Friday, December 21, 2007

Diebold - No Longer Found in your Ethical Fund...

The BRAD BLOG : Diebold Now Also Under DoJ Investigation as Stock Price Hits FIVE-YEAR Low!:

The BRAD BLOG, of course, originally reported on the SEC's investigation into Diebold's book-keeping chicanery back in May of 2006, just a few months after our first exclusive report, based on information from a company insider we dubbed DIEB-THROAT, preceded a 20% stock-price plunge just days afterward.

At the time, back in late September 2005, the stock price plunged to a 52-week low of about $44.37/share (which we're sure they'd kill for now --- not that we wish to give them any ideas) and DIEB-THROAT told us in response to the related news: "the last time this kind of deception occurred it was called Enron."

Then came a class action securities fraud suit against the company in December 2005, as first broken by The BRAD BLOG natch, before the parallel SEC investigation first became public.

Since then, following one independent study after another after another after another, finding their electronic voting systems to be virus-prone, hackable, unreliable and inaccurate, the company finally dumped it's controversial CEO who had infamously promised in a Republican fundraising letter that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to" George W. Bush in 2004, before attempting again to fool the American public by renaming its election division "Premiere Elections Solutions" (same pig, fresh lipstick), just after stock prices plummeted again in August of this year to $47.60 as The BRAD BLOG noticed what appeared to us, and at least one financial analyst, to be possible insider trading among a number of company officials.

Prices have continued to fall ever since --- a lucky coincidence, no doubt, for those executives who just happened to unload a bunch of stock near the year's high at $53.05 - to today's 5-year low of $29.20.

Hm. Tell me again how blogging is unimportant and won't make any difference?

The really really nifty thing about blogs - pay attention here, O, my conservative dead tree colleagues - is that you can never disavow anything you've said in a blog. Which is great, if you don't spew irrelevant propaganda intended for this "news cycle" and this "news cycle" alone. A blog post persists, unlike a newspaper, which will soon be lining a bird cage or wrapping a fish.

So, a good blog post is forever - just like excruciatingly stupid blog posts. And any time anyone searches for something related to the topic - up it pops. Making a difference, in someone's opinion or factual universe. You would think that a blog post would be more ephemeral than newspaper, radio or television - but while all those things can be stored and recorded - it probably won't happen unless someone is impressed enough to blog it, youtube it or burn it to an MP3.

The Internet. Kinda like "MSM - The Good Parts Version."

Note to KBR

So, have you been getting much play from the various "ethical funds" lately?

You know, sometimes the Right thing to do is to actually do the right thing. Seems to me, with all the loopholes and exceptions and waivers to US Law you begged, bribed and engineered from Bush, you could have just taken the rapists out into the public square, hung them by the testicles, and then after an hour, shot them behind the left ear.

This would have played well in Iraq. Especially if it was a consistent policy.

But no, you use the "get out of jail free card" to empower your staff rapists and murderers, instead of behaving like good, God-Fearing Christian Crusaders.

Bumperstickers. I Digg Bumperstickers.

From digg , referencing this item
which references this photo:

by jeliel on 11/02/2007
Why the burials, the was truly EPIC
-3 diggsBuryDigg
sgtbutterscotch by sgtbutterscotch on 11/02/2007
I feel dumb, what does that mean?

Being something of a geek myself, I will first digg this, and then stumble the whole.

Tucker Carlson slowly comes toward the Light.

Tucker Carlson writes in The New Republic:

The first thing I learned from driving around Nevada with Ron Paul for a couple of days: People really hate the Federal Reserve. This became clear midway through a speech Paul was giving to a group of Republicans at a community center in Pahrump, a dusty town about 60 miles west of Las Vegas. Pahrump is known for its legal brothels (Heidi Fleiss lives there), but most of the people in the audience looked more like ranchers than swingers. They stood five deep at the back of the room and listened politely as the candidate spoke.

Until Paul got to the part about the Fed. "We need a much better monetary system," he said, a system based on "sound money, money that's backed by something." Paul, who is small and delicate and has a high voice, spoke in a near monotone, making no effort to excite the audience. They cheered anyway. Then he said this: "The Constitution gives no authority for a central bank." The crowd went wild, or as wild as a group of sober Republicans can on a Monday night. They hooted and yelled and stomped their feet. Paul stopped speaking for a moment, his words drowned out. Then he continued on about monetary policy.

