Friday, December 31, 2004

The Management Regrets...

Sorry about the infrequent postings lately (please say you noticed), but between my year-end lassitude and the recent rains' determination to ignore the barrier of the roof over my kitchen and seek out and saturate my computer (at which they only partially succeeded..."got you, suckas"), I've just found it to be too much to turn on the computer. I'll try harder next year. That's not a resolution or anything.

Commerce First

Headline in this morning's paper:
South Asia Tsunami
Crushing blow to tourism

About time somebody put these things in the proper perspective. We can soon expect followup stories describing the effects of 150,000 lost consumers and the blow struck to the Asian funeral industry by the mass burials and lost bodies.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Wall Street Feeling the Love

There's an article in the New York Times(yes, sorry, registration required) about the opulent year end bonuses being given on Wall Street this year. By opulent, I mean up to seven and 8 digits.

Just think, if BushCo has its way, this could be your social security contributions financing those bonuses in a couple of years.

Thanks to TBogg for the link.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve Observations

Late this afternoon I found myself in Barnes and Noble, looking for a final gift. The secular Christmas carols playing in the store competed with "Genius Loves Company" coming from the adjacent Starbucks. In the current events section Ann Coulter sits peacefully beside Al Franken. "Unfit for Command" is 50% off. Neither the sales clerk at B&N nor the one at Starbucks wished me a "Merry Christmas," but I don't think either meant anything by it.

Walking through the neighborhood as it was getting dark, I lingered outside a church as people entered for the evening service. Through the open door I could hear the choir singing a Christmas hymn. A couple of blocks away I came upon a house with a leaf-bare tree in the front yard decorated with small white lights and a scattering of disco balls hanging from the branches. The full moon was rising above and to the right of the tree. On the ground, in the flower bed behind the tree, a crystal ball reflected the whole image, save for the moon, in miniature.

Earlier this afternoon, I visited with a friend of mine at her Art Gallery, as customers stopped by to examine the paintings and her friends stopped by to exchange Christmas greetings. She told me how lucky she is to live the life she does, doing what she loves, with kind and loving friends and family. I don't think luck played too great a part in all this. She has lived a life of generosity and good will and consciously tries to figure out and do the right thing. She is living the life she has made for herself.

As I write this, my soft, furry, and fluffy cat is on my lap, his front paws draped over my left arm. He occasionally cranes his neck to look at me and meows; I oblige him by rubbing his head. The Adagio un poco mosso from Beethoven's 5th piano concerto is playing on the box. I believe this exemplifies ethereal.

Tomorrow morning, if you look at the sky before dawn, you'll see the five visible planets. You won't have this chance again until 2016.

Horrible things happen in this world and too often those are the things I write about. The world is full of things of beauty and hope, too, and it doesn't take too great an effort to find and appreciate them.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

"Christmas War" Round-up

Steve M, at No More Mr. Nice Blog, gives a nice summary of the "Christmas Wars," concluding that they are being waged mostly in the imaginations of the wingnuts. That's about right, and that applies to most of the squawking from the religionists about the "persecution" of Christians in this country and the efforts by liberals to drive them from the public square.

The most egregious example of what's going on was the Republican leaflet handed out in Arkansas before the election claiming that Kerry would ban the Bible if elected. Of course there was no factual basis for such a claim, but it resonated with a religious and ignorant chunk of the electorate that has been conditioned over the years to believe that liberals and other secularists want to eliminate Christianity and other religions from American life. I'm not going to say that nobody has this as an aim, because we have our own wingnuts, but nobody I know and nobody I've read of has either stated this is an aim or has taken action to produce this effect. I know of no burning of religious buildings or artifacts aside from crosses, black Christian churches, and synagogues being burned by white Christians.

What I and people like me want is for government to remain separate from religion. The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." There's two parts to that folks; Congress won't make any laws establishing religion and it won't pass any laws prohibiting it. How hard is that? You can have all the churches you want, you can write all the religious novels and religious songs and have religious parades and festivals and you can kneel on the sidewalk and pray if you want. Just don't ask the government to make these things compulsory. Don't have required prayers or "moments of silence" in school, don't stick "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance just 'cause you can. Celebrate your religion as you wish, on your time, and leave me to celebrate mine, or not, as I see fit. It's that simple. Why don't these people get it?


