Monday, January 31, 2005

In case Big Brother doesn't scare you

The ACLU has a new ad that makes clear why privacy matters to everybody! Eeep!
There's a call to action at the end . . .the all-seeing eye

(via Liberal Avenger, at the Daou Report)

Breaking news

In a victory for human rights and the rule of law, a federal judge has just ruled the Guantanamo military tribunals illegal.
In today's decision, Green said the hearings, called Combatant Status Review Tribunals, are stacked against the detainees, and deny them crucial rights. She said some detainees may indeed be guilty and pose a danger to the United States, but the government must first give them a lawful hearing on the evidence against them.
. . .
Green also criticized the military for using an illogically broad definition of "enemy combatant" in deciding to hold Muslim men from dozens of countries for as long as three years. She said after reviewing classified material for the detainees, she saw many cases in which the military presented no evidence that individuals were ever engaged in actual combat or terrorist crimes.
This isn't the end of the story, as there have been conflicting rulings in a number of related cases, so expect to see the Supremes weighing in, whether or not they'd like to get involved.

(via Suburban Guerilla)

Up from the ice

From today's Thoreau-blog entry:
We too have our thaws. They come to our January moods, when our ice cracks, and our sluices break loose. Thought that was frozen up under stern experience gushes forth in feeling and expression. There is a freshet which carries away dams of accumulated ice.
Many are the thoughts and directions of Democrats and unaffiliated progressives looking right now for new ways to influence our nation's politics. I suspect that they will start to set their courses and roll in the coming month or two . . .

Historical parallels

a military helmetPatachon at dKos reminds us of this timely headline:

U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote
(NYT 9/4/1967)
United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.
Yeah, thanks for the cheerful thought.
For those whose history is cloudy, this election was followed in less than six months by the Tet Offensive by North Vietnam, and then decreasing support at home for the war, 5 years of "Vietnamization" in which Nixon tried to get our troops out, and finally the Paris Peace Accords which left the South Vietnamese to fend for themselves. Finally, the cutting off of further military aid to the South Vietnamese government and the resignation of Nixon (1974) led to the political toppling of the SV President, and eventually the fall of Saigon and the conquest of South Vietnam by the North (1975).
[Thus endeth the history lesson.]

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Winter with Orwell

This story, bubbling up over the last few days, freaks me out. The deeper you look into the conservative spin machine/press/think-tank/funder world, the less you can keep track of all the interconnections and lies. Now it appears that there's a fake reporter (from a fake news agency) with real White House press credentials asking questions that are designed to be, in essence, information pushes. Help. The details are still being sorted out, but this could be tangled into a bunch of evil Rovian machinations of recent years.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Big players take a grim view of the dollar

On top of general observations that foreign bankers are increasingly turning to the Euro, now comes news that Bill Gates is shorting the dollar (joining his pal Warren Buffet, who's been betting against the greenback since 2002).
Gates's concern that widening U.S. budget and trade deficits are undermining the dollar was echoed in Davos by policymakers including European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

The dollar fell 21 percent against a basket of six major currencies from the start of 2002 to the end of last year. The trade deficit swelled to a record $609.3 billion last year and total U.S. government debt rose 8.7 percent to $7.62 trillion in the past 12 months.
Gee, what are they so nervous about? Don't they know that we're the primary purveyors of wealth and freedom in the world?
The U.S. budget shortfall is "the No. 1 risk, disregarding geopolitical risks" to the global economy, German Deputy Finance Minister Caio Koch-Weser said in a Jan. 27 interview in Davos. He urged Bush to present a "credible" plan for getting the deficit under control.
I'm sure a credible plan will be immediately forthcoming. As soon as we finish sketching out our strategy for spreading our military involvements into Iran... ($billions more needed? what billions??)

(via corrente)

Friday, January 28, 2005

Because sometimes one good satire piece... worth a thousand wordy columns. See the last month of Talking Points Memo for the latter (and they're even good), but the inimitable fafblog boils down the bloviation in Social Security Crisis! The FAQ!!.

Thanks to boing boing for the pointer.

Quote for the day/weekend

So, when the shoe fits
The foot is forgotten,Lao Tzu's 'Poem in a Time of War'
When the belt fits
The belly is forgotten,
When the heart is right
"For" and "against" are forgotten.

-- Chuang Tzu
translated by Thomas Merton

(via whiskey river)

Imagine, if you will

Bob Harris has occasional polls over at his blog, and this one from three weeks back (really the multiple-choice options) really takes the cake:

If Donald Rumsfeld is doing "a fine job," what would a "bad" job look like?


More financial rumblings

The destabilization of our economy continues behind the scenes:
  1. The Chinese central banks own us (they have something like 86% of our debt). (via kos, clearly)
  2. Meanwhile, central banks around the world are increasingly choosing the Euro over the dollar. (via Pandagon)
When you put those two together, you could start getting sleepless nights (with dreams of banana republics) . . .

Extreme academia

a mortarboard and diplomaJust what the networks need to revive sagging ratings: a series of reality shows about academics. "The Swan: Tenure!" and "Celebrity Poker: Theory" are just a few of the suggestions here... I'm sure that some of my many professorial friends could suggest others of the "Fear Factor" sort.

(via La Di Da)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

You can never have too much cheese

Of the literal kind, that is.
I love cheese and have been trying to get to know more kinds and be wiser about the sorts of things I do and don't like. Luckily, we live a block from a big Whole Foods Market, which has a great selection, and another couple of blocks will get us to the famed DiBruno Brothers, probably the best source of cheese (and associated noshes) in the country. But it does help to have information, and/or a place to look things up when you bump across a new favorite. Thus, I present to you, where there is enough information to fuel many years of investigation into what to eat with your next good bottle of wine (and how to store, serve, and appreciate various types)...

