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Scott Ott

Scott Ott co-hosts a news, commentary and humor show called Trifecta on PJTV. He created and hosted the 20-part series on the Constitution titled Freedom's Charter. His satire site, ScrappleFace, spawned three books and praise from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin and many others.
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Can Republicans Learn These Two Lessons from this Young Elephant?

Thursday, November 13th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

First: Move to a new setting where you have the advantage.

Then: Go on the offensive.

I’ll leave it to you to apply these lessons in the comments below.

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In 22 Words: Obama’s Landmark Historic Climate-Change Deal with Chinese President Xi

Thursday, November 13th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

What’s the deal with the climate-change deal Obama made with Chinese President Xi Jinping?

The leaders of the world’s two most powerful nations dress up in silk teddies to do this (in 22 words):

One leader “pledges” to do what he said he’d do five years ago.
The other “pledges” to do nothing for 15 years.

Obama committed the U.S. to concrete, measurable goals — 26-28% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, from the 2005 baseline, by 2025. But Obama had already committed to similar goals back in 2009 at the United Nations. For his part, Xi “pledged” that China would “plan” to have her CO2 emissions peak by the year 2030.

On the bright side, while Chinese carbon emissions skyrocket as a result of its rapid emergence from the stone age, along with heavy reliance on coal, U.S. emissions are already in steady decline, thanks to the moribund Obama economy, and the fact that those nice Chinese folks burn the coal to make the stuff that we use, so we don’t have to soil our hands with manufacturing…or coal. So, Obama’s climate change pledge is do-able, as long as Democrats keep their boot on the throat of the U.S. economy through taxation, regulation and profligate entitlement spending.

One can’t help but hope that the New York Times is right that Democrats will make climate change the centerpiece of their 2016 president campaign.


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Pop’s War Stories: Meeting Patton, Jimmy Stewart and a Panzer

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 - by Scott Ott
George Patton, Jim McMaster, Jimmy Stewart

George Patton, Jim McMaster, Jimmy Stewart

Sgt. Jim McMaster heard the jeep, and looked up from the winch he was wrangling. Three stars on the bumper meant straighten up and acknowledge.

Gen. George S. Patton returned McMaster’s salute.

“What’s the hold up, Sargent?” Patton barked.

A truck hauling a Sherman tank had slid from the rutted frozen slurry, but still blocked the road and thus the convoy. McMaster told the General he’d get the tank off of the truck and use it to pull the truck back onto the road.

“Carry on, Sargent,” Patton said, snapping a salute before ordering his driver onward. And that was that.

Mac and his men got the tank off, the truck out, the convoy moving again.

Not a lot of celebrity moments like that in World War II, although McMaster did meet actor Jimmy Stewart, then a captain or a major, late one night over drinks during a Channel crossing.

No, war is more mud than stars.

Jim McMaster, my Pop, wound up raising his four grandsons, and we hung on his words when he told us war stories.

Setting out for the Normandy invasion, McMaster grabbed the ship’s rail to vault into the landing craft. The next soldier, also vaulting, accidentally kicked his wrist, sending McMaster sprawling on the deck, and his wristwatch sailing into the drink. He’s headed to fight the Nazis, but at the moment, he’s ticked about losing the new watch. Sixty years later, he tells his great-grandchildren about the watch. It was a good watch, and new.

As they approached the Normandy beach on D+4, the landing craft pilot, eager to avoid underwater obstacles, idled the engine and said, “Here’s where you get off.” McMaster looked out at the distance to the beach and knew the water was too deep.

“Take us in closer,” he said. The skipper refused. McMaster laid a hand on his sidearm.

“Take us in.”

The motor revved and the boat moved closer to the beach. When McMaster dropped from the craft into chest-high water something heavy landed on his pack. As he was about to swing an elbow and tell the soldier to find another ride to the beach, when he realized it was a woman — a Red Cross nurse. He waded in, with her on his back, until she could safely walk on her own. He stayed in touch with her by letter for a while. Then the letters stopped. He later learned that the Germans bombed her Red Cross hospital. And that was that.

When McMaster enlisted, he hoped to fly. Instead, he wound up in a tank, with engines originally designed for aircraft that used high-octane, highly-flammable gasoline.

One day, a Panzer surprised him from behind a barn, and shot a track off his Sherman. Able to move only in circles, with no place to hide the tank, he ordered his men to abandon. Two went out the turret hatch, under withering machine-gun fire from the Panzer. McMaster finally leaped free of the crippled tank, losing a piece of his knee to a machine gun round. Before the two men in the belly could escape through the hatch between the fuel tanks, the Panzer lit it up. McMaster watched his fuel-soaked buddies burn. The Sherman exploded, sending the entire turret to high heaven.

This wasn’t a frickin’ movie where the stars all get to go home at day’s end to drink chardonnay.

These were American farmers, mechanics and clerks — boys — shredded, severed, bloodied and burned.

Veterans Day ceremonies tend to be calm, somber, clean and peaceful.

Let’s remember the men who climbed from the mud to the stars to make it so.

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Republicans Own Texas: Wait Till You See What They’re Planning for the Next Legislative Session

Monday, November 10th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Dallas News headlines

Wait a minute…I thought Republicans won the election.

Here in Texas, Republicans dominate the legislature, the governor’s office and all statewide offices. Yet, that Dallas News headline offers the early word on legislative priorities for the next session.

Former House speaker Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, again filed a bill that would institute a statewide a [sic] ban on texting for all drivers—a measure that previously passed in the Legislature in 2011 but was vetoed by now departing Gov. Rick Perry. He called the bill “a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults.”

Of course, this stalwart Republican, Craddick, doesn’t want to limit your liberty. He merely wants to “give our law enforcement officers the tools they need to make our roadways safer,” not to mention a good excuse to take a look-see at the data in your Moto X, since it’s now been used in the commission of a crime. Who knows what other crimes you might be commissioning with it?

Aw, don’t give me that smug look. I don’t think people should text-and-drive any more than you do. (And, by the way, you do it way too much.) After all, if you’re looking at your phone instead of the road and other vehicles, you could miss some great opportunities to express your God-given right to road rage.

The point is, it’s already illegal to drive recklessly. Who cares why you’re doing it — texting, eating a Whataburger, combing your big hair, tweezing your nostrils, smoking one of them vapor contraptions, or rebuking your kids because one won’t share his iPad or e-cig with the others? (Don’t make me come back there.)

If I were in the Texas House right now, I’d introduce an amendment to the Craddick bill that would make it illegal to take your hands from the 10-and-2 positions on the wheel for any reason whatsoever. It should also be forbidden to speak with one’s spouse, children, campaign manager, press secretary or other pets while driving. Needless to say, I would also press for a full ban on daydreaming, or listening to Tears for Fears…

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Real Men Give Birth: New Study Shows We Need to Be More Sensitive to Trannies on the Nest

Friday, November 7th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

A new study of 41 women who identify themselves as men, but who have successfully born children after “transitioning,” encourages gynecologists and obstetricians to build better rapport with their transgender patients.

That starts by getting the pronouns right. It turns out that 75% prefer to be called “he.” The others divide between “she,” “they” and “ey.” (Like the Fonz, not William Wallace.)

While study authors acknowledge that they’re on the cutting edge, they think there may be thousands of mannish women with baby bumps out there, whose hearts break when someone calls them “she” just because they’ve got a bun in the oven. Haters.

Oddly enough, some subjects felt their masculinity peaked during gestation, labor and birth.

“Pregnancy and childbirth were very male experiences for me,” said a 29-year-old respondent in a study reported Friday in Obstetrics and Gynecology. “When I birthed my children, I was born into fatherhood.

It’s one thing to have lady parts and think you’re a man, but quite another to use those lady parts for a ladylike purpose, and think that it makes you more manly than ever.

It’s reverse gender dysphoria…on steroids.

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No, Sen. Reid, Americans Don’t Want Washington to ‘Work Together’, ‘Get Things Done’?

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Reid, Boehner, Obama, McConnell, Pelosi in Oval Office

The message from voters is clear: they want us to work together,” [Sen. Harry] Reid said. “I look forward to working with Senator McConnell to get things done for the middle class.”

