Blogger Standards

Eric Schie revisits a constant debate in the blogosphere:

I often speak of my own low standards, and I am not about to adopt a “code” which might interfere with my ability to speak freely. I try to post what I think, when I think it, and I try to be fair and logical. I don’t know what else I can really do.

I’ve often thought of blogging as analogous to ebay in the sense that if you get known for being unreliable, people won’t buy from you. Beyond reputation, there’s no enforceable code, nor could there or should there be one.

I’m glad to see that the meme of “Blogospheric Rumblings” about a code of ethics has been discredited.

I don’t think we need a code of ethics for a hobby, but I think there are some pretty clear standards I and many others adhere to out of respect for readers and fellow bloggers:

1.) Try to get it right and if you goof, admit it publicly.

2.) Always try to remember to link where you got something and to credit other bloggers.

3.) Make your sitemeter and stats publicly available.

4.) Don’t take yourself too damn seriously.

Most of the people I know do this, and I try to as well.








Health Care

Am I just being jaded and cynical when I look at arguments like this back and forth between Ezra Klein and the folks at Q and O and all I think is, “Why bother? The debate is over.”

I opposed nationalized health care, but I think I see the writing on the wall. It is pretty clear to me that the corporate interests have determined that they can not sustain their profitability while continuing to offer health care as an employee benefit. This idea that they can not afford health care pops up over and over and over again:

At the same time it announced its new profit figures, GM made it clear that it plans to place the burden of the companys problems on the backs of its workers. All 38,000 North American salaried employees will be denied merit pay raises this year, and the company plans to reduce its contribution to retirement accounts for all workers by 60 percent…

These, however, are merely preliminary measures. Wagoner said that while the company made a lot of progress on reducing structural costs, what we have saved on the operating side has been filled in by higher legacy costs…We need to be more creative and more effective in addressing legacy costs. They are kind of swamping a competitive operational performance.

Put more simply, pension and health benefits that GM workers were able to win over previous decades are to be sacrificed to improve the companys bottom line. GMs health care spending alone is expected to rise to $5.6 billion in 2005, up from $5.2 billion last year. Over 1.1 million Americansincluding current workers, retirees and their familiesare presently covered by GM health care obligations, making the company the largest private health care provider in the country.

It seems that virtually very article you read about large corporations and profitability repeats this standard line- we can’t afford to provide health care and remain in business. Wal-Mart takes it a step farther- urging employees to rely on government services to supplement wages and non-existent benefits. Immediately after the plan passed, many companies moved to drop their drug coverage and shoved their employees and pensioners off to the government.

It goes without saying (except to the “Business Can Do No Wrong” knuckleheads) that corporations do everything they can to pass off expenses on the rest of us and maximizing profits for shareholders- that is what corporations do. Why else the argument for legal personhood for a corporation and limited liability for those who make the decisions? And spare me the nonsense about corporate responsibility and all of the PR campaigns- I know McDonald’s built some houses for sick kids. It is just simply a fact that the legal obligation of a corporation is to its shareholders.

That is not an anti-business stance- that is just reality. I am not bashing corporations, and I intend to keep buying their products. I just think it is an accurate assessment for what they do. Corporate responsibility occurs when the bean-counters decide the liability is greater and potentially more costly when they are irresponsible than if they do the right thing.

As corporations are amoral (not immoral), it goes without saying that if they can sense a momentum towards national health care, they will get behind it as they have in Canada. Many of you seem to forget how friendly big business was towards the Clinton plan in the beginning before they soured on it. Corporations will do whatever they think is in their financial interest. Period. That isn’t an anti-corporate attitude, that is just reality.

At any rate, I think it is pretty clear that in the not-so-distant future, we will be moving to some form of nationalized health care. Congress and the President paved the way with the Prescription Drug Plan, and the folks at Q and O better recognize that what Congress and the President essentially said with that act was that people have a right to get Prescription Drugs. You don’t have to like it, but you better recognize it.

Combine the corporate pressure on their cronies in Capital Hill, the big government nanny-state attitude of the current Republican party, public pressure and support from the Democrats, a society that keeps inventing rights, and it is pretty clear which way the winds are blowing. I think it is an inevitability.








I Surrender- 24 Blogging

I surrender.

BUt of all the things you listed, Jim, can you really top the fact that CTU has only one medical staffer, and that man was ordered at gunpoint to ignore a man while he died?

Or that the only person they refused to torture this season actually WAS a terrorist?

I am still watching, out of a sense of obligation, more than out of interest.

And Cal Thomas is just a frigging idiot. What else can I say?








First They Came for the Copy Editors

I had to read this sentence three times before it made sense:

Mr. Bush is popular in countries like Georgia, where his vision of spreading democracy is embraced, and seems a lot looser than in his visits to Germany and France.

I should be the last person commenting on things like this, but this seemed particularly awkward.








“Just Us” Sunday

It isn’t just Democrats and a few moderates and libertarians who are furious at the divisive and cynical antics of Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, and their band of Holy Warriors. Other religious leaders, are, shall we say, a touch displeased by the antics of this narrow fringe of loudmouths who pretend to speak God’s will in the domestic political arena:

When some leading Christian conservatives threw their weight behind Republican efforts recently to speed Senate approval of judicial nominees of President Bush, they subtitled their widely viewed Justice Sunday rally at a Kentucky church Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith.

