Lies hidden within truths?

We sometimes read that the best lies contain as much truth as possible. That’s true enough, I guess. This article may be an outstanding example of that. Harry Reid most likely was engaging in some thoughtless hyperbole – both sides of the political divide seem content with that, and both have enough ardent believers who’ll accept their lines uncritically to make this sort of hyperbole well worthwhile. I’ve been caught up in it a time or two.

Still, this article tries to disenfranchise Warren Buffet from the Billionaire’s Club. “Either Warren Buffet’s secretary has an incompetent tax accountant or Buffet has some pretty juicy tax breaks. I think the latter is more likely.” Which causes me to wonder. Should I trust Paul Roderick Gregory‘s math, which seems reasonable on the surface, but is in pursuit of a narrative, or Warren Buffet, who was talking about a very specific situation. I mean, if Gregory is such an economic guru, couldn’t he have discovered what Buffet’s “tax breaks” were, and figured out how many of them applied to other millionaires (and billionaires)?

US Post Office and other inefficiencies.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want the US Postal Service to run at a profit. See here. The profit is entirely in maintaining a cohesive country, and part of that is making sure that my cousin in Fort Benton, MT, can send a birthday card to my uncle in Carlsbad, NM, for the same price that my uncle in Sacramento, CA, can send a sample contract to his business associate in New York. (Sacto to NYC has efficiencies of volume that Ft Benton to Carlsbad will never have. Pure business practice would have people competing to mail between Sacto and NYC, but dropping the flow between small communities entirely, or making that sort of mail an inefficient cottage business. Small towns are already hurting enough, throughout the country.)

Yes, I think there is plenty of room to raise the price on first class mail. I also think that there is a large and sneaky group in congress who’re perfectly content to run the USPS into the ground legislatively, and claim that congressional ineptitude proves the the USPS isn’t effective, efficient or necessary. That is all founded on a lie, that makes a certain kind of reactionary voter happy, by enforcing a surreality in place of actually making sure that the country’s needs are met.

The US Army is also not run at a profit. I really don’t think that it should be, regardless of a Milo Minderbender‘s opinion. Like the US Army, the USPS may not be the best possible Post Office – just the best in the world, by a very large margin.

It’s time to stop screwing around with the things that make the US one powerful country instead of a whole bunch of city-states, which is exactly and precisely what the blind allegiance to teabagger protocols will net us. Us. One country, not 308 million countries of one.

Love the Service anthems.

Aside

Although I have to admit, I couldn’t figure out what the USCG emblem was supposed to be…  my daughter finally had to tell me it was a cutter, upside down to the screen.The West Virginia University Marching Band put on a show to be proud of here.

Fox News – The Fascist Fake News

Aside

With this charming piece, I finally realized that Fox News, in its network entirety, has taken on the anti-Jon Stewart mantle, and become entirely self-promotional, generating fantastical perspectives with absolutely no value except to get their audience up in arms. They’re so good at it that I find myself wondering if they even realize what a joke their “news reports” have become.

They have to know, don’t they? I mean, it’s like The Colbert Report, and O’Reilly was in on the joke, right?

Bought and Paid for

Gotta hand it to the Republicans on the supercommittee. Even the millionaires are coming out of the woodwork to tell us that they’re willing to pay more taxes in order to get the country moving, but the Republicans are going to hard line that one until they get thrown out for refusing to join the big-boys table.

Too bad, really. Before they started the lock-step dance, I used to vote for some of them. Now? Doesn’t matter what they look like, their going to vote as they’re told by the RNC. Who owns the RNC? Somebody does. It certainly isn’t making the Republican Reich vote for the public good. They’re voting directly against the public good when they screw the poor to protect the rich.

Whigs.

BAD Internet Laws Heading Your Way

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Originally posted by lj user write_light at BAD Internet Laws Heading Your Way

Website Blocking The government can order service providers to block websites for infringing links posted by any users.

Risk of Jail for Ordinary Users It becomes a felony with a potential 5 year sentence to stream a copyrighted work that would cost more than $2,500 to license, even if you are a totally noncommercial user, e.g. singing a pop song on Facebook.

Chaos for the Internet Thousands of sites that are legal under the DMCA would face new legal threats. People trying to keep the internet more secure wouldn’t be able to rely on the integrity of the DNS system.