Harry Reid, Waning Senate Majority Leader

If Americans were tired of divisiveness in D.C., and frustrated with the failure to work together to pass legislation, Democrats would have swept Tuesday’s midterm elections. They did not.

If Americans wanted to get back to the good old days of the Clinton administration, they would have supported the candidates who Bill and Hillary backed. In the crucial Senate races in Georgia, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina (and others), they did not.

Americans would have returned Harry Reid to the Senate majority leader’s chair, with a filibuster-proof Democratic majority, if they yearned to…

  • pack the courts with abortion advocates, or
  • hold onto their Obamacare health plan, or
  • yield their children to compulsory Common Core curricula, or
  • slap down corporations through higher taxes, or
  • muzzle the voice of the Koch brothers, or
  • protect the bureaucrats who snoop on and target us, or
  • put that hinkle dreck Netanyahu in his place. (Apologies to my Pennsylvania Dutch and Jewish brethren.)

They did not do that, because they do not want that.

In Iowa, the Joni Ernst for Senate campaign caught fire when she implied she would castrate Democrats and their cronies in D.C. — figuratively, of course.

If America wanted nothing more than peace in the D.C. pigpen, Joni would be headed home.

Instead, Senator-elect Ernst is pulling on her Carhartts and snapping on the latex gloves.

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“By Far the Most Egregious” Violator: Holder & EPA Ding Carmaker $350 Million for Climate Change

Monday, November 3rd, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Attorney General Eric Holder and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced the biggest climate change enforcement action to date against Hyundai Group for overstating their fleet-wide fuel efficiency by an average of one mile per gallon.

In sensational language, Attorney General Eric Holder today announced the biggest enforcement action ever against a greenhouse gas violator, as the federal government penalized automaker Hyundai Group up to $350 million.

“This will send a strong message that cheating is not profitable and any company that violates the law will be held to account,” Holder said. “This announcement illustrates that this type of conduct quite simply will not be tolerated.”

What did they do to deserve the biggest spanking since the Supreme Court, in 2007, gave the EPA power to regulate greenhouse gases?

Hyundai Group overestimated the miles-per-gallon rating in about a quarter of their Kia and Hyundai models.

That means they’ve had to downgrade their fleet-wide 2012 fuel efficiency average from 27 all the way down to 26 MPG.

That 1 MPG variance apparently constitutes a high crime.

According to the EPA, the fine is the largest in Clean Air Act history, which the automakers violated when they sold close to 1.2 million vehicles that will emit approximately 4.75 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in excess of what the automakers certified to EPA.

The biggest part of the penalty comes in the form of lost carbon credits. Hyundai already compensated some 900,000 customers for the MPG misstatement, and characterizes the settlement as a welcome end to a two-year government inquisition.

“We’re going to be working with the EPA to make sure that the guidelines are easy to follow. … So we’re getting slapped on the wrist here [but] we did have an error, and we fixed this. It’s not going to happen again. We’re paying a penalty and it’s time to move on,” [Hyundai spokesman Jim] Trainor said.

While the issue may be behind Hyundai, the rest of the industry can’t breathe easy yet.

[EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy] said Hyundai’s conduct was the most “egregious” and “systemic,” but didn’t close the door on possible investigations against Ford Motor Co. or other automakers who have overstated mpg. Ford, BMW AG and Daimler AG have restated mileage ratings on vehicles over the last year.

Of course, corporations don’t pay fines any more than they pay taxes. You and I pay for all of it. So, now that you’ve been chastised, I hope we won’t have to have this conversation again.

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How to Depress Democratic Voter Turnout by Building a Golden Bridge with Obama’s Record

Monday, November 3rd, 2014 - by Scott Ott

As frustrating as it is to be a Republican in Obama’s America, our deepest empathy should flow to our beleaguered Democratic neighbors. Not only must they bear the burden of this administration’s incompetence, corruption, and human rights violations — but they also harbor the heartache of multiple promissory notes that candidate Obama wrote, but that President Obama failed to cash.

Today in the The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf, peels back the sopping dressing from the sucking wound that is Democratic discontent with Obama.

But here’s what I find alarming: Confronted with a president who 1) spied on every American; 2) covered up torture; 3) continued a War on Drugs ruinous to minorities and whole foreign nations; 4) killed hundreds of innocents in drone strikes; 5) waged war illegally and killed an American citizen without due process (while suppressing the legal reasoning used to do so); 6) let high-ranking national-security officials break the law with impunity; and 7) persecuted whistleblowers—confronted with all of those transgressions, more than four in 10 Americans still approve of the job Obama is doing. And most of them are loyal Democrats. Partisanship and tribalism are overriding the moral compass of too many liberals, who ought to be furious with Obama. National-security policies he unilaterally pursued will be harming the U.S., its moral standing, and its most vulnerable citizens for years if not decades to come, especially since Democrats are poised to make civil illibertarian Hillary Clinton their party’s next leader.

You don’t have to agree with their ideology, objectives or worldview to feel their pain. And now, on election eve, is no time to swat them across the nose with a newspaper for their votes in 2008 and 2012.

Obama Dog Shaming

There’s no need for this.

As a few of our Democratic neighbors shuffle forlornly into the polling places Tuesday, these facts will weigh heavily on their minds. For some, it will be a bridge too far. They will not muster the strength to rise and go forth. They’ve lost the will to make excuses for this president and for the Democrats in Congress who have backed him every step of the way, but who now resort to  feigning outrage at his policies.

If you back someone into corner, by bludgeoning his party or his erstwhile president, you force him to fight to avoid losing face. Instead, consider the art of war advice usually attributed to Sun Tzu: “Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.”

That little paragraph from The Atlantic, with a link to the article, could be part of that bridge.

If we approach our Democratic brethren with a sense of our common humanity, and with grace for a fellow sinner, then we may look back some day and realize, in the words of a once-inspiring aspiring leader, that “this was the moment - this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals.

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Educated White Democrats Run Blacks Out of Town: Republican Cities Welcome Them

Monday, November 3rd, 2014 - by Scott Ott
Educated whites crowd out lower-income blacks in Democrat-dominated cities like Austin, Texas.

Educated whites crowd out lower-income blacks in Democrat-dominated cities like Austin, Texas.

No one cares for the black people more than college-educated white Democrats.

I know, right?

So that’s why when educated whites move into America’s most tolerant, progressive Democratic cities, blacks move out, according to Eric Tang in the Washington Post.

Between 2000 and 2010, cities like Austin, Chicago, Washington D.C., San Francisco—places that vote majority Democrat, consider themselves socially and culturally progressive, and boast racial diversity—all lost unprecedented numbers of African Americans. San Francisco, for instance, saw a staggering 20.4 percent loss in its African American population between 2000 and 2010. Chicago and Washington D.C. also experienced double-digit losses.

Tang, an assistant professor at University of Texas, Austin, cites Stanford University research showing that as college grads become a bigger share of a Democrat-dominated city’s workforce, income inequality rises, driving out (often black) lower-wage folks.

Meanwhile, 100 percent of the big cities that Mitt Romney won in 2012 (ok, there aren’t many of them) saw their black populations grow — big time.

During that same decade, the only three major cities (populations over 500,000) that voted Republican in the 2012 presidential election— Phoenix, Fort Worth, and Oklahoma City—all saw significant increases in African American numbers; their African-American populations grew by 36.1 percent, 28 percent and 11.4 percent respectively.

Austin, known in Texas as “the blueberry in the tomato soup,” is unique among major cities in that it’s growing, but not in diversity. The actual number of black Austin residents decreased from 2000-2010 by 5.4 percent.

All of this proves at least two things:

1) reducing diversity makes the Democrat ideal of tolerance more achievable, and

2) while white Democrats may be college educated, blacks who pack up and leave are just plain smart.

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If Tom Corbett Wins in Pennsylvania, It Will Break His Squander Streak, But Vote For Him Anyway

Friday, October 31st, 2014 - by Scott Ott

In most parts of Texas, the Republican primary virtually IS the general election, or so they tell me. But Republicans are careful to add that they don’t take anything for granted.

Things are different back in the old country — my former home of Pennsylvania — as I was reminded yesterday.

