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Saturday, December 27, 2003

Another reason to back Dean... 

His wife is still going to see patients, even if he wins the election! How cool is that?

-Vulf

Horrible Event, but Hope at the end... 

Iran is an important country (it will soon pass Germany in population) that can go either way...to democracy or to hard-line religious rule. The terrible earthquake gives Americans a chance to show what democracies can do best...help out those who need it from our own reserves. Think this might help tip the balance toward democracy there? Maybe. But it will certainly help a Colorado Springs sized city wiped flat to see light at the end of the tunnel. We encourage both of our readers to contribute to the responding emergency relief program of your choice.

-Vulf

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Class Society 

Think the U.S. is like a schoolroom in the summer? That is, no class!

Think again.

This article shockingly validates one of our earlier blogs here on the Bite discussing why a French Revolution-like upheaval is not beyond the scope of possibility. Because the poor have no hope, and we have become a generation-spanning classist society. At the top is aristocracy. At the bottom is indentured servitude by another name. In-between is, well, increasingly less...

"According to estimates by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez – confirmed by data from the Congressional Budget Office – between 1973 and 2000 the average real income of the bottom 90 percent of American taxpayers actually fell by 7 percent. Meanwhile, the income of the top 1 percent rose by 148 percent, the income of the top 0.1 percent rose by 343 percent and the income of the top 0.01 percent rose 599 percent. (Those numbers exclude capital gains, so they're not an artifact of the stock-market bubble.) The distribution of income in the United States has gone right back to Gilded Age levels of inequality."

What does this result in? Economic class stagnation...

"...over the past generation upward mobility has fallen drastically. Very few children of the lower class are making their way to even moderate affluence. This goes along with other studies indicating that rags-to-riches stories have become vanishingly rare, and that the correlation between fathers' and sons' incomes has risen in recent decades. In modern America, it seems, you're quite likely to stay in the social and economic class into which you were born."

And, Loopy, your favorite, Wal-Mart, is even "credited" here...

"Business Week attributes this to the "Wal-Martization" of the economy, the proliferation of dead-end, low-wage jobs and the disappearance of jobs that provide entry to the middle class. That's surely part of the explanation. But public policy plays a role – and will, if present trends continue, play an even bigger role in the future. "


But, of course, it's more complicated than just that...

"Suppose that you actually liked a caste society, and you were seeking ways to use your control of the government to further entrench the advantages of the haves against the have-nots. What would you do? One thing you would definitely do is get rid of the estate tax, so that large fortunes can be passed on to the next generation. More broadly, you would seek to reduce tax rates both on corporate profits and on unearned income such as dividends and capital gains, so that those with large accumulated or inherited wealth could more easily accumulate even more. You'd also try to create tax shelters mainly useful for the rich. And more broadly still, you'd try to reduce tax rates on people with high incomes, shifting the burden to the payroll tax and other revenue sources that bear most heavily on people with lower incomes. Meanwhile, on the spending side, you'd cut back on healthcare for the poor, on the quality of public education and on state aid for higher education. This would make it more difficult for people with low incomes to climb out of their difficulties and acquire the education essential to upward mobility in the modern economy. And just to close off as many routes to upward mobility as possible, you'd do everything possible to break the power of unions, and you'd privatize government functions so that well-paid civil servants could be replaced with poorly paid private employees."

I disagree with the conclusion, however. The American Dream is not over. It really only lasted from the New Deal of FDR into the 1970s. That golden period was an interruption in an otherwise historical class system. Our goal is to make those two golden generations the normal history. We can do it. The true American Dream is to make the "American Dream" the "America Normal".

-Vulf




Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Sanctions, not Sanctimony... 

This is an interesting view on the latest Libyan agreement to allow full UN weapons inspections, by Hans Blix. Blix argues that sanctions, not the war in Iraq, led Gaddafi to comply...

