Unexpected Thing I Read Today about post-war Iraq versus post-WWII Germany and Japan

     The gist was that the Allies were planning for the worst, and their original occupation orders and rules of engagement included some pretty harsh counter-measures.  Public execuations, for example, not only were in the playbook, but actually happened, including of a 16 and 17 year old pair accused of recording and transmitting U.S. troop movements (to whom?!). 

     Very quickly, within months, in both Germany and Japan, it turned out that such orders were not required to keep the peace, and a process of scaling back the authority of individual unit commanders to dispense justice was curtailed.

     In passing, the author contrasts this with what happened in Iraq, where our side was convinced we'd be treated as liberators, and, just perhaps, [ed: I'm mentioning this crime, not mention in the article] crimes like looting were virtually ignored, rather than some sort of deadly penalty enforced.

     The article doesn't mention that the Bush administration put incompetent lackeys in charge of Iraq, while the same can't be said for Truman, Eisenhower and MacArthur's actions in WWII.  That never helped, and it would be nice to see Bush spend some years in jail just for that.

     Still, it seems like a good basis for arguing the Bush administration was too nice after the invasion, principally, of course, because they thought they were the best things ever, and figured everyone else shared the same view.

     Melissa Willard-Foster, "Planning the Peace and Ending the Surrender: Deterrence in the Allied Occuptions of Germany and Japan" Journal of Interdisciplinary History XI.1 (2009) 33-56


A more plausible, I think, version of the story of Jesus

     Well, I wrote it, so of course I think it is more plausible. Jesus the Galilean.


Josh Reads the NYT, Saturday, December 19th, 2009

     China, India, Brazil and South Africa strike climate legislation deal.  I'd swear that the NY Times was never as critical of George Walker Bush for his zero international climate treaties as they were of Barack Hussein Obama for his one, non-binding agreement.  If Russia Today's newscasts are any indication, Russia denies the existence of global warming as much as Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma. "Can we send him to Russia, please, Ma, can we, can we?" The NY Times fails to mention it.

     More stories of desecration in Iraq, this time of a Chaldean (Nestorian?) Church near Mosul and the Biblical city of Nineveh.  The 101st Airborne decided, out of profound humility, to paint their "Screaming Eagles" logo on the wall.  Way To Go, Cultural Sensitivity Training!

     The Times reports that non-profit medical center advertising claims are not reviewed for accuracy.  Hey, sorta like the NY Times itself. I mean, it would be nice if their own editors did that sort of thing.

     Per their long history, including places like Florida and Buffalo, the U.S. has entrapped more psychotic folk willing to earn lots of money, even if it happens to be for al-Qaeda.  These three Malians are obviously crackpots, saying al-Qaeda would "starve" without them.  Worse yet, they may have actually been involved in smuggling people into Europe.  Now that would have been something to keep tabs on!  Entrapment, illegal to do against us, them, not so much.

     Actual news: Pakistani Supreme Court trying to overthrow results of election by opening cases against "thousands" of politicians in the current Pakistani People's Party government.  Advanced Pakistani subject matter readers can get up to speed here. Intermediate readers are recommended to read this. These two are short and cover the basics

     Obama not an idiot! Unlike some Presidents of the last 5 years I could name.  Preventing nuclear terrorism, not new, mini-nuke bunker busters, is moving to the fore of our nuclear policy.  In related news, the U.S. and Russia are set to make another treaty reducing the world's nuclear arsenal.  The NY Times reports the next step, since stockpiles are getting fairly low, would have to involve the other permanent members of the Security Council.

     There were only a few hundred "hard-corps" members of al-Qaeda back in 2001.  Now, the U.S. insists, there are so many in Yemen we have to fire missiles into the country to deal with the problem.  No chance that could backfire, right?

     Kit Seelye, per usual, embarrasses the NYT.  Is she **cking someone, or lots of someones, to keep her job?  Is it blackmail?


Josh Reads the WaPo, Friday, December 18th, 2009

     Senator McCaskill wants more gov't oversight of contractors, 1/6th of the contracts audited, a small fraction of the total, is unaccounted for.  She questions what "additional controls are needed?"  How about not contracting at all and giving the job to the DoD?  In previous wars we've done that, but there aren't enough volunteers to fight these crappy wars, so we have to hire Hessians.

     Rep. Issa (R-CA-Extremist) wants the GAO to get law enforcement powers for the purposes of going after ACORN and the 0.0002% (rounded up) of the Federal Budget they get each year.  Way to prioritize Mr. Issa!  Can we send this guy back to the minors?

     I'm a born-anew Pashtun Nationalist.  While America continues to kill and murder with drone rockets in FATA, Pakistan, I support an indpendent Pashtuninstan for long-term stability in the region.  Has anyone polled the Pashtun about it?  I bet support would be over 80% except in the one or two regions which somehow benefit the most from the current chaos.

     Mexico has killed the #1 smuggler of cocaine into the United States.  That ought to fix it.

     Dana Milbank calls debating health care on Christmas Day "Unchristian!"  Puny human!

     I never thought the tax on expensive, private health insurance was a good idea, but someone points out today that the old and the sick, and even worse the old and sick, spend more.  Do they need a new tax?  Something tells me people who are old and sick aren't rolling in dough, and if they are, we can tax them some other way.


Climate Email Rebuttal

     For my own records, if I need to refer to what a crock of bull this widely-media-covered instance is: The Economist's Blog: Democracy in America, and in case that URL ever goes dead, it links to two more scienc-ey blogs, Tim Lambert and Things Break.

     I'd also note that the Economist's #1 "most recommended" comment is from a climate change denialist discussing one of the other supposed problems revealed by the e-mails (again, which would not even be important if not widely covered by Fox and other television stations), namely, that one of the e-mails talks about keeping two denialist papers out of the IPCC report, by nearly any means necessary.  The truth is that those two papers _were_ in the IPCC report, so nothing was ever squelched, and the further truth is that, after being published, they were both found to be full of holes... un-publish-worthy in the first place.

     The Democracy in America blog author, undoubtedly not anti-business, fails to see the utility in spreading doubt, not science.  Even if the oil/coal/gas industry can't disprove global warming, there is infinite utility if no one believes it is true.  At least, with rational people, one can argue and point to numbers, he should try debating the falsities of religion sometime!


