The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012

October 31, 2005

Women fired for being smokers

A while ago, much news was made by an employer who decided he refused to continue employing smokers. He told his employees that they had some time to quit, and if they smoked past a certain date, they could pack up their things and find a job elsewhere. One of the reasons he did so was for his employee health insurance premiums, but he also considered it to be a disgusting habit and was upset about the extra time that smokers would take in their regular “smoke breaks”.

As a former smoker, I have some issues with this. If I were a business owner, I wouldn’t hold this policy. I might restrict employees from smoking on-site or if they will be dealing with a customer, but what an employee does on his own time is just that– his own time. But at the same time, I’m not going to tell someone else who he can and cannot employ. Well, this employer is back in the news. Some of his employees didn’t quit smoking, so he fired them.

Fellow LLP member Let Darkness Fall seems to have a problem with this:

If you read the full story, it seems this is the usual case of an employer supposedly trying to limit health related liabilities, a concept I do not object to. In general, smokers have more health issues and employers don’t like them causing health insurance premiums to increase. What I don’t understand is why the employers don’t mitigate this liability by either passing on the cost of the higher premiums to smokers or by not offering them health insurance. If people want to smoke while away from the office, don’t fire them for it; simply let them pay for the increased costs. Smokers already pay more for life insurance (if they directly buy a policy unrelated to their work benefits) so why not let them pay more for their medical insurance?

How about, why don’t you let the owner of Weyco decide who he does and does not want to employ, based upon the criteria he determines. This isn’t government here, nobody is forcing these employees to work for Weyco. He has in no way infringed upon their “rights”, because the only right here is the right of contract. He has determined that one of the terms of him extending an offer of employment is that the potential employee doesn’t smoke. For current employees, this policy was announced 15 months in advance of it taking effect, and he offered assistance programs to those employees who wanted to quit.

Now, I’m not saying whether requiring your employees not to smoke is a good or a bad policy. I used to smoke. I try very hard not to be the sanctimonious ex-smoker who tells all his smoking friends about how badly they need to quit. I hated when people did that to me, and I don’t do it to others. But this isn’t about smoking. This is about freedom. And freedom is letting people do some things that you think they shouldn’t do, as long as it doesn’t violate the rights of others. And regardless of what you might think of employment, nobody has a “right” to force me to employ them on any terms other than my own.

The Unrepentant Individual linked with Smokers are Personas Non Grata
Lest Darkness Fall linked with Revisiting Employer vs Employee Rights
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He’s no JRB, but he’ll do…

Bush Picks Alito for Supreme Court

President Bush, stung by the rejection of his first choice, nominated longtime judge Samuel Alito Monday in a bid to reshape the Supreme Court and mollify his conservative allies. Democrats said that Alito may be “too radical for the American people.”

So consistently conservative, Alito has been dubbed “Scalito” or “Scalia-lite” by some lawyers because his judicial philosophy invites comparisons to conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. But while Scalia is outspoken and is known to badger lawyers, Alito is polite, reserved and even-tempered.

Sounds good to me. Has a judicial philosophy roughly comparable to Scalia, and pisses off Democrats. And I should point out that unlike the last nominee, he actually has a judicial philosophy, so that’s already a positive point.

I’m sure my fellow pundits out there will be on this in force. I’m no expert on Alito, but everything I’ve heard up to this point has been positive. But I probably won’t have much to say until the fight breaks out, and I’m looking forward to the trenches when that happens.

Eric's Grumbles Before The Grave linked with The Real Third Rail
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October 30, 2005

Peggy Noonan misses the point

Peggy Noonan’s latest article, A Separate Peace, is up at the WSJ. Peggy takes a quick look at our culture, and think’s we’ve jumped the shark. At times, of course, I agree with her. In a country where a majority of people can name all five Backstreet Boys but cannot name their own two senators, one has to worry. I’ve asked before whether we’ve hit Peak Liberty, and as long as we’ve got people who are more concerned with pop culture than the people making laws which can destroy their lives, we’re in some sort of trouble. Some days, even I agree that the only way I’ll be able to find liberty in my lifetime is the hope of leaving this third rock from the sun.

