Ned Pepper's Outrages

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ned off to another UNDISCLOSED LOCATION!

Ned is off on Thursday for another undercover stint at an Undisclosed Location. Although it is fraught with Peril, we trust the objectives, to further Freedom and Liberty, will be well worth the risk to our Person.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Latest from the Sneering Plutocracy: Borders

Comes word from Ned's usually reliable sources that Borders Group, the bookstore chain in bankruptcy proceedings, has asked a bankruptcy judge to approve, and we are not making this up, $8.3 million in bonuses, not salary--bonuses, for a number of what the supplicants call "critical" employees. The plea says that these employees are invaluable and their loss would be a devastating blow to the company. Now, this is a group of Sneering Plutocrats who ran a company into the ground, filed for bankruptcy, and now have the unmitigated gall to demand a bonus for their efforts! Ned's entire body shudders at the gargantuan sums these people would demand if the firm was still viable, not to mention making a profit! But that is ever the way of the Sneering Plutocracy: if our firm makes money, we deserve millions in bonuses. If our firm loses money or goes bust, hey, how could it be our fault? Besides, the company can't do without us and if we don't get what we demand, why, we may leave!
Ned is reminded of the immortal question asked of Senator McCarthy in his "hearings" to weed out communists: "Have you no shame sir? Have you no shame at all?"

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Value of Empires: Iraq

Ned is advised by his local public TV station that today marks the 5th anniversary of the discovery, outside Baghdad, of the bodies of 30 beheaded corpses, the victims of sectarian killings. Now, these and thousands more like them are taken by American apologists of the Iraq invasion as 'collateral damage' in the battle for Freedom. In other words, sometimes 'democracy is messy' in the infamous words of Bush's Krieg Reichs Kommander Rumsfeld. However, no doubt the sons and daughters, wives, mothers and fathers of these murder victims might disagree. Had we not invaded that country on specious pretexts, they and thousands like them would be alive today.
And here we see a value of despotism, in this case Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Iraq is not a real country at all: its boundaries were established by a commission of imperialists after WWI. It includes peoples who have for centuries, to put it mildly, had issues with each other, over such weighty points as who should have succeeded the Prophet Mohammed in the 7th century. [However, Ned would add parenthetically, we might sneer less at such unsophisticated goings on if we were to remind ourselves with humility that cults established in the 1st century AD govern much of U.S. government policy today. But let that pass.]
The point is this: the value of the Hussein regime was that it kept people who hated each other from killing each other. That is the essence of empire. Ditto the Ottomans, and the Austro-Hungarians. Same goes for Tito's Yugoslavia, and the British Raj in India. Churchill, that old anachronism, pleaded in Parliament for his colleagues not to 'abandon' India, predicting correctly that independence would bring terrible bloodshed at Hindu killed Muslim and vice versa. Hundreds of thousands were killed and millions displaced.
So Ned advises his jingoistc friends not to be so arrogant in their use of power--in our case, sending mercenaries to bomb and kill innocent people and 'suspected terrorists.' Over the past few weeks many children have been killed in air strikes against 'suspected terrorists.'
Ned for one hates the perpetrators of these deeds and hates them further for the evil done in his name.

The Fight For Freedom Continues!

Ned can report that the proud fight for freedom for the Afghan people continued overnight when "NATO" (read, American mercenary) warplanes murdered seven civilians including at least two children in what some socialist commie America-haters might call a cowardly air strike on a "suspected" Taliban "militant." At this rate, the Fight For Freedom could be frustrated as there may be few Afghans left to free.