Francis Parkman's Montcalm & Wolfe

A story of the French and Indian Wars, this part intrigued me:

The great colony of Virginia stood in strong contrast to New England. In both the population was English; but the one was Puritan with Roundhead traditions, and the other, so far as concerned its governing class, Anglican with Cavalier traditions. In the one, every man, woman, and child could read and write; in the other, Sir William Berkeley [ed: long-serving Colonial Governor of Virginia] once thanked God that there were no free schools, and no prospect of any for a century. The hope had found fruition. The lower classes of Virginia were as untaught as the warmest friend of popular ignorance could wish. New England had a native literature more than respectable under the circumstances, while Virginia had none; numerous industries, while Virginia was all agriculture, with but a single crop; a homogeneous society and a democratic spirit, while her rival was an aristocracy. Virginian society was distinctively stratified. On the lowest level were the negro slaves, nearly as numerous as all the rest together; next, the indented servants and the poor whites, of low origin, good-humored, but boisterous, and some times vicious; next, the small and despised class of tradesmen and mechanics; next, the farmers and lesser planters, who were mainly of good English stock, and who merged insensibly into the ruling class of the great landowners. It was these last who represented the colony and made the laws. They may be described as English country squires transplanted to a warm climate and turned slave-masters. They sustained their position by entails, and constantly undermined it by the reckless profusion which ruined them at last. Many of them were well born, with an immense pride of descent, increased by the habit of domination. Indolent and energetic by turns; rich in natural gifts and often poor in book-learning, though some, in the lack of good teaching at home, had been bred in the English universities; high-spirited, generous to a fault; keeping open house in their capacious mansions, among vast tobacco-fields and toiling negroes, and living in a rude pomp where the fashions of St. James were somewhat oddly grafted on the roughness of the plantation,--what they wanted in schooling was supplied by an education which books alone would have been impotent to give, the education which came with the possession and exercise of political power, and the sense of a position to maintain, joined to a bold spirit of independence and a patriotic attachment to the Old Dominion. They were few in number; they raced, gambled, drank, and swore; they did everything that in Puritan eyes was most reprehensible; and in the day of need they gave the United Colonies a body of statesmen and orators which had no equal on the continent. A vigorous aristocracy favors the growth of personal eminence, even in those who are not of it, but only near it.

T. R. Reid was on Washington Journal not so long ago

This Tumblr has it.


Immortality isn't so tough

And it may happen in our lifetimes. We need a gene therapy that adds on more TTAGT (telomere) on both ends of all your DNA. When that's worn off you start dying of "old age."

Next generation, of course, is going to wish for the scientific discovery that keeps people looking young. That's not too terribly tough, either, it just involves collagen. Not injections, I wouldn't think, but a real way to replenish it and prevent it from wearing out.

So, you may live for a real long time, you yourself, but you aren't going to be sexy anymore.

Also, people are going to have to stop being so mean to their livers and lungs if we live a real long time, since the problem solved above was just "old age" and not emphysema or cirrhosis. So, as we live longer, we'll be having less fun per year earlier on.

But the alternative to (eventually) banning alcohol and cigarettes is a lifetime of medical coverage for people who might live forever but who have killed their own body. I think pot will be OK, as long as it is ingested. See: Brave New World.


If I could sum up the Spartans and the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War...

     The Athenians were a commercial empire which demanded men or taxes from its allies, whom it would ruthlessly attack if they tried to secede.  The Spartans led a confederacy and demanded little from it, but instead from their countless slaves.  This reminds me of the U.S. Civil War.

     During this Greek civil war, which lasted decades, the Spartans took a large army and stood outside the walls of a city.  The leader of the Army, Brasidas, probably the General most respected by non-Spartans during the entire war, allegedly spoke these words:

Some of you may hang back because they have private enemies, and fear that I may put the city into the hands of a party: none need be more tranquil than they. I am not come here to help this party or that; and I do not consider that I should be bringing you freedom in any real sense, if I should disregard your constitution, and enslave the many to the few or the few to the many. This would be heavier than a foreign yoke; and we Lacedaemonians, instead of being thanked for our pains, should get neither honour nor glory, but, contrariwise, reproaches.

     This, perhaps, reminds you of Iraq.


Did I Ever Mention I'm A Total Techie?

     I think I did, a couple times, anyway, here's some more.

     I have a new server, hosted at a remote location, a server farm in Brooklyn.  I wanted to reconfigure some stuff with the network connection.  Fine.  How do you disconnect and reconnect, bring down and then bring back up, your network connections, from a remote host?  If you bring them down, you won't be connected to bring them back up!  Aha, you think, put it in a script.  That's part of it, but not all.  If the script is running and then you disconnect, the script will stop running unless you give it nohup.
/sbin/ifdown eth0
sleep 4
/sbin/ifup eth0

nohup down_and_up


Is Sarah Palin Ignorant of the Constitution and History?

In her recent interview on Fox News with Bill O'Reilly [click for transcript] she says, concerning the choice by Attorney General Holder to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in NYC, "[W]e're going to create this circus atmosphere here in New York and try this terrorist in our court system that is reserved under our Constitution for American citizens to be able to have their rights exercised. That's a problem."

I'm sure Sarah Palin, if she were arrested for terrorism against a foreign country, would rather be tried on an isolated outpost serving as a military base than in a court, and I'd wager money that most Americans don't realize that close to 400,000 Nazis were kept in camps in States like Ohio, California and Texas. Personally, I'd be a bit more concerned about 400,000 Nazis than a couple hundred members of al-Qaeda, but maybe times have changed, and Americans are just a bunch of big scaredy-cats now adays.

But let's analyze that bit about the Constitution.  It turns out it isn't even close to correct.  One has to wonder whose Constitution Sarah Palin is reading!  From Article III, Section II, the only relevant portion of the Constitution of the United States...

The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;--to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;--to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;--to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;--to controversies between two or more states;--between a state and citizens of another state;--between citizens of different states;--between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.

Is the United States not an interested party in the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?  I believe it is.  Is there a single, cotton-picking word in there about rights?  Clearly, there is not.

As a Republican, I can only hope that Sarah Palin hangs her head and apologizes for this and countless, and seemingly endless, fundamental misunderstandings of the American political system.


Remember When Sarah Palin Was Relevant?

That's a question which will cause many a sentient being to smile, maybe even laugh, in the future, starting now, sinking in over the next few years until the completion of the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary, after which her relevance outside of the evermoreshamefaced Evangelical community will cease.


A Second Place for National Health Insurance in a Republic

Earlier I put forth the idea that communicable diseases was the place where everyone should get together; national health insurance for communicable diseases is consistent with our interests.

This morning, probably inspired by the discussions of health care yesterday, I realized another place where it makes perfect sense, preventative care.

I am here referring to things like nutrition (vitamin pills), exercise (gym memberships). In fact it is in all of our interests to make sure all of us aren't paying insurance premiums when we all get sick. In fact, it is clear that not only do we all save money on health care costs when we all don't get sick in the first place, but society itself operates more smoothely, less people call in sick, less people need to go on disability and replaced at their jobs, and the older, wiser folk will tend to live a little longer. All good things, and good for all
of us.

