Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tax oppression and Sweden's dirty little secret

French economist Pierre Bassard has published an interesting study on “Tax Oppression and Individual Rights in the OECD.” The paper measures: “The tax oppression index is based on 18 representative criteria measuring fiscal attractiveness, public governance and financial privacy in the 30 member states of the OECD.”

Remember the study is limited to the 30 OECD members only, but it is interesting none-the-less. Within the OECD, Bressard says that the most oppressive states, in regards to taxation, with the most oppressive listed first, are as follows:


Don’t get too excited because the United States didn’t make the 10 most oppressive tax regimes in the OECD. The US tied for 11th place with that other, increasingly-totalitarian nation, the United Kingdom.

Who are the ten least tax oppressive nations within the OECD? Here are the ten least oppressive states. The least tax oppressive of the nations is Switzerland, followed by:

New Zealand

Consider the relative positioning of the United States to the so-called “third way” nations of Scandinavia. It has pretty much always been a myth that the Scandinavian nations are the most tax oppressive. It really depends on who you are there. Business itself is not so highly taxed, but individuals are. I shall explain why shortly. But the US ranks as more tax oppressive than Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway.

There is an assumption that the welfare states of Scandinavia were high-tax regimes which tried to redistribute wealth from rich businessmen to the average person. This is not the case at all. One a whole the Scandinavia systems are meant to be redistributive states. Nor are businessmen the targets. Business is relatively lightly taxed compared to many developed nations. It is that the earnings of businesses that the bureaucrats want to control but people.

The Swedish welfare state, in particular, was designed so that the average individual was highly taxed. There was even the well-known case of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, of Pippi Longstocking fame, who discovered that her tax bill was 102% of her earnings. Consumers are highly taxed, while business itself, not so highly taxed.

The reason for this is simple. Taxation is a means of control. The object of control in the Swedish system is not business, they produce the golden egg after all. The object of control is the individual. The Swedish system doesn’t so much redistribute your wealth but confiscate it and return it to you provided you spend it in ways approved of by the political elite.

Consider how this system works. Say you are taxed $100 on earnings of $150. The state may now say that can have $20 back in education vouchers for your children, $30 in health “benefits” and so on. If you choose to spend in other ways you will not receive the money back. In essence the Swedish system was created to take control of the individual Swedish consumer, not redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor. While some redistribution is inevitable that is not the reasons the system was created.

Swedish business is more lightly taxed because the government wants business to provide jobs for workers. Once the workers are employed the state can tax them and control their spending. Approved spending is subsidized with the tax money that consumers pay in, unapproved spending is not subsidized or may be heavily taxed. This system of coercive incentives is meant to regulate how people act.

While many in the world think that the “third way” of Sweden was a “socialistic” policy of helping the needy, the reality is closer to a “fascistic” policy of manipulating the consumers into behaving in ways that politicians want.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Markets vs Politics: Lessons in Intolerance

Yesterday I blogged about intolerance exhibited before children, or I should more accurately say intolerance or bigotry imposed upon children. Two things brought it up. First, was a story that Barbara Branden told me not long ago. The second was an incident at a water park in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. See this entry for more details.

Lava Hot Springs Park is a government-owned “recreation” center that announced a family discount. It then told a lesbian couple and their children that they don’t count as a real family and won’t get the discount. The park used state marriage laws as the excuse for that. When they got some flack over the unequal policy they announced that they would solve it by stripping all families of discounts. You should note that they are doing this over a few dollars.

After posting on this case yesterday, Scott Pearhill, the president of the local Chamber of Commerce, posted a note in our comments section. He wanted everyone to know that the Chamber “which represents more than 70 local businesses, recently published a statement in which the Chamber welcomes all people to Lava.” He then said: “Thanks very much for your work to promote justice and kindness in our world.”

What the local Chamber of Commerce said was that they were asked about their views toward “gay and lesbian visitors” and that the Board of the Chamber unanimously agreed that “we want all to know that we hope this isolated incident won’t dissuade visitors from exploring our community and, indeed, the rest of Idaho. The Lave Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce feels that all are welcome in our community and we look forward to showing them our Idaho hospitality.”

On one hand we have a government-owned park making a same-sex couple and their children feel especially unwelcome while the Chamber of Commerce, that represents 70 businesses in the area, is going out of its way to tell people that they welcome everyone as visitors in their community. I am not the least bit surprised by this. Consider what I wrote on this blog in May, 2007:
Today around the world the issue of rights for gay men and women is hotly debated in government. Moves to extend rights to gay couples are fiercely resisted by politicians in almost every country. Almost unnoticed is the fact that business—ranging from multinational corporations to small companies— are implementing policies which recognize gay relationships. If anything government’s tend to act against bigotry only after the private sector has already stepped in to eradicate it. The nature of politics is inherently conservative and resistant to change. But the private market thrives on innovation and change.

This is a perfect example of what I meant. Government is resisting change while private businesses are welcoming it. In regards to the debate on marriage equality I noted that where our society has evolved, our government has barely moved. I wrote:
What is happening now, with political bodies recognizing marriage equality, is that the civil institution of marriage is catching up the private, real nature of marriage. Society, the web of voluntary associations, has largely accepted marriage equality. Major corporations already recognize such relationships in terms of insurance and employment benefits. Even many churches, outside the Catholics, Mormons and fundamentalists, recognize or accept same-sex couples. Virtually all major branches of Society have evolved to accept gay couples. Not so the State. In that realm where the State has not exerted control marriage has already evolved. The anti-equality lobby has actually used state coercion to forbid private institutions from evolving. In essence, they are trying to prevent natural evolution through the use of top-down coercion. It can be argued that the individuals who are meddling with the institution are those using political control to prevent evolution of marriage in the social sphere.
Political power is inherently conservative, markets embrace diversity. Years ago Milton Friedman said: “The characteristic feature of action through political channels is that it tends to require or enforce substantial conformity. The great advantage of the market, on the other hand, is that it permits wide diversity.” Ludwig von Mises said that in bureaucratic management, that is political control, “the first step is to obtain the consent of old men accustomed to doing things in prescribed ways, and no longer open to new ideas. No progress and no reforms can be expected in a state of affairs where the first step is to obtain the consent of old men. The pioneers of new methods are considered rebels and treated as such. For a bureaucratic mind law abidance, i.e., cling to the customary and antiquated is the first of all virtues.

The British socialist, Evan Luard, correctly noted that “collective power is also conservative because within the democratic system, political parties and leaders are obliged to converge to a point near the average views of the majority.” Sir Samuel Brittan, years ago wrote an essay, Capitalism and the Permissive Society, where he outlined precisely why free markets undermine conservative social orders. He said that “both the political and economic philosophy and the capitalist practices of a century ago set in motion a train of events and ideas which eventually undermined the status-ridden convention society of the time and brought into being the more tolerant England of today.”

Classical liberalism was comprised of philosophical views about the individual and about economics. It supported individual liberty and the right of contract and it supported free markets, as opposed to politically-controlled markets. Those ideas, even today, are continuing to fuel the culture war. The classical liberals said that marriage was a contract between individuals and not a religious institution at all. Marriage predated religion and existed long before the church got involved with it. Christian writer, John Witte, describes the view of the Classical Liberals:
...the voluntary bargain struck between the two married parties. The terms of their marital bargain were not preset by God or nature, church or state, tradition or community. These terms were set by the parties themselves, in accordance with general rules of contract formation and general norms of civil society. Such rules and norms demanded respect for the life, liberty, and property interests of other parties, and compliance with general standards of health, safety, and welfare in the community. But the form and function and the length and limits of the marital relationship were to be left to the private bargain of the parties -- each of whom enjoyed full equality and liberty, both with each other and within the broader civil society. Couples should now be able to make their own marriage beds, and lie in them or leave them as they saw fit.
On the other side of the battle is another view, expounded by the authoritarian John Calvin, who demanded state control of marriage, in alliance with the church, in order to control sin. The Liberals like Jefferson, Locke, Spencer, and others, were promoting the contractual, limited-government theory of contract. This really was a battle between those who held an authoritarian view of marriage and those who held a libertarian view. Witte says that modern law is a combination of these conflicting views, or “traditions—one rooted in Christianity, a second in the Enlightenment.”

