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Fuck You, Ben Stein

No really, I mean that from the bottom of my heart. In case you missed it, Ben Stein wrote this piece for the American Spectator, in which he imparted his pearls of wisdom regarding the current unemployment crisis. They weren’t so much pearls, as they were shit droppings.

But before I get to why Ben Stein needs to go fuck himself, I have to address something profoundly stupid that he said in the article. Here’s the offending quote:

But the current recession, which really started with some very tense days in late 2007 and began in deadly earnest when…

Really Ben? The economy was humming along swimmingly, with no signs of trouble when all of a sudden, woooooo, everything imploded? We started 2007 off strong, with the trillion dollars in tax cuts for the really, really stinking rich “trickling down”. And the unbudgeted war, occupation, and medicare prescription benefits were all strengthening our economy even further. And then all of a sudden, the economy inexplicably imploded for no reason whatsoever? Wow Ben, that’s a fascinating and idiotic assessment of how the financial collapse happened, but one that you must cling onto in order to perpetuate your ass backward political ideology.

Let’s move on from the dipshitty stuff he said, to the assholey portion of the pile of shit he created;

The people who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities. I say “generally” because there are exceptions. But in general, as I survey the ranks of those who are unemployed, I see people who have overbearing and unpleasant personalities and/or who do not know how to do a day’s work. They are people who create either little utility or negative utility on the job. Again, there are powerful exceptions and I know some, but when employers are looking to lay off, they lay off the least productive or the most negative. To assure that a worker is not one of them, he should learn how to work and how to get along — not always easy.

(This brings to mind an idea I have long had: that high schools and colleges should have a course on “how to get along” and “how to do a day’s work.” This would include showing up in clean clothes, smelling well, having had a good breakfast, dressed in a businesslike way, calling the other employees “sir” or “ma’am” and not talking back. This would include a teaching of the fact that the employee is not there for amusement, but to help the employer make money and to get a job done. It would include the idea that once you are at work, you are not at play. It is an idea whose time has come.)

I will give Ben this; if anyone would be an authority on how to get the stink off themselves, it would be him, what with being a former Nixon speechwriter and all. And while I’m personally attacking Ben Stein, let me point out that as far as I can see, his contribution to society has consisted of writing lies for Nixon to spew, Bueller…Bueller…Bueller…, and his latest role as a pitch man for a pyramid scheme aimed at stealing money from unsuspecting people. Wow Ben, your parents must be so proud of your fine work ethic.

Now that I’m done debasing myself by hurling personal attacks on Ben Stein, I’m going to move on. Not that my attacks weren’t fun or well deserved, but I have more important things to say.

First, I have to share a little bit about my background with you. I’m a human resources professional. My specialties are benefits and staffing. When the market is on an upswing, I hire people. When it’s on a downswing, I figure out a way to shave off exorbitant benefit costs for small business that can’t afford them. I’ve been in this field for about fifteen years.

Despite the craptastic economy we’re in, I’m currently hiring people. My role is to find the best candidate that I can, for any given position. “Best” candidate is defined in two components; the first being that a candidate must have the skills required for the job. The second component is that a candidate must fit the culture of the company. That’s the piece that most job seekers don’t understand. “Culture” means more than what you think it means. Part of it is untangible and therefore, impossible to describe. Part of culture centers around a person’s personality, and whether it would fit well with the other personalities in the group and in the company as a whole. Another piece of “cultural fit” ties into the person’s employment history and the types of companies they have worked in before. For example, someone that has worked for very large companies  would not work out well in a startup environment because large companies tend to have very focused job duties. A desktop support technician in a large company would strictly provide support to a pool of users that they’re responsible for supporting, after that user has called the help desk to try and get the issue solved. If the issue is bigger than the user’s computer, the problem escalates to someone else. A desktop support technician in a startup would be the only person that any user in the company goes to, and often has to deal with server issues that may be the cause of the problem. A large company will have a separate server team. Startups are a much more dynamic environment, which is why the cultural fit wouldn’t work.