Also, since most private health insurers don't do that much in terms of preventative care, it means the government wouldn't be moving in on private industry.

Today I had an epiphany concerning the men who want to stop abortions.

These must be the guys who got women pregnant in order to force them to marry them.  Back in the 1950s and 1960s, when a lot of these guys were getting hitched, it was sort of like a game to them, the prettiest girl they could get pregnant would be their "prize."

If abortion is allowed, then their wives wouldn't have had to marry them, their life sort of become hollow and meaningless.

How come I never read that before?


Is the Voice of America getting drippingly sarcastic?

"Clinton Tries to Appease Arab Anger About Praise for Israeli Settlement Offer"

Clinton believes that the American commitment to the peace process is understood by Arab leaders. She thinks that, with their support, the process can move forward, despite what she calls the difficult and tangled history that too often prevents progress.


Science Video Craziness


Just How Bad Is The State of Journalism Today?

     That reminds me to check the Columbia Journalism Review more often, not that they're perfect.

     I thought all three stories above the fold in today's Washington Post were awful, and here I'll examine one of them.

     "In Anbar, A Sense Of Abandonment" was written by WaPo staff writer Anthony Shadid.  If this is the best the post has to offer, it should be shut down.

     Above the fold Shadid only mentions one person who is actually unhappy, one person who got lots of money and guns from the Americans, and respect from the locals during the relevant period.

     After turning to page 8 we learn that, as expected, some Iraqis view the occupying U.S. military on their streets and busting into their homes as a foreign occupying military force and doesn't like it.  How many feel this way?  Certainly Anthony Shadid doesn't present any data. 

     In the 15th paragraph someone says that the British were better at occupying Iraq than the Americans.  You know, the British, who bombed the Kurds with chemical weapons and who summarily executed nearly 10,000 Kurds.  Didn't the Washington Post already tell you that maybe Saddam got the idea of gassing the Kurds from the British?  "[The British] understood how to take time to win someone to their side" the abysmal reporter Shadid dutifully echoes.  By the way, at no point does Shadid say how things went for the British after they left Iraq... within a few years the Iraqis were siding with the Nazis in WWII.  Could Shadid be any more stupid?

     Another unhappy guy, the second talked to in the article, now into its 28th paragraph, flashes a 25K rolex.  Listen, don't let this get back to the military or Sheik Issawi, but he's a crook who played the military for fools, and I'm thrilled he's now unhappy, and he can no longer loot the U.S. treasury.

     Anthony Shadid isn't worth shit as a reporter.  His Editor, the more responsible party, should be fired.


Language And Peace In the News: Honduras (UPDATE 1)

UPDATE 1: Added paragraphs past the first

     The best I can offer is the Google News Search for Honduras.  Without knowledge of Spanish, I simply can't read the Twitter search for Honduras, which makes you wonder, what type of people in Iran speak English? The elites, I betcha, the ones who can afford a device for twittering?

So, I translated this article from Portuguese to English, using Google translation.  It includes loads of facts I didn't find on CNN or Reuters or the AP.  1) 2nd Summit of the Countries of South America and Africa, going on now, has unanimously condemned Honduras/Micheletti. 2) The African Union has done the same, 3) the UN has decried the "acts of intimidation" against the Brazilian embassy.


The Best Weather Report for NYC

     This link should always get you the current 48 hour forecast from the National Weather Service in super sharp graphical format.  I have that linked tuned for summer, you'll want to tweak it slightly for winter.

     If you have a mobile device, you can point it to my service, here, which shrinks the image.  Red is temperature, Blue is sky cover %, Green is relative humidity, and Brown is precipiation potential.  This image gets updated a few times a day, rather than constantly.

You Bought It With Stolen Credit Cards

     If you were a normal person you'd have a hard time proving that you didn't buy something with stolen credit cards, wouldn't you?

Arms Control Wonk, I really used to like them

     I told more than a few people that the only people to trust on the subject of Iran and their nuclear ambitions, the only reasoned voices, were Dr. Jeffrey Lewis at Harvard and Ray Takeyh at the Council on Foreign Relations.  Well, Dr. Lewis's blog, ArmsControlWonk, has drunk the kool-aid.  Recent stories on Iran are completely one-sided and include all sorts of scare-mongering phrases like "a worrying development."  According to Ahmadinejad, they are one year ahead of their reporting requirements, and the IAEA will be able to inspect the facility, but for Andreas Persbo, this is "worrying."

     Even Jeffrey jumps on the scare-monger bandwagon, with his suggestion that the Qom site "ought to put the focus of our policy back on getting more access to the Iranian program to detect and deter the construction of undeclared facilities[.]"  For a moment, since there is no evidence to the contrary, let's take the Iranians at face value, and say that this is a facility for producing reactor fuel.  If so, Iran had every right to build it, and, no requirement to declare it before the shovels hit soil.  Are we really going to get into the business of stopping legal things?  Dr. Lewis doesn't leave me much wiggle room in interpreting his remarks.

Persbo suggests that any smuggling from Esfahan to Qom would be detectable by the IAEA, but he ignores the fact that the IAEA has already been invited to Qom.

Dr. Lewis writes "This is the scenario we’ve been warning about all along." but, if Iran is to be believed and the facility is for a nuclear power plant, what exactly are we being warned about?"

Hmm, Miami Herald Gets It Right

Here is the coverage of Iran's Qom nuclear facility from the Miami Herald. Quotes from Ahmadenijad

"I don't think Mr. Obama is a nuclear expert," he said. "We have to leave it to the IAEA, and let the IAEA carry out its duty."

"If you want to build a plant, you can do that." Iran notified the agency a year before it was required to do so, he said, calling that "a really positive measure. We did something well beyond what was required."



     Maybe it wasn't as close at it felt, but the Obama adminitration has taken a dive on the question of justice in Israel.

     Please let this serve as an apology to WIIIAI and Eli for any flak I'd given them so far.  Today the administration is calling a UN report saying Israel committed war crimes "unfair."  I bet the people killed by these war crimes don't think its unfair.  I bet they don't think at all, anymore.


Is it racism, or is it coincidence?

     Rep. Addison "Joe" Wilson is a man who stands up for racism, so he's a racist.  I'm sure plenty of the people against Obama today are racists.  If you were a real racist, wouldn't you be?  Lots of the players on the right, leading these vitriolic protesters by the nose have no problems with race discrimination, it's crystal fucking clear when they talk about what "white" or "black" people do, are, or like.  Are "white" people one way, and "black" people another?

     But is it racism?  It's sore loserism.  Did you ever wonder why so many right-wingers latched onto the "Sore/Lieberman" campaign poster motif in 2000?  I certainly did, at the time.  I didn't feel like a sore loser, and I had been very happy to vote for Albert Gore, Jr.  Pat Buchanan knows those 3,000 votes in Palm Beach County were for Al Gore, Jr., everyone knew, but George Walker Bush, a man without honor, accepted the victory anyway. 