All that being said, however, I think Noonan is all doom-and-gloom, and I don’t think we have a reason to worry that the sky is falling. What I think Noonan is confusing is cause and effect. She sees that the government can’t handle what’s put in front of it, but completely misses the next step.

Let me focus for a minute on the presidency, another institution in trouble. In the past I have been impatient with the idea that it’s impossible now to be president, that it is impossible to run the government of the United States successfully or even competently. I always thought that was an excuse of losers. I’d seen a successful presidency up close. It can be done.

But since 9/11, in the four years after that catastrophe, I have wondered if it hasn’t all gotten too big, too complicated, too crucial, too many-fronted, too . . . impossible.

I refer to the sheer scope, speed and urgency of the issues that go to a president’s desk, to the impossibility of bureaucracy, to the array of impeding and antagonistic forces (the 50-50 nation, the mass media, the senators owned by the groups), to the need to have a fully informed understanding of and stand on the most exotic issues, from Avian flu to the domestic realities of Zimbabwe.

She goes on to worry that the “elites” have resigned themselves to making some money rearranging the deck chairs, and haven’t volunteered to save us. She’s worried that the job of President has just grown too big to handle, and that the only solution is the inevitable downfall of society.

The implicit assumption Noonan makes, which is the entire root of the error she so eloquently makes, is the thought that government has to be this big. Of course, an enormous country, with a $10T economy, comprised of 50 competing semi-autonomous states, facing threats from within and without, can’t be managed by a single person, or a single bureaucracy. In fact, it’s simply too large and too complicated to be successfully managed by a central government at all. This has been proven over the last century by Russia, China, the EU, and every major nation which has attempted any sort of central planning.

Think of corporate America for a moment. Companies start out as nimble, successful enterprises. Their small size allows them to react quickly to changes in the market, and a small, cohesive management team ensures that everything is on the right track. As the corporation grows, the ability to be nimble and manage everything starts to fall apart. It becomes more and more important for the organization to be structured around the right procedures, the right atmosphere, the right goals. It becomes crucially important for the management team to be able to select competent people to run the lower levels, and to correct problems when those people falter. But as the corporation grows, it becomes easier and easier for small problems in any aspect to create a slow rot in the organization, and what was once a Microsoft, or General Electric becomes a Nortel or Lucent, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and failure.

Peggy Noonan asks whether our elites and our government have what it takes to lead us to glory. It’s quite obvious that they don’t, but the problem is not with them. Nobody has what it takes, as she points out with her concern over the “size” of the presidency. But the concerns over whether we’ve jumped the track are only valid because we’ve asked all of America to board the train. We’ve asked Americans to believe that government is there to save them, and then when government fails, wonder why the “elites” aren’t stepping in to get us back on our course.

America isn’t the small, nimble company scrambling for market share. Nor is it the major multinational vying for global market dominance. America is much, much bigger than that. The federal government is itself much bigger than any multinational, and at the same time, much worse run. If we start tasking them with the responsibility of running the entire country, we shouldn’t be surprised when they fail that fool’s errand. To keep the federal government functioning, we need to do what the founders envisioned: give them a very limited mission and the resources to fulfill it. The government is capable of protecting you from most threats internal and external, not of being your nanny and caretaker.

Peggy’s right. The wheels are falling off and the state is being crushed under its own weight. There are only two possible remedies to this situation. Either we step back from the brink, and reform our government to ensure that it gets back to responsibilities it can handle, and leave the rest to states, communities, private groups and individuals themselves. Or, we continue full-speed into the chasm and watch it all come crashing down around us, and those who can manage it will pick up the pieces and (hopefully) set it right. I’d prefer the former, but like Peggy, I’m not too sure we’re going to get there. But the first step is accurately explaining the problem. As long as we’re relying on some unnamed “elites” to save us, we’re doomed.

Read more of this entry… »

Below The Beltway linked with Are The Wheels Falling Off ?
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Carnival of the Magnolias

I didn’t submit anything over there, but the inaugural Carnival of the Magnolias is up at Everyman Chronicles. This is promoted by the Southern Blog Federation, and speaks of all the issues, local and federal, facing these Southern states. And, after all, I named the carnival, so I’ll try to submit something next week. In the meantime, head over and check it out.

