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Old Blog Posts October 11, 2006

Subject 34,000 Lobbyists vs. the American Worker
Posted Date: October 11, 2006 – Wednesday – 3:33 AM
I love digg.com; it has this way of rising cream to the top. Through a simple system of “digg it” or “bury it”, this site tends to naturally select for interesting links, regardless of race, sex, or political persuasion of the link’s producer.

Measuring the internet by tools like digg, it’s political persuasion seems to be “cynical”, instead of left or right. As my buddy said, if you want to be cynical, just pay attention to the news. And the ‘net is all about news.

Link to article by Crusty old Republican Lou Dobbs, calling for the middle class to form it’s own party. Quote from article:

“In 1968 there were only 63 lobbyists in Washington. Today, there are more than 34,000, and lobbyists now outnumber our elected representatives and their staffs by a 2-to-1 margin.

According to the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity, from 1998 through 2004, lobbyists spent nearly $12 billion to not only influence legislation, but in many cases to write the language of the laws and regulations.”

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Subject Nostalgia’s Not What it Used to Be
Posted Date: October 10, 2006 – Tuesday – 6:03 AM
At one point being politically conservative meant you believed in the Constitution, minimal federal government, limited local government (state, county, city), and the power of the true free market. These days it’s all about Neoconservativism, better known as “big-government conservatives“. They advocate a controlled market where big business is all powerful, a monolithic Federal Government that offers a minimum of social services, and blind support for the military industrial complex. These new conservatives are also very big on “Family Values”, at least to pull in the votes.

But they are starting to loose their core demographics; true conservatives are jumping ship, appalled at the direction their party has gone. For those who long for a better day, when you could at least RESPECT the Republican POV, even if you didn’t agree completely, I bring you an article by Lew Rockwell called “Why Integrity Matters“. Good stuff; this is a man that any liberal would be proud to call, “adversary”.
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Subject Now THAT’S an interesting way to cure hiccups!
Posted Date: October 7, 2006 – Saturday – 1:31 AM
You know, I think I’d rather have hiccups
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Subject Space, the Final Frontier. Brought to you by Neiman Marcus
Posted Date: October 6, 2006 – Friday – 7:32 AM
Neiman Marcus (or, as my buddy calls them, “Needless Markup”) is offering a Virgin Galactic Space Flight, and for only a little over $1.7 Million. Sweet! link.
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Subject What the Quran has to say about sneezing
Posted Date: October 5, 2006 – Thursday – 1:40 PM
“Hadith – Bukhari 8.240, Narrated Anas bin Malik

The Prophet May Allah’s peace and praise be on him said, “Allah likes sneezing and dislikes yawning, so if someone sneezes and then praises Allah, then it is obligatory on every Muslim who heard him, to say: May Allah be merciful to you (Yar-hamuka-l-lah). But as regards yawning, it is from Satan, so one must try one’s best to stop it, if one says ‘Ha’ when yawning, Satan will laugh at him.” link.

The Jewish and Christian Bible only has this to say about sneezing, in 2 Kings 4:35:
Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out upon him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.”

Their both pretty odd stories, actually…

Here’s a podcast about ancient beliefs regarding sneezing.

I’ve been sneezing a lot for the last few days, and I’m not sure why. I guess it just means I’m blessed. Or I’m gettiing sick…that’s more likely. Not cool. Did you know that each unprotected sneeze throws thousands drops of saliva and germs into the air?
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Subject 300,000,000 bottles of beer on the wall, 300,000,000 bottles of beer…
Posted Date: October 17, 2006 – Tuesday – 8:45 AM
Wow, the US has now hit 300 million citizens! Graph. That’s a whole lot of people.

cl
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Subject Addicted to MMORPGs
Posted Date: October 17, 2006 – Tuesday – 5:33 AM
Here’s an excellent blog on why someone quit WoW, a very popular MMORPG.
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Subject Center for Advocacy Group Naming Conventions
Posted Date: October 13, 2006 – Friday – 3:51 PM
What do the following groups have in common?

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR)
Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy
Citizens Against Government Waste
National Center for Public Policy Research

Toward Tradition

This:

“The report states that the groups probably violated their tax-exempt status “by laundering payments and then disbursing funds at Mr. Abramoff’s direction; taking payments in exchange for writing newspaper columns or press releases that put Mr. Abramoff’s clients in a favorable light; introducing Mr. Abramoff’s clients to government officials in exchange for payment; and agreeing to act as a front organization for congressional trips paid for by Mr. Abramoff’s clients.”link.

They also have their deceptive names in common. If you think the “Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy” actually advocates FOR the environment, then you’re a little girl.

“Americans for Tax Reform” got started by supporting the Tax Reform Act on 1986, which increased the tax for the poorest income brackets and reduced it for the richest (the now infamous “trickle down” theory of economics). Now that’s some reform!

