An argument

A: Sarah Palin is lying about health care reform.B: Whoa, hold on there. That's quite the accusation. You want to use the L-word, you're going to have to prove it.A: That's not difficult. Here is the outrageous and demonstrably untrue lie in question, from her Facebook page: The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “le … [Read more...]

Still not rock bottom

The smug-junkies are lining up for the latest designer drug to hit the streets, a hot-shot of fentanyl-laced oblivion that is viewed, in the perverse logic of the addict, as the really good stuff.The Pursuit of Offendedness is never pretty, but don't avert your gaze from the horrors of what you're about to see. Look on with pity at the degradations of stupidity and dishonesty and the realization that these poor addicts in the throes of their disease are willing to abandon all reason, … [Read more...]

Who do we shoot?

Here's one of my favorite scenes from John Ford's film adaptation of Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Muley and his son confront The Man who has arrived to evict them from their Oklahoma farm. Muley, played by John Qualen (the condemned sad sack fom His Girl Friday), clings to his shotgun: MULEY: You mean get off my own land? THE MAN: Now don't go blaming me. It ain't my fault. SON: Whose fault is it? THE MAN: You know who owns the land -- the Shawnee Land and Cattle Company. MULEY: Who's the … [Read more...]

The poor are left behind

1-800-HELP-NOW Teresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden have posted some remarkable stuff this week on the unfolding tragedy. Go read it all, but see especially their Katrina info page. Patrick includes a link to a rant from Tenn.-based Cherie Priest, who dissects the class-based cluelessness of much of the reporting on the destruction of New Orleans: Look at the reporters who are "incensed" by the rampant looting. Look at the smugness from those distant from the situation who chastise the … [Read more...]


A word here about greed and need, which have been treated as a bit too interchangeable in some of the previous threads. (And also because it's an appropriate subject during hold-out week for NFL training camps.) Greed and need would both fall under the category of what economists call "incentives." They can both serve to motivate people to work harder, or to break the rules. If you're a human resources manager or a prosecuting attorney, either one will serve as motive. But … [Read more...]

Remedial unbribery

So, OK, quick review w/o any of the tangents that were apparently confusing to some: 1. Any given proposal -- tax-cut, tax-hike, public works, whatever -- must justly serve the public interest and promote the common good. Any politician advocating any kind of policy must demonstrate that the policy meets this test. 2. When politicians support proposals that result in immense financial benefit for themselves personally they have an even greater obligation to demonstrate that the proposal in … [Read more...]

Unbribery Objection No. 2

Some politicians benefit financially from policies -- legislation, regulations, tax code -- that they have promoted and supported. In some cases, this financial benefit is significant, even massive -- $40,000 a year, or more than $700,000 in one big chunk. I want to talk about that money. It matters. It is at least potentially corrosive. To ignore such financial benefit would be dangerous, opening the door to blatant corruption and policies that disregard the common good. But this is not an easy … [Read more...]

Unbribery Objection No. 1

Got quite a bit of response, both in comments and via e-mail, to this post about the immense sums of money that President Bush and Vice President Cheney personally have at stake in abolishing the estate tax. One friend suggested that I look at this in terms of the 1993 movie, Indecent Proposal. You'll recall that was the movie in which Demi Moore's character accepted $1 million to sleep with the tycoon played by Robert Redford. My friend agreed with Woody Harrelson's character, … [Read more...]