Prison Industry: Cheap Labor for Big Business

jail cellSo you want to pay your employees less than illegal-immigrant rates? Well you are in luck! Prison labor is dirt cheap, and you don’t even have to have an HR department to worry about silly things like healthcare.

They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.

That sounds pretty darn good for menial tasks… but how many potential workers are we talking about?

There are approximately 2 million inmates in state, federal and private prisons throughout the country. According to California Prison Focus, “no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens.” The figures show that the United States has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S. Statistics reveal that the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s people.

“Land of the free” my ass. 2 Million inmates? Are we really that much safer having a bunch of pot heads or deadbeat dads (and moms) behind bars? This reminds me of one of my favorite books, Go Directly to Jail: The The Criminalization of Almost Everything . And finally.

“The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”

Boy, I can’t wait for the day when they start invoking the USA PATRIOT Act a bit more and we all become political prisoners for questioning Big Bro. But hey, at least we’ll get 25 cents an hour. Only 20 hours of work for a value meal at McDonalds if inflation stays low.


How do Democrats “Bork” a SCOTUS Nominee?

Bork-o-maticWith Harriet Miers now yesterday’s news, the Supreme Court nomination process begins anew. But many of you may wonder just how the anti-nomination process works once it reaches the desks of the Democrats. Thankfully, Independent Sources clues us in with this tongue-in-cheek flowchart — The Bork-o-matic:

Independent Sources has happened upon Senate Democrat’s secret flow chart that provides guidance to Barbara Boxer and friends on how to handle Supreme Court nominees. It explains so much. You’ll be shocked! Dismayed! And then you’ll realize that once the President’s next selection is announced, you’re going to save an immense amount of time ignoring the Democrat’s rote opposition.

All that’s missing is excessive use of baseball analogies.

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Libby Scooted from White House

Libby leaving White HouseVice president Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr. was indicted today on 5 charges (indictment documents) related to the outting of CIA agent Valerie Plame — ranging from obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements — and could face up to 30 years behind bars if found guilty. Libby, 55, immediatedly resigned and left the White House.

We assessed yesterday that Libby would be the fall guy for the charges stemming from the scandal, while it also appears presidential advisor Karl Rove may also see some indictments for perjury. And there’s been some speculation in the past that Bush himself might be called before the grand jury, though that seems unlikely now.

Curiously, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has yet to connect the charges with any political motive or conspiracy, which could bring higher level charges such as treason. Fitzgerald however, has said that the investigation portion is still underway and more charges may still be brought:

“Is the investigation finished? It’s not over,” Fitzgerald said at a news conference. “But… very rarely do you bring a charge in a case that’s going to be tried in which you ever end a grand jury investigation. I can tell you that the substantial bulk of the work of this investigation is concluded.”

This could bode very badly for the vice president’s office if Fitzgerald can connect enough dots to connect Cheney to a conspiracy.


Forbes Goes After Bloggers in Cover Article

Forbes: Attack of the BlogsIn a move drawing much scorn within the blogosphere (led by ultra popular sites like BoingBoing and Instapundit), Forbes magazine’s cover story next week is “Attack of the Blogs,” a venomous article by writer Daniel Lyons — a figure already despised by many within the Linux community for his advocacy of SCO intellectual property lawsuits.

What will generate such contempt? Well, certainly such blanket generalizations as “Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective” won’t garner much accolades from bloggers. The premise of Lyons’ argument is taking small examples of bad behavior bloggers (a pump-and-dump scammer who is now under indictment for the same crime from 2000) and skewering what many consider good blogging and fact-checking (“Microsoft has been hammered by bloggers; so have CBS, CNN and ABC News, two research boutiques that criticized IBM’s Notes software, the maker of Kryptonite bike locks, a Virginia congressman outed as a homosexual and dozens of other victims”).

But what is sure to raise the ire of many bloggers are some of the dastardly solutions to negative blog coverage: astroturfing (paying other bloggers to support your viewpoint in the blogosphere); mudslinging (digging up dirt on the blogger attacking your company to discredit them); censorship (find any possible copyrighted item on the blogger’s website and call their hosting company to snitch); suing for defamation (if all else fails, just destroy the blogger with your multi-million dollar team of lawyers).