The business world, when it doesn’t have access to political power, is the market. It reflects the libertarian ideal of voluntary exchange and cooperation. For us libertarians there is no surprise that the marketplace is decades ahead of government in respecting the rights of gay people. It is driven by a need to satisfy customers. If business fails to satisfy customers it loses customers, unless the politicians come along and strip customers of freedom of choice.

In Lava Hot Springs the local businesses don’t want to alienate customers. They want to welcome everyone. The non-profit, state-controlled park doesn’t have to satisfy customers. It doesn’t exist purely on the basis of profit. They have no major incentive to treat people right. They can afford to be legalistic, bureaucratic and stodgy. They can ignore the realities of life since they are government controlled and owned and they don’t have to make a profit. They can treat people like shit, businesses can’t.

What I have never understood is why so many progressives and advocates of diversity believe that state control will make life better for those who suffer discrimination. It isn’t the private community that is refusing to recognize gay couples—it is the state. Only six states have recognized gay marriage. Hundreds of the largest corporations in the United States recognized those relationship years ago. Even when a radical progressive like Barack Obama gets into office he’s happy to screw the gay community around for months, refusing to keep his promises. What Obama won’t do, private businesses have done quietly and with little conflict for years.

Politicized-markets, such as this water park, are not conducive to innovation or diversity. They are less prone to tolerance and usually unwilling to embrace that which is new. Not so for competitive markets, where political control is largely absent. When Progressive push for more state control they are undermining the best interests of all groups who suffer discrimination in the United States. If Progressives understood the reality of the dynamics of liberal capitalism they would abandon their statism immediately. If conservatives had the intellectual ability to grasp how capitalism undermines the traditional social order they would all become rampant socialists overnight.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

When will we stop inflicting pain on the children?

Not too long ago I spent a few days in the Beverly Hills/West Hollywood area. As I tend to do when visiting a city where I have friends I try to visit with them. And that afternoon I was meeting a collective of them for a Sunday dinner and discussion. Oddly many of them were people I knew from different cities in the past who had migrated to the Los Angeles area.

Most of them were friends from between 20 and 30 years ago. The longevity of these friendships was truly shocking. One friend from the East Coast I had seen since he was student in law school. Now he produces films. Strangely I had come across his name numerous times never realizing it was he—a new nickname threw me off previously.

But, most of the time that day was put aside to visit with Barbara Branden, the biographer of Ayn Rand, and Rand’s former friend and confidant. I first met Barbara around 23 to 24 years ago. Her biography of Ayn was still in manuscript form when I first read it.

So that Sunday afternoon I stopped by Barbara’s and spent a few hours with her before we drove to a restaurant in Beverly Hills where many of my friends had already gathered. But before we got stuck into a crowd of people I wanted some time just to socialize and talk.

Barbara thought she would mention that she made sure that she voted against Prop 8. And we talked about the pernicious effects of bigotry and prejudice in the world. At this point Barbara drew my attention to a Star of David broach she was wearing. I had noticed it but not given it any thought. Had I stopped to think about it, I might have. Barbara is an atheist. So the broach, on one level seems contradictory.

Barbara pointed to it and said: “You may wonder about this. It’s not that I’m religious….” And then she told me a story that I had known. I think I should note that Barbara just recently turned 80. And what she was doing was recounting a story of when she was a young girl. I am guessing this would be during the late 1930s or early 1940s.

Barbara spoke about how she and her mother took a trip to Minnesota one summer. Barbara’s mother had asked a friend to make a reservation for her at a resort, which the friend had done. For some reason the friend had made the reservation in her own name. But when Barbara and her mother arrived the resort learned that their last name was Weidman.

To me this would have meant nothing. But Barbara says it is a name that many people see as Jewish. Barbara then recounted how the resort insisted that they had no rooms vacant in spite of the reservation that was held. The resort offered to find a resort that could “accommodate” them. Barbara said her mother stood firm. She insisted she had a reservation and informed them that she had no intention of going anywhere else. She had immediately clued in on the fact that the resort didn’t want “those kind of people” on the premises.

Barbara’s mother informed the resort that she had every intention of getting the room she had reserved. She told them that if they persisted in refusing to honor the reservation that they had made with her that she would go to the local newspaper. She said she would sit down with the paper and inform them how the resort was behaving in this case. She would make it clear to all and sundry that what was going on was just anti-Semitism. The resort reluctantly found the reservation and the vacant room.

Barbara said that the memory of that encounter with bigotry, and her mother’s refusal to accept it, was something she never forgot. Clearly that event was one from her childhood that she always remembered. She explained that the Star of David she wore had no religious significance but she wanted the bigots to know that Jewish ancestry is nothing for which one should be ashamed. The broach was one way this diminutive 80-year-old could still voice opposition to bigotry and prejudice.

This is one of the few times I’ve heard Barbara talk about her childhood. And the story she told me stayed with me for some weeks now. I’ve periodically thought about it and pondered it.

One aspect of the story that upsets me is that I am angry that anyone has a childhood memory of this kind. That is, no child should ever have to face prejudice and bigotry at that time of their life. Decades later the memory of it is still there. A good aspect of this was that Barbara saw her mother’s determination to stand up to bigotry. She simply wasn’t going to accept it.

This was a passion we both shared. I had said to Barbara that some years ago I had made the conscious decision that I was getting too old to tolerate bigots. I didn’t have the patience to deal with that sort of bullshit in my life. If I witnessed it I would oppose it and oppose it loudly.

I am not arguing over whether or not idiots have the right to be bigots. They do. But I have the right to not tolerate it, the right to denounce it, and the right to fight it. I will exercise those rights.

In the world I yearn for, Barbara would never have the memory of experiencing anti-Semitism as a child. No one would. That world does not yet exist. Bigotry is still rampant. It may be unacceptable to voice anti-Semitic views today, unless you are Mel Gibson on a bender, but those views still exist. There are still individuals who denounce others based on their race, their sexual orientation, their gender identity and so forth.

I was thinking of how bigots inflict such memories on children when I watched an Idaho news report the other day. A lesbian couple, with their children, went to their local water park for a day of fun. The park offered a “family” discount. When the couple and their children arrived they were pointedly told that they are not a real “family.”

I remember one of the women telling a news crew that they would not be going back because the children didn't’t want to go back. One of the children apparently was rather upset about being told that he’s not a member of a real family. He wanted to know why they were saying that. This child is younger than Barbara was when she faced something quite similar. I can only hope he will forget.

The Lava Hot Springs Park did not break any law. No one said they did. But they have said they will change their policy. The new policy will be to deny family discounts to everyone rather than to consider having to give it to a gay couple and their children. This state-owned park refused to give the discount because they say the adults must be either “legally obligated to the care of the dependent children or are married to the adult” that is. Since gay couples can’t marry, their families are not “real” families and the discount does not apply.

This government-run park would rather deny every family a discount, and is happy to blame this change of policy on that nasty couple that thought that they, and the children they were raising, were a family.

I just can’t understand the hateful mind. I don’t know why some people feel compelled to despise other people who have done nothing to them. Why inflict such memories on children? I had really hoped that our nation had moved beyond inflicting memories of prejudice on children. Barbara told me her story a few weeks back but only days ago I learn of these children facing the same sort of memory.

