Thursday, March 31, 2005

Bad apples at the top of the basket.

The ACLU tells us that Abu Ghraib really was the work of just a few bad apples after all. Specifically, Lieutenant General Sanchez.
"General Sanchez authorized interrogation techniques that were in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Army’s own standards," said ACLU attorney Amrit Singh.
I bet that "Army's own standards" part really puts Sanchez in a stress position. If we violated the Geneva Conventions, some wouldn't care, but it's hard to excuse a soldier who disobeys the guidelines of his own army.

Heart disease, women, frivolous lawsuits, and wealth.

It says here,
Since more women live to adulthood and beyond, it should not be surprising that more women will eventually die of heart disease.
Interesting! Hearing that more women die of heart disease than men, I'd think that this is unfair to the women. Then I'm reminded that women live longer than men, and—duh—more often face afflictions associated with age. Now it sounds unfair to the men. I wish I had the same opportunity to get heart disease that women do!

I was thinking (also while driving), that this is analogous to frivolous lawsuits. It's a terrible injustice that the courts are used to squeeze people for money. But it's the wealthiest who get squeezed! A frivolous lawsuit, by definition, is a quest for cash, so the poor aren't afflicted by them. I wish I had enough money to be a victim of those lawsuits!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Responsible parenting.

Halley Suitt talks about the Sacred Trust of parenting. She writes, among other things, "The world is greatly improved by the responsibilities of parenting and by people choosing to become parents."

I find this to be true. I've always advanced from taking responsibility of one kind or another. I think I've made myself a better person because I have a child. This is not to say I consider myself to be the parent I'd want to be, but I wouldn't have bothered to be who I am without my daughter as an incentive.

Of course, taking responsibility is not merely a matter of having responsibility, but you can't have or take a parenting responsibility without the corresponding child!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Schiavo mourner defends torture.

I heard about this post at Billmon from this post at Joho the Blog. In a nutshell, there's a man mourning for Terri Schiavo who served in Iraq and defended the use of torture when he returned.

I'm dumbfounded.

My rediscovery of Patti Rothberg.

When I was living in Champaign, one hit that I heard on the radio was "Inside" by Patti Rothberg. Another was "Mother Mother" by Tracy Bonham. I liked both. They were very different songs, but I nevertheless got the artists confused. When I heard "Treat Me Like Dirt" by Patti Rothberg one night, I recognized the name but couldn't correctly connect it to her other hit.

Time passed, and I didn't hear "Treat Me Like Dirt" again, but it stuck with me. One day in the record store, I mistakenly bought Tracy Bonham's album trying to get it. Back then my disc purchasing was sporadic, haphazard, and often impulsive. I recognized Bonham's name and thought she was the one who had two hits I liked. This was one of a small set of purchases that put me off buying CDs for years.

More time passed. A lot more. Napster came and went without me really getting into it, but I traded music files online in other ways, and one day I ran across "Inside" again. Reminded of music long past, I downloaded all of "Between the 1 and the 9", and I liked it a lot.

I bought an incredibly cheap used copy of the album from Amazon, and I bought a shiny new copy of the follow-up, "Candelabra Cadabra" (which I also liked, but not as much as the first album) at some brick and mortar.

These days, this kind of story is typical of the long tail, but I didn't know that when it happened. It knocked me out that I was into this artist who I hadn't heard on the radio in years, and that I'd rediscovered her through the Internet.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Posner on The Bankruptcy Reform Act

I quote The Becker-Posner Blog: The Bankruptcy Reform Act--Posner:
Critics say that more than half of all individual bankrupts are not reckless borrowers but rather are unfortunate people who have been hit by unexpected medical expenses. But this ignores the fact that whether one is forced into bankruptcy by a medical expense (or by an interruption of employment as a result of a medical problem) depends on one's other borrowing. If one is already borrowed to the hilt, an unexpected medical expense may indeed force one over the edge. But knowing that medical expenses are a risk in our society, prudent people avoid loading themselves to the hilt with nonmedical debt.
Some will also say that those "unexpected medical expenses" include things like gambling. This says that's true, but it doesn't make a difference. "About 2.5% families described the costs of dealing with addiction and 1.2% reported uncontrolled gambling."