     So why did the Republicans latch onto the sore loser idea?  I feel now like the answer is that's how they'd feel.  It is clear that huge numbers of Republicans, although certainly not all, are bad sports.  Similarly, although less culpable, there isn't a responsible Republican in power willing to talk these people down.  There isn't a major media outlet willing to treat them with the same level of interest and scrutiny as the anti-Bush protesters.

     It's a topsy-turvy world, where the most insane and ludicrous of us all are commanding the most attention.


Joe Wilson Vote

     Like they do with some Code Pink and Anti-War activists, after making an entirely inappropriate outburst the correct response is to pick up Rep. Addison "Joe" Wilson bodily and throw him out of the hall.

     However, any law or rule that tells me, whether or not I am a member of Congress, that I can be punished for calling the President a liar is a terrible, terrible rule.  Bush lied.  Whether he knew it or not, he spread falsehoods.  Whether his intentions were as noble as can possibly be or not, he deceived the Congress and the American people.  That President was full of shit, and maybe if more members of Congress had said it, because we didn't have a rule against it, we wouldn't be in Iraq today.


You Know, This Is A Pretty Classy Apology

     Nothing like what that primitive Addison "Joe" Wilson (R-SC) provided.  In fact, his outburst was really only, at best, a half-truth.  Anti-immigrant words were in the bill, but there wasn't anything new in the way of enforcement.  It's a flat out lie to say that there would be no enforcement, since there are many, many Federal agents charged with handling fraud by illegal immigrants.  To prove Joe Wilson to be the gibbering idiot that he is, the Democrats changed the bill to add enforcement.  What sort of lesson did we learn?  Obama should have just shut that stupid mother fucker down the second he opened his fat, ignorant mouth.

Researcher and Video Artist Suggestion: More Appropriate Times for Joe Wilson to Yell "You Lie!"

     I'm sorry I'm so incompetent and ill-prepared for this, I'll practice some tonight, the idea is to put Joe Wilson yelling "You Lie!" after each of the following lies, of which the embedded video is just a reasonable, but not entirely exceptional example.  If anyone submits audio of lies I'll post them on my website, a page especially dedicated to the unedited audio and video of George Walker Bush administration lies to get Americans to go to war.


My #1 Issue I Have Comes To A Head:

"The opposition, led by Tzipi Livni, accused Netanyahu of trying to perform some sort of conjuring trick, trying to have a freeze and construction at the same time." -- Al-Jazeera

"The settlers of Judea and Samaria should ask themselves why the settlements are not being taken off the agenda. It's hard to find an issue that unites the entire world more than opposition to the settlements." -- Ha'Aretz

"Israel's decision to approve the construction of over 450 new settlement units nullifies any effect that a settlement freeze, when and if announced, will have," -- Saab Erekat, Chief Palestinian Negotiator

     George Mitchell, Obama's envoy to the Middle East, will be back in Israel in a week.  Netanyahu plans to time his pseudo-freeze with the meeting of the UN General Assembly later this month. Mahmoud Abbas has said, as a result of the settlement announcement, he will not meet with Netanyahu on the side at the UN meeting.

     So, will Obama cut off the billions of aid America sends to Israel each year?  Will he cut off at least the billion dollars of the three billion that is military aid?  Only if he is better than all the U.S. Presidents before him since Lyndon Baines Johnson, all of whom did nothing.


How To Profit From A Random Stranger's Death

     If you were rich and powerful, and you stood to profit if lots of people died suddenly, what sort of decisions do you think you'd make about things like toxic waste dumps and war?  Wall St. wheeler/dealers have cooked up just such a scheme, I guess they want to find out, too.

     What Could Go Wrong?

The NY Times, Pollyannas to the end, it seems, don't even consider that it might be a bad idea to have the rich and powerful have a stake in the making sure poorer people die quickly.  Not even a flit on their fucking radar.

     Eliot Spitzer, like he was with sub-prime mortgages, was out ahead of this issue in 2006, since it turns out part of the business of convincing seniors to sell their life insurance policies has tons of opportunity for predatory behavior.

Socialist vs Socialism, There Is A Difference!

     In that, according to graphs I generated at Capitol Words, the word socialist has been bandied about with fairly constant frequency by politicians over the last seven years, while the word "socialism" is at its period peak:


     Really?  In 1909 Hitler played Lenin at chess?  Hitler's art teacher drew the event?  Both men who would become dictators signed the back?  It's coming up for auction?  Yes to all:

(h/t A Blog About History)

Josh's Life Advice for Young Adults: Learn a Foreign Language

     You basically cannot learn a foreign language after 16 as you can before.

     Which one should you learn?  Arabic or Farsi will help the most with world peace, which all of us are going to have to appreciate, at least a little.  French and Italian are the prettiest.  Spanish is the #2 language in America (where I suspect most of my readers reside).  Chinese is the most widely spoken language on Earth.  Latin and Greek both have special places in academia.  Sanskrit, if you consider Panini, is undeniably special.  Most of the Slavic languages are inter-intelligible, so if you learn Russian, you cover a lot of the world.  Or, you might consider learning German, just to read Hegel and Goethe in the original.

Josh's Diet Advice #1: Your Sense of Thirst

     I am lucky in that I work with some very smart people.  Scuttlebutt around the office is that the human sense of thirst is particularly indistinct, or poor.  What they say is that sometimes you feel hungry, you are actually thirsty, your body just isn't good at distinguishing it.

     So, each time you are hungry, drink a glass of water (6 ounces should do) and wait 15 minutes.  If you are still hungry, then eat.


Reporting a Rumor: Israeli Settlements

     By repeating this rumor, I'm helping fan the flames of aides to Bibi Netanyahu who are spreading the rumor that Netanyahu is going to approve more settlements.  According to the rumor, Netanyahu pretends he is open to a settlement freeze for six to nine months after he approves more settlements.  If true, and I have no insight, either way, this is the worst short term news for the prospect of peace on Earth I can imagine.


I suppose this is pretty cute, if simplistic (UPDATE 1)

UPDATE 1: Add second paragraph

     Are fire insurance and health insurance really that close?  Actually, if your house burns down, and you are a neighbor, it is a risk to my house, so my life, too.  Still, it is not a bad video

     Much better is this, longish interview about Japan's healthcare system


Leaving the Bar: The Draft

     Last evening, I had picked myself up around sunset, placed my glass on the bar, and headed out of the very crowded place.  Someone else was leaving right ahead of me, and so made a path which I could follow.  The only words I picked up amidst all the murmur was "What I hear is All That's Important Is the Draft."