Hans Blix, the United Nations' former chief weapons inspector, said yesterday that Libya's disarmament plans showed that Iraq could have been contained without "rushing to war". Dr Blix spoke out as Colonel Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, said that snap checks of nuclear sites in his country could begin as soon as next week. The oil-rich state, which is on the US list of sponsors of terrorism, said last week it was abandoning plans to build an atomic bomb and other weapons of mass destruction. But Dr Blix rejected claims that it was the war on Iraq that had forced Colonel Gaddafi's hand and said that his willingness to co-operate with the UN underlined the power of sanctions. The former weapons expert also repeated his belief that Saddam Hussein almost certainly destroyed his stocks of biological and chemical armaments after the 1991 Gulf War....Interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Dr Blix said that Libya's agreement to a trial for the Lockerbie suspects and its deterioration under sanctions showed the impact of non-military means.

Interestingly, Gaddafi was born in 1942, making him a few years younger than Saddam. Dictators tend to mellow in their '60's, meaning the time to get them is in their 30's, 40's or 50's. You may do more harm than good removing them after they've mellowed.

Not everyone feels this way, however:

But University of Michigan professor Raymond Tanter, a former national security official with the Reagan administration, agrees with Safire. Tanter has long argued that overthrowing Hussein would pressure other despots to change their behavior. He says Gadhafi must have had Hussein in mind when he approached Washington to start secret talks as the United States invaded Iraq last March.

"President Bush is on a roll. The dominoes are falling, and he is quite correctly taking the credit. That's the good news. The bad news is that while one takes the credit for the good news, one has to beware of other rogues who haven't changed their roguish character," Tanter said.


Hmm, a former Reagan man likes "W"'s policies. What a shock. This emphasizes that "W" is more like Reagan than his Dad. Less cuddly, though, and certainly less photogenic than the Gipper.

-Vulf



Over the river and through the woods... 

it's a rental car, who cares?

Merry Christmas, feliz navidad, happy solstice.

-Vulf

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

THE REAL DEAL...MERRY CHRISTMAS 

We do a lot of pontificating, deriding and sometimes factual reporting on this blog, but we also sometimes touch on sports. Here is a true sports hero...Brett Favre, and not just because I'm a lifelong Packers fan (which I am). What a way to honor a much-loved father. No, it won't bring him back, but it sure prevents him from going away quietly. No matter how cynical you are, you can't fake a performance like that Monday night. Favre threw for more yards and touchdowns by HALFTIME than he had in any game all season. I stand in awe. Now that's letting actions speak for you!

Merry Christmas, all,

Vulf

Monday, December 22, 2003

Oh, My! 

Man, does this person NOT like "W".

Holy cow!

To extend the paranoid front a little further, imagine the following scenario. Osama is already in our hands, and "W" is waiting until October to give it up.

Don't think so? Look what Saddam's capture did for him.

OK, I knew I shouldn't have looked at the first link! :)

On the self-imploding Dem front, Wesley Clark has now not only removed himself from the Dem front-runners, but also eliminated himself as a VP candidate.

Here in Colorado, we have Allard, Musgrave, Daycow Campbell and "W" representing us. *Sigh* I can't say I'd vote for Lieberman before "W", though...

Merry Christmas, o faithful reader

-Vulf

Soured for Science 

I believe in hands-on learning, but as with everything it has its limits. There are those experiments that should remain theoretical exercises. I think this experiment is one of those.

Teacher's milk experiment turns sour

The high school chemistry teacher who conducted a milk-drinking experiment in which some students drank to the point of vomiting can return to the classroom in January, but he won't be recommended for rehire.

Upon reflection, did he regret his actions?

``There's nothing in our policies that I can find or that they cited that said we needed to notify parents,'' Ferguson said. ``We do labs that are way more dangerous, and I've never had to ask.''

He said it also was not wrong to reward students who drank the milk faster. And he said he researched the experiment adequately, talking to the school's anatomy teacher about the potential for students to be ill.

