Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Um, whoops...

Yeah, about those carbon offset credits that the ManBearPig-In-Chief has been pandering at you to buy? Yeah, you might want to hold off on that purchase.

Seems a hacker got into the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit computers, and uploaded over 1000 incriminating files documenting that climate 'scientists' have been manipulating and hiding data that is counter to the 'global warming crisis' that OwlGore and others have been fueling their Gulfstreams on.

I'm sure that the MBP-I-C will have a perfectly reasonable explanation for all this, just as soon as we can figure out which country without an extradition treaty with the US he's hiding in...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Social Justice & Wages

It is unfortunate that the social justice aspect of the Catholic Church often goes ignored in today's soundbyte culture. Selling controversy is so much more successful for media's bottom line than actually investigating problems. Living in New Orleans and having a family with ties to Loyola University New Orleans keeps me up to date on social justice research I might not have come across.

Such as this Just South article on wage theft from the Jesuit Social Research Institue.

The report speaks for itself, but can also be applied to many other issues facing the country. Look at this through almost any problem facing our nation today, and you see where it fits into the puzzle.

For example, if you ever wanted to know the issues at the root of the illegal immigration situation, they are all spelled out in this report. Unscrupulous employers prefered illegals not because "they do work Americans won't" or because other demographics "refused to work hard," but because their legal standing makes them easier targets for exploitation.

This report also ties into the health care crisis and reasons for the recession.

Wage depression at this economic level reduces buying power and savings abilities of workers, and allows unscrupulous employers to appear more productive. That appearance leads to corruption of both individuals and business values. I can only imagine how this plays out in the bidding process for government contracts.

As far as health care is concerned, eliminating thousands in wages to workers at this economic level increases demands on ERs due to lack of preventative medicine.

This isn't the only puzzle piece, and fixing it won't be a silver bullet, but working against wage theft will be a big part of the solution as we rebuild our economy on a reality-based model.

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Tears in Tigerland

Swigging tears of unfathomable sadness can be a lonely endeavor for an LSU fan more used to drinking any number of syrup-mixed-with-grain-alcohol options on Bourbon Street.

Luckily, they're Orleans-Parish-late to the party in this year's SEC. Us Dawg Fans in Tigerland salute your one-second-left-on-the-clock-spike, and will share another round with you before packing up the truck for Shreveport. At least you guys didn't lose to Kentucky. At home.

Best/worst LSU messageboard meme: "We need someone young and famous to die real quick." So all the TV's will stop talking about this. Unfortunately, one channel never will.

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Fantastic Story

Local jam band helps bring business to Sandpiper Lounge on Louisiana Avenue.

Looks like the college kids are moving beyond the Boot. Don't worry, this is a good thing.

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Beyond the Trestle

JMac from Athens has moved his blogging (yet again) to a new platform. He can now be found at Beyond the Trestle's new URL.

On an unrelated note, this housekeeping post is post number 1501 for Hurricane Radio.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Charter Schools ARE Better

They catch corruption quicker than public schools.

Maybe this complex and elusive "audit" concept, coupled with real, professional "accountants," can be used in other areas where government money or resources are involved. The ramifications of this discovery could be endless.

You could probably head off a lot of school system waste this way. Like when a staffer is using state vehicles for personal travel. Or when the human resources continues to pay individuals who no longer work for them, at the expense of individuals who do work for them. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in savings we could find, if only we apply "audits" and "accountants" across the board.

Hell, do you think this concept could work when applied to other government functions, not just in education?

I'm glad we have charter schools around as laboratories for best practices. We never would have figured this out on our own.

Next week: Will a charter school prove that the use of Excel spreadsheets can keep you better organized? What about calendars for the planning of future events? Can email speed communication? Stay tuned!

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Going Away

Don't tell me, let me guess: This scene is the result of hundreds of liberal agitators just out to embarass Sarah "MHM" Palin.

And another question: why isn't the mainstream media reporting this story???


Palin/Nagin 2012. Chocolate Moose Party. T-Shirt Ideas welcome.

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Good News All Around

The best way to reign in out-of-control, nonsensical bonuses for substandard Wall Street executives is to remind the firm's investors that the more money the masters of the universe make, the less money the investors make. You remember the investors, right? Those folks who put their cash up to risk so the masters of the universe can find ways to make the money make money.