I understand how absurd this must sound to a job seeker, but it’s absolutely true. And it’s more complicated than that example. I would never consider someone from a non-profit background to work in a corporate position; it would be a bad cultural fit. I generally don’t consider people with a strictly military background for just about anything. It’s not that I don’t want to hire a veteran (I really do), it’s just that they haven’t experienced anything other than a rigid command structure. They don’t have the experience to understand the balance between autonomy and management that they would need to be successful.

I’ve shared all of this information with you because I hope that it will help you through the frustration of your job search, but also because I had to in order to give you some context on what I’m seeing in the job market.

My phone rings with prospective candidates calling me two to five times a day. This is very much out of the norm, as I go to great pains to not make my phone number public. This will sound harsh, but I don’t want to talk to applicants. I call applicants that look like they may be a fit for the position, but I have no desire whatsoever to talk to an unqualified applicant. Not in this market, not in a good market, not ever. I don’t want to talk to them because if I didn’t call, there isn’t a snowball’s chance that they have a shot at the job. I need to make it clear that when you apply for a position online, your resume is reviewed 100% of the time. I know that the perception out there is that your resume fell into a black hole, where no human will ever see it. That’s patently untrue. We review every single resume that comes in. Think about it, getting you to apply for a job costs the company money. Job ads aren’t free, and neither is the labor that creates and posts them. We don’t spend the time and the money because we get some maniacal pleasure from the idea that people are out there futilely applying for jobs. So when you apply for a job, and don’t hear anything within a week, it’s because someone like me assessed your resume and concluded that you’re not what the company is looking for.

That’s not to say that you’re a bad candidate (but let’s be honest, some of you are!). You’re just not the candidate for that job. Don’t take it personally, seriously. In most normal economies, people don’t take it personally.

Let me digress for a moment to let you know how to tell if you’re a bad candidate. In a normal economy, when unemployment is at 4% – 5% you can expect to get at least one call for every five to seven positions that you apply for. If you’re not getting a call, then you’re a bad candidate. Being a bad candidate means that either you’re not qualified for the job you applied for, or your employment history is full of 1 – 1 1/2 year stints of employment. You’re a job hopper, and no one likes a job hopper.

In this economy, as a good candidate, you can expect to get one call for every thirty applications you’ve submitted. That’s because there are a lot of “good” candidates on the market. When I have five good ones in process, I’m done looking. So a lot of “good” candidates don’t get calls. Now remember, “good” involves cultural fit and all of the other intangible criteria that job seekers don’t understand.

My phone rings two to five times a day with “bad” candidates calling. They’re “bad” candidates, only because of the cultural component of my criteria. They’re people that have the skills for the job, and that have a stable employment history. I hate talking to them because I have absolutely no desire to tell someone that they can’t get the job that I’m hiring for because the fifteen years they spent working for Citibank makes them a “bad” candidate. My logic can’t make any kind of sense to someone that has worked hard their entire lives to build a good career for themselves. And to make matters worse, most of those calls are from people that have been out of work for a year or more, which isn’t helping them in the current job market. Being unemployed and desperate isn’t any more helpful in getting a job, as it is in getting a mate. Employers don’t like the smell of desperation.

The people that are calling me are perfectly good candidates with the perseverance and ingenuity to get my ungetable phone number. They’re not lazy, smelly, or unpleasant. They’re just desperately trying to make sense of this economy, and working very hard to get a job.

As someone who is unable to give them a job, I’d like to say FUCK YOU, Ben Stein. Your resume, which consists largely of helping crooked people lie, cheat, and steal makes you the most undesirable of candidates. When one throws your acrid personality onto your shitty resume, the conclusion is obvious; you’re an unemployable asshat.


Propagandists Work Too Hard

They really do. It’s not easy. They have to start a news network, start a publishing company, start a polling organization to legitimize the crap they say in their books and on their news network. And on top of all that, they have to finely tune the deception and obfuscation, lest the public catch onto their propagandistic ways.

Poor propaganda machine. They desperately need some relief. Fortunately, I have a brilliant solution, but it may take some behavior modification on your part. Let me walk you through what you have to do step by step so that you don’t get confused about your role.