While I personally believe that Prop 8 in California will be repealed, and that decency and right will triumph, there were aspects of that vote which broke my heart, and which brought tears to my eyes. I read newspaper articles from across California and several times I came across accounts of children in gay families confused by the vote. One was afraid that this meant his family had to break up, that they were not allowed to be family anymore. Dr. Jan Gurley blogs for a San Francisco newspaper and she wrote of a friend’s son, in elementary school, who had been “furious for weeks that the state could even consider taking such a violating step against his moms. Then I found out from another professional friend that her three kids (also all young elementary-school aged children) asked tearfully in the car, “Are we still married?”

Older children better understand but are still furious about such things. Josh Lay, a teenager, spoke to a school newspaper before Prop 8 was upheld. He said such a ruling would make him “extremely mad. I don’t even know what kinds of beliefs people have in order to think that my parent’s marriage is not OK.” His brother Jeremy, also in high school, told the paper the ruling would make him feel “that his family was inferior.” One girl told the school newspaper of how her younger brother felt when he saw “Yes on Prop 8” signs in people’s yards. The boy became upset and told his sister and fathers: “They hate our family and they don’t even know us.”

But that’s really it, isn’t it? What it comes down to is that bigots hate people they don’t even know, not because of anything these people have done to them, but merely because of who they are. I find it all very depressing. When will get beyond this?

Photo: a photography of Barbara on a previous visit.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

You have got to be kidding me!

I know there is some really tacky religious kitsch out there. But really, didn't anyone notice where the light switch protrudes and precisely how this looks? I am truly aghast at the utter lack of taste and the immense stupidity that it took to come out with something like this. And what is hilarious is that it is the pro-religion crowd that did it. I'm truly gobsmacked.


Now isn't that embarrassing

Now isn't that embarrassing. Right-wingers gathered to whine about immigrants and push an "English-only" agenda under the tutelage of Pat Buchanan, a man who despises economic freedom and social freedom both. The only problem was that they hung up their sign where the word conference is spelled rather uniquely: conferenece. You would think that before they push an "English-only" agenda that they would master the language themselves.

It sort of reminds me of someone who joined a protest against immigrants and wanted to call the immigrants "morons" with one minor problem. The bigot himself couldn't spell the word. See below.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Three major myths about marriage.

Due to a request I received I was doing some historical reading on the topic of the evolution of marriage. It is surprising, at least to me, how many modern myths about marriage exist. Primarily this is due to the fact that the so-called defenders of traditional marriage are not defending traditional marriage at all—they are defending their own unique religious version of marriage.

Their version tends to go along the lines that marriage is a “God-ordained” institution that is between one man and one woman and has been so for all of history. They often make more ridiculous claims as well. By “God-ordained” what they mean is the Christian deity in particular. The alleged gods of other faiths don’t matter to them.

So let us look at some of these myths, and a few others, about marriage.

Myth #1

Marriage has not always been about one man and one woman. History is filled with accounts of polygamy. Some of the most fanatical defenders of “traditional marriage,” the Mormons, are themselves frequently descendants of polygamists. Mormonism taught polygamy and condemned the “one man, one woman” concept of marriage.

The Bible, for what it is worth, claims that polygamy was quite common with the leading prophets and characters of Scripture. Esau had two wives; Abraham was married to Sarah and Hagar. We are told that King David had multiple wives and concubines both, as did Solomon. The Ethnographic Atlas discusses some 1231 societies in history. Of those only 186 practiced monogamy. Four allowed multiple husbands and the rest, 1041 of them, practiced polygamy to one degree or another. Polygamy is still practiced around the world and some Mormon fundamentalists still practice their own unique form of polygamy.

There has never been a time when marriage was exclusive limited to “one man and one woman.”

Myth #2

It is claimed that marriage has always been between individuals of the opposite sex. Christians, in particular, are known to make this pronouncement with utter assurance. Yet this simply is not true.

Consider that the Christian emperor of Rome, Theodosius II, created a code of Christian law for the Roman Empire. In that code he specifically banned same-sex marriage. Why? Why ban something that was never practiced? In fact it was practiced and it was well known.

One historian writes:
Marriages between males or between females were legal and familiar among the upper classes. Even under the Republic, as has been noted, Cicero regard the younger Curio’s relationship with another man as a marriage, and by the time of the early Empire references to gay marriages are commonplace. The biographer of Elagabalus maintains that after the emperor’s marriage to an athlete from Smyrna, any male who wished to advance at the imperial court either had to have a husband or pretend that he did. Martial and Juvenal both mention public ceremonies involving the families, dowries and legal niceties.
In the case involving the great Roman statesman, Cicero, he was approached by Curio the Elder asking for advice. Curio’s son was in a marriage relationship with another male. Cicero’s own description of the two men was that they were “united in a stable and permanent marriage, just as if he [Curio the Younger] had given him [his partner] a matron’s stola.” The stola was an item that married women wore to indicate they were off the marriage market.

A related myth, I might add, is the nonsense spouted by Conservatives that the collapse of Rome came about because it tolerated homosexuality. As already noted, Rome under Christian rule, became more intolerant of homosexuality long before it collapsed. The banning of same-sex marriage was the first step of a series of anti-gay laws. In addition to becoming more socially intolerant Rome became more and more authoritarian during the last days of the Empire. For instance, Theodosius also had 65 edicts against so-called heretics. In essence Rome became less economically free, less socially tolerant and more war-like and this fatal combination destroyed Rome. (For an economic history of the Roman welfare state see The New Deal in Old Rome.) Rome was tolerant of gays when during its height and least tolerant before its collapse. Christians, however, did become tolerated and they ruled Rome during the fall of the empire.

Myth #3

Many on the religious right claim that marriage was a “divine institution” all along and that the state took control of marriage from the church.

This is utterly false. Marriage was neither connected to the church or to the state for much of human history. A marriage basically amounted to two individuals announcing their marriage to friends and family and setting up house. There may have been a “wedding feast” as depicted in the New Testament but there was no church ceremony. Early Christian churches had nothing to do with marriage. They did not perform marriages.

The first attempt by the Christian sect to take control of marriage was in 1545 when the Council of Trent announced that marriages would no longer be recognized as valid unless a priest performed them with two witnesses present. Prior to that a marriage was considered valid if two individuals merely pledged themselves to one another, regardless if anyone else knew about the matter. Martin Luther went further than Calvin and said marriage was “of the earthly kingdom” and “subject to the prince, not to the Pope.”

It was the misnamed “Reformations” who brought in state control of marriage. Protestant leaders invited the state to take control of marriage. John Calvin’s “Marriage Ordinance of Geneva” required a state permit and church consecration before a marriage was recognized. This was in 1545 as well.

The state did not take over marriage. First, marriage was entirely private without interference of either church or state. Catholicism started to exert control over marriage in 1545 and then the Protestant Reformations demanded that the state take ultimate control over marriage. Of course, they assumed the state would be under their control at the time. Certainly when Calvin pushed his detailed regulations of marriage onto the law books in Geneva he was, for all intents and purposes, the ruler of that poor city.

Illustration: As an illustration for this posting I include a copy of William Hogarth's 1743 painting, The Marriage Settlement. It is clear that marriage at that time was often seen as primarily a business relationship and not much more. The bride is being courted, not by her future husband (to her left) who is ignoring her and may be portrayed as gay, but by an attorney. Her father is wealthy, the grooms father is broke but holds a title as Earl. The bride's father wants to merge his family into that of royalty while the Earl is anxious to get money from the wealthy father of the bride. You can see the pile of money in front of the Earl.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Barbara Boxer bitchies about being called Mam.

If I were speaking to anyone, be they a senator or not, I would politely refer to them as sir or mam depending on their gender. If a male senator asked me a question I may reply: "Yes, sir." If a female senator did the same I would say: "Yes, mam." This officer apparently did the same thing only to have Barbara Boxer slap him down for calling her "mam" insisting that she has to be called by the title "senator."

