Saturday, April 08, 2006

Gay Marriage & Elections

Okay for before anyone jumps on me for not supporting gay marriage, I am totally in favor of gay marriage, civil unions and any way we can allow people who have a particular sexual preference the rights people with different genital types have.

Having written this disclaimer, I do have a problem with inserting the gay marriage as an election issue, particularly where one of the possible winners has the potential to turn our nation into a fascist state. Unfortunately, the trend looks like it is veering in the same direction. Gay marriage propenents want to make their statement and burden the candidates with needing to answer to this constituency. The problem with this tendency is that many in this country are dead set against a lifestyle that many except with no problem; by insisting that gay marriage is on the platform, we risk losing another election and hoping and praying for another four years that concentration camps do not become a housing mandate.

To be sure this is not just a gay issue. The left tends to eat their young, while the right unites at church sponsored bake sales and has no problem winning election after election. As much as you and I want people of any sexual orientation to have rights equal to everyone else's, does anyone think that gay marriage stands a chance under a church driven, (not gay) cowboy worshipping, gun-loving regime?

This is not an attack on gays; all of us on the left need to realize that our little pet projects will have a much better chance under a more sympathetic pairing of the legislature and the executive branch. Once we elect the people who will give our causes an opportunity, then we can make our demands heard. Even with the right in disarray, they still have one or two issues that unites them at the polls.

Let's make the next two national elections about putting more reasonable officials in power, rather than another six year bitch fest about how bad our situation has become.

More on the template
This is the original paper pic- I changed it to black and white to make it sexier
Also, I like having pics for profiles, but if you don't wanna show your mug you can do as Mr. Mephistopheles and use an avatar. If you don't have photohosting somewhere then upload a pic next time you post and you can use that to post your pic to your profile (blogger's instructions are really easy)
So far- the template looks awesome. Big love to DeeK for all his hard work.

Friday, April 07, 2006

White Paper Template

I'm getting there. Not completly familiar with what goes where, but I should be able to figure out the rest by Monday. I am going to fix the red text links next. Do come up with ideas of what you people think looks good, what should go where, etc.

Template opinions

So this is my idea for what the template should be. The fabu Deek is working on turning it into something useful- but I thought I'd get y'alls opinion.

Watcha think?

"There's a distinction..."

QUESTION: The President has been very critical of leakers on a number of subjects throughout his time. And if this information is true, that the President authorized the dissemination of this information, does he feel that it's appropriate for him to unilaterally -- and I know he has the legal authority to declassify information -- but it, to some people, gives an appearance that he may not have followed all of the procedures -- by letting other Cabinet members know, by letting the CIA Director know, things like that.

Scott McClellan: -- The President has been critical about the leaking of classified information. And that view has not changed. Leaking classified information that could compromise our nation's security is a very serious matter. The President would never authorize disclosure of information that could compromise our nation's security.

…Now the disclosing, the unauthorized disclosure of classified information relating to a program like the terrorist surveillance program is harmful to our nation's security. It provides the enemy our play book, and the enemy can adapt and adjust when they learn about our tactics. And General Hayden has talked about how that is harmful to our nation's security. Others in the administration have talked about how that has been harmful to our nation's security. So there's a distinction --QUESTION: So you're specifically saying no harm done --Scott McClellan: -- there's a distinction between declassifying information that is in the public interest and the unauthorized disclosure of classified information that could compromise our nation's security.”

These are really questions & answers. Here’s what happens when we shoot everyone up with sodium pentothal.

QUESTION: The President has speechified several times about how evil leaking is, calling it things like “despicable”. Doesn’t this latest revelation suggest that the President is a cynical manipulator who is willing to lie and leak information secretly in order to discredit his opposition without having to be accountable to the American people while holding as classified anything that might make the administration look bad?