The first (and most important) step is that you must be willfully ignorant. Let me be clear on this point; you can’t just be passively ignorant, you must be proactively ignorant. So if you’re channel surfing and happen upon a news network, IMMEDIATELY change your channel to something in the teens so as to ensure that you land comfortably on an episode of Seinfeld or Friends. They will serve as your snuggie of ignorance, enveloping you in a warm embrace of cluelessness. Another thing that you must be aware of, is the pitfalls of the internet. Surfing the internet is fine, but only if you take a few precautions. Step one is to hide any of your Facebook connections that might be aware of the world around them. Step two is to make sure to avert your eyes when you stumble upon a news story. So if you come across something about WikiLeaks and Afghanistan, you should definitely move your gaze to the portion of the screen that has Lindsay Lohan’s mug shot on it. That last one is very important because it’s not only the best way to be proactively ignorant, but it’s also your duty as an American not to jeopardize national security by reading such things.

Never mind the fact that some people have risked their careers and their very freedom to get the truth out there, ostensibly because what they’re being asked to do goes against the military code of conduct, or is so shocking to their conscience, that they felt compelled to get the information to the public. You have a duty to, as a patriotic American, not to know what the truth is. You see if you know the truth, you jeopardize the American way of life and the very freedom that our troops are fighting to protect. Not the freedom to be informed with the truth about your government, but all of the other ones like gun ownership and the freedom to stop your gay neighbor from marrying their lifelong partner. Those are the important freedoms that must be protected at all costs.

So in the interest of protecting national security, and of alleviating some of the pressure from our propagandists, stay ignorant. And by “stay ignorant” I mean work hard to be ignorant. Otherwise you’re just a bad American.


Are Democrats Born With No Balls, Or Does Someone Remove Them After They’re Sworn In?

Democrats are a party made up of the biggest pussies in America. And we all lucked out bigtime, by getting the cream of the pussy crop in the white house. And the best part is that every time democratic voters come close to forgetting that they support a party of eunuchs, they generously remind us by pulling a Shirley Sherrod type fiasco.

If you missed the story, here’s the background on the Shirley situation. She was asked (repeatedly and vehemently) to resign from the USDA on Monday after Andrew Breitbart posted a video of her online, in which she seems to be a racist. In the video, she recounts a 25 year old story in which considered denying a white farmer assistance because of her own racial bias. The video was edited and the remarks that she made before and after the clip that Breitbart posted clearly showed that she was speaking out against racial bias. It was a story about getting past bigotry.

Once the Breitbart version of the video was posted, the right wing did what they do – they turned the whole thing into a shit storm. Fox “news” anchors were salivating like starving cats looking at a raw piece of tuna, as they told the tale of racism at the NAACP. The more vitriolic pundits turned it into “further” evidence that Obama hates white people.

Let me take a step back and fill you in on Andrew Breitbart. He started as Matt Drudge’s bitch and it’s been downhill ever since. The most significant thing that he’s done, was to release the incriminating “pimp and ho” videos of ACORN. You know, the videos that we now know were hacked to pieces to make it appear that ACORN employees eagerly participated in helping a pimp and his ho launder their money.

So what do Tom Vilsack, the United States Secretary Of Agriculture (Shirley Sherrod’s boss)  and the white house administration do when an incriminating video is released from a dubious source? They naturally spring into action to try and minimize the hurt that the video and Fox news are putting on them by demanding Shirley’s resignation. Was this the rational thing to do? Not even a little. Was I surprised? Not even a little.

We’ve seen this before with the Van Jones incident and with the ACORN incident. I was LIVID when the administration forced Van Jones out because Fox baselessly smeared him. I was livid because I know that what the Obama administration had done, was set a horrible precedent. They let Fox know that they would happily play the part of road kill every time Fox felt like steam rolling them. They should have stood up to Fox, stood behind Van Jones by reiterating his remarkable record in the area of green technology, refuted (or refudiated for my less literate readers) the ridiculous allegations, and shown Fox who their daddy was. But no, they instead chose to throw Van Jones and themselves under the bus by becoming Roger Ailes’ bitch.