The Morale of the CIA Interrogators

     Many people, but especially the violent extremist Richard Cheney, unindicted Iraq War co-conspirator and former Vice President of the United States, have said that the morale of the CIA could be threatened by investigations of allegations of torture and abuse of people in their custody, and in the custory of the military of the United States.

     I say these people have got it completely backwards.

     Now, to be fair, if you are a criminal, and you are investigated, your morale is going to suffer, but I'm not terribly concerned about that lot, are you?  And, regrettably, since investigations have certainly gone wrong in the past, there will probably people who are innocent, but who have powerful bosses, or scumbag coworkers that will finger them to shift the blame.  Well, these people who were close to all the action, their morale will suffer, too, and, as I said, this is regrettable.  So, yes, the morale of the criminals and the people near them will suffer.

     But I'd like you to put yourselves in the suit of a good CIA interrogator, a decent person, a decent human being.  I'd like you to imagine that you never threatened to have someone's mother raped, that you never attached electrodes to a detainee's gonads, and that you didn't force them to sit in their own shit for 72 hours, or even one day.  If you can't do this, if you can't imagine being a human being, then you'd might as well stop reading this, since the rest of this won't make any sense to you at all.

     Now, from what I've heard, and this is based on the most recent information, there is no evidence whatsoever that serial fabulator Richard Cheney was correct when he said torture led to a stopped terrorist attack.  None, zippo, nada.

     So, you were the good interrogator, the human being, and you got your intelligence according to the rules, and some other interrogator broke the rules, and enjoyed beating people when no one was looking, and torturing people just because they were the enemy, not because there was any good intelligence to be had, and they are getting off scot free

     Well, I ask you, what's that going to do to your morale? 

     Hey, the guy who just beat you in the 50 meter dash is doping, but we are letting him off the hook, because we don't want to look backwards.  Hey, the cop who just arrested you planted evidence, but we wouldn't want to investigate because it might demoralize the police.  Hey, that politician just took Florida knowing full well the intent of 3,000 voters in Palm Beach County was to vote for Gore.  Look forward, not backwards, my son.

     In fact, it doesn't take a supra-genius to see that almost all criminal investigations are an exercise in looking backwards, mostly because we rarely ever prosecute people for murder unless someone has actually, and in the past, been wrongfully deceased.

     But to hear Dick Cheney, a man wanted by some in the NSA for his crimes, you'd think investigating crimes is un-American.

     It's easy to write off Cheney as "evil" or "batshit loony" but there might be a more reasonable explanation. My guess is that he feels very conflicted over his desires to rape people he keeps chained in his backyard.  My guess is that he believes that it is OK when we do it, because we are the good guys, and we'll always be the good guys, even if we have to keep you chained in the backyard and rape you to prove it.


Middle East Peace Beginnings: Still Up In The Air

     Long story short, Miami Casino billionaire Irving Moskowitz's second attempt to move right-wing, ultra-nationalist Israelis into Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem has an administrative decision "pending."  Last time it was 20 units, and apparently sanity won and the permits were denied.  This time it is 200 units.

     Obama administration, do not let brainwashed, Miami casino owners stop your as yet, completely successful attempts to make space for a new Middle East peace by preventing any new settlements.


Who's Not Embarrassed for Washington Week in Review?

     What's the first question on PBS's "Washington Week in Review" concerning health care reform?  "Will we see Michelle Obama get involved in the push for health care?"

Schadenfreude: Glenn Beck Shown To Be Biting Self, Via Daily Show

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Charter Schools Help Divide America

President Obama's Education Secretary is a Charter Schools booster.  Sigh.

The NY Times Gets One Right

     I've been the NY Times website homepage only a few times in the last few years but I went yesterday, and what did I find, on the front page, top left, but this piece calling the stories about "death panels" "false rumors."  Sarah Palin wrote that the currently proposed legislation includes provisions for a government panel that decides whether people live or die.  They might even have killed her own son, Trig, for his abnormalities, she wrote!

     It's bullshit, but that hasn't stopped quite a few people from repeating the claim, or just using the term "death panel" without defining it.  The inestimable Bob Somerby covers the NY Times piece.  He even embarrasses me, though not by name, because I must have some power, and I feel like I've done precious little to stop the degradation of the public debate.  So, with that in mind, I'll comment on an ancillary piece of garbage that Bob brings up, Charles Lane's op-ed Undue Influence: The House Bill Skews End-of-Life Counsel, which, it turns out, Bob had suggested people wrestle with the day it was written.

     I don't have much patience for garbage, and I didn't even finish the article before I saw what Lane had done.  We are talking about catastrophe care.  Do you want doctors to leap tall buildings to save you if you will never recover, say, brain function?  If you've already been hit by a bus and are lying in a coma, it is too late to ask, so, of late, people have been encouraged to put their will down on paper.  This is often called an "advance directive."

     Section 1233 of H.R. 3200 is, I must say, quite explicit about what should be discussed when a doctor and patient have a discussion about, while being vague about such things as key questions (highlighted in orange) that a doctor must ask a patient to consider.  Lane is being fair when he points that out.  Lane makes a couple small boob moves, along with his amazing absurdity, and when he says that a doctor might think to offer the Roman Catholic Church or Dr. Jack Kevorkian as a "resources" to help with end-of-life planning.  Does your local Archdiocese provide such information?  They might.  If they did, would you want this information hidden from you?  Probably not.  Would a doctor be obeying this law if they provided a list that only included a local Church?  Definitely not, since the bill explicitly mandates the minimum list the doctor might provide (highlighted with blue in three places).

     One other lame move of Chuck's is his link to the full 1000 page PDF version of the bill, instead of something handy, like I provided above and again here.  And yet another is when he writes this piece of innuendo "If Section 1233 is innocuous, why would 'strategists' want to tip-toe around the subject?"  Strategists, a word which does not require quotes, have strategies, and if they told you what they were, they wouldn't be very good at being strategists.  Guess all you want, but if a strategist says they are doing something, that's probably part of the strategy, too.

     The real inexcusable insult to my intelligence in Chuck's logic comes when he tries to explain how a provision to fund consultations on advance directives might result in people signing away health care when they didn't want to, pressured by doctors to do so.  Section 1233 is "not totally innocuous" he writes.  He says that now doctors have an financial incentive to initiate conversations with patients concerning end-of-life care.  As closely as I can read the text of the legislation, I can't find anything that resembles a change in in the law concerning who might initiate a consultation, which makes me think Chuck is just making shit up, but I can pretend that I am reading the magic version of the bill that Chuck is, in order that I may shove this little tidbit down his reality-pipe.  If a doctor starts encouraging people to sign up for consultations, paid for by government, in order to make a buck, why on Earth would that same doctor recommend that the patient refuse catastrophe care?  There is no money to be made in letting a brain-dead, accident victim die.  A doctor only makes money keeping people alive.  Doctors have a financial incentive, except when it comes to making money, according to the Chuck Lane.  Does this guy have an editor?  If not, why not?

