of pop reference (horror movie motifs) and is well produced.  This ObamaScare video seems more like infotainment which people want to share.

This ObamaScare social media strategy is in stark contrast to  the blitz of bludgeoning gubernatorial ads for Virginia Democrat Terry McAliffe (D-VA) which have been blanketing the airwaves between-the-beltways.  While these patently political hit pieces may lower the female vote for Ken Cuccinelli (R-VA), but it is not a message which viewers are eager to share.

In the District of Calamity (sic), it is not unusual to see multi-media ads throughout the year about legislative initiatives.  These ad often run on news and politically oriented radio stations, some local segments of cable news channels and early evening local access time.  Normally, the commercials are produced by monied interests who are using wholesale marketing to achieve their objectives by ginning up constituent calls.  What is different about Cruz's media blitz is that it is a Senator at the helm to generate public support on legislation.

In the run up to the fiscal new year, Senator Cruz inspired radio ads ran on conservative talk radio.  In addition, Cruz made many media appearances to market his message. Now Cruz is continuing to share the public policy landscape through viral social media.

Those who haunt Cocktail Parties in the District of Calamity should not be scared of the fancy Halloween decorations in Georgetown.  The lead title to the ObamaScare title is "Brought to you by Congress". Cocktail Party types should be frightened of a back bencher who they thought was the walking dead after his filibuster fizzled.  They thought Cruz could be buried by backroom deals and bad press.  Yet the ObamaScare viral video shows that he may rise again and be more powerful than before.

The Cocktail Party crowd should be afraid, very afraid.  But not of a
zombie attack between the beltways, as Zombies feed on brains and they know better than to feast in the District of Calamity (sic). But at some time, they will have to return to their home districts.  At that point, Katey bar the door.

Scary Stuff from the District of Calamity

So what emanates from the swamp also known as the District of Calamity?

h/t: JibJab
     Walter Warren 

Selma Bovier on Fashion

Selma Bovier Halloween

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sean Penn Cruz-ing for a Political Bruising (sic)

That Maui Wowie from 1982 must have been pretty chronic to inspire such pearls of wisdom to seek the to commit Congress-critters with whom Penn disagrees into insane asylums.  And to suggest that the Executive Branch has such authority makes Mr. Hand's one-on-one history tutoring moot.

Of course, Fast Times on Richmond High was a 1982 movie, and Sean Penn was play acting a stoner surfer there who had delusions of grandeur.  This recent appearance on Piers Morgan was meant to be taken seriously and Sean Penn was playing himself.

Penn was promoting his activism for Haiti.  But in the same breath of supporting his altruistic cause, he chooses to insult the electorate and the Tea Party while slandering Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).

 [T]he way peoples perception of political positions are, is a direct reaction to their lack of, of their education which is a huge problem that we're dealing with in the country.
and between of an uneducated people and the solipsism of people like Ted Cruz and their party.
 It's a poisonous thing and these things with what we talked about with, you know, this is why this period of time, this is one of the things that's so fascinating to me in Haiti.

Penn's political pronouncements with Piers Morgan do not sound very coherent.  But he was not on a script and TOTUS (Teleprompter of the United States) was otherwise occupied.

But I hate to break it to the activist/actor but if you are trying to raise funds for Haiti, you are insulting many of the people who AEI's Arthur Brooks argues are the most charitably inclined as individuals.  But maybe after Penn's  J/P HRO group received $8.75 million from the World Bank for Haitian relief, maybe he does not need more friends.

After Penn's "Crazy" diatribe on Piers Morgan Live,  people can figure out who got wasted.  Res ipsa loquitur-- the fact speaks for itself.

Danny Thomas on Success

Danny Thomas

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Boston Mayor Menino Muffs Red Sox Reference

When the Boston Red Sox make the Major League Baseball World Series,  all of New England feels compelled to get on the bandwagon,  Blaze Radio host is a Boston Bruins booster who does not care much for baseball, but admits it is prudent to root for the Red Sox now that they are in the "big dance". 

It is expected that the hometown Mayor would lead the charge in civic cheerleader. But five term Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (D-Boston) manged to muff his MLB reference.  Boston Globe reporter Maria Cramer tweeted that Mayor Menino told a pack of reporters that he hoped that the Red Sox would win the World Series Cup and that their fans would be responsible.  

Mayor Menino seemingly melded MLB's Commissioner's Trophy with the NHL's Stanley Cup.  Oops.  This was not the first of Mayor Menino's missteps in sports quips.    But it is understandable as not every politico is an avid sports fan and they may not have access to the Teleprompter of the United States (TOTUS) to make them sound good. 

