Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Archive for December, 2008

Put your best foot forward!

Posted by sanityinjection on December 29, 2008

When faced with the challenges and setbacks in our lives, it’s only natural to sometimes feel a bit sorry for ourselves. Sometimes we will remind ourselves of the host of reasonable excuses for why we didn’t live up to our expectations of ourselves.

After that, if we have successfully internalized what our parents taught us, we may recall that no matter how bad we think we have it, there is always someone who has to deal with greater challenges than we do. It might be someone we know, or it might be a total stranger in a country far away.

Today I have learned about someone like that who has tackled life’s challenges with an attitude that puts a lot of us to shame. Her name is Jessica Cox and she lives in Arizona. The first thing that people notice about Jessica is that she has no arms. In fact, she was born without arms. As a result, Jessica has learned to do everything with her feet, including mundane tasks like dressing and putting on makeup, as well as driving a car and most recently, flying a plane! More importantly, however, Jessica has had to learn two very important life lessons. The first is that there is nothing she can’t accomplish, no matter what anyone tells her. The second is that she is always going to be the focus of stares and attention throughout her life, so she has learned to embrace her difference and revel in her nonconformity.

I would encourage you to take a few minutes to poke around Jessica’s website. In addition to the inspiration of her example, Jessica is a good writer and her accounts of her exploits are really entertaining to read:

http://www.rightfooted.com/index.htm

If any of my readers are searching for a New Year’s resolution, let me suggest that we all try harder to approach our own lives with the positive and confident attitude that Jessica does.

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Poor, poor auto workers

Posted by sanityinjection on December 29, 2008

We’ve been told repeatedly that one of the main reasons we needed to bail out the Detroit automakers was to save the autoworkers. Of course, the United Auto Workers’ union maintains a well-stocked fund (paid for by the Detroit automakers) that pays any laid-off worker something like 90% of their salary for a period of time.  How many of us enjoy that kind of security if we lose our jobs?

Now comes word that the union also owns and maintains a golf resort and conference center in Michigan where union leaders live the good life at the expense of their members’ dues:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,472304,00.html

Of course, the average auto worker doesn’t get to vacation at this resort, unless they kiss their union rep’s ass.

This is just the latest example with the UAW and certain other unions. When times are good and profits are booming, the unions insist on a big slice of the pie. When times are tough and everyone is hurting, everyone has to pitch in and sacrifice except the unions, who refuse to give up any of their perks and privileges. And we wonder why Detroit can’t make a profit.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Is God dead? The media seems to think so.

Posted by sanityinjection on December 23, 2008

The WSJ’s Vincent Carroll explores the many ways in which mainstream media reporters ignore or trivialize religion and faith:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123000033860729321.html

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NFL Coaches: Who should be fired, who should stay

Posted by sanityinjection on December 23, 2008

It’s been a while since my last sports post, so with the final week of the NFL regular season approaching, I will get an early jump on the postseason coaching carousel. Here are my thoughts regarding some of the coaches that will be on the hotseat – who should stay and who should go:

Wade Phillips, Dallas Cowboys: I have never been a fan of Phillips, but this is only his second season as head coach of the Cowboys. Last year he took them to the playoffs with a 13-3 record. This year, a playoff berth is still up in the air, but a winning season is guaranteed. There are a lot of questions about the Cowboys, but working with owner Jerry Jones is not easy, and Phillips’ decision to take over the play calling on defense has proven to be a good one. Phillips should be given the chance to show what he can do with a maturing Tony Romo if he can stay healthy next year.

Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles: Let me put this as bluntly as possible: Andy Reid is not a good head coach. When you look at the talent that has come through Philadelphia over the past ten years, it’s hard to fathom how the Eagles have only been to one Super Bowl (and lost.) Unless of course, you observe Reid’s terrible game management, bizarre decision making, and inability to control volatile players like Terrell Owens. Since 2004, Reid has had only one winning season, and this year the Eagles will likely miss the playoffs. Past success can only count for so much: Reid has failed to improve his team even as the talent level has improved. It’s time for a change in Philadelphia.