Ferguson added that he urged only particular students to keep drinking the milk.

``I know what it is about them that makes them learn,'' Ferguson said. ``If I'm egging them on, it's because I know that's the kind of thing that motivates that student.''


What part of "vomiting is not a good thing" doesn't he get? I can only scratch my head.

-Lupus

Holiday Hazards 

Here's how to torture Saddam.

Endless Christmas carols irk Czech clerks

Labor unions in the Czech Republic demanded Monday that stores stop playing Christmas carols incessantly or pay compensation for causing emotional trauma to sales clerks.

Some stores here play the same songs all day _ and play them loudly. Employees say shifts have become unbearable.

``To listen to it for eight hours a day is not healthy, that's for sure,'' said Alexandr Leiner, a union leader. ``And for the customers, it's almost unbearable as well.''

Leiner said unions have written to major chains, such as Tesco, and demanded that employees be compensated. He said the unions want 500 koruna (US$19) or two days off as a possible compensation. They've received no response.

Unions in neighboring Austria have lodged similar complaints against stores there.

Tesco spokesman Vesselin Barliev said the chain has not received any complaints.

``We don't see the music as a problem,'' Barliev said.


-Lupus


TIME makes the right call... 

Agreed. Anyone serving in Iraq deserves to be honored. I sure wouldn't want to be there.

The first paragraph of this article says it well, I will add nothing:

"The American Soldier" was named on Sunday as Time magazine Person of the Year, giving credit not to those who formulate the foreign policies of the United States but those who face bullets and grenades as they execute those policies.

-Vulf

Sunday, December 21, 2003

It just occurred to me... 

Since these threats can come up at any time, wouldn't it be a good idea for "W" to bring one out the first week of November next year to derail the election?

Tell me if any of this sounds eerily familiar:

"Although Adolf Hitler had the support of certain sections of the German population he never gained an elected majority. The best the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) could do in a election was 37.3 per cent of the vote they gained in July 1932. When Hitler became chancellor in January 1933, the Nazis only had a third of the seats in the Reichstag.

Soon after Adolf Hitler became chancellor he announced new elections. Hermann Goering called a meeting of important industrialists where he told them that the 1933 General Election could be the last in Germany for a very long time. Goering added that the NSDAP would need a considerable amount of of money to ensure victory. Those present responded by donating 3 million Reichmarks. As Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary after the meeting: "Radio and press are at our disposal. Even money is not lacking this time."

Behind the scenes Goering, who was minister of the interior in Hitler's government, was busily sacking senior police officers and replacing them with Nazi supporters. These men were later to become known as the Gestapo. Goering also recruited 50,000 members of the Sturm Abteilung (SA) to work as police auxiliaries.

Hermann Goering then raided the headquarters of the Communist Party (KPD) in Berlin and claimed that he had uncovered a plot to overthrow the government. Leaders of the KPD were arrested but no evidence was ever produced to support Goering's accusations. He also announced he had discovered a communist plot to poison German milk supplies.

Just before the election was due to take place someone set fire to the Reichstag. A young man from the Netherlands, Marianus van der Lubbe, was arrested and eventually executed for the crime. As a teenager Lubbe had been a communist and Goering used this information to claim that the Reichstag Fire was part of a KPD plot to overthrow the government.

Hitler gave orders that all leaders of the German Communist Party should "be hanged that very night." Paul von Hindenburg vetoed this decision but did agree that Hitler should take "dictatorial powers". KPD candidates in the election were arrested and Hermann Goering announced that the Nazi Party planned "to exterminate" German communists.

Thousands of members of the Social Democrat Party and Communist Party were arrested and sent to recently opened to concentration camp."

Let's see what burns in the Autumn of 2004. I'm not looking forward to it.

-Vulf

Is this for real? No foreign journalists, please... 

What flavor of Fascism do you prefer? Speak up while you still have a choice. I sure hope this is a joke, but it doesn't appear to be.

-Vulf

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