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New Neighbor

Last night we had a little visitor move into a tree in our front yard, which kept the dogs entertained for quite some time…

I realized shortly after I moved to Georgia that we have mosquitoes and other bugs that look like they came out of the Land of the Lost. I think now I’m starting to note that we’re definitely a lot closer to “nature” than we were in Irvine…

DSC03374 (Large)

Eric's Grumbles Before The Grave linked with Interesting Reading for Sunday
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October 29, 2005

College Football Week 8

Well, the little weekend getaway got cut short by some undercooked chicken. So instead of being at a stadium in Auburn, I’m on my couch watching football. Not that this is entirely bad, though, because the Ohio State/Minnesota game has been highly enjoyable so far. Between football and pumpkin carving, I think I’ve got a busy day ahead of me. So only two picks for today.

Purdue @ Penn State
Vegas says: Penn State by 15
Purdue has their backs to a wall. At 2-5, one more loss makes them bowl-ineligible. They’re playing a 7-1 Penn State team, at home, that is fighting for a trip to a BCS bowl. But here’s the kicker: Purdue has been underacheiving all year, in comparison to their talent level. Penn State has been overacheiving for their talent level. I know I’m not going to like the results, but I’m going to have to call this a major upset. Purdue’s got the talent, and Penn State is due for a letdown. I’m going to call this a close one, and Purdue fans see glimpses of the promised land coming next year…

Prediction: Purdue 28, Penn State 27
UPDATE: Final Score: Penn State 33, Purdue 15. It was wishful thinking from that start :-(

Michigan @ Northwestern
Vegas says: Michigan by 3
Northwestern has a high-powered offense, and even Michigan’s defense can’t stop them today. Granted, their defense is porous, but Michigan has been inconsistent on offense this year. This game will be a shootout, but as with most of this year, Northwestern is a winner in shootouts.

Prediction: Northwestern 44, Michigan 38
UPDATE: Final Score: Michigan 33, Northwestern 17. Northwestern gave up 10 points on 3 turnovers, a few of which were deep in Michigan territory, and you can’t win a game if you can’t hang onto the ball.

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October 28, 2005

Admin stuff and out for a few days

I just implemented inline trackbacks, so from now on, if you track back to this site, it will be automatically displayed within the post. I’ve always wanted this, and I found a nice plugin over at Slobokan’s Site O’ Schtuff that takes care of it for me. I still need to play with some of the fonts around here, and I’ll get to that when I’m a little bit less lazy.

Also, I’ll be away for the weekend. Visiting friends and possibly seeing what SEC football is all about. But since the Auburn Tigers are favored over Mississippi by a whopping 20 points, we may just skip the game and watch it on TV. College football stadiums holding 87,451 screaming fans are not found every day, and while I was at Purdue, the stadium only held about 65,000. So that might be interesting.

Either way, this blog will likely cool down over the next few days. Wilson is busy this weekend, and JimmyJ, as usual, has fallen off the face of the earth again. Hopefully he hasn’t taken his life in despair over the wasted Purdue football season… If I have time and an internet connection, I’ll post, but otherwise you’re on your own until Sunday night or Monday…

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Watcher’s Council Results

The Watcher’s Council results are up. I am proud to say that my post, Separation, took enough of the vote to be 2nd place in the non-council links, and tied for third overall. So I’m pretty happy about the little post I tossed up on Sunday night over a few beers!

And I’ve read the two winning posts, Race and the Unconscious by ShrinkWrapped won the non-council section (and had the highest overall total), and Syria and the Hariri Conspiracy by Right Wing Nut House took top honors in the council members’ section. Reading those, they definitely deserve all the accolades they’re receiving. Go check them out. It’s better than anything I’ll write today!

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October 27, 2005

An up or down vote?