Jim Zorn, Washington Redskins: The Redskins’ late season collapse seems worse because of their unexpectedly strong start under new head coach Jim Zorn. However, long time fans will recall that the Redskins never seem to be able to put together a full season under any coach in the last decade. The Redskins can still notch a winning season if they win this weekend, and that is as much as one should expect from a first-year coach. Zorn should stay.

Jim Haslett, St. Louis Rams: Haslett is in an unusual situation. He took over as coach during the 2008 season, but so early on that he has had plenty of time to put his stamp on the team. Unfortunately, the results have been disappointing. This team has been getting worse and worse over the last few years despite some key talents. I like Haslett, but I don’t think he is the right person to turn this team around. Expect a new face in 2009.

Mike Singletary, San Francisco 49ers: Singletary is the mirror image of Haslett. Since Singletary took over the 49ers, they have gone 4-4 after a 2-5 start under previous coach Mike Nolan. It’s obvious that the players respect Singletary where they did not respect Nolan. Singletary should retain the helm of this team and see what they can do in 2009.

Rod Marinelli, Detroit Lions: This is an easy one. Although departed GM Matt Millen bears the Lion’s share of the blame for the horrendousness of this franchise, 0-15 is still 0-15. Worst of all, the only person who doesn’t seem to see that Marinelli has failed is Marinelli. It will require a new coach, a new GM, and probably a federal bailout to turn this team around. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Brad Childress, Minnesota Vikings: This is the one I struggle most with. On the plus side, the Vikings have improved each year under Childress and will make the playoffs if they win this weekend. On the minus side, Childress is a weak and indecisive coach who has presided over a talented but underachieving team. I do not have confidence in him, but I can’t in good conscience argue that he should be fired if the Vikings do make the playoffs. However, if they lose to the inconsistent Bears and miss the playoffs, then let someone else play with owner Zygi Wilf’s toys in 2009.

Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars: Considered one of the league’s better coaches, but Del Rio has presided over a collapse this season. It’s important to remember that every year Del Rio’s team has had to play in the same division as one of the conference’s two top teams (Indianapolis, and this year Tennessee.) This year’s Jaguars would probably be 8-8 if they played in the NFC West. Del Rio stays, but cannot afford a repeat performance next year.

Romeo Crennel, Cleveland Browns: This is hard for me because I like Crennel a lot and have little sympathy for the long-suffering but classless Cleveland fans. Last year it looked like things were turning around for Crennel and the Browns with their first winning season in, well, forever. But that raised expectations for this year, and Crennel’s team has failed to deliver, slumping back into the mediocrity Browns fans are used to. Crennel himself has acknowledged that injuries are not an excuse. Sadly, it seems 2007 was a fluke and not a sign of things to come. After four years, it’s time to say goodbye to Crennel and let someone else take over the young talent on this team.

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals: Lewis was Cincinnati’s hero in 2005 when the Bengals won their first division title since the Sam Wyche/Boomer Esiason days. However, since then the team has done nothing but get worse each year. Ownership clearly deserves some of the blame, and injuries have been a factor. But there’s also been a moral vacuum in Cincinnati, with Lewis all too willing to put criminals and thugs such as Chris Henry on the field. That kind of thing kills your team from the inside. Even Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson, once the voice of this team, now wants out. The Bengals need new leadership, though I suspect owner Mike Brown will fail to pull the trigger on Lewis because he is too cheap to pay more money for a new coach. And that right there tells you everything you need to know about the Bengals.

Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers: Though the Chargers can still make the playoffs with a win this week, they do so at 8-8, a far cry from the last four years of winning seasons. As almost any San Diego fan will tell you, the Chargers never should have hired Turner to replace Marty Schottenheimer. Turner is a good offensive coordinator and possibly the best of all time at developing young quarterbacks, but he is not and never has been a  good head coach. However, Chargers management has staked too much of their credibility on Turner to let him go now.  I expect he will stay, but it’s only delaying the inevitable. Turner has allowed the Chargers to go from being a team that other clubs feared to one that nobody fears. Better to cut the losses now and let the rebuilding begin, perhaps under defensive coordinator Ron Rivera.

Herm Edwards, Kansas City Chiefs: This is an easy one. Each year under Edwards has been worse than the last. This is Edwards’ second stint as a head coach after abandoning the New York Jets. There shouldn’t be a third.