What a bitch! Any elected official who insisted on this is an arrogant prick. It is one thing to ask people to be respectful and polite, it is quite another to demand that you be referred to only by a title. Sorry, Babs, but you are just another citizen who got enough morons to vote you into office. That neither makes you smarter, wiser, or better than other people. You may be some of those things, but being elected is not what made you so. So, mam, get used to it.

This sort of "better than thou" mentality infests the political classes. And apparently Babs Boxer has a real bad case of it.

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More alike than different.

The U.S. Census Bureau has been collecting data for years on all couples in the United States. But much of the data was never consolidated into any meaningful statistics, especially when it related to same-sex couples. The previous administration was hostile to the release of such information and preferred to follow the ostrich head-in-the-sand strategy: if we ignore them they don’t exist.

Now Martin O’Connell, chief of the Census Bureaus Fertility and Family Statistics Branch, said they decided to look at the raw data and see what it said. Same-sex couples basically had three options with the forms. Some ignored “legal” terminology and described themselves as “married” even if the law did not recognize them as such. Others checked the categories for unmarried and partners. And others simply checked neither and appear to be two individuals who just share an abode. Because of this the actual number of same-sex couples is probably skewed low.

What the Bureau found was that there are 55,967,091 male-female, married couples. There are 190,004 male couples who define themselves as married and 150,844 female couples who do the same, for a total of 340,848 gay couples who define themselves as married. Another 205,568 male couples say they are “partners” and 208,202 female couples say the same. That is another 413,770 same-sex couples who self-identified as such, given us a total of 754,618 self-identified gay couples in the country with obviously a large, but unknown, number of couples who did not self-identify at all.

The average age of a member of a male-female couple was 50. Among married male couples it was 52; 50 among female married couples; 44 for unmarried male partners; and 43 for unmarried female partners. The unmarried same-sex couples had the highest rates for both partners being employed: 69% for men and 68% for women. Only 50% of heterosexual married couples had both spouses employed. Among gay couples it was 47% for males and 52% for females.

When asked if both partners had a bachelor’s degree it turns out that among straight married couples it was 21%; 21% among male married couples; 24% among female married couples; 32% among male partnered couples; and 35% among female partnered couples.

Income statistics are equally as interesting. The average household income for straight married couples was $91,484. For male married couples it was $96,092, for lesbian married couples it was $93,044; for lesbian, unmarried couples it was $96,325 and for unmarried male couples it was $124,054. Thirty percent of married straight couples had incomes over $100,00 while 32% of married, male couples did; 38% of female married couples, 37% of female, partnered couples and 46% of male, partnered couples.

Home ownership rates are almost identical among all married couples. It is 84% for straight couples, 84% for male, married couples and 83% for female, married couples. For non-married male couples it is 71% and 70% for female, non-married couples.

When it comes to couples raising children there were some surprising statistics. Forty-three percent of heterosexual married couples were raising children. For lesbian married couples it wasn’t far behind, with 38% raising children. And 32% of male, married couples were also raising children. For couples, who did not describe themselves as married, the rate was much lower: 8% for male couples and 20% for female couples.

I think this cuts across some of the views of both the radical Left and the extreme Right. The figures for employment, home-ownership and income levels indicate rather strongly that any widespread discrimination in the employment market simply isn’t there. I would argue that markets tend not to discriminate especially if they are open to competition. Historically it has been those professions or industries, which had heavy government, control that tended to discriminate most against minorities. The more unregulated and free the market the less likely it is to practice widespread, consistent discrimination. Most discrimination suffered by gay people is government induced not in the private sector.

In a lecture, one far Right "economist" not worth naming, made some very stupid remarks where he contended that “homosexuals tend to plan less for the future than heterosexuals” and that they had a “spend it now” mentality.

He compared the actions of married couples with children to single, unmarried gay people. This sort of specious comparison is obviously flawed since one is not comparing homosexuals to heterosexuals at all but married individuals with children to single, childless individuals. That automatically skews the sample.

A fair comparison, which I doubt interested this man, who is known for his antigay sentiments, would have compared straight married couples with children to gay married couples with children. Since home ownership is a strong indication of “planning for the future” it is interesting to see NO differences between the home ownership rates of married gay couples with those of married, straight couples.

The data the Census people released would have been more interesting if they also include unmarried straight couples as well. But, from what was released here, we are seeing that gay couples don’t tend to be that different than straight couples, at least when we compare “married” couples to one another. Their employment levels were almost the same, with same-sex couples slightly ahead; their average ages were almost the same; their level of education was almost the same; their homeownership rates were almost the same.

It appears that "marriage" tends to make people very similar in their stability and economic performance. Conservatives have argued this for many years. But I have to wonder why they thought the same wasn't true for gay couples. Yet, the data seems to indicate it is.


An astounding sense of entitlement.

I have long felt that many American police officers do not see themselves as being bound by the same laws of decency and morality that bind the rest of us. They too often believe that they are above the law, that they are better than the rest of us, that they are entitled to obedience because of their lordly status.

Consider an unnamed police officer from Denver, Colorado as an example of this mental aberration that infects too many "law enforcement" officers. The officer, lets call him Officer Cartman so he has a name, went to a McDonald's in Aurora, Colorado. Officer Cartman was off-duty and outside his home jurisdiction.

Officer Cartman was with another off-duty Denver policeman and they drove up to the drive-thru window and placed an order.

Lord Cartman was angry when he got to the pick-up window because he thought his food was taking too long. He then decided to throw his "authoritah" around. He flashed his police bag and then pulled a gun on the clerk. He pointed the gun inside the drive-thru window in a threatening manner and then left without paying. Both officers are normally assigned to Denver International Airport -- something to remember if you ever fly through Denver.

Of course, Officer Cartman has not been arrrested nor charged. Imagine what would happen to you if you had pulled a stunt like this. Where do these thugs get their astounding sense of entitlement? Simple: they get it because they are treated by the political elite as something special, someone who truly is above the law and not governed in the same manner as the rest of us. They can get away with murder: literally.

Had you or I pulled a gun on a clerk at McDonalds merely because we were impatient there is a good chance that a violent, heavily armed SWAT team would be breaking down your doors shortly thereafter, murdering any dogs you may own, and ripping your house to pieces in the process. They may well taser you in the process, if they don't kill you because they "thought" your television remote control was a bazooka. And as you laid bleeding, or dead, on the floor in handcuffs they would high-five one another and laugh about the whole experience.

But when one of them breaks the law in a clear and unambiguous way the politicians bend over backwards to "investigate" and treat the office like a fragile child who will wilt at the slightest unpleasant word. And why do they do that? Again, it is not hard to understand. Cops are not there to keep the peace or protect the individual. They are fully "law enforcement" officers instead. Their job is to do the will of the political classes and protect the State from the people, not protect the people from each other. Since these dangerous gangs of officers are the armed guards of the politicians the political class always treats them gingerly and with kid gloves. They work for the politicians not for the people.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

A libertarian look at Harvey Milk.

Above is a 90-minute documentary The Times of Harvey Milk. Milk, though he was once a Goldwater supporter, came on to the American political scene as a candidate of the Left. So why would a libertarian admire and respect Milk?

There is a false assumption, a grossly false assumption, that libertarianism is some sort of Right-wing philosophy. I would assert most strongly, it is not. Properly understood libertarianism in its “classical liberal” incarnation was the original Left wing of politics. The Right wished to “conserve” the prevalent social order. Liberals did not. They wished to reform it in many different way including ending the feudal system, abolition of the church/state alliance and ending the government coddling of certain business interests through subsidies, monopolies and protectionism. There was very, very little which classical liberals though worthy of conserving. The advocates of conserving the social order were called conservatives and their method for doing so was the use of State force.