Friday, March 25, 2011

New Halfbright AND Contempt Citation

Prof Dr Q A Wagstaff, OBE, FRS, and the nominating committee, which prefer to remain anonymous due to threats from unsuccessful candidates, announces an unprecedented Halfbright Fellowship AND Contempt Citation to the same deserving individual. The Halfbright is for Lifetime Achievement in the category of National Blowhard and Supreme Narcissist. The award goes to former congressperson, failed House Speaker, and self-styled Republican Intellectual Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich showed his mettle by being one of the few House Speakers to be thrown out by his own caucus. But personal qualities come to bear as well. Gingrich has been by all reports a Serial Adulterer, but after his "conversion" to Catholicism now fancies himself a Spokesperson for 'Family Values.' He managed the extremely challenging task of being elected several times to a lily-white suburban Atlanta district where moderates are viewed slightly less favorably than the Antichrist.
He personally engineered the government shutdown of early 2006 which summarily pissed off thousands of DC tourists, many of them Republicans, and soured the entire country on the nitwits in the Republican Party. Given that he is apparently a serious candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, and has about as much chance as Ned of getting nominated and even less of being elected, it seems the party has not progressed much since then.
But, be that as it may. Gingrich is a superior candidate for a Halfbright, and the Committee feel he is one of its strongest Fellows to date.
The Contempt Citation is for the documented "flip flops" Gingrich has uttered on the Libyan military intervention, first in favor of it, and then when Obama obliged him, came out against it. All of these positions were documented on film and he had the temerity to deny he had ever done so, showing him to be one of the most accomplished Narcissists in politics today.
The Committee congratulates Dr Gingrich (yes, he actually has a PhD in something from someplace called Georgia State, Ned believes) for a distinguished career and for his well-deserved Contempt Citation.
UPDATE: Ned remind his friends that Gingrich has also been named to the coveted post of National Blowhard, succeeding William Bennett, and had a starring role in the Great Saga of the Dwarf Lords, chronicled by Ned previously.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ned Under Fire

Ned is being criticized by some of his friends for saying, in another forum, that someday (soon) some president is going to be held to account for the indiscriminate use of deadly force without a declaration of war. Ned hopes it is not Obama, but feels that Obama, for whom Ned worked for six months, is falling into the trap of hubris that any person with virtually unlimited power can fall prey to. Obama now has, as Bush had before him, essentially as much war-making power as Kaiser Wilhelm in 1914, and we know where that led. Furthermore, actions are within the area of critical U.S. national security interest whenever the President says it is. Nothing more is required.
We believe that the greatest perversion of the Constitution, for some reason unfathomable to us, is the ceding of war-making powers from Congress to the Executive. Even the British Prime Minister has no such power, and is answerable to parliament. Not so Obama.
To be sure, he is simply following in the footsteps of every president since Roosevelt, who, ironically, is the last President to have had a legal declaration of was issued by Congress. Since then, the U.S. has been involved in countless wars and 'police actions', resulting in the despoiling of a significant part of the earth's land and sea area, the deaths of countless creatures and hundreds of thousands of human beings, many of them innocent and many of them children.
But what we hear from this president is 'we need to address bullying in schools,' as if the deaths of innocent children, howbeit dark, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya is just 'collateral damage'
Ned is sick of it, and this president, who opposed Iraq, should know better, and eventually there must be a reckoning.
Let us keep our fingers crossed and hope against experience that this most recent adventure ends well.

Metamorphosis, but Not Kafka's

In the slow but steady metamorphosis of Barack Obama into that cockroach George Bush, progress has been made in the last few days. In Afghanistan, "NATO" helicopters (read, American) murdered two civilians, one a child, for having been too close to a vehicle they were targeting because "informants" reported that it contained a "suspected" Taliban leader. So much for guilty until convicted. In Libya, the undeclared war goes on, and a "senior White House official" says one reason for U.S. involvement is because it is in the "critical national security interests" of the U.S. One wonders if any disorderly act anywhere in the world would be outside these "critical" interests, if Obama needed to use a few hundred million dollars worth of Cruise missiles to prove his manhood, while veterans lived under bridges and cities laid off half their work force in a relentless war on what is left of the middle class.

Costa Mesa Goes Postal

The Grey Lady reports that the right-wing city of Costa Mesa, in John Birch's lair Orange County, has taken the extreme step of laying off half its city work force in an "economy" move. The city plans to "outsource" most of the work, Ned expects to illegal immigrants who will work for cash and for peanuts, whichever the city offers. The move was so drastic and unexpected that it caused one of the laid off human beings to climb to the roof of a building and jump off, but not to worry: according to city officials, all right wing Republicans, there will now be enough money to buy fertilizer for the city's parks.
One wonders if the fertilizer will pay taxes like the laid-off employees did.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shock and Awe Meets the Three R's