I found a GOTV postcard in my Texas mailbox, addressed to my Texas home, from the ‘Tom Corbett for Governor’ campaign. Corbett is the sitting (rarely standing) governor of Pennsylvania.

Look up the word “squander” in the dictionary, and you’ll find a picture of Tom Corbett.

The postcard headline says “Poll Shows Corbett-Wolf Race Tightening,” and the text tells me that “We need every Republican to vote, and that includes you!” I wondered how many other registered Lone Star voters Corbett counts on to put him over the top in the Keystone State.

I rejoice that I get to vote for Greg Abbott as our next Texas governor — a wheelchair-bound man who stands up more than Corbett ever has.

Corbett Postcard

The Pennsylvania governor’s campaign mailed this “Get Out the Vote” postcard to my home in Texas. Competence much?

I would call Tom Corbett a huge disappointment — a Republican governor, with a Republican legislature — who has kowtowed and cowered before the union bosses, while equivocating about his positions, and carping about legislative obstacles in his own party…but “disappointment” is a word too glorious for Corbett.

From the moment I met him, and in several subsequent conversations, he struck me as a pathetic figure who couldn’t lead a little girl if she stood on the tops of his feet and begged him to dance.

The only circumstance that would justify reelecting Tom Corbett for governor would be if the figurative ‘wolf is at the door.’

Unfortunately, it’s worse. The literal Wolf is at the door.

Democrat Tom Wolf will make Pennsylvania’s burdensome taxation even more intolerable. Entrepreneurs and corporations will decamp from the Commonwealth more eagerly, and the outbound capital flow will grow to a torrent.

The policies and politicians of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh will kiss in Harrisburg.

So, to my Pennsylvania friends: Tom Corbett sucks, and it doesn’t get any better than that…not this time.

So, suck it up and go vote for Corbett. Then go take a shower with a wire brush.

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Tim Cook’s Silliest Announcement: Apple CEO ‘Proud’ of God-Given Gift of Gay-ness

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Apple CEO Tim Cook coming out as gay today packs all the surprise of most recent Apple product announcements. By the time Tim takes the stage, everything’s already been leaked.

And yet we know that for many people, Tim’s announcement carries cultural significance. They see it as bold, ennobling, inspiring, and perhaps long overdue.

I see it as just plain silly — absurd, lacking in common sense, ignorant, pitiable, and perhaps disingenuous.

“So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.” — Tim Cook, Bloomberg Businessweek

First of all, Tim, “Let me be clear” is Obamese for “I’m about to lie.”

And in fact, in this context, you’re saying that you haven’t “publicly acknowledged” your “sexuality,” but you sure are proud of it. Is that like how you’re so proud of the new iPad Air 2, that you’ve just decided to keep it a secret? [By the way, when did publicly acknowledging one's sexuality become a rite of passage? Imagine if the late Steve Jobs had written an op-ed in a business publication to proclaim, "I just want everybody to know that I love women. And I'm proud of it. Thank you, Jesus, for this awesome desire."]

As Tim Cook goes on, it becomes more absurd on several levels, if you accept conventional wisdom about what it means to be gay.

How could someone be “proud” of their natural condition? Pride bespeaks achievement. But if, as GaGa say, you’re “born that way,” then what sparks pride?

Slavishly obeying your genetic predisposition is merely animal instinct, not accomplishment. Why would you talk about homosexuality as if it were a choice? (Hmmm?)

Now, if you chose to be gay, in the face of a society that rejects homosexual behavior, perhaps then you’d have something to brag about. Although it would seem silly to buck your heterosexual nature, just to tick off your neighbors.

Next, Tim says being gay is one of the “greatest gifts” from God. Setting aside any biblical interpretation of that remark, let’s just take it as Tim leaves it.

So, Tim, I guess you weren’t really born that way, God just threw in your desire for male-on-male sex as a bonus. Forgive me, I know it’s much deeper than that.

Tim Cook, Apple CEOBeing gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.

“Timmy,” the Lord seems to say, “I’m going to give you homosexual desires, so that folks will treat you badly. That way, you won’t grow up to be a bigot, and you’ll be ready to manage the world’s most respected brand.

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[Video] Black Chicago Activists Speak Out Against Abusive Democrat Machine, Obama

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

The rebellion begins.

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Your Civic Duty: Creating an Alibi for Election Day

Friday, October 24th, 2014 - by Scott Ott


SCOTT OTT: I’m Scott Ott, and here’s a thought…

On Tuesday, November 4th, most of the nation’s registered voters will dutifully do what they always do on the first Tuesday in November. They’ll get up a little early and head out to beat the traffic. That’s because it’s election day, and they’ve got work to do. That’s right, the majority of the nation’s registered voters will be hard at it, constructing alibis for their absence from the polls. It doesn’t have to be this way. There’s no good reason for waiting until then, when you can start work on your alibi now.

Fabricating an alibi for failing to vote is thirsty work, and it gets tougher all of the time.

After all, it’s not easy to make a legitimate excuse for missing a 20-minute appointment so near your home which you’ve known about for months, about which every news source has chattered since the last election day, and
upon which rests the destiny of the nation, and of all mankind.

In addition, the polls are open for roughly 12 hours on election day.  And need I mention that 47 states allow absentee voting by mail and most of those require no excuse to do so. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia allow early voting in person, with no excuse required. In other words, most folks could literally vote today, or tomorrow, or the next day.

All of this means that patriotic Americans will have to work extra hard to craft a solid alibi, because you can’t outsource this kind of work to illegal aliens. Many of them are much too responsible to skip voting.

November 4th will be upon us before you know it, so it’s never too early to start devising an air-tight alibi.

“Things got hectic at work today,” or “Car trouble again” or “MacKenzie had a temperature.” Those excuses will of course evoke sympathy, but only from people whose own alibis sound even more hastily slapped together.

Because of the ease and brevity of voting, the advanced warning and the variety of options in most places, some folks will resort to making their alibis sound thoughtful, anchored in deep-seated concerns about the American republic, rather than admitting to laziness or self-centered indifference or addiction to gaming and porn.

Here are some examples of thoughtful alibis.

I don’t vote because…

  • Big money has corrupted the system, so I’m going to drop my only weapon to fight it, or
  • Nothing ever changes anyway, which is why things are such a mess compared to how they used to be, or
  • My candidate lost in the primary to that cheater, so I’m going to a let bigger cheater beat him, or
  • The establishment controls the system, so I’m going to let them…that’ll teach ‘em,
  • I don’t trust electronic voting machines, because electrons are just so negative
  • I need to stay off the grid, because the NSA knows too much about me already.

Now, some folks might even try to blend the two methods by claiming that they were too busy to research the candidates and the issues.

“I’ve always valued the electoral process too much to engage in VWI — Voting While Ignorant.”

Whatever you decide, the important thing is that you do your civic duty, and develop a credible alibi for not voting. You see, there’s no excuse for making excuses that you have time to make excuses.

I’m Scott Ott, and there’s a thought.
Paid for by the Coalition to Maintain the Status Quo.

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You Pay a Billion Bucks Per Presidential Term for Federal Workers on Extended “Disciplinary” Leave

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Look on the bright side: Although you’re paying for tens of thousands of federal workers on extended leave, at least they’re not wearing out the office furniture.

Irked that you pay Federal employees to goof off or surf porn on the clock when they should be working?

At least they show up.

President Obama — so enraged about the “do-nothing Congress” — might also want to find out how many of his 2.7 million executive branch employees get paid to stay home and watch “The View.”

According to the Washington Post, your tax dollars support tens of thousands of public servants on extended paid leave (a month to a year or more) while they await the adjudication of their disciplinary cases.

Unlike former Senator Barack Obama, they can’t even vote “present.”

During a three-year period that ended last fall, more than 57,000 employees were sent home for a month or longer. The tab for these workers exceeded $775 million in salary alone….While the employees stayed home, they not only collected paychecks but also built their pensions, vacation and sick days and moved up the federal pay scale. (Washington Post, Oct. 20, 2014)

That’s more than a $1 billion every four years going from the pockets of hardworking taxpayers, to the pockets of non-working bureaucrats. This accounts for only about three-fifths of the total federal workforce, since some government agencies don’t keep track of paid-leave data.