Posner's remark reminds me of the PHB telling Dilbert to account for unforeseen problems. Dilbert responds that unforeseen problems, by definition, cannot be accounted for. It's true that it's prudent to hoard a little in case of emergency, but it's unclear how much is the right amount. I could live as though another Great Depression were upon us, spending the bare minimum to live, saving everything for a possible catastrophe. At the end of my life, I will have enjoyed none of what I earned. On the other end of the living-in-fear spectrum, I could spend everything I earn as soon as possible, go into debt as much as possible, and generally live as if there is no tomorrow. Somewhere in between is prudence.

Even living the Great Depression, a medical disaster could leave my finances demolished. Living prudently is no guarantee of solvency. Where on the continuum you put the "living prudently" line is arbitrary. With the new bankruptcy laws proposed, it may be that "living prudently" will move closer to "living in the Great Depression."

Saturday, March 26, 2005

My daughter, after Disney World

My daughter, after Disney World

While waiting to board our airplane, my exhausted daughter lays with her blankie and watches "A Bug's Life" on Daddy's computer.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Is food life support?

My good friend over at Random brain dribbles wrote something I want to talk about more. He writes:
If she is going to be killed (and let's face it, she's not on a ventilator or a heart/lung machine - she's on a permanent feeding tube. Big difference in degree), then oughtn't we, as a society, do so in a manner known to be quick and painless?
As I said in subsequent comments, I have no problem with the idea of giving morphine to someone whose feeding tube has been removed. In Ms. Schiavo's case, I think that will do more to comfort onlookers than to comfort the patient, but it's worth making sure her death is painless.

The common opinion my friend touches on is this: artificial breathing is life support, but artificial feeding isn't.

What's the difference? It seems to me, the difference in the mind of most is that without breath, people die quickly. Turn off the respirator or the heart machine, and the patient is dead in minutes. Food, on the other hand, we only eat a few times a day. It takes a week to starve to death. Air and food are both basic necessities for life, but food seems less necessary since we can go without it for so long. Calling food "life support" is just a step up from calling television life support. Patients might claim they'll just die if they miss tonight's exciting episode, but it's not true. They also don't die if they miss a meal. Anything you don't really need to live isn't really life support.

This difference is a matter of degree (perhaps a "big difference in degree," as my friend says). "No food" kills as surely as "no air," but more slowly. A patient can go without air for a short time with no ill effects. Likewise food, but the "short time" is longer. I don't think that's enough of a difference to rule food out of the "life support" category. Opinions will differ.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Diagnose this!

Since Senator Frist thinks he can diagnose Terri Schiavo from a video, Michael Bassik at Personal Democracy Forum suggests that we take pictures of what ails us and post them to Flickr with the 'frist' tag so that Dr. Frist can diagnose all our problems. See the results so far, or just look at my entry, which I call "Choking on the lies of Congress."

What is and is not life support.

I'm not a doctor. I suspect, neither is the guy who wrote this:
Terri has never been on life support. The only medical treatment Terri received for the past five years has been food and water through a feeding tube, which is nothing at all like artificial life support. Artificial life support consists of ventilation for people unable to breathe on their own. The question sets up a strawman argument that so completely contradicts reality that the entire poll must be considered invalid.
Before my mom died, she had a feeding tube, and she had a machine to help her breathe. Guess which one required surgery (hint: the feeding tube doesn't run down the throat). This says that the courts have decided that "nutrition and hydration count as life-prolonging treatments" in cases such as Terri's.

I've read quite a bit about Terri Schiavo in the last few days. There's a lot here including Judge Greer's ruling, which I read last night. It's surprisingly interesting reading, and it left me convinced that the case has been considered well and decided well.

One thing I haven't done is watched the video. From what I hear, it's very convincing to people otherwise ignorant of the situation. The lesson seems clear. If you can tell a lie with a picture or a video that can only be refuted with a lot more effort, the lie wins. Everyone sees the video; everyone hears the sound bite; nobody spends 20 minutes listening to explanation from an expert.

A dummy blog.

The comments on this post at raging red suggest that, to maintain anonymity, create a dummy blog.

I used to think that being anonymous online was impossible. There would always be someone who you and would eventually spill the beans. I saw it played out repeatedly in the BBS world I inhabited at the time. Now I think that people can have some anonymity (since the Internet is so much larger), but it won't stand up in the face of a determined attacker. But I digress.