Mrs Ned came back from her local Starbucks with the following report. Seems she took her paper cup back to reuse it, and it provoked this response from some of the store's customers of the female persuasion. 'Oh! You brought back your cup!"
Now, this observation was made apparently in a similar tone to one that someone would use upon seeing Jesus and the Twelve Disciples, or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, come in, order grande skinny mochas, and then fall into a switchblade fight over whose turn it was to pay. Or if they were to observe a giant ape stick his paw through the front window, grunt an order, and then offer to pay for it with a Discover Card.
Americans profess to be amazed that someone would actually bring their own cup to a coffee shop, not to mention a paper one they have already used at least once, and then have the consummate daring to brave cancer, plague and dengue fever by reusing a cup.
Ned reckons they are either narcissists of the highest order, or in serious need of sensitization to some basic rules of sustainability: to reuse something is best, far better than 'recycling' which in most cases simply puts off the day when the resource will be discarded and wasted.
Ned wishes his many friends a good day.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Another modest whine about educators

As Ned was walking back from his gym encounter, he chanced to pass by the local elementary school, as was his wont, only to discover that they were on yet another "break", this time it was apparently "Spring Break." After mature reflection, Ned can find nothing so onerous about the time his young friends spend in elementary school, spent as it seems to Ned mainly in Playground and Lunch, to warrant the necessity for a week's recuperation. Ned is familiar with the plaintive whine already coming from his teacher friends; to wit, (said in a high, whiny, nasally voice) 'we have to do so much evaluation we need a week off to do it!' Ned would reply that he sees no need for constant evaluation of children, brought about it would seem largely by the very short periods the academic year is divided into. Moreover, if his teacher friends would like to enjoy the support of their associates in the community, they might press for a school year that is more like the year of the average working stiff: 50 weeks on and two off. Why should kids and teachers get the entire summer "off?" What sort of message does that send to kids about the value of education and about their responsibilities as learners?
So Ned would propose that we go to a real school year, with perhaps one month off so kids can go on vacation wit their parents. Let's get rid of this anachronistic and wasteful "spring break" and "fall break" for seven year olds for Christ's sake.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The world's greatest song?

Ned found himself musing last night on the greatest song ever written. He came up with several possibilities and will add more as his brain functions properly. First, 'In The Still Of The Night' by Cole Porter came to mind--a haunting, mystical melody with wonderful lyrics. Ned would add 'As Time Goes By' naturally, and 'September Song.'
Also, another Porter favorite, 'Begin The Beguine.' We also must mention that Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, 'Some Enchanted Evening' from South Pacific, itself inspired by James Mitchener's 'Tales of the South Pacific.' Anyone who has engaged in living intensely for a week, month or year or so, and then had to go back to humdrum life, can appreciate Mitchener's haunting tales. And, perhaps, that is what makes a great song: some sort of elusive, mystical, haunting quality, that none of Schubert's 'Lieder' can aspire to, or is Ned being too ungracious?
Update: Ned adds to his list 'Someone To Watch Over Me', 'Try To Remember' from' The Fantasticks' and 'Stardust.'

