Friday, March 04, 2011
Thursday, March 03, 2011
The Westboro Baptist church were sued for emotional distress by the family of Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, after members of the church picketed his funeral with signs that read: "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "You're Going to Hell".
But the US Supreme Court ruled 8-1 against the family and said that the church was entitled to protest under the Constitution's First Amendment, the right to free speech.
In those two paragraphs are all you need to know to understand the dire predicament the right to privacy is facing in the United States with the Roberts court. There can be no more private moment in a person's life than the moment at which the friends and family gather together to say goodbye, to mourn the loss of a human life.
Yes, free speech is important and should be encouraged at all times, but the right of an American to be free to be where he wants, to do what he wants (within the boundaries of the law) and to be left alone trumps the sole right to shout obscenities, 3 to 1.
This ruling has implications beyond that of some rude speech by evil people. Privacy and the right to it is on shaky legal ground in a strict constuctionist court. See, it's not in the original Constitution per se. Yes, freedom from undue search and seizure, and stuff like that, all point to a Constitutional basis for a right to privacy, but the right is not delineated in the document, and according to the children on the right who act like demented fifth grade crossing guards, it cannot possibly exist.
This means sodomy laws can and will be enforced. Abortion can and will be under dire assault nationwide. It means fifty separate lawsuits defining what consenting adults may or may not do behind closed doors (the case that brought about the implied right to privacy, Griswold v. Connecticut, was about the use of contraception...contraception!...by a married couple).
The Roberts court has opened the barn door on all the horses now, guaranteeing itself a long run as arbiter of America's moral code.
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
Teens and young adults who start using cannabis may have an increased risk of having psychotic experiences in the years following, a German study found.
Among young people who had never smoked pot and did not have any psychotic symptoms, those who started using the drug were nearly twice as likely to develop subclinical symptoms of psychosis, Dr. Jim van Os of Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands and colleagues reported online in BMJ.
In a separate analysis, those who used cannabis consistently were more likely to report persistent psychotic experiences at more than one follow-up visit.
While there's some truth to this...after all, numbers don't lie...there are other studies that indicate that any psychoactive drug can cause psychotic breaks, including alcohol and even caffeine and tobacco.
Two fetuses will be presented as witnesses before an Ohio legislative committee that is hearing a bill to outlaw abortions after the first heartbeat can be detected inside a woman's womb.
The fetuses will appear live and in color before the committee on a video screen projecting ultrasound images taken from their pregnant mothers' bodies. Janet Folger Porter, head of Faith2Action, an anti-abortion group, said the fetuses will be the youngest witnesses to ever testify when they come in front of the House Health and Aging Committee Wednesday morning.
Really, is there no level these asshats will NOT stoop to? Is exploiting an unborn fetus any worse than aborting him or her, if you believe that's wrong? Is there not some moral equivalent that in effect makes this slavery?
HAVE YOU NO SHAME, PORTER?
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
The 345-page General Accountability Office report pinpointed 34 areas – from defense and job training to social services – where federal agencies, offices or programs have redundant objectives or are fragmented across several departments.
For example, there are 15 agencies that deal with the nation’s food-safety system, which the GAO said has led to inconsistent oversight and an inefficient use of resources. There are 80 programs across multiple agencies that focus on economic development.
“Reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save billions of tax dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services,” wrote Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro, who heads the GAO, known as the watchdog arm of Congress.
Across the Capitol, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) suggested to reporters that little had changed in the past decade: He held up a 2001 report that found there was $200 billion in waste in the federal government.
By the way, that $200 billion mirrors precisely the amount the current GAO report estimates is overspent.
But here's the thing: of the past ten years, six saw Republicans control the House AND Senate, and eight saw Republicans control the White House!
Asking the Republicans to be budget conscious is like asking Charlie Sheen to give up one of his goddesses.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told a convention of religious broadcasters in Nashville on Sunday evening that a federal government shutdown was not appropriate and not what the electorate wanted.
His remarks were the latest sign that congressional leaders were backing away from the brink of a shutdown.
"Americans want the government to stay open, and they want it to spend less money," Boehner said. "We don't need to shut down the government to accomplish that. We just need to do what the American people are asking of us."
In other words, it's business as usual. That's going to piss off the Teabaggers mightily, many of whom believe the only way to restore sanity to the budget process is to shut the thing down.
The Republicans are in a tough spot, to be sure. This is a giant game of Steal The Bacon, and Obama and the Democrats know all they have to do is prevent the Republicans from bringing the pork back to their side and the game is won. In other words, the Republicans will have to make a proposal that truly makes the necessary cuts to the budget to bring some form of fiscal stability back. Obama's budget proposal was nothing but a gauntlet thrown down.