(via rafe's bio at rc3)

Sucking out the soul

There's just so much bad news out of Iraq, and we know in our hearts that we're only hearing a tiny fraction. And the combat situations are sucking the soul out of the young people in the midst of it, and looking the other way is sucking the soul out of our nation. It's beyond painful.
  1. What is it like to be on the ground in Iraq? Ira Glass of This American Life (a radio show on NPR) did a great show a few weeks ago that really gives you the sense -- not the sound of bombs but the upheaval of a life, as they follow National Guard troops thrown unprepared into circumstances beyond their training or their comprehension. Listen. You won't be able to tear yourself away.
  2. What is happening to us? Seymour Hersh looks at the consolidation of power in our national government, and also draws some disturbing parallels between Iraq and Vietnam. You can listen or read the transcript of the interview.
I have distinct memories of the rag-tag bunches of Vietnam vets who marched in the first ever welcome-home parade that they were given (in Kalamazoo, MI, and it was many, many years after the war), and they came from all over, wearing bits and pieces of their uniforms, and men in business suits along the way at last left their spots and joined in (yes! I was there too!), and I remember a helicopter coming over, and the hush that fell, and the faces uniformly turned skyward and the hands raised involuntarily in greeting.

Why would we ever do this to ourselves again? Why??

(Hersh via Follow Me Here)
Sorry, I'll go try to find something cheerful now...

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Over at kos, excerpts from a long sobering Financial Times article cataloging the ever-increasing ways that American hubris and hypocrisy are causing the rest of the world to draw away from us. Not only are we no longer the moral authority to the world, but we are being eclipsed on financial and strategic fronts by nations and alliances with a longer view.
A decade ago, American triumphalists mocked those who argued that the world was becoming multipolar, rather than unipolar. Where was the evidence of balancing against the US, they asked. Today the evidence of foreign co-operation to reduce American primacy is everywhere -- from the increasing importance of regional trade blocs that exclude the US to international space projects and military exercises in which the US is conspicuous by its absence.
. . .
In recent memory, nothing could be done without the US. Today, however, practically all new international institution-building of any long-term importance in global diplomacy and trade occurs without American participation.
I guess it's just more for the list of eventual regrets. I can hardly keep up.

Could Japan let women reign?

Problems in generating male heirs to the Japanese throne are causing the government there to consider changing the laws of succession to allow for empresses as well as emperors. The much loved current Prince Naruhito and his wife Masako have only one child, a girl, and apparently there aren't any other males in the extended family under 40. Of course, Japanese culture is one of the most patriarchal in the modern developed world, so there will be plenty of opposition to this idea...

(via Echidne of the Snakes)

Time to draw a line in the sand

All the Senators who have expressed outrage (or even dismay) over the apparent US comfort with a policy of torture are about to have the chance to put their money where there mouths are: it's time for the vote on confirmation of Gonzales for Attorney General. I understand the "President has a lot of leeway in Cabinet choices" argument, but this is our only chance to make a statement as a nation to the rest of the world that our professed principles actually mean something to us. Urge your Senator to vote no on Gonzales.

Need encouragement?
  • Here's my previous post How Bad is Gonzales really?
  • Here's a letter from a heap of generals opposing his nomination
  • Here's a blogger petition over at kos (which I have already given my name to)
    As the prime legal architect for the policy of torture adopted by the Bush Administration, Gonzales's advice led directly to the abandonment of longstanding federal laws, the Geneva Conventions, and the United States Constitution itself. Our country, in following Gonzales's legal opinions, has forsaken its commitment to human rights and the rule of law and shamed itself before the world with our conduct at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. The United States, a nation founded on respect for law and human rights, should not have as its Attorney General the architect of the law's undoing.
    . . .
    Michael Posner of Human Rights First observed: "After the horrific images from Abu Ghraib became public last year, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld insisted that the world should 'judge us by our actions [and] watch how a democracy deals with the wrongdoing and with scandal and the pain of acknowledging and correcting our own mistakes.'" We agree. It is because of this that we believe the only proper course of action is for the Senate to reject Alberto Gonzales's nomination for Attorney General. As Posner notes, "[t]he world is indeed watching." Will the Senate condone torture? Will the Senate condone the rejection of the rule of law?
  • The nomination will be voted on by next week. It was voted against by all the Committee Dems, which hardly makes this a resounding recommendation.
This may just happen, given the party-line divide, but then let's let the Republicans take full responsibility for the stain they're forcing on our national honor. No Democrat should vote for this monster. Nor should any Republican of conscience, although I realize that the pressure on them to toe the line will be unbelievable. Here's a list of the contact info of all Senators -- go! call, email, write, while there's still time!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

For those who refuse to grow up

I knew that my generation had hit the big time, from a commercial standpoint, when the Muppet and Looney Tunes DVD sets came out with full nostalgic packaging and Schoolhouse Rock could market a songbook. But now the real truth of our eternal adolescence (combined with a whiff of adult responsibility) has come to light: Trix and Cocoa Puffs are now available with 75% less sugar (the decadent sweetness is maintained with Splenda)...

Already it was impossible to say which was which.

Looks like the post-Saddam Iraq involves just as much torture as it did under his rule (and no, I'm not even including "abuses" by US interrogators):
Iraqi authorities routinely torture prisoners, a leading human rights group [Human Rights Watch] said on Tuesday, citing examples of abuse which will sound all too familiar to those who suffered under Saddam Hussein.
Starvation, electrocution, all the favorites. As kos says, "why did we invade again?" One supposed reason after another slips from under our feet . . .

(If you didn't recognize the quote that's the title of this post, see here.)

A local-politics scorecard

Have spent many a sleepless lunch (ahem) in the last couple of weeks with Google and the local press, trying to edumacate myself about Philadelphia and Pennsylvania politics to the degree that I feel clueful about national issues. It will be slow untangling, but I already feel miles from where I started. As many of you know, about two weeks ago I launched a blog to help me keep abreast of local developments, and now I introduce a little standing feature under the auspices of that effort:
The Scorecard™

which catalogs the biggest names in regional politics and a smattering of the reasons that they're famous (or infamous). I hope it's of some use to others trying to find a starting point for understanding the local jungle of civic operations...