The idea of the dummy blog is that it's the blog you put on your business cards and hand out to strangers. While your "real" blog doesn't have your name on it (and is known only to those closest to you), the dummy blog is publicly yours and contains innocuous posts on impersonal topics. The problem I have with it is maintaining it. I put (what I consider to be) a lot of time into one blog as it is; I'm going to write two?

I had another idea: the group dummy blog. A group forms to write one blog. They all sign every post anonymously, and they all claim to be the only author when they talk about it at parties. This way they divide up the work of updating their public face.

It has its problems. How do you motivate the group to write? How do you keep the voice consistent and never give away anything personal? I suppose every post would have to be approved by everyone in the group, and the only motivation that comes to mind is the threat of disclosure.

I take the truthful, withholding approach. My blog has my real name on it, and I bound the topics I write about. Writing some things privately is easier for me than maintaining a separate persona. It's even easier than sharing the work of maintaining a separate persona with a group of other dummies, but someone else might like the idea more than I do.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Bin Laden escaped at Tora Bora

Have a look at "The Truth About Tora Bora." Long story short:
  1. Bush said in October that he wasn't there.
  2. A terror suspect held at Guantanamo Bay helped Bin Laden escape, according to documents from the Pentagon.
  3. So who lied?
Bush supporters will think he was still right, Kerry was still wrong, and this prisoner at Gitmo must have a reason to claim he's Bin Laden's Special Friend. Let the speculation begin!

Death's comfort

In the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, Death is personified. There's an actual walking talking skeleton in a cloak of absolute darkness, carrying a scythe, riding a pale horse, and escorting spirits from their corpses into the afterlife. In one book, Death's job is in jeopardy because some think he has become too personal. Death defends himself.
I've always liked that quote, but I never thought about why. With the passing of my mother, it makes more sense. I think what Death is saying is that those who are about to die deserve comfort. Death has also said, THERE IS NO JUSTICE, THERE IS ONLY ME. The only thing one can count on in life is death. There's no promise of justice or anything else. The only comfort the living can take is that death will be merciful, that Death will be considerate.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Torture Dennis Hastert, please.

There's this bill to ban the practice of sending people to other countries to be tortured. One might ask oneself, "self, why isn't that already illegal?" It is, but America does it anyway, and has for years, and when someone brings it up, the Official Response is, "we asked them not to do that, but they did it anyway." So the new bill doesn't talk about why we might send someone to a country that tortures; it just makes it illegal to send a prisoner to any country we know tortures people. I guess they know they can't legislate against lies (or ignorance).

What I find interesting is that Dennis Hastert is saying he's against it.
But when New York Times columnist Bob Herbert asked a spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert whether Mr. Hastert supports the Markey bill, the answer was: "The speaker does not support the Markey proposal. He believes that suspected terrorists should be sent back to their home countries." (I called Mr. Hastert's office, but there has been no response.) But international treaties we have signed, and our own laws, forbid outsourcing torture including to "home countries" of alleged terrorists whom we have not charged with any crime.
I wonder if his point is, "we should be able to return prisoners to their country of origin, even if that country tortures." I can't tell. It wouldn't be the worst reason offered, but it certainly doesn't get my agreement. Fafblog has the alternative:
Since torture is an effective, morally acceptable means to prevent terror, the only problem with our current policy is that it fails to torture all terrorists.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Campaign finance reform.

I have an idea.
  • Individual Americans (and corporations too!) will contribute to a single fund for all campaigning.
  • Legitimate political parties (with some fair definition of "legitimate") will draw equally from the fund and distribute what they draw equally to their candidate(s).
  • No campaign spending except from this fund.
  • All private campaign ads will be funded as if they were a political party.
Keep holding fund raisers, and keep getting those fat checks from fat cats, but share with your opponents. How do you like them apples?