Scott McClellan: -- you seem to be a little mixed up on your definitions. You have to remember…you’re either with us, or you’re against us. If the information is something we don’t want people to know, like the fact that we’re torturing people, or that the NSA is spying on you, or that Karl Rove is having people assassinated…then that that’s a leak. It’s a shameful thing that gives comfort to our enemies at home & abroad. Enemies like the Democrats & the New York Times. When it’s something that we can use to make people look bad, or bolster our case without having to reveal the parts of the intelligence that suggest we’re full of shit, or maybe get a nice spike in the polls, when it’s something we want to be able to cherry pick the presentation of, we release it privately to a journalist so that no one will know it came from us…that’s a declassification in the interests of national security. The President is against leaks, he opposes unauthorized leaks in the strongest possible terms. He’s for declassification when it serves the public interest (like making the administration look good). See?

Judas is just misunderstood

Christianity seems to be having a tough week. First this whole “fishapod,” missing link, sort of silver bullet for Darwin naysayers (not that they’ve ever let facts get in the way of a good religious delusion) but now we discover that Judas wasn’t quite the bad guy we might have expected. Seems that Judas betrayed Christ to the Roman authorities at Jesus’ request. A sort of conspiracy for crucifixion.

Kindergarten Hugging Scandal

“At issue is a hug Savannah said she got on the playground from a friend named Sophie. Savannah hugged Sophie back. The hugs resulted in Savannah having to write a letter, complete with teacher corrections, that read, "I touch Sophie because she touch me and I didn't like it because she was hugging me. I didn't like when she hugged me."

They’re trying to spin it with discussions of “bear hugs” & complaints that the hug “lifted” one girl off the floor. But after reading the article closely I’m pretty sure the whole thing is about nipping that queer shit in the bud. We can have little lesbians in training doing the PDA story on a playground. Amazing really.

Pause for amusement

I swear…I’m not making this shit up. If you’re ready to begin your child’s conditioning on the implications of a wrathful God…look no further than

Plush Plagues Bag
Includes all 10 plagues!

Ages 3 & up Keeps the kids entertained during Passover. This plush yellow plagues bag contains representations for all of the plagues (not necessarily in the correct order):

A spooky eyed drop of blood
A Frog for frogs—of course
A Giant Lice for lice.
Cow for cattle disease
Black Locust for locusts
A white satin lump of hail
A black cube of darkness
An icky boil on a piece of flesh!
A snarling lion's head for wild beasts
and last of all a very sad head - for death of the first born.

The frog, lice, cow and locust wriggle and roll their eyes, quiver, buzz and move when you pull their string and are apx 4.5" long.

No sissy red algae in the Nile science explanations here.

For Salty- Duke Links

From's Broadsheet (where I first read about it)

Another From

From Feministe

And just to gross you out some more- actual text of an email sent by one of the lacrosse team members only a few hours after the rape took place

"To whom it may concern:
tomorrow night, after tonights show, ive decided to have some strippers over to edens 2c. all are welcome.. however there will be no nudity. i plan on killing the bitches as soon as the walk in and proceeding to cut their skin off while cumming in my duke issue spandex.. all in besides arch and tack please respond

Lovely. Just fucking lovely.

How bout another war?

This is a rather fantastic blog post about the likelyhood of going to war with Iran. Part of the premise is that when new weapons are available they are described publicly in order to instill fear in the enemy, then those weapons have to be used (can't just play a game of international chicken now, can we?)

Then, in yet another installment of Do you trust your government, go read this piece in LeMonde Diplomatique right now. Remember Iraq and WMDs? Remember the Al Quaida links? It might be in our best interest to REALLY question the motives of our government for starting yet another war, even if it means letting a totalitarian Islamic government (that is not friendly to us) stay in power. You know, democracy by force is still tyranny.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