Wow, I thought. The constitutionality of a central bank is not an issue you see on many lists of voter concerns. (How many pollsters would think to ask about it? How many voters would understand the question?) Yet a room full of non-economists had just responded feverishly when Paul brought it up. Hoping for some context, I went outside and found a Paul staffer. He didn't sound surprised when I told him about the speech. "It's our biggest applause line," he said.

Our biggest applause line? There are two ways to interpret a fact like that: Either the Ron Paul movement is more sophisticated than most journalists understand, or a lot of Paul supporters are eccentric bordering on bonkers.

One gets the impression that at first Tucker didn't take Paul all that seriously, drawing the obvious conclusions from his obvious lack of charisma and his clear, but deliberately non-inspirational speaking style; "Obviously," the man is "not presidential timber."

Unfortunately, it's turned out that the MSM idea of "Presidential timber" is Cottonwood. Looks real stately, but there's damn little substance to it.

By the conclusion of the article, it appears that Tucker has grasped the essence of the Ron Paul phenomenon. He's the only candidate who will give you an honest answer to an honest question. You may not agree with him, but at least you know where he stands, and you know he's willing to risk the consequences of telling you something you don't want to hear.

On the other hand, "Cottonwood" Thompson's supporters are circulating this twaddle:

You might be a Fredhead if... blame America last. kinda like it when terrorists are made uncomfortable. think that today's serious foreign policy issues will take more than hillbilly charm and naiveté to handle. suspect the Iran might actually be up to something. prefer movies where American troops are the good guys. think a Senate majority leader who constantly tells us how things are doomed while a war is still ongoing needs a good bitch-slapping. think it's great if a murderer finds God, but that doesn't mean he should be let out of prison. think America's sovereignty is kinda important. think anyone who talks about how the rich aren't "paying their fair share" is a whiny little Communist.

..."great hair" is low on your list of presidential requirements. think someone didn't draw those border lines on a map just for fun. you crazy, but you'd prefer a presidential candidate who actually shares your conservative views. think it's time someone did something about the hippies.'d like Osama bin Laden's next video to be him pleading, "Someone please help me!" before he's pummeled on screen by the U.S. president.

Well, THAT was substance free. But as the saying goes, "nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American People."

It's a emotional appeals to the "If you don't understand it, hit it with a crowbar" crowd. None of it tells us for sure what Thompson is for. Hell, if you think about it (the last thing candidates like Thompson or Clinton want), you realize it doesn't stay a hell of a lot about what he's actually against. But he's DOWN witcha in that redneck 'hood. And that, apparently, is what counts to the followers of "Cottonwood" Thompson.

Ron Paul supporters, on the other hand, while they may well have red necks come by honestly from riding a tractor, are not afraid of studying up a bit to try and understand what the hell their candidate is on about. They don't mind saying - "Austrian economics? What the HELL is Austrian economics? Why don't I just google that..."

And suddenly, there's the whole course load for Econ 301, introduction to free market economies. PLUS some.

These here "internet tubes" have achieved a libertarian dream: they have deregulated access to information. There is no restriction based on race, class, creed or economic standing. There is no "hidden knowledge" - once you have achieved the Gnosis of Google. I'm limited in my learning only by my education and intelligence - and if I can't change the latter, I can definitely add to the former. It's something I do every single day.

So, it's not all that surprising that a crowd of Ron Paul supporters can follow a lecture on Austrian Economics and a terse explianation of the problems with an unregulated and unsupervised central bank.

Aside from the political implications of a broadly educated and informed electorate, there are some incredible social ones, which I've addressed before and which seem to me to presage a time when hierarchal organization will seem terribly quaint, rather like Victorian Engineering, or feudalism.

In my humble opinion, the groundswell of Libertarianism comes from the realization that, whatever you think about the virtues and vices of government per se, the Internet is the basis for replacing a hierarchical, authoritarian government with a networked, non-hierarchical facility for co-ordinating those interested in being co-ordinated.

It's doing that already, brilliantly. I give you the Ron Paul Revolution as a conspicuous example of the phenomenon, and what can be achieved when it's used creatively by intelligent people.

Ron Paul supporters are those who expect people wanting to be placed in a position of authority to have something in their briefcase besides a sack lunch, and he speaks eloquently about re-establishing trust in two critical areas of proper governance - our money supply and the interlocked domains of foreign and trade policy.