By the time the administration caved on ACORN, there was absolutely NO chance Fox wasn’t going to use the power that Obama had given them over him, every chance they got.

So when another video emerges from Andrew Breitbart, the administration didn’t even have to bend over. They hadn’t had enough time to stand upright from the last reaming. It was all very convenient and really just a matter of letting muscle memory do its thing.

But then something truly bizarre and downright inexplicable happened – the truth came out about the video, and the media reported it! In America! I was dumbfounded!

So Tom Vilsack called a press conference and did a mea culpa. He took complete responsibility for fucking this up, apologized to Shirley, and offered her another position. That part was fine. Personally, I like it when people admit they wrong and take responsibility for their mistakes. I find it refreshing and trust inspiring. He went on to shield  the administration from this whole mess by taking sole ownership over the debacle, although anyone that believes that this didn’t go up to (at least) Rahm Emanuel is a foolish child. I can live with that part of Vilsack’s comments, even though they were blatantly untrue. But I had one major problem with the apology. I had a problem with the fact that Vilsack didn’t address the biggest fuck up that they had made. He rightfully apologized for not taking some time to investigate the matter before firing this poor woman. But what he should also have apologized for, is not considering the source before trusting the information. He should have drawn attention to the fact that Andrew Breitbart and Fox news are clearly not reliable sources for information. He should have apologized for making that rookie mistake, and promised that he would never do it again. But he didn’t do that, because the Obama administration will forever be Fox news’ bitch.

So after all of this goes down, what do Fox and Breitbart do? They bitch slap the administration for jumping the gun on firing poor Shirley Sherrod. And the left wing media is going ape shit over this, to which I say, why? This may possibly be the first correct assessment that Fox or Breitbart have ever made! Why go ballistic over this part of it? Did they expect Fox or Breitbart to apologize for their part in it? If so, are they stupid? Expecting an apology or a mea culpa from these people completely unrealistic and just plain crazy. Fox and Breitbart just did what Fox and Breitbart do; they attacked. Expecting that they wouldn’t attack is like expecting that a mosquito won’t bite you. It just doesn’t make any sense. I understand being stunned and confused that the attack is legitimate (who could have seen that coming!), but I can’t fathom being incensed that it came. Make no mistake, the administration deserves to be spanked over this. They fucked up when they set the door mat precedent with the Van Jones incident. They compounded the fuck up by not stopping the ACORN witch hunt. Shirley Sherrod was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. They deserve to be spanked for everything they did that led up to this incident. And most of all, they deserve to be spanked for being afraid of Glenn Beck.

Oh, did I forget the Glenn Beck part of the story? Vilsack’s office called poor Shirley three times to demand her resignation. She was in her car when the third call came in. They made her pull over to type out her resignation email on her blackberry. Why the urgency? Because they wanted her resignation before Glenn Beck came on TV. Yup, they were afraid that Glenn Beck was going to be really mean to them. UNFUCKINGBELIEVABLE!

The left wing should have joined the right wing in condemning the hasty and ill conceived actions by the administration. Maybe if we all joined in a chorus together, the Obama administration might learn a lesson.

But no, the left wing media is doing the same (albeit much more mildly) thing that the right wing media does for republicans. They’re apologizing for the unacceptable.

I want better from my president than to have him perpetually cower to right wing media. And the only way to help him to see the error of his ways is to point out that he’s wrong every time he does it. Shielding him isn’t going to do anyone any good. It just ensures that he’ll be crapping his pants every time Glenn Beck says anything about him.

No, I won’t stand behind Obama on this, and I don’t believe that anyone that supports him should either. If you want him to be a leader, you have to spank him when he fucks up. I have my paddle warmed up for a good spanking because this country can’t take another failed presidency. I suggest you all get yours ready for action as well.

ps – I just want to add an observation. If you’re a black person serving in this administration, and you’ve been paying attention, you should know that you have less job security than anyone in the world. Racist against whites, MY ASS!


The Horatio Alger Problem

Horatio Alger is the reason that 50% of the 1.7 million Americans whose unemployment benefits have been disrupted because of republicans in the senate, will vote republican in November. I’ll go a step further – Horatio Alger is the reason why the republican party still exists today.