People all over the country are expressing their shock & outrage over the rape of an exotic dancer by the Duke Lacrosse team (yes…I left the alleged out of there on purpose). I’ll meet them halfway. I’m outraged, but not even a little shocked. Anyone who hasn’t had their head in the ground knows that college parties are extraordinarily dangerous places for women. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has linked heavy drinking to 70,000 cases of sexual assault and acquaintance rape yearly. 55% of gang rapes on college campuses are committed by fraternities, 40% by sports teams, and 5% by others. About 25% of sorority women report having been raped, which is even higher than the general number for women on campus. Could it be that they spend so much time at frats & their parties? There’s also very good reason to believe that these statistics are a dramatic under reporting of the actual number of assaults. Both because victims are often embarrassed, and because colleges proactively attempt to suppress and avoid reporting of rapes on their campuses (can’t be good publicity). So while I’m pissed, I’m really tired of people pretending like this a big shock. Like it’s something rare. Because it’s happening all the time, across the country, people just don’t like to talk about it.

Bush Lie?

I’m sure everyone will be absolutely astonished to discover that when Libby leaked classified information on a CIA agent, he wasn’t doing as some rouge cowboy. Libby has testified that the leak was “specifically authorized” by George. Can you remember the President’s (fake) outrage over the leak & his (untruthful) promise that the person responsible for the leak would be dealt with?

I think the saddest thing is how anti-climactic this is going to be. The whole country knows that the President is a repeated, persistent, & tactical liar. The right has decided that it’s OK to be dishonest as long as it serves their agenda, & left is so weary of shouting & jumping up & down about all the examples of corruption & dishonesty (there are so fucking many) that it’s hard to get excited about yet another example. It's just so predictable.

Crush of the day

Quotes from a question and answer session with the President at Central Piedmont Community College today

Q You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. If I were a woman, you'd like to restrict my opportunity to make a choice and decision about whether I can abort a pregnancy on my own behalf. You are --

THE PRESIDENT: I'm not your favorite guy. Go ahead. (Laughter and applause.) Go on, what's your question?

Q Okay, I don't have a question. What I wanted to say to you is that I -- in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate, and --


THE PRESIDENT: No, wait a sec -- let him speak.

Q And I would hope -- I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration, and I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself inside yourself. And I also want to say I really appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to speak what I'm saying to you right now. That is part of what this country is about.

THE PRESIDENT: It is, yes. (Applause.)

Q And I know that this doesn't come welcome to most of the people in this room, but I do appreciate that.

THE PRESIDENT: Appreciate --

Q I don't have a question, but I just wanted to make that comment to you.

Why We’ve Lost the War on Terror (part II)

Today I want to expand on the discussion I began about America’s counter terrorism approach. I want to spend some time thinking about the effectiveness of our policies, & land on what I consider (despite the billions of dollars we’re hemorrhaging monthly) to be the true cost of our approach.

We are currently engaged in a strategy that is most strongly underpinned by something we might call a “security theater” story. Measures are taken to make people FEEL safer, regardless of the real effectiveness of the approach. Here’s a question. A though experiment if you will. Pretend you have $10,000. Pretend you’re cracked in some fundamental way. Do you honestly believe that the Department of Homeland Security, or the FBI, or the NSA, or who-fucking-ever could actually prevent you from killing twenty or a hundred people if you’re willing to sacrifice your own life?

Here in Seattle we’ve just had a vivid reminder of how stone cold simple it is to assemble assault rifles, semi-automatic pistols, shotguns, & other tools of terrorist mayhem. Play the game in your head for a few minutes. My personal favorite involves the I90 floating bridge.

Shopping List
Semi-automatic rifle - $800 - $2,000
(I’d likely spring for one of the AK-47 knock offs. They’re not as accurate as some rifles, but they’re legendary for reliability. Plus the large capacity banana clips are easy to find).
Assault pistol - $800 - $1,500
(I’d go with a semi-automatic version of the classic 9mm Uzi & then buy all the 32 round magazines I could lay hands on. I’m thinking I could carry at least ten.)
Personal body armor - $500 - $1,000
(There are some excellent performance reviews as a result of troop fatalities in Iraq. The point isn’t to survive…just make it harder, hence longer, before they can take me out.)
Caltrops - $0 - $250
(You can buy car caltrops on ebay, or make them yourself. They’ve been in use for a very long time.)
Binoculars - $50 - $500
(I’d spend extra on flare resistant coated optics.)
Optional DIY napalm

If you’re wondering how easy it would be to dig up the goodies on my list, take a look at (I’m thinking mail order is the way to go if you’re brown & ESL).

