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March 31, 2010

Consent? We Don’t Need No Steenking Consent!

You might find it odd that the President is actively seeking to convince a majority of Americans to support health care reform even though it’s already become law, but that’s only because you’re stuck on the old “democracy” way of thinking.

That’s the status quo!

We’re in a new world now in which voters are persuaded to support sweeping changes to existing law that will touch intimately the lives of every single American only after the fact.

Call it: “Postmocracy,” a new form of governing better equipped for our changing times.

A postmocracy has many advantages over our old, antiquated democracy.

First, it allows you to get things done you couldn’t with obsolete democracy.  Seeking the consent of the governed has always been a messy and prolonged affair and has held up many important initiatives, such as attempts to drastically alter our way of life to address a problem that doesn’t exist. 

Try getting that by people using “democracy."

Second, it cuts through all the red tape and bureaucratic paperwork that facts always cause. The problem with comprehensive and far-reaching legislation such as the health care bill is that there’s a lot in it that people will find to dislike.  By using postmocracy, you can just pass a bill without having to worry beforehand how those little annoying details might be received by the electorate. Just tell them about it later! Sure, they’ll whine and moan for a bit but they’ll forget soon enough, what with having to spend all their spare time looking for a job.

Besides, all these after-the-fact revelations, whether its 17% premium increases for healthy young adults, or corporations reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in charges to recognize increased costs, the bill is full of exciting surprises.

And everyone likes surprises!

Finally, think of how much easier it will be for the United States to promote the spread of postmocracy to governments that have heretofore not attempted to seek the consent of the governed once they realize how few changes they have to make to the way they do business.

Of course, we’ll have our biannual exercise in the old democracy style of governing this coming November when you’ll have a say in the matter.

Not a choice, necessarily, but a say.

POSTMOCRACY

J.

March 31, 2010 at 03:29 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 30, 2010

NASA: National Automobile Scientist Association.

The Obama administration has asked NASA to examine the unintended acceleration problems plaguing Toyota and we look forward to our nation’s finest space scientists applying their unique expertise to the dilemma.

Of course, you still need to find a way to get to work, so in the meantime NASA suggests you take the following actions:

Retire your fleet of Corollas and Camrys and instead hitch a ride in yourVAZ - 2101 neighbor’s Lada VAZ 2101.

Forget about fixing your Toyota and instead rely on “game-changing technologies” to develop new and better ways for you to get to work.  Some day. (You might have to use some personal days in the interim.)

Rather than spend time trying to figure out ways to get to work, concentrate on more achievable goals, such as going out to get your mail, or watching other people drive to work instead.

Give up entirely on your plans to drive to Orlando this summer.

Once the NASA scientists complete their analysis of Toyota gas pedals they can get back to the important work the President has assigned them: Ensuring America always has a leadership role in in space.

From the passenger seat.

J.

March 30, 2010 at 02:40 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 29, 2010

This Makes Congressman Massa Look Like The Pope! Wait, That Doesn’t Really Work Anymore…

Ongoing revelations regarding the Catholic Church’s seeming laxity in dealing with priests involved in sex scandals with young boys have likely left people outside of the church confused as to what level of misbehavior would warrant an extreme punishment such as excommunication.

It’s really quite straightforward once you understand how it works:

How to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church:

Say that you are gay.

How NOT to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church:

Actually be gay.

See how easy it is once you know the rules?

But then, we should be careful jumping to conclusions. Just because a priest has sex with 200 deaf boys suddenly everyone wants to throw around labels like “gay,” and “predatory pedophile,” and “criminal abandonment of moral authority.”

It’s not like he had sex with 300 deaf boys.

Besides, the church knows how to deal with such miscreants and in fact subjects offending priests to a punishment the Catholic church specifically reserves for these kinds of heinous violations of trust:

Being transferred somewhere else.

It’s kind of like in a big corporation where there’s a guy no one really gets along with but they can’t find a way to fire him so they just keep transferring him around and make him someone else’s problem.

It’s like that, only instead of talking too loudly on the phone and being rude to co-workers, he’s forcing young boys to have sex with him.

Which we have to admit would make “bring your kid to work day” kind of awkward.