Who are we to Judge Fashion?

From Yahoo comes the story of a young southern maiden coldheartedly denied the opportunity to wear a prom dress "celebrating her heritage." Jacqueline Duty of Lexington, Ky, was kicked out of her senior prom last spring for wearing a dress styled as a large Confederate Battle Flag. Poor Ms. Duty, according to her lawyer Earl-Ray Neal (I just had to work that name in here), had "her only dance for her senior prom on the sidewalk to a song playing on the radio."

Not being a fan of speech codes and thinking a little offensiveness can stimulate passionate discussion, I think she should have been allowed into the dance. If she's proud of a heritage of racism, treason, and proud subjugation of other people based on their skin color, who are we to tell her she's out of line? Perhaps her peers could have done that for us.

I wonder if we may not have seen the last of Ms. Duty. With her combination of moxie and witlessness, plus being a college student, could we be looking at the next Mrs. Mike Adams?

...And Then The Blog Universe Shrinks

With this post, the operators of This is the Shit announce the end of their run. Farewell, thanks for fighting the good fight as long as you could, and we hope to hear from you again.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Blog Universe Continues its Expansion

Generik has left ThisIsTheShit, or TITS, as qubit prefers, to take up residence at a new place of his own, The Generik Brand.

While we're on the subject of additions to the BARBARian logroll, off to your right there you'll see I've added Paperwight's Fair Shot, the blog of a self-styled young San Francisco curmudgeon.

Check out Generik's and the young grouch's blogs.

Monday, December 20, 2004

The spy sea with the blog whose town is new:

From English to Japanese and back again (in Italic)...
I have been severely neglecting this blog lately. Truthfully, I've been cheating on Some Fruits Are Spicy with a new blog in town: But really, folks, I had been cheating on SFS for at least a month with both and Yes, it is true.
I recently had neglected this blog harshly. Honestly, I had done illegality with several fruits, it is the spy sea with the blog whose town is new: Http: // But really, the people, I at least did illegality with the January between SFS, with, both, the http: // and http: // It is, that is truth.
Have I mentioned that Pete of the Dark Window had a dream in which I told a train conductor that Pete wouldn't be needing his suitcase off the train because from here on out we were going to live on love alone?

It frightened me, too.

The sad thing is that I really wanted it to be Zach Braff dreaming of me. Alas, no.
As for me, the peat of the dark window, the peat will not need that suitcase from the train, to say you looked at the dream which I convey to the conductor of the train increase it is high, because, from here outside, as for us, in regard to love it was the intention of living with 1 person?

Me and it made that fear.

Sad thing, is that to want me making the ザカリア Braff which dreams of me truly? B at all without alary projection.
Oh my god, I forgot to call Revaz back two nights ago.

In any case, I have been working on a few things and trying to stick to some sort of a schedule. This is a very new thing for me.
My God, I neglected the fact that the Revaz is recalled in two last night.

In case of what kind of, I had been about will process small-numbered ones, to persist in schedule of a certain kind. This does with very new forcing ones because of me.
Thing 1: Having never been very good at school (I didn't pay attention and I didn't do my homework), I have decided to teach myself...something. I am starting my re-education with U.S. History. All my friends think I am a total freak because I have rented The History Channel's Founding Fathers Vol. I, which I take notes on as it plays, and am reading both an old History book from college (ha ha) and Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States ( I am not a geek, but I do hope to become one someday.
Thing 1: (I did not pay attention in the school, in addition, because I did not do the assignment) excessively was not good, I decided that it educates independently. I have begun re-education in the American history. My friend being to borrow everyone and the historical channel, thinks I am the total of abnormality, it is the founder, the Vol. I and me take that, assuming note, at on, that does, in addition the university () and the historical book where is old from the Howard Zinn so reads the both which are, race America (the http: // staff /obidos/tg/detail/-/0060926430/002-4186185-3519261? V= glance) history. I am not mania. But, I desire the fact that once upon a time it becomes 1.
And so it continues, concluding with...
And in case you thought I didn't notice:
To the one person who actually reads this blog, I am sorry I have been neglecting you. Really I am
In addition, unless I become aware, being careful, you thought:
Having neglected you for 1 person who reads this blog in actuality, I am regrettable. Actually, I so am.
Recalled in two, indeed. (Apologies to Tomato, but this was too funny.)