It's indisputable when it comes to his favorite topics - money, taxation and the Constitution, Ron Paul is authoritative. He's even made a fed spokesperson cry.

Whether you agree with him or not, there is no question that you'd have to work real hard to credibly dispute economics or monetary policy with him. And he's got a long history of standing up for his beliefs in the face of obvious pressure and all kinds of profit.

That's appealing to the conscientiously liberal as well as studied, plain folks who try to vote their values.

Web Hosting Choice

If you do anything that's important to you on the web -such as serious blogging - you really need to consider what sort of host and hosting plan you need.

I personally could get by with a really low-end host. Or so I thought, until some jerk took exception to what I wrote and did a denial of service attack on my host - who kicked me. It turned out that according to them, I was responsible for the security on my little partition of one of their servers. Not only did I lose my site, I lost quite a lot of my work, and it was months before my site was back up to the traffic and ranking it had enjoyed previously. Cheap can be quite expensive.

Web Hosting Choice
[ ] is a service that categorizes all the hosting plans and services they are aware of, so you can pick a host and plan based on your needs. They do a pretty good job of demystifying things, and calling your attention to things you may not have thought of. It will allow you to make a reasonable choice between hosting plans, by comparing feature to feature. If you are considering stepping up to your own host and domain, this is a good place to get started.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's The Ethics, Stupid!

This election is going to turn on ethics and values, and who the voters feel genuinely intends to do the right thing by us as a people and as a nation. Here are two indicators, and what I think they imply.

Paul credits anti-war stance for size of his war-chest

DES MOINES — GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul credited his stance against the war in Iraq for his hefty fund raising haul over the weekend when he raised more than $6 million in a single day.

“I believe the war has been the igniting factor to the campaign from day one,” Paul said.

Paul is drawing support from a demographic no other candidate has seriously tapped, to my knowledge - people who either have never voted, or were not intending to vote.

Paul supporter Jessica Borgnis of Des Moines came to see him Monday. Borgnis voted for George Bush in 2000, but said she became disillusioned after the country went to war.

“I switched my vote to a third-party candidate in 2004, and wasn’t going to vote this election year, and when I heard about Ron Paul, I just regained confidence in the system,” she said.

read more | digg story

But Paul's support does not come from nowhere and nothing. Frankly, "It's Karma, Baby." This story from Burnt Orange Report seems to underline the principle that "Cheaters never Prosper."

What Dan Barrett's Victory Means for Texas by: Matt Glazer

Dan Barrett's victory tonight has implications beyond better representation for Fort Worth residents. To relay its importance, we have to look at what brought us to this point.

In 2001, Republican's drew a map they thought would elect 102 R's and 48 D's. They were wrong as only 88 Republicans and 62 Democrats were elected in 2002. Still, it was a striking blow to Democrats as we had lost our majority, the Speakership, and control of the operation of the Texas House. That was a low point for Democrats in Texas as well as nationally. The result was the rise of the neo-conservative, uber Republican Tom Craddick who slashed the budget and cut social programs like CHIP and education funding. To this day that funding has never been restored even with surpluses in the state budget.

In 2006, Democrats won 6 seats plus Donna Howard's special election. In 2007 we welcomed Kirk England to the Democratic Party and now we have Dan Barrett as member of our caucus as well. We've not even yet had a single vote cast the 2008 primaries, and there are now 71 Democrats in Texas House- a stunning and speedy reversal based on the same map that was drawn to have only 42 Democratic seats.

A number of factors are no doubt at work, but I don't think we can dismiss principled outrage at the behavior of Tom Delay and Texas Republicans in so conspicuously and arrogantly gerrymandering the state. And then, well, there's everything a certain former Texas Governor has been up to since then. At some point, party allegiance becomes an embarrassment rather than a point of pride. I'm guessing that either Republicans have been staying home in droves, or they have been crossing party lines.

Here's something to note in reference to Ron Paul's campaign, and Kucinich's run for the Democratic nomination.)

In addition, Barrett was dramatically out spent. According to the 8 day out reports, Mark Shelton spent over $100,000 and raised (and presumably spent) another $10,000 from TexPAC before the election. Barrett on the other hand spent a little over $45,000 according to his 8 day report. Again, according to his telegram reports, raised an additional $4,000 in the final week of the election from Texas Parent PAC and two individuals.

Breaking it down, that means Barrett spent $9.13 per vote compared to about $23.40 per vote for Shelton.