     This absurdity let's Chuck mock Representatives Blumenauer and Levin.  He doesn't forward any arguments by the Representatives, or anyone else, that 1233 doesn't do what he says it does, he just quotes people contradicting him and says they aren't being "realistic."

     Yes, please, fire, or at least demote, Chuck Lane, thank you.


The Pashtun

     Since I am always pointing people to these two articles, I should make them easier to find!

  • The beginnings of the Taliban.  This was written by an ex-Soviet Central Asia/Caucasus specialst in 2001.  Turkmenistan never gets mentioned anymore, but they were there are the beginning.
  • The Taliban == The Pashtun.  I think it is important to point out that the "Taliban" are a co-extensive with the Pashtun language community.  It makes strategizing much easier, once you know it.

Honest and Forthright, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York

     Lots of Federal Reserve bank conspiracy theory nuts out there, but that's not me.  I was wondering who sits on the boards of the regional banks, and the first regional bank that popped up was my own local Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  Follow that link and you'll see there are three classes of boardmembers, and three in each class.  The first class is those voted in by the member banks to represent the member banks, the second class are voted in by the member banks to represent the public, and the third group is voted in by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. 
     Right now, there are two board seats vacant, both of those appointed by member banks to represent the public.  They do have one seated, though, and that is Jeffrey R. Immelt, the Chairman and CEO of General Electric.  Does anyone else think he's a real public advocate?  If so, could you show me any evidence of this?  Isn't it GE which refuses to clean up the mess they made in the Hudson River?  Update! It looks like, after thirty years, GE has decided to clean up the Hudson, at least partially.  Don't you worry, even if this guy oversees a company which refuses to clean up millions of pounds of cancer-causing chemicals from our Rivers, he is looking out for the public.


America is Right of Center, More Conservative than Europe

     I'm sure you've all heard that and, whatever the reason, for good or ill, it is true. 
     Well, if not Europe, what countries are about as conservative as America, and who is more conservative than us? 
     Let's use one metric, "religious/traditional" versus "rational/secular."  According to one of the largest surveys in the world, America is about as traditional as India, Poland, Vietnam and Northern Ireland.  We come out a bit more rational/secular than Turkey, Portugal, Indonesia, Chile or Argentina, and a bit more traditional/religious than Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Croatia, Spain and Australia.  The most traditional?  El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Tanzania and Morocco.  The most secular/rational?  Japan, Sweden, Norway, E. and W. Germany (these polls started when they were two countries) and the Czech Republic. 


I Was So Ignorant!

     The cop did not violate the law when he arrested Professor Gates.  Professor Gates was injuring the Officer's pride, so the Officer lured him outside where his, well, rants, would be a punishable offense.  The cop tricked the citizen.

     As I wrote before, "disorderly conduct" must be done in a public place, or where the public could become alarmed.  Now, on the face of it, there is no chance any of would be disturbed to the degree that we'd be inclined to call the police if we were to hear Professor Gates yell.  The cop, however, knew that wasn't important.

     Professor Gates was wrong to lose his composure, and not to insult the (almost certainly at least a little, aren't we all?) racist police officer with a raised voice, but to call him "Boy," "Stooge," or even "Fascist," in a calm cool voice, as if he ran the plantation, as if the Police Officer were his servant, a servant of the public, the public of which Professor Gates is a member.  If the cop acted in a racist way (and we'll never know quite for sure), then that may well have been within reason.

     But by raising his voice, Professor Gates opened up a possibility.  In your home you can call a police officer anything you want, and act in any "tumultous" way you desire, and talk about the Officer's family, too.  But on the street, you can't yell like that.

     So, ask yourselves, why did the officer ask Gates out of his home if not to entrap him?  Certainly he had broken no law so far.  Why did Gates act so immaturely and yell, instead of with dignity and disdain, if one poor slob didn't treat him with the respect he felt he deserved?


Where There Could Be A Consensus On National Health Insurance

     Communicable diseases are of special interest to all the citizens of a Republic.  Whether you have nothing, or are among the wealthiest people in the world, you have an interest in the detection and treatment of communicable diseases in the people around you. 

     In New York City in the first decade of the last century, Typhoid Mary infected more than 50 people that she came in contact with as a cook.  Poorer people generally both fill the service roles that wealthier people use, and, it can be imagined, are less willing to visit a doctor if they suspect they might be ill.  This is because they can't afford it, and they can't afford to lose their wages if they are sick and their illness forces them to be quarantined for any length of time.

     It is self-interest that none of are infected by the people around us, and we don't even care if the person doing the infecting is here in this country without documentation.

     It might be an issue whether or not STDs are covered.  That all STDs can be transmitted through other means suggests that they should be.  In addition, for good or ill, it is clear that most people share some risk.  Ironically, recent history has found some of the loudest critics of this state of affairs engaging in the behavior which puts us all at risk.

     As a general rule, it is also in all of our interests to be treated for communicable diseases.  People with health insurance mostly are already.

Obama Was Close, Cop Arresting Gates IgnorantAbusing His Power (UPDATE 2)

UPDATE 1: Added final paragraph.
UPDATE 2: Please ignore this post, it has been superseded by this one.

     Here's a case from the Massachusetts Supreme Court, Commonwealth v Joseph Mulvey, which says that disorderly conduct must occur in public to be an offense.  From the synopsis:

At the trial of a criminal complaint charging disorderly conduct in violation of G. L. c. 272, s. 53, there was insufficient evidence to prove the public element of the offense, and the judge therefore erred in denying the defendant's motion for a required finding of not guilty, where the defendant's conduct took place on purely private property, and the Commonwealth failed to establish that the disturbance had or was likely to have had an impact upon persons in an area accessible to the public. [582-585]

     Thanks to Adam Winkler for cluing me into Commonwealth v Lopiano which cites Mulvey.  Thanks to Time magazine for publishing the same thing.

     The WSJ has a poll which shows fully 27% of Americans think Professor Gates was at fault.  Therefore we should recognize the media's role in this, muddling the issue.  In addition, the Chief of Police in Cambridge, in a public press conference, says that they shouldn't have dropped the charges, showing that he, too, is ignorant.

The Current Health Care Proposal - McCain-Hannity interview

     Sean Hannity interviewed John McCain concerning the health insurance bill before Congress.  They agreed that raising taxes right now, during a bad recession, is a bad idea.  The current proposal, if passed, will result in roughly 22% of small businesses paying for something they didn't have to before, either a new tax or health care.  It makes sense to me to amend the bill to waive this tax for the first year, or at least until a figure like GDP per capita starts increasing again.