In order to truly reduce the size of government, three things have to happen. Unfortunately, all three of those things are guaranteed...well, two are. One is unproven...to stifle any economic recovery:
- Defense spending has to be cut. Unfortunately, defense spending is the one guaranteed job creating program for the district in which the contract is awarded, including the contract for the F-35 engine, the biggest boondoggle in the current developing Pentagon arsenal, and oh by the way, built in Boener's home state of Ohio!
- Social Security and Medicare have to be reined in somehow. Now, you can't cut current spending. Remember all those elderly Teabaggers with their "keep your government hands off my Medicare" signs? You can cap the cost of living adjustments (COLAs) by faking a zero inflation number, which is accomplished by using core inflation, which excludes food and energy costs, which are "too volatile" to be useful. Are you kidding me? In a day and age when stock traders have software that can suss out microscopic inefficiencies and exploit them for millions in profits, we can't find someone to write a fractal-based program that can include the two biggests costs to an American family?
- Taxes must be raised. Now, no one is going to propose this without a healthy dose of political cover, because the Teabaggers will flip out, and you know what that means: no more GOP.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Y'know, at least junk mortgages had an asset with underlying value. Twitter, the social network for retards with slow hands and ADHD, makes zero revenue. None. Nada. Not an ad, not a subscription. Zip.
Yes, we will be bailing yet another fucking "too big to fail"...which will likely be duly Twatted.
I mean, tweeted.
Across the country, taxpayers are providing pensions, benefits and job security protections for public workers that almost no one in the private sector enjoys. Taxpayers simply cannot afford to continue paying these costs, which are growing at rates far outpacing inflation. Yes, public sector workers need a secure retirement. And yes, taxpayers need top-quality police officers, teachers and firefighters. It’s the job of government to balance those competing needs. But for a variety of reasons, the scale has been increasingly tipping away from taxpayers.
Now, like I said, Mayor Mike has a point: there is an enormous burden on taxpayers to fund budget deficits. In New York City in particular, the budget by law has to be balanced (barring catastrophes) in order for the city to receive state funding. And the costs of pensions and healthcare are outstripping the rate of inflation, particularly at a time of near-zero inflation.
But...this article smacks of so much hypocrisy that I had no choice but to address it.
The argument you never hear, the argument that Mayor Mike ought to hear and then shut his piehole over, is this: public sector workers make MUCH LESS SALARY than their private sector counterparts. A clerk in a bank gets a 10-15% higher salary, plus vacation, plus paid sick time, and may even be eligible for a bonus each year.
Yes, that's right: a clerk at Goldman Sachs can make a bonus that brings his income significantly higher than the private sector premium already paid! The equivalent clerk at the city Department of Finance? Not so lucky.
So what makes people want to serve the public? It can't be the appreciation, a glance at the New York Post or FOX News will show any public servant just how appreciated they are. These outlets lie in wait for some poor soul who hasn't slept in three nights because his wife is due to deliver a baby to fall asleep on a park bench, even momentarily, so they can smear his face across front pages for millions.
Just ask an EMT who has to drive an ambulance down a crowded street to try to pick up a heart attack victim just how much appreciation he gets from motorists stuck behind his rig, lights flashing and EMTs hustling about. Why, the shouted "Hosannas" would make a stevedor blush!
It's not the salary or the awesome potential to make millions, because you know what? No one makes that kind of money in city government.
No, they do it because they get two guarantees: job security in tough economic times and the promise of a pension at the end of the road.
And even in New York City, thousands of civil servants have been laid off by the bushel and now there's talk of 6% of the teachers being axed, most from the poorest schools furthest behind grades...who will then be closed because they underachieve academically. Mayor Mike, with this article, demonstrates that even pensions are not above his vulgar rapacity.
It's a win-win for the billionaires that Bloomberg is kowtowing to! It's a lose-lose for the other nine million citizens who work their fingers to the bone, trying to make ends meet and give their kids some kind of leg up in life.
See, the dirtiest secret of them all is, we wouldn't be in this crisis if Bloomberg and his predecessors, particularly Rudy9-11 Giuliani, hadn't given away the candy store to companies who even glanced at New Jersey and winked at the mayor. You want to understand why the city's finances are in the toilet? Companies like NASDAQ and Citicorp pay no taxes to New York City, of any consequence, based on sweetheart deals to retain their presences in our fair town.
The irony is, where the hell would they have gone? If you want to be taken seriously as a player, you have to have your offices in the biggest financial capital in the world (well, except that's now London, but I digress)!
Even Lehman Brothers... LEHMAN BROTHERS, who couldn't make money in a market that practically printed it!...got tax incentives to stay here and build a garish headquarters in Times Square. And then went bankrupt.
But hey, Mr. Mayor, you go right on balancing the budget on the backs of the clerks and the firefighters and the teachers and the santitation workers and all the people who voted for you last time out, then hop your little jet to Bermuda to get away from the stench of burnt charcoal and chalk dust and uncollected trash...who needs you?