There are charges that these recent scandals reach deep within the Vatican, possibly even involving Pope Benedict XVI. While it’s not clear that this will ultimately result in the resignation of the Pope, there is one sign you should keep an eye out for that would suggest the problems with the Catholic Church run deeper than thought:

If he says he wants to spend more time with his family…

J.

March 29, 2010 at 01:13 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 26, 2010

Maybe Next He Can Bring Back "Murder, She Wrote"

The president today announced that he has successfully addressed the most pressing nuclear threat we face.

No, not Iran. 

And not North Korea.

Today, the President decided to go '80s retro and address the imminent nuclear threat we face from the Russians.

At least that explains what Styx was doing at the White House.

As part of his dream to pursue “a world without nuclear weapons,” President Obama this morning announced an agreement that he termed “the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades.”

How comprehensive?

Past arms control treaties have reduced stockpiles of nuclear warheads in each country by 10,000.  This new agreement will reduce them by about 800.

While that does bring each country’s inventory of strategic nuclear weapons down to 1550, it does not include Russia’s 6,000 tactical nuclear weapons that sit opposite the 200 we still keep in Europe.

Okay, so it might not be that comprehensive, but it sure helps to move the world toward a nuclear-free future and by “the world” we mean “us.”

It might be useful to ponder for a moment just what a nuclear-free world would be like.

Here is the world before nuclear weapons.

A World Without Nuclear Weapons

And here it is after.

A World With Nuclear Weapons

Just sayin’…

J.

Credit: Allpics4u, Normandy 1944 - Then and Now.

March 26, 2010 at 02:45 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 25, 2010

Instead Of “Going Medieval On Their Ass,” It’s More Like “Going Corporate Sensitivity Training On Their Ass.”

President Obama, May 18, 2009:

“But I assured the Prime Minister that we are not foreclosing a range of steps, including much stronger international sanctions, in assuring that Iran understands that we are serious.”

President Obama, June 1, 2009:

“What I have said is that it is in the world's interests for Iran to set aside ambitions for a nuclear weapon, but that the best way to accomplish that is through tough, direct diplomacy.”

President Obama, September 25, 2009:

“We remain committed to serious, meaningful engagement with Iran to address the nuclear issue through the P5-plus-1 negotiations.  Through this dialogue, we are committed to demonstrating that international law is not an empty promise; that obligations must be kept; and that treaties will be enforced.”

President Obama, November 19, 2009:

"Iran has taken weeks now and has not shown its willingness to say yes to this proposal ... and so as a consequence we have begun discussions with our international partners about the importance of having consequences. Over the next several weeks, we will be developing a package of potential steps that we could take, that would indicate our seriousness to Iran."

President Obama, February 9, 2010:

“And what we are going to be working on over the next several weeks is developing a significant regime of sanctions… One thing I'm pleased about is to see how forward-leaning the Russians have been on this issue.  I think they clearly have seen that Iran hasn't been serious about solving what is a solvable dispute between Iran and the international community.”

Today:

The U.S. has backed away from pursuing a number of tough measures against Iran in order to win support from Russia and China for a new United Nations Security Council resolution on sanctions...

Maybe they don't have all the stuffing up one end...

J.

March 25, 2010 at 01:41 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 24, 2010

California Is Still Ahead of Haiti. We Think.

Iraqi bonds are now considered to be of similar quality to California state bonds.  This should come as no surprise given the many startling similarities between the two sovereigns:

WMDs: Like Iraq before the war, it is believed that California has large stockpiles of weapons of mass economic destruction:

Nuclear Chemical Biological

California Conan:  Similar to Iraq’s famous “Baghdad Bob,” “California Conan” repeatedly Everything Is Fine offers assurances that everything is under control, regardless of how reality might rudely interfere with that assessment.

Foreign Policy: Like Iraq, California’s large Muslim population suggests that perhaps Israel should reconsider its current policy of existing.

Anti-Military:  While the populace appears to be largely supportive, there remain small but determined pockets of resistance to US military presence.

Money: Like Iraq (video), the United States has poured billions into California with little to show for it.

Of course, we’re not suggesting that President Obama put together a coalition and invade California and overthrow its government.

We’re just not saying he shouldn’t…

J.

March 24, 2010 at 03:44 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 23, 2010

The “Fairness Tax.” Good, We Have Something To Replace “Ethical Congress.”