Money doesn't seem to be talking as loud as it used to. I don't know how well Barrett used the Internet to gather attention, so it's hard to compare that aspect of his campaign to Ron Paul's, but it could well have been a significant passive factor.

Unlike the elections of my youth, where it was next to impossible to gather enough information for an average voter to make a decent choice, today a voter is just a Google away from everything a challenger wants them to know, and everything an incumbent hopes they have forgotten.

Somebody should do some polling on that.

But for the majority party to lose to an under-funded challenger in a district gerrymandered in that party's favor - that should be as close to an impossible as politics allows.

But then, losing at least half of the military vote that Republicans have come to rely on has got to sting. There's this Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll which is dissected here .

Nearly six out of every 10 military families disapprove of Bush's job performance and the way he has run the war, rating him only slightly better than the general population does.

And among those families with soldiers, sailors and Marines who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, 60% say that the war in Iraq was not worth the cost, the same result as all adults surveyed.
And then there are rumblings within the ranks of evangelical and conservative Christians. who seem to have finally noticed the wide gap between stated principles and evident actions. This may lead to some internal upheaval as well as a real problem for most Republican candidates except Ron Paul, who's gotten the most military donations of any candidate and is respected for his forthright Christianity, even if he's unwilling to legislate his morality.

All told, it's looking more and more like Paul's campaign has the potential, in terms of both actual and potential supporters, to go all the way to the finish line. Not a "spoiler" - as some would like to portray him - but as the logical, viable and popular choice for the Republican nomination, and win or lose, a far more significant stature within the party.

I'm sure that idea is making certain established Republican figures crap ice cubes. Moreover, imagine the funk sweat on K-Street. Lobbyists don't even bother knocking on his door any more. But here's the logical outcome of this; the big money has to go to the more "credible" candidates - that is to say, the ones willing to be bribed to bend the rules.

Clearly the "smart money" of that sort is backing a Guliani/Clinton match; a win/win proposition for K-Street and big business. But as we have seen, money doesn't seem to count for as much as it did, and it may even be that huge campaign chests and slick, triangulated, focus-grouped campaigns might be a net negative.

I personally think it is a negative, or at best a neutral, because neither campaign is going to be saying what voters want to hear. And meanwhile, they may well be doing direct political calculus of their own: Elect a solid Democratic majority to ensure Health Care (You don't need Hillary for that) - and Ron Paul to get us out of Iraq. Because for that, you need someone with the authority to say "wind it up and ship them home."

I'm not one to make bets or give odds, but I'm thinking a bet on a Democratic near-sweep of open seats in the House and Senate is far better than even odds, while the idea of Ron Paul becoming President is, while still a long shot, not at all inconceivable.

It's not so much Paul's race to win as it is for all the others to lose - but they all seem well-positioned for that outcome.

Illustration: It's The Ethics,Stupid!, by webcarve
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Orgasms for world peace-Friday

clipped from

Any way you scream it, one group hopes you'll be having an orgasm in the name of world peace this Friday at 6:08 GMT.

At the exact moment of the winter solstice, the world is urged to get busy at the second annual Global Orgasm for World Peace.

Click here to visit the Web site.

People across the world — but especially in countries with "weapons of mass destruction and places where violence is used in place of medication" — are being asked to synchronize their orgasms, according to the group's Web site.

This group session of sexual healing, aka The Big O, is designed to be an "instantaneous surge of human biological, mental and spirtual energy" that organizers hope will reduce levels of violence, hatred and fear around the world during this, the longest night of the year.

Global Orgasm is the brain child of Donna Sheehan and Paul Reffell, co-founders of the anti-war organization Baring Witness, a group of activists who strip to make public peace displays with their naked bodies.

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I predict a minor, but significant increase in global CO2 and smoke particulates about 6:10.

EPA refuses to allow California to set tougher standards.

clipped from

EPA says 17 states can't set emission rules for cars

WASHINGTON--The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday denied California and 16 other states the right to set their own standards for carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles.
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This may well end up in the Supreme Court and, as a clear-cut "state's rights" issue, it should.

Aside from that principle, the move is widely seen as crony capitalism at it's worst, evidence of the politicization of environmental policy, and, of course, payola to the auto industry.

Indeed, since many other states were considering adopting California standards, Bush has managed to offend about half of the states directly. Hm. I recall some time back there was something or another that offended about half the states. I think it had to do with "states rights" as well.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ron Paul: A matter of concience.