Citizens Against Government Waste” seems like a noble group, until you realize that they think the government should spend less on EVERYTHING, including schools, roads, hospitals, and other social services. But they also want us to spend less money on war and other pork-barrel projects, so that’s nice…

So while “Council of Republicans against Nature”, “Americans for Richie Rich”, and “Citizens against Government” would be more accurate, they just don’t have the same ring.
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Subject Religious views on Loaning with Interest
Posted Date: October 12, 2006 – Thursday – 11:07 AM
Interesting article in the Internation Business Times website regarding Islamic rules on Usury. According to the Koran, making money on money is immoral.

Al-Baqarah 2:275
“Those who charge usury are in the same position as those controlled by the devil’s influence. This is because they claim that usury is the same as commerce. However, God permits commerce, and prohibits usury. Thus, whoever heeds this commandment from his Lord, and refrains from usury, he may keep his past earnings, and his judgment rests with God. As for those who persist in usury, they incur Hell, wherein they abide forever.”

Apparently, the Islamic laws are based on even older Hebrew Scripture:

Deuteronomy 23:20
“You may charge interest to foreigners, but not to Israelites, so the LORD your God may bless you in everything you do in the land you are about to enter and occupy.”

Proverbs 28:8
“A person who makes money by charging interest will lose it. It will end up in the hands of someone who is kind to the poor.”

This concept continues into Christian doctrine, although toned down, as part of the general concept of taking care of those in need, not exploiting them.

Luke 6:35
“Love your enemies! Do good to them! Lend to them! And don’t be concerned that they might not repay. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to the unthankful and to those who are wicked.”

A very interesting point of view; I can definitely see where they are coming from, even if I don’t agree. While interest has its uses in a capitalistic society, the poorer you are, the higher interest rates you end up being charged; and that seems wrong to me.

As a rule of thumb, I check the American Religious Rights stance on moral issues, and I can then assume that the opposite is probably closer to the truth. :) So I was curious to see what they had to say on the matter, since interest is at the very heart of the US Economy, and interest rates directly drive inflation. Suprisingly, (or maybe not) I couldn’t find many useful references, but the ones I did all supported lending with interest. That particular article is a work of art; observe rationalization in action:

“The wonderful thing about voluntary loan transactions in the free market is that both the borrower and the lender benefit from such transactions.”

“A second observation would be to check to see whether borrowers generally say “thank you” upon taking their cash. ”

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Subject China unblocks Wikipedia
Posted Date: October 12, 2006 – Thursday – 8:38 AM
This is very good news. I’m rooting for China to fully join the digital age, and to reap the benefits of open information available to all.

While the powers that be are correct to worry about stability, especially among the lower class, the benefits greatly outweigh the risk. Sometimes censorship is a necessary evil; but less censorship is almost always a good thing. Way to go, China! Sites like Wikipedia are great examples of the power of collaboration and cooperation; concepts central to communist theory.

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Subject Indian Face in Mountain
Posted Date: October 24, 2006 – Tuesday – 9:19 AM
Check this out. It’s uncanny; you can clearly see the whole face, including an eye, the nose, chin, and lips. Weird.
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Subject “We’ve never been ‘Stay the Course'”
Posted Date: October 24, 2006 – Tuesday – 8:30 AM
In a reversal that came only after our Secretary of State reported that Iraq is a “Helluva mess”, our administration is denying they ever had a tactic in Iraq to “stay the course”.

Yeah, RIGHT.

It’s interesting how politicians and their speach writers come up with these pet phrases, and how these phrases percolate from speach to speach. But it’s even more interesting when their pet phrases turn on them, and have to be put down like Old Yeller.

George, your grammar is terrible, but your memory is worse.

——————————————————————–

In another interesting crooksandliars.com article, the GOA (Government Accountability Office) says “Abstinence Only” sex education must change.

From article:

* According to Columbia University researchers, virginity pledge programs increase pledge-takers’ risk for STIs and pregnancy. The study concluded that 88 percent of pledge-takers initiated sex prior to marriage even though some delayed sex for a while. Rates of STIs among pledge-takers and non-pledgers were similar, even though pledge-takers initiated sex later. Pledge-takers were less likely to seek STI testing and less likely to use contraception when they did have sex.

* Evaluations of the effectiveness of state-funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs found no delay in first sex. In fact, of six evaluations that assessed short-term changes in behavior, three found no changes, two found increased sexual activity from pre- to post-test, and one showed mixed results. Five evaluations looked for but found no long-term impact in reducing teens’ sexual activity.

* Analysis of data from Youth Risk Behavior surveys found that sexual activity among high school youth declined significantly from 1991 to 1997, prior to large-scale funding of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, but changed little from 1999 to 2003 with federal funding of such programs.