While it is amusing to twitter at Menino's sports ignorance, it is more more maddening to consider how Mayor Menino has been part of efforts to polemically politicize professional sports. Menino has been a prominent supporter of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG).  For the last few years, MAIG has been running expensive $100,000 ads during the Super Bowl to promote their gun grabbing initiatives. 

If an elected official is a sports fan, let them go to town when their team is in the championships.  If not, stick to a script on rooting for the home team.  And be gracious about the city bets, rather than turning your nose at the hospitality in the World Series wager of the opposing side, as Menino did with St. Louis' offer of fried ravioli.  Finally, stop playing partisan politics with a veneer of sports, like with MAIG Superbowl ads.

William Shakespeare on Temperament


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Beirut Barracks Bombing

On October 23, 1983, 299 American and French servicemen were killed in a truck bombing in at the Beirut International Airport.  The troops were part of the Multinational Force (MFN) which was created in 1982 after the Lebanese government demanded assistance as the Palestinian Liberation Army  evacuated the Levant during the decade long Lebanese Civil War.  

Smoke cloud from the bombed barracks at the Beirut International Airport, Oct. 23, 1983

Suicide bombers from the Iranian backed fundamentalist Shi'ite Islamic Jihad group exploded truck bombs on the soldiers' barrack.  The first explosion killed 220  Marines, 18 Sailors,  3 soldiers, and injured 120 Americans.  Minutes later, a second truck bomb at the French barracks killed 58 paratroopers, 5 civilians and injured 25 civilians and soldiers. 

A Monument to their sacrifice of the Beirut Bombing Servicemen was dedicated at Marine Base Camp Lejeune in 1988.  However, at the request of the Beirut Families, a bronze that displayed Robert A. Gannon's poem "The Other Wall" was added. 

The 30th anniversary was commemorated world-wide as was evidence at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan.

Ben Franklin on Writing

Ben Franklin

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

G.K. Chesterton on Rubbish

It is amazing how prescient that Chesterton sounds in the District of Calamity (sic) during the Twenty First Century.

Dr. Benjamin Carson on the Future

John Paul II on Faith

John Paul II, JPII

Monday, October 21, 2013

Si Robertson on Life

Men's Journal Oct. '13

Rose Garden Shamwow

Three weeks after the launch of Obamacare open enrollment, President Barack Obama held an event in the Rose Garden regarding the so called Affordable Care Act. 

With all of the reports of problems with the Obamacare launch, there was some expectation in the Lamestream Media that no drama President Obama would get mad about what Time called "His Broken Obamacare Website". Maybe the President would act like a leader and fire those in charge of the bureucratic bungle, such as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.   

Unfortunately, the press availability in the Rose Garden seemed like an extended  25 minute Shamwow commercial. The only element missing was the pitch line "But wait, there's more."

The big news per Jake Tapper at CNN is that the website malfunctions were not called glitches but were upgraded to kinks.   So after funneling $500 million to Quebec's CGI to set up the fatally flawed web portal, President Obama suggested using the call center, or letting health navigators assist them in signing up for the mandatory coverage lest they be taxed. 

Despite the $54 million which HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has earmaked for health care navigators , they had no  background checks and the staffing contracts were awarded to Seedco in Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee and New York.  Seedco  is the same company which settled a civil fraud lawsuit in 2012 for faking at least 1,400 of 6,500 job placements under a $22 million federal contract. 

Signing up for Obamacare involves revealing all sorts of personal information that is rife for identity theft.  There are already reports by in Tennessee that scam artists are posing as navigators who coax medicare recipients for their information.   But there also shady characters who are designated as ACA Navigators.  Rosilyn Wells, the only Obamacare navigator in Lawrence, Kansas had an outstanding warrant for check kiting and has a $1700 state tax deficit.  This makes USIS's flawed background checks on Wikileaker Edward Snowden and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis look thorough. 

Sadly, Sebelius does not have any time to testify before Congress  about the flawed Obamacare roll-out, but could attend the inaugural Kennedy Center forum the night before.  Perhaps to quell the blow back from this P.R. faux pas, Senate Majority Leader Dick Durban (D-IL) went on Sunday talking head shows to insist that Sebelius will ultimately testify.  Presumably, it will be before the Senate so there is a choreographed kabuki show where Democrats chastise Sebelius more in sorrow than in anger.