Thursday, March 17, 2011

False Energy Choices

With each new disaster, Ned has had to endure jackasses braying about the "need" to produce more and more energy, and more and more electricity, even in face of the physical impossibility of doing such over the long term. He has to bear the insulting illogic from "experts" who declaim that we "must" choose between a mix of fossil fuels combined with some substantial amount of nuclear and "renewables."
Ned is sick to death of hearing from ignoramuses bleating about the things we "need" that didn't exist twenty or forty years ago--auto air conditioning for one, and gas-powered "lawn care" devices for another. He is sick to death of watching Americans waste energy on a vast scale and then whine about how high their gas or home heating bill is. He has seen men, mostly elderly, on a daily basis, wasting water and energy on a vast scale as they run faucets continuously while shaving, then shuffle into the shower room and spend another ten or fifteen minutes in an indulgent shower, while Palestinians make do on ten to 15 gallons of water A DAY, and no electricity for hours on end.
Now that yet another nuclear plant has melted down or come too close for comfort, he wonders what it will take for sensible people to realize that we can't build our way out of this energy dilemma, and that conservation and efficiency must lead the way.
We must not fall for the false choice of coal or nuclear: one road leads to a superheated earth, rising sea levels, melted permafrost and extreme levels of atmospheric methane. The other leads to the so-far insoluble problem of nuclear "waste disposal" and inevitably more Chernobyls.
Here's what Ned feels we need:
1. An international dedication to energy efficiency starting in the most profligate country on earth, here. We must produce all new energy, aside from renewables, by saving what we now waste. This can be done easier than Ned's friends may think, but it will require mandates and not voluntary efforts. We need efficient homes. There is no longer any justification, if indeed there ever was, for huge McMansions drawing hundreds of amps of power.
2. Phasing out of coal plants over the next forty years in the U.S. and Western Europe, and as soon as practical thereafter in developing countries.
3. No new nuclear plants unless they are the truly fail-safe Canadian CANDU models.
4. Means to store electricity produced by renewables hydro, solar and wind must be installed at the greatest possible rate. We could start with battery packs, artificial geothermal systems, and compressed air or LNG plants to use electricity when it is not wanted, then recovering it for use later. Right now in the Pacific Northwest we are debating the absurd choice of shutting down wind turbines or hydro systems because we are producing too much electricity. This is a problem because we can't ship electricity very far due to transmission losses, and we have little or no storage capacity.
But it all comes down to population growth and demand in affluent countries, and population growth and demand in China and India. And the will.

Dogs and Exercise

Just about the time Ned thought it was safe to go outside, he finds that some idiot has apparently crawled out from under a dank rock and published a study that says dog owners exercise more than those who don't have a dog. So, one possible conclusion from this "study" is that if everybody had a damned dog they would all be healthier. Apart from the fact that dog crap and pee is a major source of urban pollution, that dog owners are aggressively rude and self-centered, their animals are a major source of bacterial contamination, and that dogs cost an enormous amount in food and packaging, details of the study revealed that, no, it wasn't that simple after all: that some people didn't walk their dogs, some hired dog walkers instead, or their "walk" was at an average speed of about 2 miles an hour which does little good at all.
Ned figures that, contrary to this idiotic study, people would be better off getting rid of their mangy mutts, joining a gym, and getting a life interacting with other people for a change.

Success in the fight against population growth!

A U.S. drone killed at least 38 presumed innocent persons in an attack in Waziristan, somewhere in the wilds of Pakistan, Ned's sources tell him. By most accounts, the people killed were village elders trying to mediate a clan dispute, a scene that would have been commonplace in 17th century Scotland, for example. It is possible that some of those murdered actually had sympathies for those who oppose U.S. policies of "kill first, apologize later", so no doubt the killings will be entirely justified. And now we can all turn our attention back to Obama's "war on bullying" in our schools and the latest segment of American Idol.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Nukes: the next BP-style hysterics?

Ned's friends know that he is no particular proponent of nuclear power, feeling that the cost is prohibitive without massive government subsidies, mainly in the form of the Price-Anderson Act, a 60-year-old law that limits potential liabilities for plant operators. However, he is sensing the start of the same hysterics that characterized the BP-Transocean-Halliburton-Cameron oil spill in the GOM. We hear of three nuclear plants in Japan that are near meltdown and that are being cooled with seawater, which will destroy the plants and emit some radioactivity as steam. But the nuclear plants in Japan are not situated like those in the U.S. The Japanese built theirs along the most active earthquake coast in the world, virtually daring the Plutonic Powers to do their worst, and they did. Moreover, they built ineffective seawalls to protect the plants. Finally, the generators that were to keep the cooling systems operative were placed in the basement, where they flooded and were put out of commission, so not only was it a colossal geodisaster, howbeit a predictable one, but there were colossal human miscalculations as well. Ned does not anticipate anything like that happening in the U.S. Having said that, he would favor the gradual abandoning of nukes as an energy source, as plants wore out.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Obama Crisis du Jour: Bullying