Horatio Alger was a late 19th century author who wrote happy, clappy rags to riches stories aimed at young working class men. He wrote his inspiring tales during a time when the American dream was actually somewhat viable. Sure the legacy rich have always had a significant advantage in the American “capitalist” system but in Alger’s time, hard working nobodies had some measure of a shot at moving into a higher economic class than the one they were born into.

But his happy claptrap has been coming back to bite us in the ass for decades now. The American dream has been dying a slow and painful death for at least the past 40 years. Income inequality in America is reaching Gilded Age (1880) levels.

Here are some interesting facts about where we’re headed;

-Between 1979 and 2000, the real income in the bottom 20% of earners in the US grew by 6.4%. During that same period, real income for the top 20% of earners grew by 70%.

-The family income of the top 1% grew by 184%.

-In 1979 the average income of the top 1% was 133 times that of the bottom 20%. In 2000 the income of the top 1% had risen to 189 times that of the bottom fifth.

-Thirty years ago, the average CEO made thirty-nine times the pay of the average worker. Today, it’s over one thousand times the pay of the average worker.

According to an OECD (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development) study released earlier this year, 47 percent of the economic advantage that high-earning fathers in the United States have over low-earning fathers is transmitted to their sons, compared to 17 percent in Australia and 19 percent in Canada.What does this mean? It means that if you’re born rich in America, you’re more likely to stay rich regardless of ability or intelligence (think George W Bush or the Koch brothers). And when people that are born rich have an advantage by virtue of being born rich, that means they’re taking opportunities away from everyone else (Google: nepotism).

Here’s a little spreadsheet that paints a VERY clear picture of what’s happening to America:

Are you seeing a pattern here between wealth distribution and which party has the white house? 99% of Americans got fucked by Reagan, Bush 1.0 and Bush 2.0.

The wealth inequity in this country is growing, and it’s happening fast. This brings me back to the Horatio Alger problem and republicans.

See, republicans have completely stopped pretending to be a populist party. Between their “slush fund” mantra, when referring to the funds that President Obama secured from BP, to their choking off unemployment benefits to people that desperately need them, their message is clear; we don’t give a shit about average Americans. If you don’t have a butt load of cash to donate to our reelection fund, you can go fuck yourself.

That’s not hyperbole; that’s a very clear message from republicans. Just yesterday, Jon Kyl (the other douchebag senator from Arizona) said that the Bush tax cuts should remain in place regardless of their impact on the deficit. And yet, he will only agree to sanction unemployment benefits for struggling Americans if they’re paid for. His deficit hawkiness evaporates when it comes to paying for tax cuts for his really fucking rich donor buddies. But if you’re one of the 1.7 million Americans fighting to secure one of the 370,000 jobs that are available, then you’re clearly a lazy slacker who deserves to starve. Republicans aren’t hinting at the fact that they think you’re a loser that should just go away already, they’re saying it outright. Sharon Angle has said it, Rand Paul has said it, Jon Kyle has said it, and Tom Delay has said it. That’s just naming a few among a vast sea of republicans that have contempt for struggling workers (see an older post of mine here).

But when it comes to alleviating the suffering of the rich, there’s nothing that republicans won’t do or say. You know how they always champion the elimination of capital gains tax? Let’s take a look at who has capital gains in America, shall we:

Let me explain what “capital gains” are. Capital gains is essentially the money that your money earns for you. It’s the appreciation in value of your investments. This includes property, stocks, and the value of your business. It’s the money that you make from the extra money that you had lying around to invest. Well not you (as we can see from all the data), you’re broke. We’re talking about Paris Hilton. She’s making a shitload of money off the money that her grandfather made. She didn’t even need to be born to smart parents. Her parents aren’t that bright. No, all she needed to do was to be born to the children of a smart guy. Everybody knows Conrad Hilton. Does anyone know the name of Paris’ father? No, me neither. And the best part is that Paris doesn’t have to do anything to make money. That whole celebrity whore thing she does is purely for her own enjoyment.