Monday, January 24, 2005

Senate Dems come out swinging

Well, Harry Reid promised that his "war room" would be just the start of creating a genuine coherent opposition for the next few years, and the Senate Dems appear to have followed through: they've compiled a panel of 10 bills to be introduced this session, which cover topics from better treatment of veterans (and a Nationa Guard Bill of Rights) to improving education (including funding No Child Left Behind) and reforming the voting system. kicking ass Maybe most impressive is the complete absence of any legislative suggestion about Social Security in this top-10 list, because Reid says "there is no crisis"! Look out, we may be seeing early signs of spine!!

You can become a citizen co-sponsor of this legislative agenda. Encourage your Senators to get the debates on issues underway!

Pithy protest

Apparently a band of German pranksters have been planting tiny American flags and Bush likeneses in piles of dog poop found in parks and on sidewalks over the last year. It's not strictly illegal, but appears to have the German police in a bit of a twist. I myself find this disproportionately amusing.

Question: Wouldn't a maximum win in this situation be better enforcement of leash laws or whatever can be done to prevent the proliferation of steaming dog piles? Then the flags would sort of take care of themselves... Oh, nevermind.

Soft-boiled information

Pew Internet just did a study of the use and understanding of search engines, with results that surprise me, at least--many people use them very seldom, and most appear not to understand the significance of "sponsored links."
This finding is ironic, since nearly half of all users say they would stop using search engines if they thought engines were not being clear about how they presented paid results.
I wondered whether the survey findings would differ with age; i.e., are the younger generation of Internet-native users more savvy about potential marketing-driven manipulations? Younger users (under 30) are described as "more active searchers" and "more comfortable with the existance sponsored results," but also more trusting in the results they get; is that because they filter the sponsored links, or because they don't know their own blind-spots?

(via boing boing)

Lest we forget

Two pioneers of women's health recall vividly what happened in the days before abortions were legal. It was traumatic and dangerous for all concerned.
femsign“We can’t go back; we cannot go back,” she implores. “We’ve seen what happens to women when they don’t have the option to control their own fertility. We’ve seen them die. We can’t let that happen. We might end up with a constitutional amendment banning all forms of abortion. That could happen if the people of this country don’t stand up to be counted and say that we will not permit rights for reproductive care of any kind to be taken away.”
It's easy to take the current state of reproductive control for granted, but we must not do so.

(via LaDiDa)

Incrementally less funny

I initially thought that this was quite funny.

And then I read this.

Sigh. Satirists can't begin to keep up...

Vigilante politeness

This writer has a bit more nerve than I do in punishing rude drivers for their needless honking, but I applaud the sentiments entirely.
In New York City, the horn is used not for emergencies but to express aggravation or to tell pedestrians to get out of the way. When you blast your horn, you're basically shouting "fuck you" at 70 decibels in the middle of a crowded street. Horn-blasting is profoundly anti-social behavior.
Sorry you're having a tough day, but honking in stalled traffic (or when there are a lot of pedestrians claiming their right of way) never improved any situation. Some folks are just immune to learning that (and probably many other lessons that might intrude on their personal convenience).

(via dangerous meta)

Strange days indeed

A US-based civil rights organization has brought a war crimes charge against Donald Rumsfeld in Germany, causing him to cancel a planned February trip to a security meeting in Munich.
The organisation alleges violations of German legislation which outlaws war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide independent of the place of crime or origin of the accused.
. . .
The organization said it had turned to German prosecutors "as a court of last resort" because the US government "is unwilling to open an independent investigation" and had "refused to join the International Criminal Court".
Many aspects of this strike me as bizarre yet apt...

(via WTF)

Grim resonances

Billmon at Whiskey bar has a series of posts from the last week or so that demonstrate disturbing historical parallels between current events and, um, crazy past leaders and literary characters... (and a couple of internal paradoxes too, just for fun)
In reckless extravagance he outdid the prodigals of all times in ingenuity . . . wine kingand set before his guests loaves and meats of gold, declaring that a man ought either to be frugal or be Caesar.
Life of Caligula
110 AD
The quotes are short and to the point.

Friday, January 21, 2005

A few images...

donkey & elephant face-off...from the protests yesterday, complements of Tom Tomorrow... Must have been a cold outing on many levels.

Let's not overlook this one either...

People in respectable positions can still be idiots

Or, to say it via satire,

Women barred from Harvard presidency by "genetic predisposition," study finds

(if you don't know what this is in reference to, see the link given there)

(via Medley)

This bodes ill...

Did you think that the "Iran next" craziness would be limited by our not having enough troops to fight one profit-driven war, let alone two? Think again. The government has apparently hired the Rand Corp. to do a study on ways to make fewer troops stretch further. Their (completely unforeseeable) suggestion? Hire out the support positions and put those desk soldiers (trained or not) into the field. Eep. As kos says:
Logisitic troops make up the vast majority of military personnel (somebody probably has the figure, but it's like 8-1 or 9-1 support to combat forces). The proposal would dramatically increase the number of fighting forces (though many of soldiers in support jobs will have no business being in the front lines), and the Haliburtons of the world would clean up taking over support functions.
Great. This worked really well for the supply chain, right?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Something we all regret

Via kos, a quote from outgoing Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (given to The Australian):
And then in the wake of 9/11, instead of redoubling what is our traditional export of hope and optimism we exported our fear and our anger. And presented a very intense and angry face to the world. I regret that a lot.
Yeah, me too. Almost every day.

What do men/women want?

An excellent post from Ampersand at Alas, a Blog about the popular belief that (a) men want to marry women who aren't as smart as they are, and/or femsign_tiny (b) that intelligent women have a significantly lower chance of getting married. He not only blasts last week's NYTimes piece by Maureen Dowd, but even examines the studies being discussed, and points out that the wording leads casual readers astray -- even at the extremes, there is only about a 5% difference in marriage rates between the groups studied. Not much basis for a whirlwind of societal self-examination!