While the president fiddles with a "crisis" of bullying in our schools and over the internets, people are dying, fighting for freedom in Libya with little or no aid from America, the EU, or NATO. However, during the past few days in Afghanistan, nine children were murdered by "NATO" troops in Afghanistan, for which the American Command issued an "apology." The latest outrage has been the murder of a cousin of Hamid Karzai, the American-installed "leader" of that country, during a night raid by "NATO" troops, although in truth Karzai is little more than the Mayor of Kabul. [Ned apologizes for the complexity of the last sentence.] The Americans issued an apology for that, too.
Ned's point is this: he is rapidly losing faith in, and becoming enraged at, the Obama administration. We are spending $800 billion a year on war and death, while the Speaker of the House, Halfbright Fellow Boehner, insults our intelligence by claiming we are "broke." Our infrastructure is decaying with the odd gas pipeline exploding from time to time to break the monotony of a day without football.
Ned is taking the opportunity to announce that he is keeping his options open for 2012, and expresses again his disappointment with, and chagrin at, the behavior of the Obama crowd. He expects nothing from the knuckledragging Republicans, but hopes someone will come out of hiding to either slap some sense into Obama, or challenge him in 2012.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A modest education proposal

Ned is aware that his friends in the education field are being assaulted by the knuckledrsgger crowd, who are apparently apoplectic to see any American enjoy a middle-class salary and benefit package, always excepting members of the Sneering plutocracy and the Paris Hilton Set, to whom they are content to award the lion's share of the GDP. In reply, teachers have claimed to be worked to death by the unceasing need to grade papers, homework, and tests and write assessments of hundreds of students, asserting that a typical teacher's work load amounts to sixty or seventy hours a week. Naturally, this claim falls on hollow ears, since anyone driving by a school after three P.M. is struck by the deathly quiet of it all.
And they never mention the summers "off" for some reason, nor the spring breaks and many holidays, all of which force working parents to scurry about (Ned will never say 'scramble') to find day care.
So Ned has a modest proposal: if teachers say they work seventy hours a week grading papers, evaluating students and conferring with parents, raising money for band and the like, and report after report details the sorry state of American primary and secondary education, such that our students generally fall in the bottom half of kids in developed countries, then why do they do it? What purpose does all this "assessment" serve? Apparently none. Why do they continue to spend the hours and hours each week doing this grinding work, always assuming they do of course, to no apparent end?
Ned would like to propose that teachers be assigned a forty hour work week like most everyone else, and that the school year be extended into the summer like virtually every other country on earth. Then parents, who are also taxpayers, will feel they are getting their money's worth, teachers will not be so stressed (at least during the period Sept 1-June 1 with ample breaks in between) and our children will finally be inculcated with a culture that values learning, as they will be exposed to it the entire year.

Another NATO apology

According to today's NYT, an elderly cousin of American Stooge Afghan "President" Hamid Karzai was shot in the head and killed in a night raid by "NATO" [read American] forces. Here's a tidbit from the article, “The prime target was not actually him,” [a spokesman] said, “It was somebody else. But mistakenly he was killed, and ISAF apologized for that.”
Ned was going to make a comment but feels anything he could say would be simply anticlimactic.
Ned's friends may be surprised to learn that so far Karzai has refused to accept the "apology".

A Few Annoyances

Ned has had the usual and customary interactions with narcissists, idiots and incompetents today, and so he is ready to reprise some of his irritants du jour.

First, when did women begin to say "think you" for "thank you?" Ned rejects the idea that this is some sort of evolution of the language as we saw in the years after the publication of the Shakespeare folios, and he suspects it somehow has to do with twitter, facebook, or some juvenile pre-pubescent entertainer, although since he is unfamiliar with either of the former and indignantly refuses to take any interest in the latter, he can only express his suspicions at this juncture.

Next, while Ned considers himself a capitalist out of necessity, given that the Sneering Plutocrats and their lickspittles and rentboys among the political and financial class have structured investments so that the average grunt has to invest in stocks rather than treasuries or money market accounts, he would like to suggest to his friends that they stop mindlessly ordering a "grande" at Starbucks, and consider something smaller; to wit, a "tall" which is 12 ounces for Christ's sake, or even a "short" which is only short by comparison, amounting to "fully" 8 ounces. Ordering a 'grande' ensures that the purchaser ingests far too many calories in fat and sugar, because Ned has observed that few persons order simply a coffee. Therefore, while Ned, as a Starbucks shareholder, appreciates the revenue provided by his friends at his local shop and the thousands around the world, he encourages his friends to save some money and some calories, and order smaller sizes.