The rally, at a 6,000-member church in Louisville, might not have caused such a fuss in Americas ongoing culture wars except that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist spoke via videotapethus enlisting Christian right heavy-hitters for his political threat to undercut the filibuster tactics used by Democrats to block ten of Bushs most controversial nominees.

The outrage expressed by liberal-to-moderate church leaders in news conferences and a counterrally in Louisville seemed partly stirred by the implication that people of faith include only judges, clergy and activists on the ideological right.

A few days before the April 24 rally, Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, said the event should have been called Just Us Sunday instead. Their attempt to impose on the entire country a narrow, exclusivist, private view of truth is a dangerous, divisive tactic, said Edgar, adding that it demonizes good people of faith who hold political beliefs that differ from theirs.

About 2,000 people packed Highview Baptist Church for speeches televised to hundreds of churches by satellite and seen by others on the Internet. The sponsors were Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council.

A counterrally the same day at Louisvilles Central Presbyterian Church was attended by hundreds, who heard socially liberal evangelical Jim Wallis protest the declaration of a religious war.

“Just Us Sunday.”

“Declaration of a religious war.”

Their words, not mine.

Joe Phelps, pastor of Central Presbyterian, said the claim by the Family Research Council that the ten Bush-nominated judges were being blocked because of their religious beliefs was deceptive in framing political strategy in terms of religious liberty…

Prior to the Louisville rally, however, some religious leaders warned Frist that by addressing the event he would fuel the fire. His presence is giving credibility to people who have made a stark political issue a litmus test for judging religion, said Baptist pastor C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance.

Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America told an April 22 news conference that the tragic irony of the rally was that it perpetrated further injustice. To imply that some people because of their political convictions are not persons of faith is an injustice, he said.

Top Presbyterian executive Clifton Kirkpatrick, whose office is in Louisville, added that while he respects freedom of speech, we must have an environment where [other] people of faith are not denigrated.

These are clearly not good Christians, since they don’t pretend to make a determination of God’s will on judicial nominees. Good for them. I hope they win this religious war and send the liars and frauds packing.








Erection Commercials

I am sick and tired of the commercials for Levitra and Cialis. I am sick and tired of hearing some woman coyly repeat the mantra “Strong and Lasting.”

Are these really necessary? Is there anyone out there who can not get an erection who does not know about the treatment possibilities?

I really doubt there needs to be brand loyalty with this kind of product- if it works, I think people will use it again. A commercial is not going to be a deciding factor.








Laws That Should Not Be

You and your live-in are breaking the law in NC:

There are some 144,000 unmarried couples living together in North Carolina, and they are all breaking the law – a statute that has been on the books since 1805.
The law against cohabitation is rarely enforced. But now the American Civil Liberties Union is suing to overturn it altogether, on behalf of a former sheriff’s dispatcher who says she had to quit her job because she wouldn’t marry her live-in boyfriend.

Deborah Hobbs, 40, says her boss, Sheriff Carson Smith of Pender County, near Wilmington, told her to get married, move out or find another job after he found out she and her boyfriend had been living together for three years. The couple did not want to get married, so Hobbs quit.

Her lawsuit, filed in March in state court, seeks to have the cohabitation law declared unconstitutional.

“Certainly the government has no business regulating relationships between consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes,” said Jennifer Rudinger, state executive director of the ACLU. “This law is 200 years old and a lot of people are very surprised that we even have it on the books…”

North Carolina is one of seven states that still have laws on the books prohibiting cohabitation of unmarried couples. The others are Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, Michigan, Mississippi and North Dakota. North Carolina appears to be the only state where the law is being challenged.

It will be interesting to see if ANYONE supports this law.








Mandatory Minimum Insanity

Groan.

Mandatory Pre-Emptive Action For Trolls:

No, I am not in favor of gang activity or drug trafficking. I am against stripping decision-making authority from the people who know the most about the case- the judge who should determine the sentence.

This is another ‘fix’ that will do nothing to stop crime (presumably those being sentenced have all been arrested, charged, tried, and found guilty, but you just can’t be sure anymore), will waste enormous amounts of resources, and most certainly will end up imprisoning people who may not be innocent, but most certainly do not deserve to spend 15-20 years in jail because some idiots in Washington felt the need to ‘do something.’

This bill sounds so awful, it almost certainly will receive broad support from both ‘Law and Order’ Republicans and the timid Democrats who want to show they can be ‘tough on crime, too.’








Genocide

Kudos to Sen. Corzine for using the opportunity of the highly publicized launch of the Huffington Post to raise awareness about what is going on in the Sudan:

Here are a couple of interesting facts about the Sudan. First, theres oil there. Second, Osama bin Laden used to spend time there before venturing to Afghanistan. Third, a fundamentalist strain of militant Islam is quite strong within the political culture. To top it all off the country is buffeted by civil war, and a brutal genocide. Over 2 million people have been displaced by the government trying to kill or starve them by preventing humanitarian aid from coming through.