Also, in a stunningly bipartisan move, US Rep. Ron Paul (R - Texas) got an amendment passed in Congress that would allow Congress to audit the Federal Reserve. This is a big, big win. While I'm not totally comfortable leaving the Fed at the whims of an organization that can alternately be controlled by the likes of Denny Hastert, Tom DeLay or Nancy Pelosi, such overwhleming success and support can only lead to deep reforms. Which are desperately needed.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Of Lawyers & Politics

On a note related to the last post, Sara at Going Through the Motions posts a fantastic treatise on the profession of law, and how it can relate to professions and politics.

Some good quotes in this one.

This is exactly how the free market is supposed to work--if someone is indefensibly injured or damaged by a corporation, the corporation pays. And if I am able to obtain dismissal of the case or keep the verdict/settlement low, then the case probably wasn't as meritorious is plaintiffs first believed.


Of course, with as many attorneys as I know, this is an important read. I am also forced to include the following graphic that only relates tangentially to the subject matter:




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Taken Apart: ATL Style

Some rather interesting exchanges with the Atlanta blogs I read, all regarding the mayor's race in Atlanta (no pun intended).

This week the question surrounds the journalistic integrity of the Atlanta Progressive News (and outlet, I admit, I didn't hear of until blogs I read went after it.

Going Through the Motions started it, but now Drifting Through the Grift and Creative Loafing (Atlanta's version of the Gambit) are piling on.

Now comes the Loaf's response to APN's response.

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Taken Apart

Hitchens dismantles Palin. One thing manufacturing a controversey will earn you is controversey. Just like playing professional victim will draw you even more scrutiny.

Even as Andrew Sullivan and the writers at the Daily Dish go silent to focus all their energy on investigating Palin's allegations, all this is just giving her what she wants.

Her supporters will hear none of the criticisms. They will accept exactly zero inconsistencies in any of her behaviors or words. The mere temerity on the parts of some to investigate and verify her words only serve to validate the worldview of the Palinites. She is persecuted because of their inquiry. They are persecuted because they support her. They are the "true Americans" who don't understand us fake Americans who do not adore her.

Her greatest political value isn't a policy plan - it is that she pisses liberals off.




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Indexing Rogue

More fodder for Sarah "Media Hate Me" Palin's "Media Hate Me" narrative: Slate creates an index for her newly released book.

I'll have to print this out and run to Borders, just to verify the accuracy and/or context of a few things. Like:

Rock, Kid
________approval of as "pro-America" with "common sense ideas", 300



I mean, I have to know how this fits into her American life story.

(Sprout, let me know if you pick up a copy of this tome and please, please, please review it on your blog.)

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Monday, November 16, 2009

These People

Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is enemy action.

An apartment building burned down in St. Bernard Parish, making 19 families homeless. There is instant speculation that arson was the cause. I don't like to jump to conclusions, but there is a context to look at here.

The Parish has been at the center of a racially charged post-Katrina/Levee Failures reconstruction situation. At one point, property owners were forbidden to rent units to anyone other than blood relatives, in a place where the overwhelming majority of property owners were white. Though later changed, now renting requires an arduous permitting process. Some renters have faced harassment and eviction. Several Parish ordinances have succesfully been challenged in Federal courts as discriminatory in effect and intention.

This is not the first arson on record. One property owner who applied for a renter's permit found her property burned down after the town meeting. Be sure the read the comments, if you think I'm taking this out of context.

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I've held the thought recently that the Ft. Hood shooter's actions may have more to do with his psychological profile than his religion. He may yet prove to be a terrorist, but that description should follow from his actions and, more importantly, his intentions - not his religion. I think the individuals calling this an act of domestic terrorism are being premature.

This prematurity has not stopped many people from labeling the Ft. Hood shooter a domestic terrorist all over the airwaves and internets.

Because murder is murder is murder. Someone can be murdered over money, someone can be murdered over a political agenda or to strike fear into the hearts of a population. Deciding which murder equates to terrorism depends on the intent of the murderer.

Just like arson is arson is arson. A building can be burned down for insurance money, or a building can be burned down to run out those who live there, or strike fear into the hears of a certain population. Deciding which arson equates to terrorism depends on the intent of the arsonist.