As someone else wrote:

     The whole concept of employer based health care should be scrapped.  It [i]s an artifact of an attempt to get around a loophole in a price control schem[e six] decades ago.  It kind of made sense when people worked for the same company for 30 years, which isn't the situation today.


The Web Is Divided Along Language Lines

Says the New Scientist.

Well, makes sense, doesn't it?  It's impossible to read web pages in languages with unknown scripts, and even when the script is the same, but the language is different, like German or French for readers of this text, it isn't easy.

This will cause problems.  For instance, you have a group like MEMRI, which takes inflammatory news and video clips from the Middle East and translates them into English.  Then you have a group that translates Michael Savage, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and other's most vitriolic statements into Arabic.  Both groups are leading us to war, whatever their intentions.  Both of these groups are taking the worst sh*t in each society and shoving it under the nose of the other.  The newspapers of the Kaiser and the Tsar did similar things before WWI, according to James Joll.  To incite a population into becoming worthy of death one must focus on the very worst of it, and ignore anything better. 

What's worse, I suppose, in a way, is that few if any Teutons learned what Slav-language newspapers were saying about them, and vice-versa. 

P.S. I don't actually know of any group translating American vileness into Arabic, Farsi or Pashto, but we do know that when Bush called his war a "crusade" that was repeated millions of times in the Middle East.  The ignorance and hate get translated.  There's no money in peace.


The Choice of Sarah Palin

     Why did McCain choose Palin as his running mate for the 2008 Republican Presidential ticket?  I'll say that McCain's campaign was fooled by the Fox News Channel and others into thinking many millions of Democratic supporters of Clinton were fed up and would not support Democratic nominee Obama, and simultaneously had missed the general thrust of the campaign of his own supporters, who had spent months focusing the relative inexperience of Senator Obama.

     The one place this worked as McCain expected was Arkansas.  Between 2004 and 2008 roughly 50,000 voters shifted from the Democratic column to the Republican, the only notable increase for the Republicans that year.  The exit polling shows that the entire shift, and then some, was among the women of Arkansas, since McCain did one percentage point worse than Bush among Arkansan men.


The Media Is Destroying the Republican Party:Sarah Palin Announces She Would Waste Millions (Update 2)

Serious Republicans, their ideas, and their legisation, are ignored as Our National Press Corps concentrates on joke-of-a-candidate Sarah Palin..

One need not look further than her resignation speech today to see what a joke she is.  She explains that if she were to stay in office she'd waste more money than most people earn in a lifetime, and lots of time, too.  Some parts of "politics as usual," a phrase she has used more times than anyone knows, is electing people who, well, if not competent, at least put on a good show of it.

Our National Press Corps, apparently, want Sarah Palin to run in 2012.  They want her to run and lose.  I guess a lot of the Republicans want to justify their own faith in her in 2008.  And the Democrats, I guess, both enjoy a good laugh and would like to win.

UPDATE 1 (same day): This is all about a scandal, not about a run for the Presidency.

UPDATE 2: No, I was correct in the first instance, this is about the Presidency.


The Most Horrible Future I Can Imagine

     Some people have been talking about what will happen if the government cuts back on bonus pay for Wall St. types.  They say, for example, the industry will lose "the best and the brightest" (that from Amity Shlaes).  What these people are saying is that the most capable people go to work for Wall St. because those jobs offer the most money.

     So, I started having this nightmare.  Imagine if, by law, teachers earned the most of any profession.  What if all the "best" of us spent their time educating the children?

     Surely, with people a lot more educated, Wall St. Ponzi schemers and bubble-inflaters would have a much more difficult time fooling people, both because the people would have been taught more about scams and the schemers wouldn't be the "best and the brightest" anymore.

     As for advertising, I'm not saying Madison Avenue would stop producing multi-million dollar campaigns to convince the teeming masses to buy one brand of flavored-colored-sweetened-caffeinated-bubble-water over the other, but if these ad men weren't as well paid as the people who were preparing the kids for what to expect from Madison Avenue, the outcome is less certain.

     And what about the news industry?  Who would the media have to fool if, instead of paying clowns like Brian Williams and Chris Matthews multi-million dollar contracts, those same two (motivated by the money) were teaching the young of today how to not be fooled by the likes of a Brian Williams or Chris Matthews?

     The worst effects, undoubtedly, would occur in the realm of politics.  I daren't even think of it.

     It seems like, no matter where I turn my imagination, this idea of "paying teachers the most, because the future is important" is a recipe for a global disaster of epic proportions.  Give me multi-trillion dollar asset destroying economic bubbles, give me advertisements featuring young, healthy people enjoying the most fattening foods ever created, give me news that keeps me blissfully unaware, and give me more politicians like we have today!  Do I even need say it?  Give Me Freedom!

[This message brought to you by the ruling class.]


Torturing Americans

     Jon Haidt, after doing some research, finds that you can sum up human morality with five concepts: do no harm, fairness, purity, loyalty and obedience.  The responses he received from tens of thousands of questionnaires, including respondents from many different countries, show that liberals strongly believe in the first two, a bit more than conservatives, while conservatives put the last three on par with the other two, perhaps even putting them over fairness.

     The topic of the day is "What are we to do about the American torturers?"

     Releasing the pictures will do harm.

     Fairness, or justice says that the torturers, those who ordered the torture, and those who crafted legal rationales for torture, should all be punished.

     All the liberals I know want to both release the pictures and punish the transgressors.

     All the conservatives whose opinions I've read want to both hide the pictures and not to prosecute any Americans.

     If both sides are advocating something wrong, as I suggest they are, and I believe a fair understanding of Haidt's moral framework confirms, then I consider this a win for me and Haidt.


Harm: The first harm I thought of first was to the people that the Great Bush Tragedy put in harm's way in Iraq and Afghanistan. But I also realize that there is sometimes a need to protect the victims. If your face were shown in a naked, human pyramid would you necessarily want the picture released to the public? This is an extension of the idea that in rape and sexual molestation cases, sometimes there is harm to the victim if all the evidence is made completely public. There is a third group which will be harmed by the release of the photos, the group harmed the most so far, the Iraqis and Afghans. For surely if attacks against Americans are stepped up, the lethality and brutality of the American response will be stepped up even more. This is obvious when you realize that we've killed or wounded many times the number of Iraqis as they've killed or wounded coalition troops. I don't know the comparable numbers for Afghanistan.

Purity: Releasing the pictures will put yucky thoughts in the minds of millions. You do not want to see videotape every time some lunatic does something horrifying. Whether or not you are allowed to see the videotape is orthogonal to purity.