Works Too Well Either Way

From Ironic Times
,"Correction - An article which began with the statement, 'A working system in need of only minor adjustment may be replaced with an enormously expensive and risky new system which does not and will not work,' was placed under the headline, 'Bush Backs Privatizing Social Security.' It should have been placed under the headline, 'Missile Defense Fails Another Key Test.' We apologize for the mix-up."

Social Security Funding

Sorry to be back with another Social Security post, but it's important, really, that the Democrats get ahead and stay ahead of the Republicans on this. Bush is resolutely avoiding putting forth any actual details of a reform package so far, though that hasn't kept Republicans from doing so and engaging Democrats in something of a debate of the merits of those details. What Bush is doing is harping on the notion that the system is in a crisis and will go bankrupt unless drastic reforms are undertaken.

What the Democrats need to do is acknowledge that the system is not in crisis but that there may be a shortfall of funds four decades down the road if nothing is done in the interim to prevent that. Then, in the next breath, we need to explain the something we have in mind to prevent that. It's already too late to say nothing has to be done; the Republicans have pushed things along too far in the press (which is even more clueless and compliant to the Administration's line on this than they were on WMDs), and to a lesser extent the public mind, to make this work, even if it's essentially true.

One other point about the nature of the "crisis." One of the Republican lines about SS is that the only thing that will keep SS from insolvency is "IOUs" from the government to the system. This is where it gets interesting and the dishonesty or disingenousness of the Republicans comes into play. Social Security is set up to be funded by taxes that come out of our paychecks that are specifically withheld for that purpose. That there is a set aside funding mechanism for SS distinguishes it from other government programs. Because there is and has been more money currently being taken in that is going out, there is and has been a surplus in the SS fund. This money is invested by buying bonds from the US Treasury. These bonds are the IOUs you hear about. They are no different from bonds (or, if you prefer, IOUs) purchased from the US Treasury by you or me or the governments of China or Japan. The US Treasury has no less obligation to make good on them.

Let's take this a step farther. Faced with a similar "crisis" in SS under Ronald Reagan, payroll withholding taxes were increased. We've been paying these increased taxes for twenty years now and it is that money that the government has borrowed from Social Security. This borrowed money has been used to finance the deficit. In other words, other government expenses, such as Defense spending, which have no earmarked income sources, have been paid for over the years by the money withheld from working people for Social Security. When the bill comes due, when it's time to pay back the people from whom this money has been borrowed, we are now being told, the government will be unable to pay it, because to do so would mean the government would have to borrow the money from some other source. That's absurd, though. We already borrow money from other sources on a daily basis and, although it causes the deficit and the National debt to soar, it doesn't affect the daily operations of the government. We will have to borrow more money to pay back China and Japan when the notes they hold become due. Why is it a burden to do the same when the notes held by the American people come due?

Friday, December 17, 2004

A New Blog

Welcome to the Barbarian "token reader" and his new blog, The Token Reader. Bay area blogging continues to blossom.

Again with Social Security

Sorry to keep coming back to Social Security, but it's kind of important, you know?

Paul Krugman again weighs in on this topic today, and there are two points in particular that he makes that I want to emphasize. The first is the administrative costs of privatized pension plans. Krugman writes,
"More than 99 percent of Social Security's revenues go toward benefits, and less than 1 percent for overhead. In Chile's system, management fees are around 20 times as high. And that's a typical number for privatized systems."
I think more than anything else that's the key to why we are having this whole debate at this time. Few serious people are worried that Social Security is going to go bankrupt in forty years, much less that the system is in crisis now. Bush and his ilk want to privatize Social Security because they want the securities industry to get its hands on those administrative fees. As with virtually every other initiative to come out of the White House in the last four years, this is driven by Bush's desire to transfer money from people who work and from government to those who are already rich. I have no idea what drives him to so single-mindedly pursue that goal, but there is no other rational explanation.