Now that we have all the tools needed, you’ll need to cauterize your sense of right & wrong (or amp yourself up on a religious zealot trip). Pick an end of the bridge during rush hour (I’d go with the one closer to the city). If you check out the satellite pictures on Google you can see that there are some nice shrubs etc. for you to nestle into. Watch with the binocs until you see two relatively full buses are on the bridge at one time. Throw handfuls of caltrops onto the lanes entering the tunnel. Go to work with the AK-47. Given that the cars are only likely to be doing about 3 miles per hour it’ll be like shooting fish in a barrel. Once the tunnel has been fully blocked by immobilized vehicles throw as many one-gallon glass bottles of homemade napalm as you can onto the cars below (this doesn’t really serve a significant function other than to make it more dramatic for the news. Which is really what terror is all about). You could do something flashy like rappelling down (or you could do something simple like following the little ramp down to the side walk that runs along the side of the bridge). Unlimber the Uzi & start firing into the vehicles that are trapped in the traffic jam you’ve created on the bridge (well, I guess you didn’t create it. You just made it really, really bad). The individual cars aren’t really your targets. You just want to create chaos & make sure everyone keeps their head down. The buses are where you’re going to get the numbers you need to make it a significant attack. Keep trying to kill people until they kill you.

What’s the point of this exercise, other than demonstrating the fact I’ve spend too much time stuck in traffic, on buses, on I90 & I’m more than a little twisted? My point is that America is filled to the brim with soft targets. There isn’t a damn thing we can do about it if we intend to maintain our character as a nation. “Security Theater.” We’re spending great heaping buckets of money on things that make people FEEL more secure when they’re just as (marginally) exposed as they were before. The implications of this approach spin out in a couple of ways. First, it’s a really dumb way to spend limited funds (it’s not like we’re so flush with cash that we couldn’t come up with something constructive to do with a hundred billion dollars). Second, it props up the illusion that we can be secure. Which means that when the (inevitable) attack comes, it has the same risk of mass-stupidity-perhaps-we-should-go-to-war-&-can-I-vote-for-a-right-wing-freak-show response that we witnessed after 9/11.

The real threat to our security is bound up with something I call creeping totalitarianism. Or maybe the insidious sneaky expansion of the security state. We’ve all heard the stories. Homeland security officers trying to monitor internet use at a public library, investigating a Texas man because he paid off his credit card bill, locking down the funds for the San Francisco Bay Area Puppeteers Guild for months, arresting a vegan protester at a HoneyBaked Ham store who had the audacity to write down his license plant number after the officer had been taking video surveillance of the protest (you gotta be careful with those terrorist vegans), photographers all over the country (myself included) are harassed persistently by security personnel (some of them are even arrested) for taking pictures of public buildings, department stores, etc….

If you’re feeling even a little bit conspiracy minded…you should remember that Halliburton just received a very large contract to build “temporary detention centers” inside the US, they’re running “war games” with names like “Cyber Storm” to “test how it would respond” to devastating attacks over the Internet from “anti-globalization activists, underground hackers and bloggers.” How does it feel to be an enemy of the state?

My biggest concern is a mental process that was well documented by Phil Zimbardo in 1971. The Stanford Prison Experiment ( was a classic demonstration of the power of social situations to distort personal identities and long cherished values and morality as the student volunteers internalized situated identities in their roles as prisoners and guards. The planned two-week investigation into the psychology of prison life had to be ended prematurely after only six days because of the results were so nasty. In only a few days, the “guards” became sadistic and the “prisoners” became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress. These are the results when you’re talking about a bunch of Stanford college students. Tell someone they have the authority to do whatever they want to protect national security, & they’ll do whatever they want. Tell a citizen they have to give up their rights to be safe from terrorists, & they give up their rights. Spend too much time in those roles & you become inured to the loss of your liberty.