Subdued mourning

Not as acute as, say, mid-November, but a fresh reminder of the tragic mistake that we've made as a nation, as we re-inaugurate the President who has emptied the public coffers and squandered the nation's moral capital to satisfy his own hubris. Medley provided these appropriate links for the day:I can't even take a grim satisfaction from reviewing these, so I guess I'll just add this one:At the very least, a newly engergized minority in this country are going to be gearing up for every election from the Senate to the School Board in the next few years!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Haiku for the day

blue_branchessnowy night
sometimes you can’t be
quiet enough

-- John Stevenson

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A ray of sunshine via science

Apparently scientists at Cornell have learned how to delink the utility of plastics from reliance on petroleum as a source by making a promising plastic from orange peels and carbon dioxide. Very promising!

(via boing boing)

I... but... [gaping blank]

Via Craig's BookNotes, this amazing story:

Woman loses insurance coverage for her politics

! ? !!!

More echoes of Stalin's boots

Digby has a really good piece from the weekend that starts with Armstrong Williams and looks back over 30+ years of increasing media manipulation by the right. It includes lengthy quotes from a number of articles, among which the most telling are often those relating concerns about Nixon-era activities (which clearly pale by recent standards; e.g., Erlichman wasn't able to drive out Dan Rather, but...). His cheery summary take?
Today, that dream of control is fully realized. Republicans routinely bully any reporter or organization that doesn't play ball while they feed lots of juicy propaganda to their bought and paid for media like FOX, Rush, Drudge and The NY Post knowing that the story will work its way into the mainstream anyway.newspaper They created an entertainment model for news in which entertainment values superceded civic values and it attracted a different kind of person to the field. Over time, fewer and fewer reporters wouldn't play ball because those that refused were weeded out in a form of (un)natural selection. In the end, the survivors don't even know they are biased. They are so enmeshed in this system of celebrity punishment and rewards that their own self esteem is now drawn from their acceptability to the (Republican) establishment. And each and every day the partisan right wing media pushes the discourse a few inches further to the right.
Make all the claims of "liberal media bias" that you want, but there just isn't anything to equal this on the left, and I'm not sure we'd have the stomach for really building it (crazy humanists that we tend to be). This just ruined my lunch.

Why we should never rely on the benevolence of the powerful

Why am I paranoid about things like the Homeland Security ministry and the Patriot Act? Because history shows over and over that once the government has a tool, they will use it in whatever way suits their goals, whether or not those goals were behind the creation of said tool. Case in point: Homeland Security apparently now includes copyright enforcement (or maybe just the intimidation of small-town toystore owners, to "set an example") . . .
Six weeks after her brush with Homeland Security, Cox told The Oregonian she is still bewildered by the experience. "Aren't there any terrorists out there?" she said.
(via This Modern World)

Monday, January 17, 2005

You knew this, and yet you hoped...

the face of sorrowWe're already preparing for the expansion of our Mideast Recolonialization Campaign, with or without sufficient troops.
The United States has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran to help identify potential nuclear, chemical and missile targets, The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday.

The article, by award-winning reporter Seymour Hersh, said the secret missions have been going on at least since last summer with the goal of identifying target information for three dozen or more suspected sites.
Are we actually on a reverse learning program? Sure, we've turned Iraq into a hotbed for terrorism, why not do some more!!!

(via Follow Me Here)

The content of his character

This morning on NPR I heard a reading of Martin Luther King's famous speech from the March on Washington -- the "I Have A Dream" speech -- and once again I found it inspiring and was moved. It is appropriate that the nation revisit that speech which rallied the Civil Rights movement and the nation to hope.

But it is also important that we not freeze King in 1963. Yes, he called for freedom to ring from every hill in Mississippi and throughout the country, and that goal has not yet been fully achieved 40 years later. But he also, in the five subsequent years before his death, turned his eye to other realms of our nation's failings, and these thoughts we seldom revisit. Many of them are apt today, as much of his energy went into calls for an end to war (especially in Vietnam) and explorations of the use of economic leverage for social justice (e.g., boycotting large companies until they agreed to use black contractors, banks, and newspaper ads for their stores in black communities). Many of these ideas made the government of his time as nervous as certain types of discussion and dissent rile our government today. So, in honor of Dr. King, a selection of heretical/trouble-making thoughts, and a few with continued hope.
I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our nation: The great initiative in this war is our; the initiative to stop it must be ours.
(from "Beyond Vietnam," April, 1967)
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
I knew that I could never raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.
Operation Breadbasket has a very simple program, but a powerful one. It simply says, "If you respect my dollar, you must respect my person." It simply says that we will no longer spend our money where we cannot get substantial jobs.
(from "Where Do We Go From Here?" August, 1967)
The ghetto is a domestic colony that's constantly drained without being replaced.
Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose.
Five years ago [John F. Kennedy] said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.
(from "Beyond Vietnam")
I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history.

I refuse to accept the idea that the "is-ness" of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "ought-ness" that forever confronts him.

I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life, unable to influence the unvolding events which surround him. ...

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.
(from his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, December, 1964)
Enjoy the holiday, whether or not you've been granted time off from work. A holiday for somebody younger than most of our parents!

Links(quotes taken from A Call to Conscience, The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., C. Carson and K. Shepard, eds., Warner Books, New York, 2001; Amazon link here)

Friday, January 14, 2005

It's all in the lens you look through

I enjoyed the recent movie The Incredibles, in the same way that I enjoy a James Bond film -- slick styling, a little tongue-in-cheekiness, some Good Guys Win action (where you overlook the terribly chauvenist definition of a hero). Maybe, in a Family Movie vein, I also saw it as a testimony in favor of trueness to The Self, in the sense of not overlooking your natural talents to fit a different image -- even the bad guy could have been something greater if he had been willing to be a Brillian Scientist instead of a Superhero.