At midnight EST, donations were over $6 million, according to the campaign Web site. Those donations were processed credit-card receipts, said Paul campaign spokesman Jesse Benton. Benton said the median donation was about $50 in the fundraiser, which was the idea of Paul supporters who are not officially connected to the campaign.

Like many Paul backers, Lyman is a political novice. He has never even bothered to vote. But he had to act, he said, when the new Democratic majority in Congress didn't pull the troops out of Iraq. He was drawn to Paul and his promise to end the war immediately.

"I know my tax dollars are being used to kill people," Lyman said. "It makes me feel horrible."

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Trevor Lyman, the unpaid and unofficial Ron Paul volunteer who is directly responsible for two record-breaking "money bombs" has captured the attention of Mainstream Media.

Why is he doing it? What does he expect to gain? What agenda does he advocate? What strings, in other words, come with this money?

Conscience. Strings of principle, of ethics and of conscience - strings that Ron Paul is more than happy to be bound by.

"I know my tax dollars are being used to kill people," Lyman said. "It makes me feel horrible."

It's hard to argue with motivations like that - and it's hard to argue that such motivations are "naive" or "unrealistic" in light of more than ten millions raised on the strengths of Ron Paul's principles alone, without direct or implied bribes.

Ron Paul doesn't advocate single payer health care and he's opposed to social security in principle (I differ with him there, by the by). But there are few personally selfish reasons to vote for him. They don't call him "Dr. No" for nothin'.

That's not "relativism," it's sociopathy

Hell's Handmaiden has dipped into the reality stream and come up with a net full of three-legged tadpoles...

Honestly, it is the first round of freshman, mostly, college papers I’ve seen in years. The subject is relativism. ...

Of the papers I’ve seen so far easily one in ten contains assertions in support of ethical relativism. Some of them contain quite strong assertions in favor of it. What is even more bizarre is that most of these defenders of relativism defend individual relativism, not cultural, and most tow the same basic line– that we can’t decide who is right or wrong so we just act how we feel like and, effectively, settle things by force.

Gee, I wonder where they got that idea. The news, perhaps?

I'd love to quote some of these papers but that would be wrong. I’m not even going to identify the school or the class title or the section number… or even the damned state. But ya know what? If I did quote from these papers, these damned relativists would be telling me that I shouldn’t have done so– telling me that my decision was wrong.!


I’d love to walk into that class and tell them that I’d posted every single paper online, complete with sarcasm, ridicule and whatever other snark I can manage. It isn’t that I’d actually like to do it. I’d just like to tell them that I’d done it and then listen to the whines of “that’s just not right” and “that’s wrong, man” and “you violated this or that principle or something”. Then I’d explain that if in fact they are relativists– individual relativists– as they argued in their papers then I am justified in posting their papers online. I am justified for no other reason than simply that I felt like it was the right thing to do.

I think I can put my thumb on the issue here. And while I can blame them for being purblind idiots for falling into this particular ethical trap, it's not like there wasn't a path beaten for them by many people, presumably older and wiser, who clearly chose not to know better.

The issue is not so much the idea that "right and wrong" are relative to the individual, the culture and the situation. All of these things are quite correct, and if you don't pay attention to whether or not the situation alters cases, you can easily end up doing the worst possible thing for all the "right" reasons. So the importance of the concept itself cannot be sufficiently stressed. The problem is that there still is a right and a wrong, a good and a bad, a useful and useless that in all but a few (and pretty darned obvious) cases that is external to any individual metric of good and bad.

You must always consider the consequences of your actions in regard to others, because if those consequences affect others in a negative or harmful way, they will surely hold you to account, if they can. Nor does obscuring the connection between you and the consequence of your action serve to make unethical actions ethical. It merely means you are putting an ethical debt onto your line of Karmic Credit, so to speak.

Or if you prefer, you are tempting Murphy.

There are few better expressions of individualistic moral relativism than the Wiccan Rede; "An it harm none, do as ye will."

That's the trick, of course, and that's the nub of this fallacy; it's not a question of "relativism," it's the manifestly and clinically stupid idea that one has the inherent right to do anything one desires... and get away with it!

I've blogged about this many times from many different angles, so I can happilly choose between good and best. My comments policy contains my most succinct statement of my understanding of this issue.