The problem with punitive taxes targeted at specific groups of individuals is that they may appear to the casual observer to be unconstitutional.

This is because, having not gone to law school, the casual observer might believe that the Constitution is a set of laws written in plain English on paper, basing this conclusion on little more than the fact that the Constitution is a set of laws written in plain English on paper.

This could not be further from the truth.  The Constitution is in fact a “living document,” or, as Woodrow Wilson put it: (pdf)

“The Constitution of the United States is not a mere lawyers’ document: it is a vehicle of life, and its spirit is always the spirit of the age.”

In other words while we may not be completely "a government of men and not of laws," we’re not quite "a government of laws and not of men," either.

Call it, “a government of laws that men can pretty much make up as they go along, and not of men.”

Okay, so that isn’t as profound, but it is more accurate.

(Regardless, we don’t suggest you try this with your landlord: “I know the lease says the rent is due on the fifth but you have to take into account the spirit of the age and the fact I get paid on the tenth…”)

In this light, Virginia Senator Jim Webb has proposed a special 50% levy on bonuses paid to executives at banks that received TARP money.   This “fairness tax,” (so named because “cynical pandering to populist sentiment tax” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it) reflects the fact that “These executives got lucky,” and the money should “be shared with American workers who may not even own stock but who were required to invest their tax dollars into TARP to stabilize the economy.”

And by “shared by the American workers,” he means, “tossed into the federal government bureaucracy.”

This sharing should not be confused with the $7 billion profit the CBO has estimated the TARP funding will be sharing with the federal government bureaucracy, er, we mean, “the American worker.”

Looks like the federal government “got lucky,” too.

We assume Senator Webb is standing on principle and not merely looking to score cheap political points by targeting a small and unpopular group for punishment, and so we’re sure he’ll be looking to levy taxes on anyone else who might have benefited from the government bailouts.  We would recommend:

Municipal Employees:  With unemployment rates a fraction of private employees, it is clear public sector workers have benefited from the billions of dollars paid directly to states as a result of the Stimulus bill.  These states had enormous budget deficits and have benefitted from interest rates near zero from the Federal Reserve. In short, state and municipal employees in these states had enormous backup from taxpayers, most of whom are not members of public service unions but still were required to invest their tax dollars into Stimulus funds. We propose garnishing an additional 10% of their wages to be turned over to deficit reduction, and by “deficit reduction” we mean, “not deficit reduction.”

First Time Home Buyers:  Millions of Americans who happened to need to purchase a new home in the past year have benefitted from billions in tax credits provided by taxpayers who had no need to buy a home. Let’s face it.  They just got lucky.  Expect a 50% tax to be levied on any landscaping they have done.

Anyone Who Purchased a GM or Chrysler Car: But for billions in taxpayer bailout money, these companies would not exist.  People have the ability to purchase these cars only  because of taxpayer money, and not because of any inventiveness or willingness to take risk (that would be more a Toyota thing) making them wholly undeserving of such largess.Eyebrow Fund   For the rest of the year, purchasers of GM or Chrysler cars will be required to by floor mats at ten times dealer cost (as opposed to the typical five times), the difference going towards a fund to purchase Senator Webb some eyebrows.

It is high time we demand that taxpayers compensate taxpayers with tax dollars to make up for the tax dollars they give to the taxpayers.

It’s just common sense.

J. 

March 23, 2010 at 01:23 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 22, 2010

Top Ten Reasons You Should Celebrate House Passage Of The Healthcare Bill

While a lot of people aren't particularly pleased with last night's House passage of health care reform, we prefer to look at the bright side:

The Top Ten Reasons You Should Celebrate House Passage Of The Healthcare Bill

10) A nation that can afford trillions in deficits as far as the eye can see can surely afford hundreds of billions more. Right?

9) While many of Bart Stupak’s pro-life constituents might feel he has betrayed his pledge to guard the sanctity of life, they will be getting some nice new runway lights, which is kind of the same thing.  

8) It’s for the children. The 27-year-old children.

7) New taxes on interest income, dividends, and capital gains will surely spur a renaissance in job-creating investments.  As Paul Krugman might say, it’s textbook economics.