I think the individuals calling the arson problem in St. Bernard domestic terrorism are being premature, even though there is a far more insidious pattern already established in this part of the world.

Though I do look forward to all the major news outlets, talk radio and pundits who will turn their investigative expertise onto this problem, what with their renewed interest in exploring the causes and effects of domestic terrorism right here at home in the USA. We wouldn't want political correctness to prevent us from seeing any warning signs, now, would we?

Me? I'm going to wait until all the facts come to light before drawing any conclusions.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

One Hell of a Law & Order Episode

So, they're bringing the terrorists to New York for trial.

The biggest complaint from the neocon right? This decision will make the United States a target for future terrorist attack. Because invading two countries, secret prisons, and interrogations that are widely considered torture "kept us safe."

Actually prosecuting the terrorists? Too dangerous, they say. Can't have it.

You know, the neocons had many, many years to send these individuals up the river with military tribunals or courts martial. Justice could have already been done, and we'd be arguing the legal ramifications of it.

Instead, these terrorists have been sitting around in Cuba, neither "prisoners of war" nor "criminals" but "enemy combatants," a dithering legal definition cooked up by the deciders of Cheney and Bush to undermine international law as well as our own Constitution.

Because any intelligence of a clear and present danger to the United States and her allies was given up long ago, or has a utility so diminished as to be laughable weighed against the interests of the persuit of justice. So why wait, let's get on with the trial that had to happen at some point. Because it would have happened at some point. Nobody is going to forget who these guys are and what they did.

It is time the families had a little justice.

Trying the case in civilian court? I don't know how wise that is, I can only hope Holder doesn't screw this up, but I have to have faith. We squared away the Oklahoma City bomber. We handled the terrorists who tried to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993. We've handled domestic terrorist organizations like the Klan and the Mob. And, though we used international courts, we've rid ourselves of plenty war criminals through legal means.

This ain't our society's first rodeo, is what I'm sayin'.

The problem, is how the past administration dithered on what to do with these individuals. Any decision could have been made, and the ramifications would now be academic. Instead, they just kept them around, waiting for some solution to present itself to fix this problem.

Now it is the new administration's problem. This is the change we voted for, the end of half-measures and the return to acting boldly and trusting in our laws.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Updating Blogroll Open Thread

I've made a lot of updates to the blogroll on the right. You'll notice many changes.

Let me know if there are any regularly updated blogs or websites I ought to add somewhere to the right. I know there is a lot of good writing that I'm not reading because of my schedule. Let me know (and let me know what section to put it under).

Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Thanks.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The One Twenty Theory

Like Florida Gators fans who don't believe college football was played before 1990, we now have a political equivalent.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

With a Wail of Sirens

An amazing post and touching read by Icarus at Peach Pundit. If there is only one link on this post you read, that should be the one.

Tip of the hat to Drifting Through the Grift.

Contrast that well thought out post to the rage you hear from others. We're going to read a lot of filth and hear a lot of bile on the radio in the coming days. The tragedy at Ft. Hood provides just another opportunity for right-wing demagouges to engage in the inferred justifications that drive their ratings and sell their advertising.

"The shooter is a Muslim therefore he is a terrorist," the meme will read. He may yet prove to be a terrorist, but his actions and motives will demonstrate that, not the religion he was born into.

In the end, I think that his psychological profile will likely demonstrate eerie similarities with such indivudals as Klebold & Harris, Cho, Zinkhan, Whitman. This killer, like so many, found some justifcation for violence in his internal dialouge, and he would have found it had he been born Protestant, Catholic, Jew or had become atheist. Ostracism, the perception of failure in the personal life, the warning signs unheeded, those who knew him looking back and wondering why they didn't say anything.

When I saw the Ft. Hood headline, I could almost write the profile down without looking. What religion or ideology do these justifications come wrapped in? How will this killer rationalize his actions? Call it "terrorism" if it helps you sleep better at night, ignoring the similarities between every other shooting spree our nation goes through year after year. What matters is the action, taking the lives of those who were going about their day a moment before, in the safety and routine of just another day.

What's worse, as soon as I heard the religion of the attacker, I could have written down the right-wing response just as quickly. Turn on almost any radio, pundit show or website, and you'll see it. You'll hear it. This broken record is skipping again. Hell, the interwebs are already drowning in sewage.