Under official rules, dating back to 1980, this “cannot” be, since employees under disciplinary review are to be sent home only in “rare circumstances.”

The extensive use of administrative leave continues despite government personnel rules that limit paid leave for employees facing discipline to “rare circumstances” in which the employee is considered a threat. The long-standing rules were written in an effort to curb waste and deal quickly with workers accused of misconduct.

And the comptroller general, the top federal official responsible for auditing government finances and practices, has repeatedly ruled that federal workers should not be sidelined for long periods for any reason.

Nevertheless, government bosses do as they please, sending bureaucrats home (with pay) for “alleged violations of ­government rules and laws, whistleblowing, doubts about trust­worthiness, and disputes with colleagues or bosses. Some employees remain on paid leave while they challenge demotions and other punishments.”

If you work in the private sector, you know that administrative leave is granted sparingly, and only for brief bursts. Serious problems spark termination, or unpaid suspension. Oddly enough, private companies working government contracts cannot bill the government for employees on paid leave…so they don’t have many of those.

But it seems our passive-aggressive federal overlords would rather make a problem go away than deal with her.

The financial tally above does not include a calculation of productivity losses, although perhaps this is negligible for federal workers. (When Bob left, he didn’t leave no vacancy.)

By the way, one might expect a large number of disciplinary cases to happen in the Defense Department, both because of the sheer number of employees (roughly 35% of the total), and the psychological demands of the work. But only 9,623 of the extended-leavers worked (or didn’t) for the Pentagon (about 17%).

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Monica Lewinsky’s First Big Speech: Shaming the Internet into Stopping the Shame Game

Monday, October 20th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Monica LewinskyYou’ve just been chastised for nearly 25 minutes by Monica Lewinsky — chastised for reading and writing on the internet about Ms. Lewinsky’s “intimate moments” with former President Bill Clinton nearly two decades ago. [See Lewinsky speech video on the next page.]

You see the genuinely immoral aspect of her adulterous affair with Hillary Clinton’s husband cannot be found in anything she did — unless loving too much is a crime — nor in anything he did, because she imputes no impropriety to him. Rather, here’s how she broaches the topic…

Fresh out of college, a 22-year-old intern in the White House, and more than averagely romantic, I fell in love with my boss, in a 22-year-old sort of way. It happens. But my boss was the President of the United States. That probably happens less often.

This, of course, is calculated to draw laughter and sympathy. But Lewinsky is quick to add a note of contrition — not a whole note, but perhaps a quarter note.

Now, I deeply regret it for many reasons, not the least of which is because people were hurt, and that’s never OK.

Observe the skillful use of the passive voice (“people were hurt“) and the stern consequences she accepts (“that’s never ok“).

But before she can rend her garment and fling dust on her head, she rapidly moves on to the real breach of morality in this saga.

No, it’s not that she was diddled by a man old enough to be her father. It’s not that the imbalance of power between them was perhaps the greatest since Mohammed took 9-year-old Aisha as his wife, making it prima facie sexual harassment in every corporation in the land.

You see, she wasn’t sexually harassed, she was in love. Her two-year affair with 15-year-old Chelsea Clinton’s Daddy was what Lewinsky calls “my everything.” That was “the golden bubble part for me,” Lewinsky said. “The nice part.”

The nasty part was that it became public — public with a vengeance.

So, nearly 20 years after she and the president jeopardized national security by conducting a clandestine sexual relationship in the White House, making the commander in chief vulnerable to blackmail, it’s time for the perpetrators to be called out — starting with Matt Drudge and you.

Overnight, I went from being a completely private figure to a publicly humiliated one.

She goes on to recount her depression and suicidal thoughts, and falls just short of launching a crusade to “Save the Love-Struck Presidential Interns from Internet Shaming.”

For just 73 cents a day — that’s less than a cup of coffee — you can rescue a “more than averagely romantic” young woman from the savagery of social media slut-shaming and help her to live a quiet life of secret trysts with leader of the free world.

Personally, after watching Monica Lewinsky’s entire speech, I’m as chastened as she was chaste.

[See Lewinsky speech video on the next page.]

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N.Y. ‘Safe Act’ Strips 34,500 of Constitutional Rights, Stops Not One Mass Shooting

Sunday, October 19th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

In the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary slaughter in Newtown, CT, New York state passed an “an expansive package of gun control measures” which read like a progressive fantasy: ban “assault weapons,” create a list of dangerous mental patients and confiscate their guns.

As today’s New York Times details, several problems arose on the road to peaceful Utopia. But, progressives can delight in the news that they’ve compiled a list of 34,500 Americans who no longer have 2nd Amendment, 4th Amendment or 14th Amendment rights. For these folks, New York state is a Constitution-free zone.

Under the “Safe Act,” county officials were to screen and forward names from mental health workers to a state agency. But those county employees did not, generally, have direct contact with the patient, nor did the bureaucrats in Albany. The county workers, quickly overwhelmed with the volume of submissions, began rubber-stamping. The much-touted government oversight became at best cursory, at worst, nonexistent.

Only 278 among the 34,500 were found to have gun permits, and guns were seized from an unknown number of them. But only New York City requires permits for long guns anyway, so a person on that list may go shopping elsewhere, and the government will not know about his purchase. In addition, there’s no way for law enforcement to know whether they’ve confiscated all of a person’s weapons. So, essentially, the program may seize SOME guns from people in a designated zone (NYC), but only if they obeyed the law by getting a gun permit.

Of course, if you have a mental health issue and you treasure your natural, God-given 2nd Amendment right to self-defense, then the law discourages you from seeking professional help with the threat of confiscating your property and your security.

This is all fine with the progressives who love to keep their women defenseless, their poor, disadvantaged thugs unperforated and out of jail, and their government ruling with an iron fist — but above all, who love to be SEEN as doing something about a problem.

Gun control supporters argue a wide net is appropriate, given the potentially dire consequences.

Even if just one dangerous person had a gun taken away, “that’s a good thing,” said Brian Malte, senior national policy director of the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence.

Now, Mr. Malte fails to consider the possibility that he may have taken that gun away from a person who then has to confront a pistol-packing burglar in his home, armed with nothing but a Salad Shooter, or a Swiffer mop.

Gov. Cuomo signs Safe Act

New York Governor Mario Cuomo signed the Safe Act in 2013, which has created a Constitution-free zone for 34,500 Americans, and has stopped not one gun crime or mass shooting.

The dangerous truth about all of this “gun control” is that none of it will save a single life. Worse, it will delude a certain portion of the population into thinking that they, and their children, are safer — after all, we passed the “Safe Act.”

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New York Times Fears ‘Specter’ of ‘Sabotage’ in Iranian Missile Facility Explosion

Friday, October 10th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

“Specter” is a word that means something feared as dangerous or bad. For example, the following headline would reflect proper use of the term.

“Iranian Secrecy About Nuclear Program Raises Specter of First-Strike Capability”

Which is why the headline on the homepage of today’s NYTimes.com jarred me.

“Spectacular Blast at Iranian Base Raises Specter of Sabotage”

Specter of Sabotage“Specter of Sabotage”!?

Lord forbid that someone might have sabotaged Iranian efforts to weaponize and to loft the output of their centrifuges.

Now, if this were some local rag, I’d write it off to the hackery of journalism grads from the second-tier schools — you know, guys like me.

But Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet! This is the New York Greekin’ Times.

Is it really possible that a Times editor, gulping a mug of crème de la crème, in the rush to post the story, with the need to constrain the third deck of the header to 19 characters, settled for “Specter” because “Questions” takes too many letters? (The header on the jump page does use “Questions.”)

Perhaps the word choice came in the quest for alliteration — Spectacular…Specter…Sabotage. Forget the dictionary. That just sounds good.

Certainly, the Times’ editor could not have intended the meaning of this word. A bit of searching shows that previous Times‘ “specter” headlines include…

  • Confronting the Specter of Alzheimers’
  • Two Hospital Networks Agree to Merge, Raising Specter of Costlier Care
  • Candidates Raise Specter of Cheating
  • Behind Microsoft Deal, the Specter of a Nokia Android Phone
  • Unburnable Carbon and the Specter of a Carbon Bubble

Almost all other instances referred to a certain former senator from Pennsylvania, whose name still conjures the specter of betrayal, two years after his death.