Hugh Hewitt has taken a lot of heat in the blogosphere for his continued support of Harriet Miers. Even up until last night, he was blasting those of us on the right expressing our displeasure with the nomination:

Now, however, a big slice of conservative punditry has decided that the long march back isn’t worth the risk that Harriet Miers isn’t who the president and her close associates say she is. On the basis of a very thin set of papers –some of them distorted, and all of them cherry-picked– and with an absolute refusal to entertain any of the many arguments and testimonies on her behalf, this caucus has seized on the very tactics most conservatives have long denounced in order to do what?

To deny Harriet Miers a hearing and an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.

Hugh is trying to equate our disdain for this nomination and hpoes to see it fail with the Democrats’ obstructionist tactics and filibusters. In trying to do so, he is flat out wrong.

There’s a big, big difference between us and the Democrats trying to filibuster. They were trying to DENY hearings or a vote because they thought they would lose that. We were pressuring Bush and/or Miers to withdraw the nomination.

Perhaps, if this nomination had reached the stage of hearings, you might have heard calls from conservatives unhappy with the nomination for our own president’s nomination. But you wouldn’t have heard that from me, nor would I have supported any attempts to stop the senate from an up-or-down confirmation vote. But I am glad the nomination was volutarily withdrawn, because this means that I don’t have to lobby my two Republican Senators to try to get them to vote against the Republican president’s nominee.

From the start, I thought this nomination was a mistake, as I thought there were much better known quantities available. After a while, I grew to oppose the nomination, as some of the unknowns became known, and didn’t look so good. But at no time have I ever supported denying Miers a fair hearing or an up or down vote. I supported a voluntary withdrawal of the nomination, and barring that, hoped that the nomination would be defeated when it received its up or down vote.

I want to make this perfectly clear. Had Bush and Miers not withdrawn the nomination, it had gone through hearings, and she’d been confirmed, I would have accepted it. I wouldn’t have liked it, but I would have accepted it. But what happened today, and the pressure we on the right have brought to bear, is by no means a defeat to the process. We have not tried to deny her a hearing, we have only tried to convince the President that we thought the nomination was a bad one and that he could do better.

I have a question for Hugh. If it had come down to it, would he have supported Republican senators who chose to vote against Miers? Does he want to see President Bush’s nominee be confirmed, or would he be satisfied with an up or down vote that she loses?

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UWB to replace WiFi?

Ultrawideband Challenges Wi-Fi In Fight For Wireless Consumers

Wi-Fi is a popular way for home broadband users to share Internet connections and, more and more, other consumer electronics wares.

An emerging wireless technology, ultrawideband, also targets consumer electronics and is starting to appear in some products.

The company with the biggest stake is UWB’s main champion, Freescale Semiconductor. It sells chips that run UWB gear and UWB-equipped products. It says UWB can do most everything Wi-Fi can do, only better.

To this, I apply the “have I heard of it” test. I’m an electrical engineer, and I work in the computer industry. I have never heard of UWB. Therefore, it’s not going to catch on :-)

In all seriousness, though, emerging technologies need a couple of things to succeed in this sort of environment. They either have to enter a market that is largely empty, or they need to do a much better job what their competitor does, and they must be an open standard. All three are against UWB.

UWB has some advantages over Wi-Fi. UWB sends data twice as fast as Wi-Fi, guaranteeing quality for HDTV transmission, for example. For now, Wi-Fi can result in a jerky, lower-quality transmission for high-definition TV.

“Wi-Fi cannot ensure the quality of service of the digital stream,” said Rofheart.

It’s also, for several technical reasons, easier for users to set up UWB than Wi-Fi.

But UWB has limits. It doesn’t work well in sending signals around corners or through dense material such as brick. Wi-Fi can handle corners and some material.

Also, a user’s Internet-connected PC or other device must be within 80 feet or so of a UWB node, or the gear that provides the transmission. Wi-Fi’s range is 300 feet.

And a new version of Wi-Fi, known by the technical name 802.11n, is in the works. It’s twice as fast as today’s fastest Wi-Fi, 802.11g, and roughly comparable to UWB speed.

Recently, 27 companies banded together to offer a final 802.11n proposal to the technical standards body for wireless networking. The firms include Intel, Cisco Systems and Sony.

UWB is still mired in the standards process. Freescale supports one type of UWB standard. Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Philips Electronics and Samsung support a different standard.