The other point Krugman makes has to do with the risks of privatized pension plans. Social Security was established in this country to shield people from poverty in their retirement should the markets fail. It wasn't some abstract theory, it was born of the experience of the 1929 stock market crash. Privatization plans to varying degrees remove this shield. In the event of a complete or partial market collapse that wipes out the retirement funds of large number of people (which could happen), or even in the event of bad investments by individuals that leave them with no or inadequate retirement funds (which will happen), are proponents of privatization willing to let these people live under bridges? At what point does government step in to help out these people? If proponents intend for government to step in to help these people, doesn't that belie their whole initial argument for privatization and expose the proposals for the money grab that they actually are?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

BarBarians Reunite

Tonight was the second meeting of the Bay Area Bloggers and Reader. Any significance that may have been attached to this event was drowned hours ago, leaving a foggy residual memory of engaging conversation and tasty calamari. I must thank Richard, of Scaramouche for organizing this get together at Ben and Nick's Bar and Grill on College in Oakland, a fine establishment serving beer, calamari, and I'm sure other things since some indeterminate date in the not-too-distant past. Appearing tonight for the first time in public was Andrew of Scamboogah(it's his site; let him explain the name) and, well, the King of Zembla. That's the name of the blog, not its author. He has a name, and he told it to me, I know he did, and I told him, "no, don't tell me, write it down, please (I think I told him that)," but did he?, no he didn't and here am I with the name of a blog but not its author, the name hiding in one of those dark corners of my cerebral cortex (if, in fact, I still have one). It may come out of hiding some time soon, but I doubt it. There are things that have been hiding there, out of my reach, for years now and I am no closer to grasping them now, probably farther away, if you must know, than I was when they first slipped the bonds of memory. That's where the king's name is now, dancing among the columns with Fermat's enigma, I just know it.

But I digress.

Most of those there at the first Barbarian get together in October were there again tonight. You know who you are and you'll be writing about it on your own blogs tomorrow. Also, our faithful and cherished reader, Ryan, showed up. Ryan, inexplicably, STILL HAS NO BLOG OF HIS OWN, even though setting one up is child's play (for christ's sake, even I have one (two, if you must know (you like the way I ever-so-not-subtly made a reference to my older and better material(better once you get past the gratuitous cat pictures. Who among us does not have gratuitous cat pictures in our past?)))? Look, soon, for Ryan's blog, The Token Reader.

Finally, we missed Pete, of The Dark Window. Our thoughts are with you Pete, and we hope you are well.

Anyway, it's late, and if you hadn't noticed, I need sleep. So, goodnight.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

More on Social Security

And more from Bob Somerby. He explains why borrowing money in the future to pay off today's borrowing from social security is no different from how the government funds other things. So why is it such a boogy-man when applied to SS?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Barbarian Invasion

Tomorrow (aka Wednesday, December 15) evening will be the second Occasional Gathering of Bay Area Bloggers and Readers ( works, okay?).
We will meet from 6-9pm at Ben & Nick's Bar & Grill for drinks and decreasingly coherent conversation.

The bar is in Oakland's Rockridge district, located at 5612 College Avenue (half a block from the Rockridge BART station) and a few blocks from Freeway exits on Hwy 24. Everybody within the sound of this blog is welcome. The last gathering, in October, featured darkly attired bloggers and readers imbibing beverages of questionable origin. It was, nonetheless, an evening passed pleasantly.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Our Dutch Uncle Republicans

Two themes conservative columnists seem to love are explaining to their readers what liberals think and telling liberals how we ought to conduct ourselves. The first is the raison d'etre of Ann Coulter, who has manufactured a career out of ginned up straw-man liberal arguments. Fortunately for Ann, it has not occurred to her legion of readers that if they really wanted to know what liberals think they could read the writings of liberals. That tells you a lot about Ann's readers.