Take all of this in the context of the fact that the government is already making plans & running simulations for how they can shut down the people who’re independent minded enough to disagree with them & I don’t think you have to be a “black helicopter nut” to be very afraid.

Kansas II

We all know that the educational fuckwits in Kansas want to teach intelligent design in class, but in the interest of fairness I think we should ask them to teach the flying spaghetti monster doctrine as well. I may even convert.

But more on the "what the fuck are they teaching those Kansas kids?" topic. How bout forced pregnancy propaganda!

When the bill was debated Thursday, Rep. Jan Pauls amended it to say any discussion about abortion must include a description of all methods of abortion, including what state law calls partial birth abortion. The information must include "the probable physical sensations of pain a fetus feels or detects" during the various procedures.

I'm all for giving out health information, but when was the last time they gave graphic descriptions of the reality of what pregnancy and childbirth do to the body (hemorrhoids, tearing, incontinence). Heck, I'd be happy if they just gave accurate scientific information on birth-control and std prevention.

somewhere in kansas

a creationist's head just exploded. think it might be time to beat up another professor.

then again, as people have pointed out it doesn't really matter to the ID crowd. you keep finding these transitional species and then they'll surely point out that you didn't find it's immediate predessor or successor so now you have 2 missing links instead of just the one.

First look, gets a thumbs up.

Oh, I'm posting a direct link to this because I read it earlier and thought that it was pretty damn funny.

Red Queen Says: video dog has the actual Sopranos clip that the article talks about.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I will give my left kidney

To the first person who makes me a better blog template.
This one is ugly. I know what it should look like. I have the bits (background, jpeg for the top, etc, but not enough techy know-how to post it as anything that doesn't look like hieroglyphics.

Pretty please with sugar on top and a kidney?

Other songs to get arrested by

1. I fought the law (and the law won)
2. I shot the sheriff- Bob Marley
3. I predict a Riot- Kaiser Chiefs
4. Pledge of resistance-Saul Williams
5. Combat Rock- Sleater Kinney
6. Mediocrity Rules- LeTigre
7. 16 Military Wives- The Decemberists
8. Fight the Power- Public Enemy
9. War on War- Wilco
10. Kick in the ass or Big Fish - Moxy Fruvos

What's on your gitmo playlist?


And I can't forget New Kicks by LeTigre. It's got Amy Goodman, Susan Sarandon and Saul Williams speaking it. I get chills everytime I hear it.

good thing DHS doesn't know the songs I sing

then again, this little bit of insanity comes from the other side of the pond.

LONDON (Reuters) - British anti-terrorism detectives escorted a man from a plane after a taxi driver had earlier become suspicious when he started singing along to a track by punk band The Clash, police said Wednesday.


I don't know what is more stupid, the cab driver for dialing this one up or the anti-terrorism detectives for actually taking this seriously. Although it does make me wonder how many cells in Gitmo are occupied by people who happen to like political punk music (as opposed to say one of the most successful duo acts since the dawn of time).

And yes, I still like this song . I dare you not to be earwormed.

Hmm.. I hear cuba is nice this time of year.


Thinking about this some more, I wonder what it would be like to be sent to Gitmo for listening to the clash...

[prisoner 1]: hey everyone, what are you in here for?
[prisoner 2]: me? my brother thought it'd be a fun prank to call Sistani an asshole. what bout you #2?
[prisoner 3]: oh me? a rival clan sold me to the americans because they had to make it look like they were actually doing something about the security situation in iraq and elsewhere. how about you #4?
[prisoner 4]: i had the audacity to sing rock the casbah and actually know most of the lyrics.
[prisoner 3]: by allah's beard! may they torture you twice as much next time.