However, an interesting alternative take is presented by Sally at Prednisone Nation, who argues that this is primarily a film with a Randian agenda of defending inequality:
Some people, according to The Incredibles, are just born better than the rest of us. This superiority is innate and inherited: superheroes make up a kind of master race. The movie doesn't just suggest that it's destructive to stifle talented people; it also derides the notion that everyone has talents that should be celebrated, and it raises and dismisses the idea that ordinary people could make their way into the elect. You don't choose to be a superhero; you can't earn it through ingenuity or hard work. You're either born super or you're not.
. . .
This movie says that powerful, hereditary elites are good for society not because they're more talented but because they're more moral. It's a nineteenth or even eighteenth-century version of how society should be ordered: it's a celebration of natural aristocracy and the concept of knowing your place.
Fascinating, as is her snide comment about the aptitude of such a philosophy in a time/place where the situationally elite (but intellectually encumbered) are running the world...

(via Alas a Blog)

Friday Josh-blogging!

Our pal Sid is not entirely sure what to make of his blog mascot-hood, so we have decided to share the wealth a bit. Today's addition? Josh! We have been intending to humiliate celebrate Josh here for some time, and today's spur was the word that our little Joshlette has become engaged (toward The Marriage). Whoot! Congratulations!!

(click the picture to enlarge)

More glowing success in Iraq

Armando at dailyKos explains why the war in Iraq, while not orignally related to the "War on Terror," is now an intimate part of that battle, but not as we might have hoped:
[T]he Iraq Debacle is NOW about the War on Terror because of the tremendous harm caused to the United States' fight against terror: the recruitment bonanza; the spike in anti-American Arab sentiment; the fraying of our alliances; the degrading of our armed forces; and the development of Iraq as a training and proving ground for terrorists (no the insurgency in Iraq is not Al Qaida, but terrorism is a part of the resistance to the U.S. occupation).
Only everybody with any foresight foresaw this, but now even government reports are up to speed (see the link for an NYT article on same).
Sigh, always another sigh.

Cultural evolution?

Score one for the good guys in the ongoing battle between the 21st century and the 15th: A federal judge ordered the removal of stickers claiming evolution is "a theory, not a fact" from high school biology books in suburban Atlanta.
Scientists, several of whom testified in the case, say the sticker confuses the scientific term "theory" with the word's common usage and inappropriately combines science with personal religious belief.
(For a prior humorous rant about the Georgia stickers, see this, and for a discussion of Intelligent Design and science as a way of viewing the world, start here.)
Of course, the local religious conservatives decry another foul act by "activist judges."
The school district just north of Atlanta approved the stickers after more than 2,000 parents complained the textbooks presented evolution as fact, without mentioning rival ideas about the beginnings of life.
Just another battle in the ongoing Fundamentalism Wars taking place in countries around the globe. In Europe (most notably France and The Netherlands), this seems to be taking the form of debates about Muslim girls who want to wear the veil, but here in the US our fundies are home-grown, so it seems to be about whether we pass along to the next generation our current best understanding of the natural world.

(news via LaDiDa)

And yes, Jeremy, I haven't forgotten your question. It may get some time this weekend...

Thursday, January 13, 2005

A tale of two 'gates

"Rather-gate" and, um, "WMD-gate" -- now the reports are in, and . . .
this is almost too stupid to justify bandwidth. No surprises here!

Anyway, the Poor Man, as is often the case, boils it down to the pith: Compare and Contrast.
I have nothing further to add.

(via kos)

Update: Tom Tomorrow has something to add -- or rather, he said it already some months back.

Too little too late

Ohio has decided to get rid of all electronic voting machines and stick with paper ballots and optical scanners (even though those had a higher rate of failure; at least they're verifiable). Great, but the state's votes were already delivered this time around...

(via WTF)

No really, the money means nothing to me

Amidst the furor over payments by the government to journalists as propaganda, Armstrong Williams has claimed that his support for the Administration's No Child Left Behind education policy predated his mega-payment to plug it. But, the record shows otherwise:
In an attempt to defend his decision to accept $240,000 from the Bush administration in return for promoting the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education law, Armstrong Williams has claimed that he always supported the policy. But in 2001, he strongly criticized the administration's decision to drop private school vouchers from NCLB, even touting this criticism on television and going so far as to write in his nationally syndicated column that by dropping the voucher provision, Bush had "scooped out" the legislation's "soul."
newspaperTo paraphrase Jon Stewart, "Curse you, liberal file footage words from my own column!"

(via WTF)

Bloggers beware!

Here's a list of companies that have fired or sanctioned employees for having blogs...

The Bloggers' Rights Blog

(See also their Bloggers' Bill of Rights.)
Just Between Strangers isn't the sort of blog that would really have work-related content, so I should be ok there (as long as I actually get some work done between blog entries)...

(via boing boing)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Oregon governor takes a stand

The governor appears to be planning to come out of the box swinging for the new term, with an anti-homophobia bill first on his list -- will have to see if his economic arguments sway any legislators. I can attest to (well-adjusted tax-paying) couples that have moved from PA to NJ sheerly because of the better protections that exist for their mutual life there. We need more states serving as examples of the normalcy of gay couples, whatever the degree of legal protection they are afforded...


All politics is local

My interest tends to focus on news of national (or international) import, to the neglect of things and people more locally. In an attempt to rectify that situation and expand my politicization into things on the state and local levels (in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, respectively), I am starting a smaller blog called A Smoke-Filled Room. There may be a few posts that involve catching myself up on the players and big stories in the area, but I hope that in the long run that space will be of interest to others hoping to become more educated/active in this region of the world...

Vicarious snow

Despite major winter storms around the country, Philadelphia has yet to see any accumulation, and has had strange bursts of spring-like weather intermittantly all winter so far. Of course, we may get a dump any day now, but until then I offer this great service: catch glimpses of individual snowflakes as photographed by amateur scientist and Vermont legend Wilson A. Bentley.