The other theme, telling us what we ought to do, has always struck me as arrogant, patronizing and more than a little disingenuous. Does anybody really believe that Jonah Goldberg and George F. Will have the best interests of the Democratic Party or American liberalism in mind when they tell us that we ought to take up the standard of Peter Beinart and essentially adopt the George Bush world view of the terrorist threat? Which brings up another question; in his article Beinart says the Democrats must purge themselves of the likes of Michael Moore and MoveOn, the softies that he feels keep us from being taken seriously on the issue of national security. I'm not of the mind that anybody ought to be kicked out of the party, though some clearly ought to be marginalized. Do you suppose though that Beinart will take the time to reflect that opposition to his ideas has been widespread across the Democratic Party while they have been embraced by Republicans? Perhaps he ought to consider that if might be easier to just join a party that he agrees with than to convert a party he is out of step with.


Saturday, December 11, 2004

LOTR Mania

Today I had the interesting experience of accompanying five fifteen-year old girls to an instore appearance and book signing by Sean Astin (Sam Gamgee from the LOTR movies). Mr. Astin was there with his wife and adorable daughters and amiably signed copies of his book, "There and Back Again, An Actor's Tale," as well as any other LOTR merchandise the mob of mostly adolescent girls had for him. As he was leaving afterward, four of my five charges exhanged high-fives with the little guy and all agreed that they would never wash their hands again. Somehow they all conveyed this thought while hyperventilating.

About four years ago I made a strategic error which has haunted me ever since. Hearing that LOTR was being made into a live action film and wanting to have somebody to see it with me, I convinced my then-eleven-year old daughter to read the trilogy. I thought I was being oh so clever. She dutifully read the books, but wasn't really much impressed by them. The movies have been a different story though. She loves all three of them and has taken to following in detail the careers of virtually every actor with a speaking part in them. Her friends all seem to share this passion. I have had to attend midnight premiers with my daughter and her posse, this book signing, and indulged my daughter on our vacations to Southern California as she stalked the streets of Venice and Santa Monica hoping to spot Viggo Mortenson or Elijah Wood. I have spent hundreds of dollars on VHS, DVD, and extended DVD versions of the three movies. All because I didn't think, four years ago, that any of my "normal" friends would be willing to see these films without me. Perhaps not a miscalculation on the scale of starting a land war in Asia, but one for which I am continually paying.

Press Coverage of the Social Security "Debate"

For the last week or so, Bob Somerby, in The Daily Howler has been exposing the media bias in favor of privatizing social security. This bias takes the form of ignoring the relatively stable condition of the system as it is and the minor adjustments in revenue collection necessary to keep it stable beyond the time it is forecast to become "bankrupt," while noting again and again that without radical reform (read privatization) the system is doomed. Today he takes on David Brooks, asking whether he is "stupid or storebought." From what I've read of Brooks in the Times over the past year or so I'm not convinced it's not both. Yesterday he exposed Bruce Morton and Aaron Brown, on Thursday it was Lou Dobbs, on Wednesday the reliable Tim Russert, Tuesday it was Brooks again, and on Monday it was The Washington Post Editorial Page and John Kasich of the Times.
Of major pundits, only Krugman(registration required) can be relied on to offer some kind of balance to the prevailing opining that the ONLY way to save social security is through privatization. This bias in the media is being covered by Media Matters for America too.

Why is Krugman the only one explaining how Social Security actually works and how it can be preserved with only relatively minor revenue adjustments? Is the whole process just too complicated for these other scribes to analyze? Are they afraid of being on the wrong side of big pundit conventional wisdom? And why does nobody point out the hypocrisy of Bush and the Republicans pushing so hard for what is essentially the dismantling of Social Security as we've known it for seventy years when they often and loudly spent the month of October calling John Kerry a fearmonger for saying that was what they had in mind?

Playing the FCC

Atrios suggests fighting back against the likes of Brent Bozell by picking a "reasonable target" and filing FCC complaints. The obvious problem with this is, as execrable as so much of what you find on television is and as sweet as it would be to force the FCC to come down on right wing programming or offensive Big Pharma advertising or be exposed as hypocrites if it declines to do so, those who believe the FCC has already overstepped its bounds would be guilty of hypocrisy ourselves by engaging in this and giving Powell and Company further license to try to regulate content on television and radio.
I know the right has no problem pursuing actions that are contrary to its stated philosophy (and I know that is the understatement of the young century) but I still believe one of the things that sets us apart from the right is that we act on our principles. It may not help us win elections but it helps us sleep at night.