Read this analysis from boing-boing.net

Get on the phone and call your representative. Express your disapproval. Tell him or her exactly how you feel, and that you don’t support this. Tell your friends to call their representatives, their Congressperson, and complain. Mention that you are a registered voter that takes your civic responsibility seriously and that you will use that vote to express your feelings about this.

http://www.rollcall.com/issues/57_60/Intwbr /ernet-Companies-Boost-Hill-Lobbying-2103wbr /45-1.html

“We support the bill’s stated goals — providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign ‘rogue’ websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting,” the Internet companies wrote in Tuesday’s letter. “Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action and technology mandates that would require monitoring of websites.” The chamber-led coalition in support of the bill includes Walmart, Eli Lilly & Co. and Netflix.

Google and other opponents of the legislation argue that restricting the Internet in the U.S. sets a bad international precedent and that the language defines infringing too broadly.

The loneliness of the long-distance panda

The “Loneliness of the Long-distance Panda”, written by my friend Jacey Bedford, is in the current Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science. It’s a quirky piece and I had a lot of fun reading it. It’s available here. It isn’t a long tale, and I can’t think of a way to review it without giving away spoilers that you would not thank me for. Suffice it to say that it’s extraordinarily well written, fun in a dark way, and will be over much to soon. Takes about five minutes to read – longer to think about.

Taking a step back

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I’ve decided to give up teaching in order to see my kids more, and work on my book more. I hate giving up the adjunct paycheck, but I have to keep some sort of balance. If Zook Country has a fan,she’ll probably be relieved to hear this, since it might mean that I’ll get the second volume out before the decade ends.

Republican Lockstep and punishing foreign investors

I’ve watched, in the least interested way, this story evolve.

US seeks record sentence for hedge fund boss in NY

What happened was that people have gotten together in such numbers to control the market that outsiders are increasingly disenfranchised. I’m about convinced that if you don’t have money and connections to invest through an insider trading specialist, you, like me, have watched your market investments rise up to nearly basis and crash back down repeatedly for the last decade. I no longer consider my mutual fund based IRAs a retirement fund. They’re a pseudo-scientific experiment in how long the market will attract small investors who don’t recognize that without a an insider in their corner, wall street is nothing but a pyramid or Ponzi scheme, and has been since 2000.

Doesn’t much matter in the end. Raj Rajaratnam has been sentenced to 11 years. He didn’t specifically defraud his customers. He simply defrauded everybody who was not inside on one of his trading scams.

What I care about, and what worries me, is that the hedge fund manager isn’t an American. Does the attorney’s office hope that they can set an example of longer sentences by picking up somebody who’s clearly a foreigner, and who won’t have a hometown following from one of the major political parties? (He isn’t really a Republican or a Democrat; he’s one o’ them dirty ferinners.)

Or, was the prosecutor’s office aware that the same mental picture that the Republicans and their lockstep cousins, the Tea Party, use to justify consistently filibustering against every piece of jobs legislation the president proposes will go insane if charges are pressed against one of their own? Maybe the insider trading schemes are so political party centric that any attempt to throw double decade penalties at an American who got caught with his hands in that particular cookie jar would be seen as a cheap political attack on a particular party? Maybe it is only safe to chastise foreigners for breaking the securities exchange laws. Maybe it would look bad if nine of ten inside traders turned out to be lining the pockets of one particular party. Which party would be tarred most heavily with that insider trading brush?

It’s very likely that the billionaires the Republican Party protects from higher taxes with one voice are simply not as emotionally invested in the tax argument as the bought and paid for politicians are in protecting their investors. Ah, I mean their staunch Republican Party contributors. The billionaires’ club can call this growing likelihood of a voters’ rebellion off by dropping some money on the Republicans to back off of this filibuster thing. Yes, the billionaires (and the millionaire auxiliary) bought and paid for their politicians, and their politicians have stayed bought (even the tea-partiers). It’s already become so obvious that the Republican hardline attitude is caused by loyalties that lie beyond voters and in the hands of the contributors who have bought and paid for that blind loyalty that every filibuster threatens to destabilize the voting blocks that keep the red state politicos useful.