The Collection Online (at Buffalo)

(via Rebecca's Pocket)

DNC chair rumblings

I haven't written much about the campaigning for DNC chair, since (a) it's a bit too esoteric for most of my civilian readership and (b) it's kind of early days in terms of who is even running. But I guess I finally reached critical mass of interest, so here you go.

donkey2I'm a bit biased toward the "reform" candidates (as opposed to, say, the pro-life, conservative-think-tank-schilling "establishment" favorites), as are most of the blogs that I read, so here are some thoughts on the most promising/prominent of those:
  1. Howard Dean -- if you've heard anything about this race, you probably know that he's in it. He certainly has the prominence to claim such a national office, but also, of course, a good dose of controversy. Pandagon has schitzophrenically argued both sides, so I'll give you his summations:
    • the upside boils down to his talent, outspokenness, fundraising capability, rural roots (he can relate to gun owners), and high profile
    • the downside is mainly the baggage that he carries from his Presidential run, which might make him an easy jumping-off point for continued right-wing characterization of Dems as extremists

  2. Simon Rosenberg -- less known to most ordinary folk, but appears to be a strong candidate, as "everybody's second choice."
    • here's kos's summary of his strengths, which are that he "gets" the need for reform, for left-wing infrastructure, and for better claiming of the internet; downside? might he be too nice?
      Rosenberg isn't in this game to push the party one way or another ideologically. He's in it to rebuild and modernize. He's seen what the Right has done to control the levers of power, and he wants Democrats to level the playing field.
    • Schaller at Gadflyer endorses Rosenberg, as a strong strategist, not a prior elected figure (thus harder to pigeonhole), young, and someone who has been working on solutions for a while
    • interestingly, Rosenberg is one of the few people who have tried to generate a job description for the DNC chair, which is useful in evaluating his suitability...
So anyway, all this discussion has made me quite curious about this election as an augur of what the Democrats see as their future needs and strategies (and I will be interested to see what moves the winner makes, all part of my increasing awareness of the mechanics of politics). A first move of self-definition after this fall's disheartening defeat. Make it a good one, kids!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Not to beat this topic to death...

...but anybody who is still innocently buying the "Social Security Crisis" just isn't paying attention. Anyway, for those retaining some interest in private accounts (always a great solution for those who can't afford to save), check out the disaster that privatization caused in England.
And ironically enough, considering that America is on the verge of copying Britain’s mistake, most experts seek reform in the direction of a more generous, and simpler, basic state pension -- one similar in design, in other words, to America’s Social Security program.
Interestingly, one of the aspects of our SS program that they envy is the efficiencies of scale which are possible only with such large quantities of money being managed...

(via kos)

Moment of truth

Scornful of those who don't know geography? Ok, it's time to put your money where your mouth is -- let's skip those difficult smaller nations in Africa and the Middle-East and see how you do with the U.S. map!

purple AmericaPlace the State

Of course it gets easier as you go along. But can you put that first interior state on an empty map?

(via pal Douggie)

Corporate drudgery meets playtime!

A brilliant new toy for adults, The Cubes give you the chance to set up a cubicle farm of your choice, and move your mindless corporate hacks through their meaningless daily lives. The site is a riot, with performance reviews of the various characters, a random title generator (e.g., Regional Communications Planner), and even downloadable posters for those grey, grey walls...

(available for purchase at Archee McPhee, which has a great shot of a huge office floor made from these sets)

(via boing boing)

On a lighter note

A comical take (classic fafblog wit) on the confirmation hearings of Alberto Gonzales, in which his merits are compared with the quite different pros and cons of a baked potato.

(via boing boing)

Time to kill that "liberal media" meme

Because it's been a fabricated talking point of the right for long enough. Atrios lists the examples (mild liberal slips resulting in career death, huge conservative fabrications resulting in promotion) in his post What Liberal Media. Lots of bloggers have been using the acronym SCLM (so-called liberal media) for some time now, and this gives you a sense of why...

[There's only one part of the political sphere that promotes a coordinated message for months on end, and it's certainly not affiliated with Democrats!]

A "mandate" of the unfunded kind

Not only is Bush throwing some dozen major inaugural bashes in a "time of war," but it appears that he's intending not to pay for them --elephant1 in an unprecedented move, the Administration is refusing to reimburse D.C. for the huge security costs associated with the inauguration, which is likely to mean that the strapped District will have to divert Homeland Security funds from other projects to cover the party activities. Have these folks no shame?

Monday, January 10, 2005

Another bulls-eye for Trudeau

I don't read the daily paper anymore, so I tend to forget Doonesbury and catch up in great swaths. Was given a nudge by a friend this weekend, who told me about the series on confirmation hearings for the Secretary of Toady Affairs, run between Christmas and New Year's. Too excellent. As the nominee points out, "Blind fealty is the only game in town now." [sigh.]

The series can be found starting here (although my favorite, that captures the feel of the whole week, is this one).

Quote for the day

After the game, the king and pawn go into the same box.
-- Italian Proverb

Nothing clears the sinuses

. . . like Digby on a good rant. Here he quotes some bloviage that DeLay offered during the brief discussion of the Ohio electors last week and proceeds to some proper skewering of more general Congressional hypocrisy. Conclusion: "Garlic won't work with these people. It takes a stake to the heart." heh.

Operation Fabricated Truth continuing well...

Bendygirl at dailyKos reports the official wording of deployment orders for National Guard units headed to Iraq, and they make it look like the 9/11 Commission (and any number of rationality-based data bits) have had no effect:
The orders specifically stated: "this unit is being deployed to operation Iraq freedom in support of the attacks on the world trade center and the pentagon".
Um, grammar quibbles aside ("in support of" ?!), shouldn't the government eventually be required to acknowledge status of reality?

Oh, silly me...

Learning something from history, anyway...

Apparently the Pentagon is considering a new option for handling the worsening situation in Iraq, being referred to as the Salvador option.
[In the early 1980s], faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported 'nationalist' forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success-despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal.
Ah, there's nothing like a death squad. Civilians, be damned!

Question for the audience: How would Bush rationalize this kind of drastic option for Iraq (and nuking our possible future relations with the Arab world), given his insistence on nothing but good news about how things are going?

(via Follow Me Here)

Update: Atrios has a bit more on this crazed idea. I think he captures the whole wrongness when he opines,
Let's be clear, "death squads" are terrorists. Their goal is not simply to catch/kill suspected bad guys, but to frighten populations into submission. It's collective punishment of an entire population.
As Yglesias says, "This isn't much of a way to run a humanitarian intervention" . . .