Because that's how we like to treat problems in our country - oversimplification, rationalization, and generalization followed by demonization of any who try to investigate any deeper. Heaven forfend we should ever look at something terrible, examine the circumstances and try to figure out what went wrong.

Monsters were always monsters, right?

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Provincial Education

Barrow County principal forces resignation of 24 year old, female teacher for having private Facebook page, engaging in normal adult behavior and posting about it. And he tried to do it in an underhanded way. No mention of any job-related performance issues, this is completely related to her private life.

In a just world, this principal would be have his job immediately terminated because he obviously is not focused on what actually goes on at his school, and is spending too much time stalking his employees on Facebook.

In other news, right-wing darling, victim of left-wing agenda, morally upstanding role model Carrie Prejean admits to making suggestive video for an ex-boyfriend while she was 17 years old, but adds publicly that she was not engaged in "sex" on tape.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Stupak - Pitts & You

Liprap, Dangerblond & I have been at it today over the Stupak - Pitts Amendment to the House health care reform bill. Lots of folks think that Stupak is a huge blow to women's reproductive rights. I think it provides exactly zero change from the current status quo.

I've been directed to read several of the thousands of partisan descriptions of what damage Stupak will cause, but I don't really need to read much more into it than the text of the amendment itself to know what I need to know.

...No funds authorized or appropriated by this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.


I missed where any current federal subsidies are authorized or appropriated to cover any elective pregnancy terminations under our current way of doing things. I know for damn sure the GOP Congress didn't authorize or appropriate any such subsidy between 1994 and 2006, and I'd bet a well-appointed Texas ranch that Ol' Dubya never approved of any such thing between 2000 and 2008.

And call me crazy, but I'm sure Obama and the Dems in Congress didn't sneak something like that by us in the last 9 months.

So pardon me while I don't get too excited over an amendment that changes nary a part of the status quo. And you know why I'm really not worried about it? The amendment won't mean one damned thing in regards to women's reproductive rights. You know why? Because now, this bill will not be passed, will not be reconciled and will not be signed into law.

Bet you wish we'd signed onto that "line item veto" thing now, hunh?

The GOP and insurance comapanies should kiss the toejam of Stupak's feet, because he killed health care reform to the sound of rousing applause of the now self-destructing pro-reform party while bringing exactly zero blowback on the opposition.

I blame Nancy Pelosi, who probably won't realize the magnitude of this until she's being voted out of the Speaker's chair in late 2010.

I mean, the writing was on the wall as early as September that health care reform will fail if this issue wasn't resolved.

You might notice who isn't complaining - insurance companies. One would wonder why that is.

Oh, yeah, and now Big Media breathlessly realizes this is a juicy controversy with which to sell advertising. Get ready, because the week is young and the meme is just getting started.

Big thoughts? This is why I laugh at sky-is-falling types. Right wingers went apeshit Saturday night when the House bill passed (I mean, they've been going apeshit for a while now, but the volume had kinda slacked off recently because I guess they thought they had this thing beat). It passed and the chorus of "OH NOES!11!111!! TEH SOCIALIZMZ!!1!" plastered all over my Facebook feed and radio waves. I guess they really don't understand the legislative process in the first place and the theory of the Democratic circular firing squad in the second.

Because no sooner had the cheering stopped echoing around the House on their historic "victory" than you could hear the locking and loading of intraparty strife weaponry gearing up to sink any chance at health care reform for the next generation.

Frankly, I'm surprised they made it this far. Since I get most of my news from Slate, I reckon I was more prepared for this than most. They've been talking about this for months.

For example, one resolution (floated in August) to the intraparty strife is to create a private, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting elective pregnancy terminations for women at or below, say 200% of the federal poverty level. Matter of fact, why doesn't an organization like that exist already? Women & progressive allies saying "Sinn Fein" and taking care of other women?

Kinda like progressives getting together, saying "screw the government" and starting up our own health care non-profit co-op. Getting our "pro-reform" legislators to remove roadblocks for such would be far easier than passing a 1,900 page "comprehensive health care plan" that no group of reformers can get together to pass legislatively.

But I guess if you've got to learn a lesson (like the GOP 2006 - 2008), learn it in spectacular fashion while everyone is watching.