Do We Follow the GC at Gitmo?

First Draft exposes Scotty McClellan unable to give a straight, never mind honest, answer to a simple question:
Q I asked you the other day and didn't get an answer and I'll ask you again, do we follow the Geneva Conventions at Guantanamo?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President has already answered that question. We've answered that question on numerous occasions, Helen. The President's most solemn obligation is to protect the American people, and in terms of -- in terms of Guantanamo, it's related to the war on terrorism that we're fighting. We're fighting a different kind of war and we face an enemy like we have never faced before. The President designated individuals again Guantanamo as unlawful enemy combatants who do not share -- they are people who do not share our values, who do not respect the rule of law, and who have no regard for innocent --
after a little further sparring, Sauron's mouthpiece tossed this out:
These are people that are -- that do not adhere to the Geneva Conventions. These are enemy combatants who were picked up on the battlefield trying to do harm to Americans, or plotting to carry out attacks against the American people.
As an answer to the original question, may we take that as a "no?"

Monday, December 06, 2004

Exporting Freedom, US Style

The US military apparently has plans to turn Fallujah into a "model" totalitarian state, in which citizens, before being allowed back in, must submit to DNA testing and Retina scans and men will be organized into forced work brigades.

This is Bush's notion of exporting freedom?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Democrats on Terror

In a New Republic article, Peter Beinart argues that to be taken seriously on the anti-terrorism issue Democrats need to purge themselves of the likes of Michael Moore and MoveOn. His particular gripe with them is that they have been soft on anti-terrorism measures and that by allowing them to speak as prominent Democrats the party risks being viewed as hewing to their opinions and being rejected as a party by those who view terrorism as a greater threat than they do(funny how the Republicans don't seem to suffer by association with the likes of Robertson, Fallwell, Coulter, and any number of other rightwing spokesmen espousing decidedly anti-democratic views).

Beinart believes that MoveOn trivializes the threat to this country of terrorism while inflating the threat posed to freedom by the Patriot Act. Here, as in many areas, Beinart and the New Republic espouse a view virtually indistinguishable from that of the Bush Administration. Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations are able to kill large numbers of Americans and frighten many more Americans, but they cannot defeat this nation nor can they, on their own, undermine our values. By values I don't mean lying to children about sex and banning gay marriage. I mean placing limits on government interference with individual liberty. Placing limits on government's ability to pry into peoples' private lives.

It may be that for our government to effectively battle the terrorism threat it needs the power to find out what books we check out from the library or buy at Barnes and Noble. It may be that air travelers need to be subjected to ever more intrusive public searches before being allowed to board airplanes. It may be that government agents need to be allowed to sneak into peoples' houses without warrants, snoop around, then return later with a warrant obtained with the fruit of the initial search. All of these things are now part of our lives. They weren't before 9/11. They may be trivial. They may not be. They weren't debated before they became part of our lives. In fact, the terrorism threat itself has never been seriously debated. After 9/11, Bush declared war on terror and most of the country went along. Now the New Republic wants those that paused to question why, such as Michael Moore and MoveOn, banished from the Democratic Party. I think instead of that we ought to have a dialogue within the party. Let's talk about the threat to this nation that terrorism actually poses and then maybe we can assess how much we need to or should give up to battle it.

Beinart complains that the Democratic Party does not have a coherent or aggressive enough anti-terrorism policy. Before deciding that, perhaps the party needs to decide the more elementary questions first. It's a little late for that, I admit. But before we go too far down the wrong path, wouldn't it be prudent to pause and look at the map?

The New Republic has been suffering a severe identity crisis in recent years. It still wants to honor its liberal roots but seems to want to be seen as a pragmatic spokesman for liberalism. This practice of calling itself liberal while defending Republican actions puts the magazine and Beinart squarely in the camp of Joe Lieberman, Mickey Kaus. They're a kind of Zell Miller-Lite.