So, it seems, the Times knows how to use the term correctly — although that Nokia Android phone better have a death-ray feature to merit its “specter.”

No, I actually imagine the editor cringing in horror as she reads the lead, and ponders the possibility of betrayal within the ranks of the Iranian missile program. How could a saboteur penetrate the security cordon of the Iranian military and intelligence service?

She probably glanced around the newsroom nervously. Are THEY all loyal to us?

Of course, perhaps an editor who uses “specter” to refer to sabotaging the Iranian missile program raises the specter of an Iranian mullah-regime sympathizer on staff at the New York Times.

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Should Local Folks Have Power to Ban Fracking, or Anything Else, by Referendum?

Thursday, October 9th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

A fracas over fracking in a Texas college town raises some significant questions about property rights, governance and who gets to decide what you can do with your land?

These questions arise regardless of your beliefs, or even of the facts, about hydraulic fracturing as a method of energy extraction. 

The dispute is a novelty to The New York Times, because it’s in Texas.

Denton is just the latest, and unlikeliest, battleground in a movement that has gained momentum around the country. Communities from Colorado to Pennsylvania have imposed similar bans, and the state of New York has prohibited fracking since 2008. By all accounts, the antifracking campaign here has caught the gas companies and their supporters flat-footed.

On the surface, a voter referendum in Denton, Texas, seems like the essence of democracy, with the people petitioning their government for the redress of grievances by mustering a majority vote on the next election day.

But as you know, midterm election turnout tends to be even smaller than during a presidential year, so the number of ‘Yes’ votes required to gain a majority on a referendum will, in all likelihood, represent a small minority of local adults. That minority has the power to strip a person or company of property rights, along with the income that might have been generated by those rights, and the sustenance to local families and stockholders that income would have produced. But my questions persist even if there were a way to poll every adult citizen in Denton. Should “majority rule” on every issue?

Most folks are all for democracy in the abstract, less so when it bites their own bank accounts. Most folks are for more energy production in the abstract, but some lose their enthusiasm when they learn that the energy courses through creases a mile below their houses.

But who gets to decide what the landowner may do on his land?

The Framers of the Constitution had seen democracy unleashed, as mobs formed to demand their own property rights. The most famous, called Shays’ rebellion (1786-87), culminated in armed conflict, injuries and death over a tax protest during an economic crisis. In the Constitution, “we, the People” formed a republic — not a democracy — in large part to protect the rights of the minority from the passions of the mob.

The question here is not whether the people of Denton CAN vote to ban fracking: Until some court says differently, they can. The question is “Should they?”

If we are to be a nation of laws, not of men, that means that the structure of the law is as important as its content.

On a question like this, what’s the appropriate locus of control? At what level should such decisions be taken? Should the federal government have power to ban fracking? How about the state, the county, the municipality or township? Should “the people” be able to legislate by referendum at any and all of those levels? California doesn’t really have a Constitution, but rather a collection of voter referenda passed from time to time.

Perhaps you think you know the proper level for the decision in the fracking case. But on what basis shall we choose the appropriate level?

When I served as a county commissioner, a former Republican commissioner tried to push us to allow a referendum on an issue. I actually agreed with him that the practice he sought to prevent should be prevented. But I opposed a referendum to create the law because it’s an abdication by the county commissioners of their responsibility. Rather than be held accountable for such decisions, he sought to absolve the commissioners of the burden, and to hand the decisive power to a minority of local citizens who would constitute a majority on referendum day. The way those work out, it would be a turnout battle won by the best funded and/or best organized side of the question.

Did I wish to deny the power to the people? No. I believe they already possessed that power as expressed through their elected representatives.

Again, the structure of governance is crucial to the quality of governance, and therefore, to the security of liberty. Democratic referenda emit all of the aroma of individual rights, with none of the substance.

The Framers of the Constitution worried that mobs, whipped to frenzy by charismatic characters, could strip property rights, force governments and merchants to accept worthless paper for repayment of hard currency debts, and commit a welter of other evils.

The battle of Denton will likely go to the best-organized side, not necessarily to the most accurate, reasonable side.

I know from experience that the results of a referendum pass into sacred lore. The voters in my old county once passed a referendum to borrow $30 million for ‘green space’ during the succeeding 1o years. But to some folks, the fact that “the people had spoken” meant that the ‘green space’ programs should persist in perpetuity when the decade expired.

I don’t know the answer to all of these questions. What concerns me is how rarely someone asks these questions.

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Democrat Politician Says Obama Should Use Blacks-Only Microphones on Campaign Trail

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

While Congressional Democrat candidates have quarantined their historically-unpopular standard bearer from the campaign trail, one former Democrat mayor — believing that a mouth is a terrible thing to waste — has a Jim-Crow-Dandy idea to segregate President Obama at Blacks-Only microphones. According to The New York Times

“I’d have Obama on an evangelistic schedule of black churches all over the country,” said Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco. “I think he really should go to the black base. I don’t think there’s any other place I would trust he wouldn’t create an adverse reaction rather than a positive reaction.”

This is the final paragraph in a doleful series of quotes from Democrats trying to spin Obama’s intra-party pariah status. But the Times reporter cocks an eyebrow, noting that the president “of the People,” who used to draw Jay-Z-sized crowds to arenas, now nibbles pâté de foie gras as he mingles with the one-percenters, who still think access to the president means something.

But all of this should not make you think that Obama’s at home, sitting on the sofa, flipping through the Vine app on his smartphone. After all, he’s got his hands full making anti-Democrat attack ads for Republican candidates. 

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Greedy Corporation Stops Ebola Spread in Liberia

Monday, October 6th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

While governments and nonprofits have been stymied in their efforts to stymie the spread of the Ebola virus, Firestone Tire & Rubber has apparently succeeded among its 80,000 Liberian employees and their families. When a wife of a Firestone employee showed up ill after caring for an Ebola victim, the staff of the evil capitalist corporation leaped into action.

“None of us had any Ebola experience,” he says. They scoured the Internet for information about how to treat Ebola. They cleared out a building on the hospital grounds and set up an isolation ward. They grabbed a bunch of hazmat suits for dealing with chemical spills at the rubber factory and gave them to the hospital staff. The suits worked just as well for Ebola cases.

Firestone immediately quarantined the family of the woman. Like so many Ebola patients, she died soon after being admitted to the ward. But no one else at Firestone got infected: not her family and not the workers who transported, treated and cared for her.

Company employees built a 23-bed isolation facility, and in recent months treated 48 patients (mostly from outside the rubber plantation), managed to save 18 of them, and were able to prevent the spread of the disease. They also launched a door-to-door education campaign.

NPR’s report puts emphasis on Firestone’s financial resources, but I think they miss the “X” factor that causes these private-sector employees to succeed outside of their bailiwick: They’re accustomed to setting goals, achieving results and being rewarded based on actual accomplishments. In addition, they’re innovative, and know that one must often improvise and create rapid prototypes on the way to the ultimate product.

The sick and suffering people of Africa don’t need more political speeches, government press releases and empty promises.

They need more Firestones.

Also on the Tatler: 

Must-See VIDEO — Lois Lerner Dislikes Being Targeted So Much She Tries to Bust Into a Neighbor’s House

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HUD Workers Skims $843K from Native American Program, Helping Those Who Help Themselves

Friday, October 3rd, 2014 - by Scott Ott

They say when you go into public service, you sacrifice the potential for more lucrative income in the private sector. But why make such a difficult decision?

Consider Brian Thompson.

While working at the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Loan Guarantee for Native American programs, his bank account swelled handsomely.

Thompson sold real estate properties on behalf of HUD, after borrowers defaulted on mortgages from the department. For several properties, the Justice Department says he made “materially false representations” to third parties and diverted $843,000 to his own bank accounts.

Of course, the government doesn’t like it when you steal the money that its stealing from others, so Mr. Thompson will soon get an all-expense-paid stay at one of our best federal housing and urban development projects — a penitentiary. He’ll also cough up a fine and make restitution.

Perhaps the most curious aspect of this story is how they ever caught him.