Tom Cable, Oakland Raiders: The Raiders have been awful since Jon Gruden left, and they’re still awful. Owner Al Davis is a big part of that. Yet there are sparks of real talent in Oakland. Davis has never been one to retain interim coaches such as Cable, preferring to make a big noisy splash hiring. But Davis also has a hard time finding coaches who can work with him (hence the recently departed Lane Kiffin.) If his relationship with Cable is good, he should give him a chance. Take a look at the Raiders’ schedule this year, and you will wonder how any coach could have put together a winning record. At least Cable seems to be able to motivate his players. Besides, isn’t it good for the NFL to have a coach whose nickname is “The Cable Guy”? 🙂

Eric Mangini, New York Jets: The Jets can still make the playoffs, but in New York the calls for Mangini’s ouster have already begun. Consider this: The Jets under Mangini and previous coach Herm Edwards have finished as follows since 2004: 10-6, 4-12, 10-6, 4-12. Care to take a guess what their record will be with a win this weekend? Granted, the Jets were expected to do well this year with an influx of talent, but I think it would be premature to dismiss Mangini (though I am not a fan of his.) If the Jets regress again next year, then a change will be in order.

Dick Jauron, Buffalo Bills: I didn’t believe in Jauron when he was with the Bears, and I don’t believe in him now that he’s with the Bills. Jauron is headed for his third straight 7-9 season, and that can’t be good enough for this once proud franchise. He has poisoned the Bills’ revival in its cradle, particularly with his ridiculous indecisiveness over the last two seasons at the QB position. Jauron should be given the boot 5 seconds after the season ends. I hear Bill Cowher is available.

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Why does the NYT even have a “Business” section anymore?

Posted by sanityinjection on December 22, 2008

It’s getting to the point where first-year college students have a better understanding of economics than the reporters who cover business stories for the New York Times. Witness this latest offering about measures that some companies have been taking to cut labor costs without laying off workers:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/22/business/22layoffs.html

The article reads like a feel-good piece. The nice companies care about their workers, and the nice workers are willing to make sacrifices to help the company. What a crock of manure.

Sure, there are some companies and workers that fit that description. But there are two very major and obvious economic factors that are totally ignored by the article’s authors.

The first is that companies have a big incentive to avoid layoffs, in any economy, but particularly when they are hurting. The more employees you lay off, the more you have to pay in unemployment insurance in the following year, and for a few years thereafter. In the long run, it can cost you more to lay off an employee than you save, especially if they are part-time workers who aren’t costing you health benefits.

The second factor, which applies on the other side of the coin, is that not every company can implement these creative measures with regard to benefits and salaries even if they want to. Changes such as these have to be negotiated with unions and cannot be implemented unilaterally by the company. Some unions are smart and are willing to work with the company to preserve jobs. Many, however, are stubborn and cling to the smallest privileges. This forces companies to fall back on what they can do without having to get the unions to agree, which is layoff employees.

I don’t know how you write this article without mentioning either of those important aspects – unless you’re ignorant of the subject you’re being paid to cover.

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We need to find out who’s naughty and nice.

Posted by sanityinjection on December 22, 2008

The Wall Street Journal warns that President-elect Obama’s Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis, is going to be under pressure to weaken the government’s oversight of labor unions (and indeed seems to support doing so):

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122990431323225179.html

Isn’t it ironic that the only time Big Labor supports smaller government is when it’s the part of government that keeps an eye on them?

There simply is no possible justification for preventing workers from voting by secret ballot on unionization initiatives. And it is union members themselves who benefit most from the government’s efforts to make sure unions are transparent about how their dues are being spent. Reporting requirements for unions are miniscule compared to what non-profits and corporations must provide, so weakening them doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. What Big Labor is hoping is that they can accomplish these changes very quietly without attracting much in the way of public notice. Let’s see whether the mainstream media takes their reporting responsibility as seriously as they like to claim, or whether there’s a double standard in their vigor when it comes to exposing sneakiness on the Left.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The truth about the Bush Administration

Posted by sanityinjection on December 22, 2008

Even the most ardent Bush-haters out there should admit that most of the information we get about the Bush Administration and its policies comes to us filtered through a defiantly biased lens.  In response to this, Ed Gillespie debunks a number of widely-believed accusations against the Administration that are not so well supported by the facts:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/12/myths_and_facts_about_the_real.html

Of course, Gillespie is as biased a source as they come, just in the other direction. So one must put his information together with what we already know in order to get an accurate picture.