Now, unfortunately, the article fails to give even a cursory look at the good things the blogosphere promotes when it comes to businesses. Like when Savvis CEO Rob McCormick frivolously blew $241,000 at a strip club (he’s been sent on unpaid leave), or when Dell’s customer service causes one blogger to coin the term Dell Hell (and Dell’s subsequent failure to adequately respond drew the criticism of Business Week), or the various political bloggers who demanded spending cuts after Rep. DeLay declared ‘victory‘ in the war on budget fat (a project called Porkbusters was born).

And there’s hundred of similar, good tales for every negative tale about a scammer. Unfortunately, Lyons misses the big picture, that the blogosphere is a community of millions of people who are just as good or bad as the people we meet in real life. Fortunately for us, his doom and gloom outlook isn’t quite as dire as he makes it out to be. But unfortunately, we have to wonder how many businesses will now take his advice and use his guide to counter-attack all criticism, legitimate or not.

Update: VodkaPundit posts an insightful email from one of his readers:

The article’s really quite astonishing. You know, after reading [Gillmor’s post] and the accompanying comments, it occurred to me that one reason blogs are viewed as dangerous is that they serve as means to the (at least ostensible) ends of both liberals and conservatives. Those ends are definitely not always the same, and they come from different motivations, but if liberals want “freedom of information” and conservatives want the “marketplace of ideas,” those are both at least neighboring territories, and blogs go a little ways toward making them more of a reality. Corporations, big media, the government–any entrenched power–can’t help but be nervous, and will eventually seek ways to fight them.


Libertarians Lauded in St Petersburg, FL Strategy

Pinellas County Libertarian ClubIt’s rare to see highly positive coverage of Libertarian campaigns, but this exhaustive writeup on Libertarian strategy in St Petersburg, Florida may be one of the most insightful I’ve seen in a while (which isn’t getting wide coverage at the moment, save for the keen eyes over at Liberty for Sale).

It was an inspired move, not only getting respectable totals, but deliberately doing so the hard way: intentionally low campaign budgets while submitting candidates via thousands of petitions without a single challenge or rejection by opponents, utterly unheard of in US politics. even more, Libertarian candidates were under strict instructions not to wage negative campaigns, sticking neutrally to the issues. ‘Brilliant’ said Florida Business Insight, while ‘Politics in Florida is changed forever’ said another newspaper. ‘Libertarians basically showed both the other parties and the public that they were able to do things the other parties wouldn’t dare to do, and they knew they could do it whenever they chose‘ said Frank Longo, a member of a local government board who helped lead the effort. ‘It woke a lot of people up, and Libertarians made a lot of friends.’

[…] Meanwhile, the Libertarians startled observers when they declined to run a mayoral candidate [in St Petersburg] despite proposed backing from many in the other parties, saying they’re focusing modestly on community boards and coalitions this round.

“It’s a brilliant strategic move,” said William Sachs, a Democratic activist who recently switched to the Libertarians. “It emphasizes their long term focus while they quietly build up local people in government and keeps encouraging the other parties to work with them. It has to be, because the Republican and Democratic players aren’t exactly stupid here and are interested in what the Libertarians have to say. In the end, the voter benefits.” The Libertarian approach may prove all the more interesting as Libertarian State House candidates have polled over 30% in recent elections.

I could quote much more of the article in length, needless to say. This is the first I’ve heard of the St Petersburg strategy, and I must say it’s impressive. Even though running a mayor if the support was there might have been a good idea, it shows that Libertarians aren’t about gaining and consolidating power just for the sake of the power, instead there’s a distinct urge to educate people about the role of what government should be, and to do that through smaller races that are more winnable. This is an admirable strategy and I look forward to hearing more from this Florida city in coming months as more mainstream coverage finds its way down there.

You can learn more about the Libertarian Party of Pinellas County (or if you’d like, donate to them).


Re-indicted and it feels so good…

For over two years, I’ve been publicly predicting that the race for GOP nomination in the Alabama Governor’s race would be between Judge Roy “Ten Commandments” Moore and incumbent Governor Bob “Raise Taxes in the Name of Jesus” Riley. I’ve also stated that when the political season begins, this battle will be between two candidates trying to “out-Jesus” each other. It was interesting to see the Birmingham News use my line in their headline the other day:

“If the race turns into a competition with at least two of the candidates actively engaged in trying to “out-Jesus” one another, voters may forget to think about who’s most qualified to govern the state.”

Libertarian candidate Loretta Nall added to the “out-Jesus” line to sum up the race (so far) pretty well in a recent AP wire piece:

“I’ve got this gut feeling that come November of next year, I stand a very good chance of being governor with the Republicans trying to out-Jesus each other and the Democrats trying to out-socialist each other,” she said.

Most of us are also aware of the successful ploy by HealthSouth ex-CEO Richard Scrushy to invoke the name of Jesus as a judicial tactic. provides:

Lawyers were also skeptical of Scrushy’s decision to join the Guiding Light, a predominantly black church in Birmingham. Although Scrushy said he was “born again,” critics said it was an attempt to influence a predominantly African American jury at his trial.

Alabamians awakened this morning to headlines proclaiming that both Scrushy and former Governor (and current gubernatorial candidate) Don Siegelman had just been indicted by a federal grand jury for charges that Siegelman turned his public office into a criminal enterprise in order to solicit millions of dollars in payoffs. As one might expect, Scrushy had an established position on the donor list, with accusations made that he traded half-a-million bucks for a board seat.

Among the accusations is that Scrushy paid $500,000 to Siegelman’s lottery campaign in exchange for a seat on the state board that decides whether hospitals can expand and for influence over that group’s decisions. Siegelman’s former transportation director, Mack Roberts, was charged with mail fraud for his role in agency actions that helped certain companies.

In a news conference, Siegelman said the indictment stems from a few obsessed government officials who have spent taxpayers’ money in an attempt to control a governor’s election. Siegelman, a Democrat, is running for governor in 2006 and said he has no intention of dropping out of the race.

“The charges are false. I’m going to be proven innocent again and we’re going to go on to win this primary and win this election,” Siegelman said. Prosecutors dropped charges against him last year in an unrelated case.

It seems clear to me that the timing of these indictments is very political. One wonders how much influence Governor Riley used to ensure that Siegelman was indicted in the heat of the political season, as opposed to right after the alleged crimes occurred. If Siegelman follows the lead of his old buddy Richard Scrushy, we can expect to see him at services at the Guiding Light, too. Then we’ll have three candidates trying to out-Jesus each other.

The Alabama race for for Jesus Governor shakes out this way (alphabetical order), so far:

Alabama Gubernatoral Candidates
Name Party Claim to Fame
Lucy Baxley Democrat Ran for her current position of Lt. Gov. on a platform of “We [heart symbol] Lucy” and seems to be using the same platform in the gubernatorial race
Roy Moore Republican Worships graven images in defiance of the Ten Commandments and at considerable expense to taxpayers
Loretta Nall Libertarian Internationally reknowned marijuana journalist and political activist
Bob Riley Republican The former congressman and incumbent told us to “Do the Right Thing” by voting for the greatest increase in taxation in Alabama history. We told him where to stick his tax plan by a vote of 68% to 32%.
Don Siegelman Democrat The former Governor consistently runs on a gambling platform while continuing to run faster than the teams of prosecuters chasing him.

It’s time to put the “goober” back in “gubernatorial”, as opposed to the holy name-dropping competition currently taking place. With choices like these in the race, I’ll likely be rooting for the pot-head.

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Miers Withdraws; Public Scatologists Disappointed

Miers withdrawsToday, controversial Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers withdrew herself as nominee –on concerns of breach of Executive Priviledge by probing into her work as White House council — which president George Bush accepted:

I understand and share her concern, however, about the current state of the Supreme Court confirmation process. It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House disclosures that would undermine a president’s ability to receive candid counsel.

It’s no secret that GOP strategists have been looking for an excuse to get Miers to gracefully bow out of the position, especially after the revelation of certain correspondence (“P.S. No more public scatology“). Whatever the flimsy reasoning, there really wasn’t a chance in hell Miers would have gotten confirmed, given all the negative commentary from established Republicans crossing the aisle.

One question remains: Who will the White House pick to represent their scatology base now?

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Challenge to LP “Zero Dues” to Proceed

We noted earlier that there was some resistance to the Zero Dues Initiative a while ago, and it’s now official that the challenge, initiated by the Texas Libertarian Party, will be heard by the National LP Judiciary Committee in the coming weeks.

In a 4-3 vote in favor of hearing the challenge, there was some contention by those against the challenge that Texas may not be acting in accordance with their own bylaws in bringing the complaint. Texas LP requires a 5% approval from members to issue challenges, which was not proven to the Judicial Committee. The Committee voted to hear the complaint regardless, possibly hoping not to complicate the matter with more legalities than necessary.

The challenge stems from the assertion that membership dues cannot be lowered to zero, with the argument that zero is not a number. There is no technical specification within the national bylaws that dues must set at a valid number (“Dues for membership in the Party shall be set by the National Committee”).

From our perspective, should the challenge is deemed correct, the short-term fix if would be to raise dues to $1 until the national convention next year. Of course, with all the recent turmoil (Executive Director Joe Seehusen resigning in August and his replacement not yet determined), the LP is certainly in no position to have more internal strife at the expense of focusing on external politics.

Update: Do we know something JC chair David Nolan doesn’t? We swear we’re not using a crystal ball to report this news, just our network of friendly tipsters (we trust they’re accurate on this one). Yet an email asking for comment from Nolan received this response:

The Judicial Committee has not yet officially decided to accept the Texas request. We should have a definitive answer by tonight or tomorrow.


Plamegate: Dude, Where’s My Charges?

Friday sounds like the day for Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald to announce that someone (and perhaps pals) in the White House committed treason by outting CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Of course, the speculation is that Libby will be the chosen fall guy here in order to get Rove and Cheney off the hook:

Rove also testified that he may have learned about Plame from Libby, according to a person familiar with Rove’s testimony. Some saw this as an effort to show Rove had no reason to believe the information about Plame was classified.

Whatever happens tomorrow, this has been simmering long enough and the wafting scent of this scandal is about to become a full entree of indictments, which we’re happy to see.

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Schwarzenegger Street: Trite, Tasteless, Typical

Arnold\'s NeighborhoodBig ups to our peeps over at Independent Sources for spotting this doozy of a mud-slinger campaign ad by Democratic California gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides — Schwarzenegger Street (a spoof of Sesame Street done Jib Jab style, but without being funny or clever):

The Governor’s “neighborhood” inhabited by the usual liberal bogeymen: President Bush! Vice President Cheney! Fox News! Enron’s Ken Lay! Karl Rove! And others! Too bad most of them have only tenuous connections to Schwarzenegger.

Oh man, as much as I think Schwarzenegger is a douchebag suckup to corporate special interests, this ad is just horrible. What’s worse, Angelides vowed to take the high road (“I believe in the high road.”), and this proves once again Democrats and Republicans really only care about kicking each other out of the way in their quest for more state control and don’t really care about discussing the issues in an adult manner.

On a juvenile note… O’Reilly the Grouch looks like the love child of Joan Rivers and Milton Bradley.


45% of Iraqis Support Attacks Against Allies

A leaked poll by an Iraqi university research team on behalf of the British government is creating quite a stir since it directly conflicts with statements that there is wide support for the invasion. In some areas, the support for suicide bombings against occupying forces spikes to 65%. Other poll numbers easily indicate the rosy news being told at home doesn’t stack up with reality (thanks Joe Stump):

* 82% of Iraqis are “strongly opposed” to the presence of coalition troops

* Less than 1% of the Iraqi population believes coalition troops are responsible for any improvement in the country

* 67% of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation

* 43% of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened

* 72% do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.

You know, at this point, I’d rather not bother saying anything more. I want one of our token 37%, follow the course, pro-Iraq occupation readers to spin this for us in the comments. Come on and tell us all just how wrong we are to want to leave this country that doesn’t want us there.

Tell us how spreading democracy in Iraq logically ignores 82% of those who don’t want us there.

Because I call bullshit.


DoD: Promised Re-Enlistment Bonus? Whatever!

Freedom Isn\'t Free! Support Yourself, Soldier!Here’s another fine example of the DoD supporting the troops. If by support you mean reneging on some promises to pay a $15,000 bonus to members of the National Guard and Army Reserve who agree to extend their enlistments by six years:

The bonuses were offered in January to Active Guard and Reserve and military technician soldiers who were serving overseas. In April, the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs ordered the bonuses stopped, [Sen. Patty Murray (D-Seattle)] said.

[…]A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, confirmed the bonuses had been canceled, saying they violated Pentagon policies because they duplicated other programs. She said Guard and Reserve members would be eligible for other bonuses.

Krenke said some soldiers had been paid the re-enlistment bonuses, but she was unsure how many or whether the money would have to be repaid. Murray’s office said that as far as it knew, no active Guard or Reserve members had received the bonuses.

Here’s the mostest, bestest warm and fuzzy part:

“As in the private sector, bonuses are quite effective in keeping talented people with high demand skills,” Krenke said in an e-mail response to questions.

Well, except unlike the private sector, you can’t just quit your military career and find another if your signing bonus gets ripped out of your hands by some pencil pusher in the Pentagon. You know because of that thing called the UCMJ Article 86.

And there’s at least one milblogger who got the bonus, but is a little more than wary he may get a bill from the Pentagon:

I hate to say this too loud for fear that they try to take my money back, but what the heck is going on at the Pentagon? If the Pentagon drives me to support Patty Murray, we’re all going to have a problem here.


White House sues C&Ds The Onion (For Real!)

White House loves Goatse.cxThis is up there as being one of the stupidest lawsuits in the history of lawsuits. The White House is suing issued a cease and desist order to The Onion for using the presidential seal in its satire skits of the weekly radio address. What’s even more hilarious is the law that requires satirists “apply for an exception” to use the presidential seal, which is like applying for a permit to use the American flag:

Citing the United States Code, Mr. [Grant M. Dixton, associate counsel to the president,] wrote that the seal “is not to be used in connection with commercial ventures or products in any way that suggests presidential support or endorsement.” Exceptions may be made, he noted, but The Onion had never applied for such an exception.

The Onion was amused. “I’m surprised the president deems it wise to spend taxpayer money for his lawyer to write letters to The Onion,” Scott Dikkers, editor in chief, wrote to Mr. Dixton. He suggested the money be used instead for tax breaks for satirists.

Because of this image, we’re fully waiting for either our satirist tax-break or a presidential lawsuit (seriously, how rad would it be to explain goatse [safe for work] to a judge in a frickin’ courtroom?).

Update: It has come to our attention that the person writing the titles for our posts is a complete idiot (The Onion has been given a stern cease and desist with a finger-wagging, not being sued). We apologize for the screwup and have sacked the title-writer.

Another Update: It has come to our attention that one shouldn’t use HTML in the titles of posts. For this absurdity, we have sacked the replacement title-writer and had his family shot. We regret the inconvenience.


Congress puts Gun Reponsibility back on Owners

handgun manufacturingIn a rare good move on the part of Congress, a legal shield for gun manufacturers has passed that should bring a halt to the overzealous anti-gun lawsuits that have plagued courts for the past couple of decades:

The bill, which is identical to one approved in July by the Senate, is aimed at ending a spate of lawsuits by individuals and municipalities, including New York City, seeking to hold gun manufacturers and dealers liable for negligence when their weapons are used in crimes.

While it bars such suits, the measure contains an exception allowing certain cases involving defective weapons or criminal behavior by a gun maker or dealer, such as knowingly selling a weapon to someone who has failed a criminal background check.

This is a big win for libertarians, and I’m happy to report on some Republican-controlled legislation we can (finally) be proud of. Of course, there’s still quite a few other rights that have been trampled, and a win for the second amendment shouldn’t imply we’re about to get all cozy with Republican Congress-critters just because they finally got one right.


Our best interest…

During a TV/Radio broadcast today concerning Hurricane Wilma slamming into Florida Governor Jeb Bush commented on residents who ignored the mandatory evacuation warnings and settled in for the brutal weather:

In our society you can’t force people to do what’s in their best interest…

You can imagine the inquisitive stares I received as I gut-laughed for five minutes straight…

EVERY DAY the government uses FORCE to pay for programs they believe to be in our best interest! By FORCE, the government takes and spends billions and billions of dollars claiming that this is what America wants, what their constituents want, when typically… it isn’t!

By FORCE the government is paying for a war,initially touted to be in our BEST INTEREST, that most American’s disagree with. Through FORCE the people pay for a failing education system, the lost and uncessary battle of the ‘War on Drugs,’ religious institutions through ‘Faith-Based Initiatives,’ the welfare state and the list goes on and on…

Monday’s are typically rough and humorless for me, thanks for breaking the monotony Jeb.


Will Sheehan Run As A Libertarian?

The word from Third Party Watch is that anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan may run as a Libertarian against Hillary Clinton.

Prominent anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan said last week she could not bring herself to vote for the re-election next year of US Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) unless HRC first publicly admits her vote for the Iraq war was a mistake. That subsequently prompted NY Libertarian Party State Chair John Clifton to issue a statement inviting Sheehan to seek the party’s US Senate nomination next year as a peace candidate. The Libertarian Party has already called for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. Clifton was the LP’s US Senate nominee against Clinton in 2000.

Read full story.

Now I cannot support Cindy at this time because I don’t know her views on anything but Iraq. I am not going to make a public announcement for or against Ms. Sheehan at this time but it is an interesting bit of news.

What do you think, would Ms. Sheehan be a good or a bad choice for the Libertarian Party?


Vermont Pulls Out the Secede Card

Secede PicObviously this is more a symbolic gesture, but a group by the name of theSecond Vermont Republic is trying to garner support to secede from the Union.

The organizations goals are two fold:

Organizers of the convention say it has two objectives: First, to raise the level of awareness of Vermonters of the feasibility of independence as a viable alternative to a nation which has lost its moral authority and is unsustainable. And second, to provide an example and a process for other states and nations which may be seriously considering separatism, secession, independence, and similar devolutionary strategies.

Personally, I applaud their efforts. But you know there is not a chance in Hell that the federal government would not fight tooth and nail to prevent this from occurring. I mean, where else would people go and, um, ski in the winter? More importantly, this would give other states the green light to jump ship.


Church of Reality becomes Official

Church of Reality fishThe Church of Reality, a religion that is based on believing in everything that is real (e.g. no imaginary friends in the sky), has become an officially recognized church/religion in the eyes of the IRS (via Boing Boing):

We have got word from the IRS that the 501(C)3 tax exempt status of the Church of Reality has been approved. We will get the paperwork next week.

In related news, creationism and intelligent design in the science classroom is under fire, with a leading proponent admitting that intelligent design theory is no more or less plausible than astrology (and by extrapolation, mythology):

Astrology would be considered a scientific theory if judged by the same criteria used by a well-known advocate of Intelligent Design to justify his claim that ID is science, a landmark US trial heard on Tuesday.

Under cross examination, ID proponent Michael Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, admitted his definition of “theory” was so broad it would also include astrology.

Good to know that in the interest of science, we can look forward having our children taught the speculation that the reason some people are smarter or more athletic is because Zeus was a randy deity back in the day.

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Tax Payer Money Equals Sex and Booze

I don’t care what other people do with their own money as long as they are not hurting me but I damn sure don’t want to pay for anyone else’s sex and booze. If you want to buy alcohol and strippers fine but do so with your own money.

BOURNE — Hurricane Katrina evacuees hastily handed $2,000 in federal relief money last month have been living it up on Cape Cod, blowing cash on booze and strippers, a Herald investigation has found.

Herald reporters witnessed blatant public drinking at a Falmouth strip mall by Katrina victims living at taxpayer expense at Camp Edwards on Otis Air Force Base. And strippers at Zachary’s nightclub in Mashpee, a few miles from the Bourne base, report giving lap dances to several evacuees.

“They were tipping me $5 a pop,” said a Zachary’s dancer named Angel. “I told them I felt bad taking their money. But I still took it.”

Now imagine why we have a crisis of poverty. The people spend all their money on taxes to provide others with entertainment.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has issued more than $1.5 billion to 607,000 Katrina victims in the form of individual cash handouts of $2,000. There are no restrictions on how the money can be spent, FEMA officials said.

Read full story.

Remind anyone of government funded sex.


Former Abu Ghraib Cmdr points blame at D.C.

KarpinskiDemoted from Brigadier General after allegations that dereliction of duty led to the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, Col. Janis Karpinski is trying to clear her name from the scandal. As commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade in charge of Iraq’s chaotic prison system, Karpinski said she wasn’t truly in charge of Abu Ghraib when the abuses occurred. From an exclusive Savannah Now interview with Karpinski, now residing in Hilton Head, SC:

Karpinski said she wasn’t truly in charge of Abu Ghraib when the abuses occurred.

Gen. Geoffrey Miller, commander of the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, was. She thinks Miller was ordered by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to set up a similar operation in Iraq to gather intelligence to capture Saddam Hussein.

“He (Miller) said he was going to make Abu Ghraib the center for interrogation for all of Iraq. And that’s what he did,” she said. “Military police functions are entirely different than military intelligence. It was that blurring of the lines that created problems.”

Rather than an isolated incident involving “seven bad apples,” Karpinski argues the prisoner abuses were the result of “conflicting orders and confused standards extending from the military commanders in Iraq all the way to the summit of civilian leadership in Washington.”

From the first female general to command troops in a war zone to scapegoat for Pentagon interrogation policies gone awry, there’s a definite feeling that this story isn’t going away anytime soon. And beware the wrath of a woman general scorned.

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Schools Discourage Kids from Using Playgrounds

Ahhh, the nanny state continues to grow by leaps and bounds, unlike the school children who are now told “not to run” and are advised against using the swings, merry-go-rounds, and teeter-totters. Apparently, fun involves risk and parents don’t want to take that chance. And neither do the county officials that are worried about lawsuits.

The National Program for Playground Safety (I wish I was making this up) is one of the organizations trying to get rid of the classics, stating that “Kids aren’t using them the way they’re supposed to.” Apparently one can’t try to launch their kid brother in the air with a teeter-totter anymore. I guess we should just put fences around the playgrounds and have kids just imagine having fun with them. In fact, we can put vending machine right next to them so they can get fatter too!

Getting back to the amusing NPPS, if you’re a parent that doesn’t know how to have fun, you can actually buy videos that will give you step by step instructions on how to make your child equally not fun and overly protected from such harms as “the plastic seat was hot” and “the monkey bars were too cold.”


Secret Tracking Codes Embedded in Printouts

Decrypt thisDo you own or use a color laser printer? If you do, chances are that there is a secret code printed on each page you send out. According to the TG Daily:

For the better part of the last year, computer experts have known about the existence of printer tracking technology. Last November, PC World published the article, Government Uses Color Laser Printer Technology to Track Documents, which discussed the existence of printer tracking dots. Seth Schoen, staff technologist at the EFF, told us that the PC World article spurred EFF to investigate further. Initially Schoen, like PC World, speculated that the dots would only contain the printer’s serial and model number, but now it is confirmed that there is much more information included. “As it turned out, there is also the date and time, which is accurate to the minute. We didn’t expect that,” says Shoen.

A press release from the Electronic Frontier Foundation provides:

Schoen says that these tracking dots are “all over” every page printed from many printer models. The dots are almost invisible, but can be seen by shining a simple blue LED light on the page. The blue light increases the contrast of the yellow dots and causes them to appear black against the paper background. In the case of one particular printer, the Xerox DocuColor, the dots appear as an eight by fifteen grid that is repeated throughout the page.

You can see the dots on color prints from machines made by Xerox, Canon, and other manufacturers (for a list of the printers we investigated so far, see: The dots are yellow, less than one millimeter in diameter, and are typically repeated over each page of a document. In order to see the pattern, you need a blue light, a magnifying glass, or a microscope (for instructions on how to see the dots, see:

I’ve got a printer which I use primarily for high quality and high volume political printing runs. Odds are that many readers of this site have recieved material printed on it, as I lugged the heavy beast to Austin, TX during the Badnarik campaign. Tens of thousands of pages from the printer were also distributed at the LP Convention in Atlanta. One poster I distributed at the convention was covered nationally by an AP Wire here. In this case, a woman was booted out of the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport for passing out anti-war flyers.

It pretty scary that big brother can track the printers of political materials. Imagine the Brits going after the pamphleteers in the years preceding our Revolutionary War. However, in my case, they were not likely to have been able to track the documents I printed, as my printer does not appear on the list of printers known contain the embedded code. I am using a Tektronix Phaser 850DP, which uses thermal wax, as opposed to a laser process. It is my guess that the thermal process makes it more diffficult to hide the code.

Perhaps former U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas said it best with: “We are rapidly entering the age of no privacy, where everyone is open to surveillance at all times; where there are no secrets from government. The aggressive breaches of privacy by the Government increase by geometric proportions.”

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Contrast this to the 1765 Stamp Act:

The Stamp Act 1765 was the fourth Stamp Act to be passed by the British Parliament and required all legal documents, permits, commercial contracts, newspapers, pamphlets, and playing cards in the American colonies to carry a tax stamp. The Act was enacted in order to defray the cost of maintaining the military presence protecting the colonies.

It was of course met with great resistance, with many tax collectors being harassed and tarred and feathered. The similarity of requiring a digital stamp nowadays, with the tax built into the cost of the printer, is none too appealing either.


Former Seattle Police Chief on Drug Legalization

Norm Stamper, the former chief of the Seattle Police Department, is no stranger to the drug legalization scene. He wrote the book “Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing” and now has an OpEd in the Los Angeles Times, making a strong argument for law enforcement to Let those dopers be (via TMN):

But no, I don’t favor decriminalization. I favor legalization, and not just of pot but of all drugs, including heroin, cocaine, meth, psychotropics, mushrooms and LSD.

[…]Prohibition of alcohol fell flat on its face. The prohibition of other drugs rests on an equally wobbly foundation. Not until we choose to frame responsible drug use – not an oxymoron in my dictionary – as a civil liberty will we be able to recognize the abuse of drugs, including alcohol, for what it is: a medical, not a criminal, matter.

[…]How would “regulated legalization” work? It would:

1) Permit private companies to compete for licenses to cultivate, harvest, manufacture, package and peddle drugs.

2) Create a new federal regulatory agency (with no apologies to libertarians or paleo-conservatives).

3) Set and enforce standards of sanitation, potency and purity.

4) Ban advertising.

5) Impose (with congressional approval) taxes, fees and fines to be used for drug-abuse prevention and treatment and to cover the costs of administering the new regulatory agency.

6) Police the industry much as alcoholic beverage control agencies keep a watch on bars and liquor stores at the state level. Such reforms would in no way excuse drug users who commit crimes: driving while impaired, providing drugs to minors, stealing an iPod or a Lexus, assaulting one’s spouse, abusing one’s child. The message is simple. Get loaded, commit a crime, do the time.

This is a long-overdue endorsement, but I have to wonder if the full-steam-ahead approach to legalization will bear fruit or invite complete dismissal as crazy. Hopefully his suggestions gain traction in the public debate, but I’m not holding my breath.