When the socialists arose they embraced many of the goals that true liberals were seeking. But these socialists thought it possible to achieve liberal ends through the use of State force, in other words while adopting liberal goals they clung to conservative means. As the socialist/communist movement evolved certain erroneous premises which they had embraced pushed many into a totalitarian camp. At that point these “Leftists” had ceased seeking even liberal ends and had become full-fledged conservatives preserving the political power structure through coercive means.

This created a crisis within the political Left. Many in the Left still passionately embraced the ends of the classical liberals. They opposed the totalitarianism of the conservative Left yet they were having problems giving up the idea that state power was the best method of achieving liberal goals. Most of modern Leftists, Harvey included, fall into this category. For the libertarian they are as confused as the modern conservative. Neither consistently advocates freedom yet neither consistently wants to undermine it. Whether their premises undermine such freedom is a different matter, but neither does so intentionally, with the exception of the more extreme elements.

Conservatives today want economic liberalism but shy away from social liberalism. Socialists and Progressives want social liberalism, and the results of economic liberalism but cling to State power. So, for the true libertarian, both the Left and the Right share similar flaws and have similar virtues. But many libertarians, who came from the Right, still cling to irrational hatred for the Left. This blinds them to the common ground that libertarians share with our friends on the Left.

A rational discussion of modern politics, from a libertarian perspective, requires us to understand, and appreciate, the common ground that we share with the Left as well. Yet this is inadequately done.

It is from this perspective that I wish to discuss the impact of Harvey Milk.

One thing that is clear from this documentary is that Harvey did passionately believe in trying to help those who were hurt, or oppressed, by the legal/political system of his day. He spoke of the needs of the various minorities to work together to defend their rights. This passion comes right out of the historical natural of classical liberalism. Unfortunately it is a passion that many libertarians have forgotten, to the detriment of libertarianism in general.

Classical liberalism originated, not as an economic philosophy, but as a philosophy that defended the rights of minorities. Freedom of religious dissent was a battle that the nascent liberals were fighting well before Adam Smith penned his Wealth of Nations (1776). Milton’s neo-liberal defense of free speech, Areopagitica, was published in 1643. John Locke’s essay, A Letter Concerning Toleration, was published in 1689. Both of these documents, while pushing boundaries for freedom, still made compromises to state control that modern libertarians (or many left-liberals) would no longer make. But certainly in their day they were radical calls for expanding individual freedom.

It should be remembered that these early liberals, arguing for expansion of freedom of thought, faced obstacles that later economic liberals did not face. While advocates of free trade were opposed by the landed interests and big business of the day, they did not face the Holy Inquisition, trials for heresy, mob violence, or execution. Of course, even today, modern libertarians find it easier to defend economic liberalism as “conservatives” will still do their level best to punish us for any forays into social liberalism—hence the reason so many “libertarian” think tanks and organizations don’t talk about the social aspects of freedom. But, for a libertarian to avoid social freedom, it is like a sprinter trying to run with just one leg. You can do it, but is it really worth the effort?

Classical liberals were in the forefront of the Abolitionist movement, a cause that was very unpopular when they started. But the evil of human slavery, defended by Scripture and conservative interests, was eventually abolished. After the successful campaigns regarding religious freedom, freedom of conscience, and the abolition of slavery, we see the first real move toward economic liberalism. Freedom of markets did not lead the liberal movement until the creation of the Anti-Corn Law League in 1839—slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1807 but Vermont had banned it in 1777 and Massachusetts in 1783.

Even when Richard Cobden and John Bright, created the Anti-Corn Law League the emphasis of much of their work was on the dire effects that state protectionism had on the working classes and the poor. Much of the impetus for promoting economic freedom was that it was necessary if poverty and hunger were to be abolished. That passion, to see the most vulnerable in society, made better off was a primary motivation of our liberal forefathers. And even our promotion of economic freedom was intimately tied to this desire.

State power always has been, and always will be, the sanctuary of the rich and powerful. It protects them from the competitive nature of markets and from the wishes and will of the consumers and workers. This is why true liberals have opposed efforts by pseudo-liberals on the Left to expand state power. We believe that such power is inherently counter-productive and destructive to the well being of all of but a rich and powerful elite. Such power structures, however, are particularly destructive to the well being of the most vulnerable groups in our society.

True liberalism was aligned with European movements that sought to end the ghettoization of the Jews, something promoted by the Church and religious elements of society. Liberalism worked to extend the franchise and legal rights to women. It was closely involved with the movement to extend equal rights before the law to African-Americans as well. And, for all ages, classical liberalism was a major force in opposition to imperialism and war.

Classical liberalism has always been about the emancipation of all people and the legal equality of all people, in regime of freedom. Economic liberty is incredibly important, but not as an end in itself. Economic freedom is necessary to achieve the social goals of classical liberalism. Economic freedom means that the power elites can’t confiscate the wealth of the working classes. Economic freedom makes emancipation of the Jews, women, gays, and even “illegal” immigrants possible. Economic freedom is always a necessary component in the real liberal’s agenda: the full emancipation of the individual to live their life, as they wish, provided they respect the equal rights of others. Economic freedom is the means to the social goals of liberalism. Classical liberals would argue that economic freedom is the necessary means for achieving those goals.

When one studies the life of Harvey Milk one finds that the passions he shared were, for the most part, liberal passions—and I mean classical liberal passions. In his short political career he broke ground for the rights of gay and lesbian people and opposed the horrendous efforts of the bigots around the Briggs Initiative. It should also be noted that many libertarians were very active in the campaign against Briggs and that the libertarian-leaning Ronald Reagan even opposed the measure and wrote an editorial against it.

Previously I quoted Nathaniel Branden as saying:
I think it’s unfortunate that Libertarians so often leave the initiative to the Leftists. For example, it was the Leftists who were the first—publicly and in a big way—to oppose our involvement in Viet Nam. It was the Leftists who were the first—publicly and in a big way—to oppose the draft. It was the Leftists who were the first—publicly and in a big way—to denounce racism in this country.

Never mind that the Leftists had their own motives for doing so and that those motives would not be the motives of Libertarians. The fact remains that we should have never have involved ourselves in Viet Nam, the draft is evil, and racism is contemptible. Libertarians—the true defenders of individual rights—should have been the first to speak up on these subjects, loudly and clearly and publicly.

I don’t mean that these are the only issues to which Libertarians should address themselves. Far from it. But it would have been immensely important had Libertarians been the first to speak up on these problems. I think it’s unfortunate that Libertarians so often leave the initiative to the Leftists. For example, it was the Leftists who were the first—publicly and in a big way—to oppose our involvement in Viet Nam. It was the Leftists who were the first—publicly and in a big way—to oppose the draft. It was the Leftists who were the first—publicly and in a big way—to denounce racism in this country.
It is vital, if modern libertarianism or classical liberalism is to remain true to its roots, that we revive this passionate defense of those most under threat by the expansion of state power. We are the only consistent advocates of freedom for the oppressed and the powerless. And when we see others, even those who fail to understand the link between social and economic freedom, who are passionate about individual rights we ought to applaud them and encourage them. There were aspects to Harvey’s political program that real liberals could not support. But we can appreciate his passion for the oppressed and embrace that aspect of who he was. We can acknowledge the important role he played in helping further individual rights in modern America. We can do these things—and we should.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Smug Krugman's advice, followed, failed.

Perhaps my least favored columnist at the New York Times is the smug Paul Krugman. Krugman, in my opinion, is one of the least honest columnists around. So it is with some amusement that I read what he said on August 2, 2002.
The basic point is that the recession of 2001 wasn't a typical postwar slump, brought on when an inflation-fighting Fed raises interest rates and easily ended by a snapback in housing and consumer spending when the Fed brings rates back down again. This was a prewar-style recession, a morning after brought on by irrational exuberance. To fight this recession the Fed needs more than a snapback; it needs soaring household spending to offset moribund business investment. And to do that, as Paul McCulley of Pimco put it, Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble.