Finally, Ned has observed the usual and customary practice on the part of "landscape maintenance" employees to wait for the rainiest possible day to mow lawns and blow water and mud along sidewalks and streets using gas-powered leaf blowers. One would have thought that, in a time of $3.50 gas, these idiots would know better than to blow puddles of water around, but then he has never had much faith in the products of our institutions of secondary and higher education.

Ned hopes his many friends will proceed to have the customary nice day.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ned's Solution to the Deficit 'Crisis'

According to the Commerce Department, personal income in the U.S. was about 12.5 trillion dollars last year. Of that, about half went to the top 10%, which has seen its tax rates steadily decline since 1981. The U.S. now has the greatest income inequality in the developed world. Here's how Ned would solve the financial mess we are in.
First, we need to understand why we are in this mess. It is due to a conscious policy of lowering taxes for members of the Sneering Plutocracy and the Paris Hilton crowd, on the part of Republicans and their lickspittle rentboys among complaisant Democrats, beginning with Reagan. It got much worse under Bush II, and now the income inequality is more or less the same as in 1928. We need to fix that.
We need to go back to the tax rates that JFK put into effect in 1962. At that time, the Democrats lowered the top marginal tax rate from 90%, where it was under Eisenhower, to 70%, and that applied to any income over $200k. If we go back to that rate, and even index it for inflation, we can capture about a trillion dollars which is now held in the grasping fists of the uber-rich, and most of which is sitting in money market accounts or third, fourth and fifth homes, here and abroad. Capturing a trillion dollars would go a long way to fixing the state and local government crises, and would virtually eliminate the federal deficit. Then, we add a transaction tax onto stock and bond trades, which could get about a hundred billion more.
This wold allow us to stop fixating on the poor public employee grunt making 60 grand a year. Then, we eliminate the upper income limit on the payroll tax, which should gain another couple of hundred billion, and that wlll fix social security (which really doesn't need fixing) and go a log way towards fixing Medicare.
Then we tax sugar and high fructose corn syrup, and foods with too much salt.
All of these will go a long way towards restoring income levels to those appropriate for a free democracy, and move us away from the inequality more representative of Russia under the tsars.
If we still need to fix something, we can look at gasoline.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Contempt Citation

Ned wonders why many Americans behave like petulant, spoiled children. Is it because they are told nearly from birth that they are unique? Special? The greatest kid that ever was? Was it because they were protected from criticism as children themselves? Was it because they were given a prize for anything they did? Were they repeatedly dropped on their heads while infants? Or is it because as Americans we expect to be offered "incentives" (paid for by someone else) to do the right thing, rather than be told to do it because it is the right thing to do?
From today's Letters in the NYT comes a perfect example: a writer petulantly takes Obama to task for having the effrontery to suggest his staff get in shape and eat wisely.
Here's a quote from the letter (for best effect, read in a high, whiny, nasally voice): "I do not doubt the purity of President Obama’s motives in strongly urging members of his staff to use his trainer and to eat sensibly, [but] there is an element of coercion in this that made me really uncomfortable." Ned wonders what in a newspaper article, describing people she cannot possibly know, about events the details of which she could not possible grasp, and not involving grievous bodily injury, mental anguish or even loss of money, could make this person "uncomfortable" and why, moreover, she should be so narcissistic as to think that anyone could possibly care what she "feels" about the topic?
Moreover, no one disputes that obesity and poor eating are the cause of much disease and perhaps a third of deaths, and is the source of hundreds of billions of unnecessary health care expense. So why in the hell, except that she has been made to feel that her opinions are more important than ANYTHING else, should we be burdened with her ridiculous letter?
Not being a psychologist or sociologist, Ned cannot say. He only wishes such persons would go away and not inflict their trivial concerns on the rest of us.
So, Ned awards this Nancy person today's richly deserved Contempt Citation.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Nevada's Latest Political Scandal, and a Modest Proposal