One problem in our nation is that Democrats and other Liberals are still acting as if the current situation in the United States were a political issue, one that arose due to politics and one that can be addressed in that manner. I'm afraid Glenn believes that as well. It's not. It's about cheats, liars and outright traitors in office and in positions of influence who are willing to do and say anything to achieve their ends.

This attitude - supposedly expressed by Newt Gingrich, as told to Bill Clinton as "But if we didn't cheat, we couldn't win" is cancerous. If you have to cheat to win, you don't deserve it and you aren't qualified to have it. All around us we see the results of what happens when cheaters lie and steal their way into power. Aside from the ethics, aside from the illegalities, aside from whatever possibly treasonous and certainly contemptible alliances with offshore oil interests there may be - they have no qualifications other than a lifetime spent lying, cheating and stealing.

These qualities are fit only for ruling a fantasy-land of self-delusion. they not apply well to real situations with real concerns. For instance, while you can lie yourself into a war, you cannot cheat your way to a victorious resolution. You can say "we are winning' every day, but the truth will speak louder than you. You can assert that "things are getting better in New Orleans", but a quick email to anyone there will put the lie to it.

Republicans - and by this I specifically include most of all their basement dwelling, Pajamas Media funded cheerleaders - are like the barking dog chasing the car. We now see what happens when the fool dog catches it.

The whole point to relativistic moral visions is to minimize blowback more than legalistic approaches can, not to pretend that it does not exist and cannot occur to you!

Of course, if one discounts the importance of consequence that do not happen personally, dramatically and immediately, it's possible to evolve an ethic - such as realpolitik - which will lead to short term advantage at the price of long term, indirect consequences.

Situational ethics (a distinctly Christian expression of Consequentialism, which is in itself an evolution of Utilitarianism) is used by many persons who's basic ethos comes from Sunday School to determine whether or not a particular moral truism actually does apply in this particular case; I and other ethical thinkers observe that it's not a replacement for those truisms.

Truisms are truisms because they are mostly true, most of the time.

All of these various ethical philosophies state that it is the outcome of an action that matters, rather than the choice of a particular action, or the inherent virtue or lack in the person. I would argue further that consequences - the observable outcome of a particular choice - is all that we have to objectively determine how "good" or "bad" a particular set of assumptions and choices were.*

If you wish a Christian summation of that - there is the parable of the fig tree, which is as succinct a summation of this principle as can be imagined. According to the parable, it matters not at all whether the fig tree is beautiful or ugly - if it's fruit is bitter and useless, it should be cut down, because it's wasting both space, cultivation efforts and nutrients to produce nothing of value.

Christ Himself was arguably a Utilitarian ethicist.

However - and this is a rather LARGE "however" - Situational ethics, moral relativism, however you wish to refer the idea, and whatever particular flavor you prefer - work only when you apply them to the truism like the fine-tuning knob on an old TV.

The idea is to ensure that the basic principle is applied with accuracy to the situation - not to arbitrarily decide that a small difference amounts to a total distinction.

The basis for a legalistic approach to morality and ethics is as follows, that a rigid application of The Law will tend to produce more beautiful trees with sweeter fruit, on the whole, if the assumptions made by those who set the law in place were accurate.

Therefore, it's important to regularly examine and critique the assumptions made by those who set The Law in place, and to compare their predictions of outcome to actual, provable outcome.

EG: No Child Left Behind, the Patriot Act, etc. Clearly, the stated intents of a law do not always play out in practice, even given the assumption that the authority imposing the law was truthful in stating their intent.

Now, having said that, it should also be said that if you don't understand the intent of a moral or legal diktat, you probably should not try to futz about with it. But I've never had much patience with folks who blindly follow rules simply because they are posted on a wall. ANYone could have put them there, for whatever reason, not excluding the possibility of a practical joke.

So I've always felt it important to examine rules, laws, morals and ethical standards to see what the intended outcome is. This will reveal many cases where the intent is good, but the rule is stupid, or that the rule or law was created for malicious, bigoted or dishonest reasons, and such rules should only be followed as written if Massa is watching. :P

Any general guide to proper behavior has an obvious problem; first, that it's a general guide, and there will be some exceptional cases where applying the guide as if it were an inarguable rule will result in more harm than taking a different, possibly "immoral" course of action. That reality is often used as a reason to toss out all moral truisms as invalid - but that simply leaves one without anywhere to even start an ethical analysis or behave in a way that predictably results in "golden rule" standards of behavior.