I think I may have my first assignment overseas. When I get into london perhaps I will do a little rendition of "know your rights".

o/~ you have the right to free speech as long as you're not dumb enough to try it o/~

Do you trust your government?

Borderline conspiracy theorist that I am- I don't trust anything out of the mouths of politicians. But it used to be that the everyday civil servants doing the job of running federal agencies like the FDA used science instead of religion as the basis for rule-making.
Not so anymore. You think all the stuff about the FDA approving Viox despite the possibility of death was bad, then the (dis)information they are putting out about birth-control and condoms should really freak you out.
This is one of the best, most comprehensive articles on the topic I've read in a while. None of it's new to me, but it is very well put together. I may have to start reading girly mags again if this is the kind of articles I've been missing.

Wait, what's that you're saying? Oh you have a penis, this doesn't apply to you. Bullshit. You need to know what kind of crap your girlfriend or wife is being fed because it directly impacts your sex life. Oh, I'm sorry, you're a boy who sleeps with other boys- yeah check out what they say about condom use. You wonder why condom use is declining among young gay men- maybe because they are being told that condoms don't work to prevent the spread of disease. If condoms don't work against disease, and gay boys can't knock up other boys then why would they need to use condoms at all?

I'm starting to think we live in some freakish hybrid of Orwell's 1984 and Atwood's Handmaid's Tale.

I found this interesting

Columbia Journalism Review - Who Owns What

Red Queen Says (damn I love the power to edit- I rule)
This is a very nice chart that shows the concentration of media. It's a few years old but gives you an idea of how few actual sources of information are.

I feel so secure-complete WA Post article-so funny, it is not humorous

The deputy press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security was arrested last night on charges that he used the Internet to seduce an undercover Florida sheriff's detective who he thought was a 14-year-old girl, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said.

Brian J. Doyle, 55, was arrested at his Silver Spring home at 7:45 p.m. and charged with seven counts of using a computer to seduce a child and 16 counts of transmitting harmful materials to a minor, according to a sheriff's office statement.

Agents with the department's Inspector General's Office, the U.S. Secret Service, the Montgomery County police and the Polk County Sheriff's Office served a search warrant and seized his home computer and other materials, the statement said.

Doyle was online at the time awaiting what he thought was a nude image of a girl who had lymphoma, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in an interview with Fox News' "On the Record With Greta Van Susteren." "We wanted to make sure he was using that computer and talking to detectives at the time of the arrest," Judd said.

In his initial communication last month, Doyle told an undercover computer-crimes detective who he was and that he worked for the Department of Homeland Security, later disclosing numbers for his office phone and government-issued cellphone and using those lines, the sheriff's office said.

"If he would provide that kind of information to include a photograph of himself with his identification tags, who else may he be talking to around the world who he thinks to be a 14-year-old girl?" Judd said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."

Attempts to reach Doyle, who was booked into the Montgomery County jail on the Polk County charges, on his office and cellphone numbers and by his official e-mail were unsuccessful.

He was a TSA spokesman before becoming deputy press secretary last year to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Chertoff press secretary Russ Knocke declined to comment on the case beyond releasing a written statement, saying, "We take these allegations very seriously and we will cooperate fully with this ongoing investigation."

Judd said Doyle confessed and waived extradition to Polk County.

According to the sheriff's office, Doyle initiated a sexually explicit conversation with the detective on March 12 in response to an Internet profile of a 14-year-old girl.

Doyle allegedly sent pornographic movie clips, non-pornographic photos of himself and instant messages from his AOL account, the police statement said. The sheriff's office alleged that Doyle "on many occasions" instructed the undercover detective to perform a sexual act while thinking of him and described explicit acts he wished to perform.

Another Homeland Security official -- Frank Figueroa, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Tampa -- faces trial this week on charges of exposing himself to a teenage girl last year at a mall. Figueroa, who has been suspended, pleaded not guilty.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Race or class?

I heard once that the real difference between the French and the Americans is that the French refuse to acknowledge race as an issue, while Americans refuse to acknowledge class as an issue.