This reminds me of a standard that was all the rage a few years ago, and has mostly fallen out of use: Firewire. Firewire was similar to USB, but was much, much faster, and could handle the demands of high-bandwidth applications like external hard drives, video devices, etc. But then USB 2.0 arrived, and had all the speed of Firewire with the addition of backward and forward compatibility to earlier versions of USB. Firewire is now going the way of Betamax.

What killed Firewire? Nothing really, it’s a great technology. But all it was able to do was to find a niche market where it beat USB, but not enough market share to replace USB. Once USB 2.0 made its way into the market, all of Firewire’s advantages disappeared.

This is what is happening to UWB. It is faster and has some advantages over WiFi, even the fastest of 802.11g systems. It’s already here, which helps even more. But WiFi 802.11n will have backward compatibility to all previous 802.11 standards. If you replace your current wireless router in your house with an 802.11n router, you don’t need to reconfigure your existing hardware to work with it.

In the technology world, to usurp a ubiquitous technology like USB or WiFi, you need something tremendously attractive. USB replaced serial (RS-232) with the advantages of speed, hot-swappability, and carrying power over the interface. WiFi entered an empty space in the market, and sat down to be the 800-lb gorilla. To unseat either will not be possible with steps towards progress, you’re going to need giant leaps.

Just remember, before you spend your hard-earned money on the Next Big ThingTM, you want to make sure it’s going to make inroads into the market. And if I’ve never heard of UWB, you probably don’t need to pay any attention to it. linked with Don't write off UWB
Eric's Grumbles Before The Grave linked with Here's The Best Example
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Miers Withdraws

Miers Withdraws Supreme Court Nomination

Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to be a Supreme Court justice Thursday in the face of stiff opposition and mounting criticism about her qualifications.

Bush said he reluctantly accepted her decision to withdraw, after weeks of insisting that he did not want her to step down. He blamed her withdrawal on calls in the Senate for the release of internal White House documents that the administration has insisted were protected by executive privilege.

Round 1 is over. Now comes the interesting lull over the next nomination. I know my first choice is Janice Rogers Brown, but I think she might be a little too libertarian for Bush. But it’s time to start putting pressure on Bush to nominate her instead.

I know I shouldn’t completely engage in blog triumphalism, but this story started it:

The nominations of John Roberts and Ms. Miers, the first Supreme Court nominations in 11 years, were also the first to test the power of the blogosphere to shape debate on a complex, fast-moving story.

“A lot of staff working on this read a lot of blogs,” says Don Stewart, a spokesman for Sen. John Cornyn (R) of Texas, a member of the Judiciary Committee.

“[Blogs] have an effect on the questions that get asked about a nominee,” says Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.

A small cottage industry of judicial blogs tackled nominee’s qualifications, records and documents, as well as commenting on hearings in real time. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, aka the “cybersenator” and first Senate blogger, set up a dedicated blog to cover the Roberts confirmation hearings.

Let’s keep up the good work, and make sure we get out ahead of the White House so they don’t make this mistake again.

UPDATE: Miers’ letter of withdrawl, found at the Washington Post.

Population Statistic linked with MIERS DEMISE AND THE IMAGINARY BLOG POWER
News, the Universe, and Everything linked with Blogosphere 1, Cronyism 0 - Miers Withdraws
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October 26, 2005

Harriet Miers in her own words

What do we know about Harriet Miers? Not much. So when we find some of her speeches, it’s about all we have to go on when trying to discern who she is and what she believes (“trust me” notwithstanding).

I was able to find two through the Washington Times page on Miers. The first was a speech on Women and Courage, and it makes me think she’d vote for Hillary Clinton for president just because Hillary is a woman. I’m all for feminism, but I’m also a big fan of meritocracy, and thus don’t support breaking down barriers for barriers sake (hence, why I like Janice Rogers Brown but not Miers). But in its most benign reading, she’s cheering on women who blaze trails, and I can get behind that. Of course, she threw in quite a bit of politics about how much poverty there was in Texas, and how the government wasn’t doing enough to stop it.