Morals - valid, well tested, culturally appropriate morals - are ideally the best first approximation and hopefully the best reflexive choice, and the obvious the starting point to evaluating the best course of action whenever you have time to think about a choice in depth.

Simply stated, a "moral code" is a set of ethical equations that have been generalized within a cultural matrix over a wide assortment of individual cases over a span of time, so that in general one does not have to deeply consider every single choice of action.

But such a moral code must provably result in better outcomes than some other set of morals or competitive ethos. And when such a code even arguably, much less provably results in worse outcomes than none, from any reasonable standpoint, that "moral code" is unethical, and practicing it for oneself is immoral, much less attempting to impose it upon others as a cultural and legal standard.
*I reject any moral or ethical equasion that has a scope greater than that of a particular person that depends on supposed, faith-based consequences, such as "you'll go to hell" or "Eris hates personal organizers."

Choose that for yourself, if you must, if you think an arbitrary and unprovable consequence is more important than provable and direct consequences - but do not expect others to forgive or forget actions you take based on such unprovable assumptions.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bad Sex Award

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The shortlist for the annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award for the most awkward description of an intimate encounter has been revealed
Harry Potter actor David Thewlis is among the authors up for the prize, given for crude and tasteless sexual depictions in published literature.

Jeanette Winterson and the late Norman Mailer are also in the running.

Now in its 14th year, the prize is awarded by Literary Review magazine in an attempt to discourage authors from writing such accounts.
It is given to the passage considered to be the most redundant in an otherwise excellent novel.
David Thewlis is nominated for his first novel, The Late Hector Kipling, Winterson for The Stone Gods and Mailer for The Castle in the Forest.
Previous winners
AA Gill, Sebastian Faulks and Tom Wolfe
declined to receive his award in person

She responded with those cries that men long to hear, the sweet deep moaning sounds that echo the sigh of oceans, the ebb and flow of fields, the sough of stars.

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I'm not sure I have the courage to click through...

Long before Ron Paul, JFK tried to give us "hard money."

June 4, 1963, a little known attempt was made to strip the Federal
Bank of its power to loan money to the government
at interest. On that day President John F. Kennedy signed Executive
Order No. 11110 that returned to the U.S. government the power
to issue currency, without going through the Federal Reserve.
Mr. Kennedy's order gave the Treasury the power "to issue
silver certificates against any silver bullion, silver, or standard
silver dollars in the Treasury." This meant that for every
ounce of silver in the U.S. Treasury's vault, the government
could introduce new money into circulation. In all, Kennedy
brought nearly $4.3 billion in U.S. notes into circulation.
The ramifications of this bill are enormous.
the stroke of a pen, Mr. Kennedy was on his way to putting the
Federal Reserve Bank of New York out of business.
This is because the silver certificates are backed by silver
and the Federal Reserve notes are not backed by anything.

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And had he lived, we would not have a 30+ trillion dollar national debt now. I leave "Who shot JFK" for speculation. Why, though, seems pretty damn obvious.

The link will explain how the Federal Reserve creates money out of thin air and then loans it to the Government at interest.

That's one hell of a sweet scam. One you would kill to protect in a hot second if you had a piece of the action.

You see, that thirty + trillion dollars of debt is in part a direct theft by hidden taxation. In other words, if you do a dollar's worth of work and are paid a dollar, but that dollar is invisibly devalued by a dime over the next year, you have been taxed. When you have a currency that is not backed by anything, it's very easy to conceal that tax by manipulating the money supply and interest rates, to complexify the matter beyond the ken of all but those with supercomputer access.

But the fact remains; your savings are not worth as much as they should be, nor can you buy a dollar's worth of goods for your dollar of sweat.

And that is theft. A very complex and sophisticated form of theft, one very dear to the heart of some persuasive thieves, but theft it is.

Remember, all that money (representing economic effort) went to benefit people who had no just reason to profit.

This is always the way when a currency is debased, and it always is debased following the creation of some wonderfully persuasive form of justification for the necessity to replace gold with lead in the coinage.