Given HUD’s credo — Accipere a Divitibus, Pauperibus Dignitate Spoliare (Take from the Rich, Strip the Dignity of the Poor) – it must be difficult to distinguish when someone’s doing something unethical or illegal, or is merely fulfilling the mission.

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[Video] Gov. Scott Walker Promises “More of the Same.” Yesssss!

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014 - by Scott Ott

This should be the campaign promise of every Republican governor’s reelection campaign.

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What If…The Price of White House Security Failure

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 - by Scott Ott

In an effort to bring home the significance of recent security breaches at the White House, and elsewhere around the president, I’ve imagined the worst and portrayed it in this two and a half minute video.


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Obama’s Top 7 Lines from UN Climate Speech, Plus Unhelpful Private Responses

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly, and Leonardo DiCaprio, Tuesday on the topic of climate change. Much of the speech was devoted to cataloging what the U.S. has done (and will do) to reduce carbon emissions, to aid developing countries, and to prepare for the inevitable impacts of short-term weather disasters and long-term temperature escalation. He challenged the rest of the world, often referring to China obliquely, to emulate the U.S., which he blamed for much of the problem.

Obama also made the argument that climate-sensitive development is consistent with economic growth and enhanced quality of life — creating jobs, while reducing consumer prices and pollution. But then he said that nations reluctant to do more to stop climate change, fearing it will put them at a competitive disadvantage, need to lead anyway — implying that they should be willing to accept the hit to their economies for the good of the world.

Here’s my subjective list of the president’s Top 7 quotes from the speech, followed by my bracketed italicized remarks of the sort that are not helpful…not helpful at all.

1. ”For all the immediate challenges that we gather to address this week — terrorism, instability, inequality, disease — there’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other…and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.” [I've always said, I'd rather die, eviscerated and decapitated by a hail of fire and ball bearings, than drown at the rate of 3.2 millimeters per year.]

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Will Hashtag Campaign Keep Leftists’ Hands Off of Young PJTV Reporter Michelle Fields?

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Scott Ott

I’m not generally a hashtag campaigner, but after watching three interviews by Michelle Fields at the People’s Climate March in New York City, I couldn’t help but notice how physical they each became. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., actually grabbed Michelle’s handheld microphone. Sen. Bernie Sanders kept touching her bare shoulder, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s handler actually stepped between Michelle and Leo, throwing a block, when the former asked a potentially awkward question. So, here is my first ever hashtag campaign: #LeftyHandsOffMichelleFields


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If You Build It, They Will Slum: But Can THEY Build It? Yes, They Can!

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 - by Scott Ott


When the federal government began trimming subsidies to the New York City Housing Authority (Nycha) more than a decade ago, the agency let the its repair list grow, to the point where overdue fixes and upgrades now run into the billions of dollars. U.S. taxpayers cover 80% of the agency’s funding.

But Jayne Merkel, seeing the rundown state of NYC public housing, and the still-high unemployment rate, synthesized a great idea, and it was published Monday as an op-ed in the New York Times. (Yes, the very one.)

Why couldn’t Nycha train tenants to do basic maintenance? Nycha’s professional staffs would still do the complicated work — roof repair, for example — but with some solid training, almost anyone can replaster a wall. At the same time, training for such work can be a first step toward a steady job.

Of course, this could never happen, because…unions.

But let’s run with that idea anyway. Some 650,000 New York Citians live in housing paid for (in part or whole) by taxpayers, according to Crain’s New York. They live there, many don’t have full-time jobs, and yet some $18 billion in repairs and upgrades languish on a government wait list. What would be wrong with teaching a new skill to some of the beneficiaries of this federal entitlement, and letting them spruce up their own surroundings?

While the idea may appeal to both fiscal conservatives and residents of the decaying structures (for differing reasons), the greatest benefit of such a project would be what it does for the sweat-equitists who do the work.

In Marvin Olasky’s book The Tragedy of American Compassion, he quotes U.S. Surgeon General Thomas Parran (1936-1948) , who told a Senate committee that…

“…self-reliance, the satisfaction of work, the joy of acquisition, the sense of equality, the opportunity of leading a normal family life” were vital to good health. He noted that our destitute citizens [must have] an opportunity of a livelihood earned by individual effort. I emphasize useful work; no other type fills the mental needs [or repairs] losses to human character and mental health….

Parran’s concerns echoed those of his boss.

In November 1933 [Franklin] Roosevelt stated, “When any man or woman goes on a dole something happens to them mentally and the quicker they are taken off the dole the better it is for them the rest of their lives.” And early in 1935 Roosevelt added, “We must preserve not only the bodies of the unemployed from destitution but also their self-respect, their self-reliance and courage and determination.”

Later that same year, FDR said, “Most Americans want to give something for what they get. That something, in this case honest work, is the saving barrier between them and moral disintegration. We propose to build that barrier high.

With inspiration from FDR and his surgeon general, I’d like to take Ms. Merkel’s concept a step further.

Every resident of public housing should help to maintain the common areas and facilities, in addition to cleaning his or her own residence, as a condition of the lease. That work can range from raking leaves, to rewiring a breaker box, depending on ability. This not only relieves budget problems, but fosters a sense of community, and chases off the deadbeats who want merely to live off the exertions of others. (I believe the latter cohort comprises a relatively small cluster.)

It’s time to restore dignity to the folks who’ve fallen on hard times with a plan that just might reduce their numbers, by  increasing their employment prospects.

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The Godfather of Medicare and Obamacare Is Not Really Dead

Sunday, September 14th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Rashi Fein, a husband, father and beloved friend, died last Monday at the age of 88. While this is sad news for those who will personally miss him, I’m torn.

Because Mr. Fein, an economist, devoted much of his life — with some success — to the pursuit of universal, government-run, taxpayer-funded health care, I rejoice that his work on this mortal coil has drawn to a close.

And yet, this man is not dead…not really.

There are some Darwinian evolutionists who believe that individual members of a species exist merely as the vessels of DNA — the famous “selfish gene.” So long as the genetic material survives and replicates, the physical manifestation of any individual DNA-vessel matters little.

In that sense, the life force that impelled Rashi Fein will not go gently into that good night. It continues to rage and reproduce.

The New York Times credits Fein with helping to lay “the intellectual groundwork” for Medicare in the 1960s.

Dr. Fein, a proud liberal, regretted that Medicare did not apply to everyone, just as he was disappointed that Mr. Obama’s Affordable Care Act did not consolidate insurance payments under the federal government. A federal single-payer system, he maintained, would be more cost effective and inclusive.

You see, Rashi Fein, with all of his “ethical and humanitarian perspectives,” was, at best, a dupe of the tyrants (whether idiotic or despotic) who want to limit both your access to health care and the length of your life. At worst, he was one of them.

His obituary in the Times, however, is positively magical.

When Dr. Fein began working on health issues as a young aide in the administration of Harry S. Truman, health care accounted for about 3 percent of the American economy. By the time he weighed in as a respected elder in the field during the debate over President Obama’s health care proposals, the expenditures had risen to 18 percent, an amount roughly equal to the economy of France.

The implication, of course, is that health care costs sextupled as a percentage of the “economy,” and that this fact should trouble the ethical humanitarian in each of us. Sacré bleu, France!?

Might I suggest that those who wring their hands over this disturbing datum visit my new clinic — the Truman Health Emporium — where we’ll offer inexpensive diagnoses and therapies, the costs of which are kept reasonable through the modest expedient of avoiding the use of any medical advances which took place after about 1953 (coincidentally, the year Watson and Crick described the structure of DNA).

So, do I have any takers for the clinic? After all, it’s cheap.

[Tick. Tick. Tick.]

Perhaps you need a bit of persuasion to bring you in.

At our clinic, we’re intentionally ignorant about artificial heart parts, kidney transplants, vaccines for nearly anything, and about what causes AIDS or mitigates its effects. After all, those are all post-1953 phenoms.

We CAN do knee and hip replacements, but a brief description of our methods, materials and outcomes may make you content with your existing natural joint pain. Our cardiac surgeons practice what might today be called “maximally invasive heart surgery.” They’re delighted, and often surprised, when the patient survives. Our most progressive doctors have actually read of experiments in one-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), but of course we don’t have an MRI machine. Nobody did.

You say you’d like a CT scan? How do you spell that?