(Update: Atrios addresses some of this, probably better than I have, here.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Military Recruiters on Campus

E.J. Dionne argues that regardless of whether they are legally obligated to do so, colleges should, as a matter of liberal policy, allow military recruiters on campus. His point, which I fully agree with, is if you feel the military is insulated from liberal viewpoints there is no more effective way to ensure that it remains that way than to maintain a separation between the largely liberal academic community and the largely conservative military community. Just as conservatives can battle what they percieve as a liberal bias in academia by sending more of their bright young men and women into careers as teachers and professors, liberals concerned about a conservative bias in the military can counteract that by encouraging young liberals to enlist. It's a hard sell, to be sure, but military recruiters are willing to help. Let them in.

Aside from that, my more basic objection to barring recruiters from campus has been that doing so is essentially an infringement on free speech. People have justified the ban on recruiters by invoking the infamous and ineffective "don't ask, don't tell" policy, arguing that by restricting the rights of gays in the military, the military has forfeited its right to recruit on campuses. It's a poor argument. If restricting rights and freedoms is a bad thing, you don't combat it by restricting rights and freedoms for the group that has offended you.

Cal Supreme Court backs Lawyers' Fees

The California State Supreme Court narrowly ruled yesterday that lawyers who file cases that achieve a public benefit are entitled legal fees to be paid by the defendant. Examples cited in the LA Times article involve false advertising by DaimlerChrysler and racial and sex discrimination in the Los Angeles Police Department. Both cases were settled before going to trial and though neither led to large monetary awards, both led to substantial changes in the way the defendant do business.

The usual hue and cry erupted about the corrosive influence of trial lawyers and how decisions like this will increase the number of businesses fleeing California. The problem is, these objections, as well as the dissent by Justice Ming Chin, reduce the concept of justice to a line on a corporate balance sheet. If doing the right thing is expensive and inconvenient, according to these critics, if it will cost DaimlerChrysler extra money in legal fees for those who sued them because they claimed their trucks could tow three times the load they actually could safely tow, if it will cost the Los Angeles Police Department $1.7 million to pay the attorneys who uncovered and forced them to end their discriminatory practices, then that's too great a burden for businesses and municipalities to take on. Never mind the cost to the public of allowing these practices to continue.

In a more nearly perfect world, there would be no need for private attorneys to bring such lawsuits, not only because businesses and governments would, out of a heightened dedication to the public good, either not engage in such practices in the first place or end them of their own accord, but because our federal, state, and municipal governments would regulate, monitor, and end such practices on our behalf. We do not live in such a world, though. In the world we live in, government is fleeing from the responsibility of protecting the people from the greed and irresponsiblity of corporations and government itself. I'm grateful that there are private trial lawyers who are willing to fill the void and look out for their interests. This ruling will help ensure that they continue to step up to the plate for us.

Justice Chin said that this ruling puts California out of step with the rest of the United States.

Thank God.

In Faint Praise of Condi

Wow. Man-hands devotes a column to defending the nomination of Condi Rice as Secretary of State by pointing out that other nominees weren't competent either.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Waste Some Time

Guess the Dictator and/or Television SitCom Character. You'll be amazed and distressed to find how much you know about your favorite TV characters.

How did they know I was thinking about Sam and not Josh?

Crazy Jesus Lady at Work

Peggy Noonan, explaining the reasons she thinks the press latched on to Watergate
"Because it was good for business. Because it drove up "Evening News" numbers. Because there was blood in the air. Because Watergate seemed to illustrate what reporters knew, just knew, was the secret truth residing in Richard Nixon's dark heart: a desire for enemies lists and break-ins and IRS reviews. Because it built up reporters as white knights, and reporters really didn't mind being seen as white knights. Because it was exciting, and black and white. The good guys were Democrats, investigators, special counsels and journalists looking for The Truth. The bad: Nixon, Republicans, anyone who worked for Nixon except a good source, Charles Colson, then a wild man, and G. Gordon Liddy, a wild man to this day."
Apparently to this day it cannot penetrate Noonan's shield that it may have been because Watergate revealed Nixon to be a corrupt man who used the Federal government for his own venal ends and that Nixon and his men really were the bad guys.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

80 Years After Scopes...

According to Gallup, 45% of respondents believe that God created human beings about 10,000 years ago, essentially as they are now.

And we wonder how people could vote for George Bush.

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