* Analysis of federally funded abstinence-only curricula found that over 80 percent of curricula supported by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services contained false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health. Specifically, they conveyed:
o False information about the effectiveness of contraceptives;
o False information about the risks of abortion;
o Religious beliefs as scientific fact;
o Stereotypes about boys and girls as scientific fact; and
o Medical and scientific errors of fact.

Hmmm…maybe “stay the course” doesn’t work so well for abstinence, either.

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Subject “After Pat’s Birthday” and “The Google”
Posted Date: October 24, 2006 – Tuesday – 6:09 AM
There is an excellent article on truthdig.com from Kevin Tillman, the brother of the professional football player killed in Iraq. Both Kevin and his brother Pat signed up for the armed services shortly after 9/11, wanting to do do what they could to make the world a better place. Pat turned down a $3.6 million dollar contract with the Cardinals in order join, and was later killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan.

Kevin has now spoken out against the tactics of the US, and our illegal war in Iraq.

“Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.”

Depressing stuff. To counteract, here is Bush talking about…”the Google”. As someone commented, he should google “miserable failure”

“HOST: I’m curious, have you ever googled anybody? Do you use Google?

BUSH: Occasionally. One of the things I’ve used on the Google is to pull up maps. It’s very interesting to see — I’ve forgot the name of the program — but you get the satellite, and you can — like, I kinda like to look at the ranch. It remind me of where I wanna be sometimes. ”

We want that as well, George…Oh, how we want that as well…

cl

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Subject Where’s my paycheck, O’Reilly?
Posted Date: October 19, 2006 – Thursday – 10:22 AM
Interesting comments from O’Reilly on political blogging. O RLY? heh.

O’REILLY: “…because these are hired guns. These are people hired — being paid very well to smear and try to destroy people. And that’s the difference, Dr. Schiller. That had never happened before. I’ll give you the last word.”

I’m being cheated…where’s my paycheck for bashing the current administration? And let me get this straight…people have NEVER been hired to smear other people? What alternate history did you come from, anyway?

O’REILLY: “I think – I have to say President Bush has a much healthier attitude toward this than I do. Because if I can get away with it, boy, I’d go in with a hand grenade.”

Well, F you to, Bill! How would you feel if some blogger threatened to go into your news studio with a grenade, huh? If I could get away with it, I’d make you give the news NAKED, that’d show you.

It’s funny how they go on to discredit blogging in general. Nobody’s really reading them, right? Uh….maybe not all the old farts like O’Reilly, but yeah, lots people are reading.

Regardless of political persuasion, citizens are greatly empowered by blogging; people on the right and the left have figured this out. If this weakens the powers that be, both political and media, then AWESOME! I would like to see both parties come back to the core values that most of their members hold.

There is a big differenct between what you hear on the news and what bloggers are saying. It’s amazing the difference between the drivel that comes out of foxnews to some of the well thought out articles found on lewrockwell.com and other conservative blogs. While O’Reilly and his like just piss me off, many conservative bloggers explain themselves well, and I find myself agreeing with them, or at least understanding where they are coming from.

My hope is that the net and blogging will increase the power of the reasonable majority, and decrease the power of fear-mongers like that asshat O’Reilly.
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Subject “Helluva Mess”; Facts and Figures
Posted Date: October 18, 2006 – Wednesday – 6:14 AM
Hopefully our time in Iraq is drawing to a close. Secretary of state James Baker and his panel have ruled out the prospect of victory in Iraq. Baker is an ardent supporter of Bush, and to have him come to this conclusion might actually shake the White House into examining the reality of the Iraq conflict.

Per Baker and his team, here are the only workable options:

“Stability First”: The military should focus on stabilizing Baghdad while the American Embassy should work toward political accommodation with insurgents. The goal of nurturing a democracy in Iraq is dropped.

“Redeploy and Contain”: Calls for the phased withdrawal of American soldiers from Iraq…

64% of Americans disaprove of the way Bush is handling things. So far, the war has cost us $400 BILLION. That’s $1,300 PER PERSON in the US…man, women, or child. To put this astronomical number in perspective….per the UN it would cost $24 billion annually to halve the number of hungry people in the world; this would be $80 per american citizen.

As an aside, do you know how much money we will spend on INTEREST against the national debt in 2006? $400 BILLION. Not cool…

We’ve lost 2,800 soldiers so far, with 21,000 casualties. These casualties would be tragic even if this were a “just” war; but the fact that these men are being mamed and dying for oil and military industrial profits makes this shameful.

The number of Iraqis killed in this coflict, 655,000; which amounts to 2.5% of the population. This is also significantly more people than have been killed in Darfur. Also, to put this in perspective, 2.5% of US citizens is 7,500,000 people, even more than were killed in the Jewish Holocaust.

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