No, we don’t have any Lipitor or Nexium? ¿Habla inglés?

You want me to use a laser beam to reshape your cornea and give you 20/20 vision? That’s not even a thing.

You see, the advocates of the deceptively named “universal health care” always portray the expense side of the ledger, but rarely invoke the near-miraculous nature of medical advances made possible by the (partially) free market, and by the profit motive. Of course, doctors and patients weren’t the only ones to benefit.

As the money Americans spent on medical care increased, so did the role of economists specializing in health issues. Dr. Fein moved between government and academia, offering research and views on issues like meeting the demand for physicians.

Ironically, Rashi Fein’s obituarist credits the healthy growth of medical spending for Fein’s blossoming career opportunities. It seems someone always wants to issue a grant to an economist to study the runaway cost of healthcare.

I’ve come to view the term “economist” as a synonym for “elitist,” or “socialist,” or “Utopian.” If we’re to believe the New York Times, Rashi Fein was all three.

“A new language is infecting the culture of American medicine,” [Fein] wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1982. “It is the language of the marketplace, of the tradesman, and of the cost accountant. It is a language that depersonalizes both patients and physicians and describes medical care as just another commodity. It is a language that is dangerous.”

I’m sure in the halls and cubicles of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building, at the foot of Capitol Hill, the staffers in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services never bandy about such crass, impersonal concepts as price or supply.

No, our benevolent government health officials surely speak in near-poetic terms of intimacy and empathy, always balancing the science of medical technology with the art of human compassion — always striving to deepen the relationship between a physician and her patient.

After all, medical care is not “just another commodity,” it’s a government function, with all of the warmth that that term can conjure.

So, I bid farewell to Rashi Fein. Would that I could to the rest of his kind.

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[Audio] Re-Writing News of the Past: What If the 9/11 Attacks Never Happened?

Thursday, September 11th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

The other day, it occurred to me that most of my children have no memory of a pre-9/11 world. This is my attempt to imagine a “no 9/11 world.” (Click the play button below to listen.)

Transcript of the audio above…

[October 2000] We are getting word just now that Osama Bin Laden, the Muslim terrorist leader who declared war on the United States two years ago, has been killed by U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan. President Bill Clinton reportedly gave the order to take out bin Laden after viewing a live CIA video feed from a Predator drone. While some of his friends on the Left had urged Clinton’s Justice Department to indict bin Laden, and bring him to trial, the president said today, “This evil man declared war on us, had a track record of slaughter, billions of dollars in funding and a global network of slavishly-devoted suicidal soldiers. You don’t send lawyers after a man like that — you send Seals, Marines and Green Berets.”

[October 1991]  Immigration and Customs Enforcement today announced it had permanently deported Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, and a number of his associates. Rahman, a radical Islamist preacher who used three New York City mosques as a base to raise money, and to distribute recordings, has called on Muslims to rise up and slaughter the infidel. President Bush said today, “I personally requested the deportation of the blind sheik, in shackles, handcuffed if necessary, to his ACLU lawyer.”

[May 1991] President George H.W. Bush, in a triumphant speech from downtown Baghdad, Iraq, today announced the unconditional surrender of Saddam Hussein’s government and his Baathist Army. The president said that nothing short of total surrender can save Iraq. Bush added that the coalition that conquered Saddam, would stay on the job until Iraqis build a constitutional republic, under the rule of law.
Good evening, it’s April 4, 2013, and today New York City threw a massive party to mark the 40th anniversary of the ribbon-cutting of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The day started with the mayor and the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes performing a rousing version of “Happy Birthday” on the roof of Tower One. The festivities wound up with a ticker-tape parade down Liberty Street past the skyscrapers, as New Yorkers cheered their police, firefighters and emergency responders.
[April 15, 2013] The one hundred seventeenth running of the Boston Marathon went off without a hitch today…

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Mourning in America: Gearing Up for the Post-Radio Shack World

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

We all paraded from the AMC Matador Ambassador station wagon into the Acme. Pop cashed his check from the Budd Company at the customer service window, bought a carton of Salems he’d share with Nan, and handed her a wad of cash to pay for the groceries. She steered the cart off among the aisles, for what must have been an island of sweet respite after a week trapped at home with four noisy, dirty, scuffling boys.

Then, most Wednesdays, if we didn’t need a haircut at the barbershop — a Princeton: tight on the sides, longer on top, looped over with a generous handful of Vitalis — it was off to one of three destinations in the Doylestown Shopping Center:

1) W.T. Grant: a five-and-dime, if we needed school clothes or supplies, or to look at the tropical fish, chameleons and pet rodents.

2) Sears: where my brothers and I played Pong, or fished through the discount 45′s bin while Pop shopped for tools.

3) Radio Shack: AKA Heaven for Boys

While the first two had their charms, it was Radio Shack that cast a spell on us, drawing us in at a dead run.

Gadgets and kits, lights and switches, buzzing and whirring and crackling — things that were cool before “cool” became “bad” or “sick” or “ridiculous” or whatever “cool” is now.

There was nothing like Radio Shack.

Today, I read that Radio Shack is sick — actually sick, perhaps dying — almost certainly headed for bankruptcy.

Troubled electronics retailer RadioShack Corp’s shares have lost nearly a third of their value since brokerage Wedbush Securities said on Tuesday the company could file for bankruptcy soon, making the stock worthless by the end of this year.

The stock fell as much as 20 percent to 76 cents on Wednesday, adding to a 23 percent plunge on Tuesday.

“Our price target reflects our expectation that creditors will force a reorganization and wipe out RadioShack’s equity,” Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter wrote in a note.

Oddly enough, I was just in a Shack in McKinney, Texas, on Sunday. Of course, it’s not really Radio Shack anymore…at least not the front half of the store. It’s a Frankensteinian amalgam of hipster brand names, competing for attention against a backdrop of their competitors’ products. It’s the Wal-Mart electronics department, in a third of the space with higher prices.

Cowling my eyes with my hands, I mumble to myself “not seeing anything, not seeing anything” until I reach the back of the store.

Here vestigial Radio Shack yet survives, like a pin-pithed dessicated frog with a faint heartbeat, but no will. My 18-year-old son asks what I’m looking for. It’s a logical question that not one of my brothers would have asked back in the day.

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Boots on the Ground Now: The Moral Depravity of Obama’s Doctrine of the Sanitary War on ISIS

Monday, September 8th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Barack Obama’s delusion of the sanitary war — with no boots on the ground — is, and will continue to be, the proximate cause of…

  • bleeding vaginal lacerations in pre-pubescent girls, whose maidenhood gets rasped away by jihadis who train for child rape by penetrating goats, and of
  • massive contusions, torn breasts, shattered ribs, fractured skulls and bleeding brain matter oozing from women who have been half-buried in sand then stoned to death for perceived offenses against Koranic masculinity, and of
  • asphyxiation by public strangulation of homosexuals, flies swarming on their sun-baked blood-caked dangling feet, and of
  • the hog-butchery of Christians, Jews, atheists and Muslims, whose relatives and countries fail to pay ransom, and of
  • the creation of an unchallenged Islamic State without a fig leaf of secularism or democracy, and with utter disdain for the United Nations and for Western values.

About this clear, present and historical threat, the U.S. secretary of State blandly states in the passive voice:

We have the ability to destroy ISIL. … It may take a year, it may take two years, it may take three years. But we’re determined it has to happen.

The United States and her allies defeated Hitler’s Wehrmacht, along with the Italian Royal Army, and the air, land and sea forces of the Empire of Japan in three-and-a-half years. Now, Secretary Kerry says it may take nearly that long to defeat an enemy said to number between 5,000 and 12,000 fighters, fielded by a government that can’t build a single tank, airplane or ship.

Of course, all of this time won’t be spent building weapons, equipping troops, crafting military strategy, deploying forces and assets, re-taking territory and bludgeoning the enemy into unconditional surrender.

No, Obama and Kerry need time to draft tentative agreements, allow diplomats to drink turkish coffee (infused with Sharia-verboten spirits), smoke the hookah, kiss the cheek, bow the head before monarchs and transfer satchels of crisp Franklins to tribal leaders within and outside of Islam-professing governments.