But it is theft, or at best, taxation by other means, and it its a tax that does not in any way benefit those who are taxed; it goes directly into the hands of bankers in exchange for a fraudulent "service" we do not need.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Moyers And Olbermann: Emergency Rules of Journalism

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In a revealing interview with Bill Moyers, Keith Olbermann talks about the genesis of his Countdown special comments, how he almost quit his current show in 2003 when MSNBC tried to force him to air and commentary by Mike Savage and also how he has transferred his considerable skills as a sports journalist to covering the world of politics. Part of the trick for Keith was maintaining the same sense of skepticism he did about the star athletes he covered when covering politicians in Washington. Check out the video to your right for this meeting of two progressive media titans.

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The best, and I think the most important part of this dialogue comes toward the end, when Moyers hands Olbermann a very tough question - and Olbermann gives what I think is a very interesting and important answer:

It amounts to this: that yes, he is doing what "The other side does," but he then goes on to say that the situation is so emergent that he has no choice.

Support Chris Dodd's Filibuster

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Sometime today, Chris Dodd will take the floor in the US Senate and begin talking -- a filibuster -- and what he has to say touches on the most important issues facing this country. The immediate topic will be a bill to provide retroactive immunity to telecom companies who violated the law by helping the Bush Administration illegally spy on Americans. But the larger issue is whether Congress will ever hold a lawless executive branch responsible for its criminal behavior.

Dodd speech on Senate floor

Senate phone numbers are here; we should focus first on the 14 Senator who promised to help Dodd. Here are their fax and phone numbers:

UPDATE II: URGENT ACTION: Sign A Petition To Tell Harry Reid To Join Dodd’s Filibuster

You can sign the petition to Reid here.

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You don't grant "retroactive immunity" when the crime rises to the level of an impeachable offense. And it's disgusting that Harry Reid is even allowing this bill to come to a vote.

For shame, Sir. I signed the petition and I'm sure I'm not alone.

From the people who obsess about "stranger danger."

People who discuss Focus On The Family and similar groups tend to look at what such groups are against: gays, abortion, contraception, pornography, sex in general. But there hasn't been enough attention to the sort of things such groups are for. What sort of families do they focus on? What do they think about how children should be raised?
Let's start with James Dobson himself. The quotations below are from his 1992 book The New Dare To Discipline, quoted by Dogemperor, himself a survivor of Christian child abuse, and Stop the Rod. When I use the term "child abuse" here I am referring to physical, not sexual abuse. Of course, as with any quotations, readers should check their accuracy. But having checked Dobson's web sites, I see no reason to doubt Dogemperor.
Dobson's wife whipped their 15 month old daughter for going onto the patio in the rain. Dobson says to show "parental warmth after such discipline" and to have a "loving conclusion to the disciplinary encounter." p. 36
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The current social panic about pedophilia may well be a valid concern - but it's also a distraction from one of the most distressing realities of our time; that if a child is abused, it's rare for them to be first abused by a stranger.

Spiritual, physical and sexual abuse most often occurs within the safety of the home - and since perps do love to justify their acts to themselves, they very often join authoritarian religions that encourage and even sanctify their taste for imposing their will upon others.

It's also interesting to read these books and imagine what sort of mindset it would create. Well, it's not all that hard to imagine, the first crop of evangelical home-schooled and regularly beaten children, the ones that did not go mad and who followed in the footsteps their fathers set out for them have now been liberally appointed to higher offices.

Consider for yourself, the fruits of this tree.

Huckabee: cover up for son's cruel deed reflects dad's ethics

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Dogged: An incident involving his son David could hurt Huckabee
As Mike Huckabee gains in the polls, the former Arkansas governor is finding that his record in office is getting more scrutiny. One issue likely to get attention is his handling of a sensitive family matter: allegations that one of his sons was involved in the hanging of a stray dog at a Boy Scout camp in 1998. The incident led to the dismissal of David Huckabee, then 17, from his job as a counselor at Camp Pioneer in Hatfield, Ark. It also prompted the local prosecuting attorney— bombarded with complaints generated by a national animal-rights group—to write a letter to the Arkansas state police seeking help investigating whether David and another teenager had violated state animal-cruelty laws. The state police never granted the request
"Without question, [Huckabee] was making a conscious attempt to keep the state police from investigating his son," says I. C. Smith, the former FBI chief in Little Rock
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More questions arise as people poke into Huckabee's family and past.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ron Paul Tea Party Rapidly Approaches $3 Million Mark

According to sources, by 11am EST the Ron Paul Tea Party 07 had reached $2.9 million in donations with 13 hours to go. The American people are speaking loud and clear.

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