Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Another reason not to trust Jeb Bush

OK, did anyone doubt that "the smart Bush brother" would eventually run for President? The only reason he wouldn't is if there were enough scandals in his background to make him unelectable. Of course, some of us think that handing the 2000 election to his brother is enough to disqualify him, but there's a lot more.

Including what I'm about to describe, which almost certainly won't be talked about in the campaign, but IMO is very important. It takes a bit of explaining, so bear with me…

Remember Terri Schiavo? The woman who was in a permanent vegetative state in Florida back in 2005? Her husband had a state court order to disconnect her life support, and her parents objected. They appealed to Federal court, which (quite properly) declined to get involved, noting this was a state matter. 

The Christian Right staged a massive freakout, which led to a special session of Congress passing a law to "save Terri" by transferring her case to Federal court. President Dubya flew back from Texas to sign the bill at 1:00 in the morning. (The Federal courts denied the appeals and Schiavo was eventually allowed to die.) 

The interesting thing about the case is that the right wing, which endlessly beats the drum about individual liberty, states' rights, and limited government, was anxious for the Federal government to get involved. One of the few sane Republicans, Chris Shays (from the Northeast, naturally), said "My party is demonstrating that they are for states' rights unless they don't like what states are doing. This couldn't be a more classic case of a state responsibility. This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy." 

There. He said it. In fact, it appears that the Schiavo matter was basically an early test case for the right wing in using the power of the Federal government to enforce their religious beliefs. 

In explaining how this involves Jeb Bush, I'll quote from Frederic Rich's novel Christian Nation
I think this incident is incredibly revealing of what we can expect from the fundamentalists. And it's not just the casualness with which personal liberty, states' rights, and the rest were thrown aside. This was a manufactured 'crisis.' Millions of good people around the country were manipulated into really caring about the woman. They cried when she died. And so the movement gained a martyr—a symbol that the puppet masters, when it suits their purposes, can use to reconnect the faithful with that emotion. … The movement flirted with violent resistance. [Governor] Jeb Bush actually dispatched armed state agents to forcibly remove Terri Schiavo from the hospice in violation of court orders, but those state agents were stopped by the local police who upheld the law. Jeb Bush should have been impeached and jailed for that stunt. But instead he became one of the heroes. 
I doubt Jeb cared much one way or the other about Schiavo's fate. But he was more than willing to use the power of his office to pander to the wishes of a group of religious fundamentalists for political purposes. Despite his bland exterior, the man is a snake. 

But hey, if you don't like Jeb for President, there's always Chris Christie (another snake), and, Lord help us, Mitt Rmoney! 

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hey, Comcast customers: The company is wasting your money!

More than 15 years ago, my wife and I had a small company operated out of a post office box in our tiny little town in Puget Sound. As you might expect, the direct-mail marketers got wind of our existence and sent us all kinds of "exciting offers."

Before long, our company went out of existence, but you'd never know it to look at the mail we get. There are a few stalwart mega-corporations that haven't given up hope that our long-defunct business will someday, somehow buy something from them. And one of the most persistent is your friendly local cable company.

Just the other day, in fact, Comcast sent us a "business savings voucher." The terms of the offer aren't important; what's remarkable is that they are still chasing a company that hasn't sold a product, sent an email, run a website, run an ad, renewed a business license, or done anything in 15 years!

Now, direct mail as practiced by big companies is a pretty exact science. If you do it right, you spend your money on things that are likely to result in sales. You avoid things that have a low probability of success—including, I would argue, mailing to "prospects" that haven't been heard from in a decade and a half and aren't listed in any directory. By any reasonable standard, this qualifies as scraping the bottom of the barrel. Any savvy marketer regularly "cleans" their mailing list of obsolete or defunct entries.

The logical conclusion is that whoever runs Comcast's direct-mail operation is stupid or incompetent. Either that, or the company has so much money that it isn't troubled by wasting it chasing ghosts. Whichever, Comcast's customers are paying for this egregious waste, and they shouldn't be happy about it.

Now, about those credit cards that Chase is constantly offering our defunct company…

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