  • The legitimization of the Party party leads to the public funding a campaign which enjoys itself thoroughly without doing any campaigning.
  • The most popular candidates don't want to raise funds.
  • J. Random Billionare has a free speech problem if the private ad fund is short. On the other hand, J. Random could contribute enough money to make up the difference and think of it as a tax on "free" speech.
My original idea was to pay for campaigns through a poll tax. Each candidate would account for all campaign spending, and there'd be a number next to the name on the ballot. That number is how much the voter will pay in taxes to fund the campaign if it wins. Slick Politician can run a huge campaign, but the voters may vote for the cheap guy instead. The collected taxes first pay for the accounting and then go to repay the campaign's donors. The result:
  • Cheaper campaigns are more appealing to voters.
  • Donors prefer to donate to the candidate who wins, but only because they get a refund.
  • Candidates still end up with an obligation to the donors because of the risk they took, but an increase in "campaign tax" could eliminate that too (in which case, "donating" to the winner becomes an investment that produces a return).
  • How does this account for independent advertising? Maybe it doesn't.
What to do if the candidate spends less than what was given for the campaign? Take the remainder of the pool and distribute it evenly among the donors. This encourages many small donors and discourages individual large donors. If one donor gives half the total pool, and that amount is spent, that donor gets back the money donated, divided by the number of donors. People who donated the least could get back more than they originally put in.

There are probably lots of odd situations I haven't thought of, so I've designed toward behavior that's bad, and it's possible that behavior I think is desirable really isn't. Ultimately I'd like a system in which politicians are "paid for" by a majority (e.g., everybody) rather than any minority. I'm tired of our elected officials being beholden to monied interests instead of the people who elected them. I want to disconnect their funding from the funders. Make all donations anonymous? Easy to defeat.

Maybe someone has solved this problem, and I just haven't seen it. Unfortunately, I suspect a real working solution would never be implemented.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Leaping daughter talk.

On par with "rainbrella," when my daughter talks about the thing she likes to bounce on, it sounds like "jumpoline."

By analogy with "a little cold outside," she will ask if it's "big cold."

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Friday, March 11, 2005

Third draft white board.

My already revised white board was revised one more time:
In other news, I expect I might not be posting for the next five days. Then again, I may. Either way, I should be posting regularly on March 17.

Book Meme 123.5

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 123.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
  5. Don't search around and look for the "coolest" book you can find. Do what's actually next to you.
The Dell™ Portable Computers Product Information Guide has no page 123. The Dell™ Inspiron™ 8600 Owner's Manual has a page 123, but it's in the appendix and has no sentences. Next up is Design Patterns by Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, and John Vlissides. Its page 123 is at least half C++ code. I disregard the "sentences" that end with a colon right before a block of code, and I get a "fifth" sentence that's about 3/4 the way down the page:
It may also need a separate operation for reinitializing internal state.
I offer no deep interpretation of this sentence, though I might remark that this meme might have been better performed at home. For a better book meme, see this post at Does This Look Infected?, which is where I first saw it.

I tried tracking this back, but I hit a limit at this post at Feministe, which says it came from Feminist Blogs, which doesn't appear to have an archive. I could muddle through the array of blogs it uses as sources, but I leave that as an exercise to the reader.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A metaphor for sexual differences.

When I was in high school, we were required to have gym clothes. Once in a while I'd be stuck without mine for some good reason that I forget. This was not a huge problem because somewhere in the locker room were some unguarded gym clothes that I could change into and then leave where I found them. That was fine except I wasn't the only one doing that, and the clothes had an odor that would wilt flowers and curl nose hairs.

One day I was without my own clothes, and I discussed this with a female friend of mine who offered to let me wear hers. She warned me that she hadn't washed them in a long time, and I figured they couldn't be as bad as the rotten swamp of death smell I had as an alternative.

Her clothes stunk. The smell was as bad as my clothes ever got though not as bad as the locker room community shorts and shirt that smelled as if they'd been pulled from an old corpse. It was a refreshing stench nevertheless because it was a completely different overpowering reek from what I produced. This was a revelation. I hadn't expected that a girl could make clothes smell as bad as a boy could, but there it was watering my eyes in defiance.

This turns out to be what I think about differences between the sexes in general. Men make a foul odor distinct from the foul odor that women make, but they're both foul. They're different without being unequal.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


I got Tor working at home. It's a proxy server that makes my web requests appear to come from a wide range of sources for the purpose of anonymity. I'm using it with privoxy (as recommended), which is a general purpose web proxy with features for eating cookies that invade privacy and blocking advertisements. They work well together, like Batman and Robin.

The result is that every time I hit a web page, I appear to be coming from a different IP address. Tor nodes are located throughout the world, it seems. Because I'm going through privoxy, certain web sites forget who I am sooner than they would otherwise (because of cookie filtering), but this is something I can control if I take the time to fix it.