Got that? Krugman's solution to a downturn in the economy in 2002 was to "create a housing bubble." To quote the obnoxious Dr. Phil: "How's that working for you?"

Of course, the Left still worships Krugman.


WBWJB2: What Billboard Would Jesus Burn?

Yet again the Christianists are on the march demanding that a billboard in New York City, for Calvin Klein jeans, be ripped down. One Christianist, who describes herself as a "Christian life coach" says, "what is portrayed on the billboard is highly closely related to child pornography." The headline for her article says: "Child pornography displayed in new Calvin Klein billboard ad?" Let's see, we have a "billboard ad" and a photo that is "highly closely related." She may be a life coach but a writer she ain't. But she assures us that her "passion for God comes out of her zany sense of humor, deep compassion, and zest for life." Oh, boy, another zany, zesty fundamentalist. What fun these people would be if they weren't spending their time trying to regulate and control everyone else!

Racy it is, but pornographic? Come on. And if they want to claim these models are "children," then protect us all from these crazies.

Basically, what has been happening in America is that the fundamentalist Right knows that people get terrified if they imagine their children are at risk. So the fundamentalists have slowly been redefining "child" to include people who are far from children. The laws have been made harsher and harsher for offenses that have nothing to do with children on the premise that they "protect the children." Pedophilia once meant a sexual attraction to prepubescent children. It has a precise, clinical definition. Yet I have seen the term used in ways contrary to the actual definition. Instead of dealing with prepubescent children, it is now considered pedophilia for two teens to have sex with each other. I've even seen some people claim that pedophilia means any significant (but undefined) age difference between two consenting individuals, even if both are over the age of 21.

The category of "child" is being expanded primarily because it gives a pretense for new laws regulating people. Both the Nanny Left and the Religious Right engage in this activity and for the same reason—they want to control people. This is dangerous, but if you speak against it, then the statists will swear you support abusing children. What sort of bastards use logic like that?

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WBWJB: What Book Would Jesus Burn?

Demented Christianists, the local Jesus-centered version of Islamists, are on the rampage in Wisconsin. Their antics are clownish and show nothing but contempt for the basic values of American freedom.

Let me try to explain what happened in Wisconsin to rile up these fanatics. The local library carried a book. Christianists aren’t fond of books. I guess them “edecated folks” tend to “stop trusting the Lord” and such. But one particular book horrified these people—a relatively simple feat. The book was Baby Be-Bop, geared toward high school students. The story is part of a popular series by Francesca Lia Block. The main character in this story is struggling with telling his friends he’s gay. And saying the word “gay” in the presence of fundamentalists is like saying “Jew” to a beer hall full of Nazis.

Since the book does not damn to hell the main character, the Christianists in West Bend created a “group” called “Citizens for Safe Libraries.” They aren’t worried about out-of-control carts full of books, or paper cuts; they are worried that people will get any knowledge that doesn’t first pass muster with the Holy Word of God as interpreted by them. They marched on the library, demanding that the book be moved to the adult section of the library “to protect children from accessing them without their parents knowledge and supervision.”

I hate to say it, but by the time “children” reach high school and can hopefully read on their own, the last people who have any “supervision” over what they read are the parents. It’s far too late by then folks. so get used to it. The kids have minds of their own. I suspect that one thing that bothers the Christian Right about young people today is that most of them think the Religious Right is one heaping pile of bull turds. And in the opinion of this old fart, that’s putting it mildly.

The local politicians, afraid of the Christian lynch mob, told the library board that the members who opposed hiding the book would not have their contracts renewed. Cowards, but then they are typical politicians.

This group, in reality is Ginny Maziarka and her husband, Jim. Ginny loves the Bible, though, if her photo is any indication, not necessarily the verse in Proverbs that says: “Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.” Every now and then Ginny puts down her doughnuts and pulls herself off the sofa and campaigns for God and morality. Unfortunately, her campaigns mean that she wants political power used on her behalf. So her campaigns are always about using state coercion against others. She doesn’t mind. I suggest she might have a different opinion if Citizens Against Busybodies and Obese, Opinionated Self-righteous Ego-maniacs (or CABOOSE) decided to force her to exercise or give up brownies and cake for breakfast.

When Ginny started cataloguing all the books she wanted placed in a restricted section, she eventually found 82 such books. I bet she could find a lot more if she actually read these books but I suspect she gets lists from other fundamentalists and then merely checks if the books are in her library. She also decided that the library should put warning stickers on the books. I actually like that idea; nothing is more likely to get a teen to read a book than a warning sticker saying it shouldn’t be read by teens. Of course, if one were to restrict books with incest, orgies, murder, rape, and violence then the Bible would be restricted as well. Mark Twain suggested that this book was unfit for any child.

Ginny has the support of another fundamentalist group: Parents Against Bad Books in Schools. They tell parents that a bad book is one with “vivid descriptions of sex, violence, vulgar language or something else objectionable to you.” And when it comes to books like this, they want to protect the “right” of students “not to be exposed to it.” Some of the bad books they list on their website include The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Power of One, The Name of the Rose, The King Must Die, The Confessions of Nat Turner, The Color Purple, The Chocolate War, Snow Falling on Cedars, Shogun, River God, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Kaffir Boy, In Cold Blood, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Happy Endings are All Alike, and Exodus.

Ginny’s campaign backfired, since other parents immediately formed West Bend Parents for Free Speech because they didn’t feel that this gaggle of fundamentalists had the right to restrict access to books for everyone. Maziarka told the library board that all books with any neutral or positive reference to homosexuality “either not be carried or that they be put in a reference section to protect children….” They did not cite anything specific about books on gay issues, only that all such books be either removed or segregated from public view. In their place, they wanted Christian religious books that promise to “cure” gays through prayer and religion.

In spite of political intimidation, the library board voted unanimously to ignore the demands by Maziarka to hide books that she found offensive. And now things get really batty. A grossly misnamed group, the Christian Civil Liberties Union, has filed a law suit against the library, claiming that their carrying books that born again lunatics don’t like is a violation of the civil liberties of Christians. This group is seeking $30,000 in compensation for every Christian who is supposedly traumatized because the library has books that they have never read, never intend to read, and possible can’t read. According the CCLU these Christians “say their mental and emotional well-being were damaged” because the library had books contrary to their viewpoints. This is what they call “civil liberties!” They also are asking the City Attorney to call a grand jury to investigate books that “offend the plaintiff’s Christian beliefs.” All such books, they contend, must be removed from public libraries. “We don’t want it put in a section for adults. We’re saying it's inappropriate to have it in the library, and we want it out or destroyed.” Yep, “destroyed,” maybe we can burn a few books. And like all good censors, eventually we might be able to burn a few authors as well. Hell, if we get to burn gay authors it will be like Christmas. Whoopee! Don’t we all just love Jesus?

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Iran simmers, will it explode?

It has been clear for some time now that the government of Iran has the support of a minority of citizens. I have long argued that the anti-government underground in Iran was massive. Many of the people in Iran today were not the revolutionaries who put the Ayattolahs into power and they are sick unto death of the theocracy that stifles freedom in their country. The American invasion of Iraq actually put a lid on this sentiment for some time. It made it less likely that the people of Iran would rebel against the theocrats ruling their nation. Of course, any US posturing against Iran makes the situation worse. Any moves against Iran would stifle the dissent and turn many away from open rebellion. The best the US government can do in the situation is nothing at all. Allow it to happen. Laissez faire.

Here is a demonstration earlier today against the government in Teheran. Try to fathom how many people turned up for this "illegal" demonstration. Note below how the government of Iran is treating their own citizens. The theocrats in Iran are in trouble and they know it. Their responses will grow more desperate and the people will grow more angry. Their day is coming. I wish the people of Iran the best in these trying days and I hope they get the bastards out soon. Click on the photos to enlarge. I recommend this for the first one especially. Study it.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Legalizing Drugs

Here is a debate between Ethan Nadleman and big government advocate Bill Bennett. Bennett is your typical big government conservative. His wife rakes in money pushing "abstinence" in the schools. Bennett himself was a typical bureaucrat yearning to use the state to punish peaceful people for violating his personal morality. A big promoter of "morality" and "family values" he was also showng to have a major gambling problem himself. He admits he gambled too much, but apparently didn't think the state should incarcerate him for his problems. Bennett is one of the best examples of the immorality of conservatism today.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Inside the mind of a fundamentalist

This discussion with Southern Baptist minister Wiley Drake is a good example of the sort of warped, hateful thinking that is common in fundamentalist Christian circles. These people are seriously deranged.

Note: The link at Fox news seems not to be working. Until it is fixed allow me to explain the essence of the interview with this member of the American Taliban. Rev. Drake says that he regularly prays that God will kill President——eventually the Rev. will get his wish, of course. No doubt he'll take that as proof of something but since everyone dies eventually it is a safe request. Rev. Drake tells one caller that he's speaking for God and that this is what God wants.

The contradiction are obvious but contradictions don't bother fundamentalists. If a god wants Obama dead then Obama would be dead. If Obama ia not dead, and he isn't, then that either means this god doesn't want him dead right now, contrary to Rev. Drake's absurd claims, or this god exists entirely in Rev. Drake's vicious imagination. This vicious imagination is important as I contend that what these fundamentalists do is project their own petty bigotries and ignorance onto the god they contend exists. People who have a "judgmental god" are themselves judgmental. They god they invent is merely a enlarged version of themselves. In essence these individuals are idolaters who are worshiping a glorified images of themselves.

If the link doesn't work try going here.

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Government agents says US Founders were terrorists.

The Homeland Security gestapo continues to march forward. Here is a training session for their Federal Emergency Management Administration. Listen while you hear these agents discussing how the Founding Fathers were terrorists. Consider what that means. Apparently it would justify waterboarding the author of the Declaration of Independence. It would mean torturing and holding, without charges or trial, George Washington or Patrick Henry.

The view of these government agents is simplistic at best and authoritarian in nature. The unspoken premise is that all state control is legitimate thus there are no such things as human rights. I presume that the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto, were terrorists for defending their lives, liberty and property. They should have walked gleefully into the gas chambers and thank God for the mercy that their government was showing them -- they could have died while being tortured instead. Now I don't expect government employees to be very intelligent but these morons simply don't grasp the idea that there are human rights. All they can see is that everyone has the obligation to obey THE STATE and those who don't are terrorists. God save us from these morons. I contend that ultimately this nation is endangered, not by bomb throwing Islamic extremists, but by government agents who believe they have divine sanction to control the lives of others. The real threat to America has never come from without, but from the intellectually corrupt who occupy the offices of power.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bimbette fired, whines loudly, plays victim.

The airhead Bimbette, Carrie Prejean, who had won the Miss California crown in the Miss USA contest, has been deposed. Alas, sadly, her head remains firmly attached which means she is once again basking in the limelight, whining furiously and playing the perpetual victim.

Pageant owner Donald Trump had previously stood by the Bimbette (which is a Bimbo without the intellect) but this time he backed removing her from her position. According to the pageant Prejean was refusing to fulfill contractual obligations such as showing up for promotional events.

Prejean, as you will remember, was the woman who gave a jumbled, confusing answer on gay marriage at the national Miss USA contest. Because the other Bimbette, Perez Hilton, a judge at the event, bitched about her she got lots of attention. She also claimed that she was being persecuted because she came in second place. She claimed that she was winning the contest until she gave her "Christian" answer as to why God wants the state to strip gays of the same rights as straights. Officials at the contest says she was trailing before the question and that her claim that she lost only because of the answer was false—she was already losing before her inarticulate and befuddled answer.

Prejean then told several porkies to the public. She claimed, for instance, that her sister is a "gay rights activist." The sister, who says she attended one meeting on the topic, was rather surprised to discover this and said it wasn't true.

Prejean had lied to pageant officials saying that there were no nude photos of her prior to becoming Miss California. Then such a photo turned up. Prejean claimed it was the only such photo, then another turned up. Prejean then whined that the photos were part of a plot to discredit her because she is a fundamentalist Christian. That she was hypocritical and lying to pageant officials didn't seem to bother her at all. She was the victim and that was her story and she was sticking to it.

Now Prejean is once again making absurd claims. According to her she was fired because the Miss California contest wanted to "pimp her out" to Playboy. Officials deny that. And, given that they frown on such photos being associated with their contest, their denial rings more truthful than the continuing claims by Prejean. The pageant said: "This was a decision based solely on contract violations including Ms. Prejean's unwillingness to make appearances on behalf of the Miss California USA organization." Trump said he saved Prejean's position previously but told her "she needed to get back to work and honor her contract with the Miss California USA Organization and I gave her the opportunity to do so. Unfortunately it just doesn't look like it is going to happen..." Trump said he gave the local conference organizer his blessing to fire Prejean.

Conference organizers said that Prejean had forbidden them to reject offers that are made to her and told them they must inform her of every such offer. When Playboy offer $140,000 for a photo shoot they told her of the offer and nothing more. At no point did they tell her she had to take the offer. In fact, they wouldn't have liked it if she did. But Prejean is always the victim of persecution, she is the eternal victim for Jesus. And that means she has to invent persecutions that don't exist and exaggerate any facts in order to appear as victimized as she claims she is.

Prejean says because she doesn't want gays to have the same rights as others that she is being persecuted. "What's behind this I think is a political debate. They don't agree with the stance that I took. ...They don't like me. From day one they wanted me out and they got what they wanted." TMZ reports that Trump told their reporter that Prejean treated the pageant "like shit." Prejean says she doesn't believe it because she is such a sweet thing, showing respect for everyone—unless they are part of the gay plot to get her.

Alas records of her emails show that she wasn't the sweet Christian she pretends to be and that she was unpleasant, demanding, and whinny with pageant officials. Pageant official Keith Lewis emailed her:
Although I do not agree with your directive nor is this letter an indication of our intent to waive our contract rights, we do not want to escalate the situation with you. In good faith, we will simply ask that you provide us all of the details so that we can block it in on our master calendar. We would also want to get the contact information should something come up - like you become missing after the event or you are in an accident before the event and need us to reach out for you. It is for your safety and our responsibility.

Prejean emailed back:
You do not cooperate with me, and you pick and chose (sic) the the (sic) things YOU want me to do. That is not happening anymore. Stop speaking for me. I have MY own voice. What are u gonna do fire me for volunteering for the special olympics hahaha ur crazy No I am doing this appearance. You do not need details. Its for the SPECIAL OLYMPICS!!! You just need to know I will be doing it alright

You will not facilitate this appearance
Note that the pageant was polite to her and merely asked for contact details for her appearance. She baited them to fire her and said she wouldn't tell them anything. Ignoring her rudeness Lewis wrote back:
As we have discussed, there is proper protocol and we have not waived our rights in any way to your contract. I am happy to try and facilitate the request. Please forward over the information along with the proper contact and we will try and confirm the appearance right away.

Prejean then orders Lewis to forward all requests to her. She tells him that it isn't right that the pageant decide where she will appear and what she will do. She tells him: "I expect you to be forwarding me ALL email requests and interview requests to me (sic). I know how you are and its not right if you are selecting things for me." So, she did order them to pass on all requests to her and let her decide for herself, regardless of her contract. And it appears she was very uncooperative with the pageant yet she tells the media: "I mean, I've been cooperating with them. I don't see why this is happening." Yep, playing the victim again, confused by the mean pageant officials who are picking on her because of her support for "opposite marriage."

Prejean says everyone hated her, except Donald Trump. Trump says that Prejean refused to show up for appearances that were scheduled for her. He also said: "To me she was the sweetest thing. Everyone else—she treated liked shit." Hmm, does the term manipulative come to mind?

Prejean will try to project herself as the victim of the Learned Elders of Gayon. She will have a limited "fame" factor in fundamentalist churches who will present her to their flock as a victim and as a "real celebrity who loves Jesus." Everyone else will mercifully get to forget she existed. So, Carrie, don't let the door hit the fake boobs on your way out. Bye, bye.

Photo: Am I the only one, or does this photo make her look like a drag queen?


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Out for a walk, beat up by cops

This video seems to show a man who was peacefully standing on corner while engaging in one of his favorite activities, walking around his own neighborhood. A police cruiser pulls up. A police officer orders the man to zip up his jacket. He does. Then, with no aggressive, or illegal acts by the man a second police officer attacks him with a nightstick beating the man repeatedly.

A local surveillance captured the incident. This blog stands by its claim that the police are dangerous criminals and that law-abiding citizens should avoid them whenever possible. The numbers of innocent people attacked by this power-hungry gangs in blue are legion. Don't be one of them. Warn you kids, the cops are not their friends. Don't speak to police officers unless spoken to and then only respond politely, they are easily provoked and will attack and then will lie about the incident afterwards.

This video speaks for itself.

Our second video needs some explaining. An ambulance was rushing a woman to the hospital with sirens going. A police car, also with sirens going was gaining on the ambulance. The driver of the ambulance did not hear the second siren, understandable given he was in a vehicle with its own siren. The ambulance was trying to pass a car when the police vehicle caught up with it and didn't see the police until that moment. The cop, upset that the ambulance didn't give him the right away immediately pulled the ambulance preventing it from taking the woman to the hospital.

Other thugs from the local police showed up to put the squeeze, literally, on the ambulance driver. After all we know what ruffians ambulance drivers tend to be and how gentle and caring your typical law oinkifer is. Here is the video taken by the son of the woman in the ambulance. The local prosecutor says no charges will be filed against the officer. Of course not! They are above the law. They are obsessed with their own authority. I can only guess they suffer from some sort of deficiency which causes them to become aggressive and violent. Don't want no short.... around here.

As I read various newspapers in general I keep coming across new stories of police abuse. They aren't hard to find. In this case Mesa, Arizona, police officer Nicholas Webster arrested a drunk man on "suspicion" of public urination and jaywalking, late one night. He claims he used violence against the man because the handcuffed man tried to "head-butt" him. Unfortunately surveillance videos show otherwise.

As an aside, why is it that video of various incidents with police officers indicate that the officers lie so often in their official reports and in court. Considering how often these videos prove the officers to be liars, exactly why would any sane judge or jury take the testimony of a police officer as being trustworthy? Surely, the accumulative evidence shows just the opposite.

Webster claimed, in his report, that the man made an aggressive move in his direction and that all the police officer did was deflect that. The video, instead, showed that the officer first gabbed his victim, Sean Okoli, by the neck and slammed his face into the read windshield of the police vehicle. In other words, Webster is dishonest, forged a police report, and possibly lied under oath.

Here is a video of the incident in question.


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Wrestlers talk about it all.

Some time ago I reported on the two college wrestlers who had done a little porn on the side to earn money. The University of Nebraska stupidly threw them off the team even though they had done nothing illegal. Both are doing well. For the first time they have been interviewed. I think both of them take the right position. They each note that they didn't do anything to hurt another person. Certainly the key to all moral issues begins with whether or not we are doing something that violates the rights of others. And if one is to suffer sanctions from the state, if there is no violation of the rights of others, then there should be no sanction. The University, as a state institution, had no business inflicting sanctions against these two young men.

Here is what they have to say for themselves.

To see part two click on the link within the video at the end. About two minutes in total.


Just because I love to laugh.

This next one has a slow start. Give it time. And not speaking Japanese is not a problem. Funny stuff.

There is one, spur-of-the-moment prank which I wish I had caught on tape. A friend of mine, Dylan, was a performer who had to do a show one weekend. Since I was involved with his management I traveled with him. After the performance we decided to take the long way back and just travel some of the back roads and see what happening.

We came across a very remote reptile park someplace where we did not expect it. So I suggested we stop and look around. The park was mostly outdoors. There were buildings that housed the reptiles which were behind glass. We were on the outside looking in. This was not your state-of-the-art reptile center by any means. The area outside was not paved so much as it had dirt paths with weeds and grass growing.

It was rather hot and Dylan was in shorts. As we walked from display to display I grabbed one of these long weeds with a cat tail like fluffy piece at the end. We stopped in front of one glassed enclosure but couldn't see a snake inside at all. Dylan bent over for a closer look and I took the cat-tail of the weed and ran it across the back of his leg. With snakes on his mind you can imagine precisely what he thought. I don't think I stopped laughing for the next hour. And once he realized that it was the weed he joined in --- thankfully since he was built like a brick shit-house and could beat the crap out of me if he wanted.

The other great prank took place at my home. The property was rather large for the area, with losts of bushes and trees. I think the best count we had was that there were something like 40 trees on the property. When I first moved in there was a problem with spiders. And when I say spiders, I'm talking about the King Kong of spiders. At least it appeared that way to me. It was known as the baboon spider. They are basically relatives of the tarantula—though thankfully I didn't know that at the time.

These things look even bigger than they are when their legs are spread out. The garden was quite large and there was heavy bush and vines around the back fences offering total privacy and quiet. It was one of the reasons I liked the house so much and decided to buy it. There was a cottage on the property as well and next to it was the car port and the parking lot. The entrance to the garden was there.

At the time I had just hired a friend of mine, David, to work for me. And one of the tasks he was going to undertake, since I hadn't yet hired a gardener, was mowing the grass in the back yard. Earlier in the day I had come across another one of these spiders, far more scary than they are dangerous. That it is unlikely to actually hurt me didn't mean I wanted them crawling all over the property, especially since they didn't seem to find it difficult to get inside. When I came across one of them I, without any guilt, and with premeditation would spray the hell out of them with a can of Raid. Due to their size it did take a while to take effect.

I had trapped one in large jar and with the bug spray had sent it on to its reward. But I wasn't going to open the jar until I was completely sure. David was getting ready to mow the lawn. The mower was brand new and still inside the box and needed assembly. We had opened the box earlier to check it out. Since the spider was clearly deceased I opened the top lids of the box and placed the spider on the side set of lids below the main lids.

The mower was under the car port and David went over to open the box. He wasn't paying much attention and opened the main lids without seeing the dead spider lying on the smaller, side lid. He reached for that lid and started lifting it up as well. But as he lifted the lid the spider slide down the lid. This was working better than I had hoped. The movement of the spider caught his attention just it slid off the lid of the box and landed on his foot. He was wearing sandals so the spider actually landed on his foot.

With a rather loud scream he tried to kick the spider off his foot. Since it was dead that wasn't a problem but his sandal flew about 40 feet across my parking lot into bush on the other side. I guess you had to be there.

The last prank I will bore you with is one that I committed as a wee lad. Like many I had a fascination of snakes and would scour the nearby fields for them. If I found one I caught it and kept it. I had an aquarium with a snake in my room. The neighbor lady came to babysit one day and I called her into my room to show her my snake. As she walked in I had the snake in my hand and handed it to her saying: "Here, hold this."

She did. She had the snake held right behind its head and looked at what she was holding with complete horror. She screamed and screamed and screamed. Her problem was that she was afraid to let go and horrified to hold on. The poor snake was looking straight at this crazy woman rather bewildered. She stared back at the snake screaming. Good thing for the snake that air born sounds are not heard by them since our poor babysitter had a pair of pipes. Eventually she threw the snake down and ran out of the room and out of the house. Mother was not amused but then I didn't do it to entertain her. Considering I was around eight at the time I can say that one prank has given me decades worth of chuckles.

What is your best prank.