One area Gillespie doesn’t even touch on is the Administration’s great efforts toward the eradication of AIDS in Africa and elsewhere. Anyone involved in AIDS relief activities – no matter how left-wing they may be – will tell you that the Bush Administration has been by far the best in this area. It’s not something the mainstream media wants you to be reminded of, though.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Liberals vs. Conservatives: Charity contest

Posted by sanityinjection on December 22, 2008

Liberal columnist Nicholas Kristof discovers in the NYT that conservatives give more to charity than liberals do:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/21/opinion/21kristof.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

He breaks down several variables including the impact of religious giving and giving to organizations that don’t have a big impact on the truly less fortunate. He also points out that conservatives volunteer more and give blood more often.

In fairness, conservatives *should* be more charitable in principle. If we believe that it is not the government’s job to look after the less fortunate, it is up to us to provide a non-governmental solution, and that means charities and volunteerism. Liberals can argue that they support raising taxes on themselves to support government programs for the poor and disadvantaged.

I like Kristof’s call for a good-natured competition between liberals and conservatives to see who can do more for the less fortunate. During hard economic times, charity becomes all the more important. Although we may be having a harder time ourselves, there is always somebody in worse shape.

This year, I made a point to give more to charity than I have in the past. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to do even better next year. I hope you will, too.

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Once again, Venezuela’s Chavez shows contempt for democracy

Posted by sanityinjection on December 19, 2008

The issue this time is that Chavez is term-limited from running for re-election. Chavez and his supporters want to have a voter referendum to change the law to allow him to run again.

The reason this is inherently anti-democratic has nothing to do with whether term limits are a good or bad idea. Rather, it is the violation of the principle that major changes aren’t supposed to apply to incumbents for good or for ill.

For example, when the US Constitution was changed to limit US Presidents to two terms, the change specifically did not apply to FDR, the sitting President. When Congress votes itself a pay raise, the pay raise never applies to the sitting Congress, but only to the one that will take office after an election.

Thus, there’s nothing wrong with having a referendum on removing term limits from the Presidency. The problem is that Chavez should be excluded from the change, so that the vote is a vote on term limits generally, not a vote for or against Chavez, which is exactly what this referendum will be. And Venezuelans are well aware in their socialist mob state what the consequences of an anti-Chavez vote can be.

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Details of the final auto bailout

Posted by sanityinjection on December 19, 2008

This one comes from the Bush Administration and does not have to be approved by Congress. It consists of $9.4 billion in emergency loans for GM and $4 billion for Chrysler. The companies will have to meet the same conditions specified in the Congressional plan that failed to pass – submit acceptable restructuring plans by March 31 or repay the loans immediately.

President Bush explained his rationale for approving the loans this way:

“If we were to allow the free market to take its course now, it would almost certainly lead to disorderly bankruptcy and liquidation for the automakers. Under ordinary economic circumstances, I would say this is the price that failed companies must pay. And I would not favor intervening to prevent the automakers from going out of business. But these are not ordinary circumstances.  In the midst of a financial crisis and a recession, allowing the U.S. auto industry to collapse is not a responsible course of action.”

The problem with this is that there is no way that GM and Chrysler are going to meet that March 31 deadline. The biggest reason is that without bankruptcy protection, they will be unable to get relief from their creditors and they will be unable to force renegotiation with the auto workers, whom you will recall have refused to discuss changes to their contract which extends through 2011. I don’t see how they can become solvent without these steps.

That is the difference between this plan and the Congressional plan, which in its final form would have required the creditors and the UAW to come to the table. The Bush Administration can’t make that happen by itself. Therefore, while I sympathize with what the President is trying to do, I think it’s misguided and will fail. April Fools will be on the taxpayer when GM and Chrysler default on their loans and go into bankruptcy. With no Congressional law requiring the government to be paid before other creditors, we’ll be lucky to get half of that money back.

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