6) This is NOT a government takeover of health care.  Those 2700 pages?  Mostly a large type edition of “The Wealth of Nations.”

5) The legislation will help to “bend the cost curve” by increasing individual insurance premiums by double digits.  (No one ever said which way the cost curve had to be bent.)

4) Deficits?  Isn’t that what grandkids are for?

3) Besides, there won’t be deficits as long as you leave out the $200 billion doc fix needed to reform Medicare which only makes sense since the bill is meant to reform Medicare.

2) Will surely create thousands of jobs.  For lawyers.

1) Confirms that health care is a right, meaning people have a right not only to their own property, but to everyone else’s too.  That’s better, isn't it?

For something that’s supposed to be good for my health, this whole thing has sure given me a headache.

J.

Welcome Daily Crux readers!

March 22, 2010 at 01:24 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

March 19, 2010

When These Guys Say, “Don’t Even Think About Committing A Crime,” They Aren’t Kidding!

There have been many important advances in policing over the years, from fingerprint identification to forensic pathology all the way to the eradication of trans fats at Dunkin’ Donuts.

While these advances have all contributed to efforts to fight crime, they share one drawback:

They almost always come into play only after a crime has been committed.

This is where the innovative law-enforcement practices at Oregon’s Medford Police Department come in.

Rather than go through the laborious and inefficient process of waiting around for someone to actually commit a crime, the Medford Police instead take into custody people who might commit a crime.

This is precisely what happened to David Pyles, who was taken into custody by police for a mental evaluation. Why?

According to police, Pyles was “very disgruntled,” over a dispute with his employer.

How disgruntled?

He was so overcome with rage that he was willing to go so far as to agree to handle “the grievances through the process stipulated in the union contract."

Can you say “ticking time bomb?”

The Medford police also noted that Pyles had “legally purchased several firearms within the past couple of days.”

Legally purchasing firearms?  It was like he wanted to be caught.  Or pre-caught.

While some may argue that you want police to try to intervene before tragedy strikes, that process usually involves a lot of red tape and paperwork and then the copier jams and Rita is out to lunch and she’s the only one who knows how to change the toner, and you're already late for lunch...

So, instead, the Medford Police streamlined the process and skipped getting a court order or consulting with mental health professionals or getting a warrant or all those other obstacles to efficient policing and simply asked him to volunteer to turn himself in.

As Medford Police Sgt. Jeff Proulx remarked, "Instead of being reactive, we took a proactive approach."

The only problem with having people volunteer to turn themselves in before they’ve committed a crime is that often they don’t want to volunteer to turn themselves in before they’ve committed a crime on the flimsy pretext that they haven’t committed a crime.

So, in an abundance of caution, the Medford police, together with four other police departments surrounded his home at 5:45AM with two heavily armed SWAT teams and phoned him asking if he’d be willing to “volunteer.” 

Heck, you surround my house with two heavily armed SWAT teams, I’d volunteer to help out at a soup kitchen, donate a kidney, and listen to Sanjay Malakar’s album all the way through.

Okay, maybe I’d stop at the kidney.

Defending the process, Joseph Bloom, a psychiatrist at Oregon Health & Science University and a specialist in civil commitment law, noted that, "There's no arrest, these people aren't being taking to jail. It's not a criminal action."

It only seems like a criminal action what with the heavily armed SWAT teams surrounding your house, but other than that, it’s pretty much the same as getting a letter from your divorce lawyer.

Naturally, some people, such as David Pyles, are a bit miffed that citizens can be legally seized at gunpoint and their property taken while nearby neighbors' houses are evacuated and streets are barricaded all without a warrant or any judicial review but what can you do?  Some people are just overly sensitive.

Probably the biggest Disappointment in all of this?

Not Tom Cruise This Guy Doesn’t look anything like Tom Cruise.

J.

March 19, 2010 at 03:35 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 18, 2010

The National Digital Literacy Corps

Ripped from the pages of the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan, a story of the dedicated men and women of:

The National Digital Literacy Corps.

Bringing tutoring to people who may not be as thoroughly familiar with the workings of the Internet as you would like them to be. 

No matter the danger.

No matter the cost.

TheCorps

In Cyberspace no one can hear you scream.

Which is good, because we kind of feel like screaming.

J.

March 18, 2010 at 07:37 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack