Wednesday, April 30, 2008

mccain's "me too" health plan

So John McCain has come out with a health plan.  It is a bold plan.   "Bold" because it is pretty much exactly like what de facto President George W. Bush proposed a year ago, and to continue to say "me too" to whatever Mr 69% Disapproval Rating says is very bold.

Anyhoo, McCain's thing is the usual kneejerk Republican idea of letting the free market be free to solve everything if you just cut taxes.  Never mind that the US medical sector currently is a free market that somehow has failed to function perfectly, to put it charitably.

McCain also criticized plans that Obaman and Clinton have made.  McCain says their plans were full of "inefficiency, irrationality and uncontrolled costs."

Unlike the CURRENT health care system, which fails to deliver health care to huge segments of the population and fails to reward prevention (those are the "inefficiency" bits).  Which is based on a system where insurance companies make their money by refusing to pay for things and by refusing to authorize treatments and by basically not taking prevention into account ("irrational").  Which has for decades seen costs rise well ahead of the pace of inflation ("uncontrolled costs").

Assuming the Reverand Wright can be persuaded to keep his trap shut, medical costs should be another big issue for the Democrats in November... especially with such inadequate proposals coming from the mouth of the alleged maverick McCain.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

bagels and gas

Notice that prices for things like bagels are way way up?  That is because wheat prices are way way up, because American farmers are increasingly planting corn and soy instead of wheat.  At a pace that is much higher than I'd realized.

Why?  Higher profits.

And a big part of the reason they have higher profits?  Because of the absolutely absurd conceit asserted by de facto President George W Bush and others that we can just grow corn to make ethanol to replace petroleum based gasoline.  And the resultant federal subsidies for corn growers.  (Oh - and our absolutely ridiculous protectionist SUGAR policies also contribute, by making corn syrup an economically competitive substitute for sugar in the US, as it is in no other country.)

And what do we have now?  High wheat prices AND high gasoline prices, nice profits (and fat subsidies) for both Big Ag companies like Archer Daniels Midland, and record profits for Big Oil.

And food riots.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

(no) voting rights

I see the Supreme Court voted 6-3 against a challenge to the Indiana law requiring voters to show photo ID before voting.

This law was allegedly designed to battle voter fraud.  Of which there is documented proof of perhaps dozens of individuals voting where/when they should not.  Dozens NATION-WIDE, that is.  It is a "problem" that comes in below the statistical margin of error on the margin of error in counting the votes.

No, this law is designed to do one thing:  deter the poor, the elderly, and minorities from voting.  The sort of people who may not have drivers licenses.  

The sort of people who have the annoying habit of voting Democratic.

So the GOP-dominated Supreme Court has validated the GOP program - which is not limited to Indiana - of making it hard for these people to vote.

Maybe they would like to bring back literacy tests and poll taxes.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

suburban slums

The Post today has an article about foreclosed homes in the suburb attracting homeless, teenage kids, and crime.  In other words, attracting the sort of thing that abandoned buildings in the CITY bring in.

The suburbs could well be the new slums.  A recent Atlantic article covered it in more detail.  It isn't just foreclosures that are making people abandon these distant suburbs.  It is also a change in preferences, and a growing desire for homes where you can walk to shops and restaurants, instead of having to drive to the end of your driveway just to pick up the newspaper...

So don't be surprised if the suburban blight should grow greater.


Friday, April 25, 2008

doug feith, true republican

Doug Feith, the dumbest fucking man on the planet whose electrons aren't all connected, has been talking about Iraq. Specifically, about his role in the runup to war and how he was right and everybody else was wrong.

It's ironic, how the Republicans so frequently try to claim Harry Truman and his legacy for themselves. Because Truman famously said "the buck stops here." But Feith's latest book blaming everybody from Colin Powell to the guy who shines shoes in the basement of the Pentagon for the mistakes that constitute our Iraq policy exemplifies the TRUE Republican attitude: "the buck stops somewhere but for sure not with ME."

In his willful disregard for facts that contravene his ideological desires, Feith is a true Republican. In his willingness to change the arguments years later (e.g., saying it wasn't all about WMD), Feith is a true Republican. In his refusal to accept the smallest measure of blame, Feith is a true Republican. In his assumption that anyway, nobody will hold him accountable for his colossal stupidity, Feith is a true Republican.

Doug Feith, Republican.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

information management, republican style

Two examples of the manipulation of information by the Republicans and the de facto Bush Administration.

First, Lt Colonel William Hall died in Iraq recently. He was buried yesterday in Arlington National Cemetary. Lt Colonel Hall's family wanted the media to be present. The military did not exactly agree - they kept the media well away from the site of the service and whisked them off before it was concluded. Manipulating information by denying the press the chance to obtain it.

Second, over to the Environmental Protection Agency. Over half of EPA scientists in a private survey said they "had witnessed political interference in scientific decisions at the agency during the past five years." Manipulating information by suppressing and changing scientific judgments for political reasons.

This is Republican America. Remember that, when you consider voting for that square-jawed war hero John McCain. He is one of them.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ben stein's execrable "expelled"

You might have heard of the new Ben Stein "documentary" called "Expelled," which purports to uncover the "conspiracy" that is keeping "intelligent design" from being properly taught and studied at American universities.

Well, sufficient to say that it is the lowest, most foul form of anti-scientific propaganda to ever come from an allegedly respectable journalist/political figure. It isn't a documentary, it is right-wing agitprop that reaches low low low to slam anybody who doesn't kowtow to the Christianist insistence that the only explanation for life on this planet involves a Creator (and anybody who believes otherwise is going to hell).

For example, there is a long segment of "Expelled" that equates "Darwinists" to Nazis. Here is one writer's description:

"The most controversial part of the film follows Stein to the Dachau concentration camp, underlining how Darwin's theories of natural selection led to the eugenics movement, embraced by Adolf Hitler. If there is no God, but only a planetary lab waiting for scientists to perfect the human race, where can Darwinism lead? Stein insists that he isn't accusing today's Darwinists of Nazism. He points out, however, that Hitler's mad science was inspired by Darwinism."

That passage was by a writer SYMPATHETIC to Stein, right wing Christianist "media critic" Brent Bozell.

Yes, that was "controversial." The whole "Darwinism leads to genocide" thing has been used before by advocates of the mandatory teaching of Christianity by the state - which is EXACTLY what those who advocate "intelligent design" are really after. Anti-vegetarians likewise love to point out that Hitler was a vegetarian, as if that means all vegetarians are ready to mass murder every Jew on the planet if given the chance. Hitler liked airplanes too - does that mean that everybody at Boeing and United Airlines and in the US Air Force is evil?

In Expelled, Stein goes to Dachau and weeps. Dachau is a tear-inducing thing. But it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with evolution. And Darwin (and those of us who believe he was right in describing the origin of species) did NOT advocate mass executions or breeding programs, thank you very much.

Win Ben Stein's money? I think not.

Fuck Ben Stein. I am ashamed to ever admit that I ever agreed with him on anything even once, or that I ever enjoyed his "I'm so smart" schtick on TV or in a movie. This is truly vile stuff.

Returning to Bozell, he calls "Expelled" "a spotlight on the arrogance of this movement (Bozell means people who accept evolution) and its leaders, a spotlight on the choking intolerance of academia, and a spotlight on the ignorance of so many who say so much, yet know so very little."

When in fact, only the ignorant who know so very little can possibly believe the weak "proofs" of intelligent design, while ignoring or simply refusing to believe the masses of scientific evidence that overwhelmingly supports the fact of evolution.

Spend some time at this website, Expelled Exposed (courtesy of the National Center for Science Education). It gives the background on each of the people allegedly blackballed by the scientific community for believing in intelligent design, and fills you in on "what Ben Stein isn't telling you about Intelligent Design."

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gotta make up for lost time

So glad to hear that various US states are getting ready to clear up their execution backlog, since the Supreme Court decided that lethal injections were ok with them.

After all, we are falling behind in the global Who Can Execute the Most of Its Own Citizens competition. We can't let China, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia stay ahead of us, can we?


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

obsessed - or just starting early?

The Baltimore Sun's "The Swamp" blog has noticed the National Review's obsession with Barack Obama. Three consecutive issues have featured an Obama on the cover - two of Barack and one of his wife Michelle.

The Swamp asks the question:

Might so much coverage, much of it plowing already well-turned ground, betray anger that a candidate who to some eyes is so obviously flawed has gotten so far?

Or does it reflect concern among hard-core conservatives that Obama might be the real deal and needs to be cut down to size, and quickly?

I think we know the answer, don't we? ANY Democrat who was the leader for the nomination at this point could expect to be "cut down to size" by the oldest element of the Right Wing Noise Machine.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

better not to try than to try, fail, and be criticized

Dave Sheinin raises an interesting topic - the idea that a four-man pitching rotation in baseball might be better than the current five-pitcher standard. The idea isn't new - until the late 1970s it was the standard.

Since then, various baseball analysts have studied the question and found that pitchers are as or even more effective in a four-man rotation than in a five-pitcher setup - and that they are no more prone to injury. (This sounds counter-intuitive but isn't - injuries result more from throwing too many pitches in a given game, rather than from coming back on three days rest instead of four.)

So why don't more baseball teams try this - since as Earl Weaver said, it's easier to find four good starting pitchers than five? Because if you do something that is not the norm and it doesn't work, people automatically assume that the new thing is flawed, and that you are an idiot for trying it.

And that's applicable outside of baseball and the world of sports, too. Easier to stick with the comfortable routine than to risk being innovative for fear of it not working and being tagged an idiot.


Friday, April 18, 2008

celebrating buzz nutter

Let me admit something - I had never heard of Buzz Nutter before reading his obituary today. Yes, I knew about the Baltimore Colts of course, and Johnny Unitas and the Greatest Game Ever Played. And I realize the Colts would have had a center for that game.

And that center was Buzz Nutter.

In reading the obit, it sounds like Nutter had a pretty good run. Played pro football for about 12 years - and it sounds like he was a good center, always important for an offensive line. Then he ran a beverage distribution business for 40 years before dying of a heart ailment aged 77.

Not a bad life.

And that name. "Buzz Nutter." It is a name too good to be true. A name for a blue-collar hero, maybe in a space setting. A good name for a 1950s-era pro football player.

So long, Buzz Nutter.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

some plan

There is one good thing to say about de facto President Bush's climate change "plan." It will never be enacted and he's gone in 9 months.

Slow down GROWTH in emissions? If that is what really happens, stick a fork in us - we're done.

No need for urgency. We're only looking at changes in our living conditions that sustain our global civilization. Nothing to sweat about, right?



Tuesday, April 15, 2008

fuel vs food

I am struck at how quickly biofuel production's impact has been felt on FOOD supplies. I knew this was an issue, but it has bitten us in the collective ass (or for poor people in developing countries, in the stomach) much more quickly than I'd anticipated.

So let's review our biofuel policy, shall we? We encourage, nay even subsidize the production of biofuel crops, pouring billions of dollars into the pockets of massive agribusinesses. This takes food off the market, driving up grain prices for all of us - although the impact on the poor of course is much worse since they have less margin to absorb higher prices. This won't cause them to have to skip seeing a movie. This means they skip eating.

And the environmental result? Probably a net negative. Most biofuels like corn (the US variety) aren't terribly energy efficient. Some estimates conclude it takes MORE energy to grow and refine this corn into fuel than we get out of it! A positively Soviet economic policy. Not to mention the incentives this gives in places like Brazil to cut down MORE carbon-absorbing rain forests to plant crops for fuels.

Subsidies for big business. Starving poor people. Negative environmental outcomes. Net loss to the US economy. Another day in Republican America.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

more hunger could be on the way

The head of the World Bank warns there are more high food prices on the way and we should help the poor in places like Haiti, where several people have died in recent food riots.
He's right. And consider this: climate change threatens to change weather conditions in the world's grain belts in a way that food output can be expected to fall.
Climate change. It's for all of us.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

morons on the march

There is another torture case reaching the courts. In a twist, it doesn't involve the de facto Bush Administration.

Seems that a company called Prosper Incorporated - henceforth known as Moron #1 - was having a team-building exercise, and thought that in order to make a point about how its people needed to really, really try to sell their instructional videos, it would be a good idea to WATERBOARD SOMEBODY. (To quote Dave Barry, "I am not making this up.")

Then a salesman called Chad Hudgens (Moron #2) volunteered to be waterboarded. And so it happened, right outside their Provo office. Then supervisor Joshua Christopherson urged his staff to hit the phones and sell that crap self-coaching stuff to people.

It gets murky. Hudgens did say he volunteered for a team-building exercise but didn't know it would involve torture. The company says he knew what he was volunteering for. And now Hudgens is suing.

My verdict. Whoever at Prosper thought this was a good idea is definitely a moron.

If Hudgens KNEW he would be waterboarded, he is a moron. If he didn't know, then he's exonerated of that.

And in any case, although Hudgens doesn't know whether the government should use waterboarding, he said he would have told anybody anything to get it to stop.

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a political prisoner speaks out

News today about a former politician who was prosecuted on trumped-up charges basically because the ruling party knew he was popular, and they didn't want to have to compete with him. So the ruling party used its personal connections with various prosecutors, handpicked a judge with a personal grudge against the dissident politician, had tried him for a "crime" that really wasn't a crime at all, and then the judge threw him into the slammer without even being allowed to remain free while appealing the conviction.

Now this political prisoner has been released and he is speaking out about his ordeal.

Some story from a banana republic in Latin America or a big-man ruled country in Africa?

Not quite. This is Alabama, folks. Alabama, USA. The ruling party is the Republican Party. And the political prisoner is former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, whose REAL crime* was being a popular Democrat who threatened to defeat current Alabama Governor Bob Riley in a fair election in 2006.

Released two weeks ago by a judge who recognized that he had been treated unfairly by being imprisoned immediately upon his conviction, Siegelman is now speaking out. And he's accusing Karl Rove and the Republican Party national leadership of being behind his incarceration.

It's a sordid tale. And before you go dismissing it as a conspiracy theory or sour grapes on Siegelman's part, make yourself familiar with the case - best bet is Scott Horton's reporting, his blog at Harper's has all the details.

And remember again the Great US Attorney Massacre was in part about Bush's Justice Department getting rid of federal prosecutors who were unwilling to indict Democratic candidates right before elections.** Siegelman's treatment is not an aberration in George Bush's Republican America.

It's a tactic.

*The "crime" was giving an unpaid part-time job to somebody who made a legal campaign contribution. The de facto Bush Administration has given paid jobs to hundreds of people who made legal campaign contributions, none of whom have been prosecuted. That's the best the Alabama/Rove vigilante gang could come up with.

**The other reason - failure to try to suppress the vote among pro-Democratic populations by seeking "voter fraud" cases to prosecute.

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big bailouts are bad

I'm all for letting a few banks go under and some real estate speculators go bust. It will remind people there is a DOWNSIDE to risk in investing - that's why you get the higher returns, folks. If you don't want the chance of losing a wad, invest in something less risky, like t-bills or a blue chip stock.

David Ignatius unfortunately is probably right - bailouts will be followed with other bailouts because Congress has a hard time drawing a line between these "deserving" people and the next bunch of people.

Of course, those of us who didn't speculate on mortgage-backed securities, or those of us who didn't buy property we couldn't afford based on liar loans or interest-only loans counting on selling the place in five years for a "guaranteed" (snark) profit will NOT get a bailout. Through our taxes, we will be subsidizing Wall Street and that annoying asshole neighbor of yours who bought three houses in five years and now can't afford his new too-big house, nor the Cadillac SUV in his driveway. Aren't WE deserving? Apparently not.

As Ignatius says, these bailouts will make the next financial crisis worse. In fact, it will make the next financial crisis MORE LIKELY since the same types of short-sighted morons who got us into this fine mess will not have the sting of deep personal financial loss to remind them why it's not always smart to leverage your ass from here to Nepal.

And George Will is right too. For many people like a guy in Kansas City he cited, this means instead of retiring at age 59 he may have to work till he's 62 and his Social Security kicks in instead of moving to Arizona. Oh boo-friggin'-hoo. Dude, you'll probably live till you're 75. You'll have plenty of time to play golf on the (environmentally disastrous) Phoenix links.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

trust us

The de facto Bush Administration is getting ready to fire up a new spy program. This one is targeted on the United States. According to DHS Secretary Chertoff, this satellite system will at first just do good things like look at damage from hurricanes and monitoring climate change (hey, they admit there is climate change!).

But will it be used for law enforcement? Chertoff says yes, eventually. THAT'S the real issue.

Democrats in Congress want to know what the legal basis for this program is. The Bush Administration of course feels no compunction to demonstrate anything about this program. They just say, "trust us."

But of course, as California Democrat Jane Harmon says, this Administration has demonstrated NO basis for anybody to take ANYTHING they say on "trust." If Bush came out tomorrow and said the sun would rise in the east and set in the west, I would still turn to a scientist for proof.

And speaking of trust, now the Administration wants us to trust them that the #1 threat to Iraq now is Iran, not Al Qaeda.

Of course, Al Qaeda was NEVER the top threat in Iraq. The number of foreign insurgents there was always tiny compared to the tens of thousands (if not more) of Iraqi insurgents.

I have no doubt Iran is helping arm (Shi'ite) insurgents in Iraq. Hell, I warned against that five years ago, before we got ourselves into this fine mess. But they aren't so much the top threat as they are opportunistically taking advantage of Iraq's divided ethnic and religious groups. The divisions between these groups, of course, exacerbated by our divisive occupation of Iraq...

Are the chickenhawks in the Bush/Cheney regime still hoping to garner support for a war against Iran?

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Friday, April 11, 2008

what's the point?

Dana Milbank is clearly sympathetic to the women forced to testify in the DC Madam case. More sympathetic than the Metro pages in the Washington Post - Milbank doesn't use the women's names. Not also that the prosecutors are only forcing the working girls to testify - in public, stating their name and occupation (US Navy!) clearly for the public record. But at least so far, none of the male customers are being called up to testify in public. The prosecutions presentation of the case comes across as prurient. Worse yet, it looks like they are bullying these women.

And Milbank raises a good point about this trial:

From the audience, it appears that prosecutors have presented a solid case that the alleged Madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, did indeed run a prostitution ring. A better question, however, is why they bothered. Prosecutors say the prostitution ring generated all of $2 million over 13 years -- small potatoes for a federal racketeering and money-laundering case that could ruin the lives of 132 women.

That is small potatoes. That works out to $150,000 a year - before expenses, and divided among Palfrey and her employees. That is hardly a fortune. And they weren't robbing people, or selling drugs to 14-year olds, or killing anybody, or defrauding anyone.

Hell, I bet Enron stole $2 million from customers in California in a matter of hours by manipulating electricity supplies to generate artificial shortages.

So really - what's the point of this particular prosecution? I guess the prosecutors get to cover themselves in glory. Aren't there murderers they could go after instead? Or child-beaters?


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

one more for arlington national cemetary

We buried another soldier at Arlington National Cemetary this week. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Hake, from Enid, Oklahoma. Hake and three others in his unit were killed March 24 in Baghdad when their vehicle was hit with a bomb.

Ironically, Hake had earlier served in the Old Guard, the unit that works at funerals at Arlington. A sad ending.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

a modest proposal for the olympic torch run

The Olympic torch parade from Greece to Beijing is being thoroughly rained upon as protesters repeatedly interfere with its progress.

Now the International Olympic Committee (that reviled group of avaricious corrupt old men, but that's a different story) is considering changing plans for subsequent relays following the most recent problems in Paris.

One day they are looking at - this Wednesday, when the torch makes its one pass through the US of A. The planned city? San Francisco.

If you are the IOC or the Chinese government worried about having a bunch of human-rights-loving, Dalai Lama-supporting, "Free Tibet"-sign-painting protesters disrupt the run, San Francisco is, next to Lhasa, the LAST city on earth you would send the torch.

So, in the spirit of international solidarity and Olympic good cheer, I would like to offer the PERFECT American place to let the torch run. Well, not quite American - but close enough for Olympic work.


Seriously, think about it. Gitmo has two classes of people: American military personnel (perhaps with a few scattered civilian torturers among them) and a bunch of imprisoned Arabs and Afghans who for purposes of this discussion, are not a significant factor.

You can fly the torch, athletes, IOC officials, and Chinese government types down there for a glorious day in the sun. You can get a sun-tan company to sponsor the event.

For the athletes, you will have palm trees and a sunny day and nobody will try to grab the torch.

The IOC officials won't notice anything amiss. They are used to dealing with corrupt and repressive regimes.

The troops there can be counted on to behave. After all, American troops are so well trained they can pose behind the de facto President and Vice-King Cheney and keep a straight, nay even an attentive and supportive expression on their faces, while Bush and Cheney make the latest ludicrous allegations that the latest bombing in Baghdad means we are winning in Iraq. The troops will have something more interesting to do for one day than routine drills and hosing down blood-spattered torture chambers.

And being at an American prison/torture camp might bring back waves of nostalgia for the Chinese government types.

Really, this is a can't-lose proposition. I urge the IOC to make the change immediately. For the Olympic ideal.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

make 'em pay

With the latest financial crisis, Wall Street is very much in its normal mode of seeking to socialize losses - while profits, of course, must remain private.

Wall Street banker William Cohen doesn't think this is wise. "Accountability has been absent from Wall Street for too long. Unless we restore it to the equation -- amid all the other proposals for fixing the capital markets now being bandied at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue -- the chances are high that the cycle of boom and bust will keep churning."

I think he's right. They should pay.


the final disposition of charlton heston's gun

I guess now they can pry it from his cold, dead hands.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

the REAL scandal about the clintons' fortunes

I see that Bill and Hillary Clinton have earned $109 million (total) since leaving the White House eight years ago. That's pretty good scratch, though at an annual rate of less than $7 million per person per year, it looks like chicken feed compared to what baseball players, rock stars, or ESPECIALLY corporate executives who run their business empires (that's you, Bear Stearns CEO James Cayne, although you are hardly alone) into the ground.

The REAL scandal from a Republican perspective? They apparently also paid $33 million in taxes. That's a 30% rate (Federal, not including state). They also gave away $10 million to charity.

We all know no real Republican would EVER cough up 30% of $109 million to Uncle Sam. They'd definitely find a way to hide income, make up phony losses, buy citizenship in Belize, etc. Paying your fair share in taxes? As Leona Helmsley once charmingly put it, that's for the little people. And the Clintons, apparently.


Friday, April 04, 2008

will big brother get a good look at your deep packet?

Occasionally you see articles that remind you (as if I needed reminding) that everything about you is a commodity, to be packaged and sold by corporations who, despite their protestations to the contrary, would sell their grandmother's secret recipe for oatmeal cookies for $5 - or a map of her DNA for $50.

Now, the Post reports that companies, with the connivance of the internet service providers that YOU pay every month, are tracking at least 100,000 Americans' internet usage very closely. This goes beyond cookies: "the new monitoring, known as 'deep-packet inspection,' enables a far wider view -- every Web page visited, every e-mail sent and every search entered. Every bit of data is divided into packets -- like electronic envelopes -- that the system can access and analyze for content."

And of course, this analysis will be used to direct advertising at you - as the article suggested, somebody visiting a website about the Boston Celtics might get advertisements for sneakers and Boston hotels.

Innocuous, right? Then why are the ISPs keeping this quiet for fear of customer revolt? Customers don't revolt over innocuous things, do they? Or could it be that the ISPs are afraid that yes, we might actually give a shit about the potential for this to expand even further the routine violations of privacy we all endure so that others can make a buck off of us, without our permission.

One of the companies involved in this is an outfit called NebuAd (what a name), which says at its website "Through our unique technology and ISP partnerships, NebuAd combines web-wide consumer visibility with micro-targeted ads delivered at the right time in the buying cycle. This network-level approach enables behavioral targeting to finally attain its true promise of a greater scale of impressions, and greater relevance to drive increased revenue per impression."