Because get your popcorn. This is gonna be messy, public, and very, very loud.

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Generations

I grew up dreaming of nuclear winters. Books like Children of the Dust and Airship 9, movies like Red Dawn gave these dreams their images. The nighly news gave those dreams their framework.

Then, 20 years ago tonight, everything changed. It was the end of so much more than the Cold War, but the end of hostilities that first began in 1914. Events that night seemed to wash away the past and sweep me up into the dreams of a promising future. This news seemed so unreal, few people looked too hard for the "why," lest we ask questions too loudly and wreck that which had taken a life of its own.

Tonight, as old rivals and new leaders gather in Berlin to knock down symbolic dominos painted by schoolchildren, I think about the generation that has come since that night, and why it would be difficult to explain these things to them.

The lamps went out all over Eurpoe in 1914, and Edward Grey never saw them again during his lifetime. It is humbling to be a part of the generation that saw those lamps lit again.

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Storm Warnings



This is not welcome news. I knew Ida was out there in the Caribbean, but you'd think that this late in the year, weather patterns would have shredded all organization from any tropical system to have already hit land once.

Keep a weather eye on the horizon...

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Health Care Alternatives

Well, we'll see what happens in health care today in the decisions of the House of Representatives. My money would bet the under, take the status quo and the points. Reform of big industry comes hard in this country, especially when the "plans" of reform are so difficult to wrap your head around.

That being said, I ran across an interesting post by Steve2 at Alexandria (a group blog that DADvocate contributes to from time to time).

The question is: in our free market, why hasn't anyone tapped into the discontent with our current health care providers with a super-low cost health option. The author likens this to WalMart health care. The need and market is certainly there, and one of the strengths of free-market economies is the rise of entreprenuers to fill holes in the market.

As I've stated before, if there is even one dollar to be made, our culture's entreprenuers will create a business to compete for it. So why is there no movement to capitalize on the dollars that folks would spend on discount health care or insurance?

I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know one thing: if health care reform fails today in the House, liberals and progressives would do well to begin seeking non-government, market based alternatives to the health care crisis. Use the freedoms of our system to begin driving the prices down and forcing big insurance to compete for customers.

If they can't pass wholesale health reform with their current political capital, we have to look for other ways to get at this problem. Liberals and progresives should find a way to make health insurance co-ops easier to start. They should start finding a way to lower the costs of becoming nurses and doctors, and progressive activists should start looking to actually become nurses and doctors (as the right wing decided to do years ago in response to Roe vs. Wade). Tax breaks and development grants could encourage the creation of non-profit community clinics so doctors and nurses could still make money without serving corporate interests.

Thoughts?

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Non-Profits & Property Taxes

Don't non-profits already pay property taxes?

Churches own property, do they pay property taxes? What about private schools? What about charter schools? What about state universities that keep buying up land? What about thrift stores?

And how big a hit would paying property taxes be to non-profit organizaitons that owned property? How do you assess the property value of a non-profit organization?

A Georgia State Court of Appeals ruling now forces me to ask these questions that I never really examined much before.

The long and short of the case is that an Athens non-profit, Nuci's Space, collects money by renting out music practice spaces, instruments, recording time, event space for parties and concerts, and selling beverages to patrons during events. A new county ordinance labels this as "commercial activity," despite the fact that providing below-cost services is both a part of their mission, and any significant money they make from those transactions support the other part of their mission of service -providing mental health counseling to local musicians who have no means of acquiring health care. (Yes, I am a huge Nuci's Space fan, and wish we had anything similar to this in New Orleans) Most of their income arrives from donations and grants, but they do own the Downtown Athens property in which they are housed.

So, of course, the county wants to put the screws to this organization that helps fuel and support one of Athens' more dynamic city brands (that as a music scene).

But what of my questions? If a church isn't already paying property taxes, but they make money renting out their facility for these things called "weddings," can they now have their property taxed becasue they "engage in commercial activity?" What if they engage in bake sales or car washes, even if the purpose of those events is to raise money for church trips or mission work?

Looking down the road, how will this affect major donations and grants that non-profits seek, now that funding organizations know part of their award will have to go to the county? Especially if the funding organizaiton is a state or federal source?

Lot of worms comin' out of this can. Stay tuned.

HT: JMac at Beyond the Trestle.

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