Think about it. When was the last time someone you know admitted to being anything other than middle class? Even if you knew they were either poor or wealthy, most people would say they were middle class. A few might say they were financially "comfortable" or they were "in between jobs" but very few will admit to being rich or below the poverty line. Yet the number of people living under poverty level is increasing (35 million plus and counting).

From the little debate DeeK and I are having over immigration I am reminded that we have groups of poor people, separated only by race, that are kept fighting amongst each other for small change while the fat cats run off with the bags of cash. Poor whites are afraid of poor blacks getting an equal shot at jobs and education through affirmative action, poor blacks and whites are afraid of immigrants taking their jobs and using up precious resources for their children, and looming large over all of it is the threat of TERRORISTS coming across the border to blow us all up with dirty bombs. But in the end we all want the same thing, to be able to provide for our families and what is keeping us from doing that is not each other.

We can try to force businesses to provide a living wage for everyone, immigrant or citizen, though that has had no success so far. Or, we could go with an idea I first heard attributed to Nixon(I know - what the fuck?) called the mandatory minimum income. The idea is that you make bushiness as competitive as possible by eliminating the minimum wage and you offer everyone a monthly subsidy until their income reaches a certain point. After that point you progressively tax income received form employment or investments. Through this you eliminate social security, welfare, and unemployment (they would get the subsidy instead). Taxes would be substantially higher, but costs of goods and services would go down. And while wages would go extremely low at first, employers would have to increase them enough to entice employees out of the safety net.

It's an idea that needs a lot of work, but it gives business what it wants (competition without minimum wages) and employees get a stable ground to negotiate from.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Topic of Discussion (TOD) Should We Rebuild New Orleans?

This may seem like an unwarranted question, Should We Rebuild New Orleans?--the sentimental response would be, "Yes, of course". And other objections about people losing their homes and, more importantly, their neighborhood heritage seem obvious, but being the down-to-earth Taurus that I am, prgamatic questions arise.

The cost for rebuilding the levees has already reached $10B. Much of the city needs to be rebuilt from scratch. Who knows the level of toxicity that presently exists? (the government won't tell us). The wetlands that protected the city from flood were fairly devastasted before Katrina. I doubt they are useful at all now. Much of the city, as we know, was at poverty level before the disaster, and basically served as a low-wage labor source for the tourist industry. Of course, the port served as a critical hub for shipments up the Mississippi, but how many times will companies rebuild their facilities after hurricanes? Add the fact that the city stands about 50 feet below sea level (I am not sure about the exact figure, but I know it is enough to be a major stumbling block). With all of the above, add that climatologists expect Category 4 and 5 hurricanes to be the norm, there are many arguements AGAINST building anew.

So, my dear companions, what are your thoughts? Is New Orleans worth rebuilding? Why or why not?

Just a quick shout-out to the devil

Dear Mr. Mephistopheles:

Thank you for chicken soup and The Aristocrats and for taking very good care of me while I was sick. I thought I would publicly proclaim your goodness (since devils have such a bad name these days).

Oh yeah - and for admitting that you might be acting under the influence of the patriarchy just a little on your abortion views- you rock. We might want to have that little discussion here next time so everyone can join in.

All my Love and Adoration,
HRH The Red Queen

Sunday, April 02, 2006

NY Times Quote on Immigration

Last weekend, some 500,000 people took to the streets of Los Angeles to protest a tough immigration bill passed by the House in December and to put pressure on the Senate, which is debating the issue now. In the crowd were very few African-American faces, noted Ronald W. Walters, a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland. Their economic prospects are directly threatened by the huge influx of illegal immigrants, he said. African-Americans are competing for jobs in construction, hotels and restaurants, meat packing and textiles, he said, and they lose out to immigrants willing to accept lower pay and fewer benefits.

"The African-American leadership has a lot of angst about this," he said, adding: "It's not just a black problem, but we are the most acutely affected. The fact is, it's hurting us."