The Las Vegas Sun is reporting that Rory Reid, son of Harry Reid the Democratic Majority Leader in the Senate, apparently knowingly set up dozens of shell Political Action Committees to circumvent campaign laws. He raised $750 grand essentially by soliciting, er, perhaps the wrong word--by asking rich Sneering Plutocrats for large donations and then making it look like he was getting small ones. Now, Ned has known for years that the political system in this country is corrupt and perhaps irreparably broken, but so far no one has come up with a solution.
Now Ned will offer his.
The ancient Athenians used to select city officials by lot, essentially like being called to jury duty. Every free male was obligated to serve if called. So Ned asks, if we have the most enlightened citizenry in the Greatest Country In The World, why not fill our offices like that? Take Nevada, for example. Instead of having to run in a corrupt and corrupting system--imagine a candidate who pulled the shenanigans Reid did being elected, then taking an oath to uphold the laws!-- all citizens above some age to be decided upon would be invited to offer their name for an office--say, Senator or Representative, or Mayor. Everybody would agree to have a background check done if they went through to the second round in a first drawing. Then a name would be drawn out of a hat, and that person, unless they had a damned good excuse, would take over that office for its term. No running for election or re-election. Ned believes it would work for President as well, except we would solicit nominations like the Nobel Prize Committee. All persons approved by a nominating committee, composed of intelligent persons, would be entered into the Drawing for the Grand Prize, which would be President of the United States, for a term of four years. No running for election or re-election. We would save tens of billions of dollars and take the corrupting influence of elections out, as much as possible.
Bill Buckley, that marble-mouthed conservative, once said that he thought that the first hundred names in the Boston phone book would make as good a president as the system gave us--think of George Bush!
Ned tends to agree.

Huckle of the Billy Hills Makes News

Ned's friends will recall that a Dwarf called Huckle of the Billy Hills took part in the as-it-turned-out anticlimactic saga of the Magic Negro. Comes word today that this same Huckle, in his new job as a Republican Disinformation Specialist, has issued a pontificating and sanctimonious statement condemning some actress's having a child without benefit of clergy. Apparently Huckle went on about it, allowing how it sends the wrong message to America's youth blah...blah...blah. Ned is waiting, probably in vain, to hear this same Huckle condemn the same act by one Bristol Palin, daughter of former Republican know-nothing, anti-intellectual, room-temperature IQ Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
And, like the refugees waiting for the flight to Lisbon from Casablanca, he waits...and waits...and waits..

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

An all-volunteer economy?

Ned has noticed something that has been creeping up on him like the proverbial thief in the night. It seems that more and more jobs in this country are being 'manned' by 'volunteers.' Ned has been long aware that there is a large contingent of geezers in his adopted home town that spend many hours a week 'volunteering' at one 'nonprofit' or another. Now comes word that more and more municipalities are trying to rely on volunteers to do the day to day tasks of running the cities that used to be done by professionals, like fire-fighting, or staffing the libraries, for example.
Mrs Ned has had many experiences of late where potential employers have told her flat out that she needs to 'volunteer' to be considered, eventually, for gainful employment, and Ned has long ruminated on the ethics, indeed, the legality of this practice, smacking as it does of involuntary servitude, which he seems to recall was frowned upon in some amendment to a major government document. But we digress.
Ned's point is this: if we try to fill more and more positions with 'volunteers', mainly retirees on 'fixed incomes' and wealthy dilettante housewives who are bored and looking for something to take them away from the Oprah Channel for a few hours a day, then who will pay the taxes to support the government services we all take for granted? Indeed, if these volunteers are taking jobs away from those who need them at one end, and many of the other jobs are being filled by desperate illegal immigrants who will work for peanuts at the other end, Ned doesn't see how this economy is going to survive. But then he is an awful cynic.

Another victory for freedom!

From today's NYT: "Nine young boys collecting firewood to heat their homes in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan were killed by gunners in NATO helicopters who mistook them for insurgents, according to a statement issued Wednesday by NATO, which apologized for the mistake."

First, Ned appreciates the nicety of the apology. He is sure the parents and relatives will be sufficiently solaced, but has heard that "NATO" which is a code for US troops, will offer them a few packets of cigarettes and chocolate bars if the apology doesn't suffice.

Second, he understands that when we are fighting for freedom, a lot of children will have to die, and, being a right-thinking American, he figures that as long as it's somebody else's children, we can be courageous enough to bear it.

The worst thing is that the article kept referring to "NATO" troops when as far as Ned could determine the troops were all Americans. Is it a way to avoid responsibility, and is the NYT complicit in this? Stay tuned.