I like the safety I get with Tor, but it is higher latency than direct Internet access. I've noticed some other oddities with this setup too.
  • Google appears in different languages according to where my Tor exit point is.
  • Sometimes I'm blocked from editing Wikipedia because other anonymous users have vandalized it.
  • I can't tell my statcounter whence I come anymore, so my own hits to my own blog show up in its logs again.
One other benefit of Tor is the layer of encryption it slaps on everything. By pushing things through Tor, local listeners are stymied. I may be way off base, but I'm less worried about random Tor exit nodes listening to my packets than I am about nearby users monitoring me. My communications are in the clear when they get where they're going, but they're all scrambled while they're nearby.

It's easy to send Yahoo! Messenger through privoxy (and Tor). As a result, a local listener can't even tell I'm using Yahoo!, let alone what I'm saying. It's even better than if Yahoo! were supporting encryption.

Although it's not much interest to the casual user, Tor allows what's called a hidden service wherein a server (say a web server) is available within the Tor network, but its location is unknown. I find this to be a nice way to make something available from behind a firewall. The otherwise inaccessible computer reaches out to the Tor network and offers a port for other Tor users. Since I now have Tor on most of the computers I use regularly, I can get to such a hidden computer easily.

Eventually this may lead to me having to let go of the idea that an IP address is an identifier. If all my communications are from the four corners of the globe, I can hardly expect the rest of the Internet to behave itself.

I highly recommend taking a look at Tor if you're the least bit technically inclined. It's not at all difficult to install, and it's just privacy all over.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I've been eating cookies

My white board reads:
This goes along with my last white board, in that I'm still mangling famous phrases. I'm not sure Freddy Nietzsche would appreciate me likening "the abyss" to Girl Scout Cookies, but it's just a white board.

Update: I thought of something better. It now reads:
So, so true!

Values in Social Security.

Earlier I wrote that laws reflect values. I note that in a broader post, Josh Marshall says something similar: It's about values.
But the cash value of work isn't the same as its moral value. And if you look at the values imbedded in all those Social Security actuarial tables, you see this principle: whether you were a janitor or a fast-food worker or a doctor or a tycoon, if you worked during your working years you shouldn't be left destitute when your working years are over (retirement) or when, through no fault of your own, you can't work anymore (disability). No matter what.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Obsidian Wings: The Bankruptcy Bill: Resources

What I've heard about the Bankruptcy Bill hasn't been good. I don't have any original thoughts on the matter, but I'll pass on a good link I found today.

Obsidian Wings: The Bankruptcy Bill: Resources

(This seems like a bill made for credit card companies. Is this because credit card companies have come upon hard financial times and potentially may have to file for bankruptcy? It would be an obvious question if it were not so ridiculous.)

How to get a "mandate" from the voters.

I got this link from this post at Constantly Amazed, Yet Never Surprised. It breaks down voters like so:
  • 30% of America's population can't vote.
  • 41% of eligible voters didn't vote.
  • 94% of people who voted for Bush did so for reasons other than his policies (according to Gallup).
So once you've thrown away all the non-support of Bush's agenda, there's only 0.74% of America left.

So there's your mandate: less than 1% of Americans.

I thought of a different experiment. How much voter turnout and voter support does it take to get a majority of Americans? Assume everyone who votes for a candidate does so because of policies (even though I think this assumption is laughable). Given our current figures for eligible voters, we want to get over 50% of the population in support of a candidate. I worked it out. With 85% of the eligible voters voting and 85% of those voting for one candidate, that candidate gets 50.2% of America's support.

I can scarcely imagine what it would take to get 85% of voters to vote in an election that was won by 85%. I'm reminded of "How far off can the Electoral College get?" which examines an equally absurd scenario (namely, a President elected by 22% of eligible voters when all of them vote).

I think what I'm trying to point out with the above is:
  1. Numbers really are fun.
  2. Indeed, Bush does not have a mandate.
  3. Moreover, I doubt any President ever will.
  4. Therefore, I think every President has an obligation to respect the views of those who oppose.
I'd hope that Presidents would respect the views of their opposition without some numbers game. Frankly, I think that if Bush doesn't already, hitting him in the head with a spreadsheet isn't going to change his mind.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

To blog or not to blog.