NebuAd says they assign numbers to surfers rather than using internet addresses. I wonder how complete that separation is, and how easily the number and the internet address could be linked back together again. I bet they could do it easily. After all, that's potentially very valuable informatin.

NebuAd also says they don't record surfing to porn or gambling pages, or to "sensitive subjects" like bankruptcy or medical information.

Allow me to be skeptical. Porn and gambling pages are GREAT places to set up ads. Half of my email is bankruptcy-related spam (no, I am not bankrupt). How long will NebuAd resist that temptation? If they resist, how long before a competitor gives in?

And how long before they make these deep packet searches available to the Department of Justice or FBI or some other law enforcement or torture agency that wants to know why I consistently google the terms "jihad", "death to infidels," and "fertilizer-based explosive"? (I don't - that's a rhetorical point, Mr. FBI Agent.)

Finally, it pisses me off that we don't get a god-damn dime for all this information they collect on us. Sure, they tell us how it is good for the customer because we get advertising aimed at us that better matches our interests. But I resent paying for internet service and then my ISP making another buck off of me by giving these companies permission to trawl thru my internet viewing habits. Much as I resent the fact that in most US states, "your" medical files are actually the DOCTOR'S property, not yours. Much as I resent the fact that many US states force you to give up a great deal of personal information to get a drivers license (that's OK), and then SELL that same information - address, phone number, age, social security number even - to any and all comers (very much NOT OK).

Bob Seger once sang, "I'm not a number." Sorry Bob, you were wrong. We're all numbers, we're all just data streams that businesses sell back and forth, and we are supposed to just shut up and enjoy the digital probing, which at best will invade our privacy, and at worst could lead to a heavy knock on the door and a muffled voice saying "This is the FBI."


Thursday, April 03, 2008

mccain's veep...

Commenting about how he has begun the process of selecting a VP candidate to join him on the GOP ticket in November, John McCain told Don Imus (hey, who let him back on the air?) "I am aware of the enhanced importance of this issue given my age."

McCain laughed as he said it, but this is a deadly serious issue. McCain will be 72 in January 2009. He would be 76 on inauguration day 2013, should he win this November. That would make him 80 by the time a second term ended.

And McCain is not in the best of health. Six years of imprisonment in the Hanoi Hilton, including beatings and other types of torture, haven't helped either.

So remember - when voting in November, a vote for McCain is very likely a vote for his VICE PRESIDENT to be President at some point in the following eight years, de facto or de jure. If McCain picks some rabid rightwinger or some flat-earth creationist type (in other words, a typical Republican), keep that in mind...


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

59% of DOCTORS want single payer system

Yes, even American DOCTORS support a single-payer national healthcare system. In a survey, over half (59%) US doctors support this, up significantly from as recently as 2002. Only 32% oppose.

As Dr. Ronald Ackerman, who helped conduct the survey, said, "As doctors, we find that our patients suffer because of increasing deductibles, co-payments, and restrictions on patient care. More and more, physicians are turning to national health insurance as a solution to this problem."

Patients support it. Doctors support it. It would save us all money. It would give us better medical care - and better health. Only the insurance companies oppose it... the people who make money by trying their best not to pay for medical care, forcing doctors and hospitals to spend money proving that the medical procedures were really necessary. Not the best model for how to run a health care system.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

voter suppression, alive and well

Here's a prime example of the GOP's approach to voter fraud. In Texas, the Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott is prosecuting little old ladies, blacks, and Hispanics for "voter fraud" for such offenses as carrying a ballot to the mailbox on behalf of somebody who can't walk that far, or for failing to sign the back of the envelop when volunteers help an elderly person to fill out a ballot.

But surprisingly, instances like the one where two Republican party operatives handed out over a hundred mail ballots to all comers in a heavily Republican part of Dallas were NOT prosecuted.

Remember - when a Republican talks about "voter fraud," what he REALLY means is "voter repression." A vote-related crime for the GOP is any voter that wants to vote Democratic.