Friday, January 07, 2005

In my bad novel...

Krugman bemoans an increasingly surreal series of events with hypocritcal characters and events barely fit for a bad novel...
In my bad novel, apologists for the administration will charge foreign policy critics with anti-Semitism. But they will be silent when a prominent conservative declares that "Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular."

In my bad novel the administration will use the slogan "support the troops" to suppress criticism of its war policy. But it will ignore repeated complaints that the troops lack armor. ...

Last but not least, in my bad novel the president, who portrays himself as the defender of good against evil, will preside over the widespread use of torture.
(requires NYT registration, sorry)

(via Medley)

How bad is Gonzales?

Well, he's already changed his public stance on torture (although, since his prior stance was taken while in a policy-setting role, it's a bit hard to believe that he intends to change policy now). But it seems like this guy plays pretty fast and loose with the law, if the first day of hearings are taken at face value. In addition to a claimed uncertainty about his past and present positions on torture (you have to see the transcript to appreciate the confusion), he appears comfortable with eliminating the separation of powers:
MR. GONZALES: Senator, I do believe there may come an occasion when the Congress might pass a statute that the president may view as unconstitutional. And that is a position and a view not just of this president, but many, many presidents from both sides of the aisle.
Armando at kos comments (reflecting my reaction):justice_small
One more time - WTF? The President will decide if he will comply with a duly enacted law. Well Gawddamn - and here I thought it was the Supreme Court that determined the Constitutionality of laws.
There was also some unnerving discussion of the Patriot Act, in which Gonzales seemed not to know the difference between contesting a search after it happens and requiring due process in advance (i.e., reasonable grounds, a warrant, or some semblance of a veriable basis). And this guy is to be our chief national lawyer? Help.
It struck me that Specter was a bit shocked by Gonzales' ignorance. Frankly, so was I.
I recommend that you read Armando's whole summary if you value the future of your civil rights or law enforcement in this country.

Update: more dissection of Gonzales' double-talk here.

Misogyny by any other name...

Anti-abortion activists like to say that it's all about preventing "murder," but it's awfully easy to see this most recent craziness as evidence that this campaign is really about control over female fertility: the VA legislature is considering a bill that would require that women report all miscarriages (naturally ocurring) or be liable to criminal prosecution. In fact, if they are busy mourning their loss of a pregnancy and forget for 12 hours, it's too late and they're already in trouble. femsign_tiny [And what about all those fetuses lost before the woman even knew she was pregnant?! (which happens in 30-50% of conceptions)]

This is sickening.

(via Medley)

Update: The publicity of this story achieved some good: the sponsor of the bill is planning to spell out clearly that he intends the criminalization to apply only to full-term babies delivered outside a doctor's care. They intend it as a way to punish those who abandon their babies after birth, not those who deliver prematurely.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Better than I could put things

The Poor Man talks about estimates of the number of "insurgents" in Iraq, how best to help our troops, and a general reality-check on what is and isn't likely to improve matters. I can't do it justice, so just go read it!

I'm Not Sure How Many More Corners We Can Stand To Turn

(via Atrios)

Willful blindness

Atrios catches the news of growing insider concern about Bush's self-imposed news bubble:
There is rising concern amongst senior officials that President Bush does not grasp the increasingly grim reality of the security situation in Iraq because he refuses to listen to that type of information. Our sources say that attempts to brief Bush on various grim realities have been personally rebuffed by the President, who actually says that he does not want to hear "bad news."
Our sources are firm in that they conclude this "good news only" directive comes from Bush himself; that is, it is not a trap or cocoon thrown around the President by National Security Advisor Rice, Vice President Cheney, and DOD Secretary Rumsfeld. In any event, whether self-imposed, or due to manipulation by irresponsible subordinates, the information/intelligence vacuum at the highest levels of the White House increasingly frightens those officials interested in objective assessment, and not just selling a political message.
This isn't the first time we've heard this, but it sounds like it's getting worse as Bush gets more confidant (and one can picture the positive feedback loop there!). How anybody can hope to direct complicated policies when not able/willing to find out whether things work is beyond me, crazy reality-based entity that I am...

Lao Tzu's Poem in a Time of WarKnowing ignorance is strength; ignoring knowledge is sickness.
-- Lao-Tzu,
philosopher (6th century BCE)
(quote via A.W.A.D.)

Procedural obscurities

Well, whatever you think of the various blunders/fraud that took place in Ohio during the Presidential election, this is an interesting development: the certification of the OH electors has been contested in both the House and the Senate, so there will be, at the least, some debate on the record about the integrity of the voting process (going on now on C-SPAN, I gather)...

Scarey column of the week

Orcinus argues that eliminationist rhetoric is no longer the sole domain of fringe crazies on the right, but that it is increasingly intruding into mainstream conservative dialogue.
My very clear impression of the rank-and-file American right is that many if not most of them, at the behest of their leaders, now believe that opposing George W. Bush and the Iraq War, as well as his handling of the War on Terror, is an act of genuine treason worthy of the ultimate social condemnation, including incarceration and execution. They feel not only vindicated but profoundly empowered by the election result, empowered to silence their opposition, by force if need be.
SORROWSadly, he doesn't suggest how to fight the rising tide of reflex hatred.

I am left with that worry that we're a few crazed bureaucrats from the rounding up of Muslims, and then of liberals, and/or academics... and then who will speak for me?

(Those in need of additional reasons for sleeplessness should check out Dave's excellent essay on the rise of pseudo-fascism, linked in sections here.)

(via Medley)

Fresh perspective at CNN?

CNN got a new president about a month ago, and he appears to want to get the network back to its hard-news roots and away from its, um, talking head infamy of late.
Mr. Klein said he wanted to move CNN away from what he called "head-butting debate shows," which have become the staple of much of all-news television in the prime-time hours, especially at the top-rated Fox News Channel.
First to go? Crossfire. Don't underestimate the contribution of recent dust-ups:
Mr. Klein specifically cited the criticism that the comedian Jon Stewart leveled at "Crossfire" when he was a guest on the program during the presidential campaign. Mr. Stewart said that ranting partisan political shows on cable were "hurting America."