Obama believes Americans lack the stomach for all-out war, especially against an enemy for whom he has some empathy — being subjected as both he and they are to American cultural bigotry and oppression.

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Gov. Christie Goes to Mexico, NY Times Covers It Like a Campaign Event, Ignores Actual Purpose

Saturday, September 6th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Gov. Chris Christie in MexicoI read this whole article about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s visit to Mexico, and still didn’t know why he was there.

A campaignlike air pervaded his events, whose locations seemed to be chosen for their cinematic backdrops…There was a TV-ready quality to his schedule. Aides rushed reporters and photographers into many of his meetings for a few moments, to briefly witness Mr. Christie at work, then commanded them to leave. Inside the school stadium, his staff repeatedly repositioned reporters for the best possible shot of Mr. Christie, who seemed to bask in the presidential-style trappings and treatment.

Finally, I viewed the embedded video, in which the governor talks about the importance of trade between his state and Mexico.

Based on the New York Times reporter’s account, one might think the entire purpose of the trip was to practice campaign stagecraft, which he apparently did all too well, in the reporter’s slyly inserted opinion.

I’m not saying that Gov. Christie’s supposed presidential aspirations aren’t a legitimate topic of news coverage, but if you really wonder what type of president he might be, it would be useful to hear about whether, and how, he fulfilled the purpose of his trip.

As usual, reporters are more interested in horse races, than policy, competence and integrity.

That said, it’s refreshing to see a Republican who actually understands that we have rapidly become a visual society, and if you want to communicate, you need to pay as much attention to scenery and shot angles as you do to what you say.

[NOTE: This brief article does not imply endorsement of Chris Christie, the nation of Mexico, or the New York Times. Sad but true, I hesitate to even write on such topics because of the vitriolic comment streams that flow from the mere mention of certain words or names. On-topic comments deeply appreciated.]

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Should Your School District Pony Up to Hire a Super-Superintendent? New Study Says, ‘Meh.’

Thursday, September 4th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

They make handsome salaries, make important-sounding speeches, and often make their Boards dance to their tune, but NPR reports that a new study says school superintendents have virtually no impact where it matters.

“We just don’t see a whole lot of difference in student achievement that correlates with who the superintendent happens to be,” says Matthew Chingos, a senior fellow at the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution. He’s a co-author of what’s likely the first broad study to examine the link between superintendents and student achievement.

Chingos and his co-authors, Grover Whitehurst and Katharine Lindquist, analyzed student test score data from Florida and North Carolina over a 10-year period. His conclusion: Hiring a new superintendent made almost no difference in student success.

Chingos explains the findings this way: “What percentage of differences in student achievement is explained by superintendents? It’s very small, about 0.3 percent.”

Whether you hire a new one, or pay bonuses to keep the one you have, it won’t really matter to the bottom line.

In football, coaches cash in, but not for long if they can’t win.

But in this sport, where the average Superintendent makes $195,000 fully rolled up with bennies, there’s not only a lack of consequences for paltry student performance, there’s no explicit connection between the two.

O, sure, every superintendent talks about student achievement, but few would be willing to link their contract to it.

One exception is New Jersey, where in 2011, as part of a salary cap law, the state started paying Superintendents CEO bonuses – up to 15% of salary — based on metrics determined by the local school board. Of course, that happened thanks to Gov. Chris Christie. The unions fought him all the way and the accusations fly that districts play fast and loose with the benchmarks.

Having worked a few years in the admin building of a public school district, and read a number of books on education reform at that time, I can tell you that few people “in the industry” actually know how to increase student performance. 

I worked in the PR department, and sometimes we’d get a call from a parent thinking of moving into our district. They always asked about our state ratings, clearly concerned about their children’s future. Sometimes I wanted to ask “how much money do you make?” Because the only thing that seemed clear from our in-district stats was that schools in better neighborhoods, with higher incomes, registered higher average standardized test scores.

Of course, this new study will have little impact on contract negotiations, thanks to the magical thinking of school boards, which always see their district as an exception to the rule.




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Federal Judge Breaks the Streak: Upholds Right of the People to Define Marriage Under Law

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 - by Scott Ott

A Federal Court in Louisiana this afternoon upheld the right of the people of the state to define marriage. [Read the ruling.]

Louisiana not only holds to a traditional, heterosexual, definition of marriage (the technical term for that is “marriage”), but it also does not recognize homosexual pairings performed in other states which have redefined marriage.

The ruling breaks a streak of 27 court decisions striking down traditional marriage laws passed by legislatures.

Of course, the wrath of the Left is about to fall on Judge Martin Feldman, a Reagan appointee, and on anyone who sides with him.

But for the moment, at least, vive la différence!

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Taco Bell Drive-Thru Work of Art Shows Capitalism Is All About Heart

Friday, August 29th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Because this experience is so rare, not only did I visit TellTheBell.com to answer their customer-service survey — something I never do — but I just came in from the mailbox (yes, the snail-mail box) where I placed this letter, and put up the red flag for the postman. I share it with you now, as I would a visit to a fine museum, an inspiring concert, or a thrilling spectator sport.

Taco Bell 022872, 11829 Abrams Rd., Dallas, TX 75243

To the Manager,

I had such an experience at your restaurant drive-through yesterday, I had to take a moment to let you know. Over the years, I have worked in customer service, in restaurants, in sales and in customer-service training. My family frequently visits Taco Bell and other fast-food places.

But yesterday was far and away the finest drive-through experience I have had…even better than Chik-fil-A, which was the previous standard-bearer.

Laquiata H. (as her name appears on my receipt), greeted me through the speaker with a clear and cheerful voice. She immediately let me know that she was ready to serve when I was ready to order, no hurry. This little touch I found immediately endearing and comforting. Drive-throughs always feel rushed, menus are complicated and, if you don’t have perfect vision, difficult to read. (BTW, the small type on yours meant that we had to read the choices aloud to my wife in the passenger seat, inevitably fouling your speed stats.)

Laquiata was an island of peace and happiness in a hectic day. When we got to the window, she greeted us with a smile. When she handed us our food, she repeated the order clearly to eliminate errors. That little gesture made me feel like she really cared about us, and wanted us to have a terrific experience.

I don’t know if you realize how extraordinary this is in your industry. I have come to loathe drive-throughs, with their squawk boxes, fast-talking, inarticulate automatons, and frequent errors. Most folks in this line of work seem more concerned with getting rid of you, than with serving you.

Please convey my gratitude to Laquiata, and the support team that made it possible for her to be the voice and face of joyful welcome.

She singled-handedly turned a commodity into a work of art.

Thank You,

Scott Ott

One of the things that makes America great is folks like Laquiata, who bring this attitude to work each day.

Capitalism, after all, isn’t about prices, and markets, and margins, and finance.

It’s about people, and beauty, and emotion, and excellence, and human need, and joy, and love and liberty.

All of that other stuff is just mechanism.

This is heart.

This is real.

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What Was Speaker Boehner Thinking When He Released Video Calling Himself a Monkey?

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner…the titular leader of Republicans on Capitol Hill…the man who in negotiations must stare steely-eyed across the table at the reptilian-blooded House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and at the Commander in Chief, his chill-ness, President Barack Obama…this man…this force of nature has released a video likening himself unto a wind-up clanging toy monkey.

I have now watched the video — dubbed “The Monkey in the Room” —  several times, pondering after its perplexing purpose — searching for the deeper meaning that might escape my public-school-molded mind. It’s presented as an official video the Speaker of the House, with “Speaker.gov” prominently displayed. Therefore, “we, the People” picked up the tab for the staff time required to film, edit and post it.

Perhaps Rep. Boehner released “The Monkey in the Room” in order to bond emotionally with people who think the House Speaker should be an affable sot, frittering away his days as the remote-controlled automaton of his sophomoric staff.

The most humanizing take might be that John Boehner and his staff have inside jokes, just like the folks in the cubes at your office.

But just like those jokes, they rarely play elsewhere.

The title of the video provides an extra measure of absurdity, apparently combining the clichés “elephant in the room” with “get this monkey off of my back” to spawn “The Monkey in the Room.”

After enduring his video and his tenure as Speaker, I’d suggest a better title: “Get This Elephant Off Of My Back.”

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