Vince Offer (a.k.a. Shlomi)
But such factual side shows take the focus away from the center stage in the Rose Garden rally.  One of the stalwart arguments against Tea Party Conservatives efforts to attach defunding Obamacare to the Continuing Resolution was the mantra that "It's the law".  Listening to the Celebrity-in-Chief's sales pitch, he soft peddled the kinks but felt compelled to sell stories to the American people of why it was a good deal for you.  If Obamacare were a good deal, the White House stenographers pool known as the elite liberal media (a.k.a. the Lamestream Media) would have plenty of positive stories to buttress the ACA.  Instead, Mr. Obama had to try to channel the spirit of Billy Mays or imitate Vince Shlomi,  the Shamwow Guy, to sell his already passed public policy.

If that was not enough, it just so happened that a person prop in back of President Obama fainted and the President caught her.

This was a phenomenon quite prevalent when candidate Obama was running for President in 2008.  It seemed to have mostly disappeared during the first term, but made some reappearances while on the hustings for his Re-Election campaign in 2012.

Considering the content of the Presidential high pressure pitch for "the law" despite its evident early shortcomings, fainting seemed apropos for the Rose Garden feint. 


Andrew Napolitano on Freedom

Andrew Napolitano

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Bit on Why People Don't Answer the Call to Cell Phone Savings

One of the costly monthly expenses for most households in America is their cellular phone bill.  The CTIA Wireless Association estimates that average cell phone bill was $47 in 2012 but many individuals pay double that amount.  The CTIA figures do not factor in the costs of handsets or choices for “reasonable” plans

Smart phone consumers comprise 46% of the market (including 66% of youths aged 21-30).    The CTIA figures do not factor in the costs of handsets or choices for “reasonable” plans.  So there may be a low cost plan, but if one is required to carry a data package, monthly costs precipitously increase.

Another reality is that the most of the major American cellular carriers push subsidized phones with strict two year agreements.  Few cellular consumers consider the overall costs incurred with such a subsidized cell phone contract. 

Tero Kuittinen, an independent market analyst from Alekstra, notes: "That psychology has worked for hundreds of years, and it’s still working.”   Another factor to consider is the attachment that many people feel toward their cellular purchases. [***]  It seems akin to the mentality which drives new car purchases that customers will overspend to get that “new car smell” for a durable that loses 20% immediately after purchase. 

T-Mobile took the lead among cell providers in weaning prospective customers from the subsidized cell phone model with their Simple Choice plan.  But an  alternate model which T-Mobile innovated but had more success in competitors emulating is the “Next, Edge, Jump” and “OneUp”.  


Yet, cell phone services are not fungible.  Aside from the handset cost, choice of carriers are impacted by coverage.  An inexpensive plan is worthless if one does not get range in one’s preferred calling area.  Verizon Wireless has the best coverage but people pay a premium for the extensive coverage.  But most customers may not need such extensive range.

Cost conscious consumers should know that they can cut their cellular costs in half (or more), by using Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), pre-paid cell plans and fremium cell providers like FreedomPop. But the reality is that according to Ovum, only 23% of cellular customer have opted for such frugal mobile phone service. 

 As MNVOs and the ilk do not have the deep pockets for advertising, they have a dubious reputation.  


Usually, second tier cellular carriers offer less current handsets.  Even though these cell phones may only have been on the market for six months, finicky consumers turn their noses at these out of data handsets. 


In another phase of its Un-carrier campaign, T-Mobile tried to  wreck the international roaming racket. T-Mobile stopped charging more for international text for Simple Choice customers when sending to 100+ countries.  Calls to Simple Global countries aside from the US are at $0.20 a minute.  Most importantly, there is no outrageous international data roaming charges at standard speeds.   However  there are some caveats to this International Roaming largesse.


As America enters harder economic times, more consumers may try to beat the high cost of living by answering the call to cheaper cellular services.


Napoleon Hill on Success

Napoleon Hill

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Bit About FreedomPop's Cheap Cellular Phone Service

FreedomPop is an internet service provider started by Skype co- founder Niklas Zennstrom with a motto "The Internet is a right and not a privilege".  FreedomPop seeks to expand its reach in providing "Free access for all" with its first foray in cheap cellular phone service.

FreedomPop is operating as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) based off of Sprint's network, primarily using the CDMA and WiMax capabilities and eventually using LTE.  FreedomPop is structuring its consumer cellular offering on a freemium model.   A basic consumer receives 200 voice minutes, 500 texts and 500 MB of 4G data along with free calls to other FreedomPop customers for the amazing low price of free!  And there is no contract to boot.