Mr. Klein said last night, "I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart's overall premise." He said he believed that especially after the terror attacks on 9/11, viewers are interested in information, not opinion.
[Well, really, viewers are interested in celebrity scandal, but still, what the nation needs is more rational input.]a little TV

In related news, bowtie-wearing schmuck conservative commentator Tucker Carlson may or may not be getting his own rant show, but it won't be on CNN.

(via pal Jer)

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

More election musings

Ezra at Pandagon captures my feeling when he says (contrary to Kos's argument) that improving voter turn-out is not the problem for Democrats/progressives in coming years: it's getting more people to be part of your base. Really, it's getting more people to identify with your goals (or even recognize what your goals really are), and reclaiming the terms of discussion from those that demonize you...
We don't need to turn out our base, we need to enlarge it. We need to make liberalism safe and attractive, and we need more Americans to demand more progressivism in their candidate.donkey1
We've already got plenty of values, so let's make sure people know about it!

What behavior do we wish to reward?

I'm a crazy green (pinko?) type who thinks we should tax car ownership or charge for registration in inverse proportion to the fuel-efficiency of the vehicle in question. So you can imagine the joy with which I greet the news that communities are changing parking space dimension standards to accomodate monster SUVs (and Hummers, mayhaps?) and/or eliminating the smaller spots designated for compact cars...

(Don't miss the guy who seems amazed that "even in his minivan" he can't fit in a compact car spot. Has he encountered the word "compact" before??)

(via Q Daily News)

Sometimes, all you need is randomness

...such as this inspired idea from the crazed folk at McSweeney's:

George W. Bush Quotations in Which the Words "God" or "The Almighty" or "The Almighty God" Are Replaced by Famous Names Chosen at Random From the '80s Edition of Trivial Pursuit

(really, what more do you need than the title? well, maybe freedom to worship Oliver North...)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

More news from the edges of the limelight

In the department of tourists who were in the midst of the tsunami zone:
  1. There are apparently some 5000 Americans still unaccounted for. I imagine that their families and friends must be frantic, but they could be milling in the midst of millions of displaced natives in rescue centers with bigger concerns than cell phone chargers... Only time will tell.

  2. A young British girl who had done a school project on tsunamis recognized the warning signs when the tide went out suddenly and was able to save the 100 or so people on the beach with her. Let's hear it for science education!
(via Medley)


As of this morning, Amazon's collections for the Red Cross (for tsunami-related relief) are approaching $14 million from something like 172,000 people. Thanks, folks, for a boost to my morning. People at their best in the face of gaping need . . .

Monday, January 03, 2005

When values begin and end at home

AmericaBlog has noticed a striking pattern:
  1. Conservative Christian groups are ignoring the unprededented disaster overseas in favor of mundane news items and fundraising goals; however mainstream Christian groups are putting the current crisis at the top of their priorities.

  2. there's a similar noteworthy distinction between the sites of the Republican and Democratic parties.
See Digby for more in this vein.

Yeah, those folks on the right really know how to demonstrate their values...

How're things?

Had a chat with an old friend by phone last night. At a distance he can sometimes recede to an abstraction, that friend-that-I-valued, but on the phone the affection is alive and present, and the unhurried flow of conversation allows No Real News to be unpacked into the surprising range of developments and experiences, the large and small dramas that make up a life, in the months since we last spoke. A gift to reconnect.

In particular, being asked "how is married life treating you?" allowed me to wallow consciously in the self-indulgence of the long holiday weekend, not least the still-fresh luxury of having no advance plans, of making it up as we go along. Too rare, not at all undervalued... (neither the time nor the company)

So Much Happiness
It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to
pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs,
or change.
leafy path
But happiness floats.
It doesn't need you to hold it down.
It doesn't need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records...

Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.
--Naomi Shihab Nye

(poem via A Mindful Life)

Updates on the non-crisis

A good one by Josh Marshall about Social Security, national budgeting, rhetoric, and who picks up the
As pretty much all the sensible articles on Social Security have made clear, to the extent that we have a problem, it is not a Social Security problem, but an accumulated national debt problem
Don't be taken in by the talk of imminent collapse; the main problem is that the government has been borrowing from SS to pay its other debts, and the current Administration just doesn't want to pay us back.

Our evolving morality

A reported U.S. plan to keep some suspected terrorists imprisoned for a lifetime even if the government lacks evidence to charge them in courts was swiftly condemned on Sunday as a "bad idea" by a leading Republican senator.
Boy, those Senators don't miss a trick. Beacon for human rights, our country . . .

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Two quotes for the day/weekend

Belief, as I use the word here, is the insistence that the truth is what one would "lief" or wish it to be. The believer will open his mind to the truth on condition that it fits in with his preconceived ideas and wishes. Faith, on the other hand, is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. Faith has no preconceptions; it is a plunge into the unknown. Belief clings, but faith lets go.candle
--Alan Watts,
The Wisdom of Insecurity
I have no use for people who have learned the limits of the possible.
--Leonard of Quirm,
in "The Last Hero" by Terry Pratchett

Yep, things are going swell!

We're still planning to get Operation Iraqi Democracy underway via election in a few weeks (bombing be damned, of course), but things are so dicey over there that we're afraid to release the candidate names! It would be comic if it weren't so tragic...

A sad kind of progress

WalMart knows that its customers are at the lower end of the economic spectrum. But somehow they find a way to broaden their customer base, if not their appeal...
In a chilling reversal of Henry Ford's strategy, which was to pay his workers amply so they could buy Ford cars, Wal-Mart's stingy compensation policies -- workers make, on average, just over $8 an hour, and if they want health insurance, they must pay more than a third of the premium -- contribute to an economy in which, increasingly, workers can afford to shop only at Wal-Mart.
Happy #$%@! New Year, America!

(via LaDiDa)