Obedience: The conservatives don't see a problem with people following orders, even wrong ones, or are at least willing to balance the wrongness of the act with what they perceive as the wrongness of not following orders.

Loyalty: The conservatives are loyal to Americans, and are willing to ignore punishment if those who are to be punished are our allies, or at least are willing to weigh that loyalty against the prospect of punishment.


Ahmadenijad Covers Up Arab Muslim Past

Do you realize that Ahmadenijad said this at the UN racism meeting?

In the middle ages, thinkers and scientists were sentenced to death. It was then followed by a period of slavery and slave trade, when innocent people in millions were captivated and separated from their families and loved ones, to be taken to Europe and America under worse conditions

Now, everyone can agree that he should get points for pointing out that there was some hard core, violent opposition to science from the Church that most Westerners prefer to forget about.  But did you know that, overall, it is reasonable to say that the Arabs brought almost exactly as many slaves away from Africa's east coast as the Europeans and Americans brought away from Africa's west?  Now, Ahmadinejad isn't Arab, but he is blatantly covering up for them here.


The Value of Earth

What is the value of Earth?  If we price everything, and add it all up, what do you think the value of the planet would be?

I've heard that the value of America was about 50 trillion dollars, which is certainly a better estimate than 5 or 500 trillion.  And I'll go out on a limb and say Europe and Asia are worth as much, and 50 trillion for the rest, bringing the grand total to about 200 trillion. 

What is an interest rate swap?  An interest rate swap is (most generally) when one party trades the interest payments on a fixed rate debt for the interest paid on a floating rate debt.  One side is betting interests rates will go down, and so wants the payments of a fixed rate debt, and the other side is betting they will go up, and so will get the increased payments from the floating rate.

In a manner similar to many other derivatives, the debt payments in question don't actually have to exist, it is all a sort of pretend.

Hopefully you are asking "What's this got to do with the Value of Earth?"

The total value of the debts being paid off in the Interest Rate Swaps market is greater than the Value of Earth.

This is bad, and like the Credit Default Swaps market, as long as most things are moving along normally, there is no sign of any danger.

Personally, although I benefit from the trade, I'm not entirely convinced that any derivatives should be legal, but allowing that you can insure your ownership in companies (the value of a stock is insured with Put and Call options, the most basic type of derivatives) and your bonds, then I'm pretty darn sure that people who don't own the underlying paper(stock, bond, whatever) shouldn't be allowed to hedge(insure) the position implied by the ownership of the paper.

This is really serious. So is the FX market, but for different reasons.


Death To Them All!

Extra-terrestrials bent on dominating Earth, I mean, should it ever turn out they exist.

In the meantime, between gnashing of teeth and contemplating the alien menace (as likely as not to emerge in the form of an asteroid hurtling towards Earth) consider enjoying some websites about music

Aurgasm : not exactly sure how it works, some music comes out.

GrooveShark : if you know the song, they play the song.

CherryPeel : don't know the song? other people vote on them.


The Money Supply

Generally it is rightists who complain about the government's ability to print money.1

With technology nowadays, we could almost say that, to print each $300,000,000 dollars2, they just deposit $1 into everyone's bank account.

You might think this is radically egalitarian, but it isn't as long as long as it is the government which actually decides when to disburse funds.

1. Alan Greenspan, Milton Friedman, Ron Paul, this type of economic rightist generally says that simply allowing the Federal Government to print money is a recipe for disaster, because they will just print a ton to be rich (because they are stupid).  That's why, for instance, inflation reached nearly 0% in 2000.  More importantly, that's why these Lumi-fucking-naries want the value and quantity of money fixed to Gold, since the government can't just "make" more gold.  In fact, in the present year, almost 2/3rds of the world market in gold is in jewelry, and the biggest proportion of that is in India.  These lumi-fucking-naries want inflation pegged to fashion sensibilities on the Indian subcontinent.  These people have jobs.  These people have jobs related to the economy! back

2. I suppose I could have said billions, and made "us" into the world, but I haven't, and we do have different money supples.back


Now is the time for a Gas Tax

Dear Citizen,

Now is the time for an increase in gas taxes and to increase funding to limit the effect of oil price shocks on the economy through investment in rail, refurbishing subways, and credits for higher fuel efficiency cars.

The worst news is that this proposal is anti-American, since American auto-makers have thus far refused to compete in the high MPG market and instead utilize the Congressionally sanctioned loophole for light trucks and SUVs to produce cars for the most self-centered drivers.

A gas tax now of even immodest proportions ($1.00/gallon) will result in prices lower than during the 2008 season, but certainly that much would be rejected. Selling the bill as a way to raise funds to make America more energy independent makes this a pro-America bill. 2/3rds of all oil used in America is used in the transportation sector. If American cars became as fuel efficient as China's, we could cut oil consumption by one third. Other bad news is that most Americans don't really care, and some Americans actually produce extra CO2 just to spite the people who care.

A gas tax is better than an incentive program geared towards encouraging people to replace their fuel inefficient cars. One the one hand, the people being rewarded are the ones who blithely purchases an under 18mpg car in the last decade, clearly someone with their head in the sand. Secondly the actual production of more cars, and the premature junking of old cars, contributes substantially to the use of oil and carbon emissions. An inefficient car used in a limited fashion will always be more energy efficient than purchasing a brand new car. The big car makers will spend millions to get this program passed into law, but they are the ones who have, generally speaking, been the biggest problem in this equation, in part by spending the biggest proportion of their advertising budgets money marketing the least fuel efficient cars on Earth.

A gas tax directly addresses people who use oil, and not anyone who owns a car. Oil is a multi-faceted problem, and we know that, someday, only the poorest and most backward nations will be relying on it for a fuel source. This bill is pro-American because it rejects the idea, flaunted by certain idiots, that America should go down the tubes clinging to its inefficient cars. These are very well paid idiots, so there is no reason to expect them to shut up.

Oil is the problem for several reasons: it contributes pollution, it contributes to global warming, it comes principally from a whole range of countries with dubious allegiance to the future of humankind (instead concentrating on acheiving the most power and money in the short term), it puts national security in the hands of foreigners.

To some degree, although all those things are true, they can be overplayed. It isn't like KSA, Venezuela, Russia and Iran would stop selling to America, even if they wanted to the world market is quite flexible and oil is, generally speaking, a fungible good.

A gas tax can pass now because people rememeber paying much more just a year ago. A gas tax makes sense because it directly addresses the oil issue. A gas tax now can help fund a future for America.


Food is tasty1
Feeling full feels good
Eating2 kills time
And it is something we all must do

And yet, obese Americans...

1. This is so generally true for most of what most Americans eat that, well, for me, although I know it is more accurate to say "Lots of foods are tasty" I thought this was better, here back

2. This includes cleaning back

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