There are real, pragmatic reasons for intervening to ameliorate this situation, but first I want to make the moral case. That case is simple. Stopping the slaughter of an entire people is the greatest moral challenge of our time. Evil on this scale is unimaginable to most, which is why historically we do not act on genocide until it is too late. But this time we can act, and stop this new holocaust. And we should. In the wake of demanding democracy in the Middle East, our nation’s value system requires it.

But even if you put aside the moral case for ending genocide for a moment, consider our own interests in the matter. The failed state that is being created in the wake of this horrific crime will be a hotbed for global instability. I was there, and I saw whats happening. As I stood in the refugee camps of Eastern Chad, into which hundreds of thousands of desperate people are pouring over the border, I realized how dangerous to America the situation has become. Not only is Darfur a lawless part of an unstable state, but the conflict there is destabilizing Chad.

The refugees, even when they are receiving food and shelter, have nothing to do. Resentment is building. And Eastern Chad, which has insufficient resources for its own population, cannot accomodate the refugees for long. We must stop this genocide, and we also must bring about a long-term political solution to this crisis. With two million people in refugee camps in Chad and camps for displaced persons in Darfur, we are creating the conditions for the collapse of law and order in an entire region and, potentially, for terrorism.

Good for him. I would love to hear a compelling argument for the recent administration decision to neuter the Darfur Accountability Act (because I don’t think there is one). I don’t think DAA will solve the problem outright, but it is a step. And slo, while I am at it, since I spend so much time bashing those who are playing games with religion and politics, let me again say thanks to the evangelicals who have been working for years to bring stability and peace to the region:

The Darfur Accountability Act is now with the House, and Republican leaders there — no doubt under pressure from an evangelical movement that has been aiding civilians in Southern Sudan since the outbreak of a civil war nearly 20 years ago — are similarly joining with Democrats to push for a more robust humanitarian response to the unfolding genocide in Western Sudan. In a recent meeting with Sudanese dissidents on Capitol Hill, Congressman Tom Tancredo, a conservative Colorado Republican who first visited Sudan in 2001, discussed the urgency of passing the bill. “Pressure is the only thing that Khartoum will respond to,” Tancredo said. “The only time they will act is when they think they are on the precipice.”

And just to make sure I keep the folks at the Sundries Shack happy, let me point out this piece by Arianna about DeLay’s cynical use of religion.








Auto Blogging

Just test drove a Subaru Legacy AWD sedan- I really like this car. Anyone know of problems with this model?








Big Government Republicans

Ryan Sager in the Post (via Glenn):

The Republican promise of smaller, less-intrusive government is getting harder and harder to believe. Especially when a more plausible plot line is unfolding every day: that the GOP has put aside the ideals of Reagan and Goldwater in order to pursue a political strategy based on big spending.

When people break promises, they are known as liars. Why mince words?

Congress is no innocent victim here it’s an accomplice. Under Clinton, the Republican Congress ratcheted down the president’s spending proposals year after year, according to the Cato report. But, under a united Republican government, Congress has ratcheted up Bush’s spending proposals (larding them with pork) by about $91 billion from 2002-2005.

And let’s not forget the Prescription Drug Plan for bankruptcy.

It’s not always easy to see how radically Bush has transformed the GOP from Reagan’s admonition that “government is the problem” to Dubya’s own assertion that “when somebody hurts, government has got to move.” But it’s a real transformation and an expensive one.

Average Americans will eventually feel it in the taxes that will have to be raised to fund Bush’s massive federal expansion.

Republicans who have stuck by the party’s leadership mainly because of the War on Terror will begin to feel it in 2006 and 2008, when they realize that Big Government Conservatism is not a strategy or a philosophy but a sellout.

No Screaming Eagle shit. The word is getting out- our conservative party ain’t very conservative, unless it comes to the homos and abstinence training- then they’re just nuts.








The 2015 SAT

Hehe.








The Huffington Post

Provocative post titled “Some Dare Call It a Theocracy” by Max Blumenthal at the newly minted Huffinton Post blog, and this piece on Ipods is worth a gander. Of course, I will probably make it a daily read just to see what Jim Pinkerton has to say.

I do have to ask, shouldn’t a blog like this, in the spirit of openness that most bloggers adhere to, have a public hits counter? I use the hit counter on other sites all the time, because it helps you find the daisy chain of who is saying what. Yes, I understand there is technorati and memorandum, but I like the quick and dirty way of seeing who is directing what where.

Overall, I like the site- I am interested in what Jon Cusack, Harry Shearer, and Elizabeth Warren and many others have to say. Some may have mocked it, but I bet it turns out to be a great success. Personally, I can’t wait for the first bitter internecine struggle, which is bound to happen when someone pisses someone else off. Too many diverse opinions for that not to happen.








Dave Whiner

What a petulant, whiny bitch.








A Real Clunker

Sounds ot me like Kingdom of Heaven is a real clunker.

*** Update ***

Ebert seems to like it.

On a related note, has Orlando Bloom ever been in a movie where he is not wielding a sword?