I don't use "blog" as a verb. I don't blog. I write in a blog. Calling myself a blogger is more acceptable, but still makes my skin crawl with its implication of blogging. Perhaps I'm old fashioned in this sense, or I'm just a curmudgeon, but there it is. No blogging, just writing.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Whence comes inspiration

My "values in law" post derives from comments I wrote during a discussion at Abigail's Magic Garden. I'm linking to it because I actually like some of my writing there better than what I wrote here. (So, if you liked that post, go read the brighter first drafts.)

More generally, I think that I often write better in response to something than when I just cover a topic "cold." I can respond to a specific opponent without fear that I'm erecting a straw man or otherwise unfairly characterizing the opposition.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Early March trivia.

Today is a complete sentence: March forth.

One overhyped evil in Bush's Social Security plan

I've read quite a few people saying that the Bush privatization plan would make rich stock brokers richer. After reading "The Bush/Wall Street/Social Security conspiracy unravels," I'm not sure I buy it (so to speak). The article describes a detail of the plan that "would mean only a limited profit potential for Wall Street." concurs and has details. This is not to say the sharks will starve, but the retirement blood in the water isn't thick enough for concern.

Update: Think Progress says Blows It. This says "The White House acknowledges that there are many differences between the TSP and the proposed accounts, and that Bush's system would be more expensive to run."

Update 2: responds that, yes, the Bush system would be more expensive to run, but that extra expense is not paid to Wall Street but to Government employees who will administer the system.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Dull white board.

For a few days now, my white board has had a bunch of work-related gobbledygook written in black. Today I wrote in red in an empty space:

Values in law.

Sometimes, law reflects values.

Social Security reflects a value. The young are responsible for the old just as the old were once responsible for the young. The people supporting retirees are the younger workers. The SSA is effectively a middleman, one big bank account into which the workers of America pay and the former workers of America draw.

What privatization says to me is "old folks are on their own."

The inheritance tax reflects a value. It's wrong to hoard. Imagine the world is a town. One man has ten times more bread than he can ever consume in his lifetime, and the other citizens are going hungry. It's pointless hoarding. Now imagine it's "wealth" rather than bread. To encourage people to work for wealth, we let them keep the wealth they earn. After they're gone, however, the hoard they were unable to consume gets redistributed.

If you have no problem with hoarding, consider this from "A Minor Political Screed" by David Brin:
Now there's a funny thing about the inheritance tax - it's effects are vastly greater than they seem at first sight. At the surface, it doesn't look like the government's biggest source of revenue. In fact, its chief effect over the years has been encouraging super-rich folks to create charitable foundations, in order to keep their money away from the IRS!

Get this -- in the USA, charitable giving by the rich is MORE THAN TEN TIMES as high as it is in Europe! Studies credit most of this difference to the inheritance tax, spurring the wealthy to use their money to buy fame and gratitude, rather than let Uncle Sam decide how it will be spent.
This is what I think of when I hear folks talk about cutting taxes (often for the rich) and cutting funding for social programs, thinking that the people will give their extra money to charity as a result. It doesn't even out.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Care of the American Flag.

Browsing the archives of Constantly Amazed, Yet Never Surprised, I came to this post with a picture depicting a man covered in American flags.

I went looking for Flag Rules and Regulations, which says, "The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery." The Boy Scouts of America agree: "The national flag should not be used as a costume or athletic uniform."

Also, when a flag is worn out and no longer fit to display, the proper way to dispose of it is by burning.

Update: SheaNC points out his own follow-up to the post I linked above. He discusses the hypocrisy of claiming patriotism while mistreating our flag.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Politicization of the Social Security Administration

Some congresspeople have studied the politicization of the Social Security Administration under President Bush and discovered that the SSA "has systematically altered agency publications, press releases, PowerPoint presentations, website content, and even its annual statements to foster the impression that Social Security is 'unsustainable' and 'must change.'"

From the report:
During the Clinton Administration, one of the agency's primary strategic goals was to educate the public about the Social Security program. This strategic goal was replaced in 2003 by a new objective to use public communication to "support reforms" to Social Security.
The mission of the SSA is
To advance the economic security of the nation’s people through compassionate and vigilant leadership in shaping and managing America's Social Security programs.
Perhaps they consider misleading the public to be part of "shaping SS programs." I have no idea. The report looks pretty damning; it will be interesting to hear a response to it, if there is one. If not, I think "politicization" can safely be considered a polite way of saying "corruption."