The second was a little bit more political. In an address to Executive Women of Dallas, she got a little bit into her judicial philosophy. She talks about the problems with the courts stepping in to enforce progressive politics, and how that was a bad thing. But what did she consider to be bad? The fact that the legislature wasn’t practicing progressive politics, and thus the courts had to fill the gap.

May 1st saw the defeat of the so-called Robin Hood funding plan for public education in our State and I found that both predictable and understandable. I have yet to see an election at any level where voters were asked to pick but told they had little choice as to what to pick that proved successful– at least in a democratic society. And my perception was that the education plan was a “do this” or else the court will shut down the schools.

Why then did the supporters of the school funding constitutional amendment not have the sense that the amendment was going to fail, which it did by a large margin, and why did the legislature and State leaders not have a plan B? Watching the news you get the sense the amendment failing came as a big surprise and a big disappointment. I believe it was a big disappointment, I do not believe it was a big surprise.

She goes on to talk about the lack of low-income housing in Dallas, her support of a state income tax (which Texas did not have), and the racial problems facing the city. Not that such discussions shouldn’t be had, or that there weren’t problems at the time, but there is the undertone throughout her speech that it is the job of the government to step in and fix it. She believes it should be the legislature, not the courts, but her end goal of each is the same.

Now, this isn’t to say that nothing has changed in her political philosophy. After all, my political philosophy has grown and stretched in the last 12 years. Of course, I’d say more change occurs in the years 15-27 than they do in the years 48-60 in ones life. But there are some definite concerns here in what Miers has said. She may be a smart lady, but I don’t see much talk of liberty and individual rights in her speech, only discussions of society and what it must do. That’s not the sort of Supreme Court justice I’m looking for.

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Open Trackback Thread

Since I’m so busy today, I may not have time to post anything today or even tonight. So consider this an open thread. Most other open threads occur on the weekends, so if you have something you want to draw attention to now mid-week, feel free to ping with a trackback to this post.

Of course, if anyone wants to start a debate in the comments section, feel free to do that as well :-)

Have fun!

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So much time, so little to do…

…Wait. Scratch that. Reverse it.

Lots going on today. Spanky is at the vet for the saddest day in a young male puppy’s life. Work is hectic. And I don’t even have much time to link many stories. But, alas, certain things need to be mentioned.

First, I posted over at The FairTax Blog about whether or not prices are sticky. Many FairTax critics don’t understand that when costs go down, prices will be driven down by the market. They think greedy capitalists will just keep their prices high to rake in the profits. Rather than try to give the philosophical and economic reasoning, why not use a concrete example? I bring up gas prices, which have dropped about 50 cents/gallon from a level people can afford to pay, now that costs have dropped. What forced the price down? Competition.

Next, a couple of carnivals going on. My article Separation was submitted to both, and highly suggest you read it if you haven’t yet. It was over the weekend, so many of you may have missed it, but I consider it to be one of my better posts as of late.

First is the Carnival of the Vanities, hosted by El Capitan at Baboon Pirates. I actually submitted two posts to this carnival, although I didn’t realize it until today. Mentioning Boortz in both posts got me a choice placement in the Carnival, so muchos gracias a El Capitan!

Second, good friend Eric has nominated the post Separation for the Watcher’s Council. Thanks Eric! We’re poised for an LLP takeover of the Watcher’s Council, with you and Rhymes With Right on the council, and posts by myself and QandO nominated!

Extra Bonus Points to whoever can name the reference I made in the title to this post. And no, the points aren’t worth anything.

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October 25, 2005

Carnival of Liberty and other fun stuff!

First things first, the Carnival of Liberty XVII is now up at Eric’s Grumbles. Lots of good stuff over there, including one of my favorites, a song about the FairTax. I submitted two posts, but only one of them is any good.

Now, on to some fun Presidential Appointment stuff:

Cafe Hayek makes fun of Bush’s cronyism, suggesting he nominated his personal tax attorney to replace Greenspan. I think he’ll make a heckuva good fed chief.

Heigh Ho, the blog of the illustrious spd rdr, brings us Mulligan’s Island, the true story of the Miers Nomination (Hat Tip: KJ). This is more than worth going over there, NOW, and reading. But just to give you a taste of the fun, below is one of the pictures from that post.


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