FreedomPop's CEO Stephen Stokols proudly proclaimed that a customer paying $1,500 for cellular service could cut their bill by 2/3rds with FreedomPop.  Stokols said: "That is real value, real savings and a real meteor to the current market dynamics."

How can FreedomPop give consumers gratis basic cellular service?  The Freemium model is designed to entice subscribers to pay a little for more.   Based on its experience offering Freemium service for hotspots, FreedomPop expects 45% of its customers to pay a little more for their low cost monthly plans.   A customer paying $7.99 a month gets 500 anytime voice minutes, unlimited texting and the 500 MB of data.  A customer "splurging" by paying $10.99 a month gets unlimited voice, unlimited texting and 500 MB of data.

Another aspect of the Freemium model is engaging customers in social media.  The FreedomPop hotspots gave consumers opportunities to get more service by speading the word to their friends and participating in sponsors offers.  This is useful for customers who do not mind peer-to-peer marketing or spending their time to save money. 

Much like the shifting spectrums in the cellular communication industry, where FreedomPop will rack up fees is on data.  The basic 500 MB is sufficient only for checking e-mails or viewing static, text based websites. A FreedomPop phone consumer who opts for the Premium data plan gets 1 GB for $10 a month (first month free).  After a consumer uses their alloted monthly data, it is $0.01 a MB, or around $10 a GB. 


Another means which FreedomPop offers value for consumers while providing a profit center is with the handsets.   FreedomPop is selling refurbished Sprint smartphones.  During their beta phase of phone roll-out, FreedomPop is selling refurbished HTC Evo Design phones for $99.99 (but will eventually cost $149.99)  but without contract. 


FreedomPop hopes to have more handsets for sale later in 2013, some with 4G LTE data capability.  FreedomPop always intends to have a $100 handset available.   FreedomPop may allow for Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) from Sprint.   There is some speculation that FreedomPop could follow the incremental purchase plans for expensive smartphones, like T-Mobile, AT and T, Verizon Wireless and now Sprint have done, charging perhaps $30 a month to effectively rent a handset.


For cell phone users who are heeding the cellular call for change, if someone plans to switch to FreedomPop Phone, be aware that WiMax phones may have to be replaced in a year. If a cellular phone customer uses mobile internet for more than occasional  quick peeks on the world wide web, it would behoove them to get more data from FreedomPop, either through the Freemium offers or purchasing an additional data plan.


Sometimes free is not always the right choice.  Determine whether one is willing to buy a refurbished smartphone for virtually no monthly cost of commitment.  Then discern what sort of mobile data usage one will be comfortable with on your cell phone.  


Coco Chanel on Character

Coco Chanel

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Bit of Common Core Constitutional Cut Up

Sixth Grade students in Bryant, Arkansas were given a curious assignment as part of theCommon Core curriculum.   The History class at Bryant Middle School had an assignment aimed at inspiring persuasive and engaging presentations.  All the groups of eleven year olds had to do was prioritize and revise the Bill of Rights.

 The History class work is premised on the idea that the government of the United States has determined that the Bill of Rights is outdated.  The assignment asked students to assume the persona of an excerpt on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights named to the "National Revised Bill of Rights (NRBR) Task Force, which is charged with ensuring that the "pursuit of happiness remains guarded in the 21st Century".   The substantial objective of this exercise was to excise two Amendments and add two Amendments.

This exercise was fundamentally flawed on its substance. This faux NRBR task force was supposed to protect the "pursuit of happiness".  But that phrase is in the Declaration of Independence (1776) not the Bill of Rights.

These middle school students had not been schooled on the reasons why the Bill of Rights was introduced by James Madison in 1789 and ratified in 1791.  They have no idea that the Constitution would not have been ratified by several of the States without the prospect of a Bill of Rights.   Obviously, the arguments by the Federalists and Anti-Federalists would be far beyond their ken in civics.


The Bryant School District is proud to embrace the Common Core standards to improve students literacy and math skills. Common Core seeks to augment these skill sets through interdisciplinary learning.  Thus this History assignment was supposed to test reading, writing and language skills on informational texts.


Unfortunately, this History exercise was premised on the Patriot Act debate, which is asking a lot of middle school students, particularly without the background knowledge of history or civics.  Moreover, the instructions of the exercise circumvents the Constitution Amendment process in trying to prune and update it.  The subject matter is so cutting edge, it is hard not to believe that the teacher will not color the debate and the student presentations. Such shaping of opinion in the guise of education shows why some conservatives are so chary about Common Core.


Margaret Thatcher on Power

Margaret Thatcher Iron Lady