The fact that Paris and her parents can stay rich, despite having no discernible intelligence or talent, makes them the beneficiaries of another favorite republican cause; eliminating estate taxes. Republicans believe that while you’re working your whole life, amassing no capital with which to create gains, Paris and her family should be able to inherit a crapload of money that they shouldn’t pay one thin dime in taxes on. And Jon Kyl doesn’t care how big of a deficit we have create in order to preserve this “right” for Paris. She was born lucky and dammit, Jon Kyl is going to do everything he can to extend her luck because she’s obviously going to create millions of jobs with her ill gotten gains.

So why would anybody that isn’t among the richest 1% ever vote republican? Because of Horatio  Alger and the myth of the American dream. Never mind the fact that you’re on unemployment right now, you’re definitely going to be filthy rich someday, and therefore need to make sure that your kids don’t get hosed by having to pay taxes on the billions that you’re going to leave them in your will. Some people (roughly half of us) have to buy into the thinly veiled republican bullshit in order to keep the illusion of the American dream alive.

The sad irony is that those people are the ones that are killing the American dream. Supporting the republican effort to let rich people keep all of their money (whether they earned it or not), ensures that Americans will get poorer and poorer.

They need to get over it.

Horatio Alger is a fucking fantasy and Paris Hilton will not create a job for you, no matter how charitable you are towards her.

You need to start voting in your own best interest because the illusion you’re under isn’t going to feed you.


Republicans Won BIG, Didn’t They?

The Massachusetts decision that a federal gay marriage ban is unconstitutional yesterday is a HUGE victory for republicans, right?

I’m positive that what we’ll be hearing from the right wing will be, “YAY! A victory for state’s rights!” Won’t we?

This wasn’t a gay rights decision. It’s was state’s rights decision that happens to benefits gays that want rights (the NERVE!). Sorry gays, but this isn’t as much about you as you might think.

The suit, filed by MA Attorney General Martha Coakley (no, I’m still not done being pissed at her for losing an unlose-able election to a freakin nude model), asserts that DOMA (defense of marriage act) is unconstitutional because it infringes on the right of states to define marriage the way they choose to define it. The state argued that DOMA denied benefits like Medicaid or spousal social security benefits and therefore, forces the state to discriminate against its citizens. The judge agreed, thereby giving reinforcing gay rights states rights.

I have to give Martha Coakley credit (but not forgiveness for past sins) for filing a brilliantly crafted, bulletproof law suit. The judge was absolutely correct in it’s ruling; the federal government doesn’t have the power to subvert civil rights. That falls under the states’ purview (but not for long)!

There will most definitely be an appeal, which should be nothing but fun to watch. Opponents of this decision must take either an anti-state’s rights stance, or an anti-civil liberties stance.

Let’s be honest here, opposition to this ruling can only come from the right. So they’re going to have to decide between being intellectually dishonest, and repudiating the states rights mantra that they’ve been preaching since the beginning of time, or finally lifting the veil on their anti-gay beliefs.

The right wing argument against a the federal government granting same sex marriage has been that it would infringe on states rights. That argument won’t work here since the state has decided. They can’t hide behind the religious argument because they would be advocating for church to have power over the almighty state. Advocating for (essentially) a theology will forever cement republicans as a party that’s simply too batshit crazy for the majority of Americans to actually vote for.

To summarize; republicans are fucked.

Without the state’s rights facade to hide behind, republicans will be forced to advocate for suppressing civil rights for some Americans that they just don’t like. They’re finally going to be forced to be honest about where they’re coming from.

You see, when you’re intellectually dishonest, your wrongness eventually boxes you into revealing who you truly are. Republicans are going to have to (at last) reveal themselves thanks to this decision.

I’m looking forward to finally having an honest national debate about civil rights. I’m looking forward to it because America is so far, batting a thousand in terms of granting civil rights to suppressed minorities. It may take longer than some of us would like, but we eventually get there.

But the first step is to have an honest debate. Thanks to Judge Joseph Tauro, we’re finally going to have it.

Or, republicans are going to support this decision and rejoice in the triumph of states rights over the evil federal government. (sorry, I can’t help but get smarmy, sarcastic sometimes.