Friday, February 29, 2008

Hmm, is someone trying to say something to someone?

The CIO's dog just took a dump on the CEO's carpet.

Yessiree, just another day at work!

-- Badtux the Employed (for now) Penguin
Note: Anything on this blog may be fictionalized for purposes of humor.

Update on Stealth Bomber crash

Flight crew reported a fire in the cockpit moments before the fly-by-wire system failed and they punched out. Note that the Stealth Bomber, like all tail-less "flying wing" aircraft, is inherently unstable and without the control system operating will crash pretty rapidly.

The Air Farce has also opened up a bit. Apparently their first "No comment" on what a Stealth Bomber was doing at Guam was just reflexive Air Force response to any question from reporters. Turns out there were four of the suckers at Guam taking turns buzzing North Korean and Chinese "fishing boats" (i.e., "on patrol") to keep the North Koreans and Chinese on notice that we had the assets to respond to an invasion of North Korea or Taiwan. The one that crashed was on its way back to Whiteman in Missouri to apparently rotate out with another one.

So now the entire fleet, all twenty of them, are grounded until they figure out what caused the fire, and six B-52 bombers have taken over the "buzz the fishing boats" patrols. Well, not officially grounded -- if someone decided to attack Taiwan or South Korea they'd fly -- but they ain't goin' nowhere otherwise. But sooner or later they'll have to fly again because those B2 pilots have to keep enough hours in seat to stay certified. Will the millitary require them to fly the B2 before the problem is found and fixed? Of course. We're talking about the Air Force, after all, which has had planes like the F-104 that were so fundamentally unsafe that 50% of the planes fell out of the sky. It'll fly again, safe or no. That's just how it works -- and how it has always worked. If you're interested in signing up for the military, remember that. If you want "safe", stay home like the bedwetters of the 101st Fighting Pansy Republican Blogger Corps.

-- Badtux the Military Penguin

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I got nothin' fer ya

It's a bright, sunshiny day. Too nice a day for bullshit. Here, have a cat. And another. Purrr....

-- Badtux the Sunning Penguin

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Coming Epidemic, Part III

20% of TB cases are antibiotic-resistant in large swathes of the world.

There is only one drug that will treat the most virulent of these antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis, and it's unclear how much longer that will be true. The death rate from this variant of TB, if untreated, is 100%. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.

As explained in earlier editions of The Coming Epidemic, antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis is just one of the diseases that occur when you do not have universal health care. Drug-resistant TB develops when TB is inadequately treated due to lack of universal health care, which is why the former Soviet Union is one of the big epidemic places right now once the Soviet medical system disintegrated in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Now, I hear you saying, "But that's not me. I have health insurance." But the thing is, antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis doesn't care that you have health insurance. It'll infect you just as readily as it'll infect some uninsured person. And if that one drug quits working, you will die, just as surely as the uninsured person.

Some folks say we can't afford universal health care for all Americans. That is short-sighted. Given the facts, I say that unless you have a death wish, universal health care ought to be right up there with food and water on your "to buy" list. Money doesn't do you a goddamned bit of good if you're dead, after all.

-- Badtux the Health Care Penguin

George W. Bush's enabler dies

I come not to praise William F. Buckley, who died today at age 82, but to lambast him. They say "speak no evil of the dead", but I wonder if that really applies to a man who has the blood of millions on his hands. Because the blood of millions it is, from the blood of millions killed in Vietnam courtesy of a crusade that William F. Buckley spearheaded, to the blood of millions killed in wars all over the world culminating in the Iraq fiasco that relied implicitly on the methods and mechanisms created by William F. Buckley.

But first, some history. After Harry S. Truman won the 1948 election in an unlikely triumph caused by his ability to communicate to ordinary people, the Republican Party was in a mess. The only way they could win the Presidency was with Dwight D. Eisenhower, a man who wasn't even registered as a Republican on the day he announced his candidacy, and that only because of the Korean War and the desire of the public to have a military man in charge of ending the war. Conservative ideas had been thoroughly repudiated by the Great Depression caused by conservative economic notions and by the post-war economic boom caused by progressive economic notions, all of which directly contradicted the notion that conservatism was the only road to economic prosperity.

It was William F. Buckley who founded the National Review and came up with the idea of the right-wing echo chamber in order to counter the draw of reality-based politics, and William F. Buckley who became its erudite and witty face. To oppose William F. Buckley was to appear to oppose intelligence. I say "appear" because in reality Buckley was pushing the vilest of vile politics. It was a generation-long propaganda effort, he knew, to discredit progressive ideas and bring back the sort of conservatism that predominated in America prior to the Presidency of FDR, the sort of conservatism that culminated in the glorious Presidency of Herbert Hoover at which point it collapsed under the weight of its own evil, but he was up to it. And so, over the course of the next forty years, William F. Buckley managed to convince the majority of Americans, through massive applications of every vile and venal propaganda technique under the sun, that elephants were pink and that conservatism was something other than a scam to loot the wealth of nations for the benefit of an unelected elite.

So go in peace, William F. Buckley. May the Great Penguin flog you forever in Hell, Arizona, where all bad penguins go upon their ultimate demise. Too bad that, as a good Tuxologist, I do not believe in the Christian conception of "Hell". But perhaps that is all for the better. Hell would be too good for a man with so much blood on his hands.

-- Badtux the Rude Penguin

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

New Penryn/Santa Rosa Macbooks!

Well color me black, white, and yellow. Here I was, thinking Apple was about to release a new Macbook Pro today but wasn't going to refresh the Macbook for a few months yet, when what do they do but bump up the Macbook to the latest Penryn/Santa Rosa platform today too?! 2.4ghz speed bump. 30% less power usage than my current Macbook. Hmm...

So the next question is, do I get the black Macbook or the white Macbook? The black Macbook comes with a 250gb hard drive but costs $200 more than the white Macbook, which you can upgrade to the 250gb hard drive for around $100. Guess I'll go with the white one then, besides, it matches my mouse and keyboard (I have the old white wireless Bluetooth keyboard and the white lozenge shaped Bluetooth Mitey Mouse).

-- Badtux the MacPenguin

Plumbing nightmare

Went to take a shower this morning and... no hot water. Bummer. Turned on the heat, no heat. Bummer again. So I called the gas company to get someone out here to see why I can't get any warm out of anything, then got ready for work and walked to the patio door to see what the weather was like outside. Strange. My patio is covered with water. I don't remember it raining last night. In fact, I *know* it didn't rain last night. So I slide the door open and... hear the sound of trickling water. I walked out to see where the water was coming from, and it was coming from a tube coming out of the side of the hot water heater closet. I opened the door and... well, water was coming out of the top of the water heater. That explains it!

Now, penguins are aquatic waterfowl but even a penguin appreciates that modern apartment buildings don't like being irrigated like this. I drove up to the office and reported the leak to the lady, and she looked alarmed and grabbed her walkie-talkie and called the maintenance guys. By the time I drove back to my apartment (which was ASAP), they were already hanging around looking at the water falling off of my patio and wondering where I was.

The good news is that they opened up the lock and turned off the water, then got the plumbers out ASAP to fix it. So now the brand-new water heater is roaring away heating up 40 gallons worth of water for my nice warm shower. Chalk one up for apartment living. As much money as I'm paying in rent to these guys, it's nice to know I get something for my money -- wasn't even a second thought on their part. There was a problem, they fixed it. Period. That's the kind of service that everybody ought to get. Alas, too many companies think "service" is what a stallion does to a mare...

-- Badtux the Service Penguin

John McCain: "I lose."

Says St. John of the Mighty Bomb (Iran), he must convince the American public that elephants are a nice shade of pink, or "I lose".

Good luck on that, St. John of the Mighty Bomb. Convincing the American public that the elephants are pink -- or that we're winning in Iraq -- is going to be a hard slog. Because all you gotta do is look at the Google newsbar in my left margin for all the latest news from Iraq, and it ain't pretty...

-- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin

Monday, February 25, 2008

The world's most... interesting... job?

Think your job is boring? Imagine the poor sod who had this job -- evaluating all the porn available to decide what's admissible and not admissible to Canada. A 24 page listing of porn, porn, nothing but porn. Oh sure, I'm sure he got a charge from the job for the first couple of days. But day after day of beaver shots (and I ain't talkin' rodents) has to get pretty darn dull after a while even if you aren't a penguin...

-- Badtux the Otherwise-Employed Penguin

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ah yes, the paradise that is Iraq...

I played around with my Blogger template a bit and added a Google newsfeed to the left sidebar. The search term is "Iraq". Ah yes, the paradise that is Iraq.... invasions, suicide bombs, the works. Whenever I hear some nitwit talking about how we're "winning" in Iraq, all I have to do is look over at the left sidebar and think, uhm, dude. Pull the other flipper, why doncha?!

There's only one way to "win" in Iraq, and that's the way we won in Germany and Japan, and the way that Russia won in Chechnya: Go in with overwhelming force, flatten the country, kill all military age men until the only fighters left are children and old men, then put 500,000 Arabic-speaking military policemen on the ground. I.e., genocide, then create a police state that would make Saddam's police state look mild-mannered. Short of that, we're just wasting time, money, and the blood of American soldiers. We can "win", dudes. Just takes a little genocide. What's a little genocide amongst friends? Other than morally abhorent and repulsive, of course. Sheesh. Dimwits who don't read their history need to get a clue. Preferably with a 2x4 upside the head.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Saturday, February 23, 2008

What was a B-2 bomber doing at Guam?

As you may have heard by now, a B-2 bomber has crashed upon takeoff in Guam. The question unanswered by the USAF in all this is: What's a B-2 doing in Guam? To quote a British newspaper: " The US military would not comment on the purpose of the plane’s doomed flight."

First, a little bit of information. There are three (3) airfields in the entire world that have the ability to properly house the B-2 bomber. Those are Whiteman AFB in Missouri, Guam, and Diego Garcia. That's it. The coatings on the B-2 bomber that give it its "stealth" capabilities require maintenance after every flight, and requires that the B-2 be housed in a climate-controlled hangar between flights, and those are the only three airfields in the entire world with these facilities.

Another piece of the puzzle is the B-2 bomber's shuttle range. This is the range that the B-2 can go one-way, without aerial refuelling, while unloaded. To get to Diego Garcia from Missouri while unloaded, the B-2 requires a stop at Guam.

The final piece of the puzzle is that the aircraft crashed upon takeoff. This means one of three things: Either the aircraft was taking off on a training mission (unlikely, those are typically flown out of Missouri because of the much lesser expense), or it was on its way to Diego Garcia, or it was on its way back to Missouri.

So where does that leave us? It seems unlikely that the USAF would stonewall if the aircraft was taking off on a routine training mission or was on its way back to Missouri. Which means that, most likely, the aircraft was on its way to Diego Garcia for some purpose. But while there is a target for the B2 if it's based at Guam (that's where we maintain our capability to bomb North Korea if North Korea decides to invade South Korea for some insane reason), there is no target for the B2 within flight range of Diego Garcia. Except, well... Iran.

Which surprises us... how? Dear Leader is eager to saddle his successor with an unwinnable war in Iran to go with the unwinnable occupation of Iraq. Keep your eyes open, folks. Is Dear Leader preparing air strikes against Iran? If not, then the USAF is acting very strangely indeed...

-- Badtux the War Penguin

Friday, February 22, 2008

Mencken glares

Mencken isn't happy about the blinking lights. Sadly, to register his discontent he broke up the kitty pile there on my dresser (okay, I found my television while cleaning out the closet, but I *still* haven't turned it on in over two years...).

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin (yes, busy cleaning out the closet, thus the junk on the dresser).

Why I love living in the SF Bay area

This is a result of going to my Korean grocer -- tons of spicy pickled veggies (kimchi). The colors aren't *really* that garish, for some reason my camera isn't doing color correction correctly :-(. Anyhow, this sure beats a typical salad as far as taste goes, at least if you like spicy foods!

And if I want to eat genuine Indian food, I can go to the Indian grocer. If I want to eat genuine Middle Eastern food, I can go to the halal grocer. Etc. Folks who live only where there's just people exactly like themselves don't know just how boring their food really is...

-- Badtux the Well-spiced Penguin

What's a li'l lynching amongst friends?

Apparently, if you're Bill O'Reilly, lynching a black woman is no big deal. Then of course there's the non-apology apology that is a Bill O'Reilly trademark.

And let's not forget the sheer mendacity of his original statement: that a black woman would have no reason to believe that America in the past wasn't perfect and has come a long ways since. Bill Orally knows better. Shit, he lived through the race riots in Boston where the Irish population went on a rampage against blacks after court-ordered desegregation. That wasn't the 1800's. That was fuckin' 1977, for cryin' out loud, when Bill Orally was a grown man (well, as grown as he'll ever be, anyhow). He sure as hell knows from first-hand experience that things back then weren't good for blacks for a long, long time in most of America. Duluth, Minnesota. That's where the picture in the top right is from. Not someplace in the deep, deep south. We're talking about typical America, anywhere in America for centuries, where a black man could get lynched for just about anything. Bill O'Reilly knows this. He's not a stupid man. He knows things for black people are a lot better now, that outright blatant racism as vs. subtle racism is now so unpopular that the notion of a black man as President isn't sending half the white population into heart arrest, and that this is something to be proud of on America's behalf. Bill knows this truth that Michelle Obama stated. When he says otherwise, he's just flat-out lyin'.

Now, there's some folks who say we just ought to ignore racist hacks like Bill O'Reilly. Well, I got an answer for that notion. Seems to me I recall some other feller who had similar racist ideas. But folks in his nation were just too polite to laugh and point and make fun of him and his dumb ideas. So anyhow, this feller, he was a short feller with dark hair and a funny mustache, he got power and did what he'd been promising to do, which was kill a lot of racial minorities. Yeah, ignoring Adolph Hitler sure did work wonders, didn't it? Point is, ignoring might be a viable solution if we're dealing with a naughty five year old throwing a tantrum in a grocery store. But when we're dealing with evil, ignoring is never right. And racism -- looking at folks by any criteria other than the content of their character -- is one of those evils that should never be ignored, because that picture up above tells you what happens in the end when we do ignore that kinda evil. Those poor kids got hanged and burned and it turned out they hadn't even done nothin', except be black in a mostly-white town. That's where evil ends up, always, and why evil can never be simply ignored. Even laughing and pointing and making fun of it at least is something, but you ignore evil, and folks forget how to tell good from evil. And we all know where that ends up.

-- Badtux the Multi-Colored Penguin

Hat tip to the Raw Dawg Buffalo

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

And now, for the local news...

Ah yes, Shallow Alto (the city others know as "Palo Alto"). The city that defeated a skateboard park because it was too "crass", has no soccer fields for its kids, but is about to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a "reflecting pool" for its old folks. A cesspool of unwarranted self-entitlement, and no place reflects that more than Palo Alto's local university, Stanford University, founded by a railroad baron who made his millions by ripping off farmers and ranchers and sending the Pinkertons to tear up the rolling stock and ripping up the rails of potential competitors in order to educate the children of the elite. Harvard wouldn't take his kids because railroad money was too "crass". So he made his own Harvard Of The West just to spite them.

Now, locally we have a bit of a water shortage caused by a judge getting pissed at the State of California for basically refusing to fix a problem with one of the water projects for ten years. Finally he said "Fine, you can't operate that water project anymore since you obviously have no intention to fix it." So Stanford decided to conserve water by putting low-flow shower heads in the dorms. Big mistake. BIG mistake. Because water conservation is for the "little people". Not for the sons and daughters of the elite who attend Stanford. So now Stanford has put the old high-flow shower heads back. Because, after all, conservation is for the little people. Not for our elites.

In other news, 60% of housing for under $400K is bank-owned repo's. Seems that banks and rich people are the only people who can afford to sell houses nowdays in these times of falling values. I looked at a townhouse around the corner from me. It sold for $650K a year ago. It's currently on the market again -- reposessed by the bank, selling for $550K. Hmm, wait a couple of years and I might be able to pick it up for $350K, which is what it sold for in 2001 before the bubble got wild, whatcha think?

In other news, The Mighty Fang is shamelessly spoiled. His new hobby is, whenever I go to the restroom, to follow me in and jump up on the vanity and stick his paws down in the basin and look at the faucet with a sideways longing look. At that point I open the tap a little bit to get a little stream of water going, and he proceeds to lick water from the falling stream until his thirst is sated. Next thing you know, he's going to require me to carry a little spoon of food from his bowl to his mouth in order for him to eat. Well, no. I draw a line there. I may hand-water my cat, but hand-feed him? Never!

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Okay, I lied

Outrageous censorship of a U.S. site by a Bush appointee on behalf of money launderers in the Caymen Islands. To quote them: "In order to deal with Chinese censorship, Wikileaks has many backup sites such as (Belgium) and (Germany) which remain active. Wikileaks never expected to be using the alternative servers to deal with censorship attacks, from, of all places, the United States."

So it goes, in Soviet America...

-- Badtux the Unsurprised Penguin

Today's events

Humorous Pictures
Not feeling like posting anything at the moment. Go enjoy the LOLcats instead.

-- Badtux the "Meh!" Penguin

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Okay, this is just dumb

World Nut Daily sees the problem of fainting participants at Obama rallies and sees a cult. Now, I've already pointed out the problem of Obamabots who pretty much do act like cult followers, but as World Nut Daily themselves point out, people fainted at Kerry rallies too. Somehow I doubt that this was from getting over-excited, given the fact that the only people Kerry got over-excited were the makers of anti-narcolepsy drugs. I suspect standing around in the sun for four hours without food or water might have something to do with it...

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The penguin changes his mind

As noted earlier, this penguin endorsed Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama after comparing their two health care plans and finding Obama's to be... well... mendacious. Oh fuckit. He's lying when he says his health care plan will actually work.

Thing is, something has become very apparent these past two weeks, which is that, as a politician, Hillary, well... uhm... sucks. That's the best way to put it. She just isn't good at this politics stuff, unlike her husband. Meanwhile, Obama is proving that he has the same sort of slickness that Ronald Reagan had. Reagan knew what he wanted his audience to think and feel, and was a trained actor so he could get up there in front of an audience and make it happen. That talent got him all the way to the White House and kept him there. Obama may not be a trained actor, but he has that same slickness to him, that same ability to get an audience to think and feel what he wants them to think and feel.

Now, this might seem like I'm putting Obama down, but Bill Clinton had much the same talent too. It just seems to be mandatory to be more than a one-term President nowdays -- you gotta have some slick to you. While I think Hillary could probably get elected if she got the nomination due to the Republican meltdown of the past few years, my suspicion is that, like Jimmy Carter or George H.W. Bush (both of whom are thoughtful deliberate people with no slick to them at all), she would end up a one-term President. And we need a helluva lot more than four years to clean up this mess the Busheviks have left.

So I'm going to have to change my mind here. I still think that Obama is a slick liar. But thing is, he is simply executing, and has been executing since he started his campaign, while Hillary is flailing. And I've been reading Andrew Sullivan's "blog" (I don't consider it a blog if it doesn't have comments), and he's been pointing out some real cases where Obama has substance under that slick. Now, I hate to admit that I've been swayed by Sully the Silly, who was wrong about everything in the leadup to the Iraq war while I was right, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day... well, actually, Sully has been right about a lot of things recently. Maybe he's getting smarter in old age, hmm...

-- Badtux the Waffling Penguin

The party of perverts

Another Republican pervert uncovered. This one was a member of the Maryland legislature, and was caught with kiddy porn.

Republican perverts. The gift that keeps on giving.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Friday, February 15, 2008

Netflix update

Got some absolutely terrible anime in the mail today. After watching the first episode, which was terrible, I decided not to waste any further time on it. It goes back tomorrow, meaning next Tuesday I should get Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which I haven't seen in twenty years. Nie! Fetch me a shrubbery!

My queue is up to 37 now...

-- Badtux the Movie-watchin' Penguin

It's NIU every day in Iraq

Okay, so horrible things happened at NIU. So many that Google News reports 4,522 stories on it this morning. Thing is, every day in Iraq is an NIU. Far more than nine young people die in Iraq every day in Iraq from the ongoing violence there -- violence either perpetrated with your tax money and mine, or violence that would not be happening if your tax money and mine had not been used to invade the place. Google News reports that there are exactly... uhm... 31 stories total about yesterday's atrocities in Iraq.

But of course, those Iraqis are just darkies. Sand niggers. Arabs. It's not like they were real people, God's chosen people, white people. So that's why the death of each of these young people in Iraq is not news-worthy complete with their names and photos and a bit of life story, while the death of many fewer young people in the United States *is* news-worthy. Our society has no problem with violence, as long as it's violence happening to those people, who, like, aren't like us. There's no racism in America, nosirre. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Disgusted Penguin

Take that bright flashing light and...

"... and shove it up your cloaca, you stupid feathered flightless waterfowl."

I don't think The Mighty Fang is too happy here...

-- Badtux the Cat-torturing Penguin

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The difference between a Ronbot "libertarian" and a real libertarian

A Ronbot, if you challenge his beliefs on his blog, will ban you. A real libertarian, on the other hand, will engage you in discourse. Ronbots (psuedo-libertarians who are part of a cult of personality) either don't have a comments section at all on their blog, or have their comments section moderated so that they can delete dissenting views before they appear on their blog. A real libertarian, on the other hand, has an open unmoderated comments policy because he always welcomes alternate views, even ones that he does not agree with.

There is a reason why my comments are unmoderated. I have very occasionally needed to remove a comment because it engaged in a personal attack rather than addressing the issue at hand, but I have never, ever, deleted a comment because the poster of that comment expressed an opinion that I didn't agree with. But right-wing zealots have no such tolerance for dissenting views. If you do not agree with their opinions, you are a "left wing idiot" regardless of your actual political beliefs. Rather than address your points, they will ban you.

That, in the end, is the difference between intelligent people and people with delusions of intelligence. Intelligent people like hearing dissenting views, and do not censor or ban folks with dissenting views. People with delusions of intelligence... not so much.

-- Badtux the Libertarian Penguin

Those people are violent, you know

There's this race of people that is really violent. Like, they have this habit of exploding bombs outside of crowded nurseries(1), and going into places packed with people and shooting the place up(2), and sneaking up behind people at night and killing them in horrible and vicious ways(3), and things like that. These people have no respect for life. They are clear supporters of terrorism who enjoy doing things like blowing up restaurants(4) and water treatment plants(5) and the occasional Chinese embassy(6), and they're well known world-wide for their violence and viciousness(7).

The question is, what do we do about those people? I'm wondering if Michelle Malkin maybe had a good point about the necessity of internment. After all, those people are just cockroaches. Scum. You can't reason with them or treat them like human beings, because all that those people understand is violence. People who say we should treat those people as if they were normal human beings rather than as if they were animals are deluding themselves and are dangerous because they keep us normal sane people from dealing with those people the way they need to be dealt with.

The only question is, how do we handle the logistics of interning all these white people?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

  1. Birmingham church bombing, Oklahoma City bombing, ...
  2. Columbine, Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University, ...
  3. Jeffery Dahmer, Gary Gilmore, Charles Manson, ...
  4. Baghdad restaurant bombed by U.S. jets, dead women and children pulled from the rubble.
  5. Deliberate targeting of Iraq's water treatment plants in 1991 by U.S. bombs. The U.S. Air Force repeated this strategy of bombing civilian water treatment plants in Serbia in the spring of 1999.
  6. Oops! Sorry about that, China! You didn't really want that embassy anyhow, did you?
  7. Pew surveys of world public opinion.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

MRE Menu 7: Chicken with Salsa

This one was good! For best results, heat up the chicken with salsa and pour over the spanish rice. Top with the jalapeno cheese spread, mix well, eat with crackers. Needs a bit of hot sauce, but that comes in the accessory packet. All in all, I enjoyed this MRE and enjoyed the deserts too (peanut M&M's, and shortbread cookies). If you can find some whitebread dude who enjoys the meatloaf (which has the consistency and taste of cat food), trade'em your meatloaf for this delicious bundle of joy.

-- Badtux the Culinary Penguin


Got my first Netflix disks today. Had fun figuring out how to get those freakin' envelopes open, and, when done, put them back in and prepare for mailing back. It makes me wonder what people who are less mechanically minded than me would do when confronted with these envelopes for the first time.

Anyhow, the first movie I watched, Donnie Darko, was... well... dark. So far, so good. The next one is a dramedy (The Big Lebowski). I'll probably watch it on Friday night if I don't go out somewhere. In the meantime Donnie is going back in the mail so my next disk can come, it's a movie that could stand watching again several times (I'm not sure even the director knows what is supposed to be going on), but I don't have that kind of time and I got plenty from it on first viewing.

Oh, my current queue has 17 disks in it and there's three more in the "saved" list waiting either for Netflix to buy it or for it to be released on DVD. So at least for now, it appears I'll have no trouble getting my money's worth out of Netflix :-).

-- Badtux the over-entertained Penguin

On Bushbots, Obamabots, and Ronbots

Y'know, there's something that Ron Paul, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama supporters all have in common. And that something is that they're fuckin' annoying as hell.

Now, there's lots of things that are annoying in life. Taxes, for example. Taxes are annoying. The long checkout lines at Safeway at 10:30pm as all of us geeks who don't have a life take our frozen pizzas and milk and fish sticks to the front all at the same time and utterly overwhelm that single clerk on duty to the point where it takes us another 30 minutes to get out of the store, now that is annoying. But Bushbots, Obamabots, and Ronbots take annoying to a different level, because they are immune to reason. They will worship their Dear Leader to their dying day because, well, because he's, like, the bestest and all that, and react to their cult leader's every nattering with Pavlovian drooling and glassy eyes. And woe to he who dare say that their cult leader has feet of clay, they will deny, deny, deny, then invent lies out of thin air to justify it. Any criticisms you have of their leader's policies become personal attacks upon their Dear Leader to be denied with all their heart and soul, regardless of how illogical the defense may be.

Now, it looks like Obama might be about to wrap things up, based on what the latest elections are saying. Now I'm no Obama "hater", compared to John McCain Obama is, like, 1,000 percent better, but that still doesn't change the fact that Obama's health care plan sucks rocks. He deliberately crippled it in a way that makes it unworkable in order to be able to attack Edwards and Hillary for having a plan for universal health care that would actually be, well, universal. He's being dishonest there, and worst yet, he *knows* he is being dishonest, because he has the exact same health care economist advising his campaign who also advised Edwards and Hillary who told him that his health plan couldn't work, would result in a health funding death spiral and lots of dead people if passed as-is. He didn't care. Any lie is okay if it'll get him votes, apparently.

I'll vote for the man because he's intelligent and competent (unlike the incumbent) and because he's actually sane (unlike John McCain), but I'll vote for him knowing he's just another sleazy politician, another slick con man out of the same mold that produced Ronald Reagan. Really, I don't see why people worship him. He's a politician. He's a successful politician, meaning he's a damned good liar, because people won't vote for someone who tells them the truth. Given the current state of politics in America that doesn't mean he'd be a bad President, but it doesn't make him anything other than a lying politician either -- and frankly, I don't worship liars, no matter how necessary the lies may be in order to get a politician elected these days. But the Obamabots with their cult of personality don't seem to have any such scruples, similar to the Bushbots and the Ronbots. Sigh. If only passing Logic 101 was a requirement for graduating American high schools... yeah right, as if our ruling oligarchs would want a population capable of actually, like, thinking. Snort. Pull the other flipper, why doncha?!

-- Badtux the non-Bot Penguin

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Let's hold a show trial!

Polls are looking bad? Your presidential legacy looks like it's gonna be more Herbert Hoover than FDR? Pesky Islamawhatchamacallits sending American boys and gals home in a box, making you look bad? Never fear, Dear Leader has a cure for what ails him -- let's hold a show trial!. That way we can use all that "evidence" that we tortured out of people, like the evidence that there was a 20th hijacker on 9/11/2001 by the name of Ramzi Binalshibh. Or was his name Mohamed al-Kahtani? No no, we tortured conclusive evidence out of these guys that the 20th hijacker was to be Zacarias Moussaoui. Unless it was Saeed al-Ghamdi (not to be confused with the successful hijacker of the same name), Tawfiq bin Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, Mushabib al-Hamlan, Zakariyah Essabar, Saeed Ahmad al-Zahrani, Ali Abd al-Rahman al-Faqasi al-Ghamdi, Saeed al-Baluchi, Qutaybah al-Najdi, Zuhair al-Thubaiti, or Saud al-Rashi, all of whom our successful torture has extracted reliable evidence were the "20th hijacker". Man, that would have been a crowded cockpit on Flight 93, eh?!

Now, some might complain that this whole affair appears like a Kafka short story as written by the Marx Brothers, but I assure you, this will be a dignified affair, and completely fair. There will be no problems with military commanders ordering their subordinates to find these men guilty, nosiree! As for that whole "trial by jury" thingy, oh come on, that was just so pre-9/11. 9/11 changed everything. Including, apparently, the Constitution, doncha know?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
Hat tip to Brian at Why Now

Cat status

They are healthy and their weight is stable. TMF weighed in at 15.3 pounds, Mencken weighed in at 12.8 pounds -- good weights for both cats (that's about 3 pounds lighter than TMF was at his fattest, and Mencken has trouble keeping food down so that's a really good weight for him, about a pound heavier than last year).

Other than the requisite howling in the car, they were good kitties, who let the vet poke and prod them without a problem even when he was sticking needles in them. They didn't shred a thing, not a feather was mussed, though fur certainly was flying in the air as I petted them to keep them calm (they shed like crazy when stressed!).

Now, maybe by tonight they'll actually let me come near them again...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Monday, February 11, 2008

For all you Obama fans out there

Since Obama has apparently decided that, like, Ronald Reagan is his bestest friend and buddy and all... enjoy.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

How we ration health care in America

In civilized countries, health care is rationed according to need. If you need, say, a knee replacement, you'll probably wait around for seven or eight months before it gets done, but because this is not a life-threatening disease that's just how it goes. If you have a life-threatening illness, on the other hand, you immediately jump to the front of the queue.

In the United States, health care is rationed according to your family income and insurance status. If you need, say, a knee replacement, and you have money and insurance, you immediately jump to the front of the queue. If you need a heart-lung replacement due to chemotherapy killing your lungs, well, you'll get the first one but then your insurance will be dropped and you will be sent home to die.

That is how it is here in America. We allow people to die, so that people not in danger of dying but with lots of money can jump to the front of the line. We ration health care, just like all nations. But the way we ration health care is so heartless, so brutal, that no civilized person could support it.

But then, the number of civilized people in America has never been particularly large...

-- Badtux the big-hearted Penguin

Another Republican pervert sighting

Spokesperson for Florida Department of Children and Families arrested for child pornography -- for photographing two boys having sex.

The party symbol of the Florida Republican Party ought to be the closet.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Passion of the Penguin

My cats have an appointment with the vet in the morning. Thus I am not feeding them tonight, so that they don't puke all over themselves in the car tomorrow.

If you don't hear from me tomorrow, check the news for the mysterious case of the apartment full of penguin feathers and two very satiated cats... that's assuming that I can get to sleep at all with the cats howling for food all night, of course!

-- Badtux the Sleepless Penguin

A pillow for dreams

listening to the whispers in the dark
Softly cajoling, softly saying, "Come."
To leave this lonely land
of strange people sliding by
to return to the womb of comfort and peace
where the frogs croak loudly in the night
and the birds call brilliantly and light

Pulling with tentacles slithery and tight
Where family is and friends of childhood
and temperatures are warm and dreams are small
their edges dulled by weed and alcohol
a pillow for dreams to be smothered in the night
there in the bottomlands where the dreams have died.

Are dreams too big a price?
The stars are dulled by the bright streetlights
and the damp fog rolls in off the bay
as if to soften the edges of the harsh city lines
where a lonely heart wonders if it is worth the price
as the bottomlands call for dreams to drown.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Right wing vs. reality

Right wing talking point: "We liberated Iraq's women."

Reality: the invasion of Iraq has resulted in horrible crimes against women by Islamists freed from Saddam's secular rule.

This is a case of the cure being worse than the disease. As I predicted in 2002 and 2003.

-- Badtux the not-happy-to-be-right Penguin

We are not amused

The house royalty is not amused. A study in black and white.

-- Badtux the Royalty-owned Penguin

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Why Obama's plan won't work

I already mentioned economist Paul Krugman's statement that Obama's plan leaves 15 million Americans lacking affordable health care. The thing is, I think Krugman is wrong. Krugman is too optimistic. My analysis is that Obama's plan leaves most Americans uninsured in the end. And here is why:

Obama's plan relies on people voluntarily purchasing health insurance or signing up for public health programs in order to receive health care. Obama combines this with a couple of interesting twists. First is a mandate that health insurers must accept all comers, regardless of how well or how sick they are. Second is that insurers must cover pre-existing conditions. The final mandate in Obama's plan is a mandate that health insurers are not allowed to drop people from their rolls at renewal time.

Okay, so here's a question: with a mandate like these, why would anybody voluntarily sign up for health insurance *before* they got sick? I mean, health insurance is expensive, right? So then the healthcare death spiral that I mentioned back in September 2007 kicks in. As healthy people opt out of paying for health care, that means the remaining people end up paying more, which causes more people to drop out, which causes health insurance to become more expensive, and then yet more people drop out. The end result is that only sick people end up paying for health care -- which is not a viable option, because the small percentage of sick people simply cannot pay for current levels of health care. 15% of the nation's GDP is tied up in health care today, and sick people do not generate 15% of the nation's GDP. There just ain't no "there" there.

In short, without a mandate that healthy people subsidize the care of sick people, there is no universal health care, just a lot of dead sick people. The health insurance industry is already in a death spiral, just a slow one because currently they can kick the sickest people off of their rolls. Now, Obama adds a slick little move to his health care plan -- a "reinsurer pool" funded by the government that takes the sickest of the sick off of the health insurance company's rolls -- but I'm not sure that this would end the death spiral that otherwise results from mandating that insurers accept all comers, but not mandating that everybody buy insurance. When I work the numbers, Obama's plan simply doesn't work -- the health insurance death spiral gets even worse.

My point, the point I've been making all along, is that unless *everybody* is required to participate either via buying private insurance or participating in a public program (and remember, at least 5 million of the uninsured *CURRENTLY QUALIFY FOR PUBLIC INSURANCE PROGRAMS*, they've just never gotten around to signing up), we end up with a system where only sick people pay -- and, in the end, with a lot of dead people. Without mandates, we end up with dead people. Krugman is an optimist. I'm not. Krugman sees 15 million uninsured. I see a whole lot more, if Obama's plan were passed as-is -- which, of course, it will not be, since as a plan this would have such horrific effects that when the CBO works the numbers the entire Congress would flinch in horror and send it to the shredder.

- Badtux the Economics Penguin

And a clown goes home...

Mittens says, hasta la vista, baybee. Mittens The Clown goes home.

-- Badtux the Clown Penguin

Obama is destroying chances for universal healthcare

Please read this very important article by economist Paul Krugman. He reiterates what I've repeatedly said -- unless a) everybody is covered, and b) everybody pays, you simply do not have universal health care. And Obama's plan only covers half of those who are currently uninsured, at the same cost as Hillary's plan. Without the universal mandate that everybody pays for health care costs, that's the best you can do -- and that's not just Krugman saying so. That's every reputable (yes, reputable) economist who has actually worked the numbers.

In other words, as Krugman states:

You see, the Obama campaign has demonized the idea of mandates — most recently in a scare-tactics mailer sent to voters that bears a striking resemblance to the “Harry and Louise” ads run by the insurance lobby in 1993, ads that helped undermine our last chance at getting universal health care.

If Mr. Obama gets to the White House and tries to achieve universal coverage, he’ll find that it can’t be done without mandates — but if he tries to institute mandates, the enemies of reform will use his own words against him.

If you combine the economic analysis with these political realities, here’s what I think it says: If Mrs. Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, there is some chance — nobody knows how big — that we’ll get universal health care in the next administration. If Mr. Obama gets the nomination, it just won’t happen.

I am sure I will now get an infestation of Obamabots telling me that Krugman is wrong because, well, because their Beatific Leader tells them that Krugman is wrong (sigh, what's the difference between an Obamabot and a Bushbot? The color of the skin of the person they worship, basically -- neither appears amenable to reason nor facts) via dishonest flyers to supporters. But facts are facts. Wishful thinking is not a plan, and lofty rhetoric doesn't provide health care for people. While Clinton's plan is not the plan I would devise (as Krugman explains, a universal single-payer system is the most cost-effective system), it still does cover everybody. That, unfortunately, is not the case with Obama's plan.

-- Badtux the Health Care Penguin

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Blogroll Amnesty Day

Now, Skippy over at the Big 'Roo has what he calls Blogroll Amnesty Day. So I went off and checked my inbound links and discovered that several blogs who linked to me didn't have return links. In one case this was deliberate -- it was a blog about a subject I didn't care anything about (specifically, Hollywood gossip, bleh). But for the most part, it's just that I've been a negligent penguin.

So anyhow, if you are linking to me and I don't seem to be linking to you, just drop a reply to this post and I'll either remedy that, or not (heh!). Note that if you're linking to me from the "Buy Vi agra Here" blog, I will just hit the little 'trashcan' icon and delete your reply, heh, but other than that I'll try to get to it ASAP.

In the meantime, take a look at the new blogs I've added to my left margin this week -- Job's Anger, Barefoot Bum, Blue Girl, and several others that I can't recall at the moment because Blogrolling has decided to die this very minute. Thanks!

-- Badtux the Bloggin' Penguin

And a clown won...

So Super Duper Tuesday is over, the votes are counted, and... a clown won. I'm not sure whether it was Bozo, Binky, Krusty, Homey, or Clarabell, though. For some reason clowns all look the same to me...

-- Badtux the Clowned Penguin

Graphic blatantly stolen from The Guys from Area 51

"Fighting for our freedom"

That phrase just ticks me off whenever used as a knee-jerk excuse for militarism. Look, our Marines and GI's in Iraq aren't "fighting for our freedom". They're fighting for oil, at least indirectly (does anybody think our military would be in Iraq if Iraq didn't have oil? Yeah right, they'd be as much in Iraq as they are in Sudan, i.e., no effin' way!). In fact, the U.S. military hasn't done diddly for "our freedom" since 1945.

Since 1945, the U.S. military has stood around in Germany for Europe's freedom. They've fought in South Korea for South Korea's freedom. They've fought in South Vietnam for South Vietnamese plantation owners' freedom (not for the freedom of the peasants in the countryside ruled by the South Vietnamese dictatorship, of course, they were just peasants and don't count), they've fought in Afghanistan for the warlords' freedom to grow heroin poppies, they've fought in Iraq for oil for Halliburton's freedom to pump some Iraqi tea, they've intervened in Latin American countries at least half a dozen times to fight for United Fruit's freedom to exploit Latino workers, but my freedom? Puh-LEEZE. There is not any nation, any entity, anywhere in the world that threatens my freedom -- well, except the U.S. government and its vast police-state mechanisms of violence including said military, that is.

So here's my promise to you: The next time someone tells me I must support Dear Leader's policies because our soldiers are "fighting for our freedom", I will flog them with limp herring while telling them "no, our soldiers are fighting for Halliburton's freedom -- their freedom to extract Iraqi oil from Iraq and American greenbacks from our pockets, that is." Not that it will work, any Bushbot still extant is too stupid to understand, but it certainly will be satisfying even if a waste of good herring. In the meantime, a good Navy capable of keeping enemy fleets well away from our shores is all we need to defend our "freedom". Anything more than that is a threat to my freedom, not a defense of it, because the U.S. simply does not have any enemies capable of reaching across two big oceans and destroying us, and hasn't since 1945 (even the Soviet Union wasn't capable of doing so except with ICBM's, and we didn't need a big army to counter that -- just lots of ICBM's of our own).

-- Badtux the Herring-lovin' Penguin

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The root problem of the world's problems

There is no such thing as a "Jew". Or a "Palestinian". Or a "Muslim". Or an "American". Or an "Iraqi". That's all just a buncha fuckin' bullshit to divide and conquer us. We're all HUMAN BEINGS (except for those of us who are penguins, naturally).

If you believe in some invisible sky demon who blows up cities, turns people into salt and calls for you to occupy some goddamn sandpit in the desert somewhere, fine. If you believe in some invisible sky demon that says women are not allowed to drive cars or hold jobs outside the home, again, that's your mental illness, not mine, and you're entitled to it as long as it remains your mental illness and you don't try to impose it on someone else. If you believe that some scrap of cloth with red and white and blue stripes on it makes you better than people who have some scrap of cloth with red and green and white stripes on it (what, because blue is a better color than green?), fine. But it's all just bullshit, psychotic rantings of a jumped-up monkey with delusions of grandeur. Don't expect me to give a shit about your monkey delusions. People are people, regardless of whatever bullshit you use to say that some people are different from others and should be treated different from others.

In other words, I'm not interested in your delusions. Take it up with your psychiatrist. Reality is people doing their best to make it through every day. Reality is work, and play, and children, and eating, and making love with a fellow member of humanity, and sleeping, and... well, real shit. Real life. All the rest... just a buncha bullshit delusions.

- Badtux the Humanist Penguin

Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Bowl congratulations

Left: Spandex-clad Eli Manning gropes another man's balls.

I understand that a buncha fat men wearing spandex (how... gay) huffed and puffed and cursed and yelled and played a children's game on an overglorified indoor cow pasture in Arizona yesterday. And one group of those fat men won out over the other group of fat men. To all involved, my congratulations. Your rulers salute you for distracting the sheeple from this nation's real problems. After all, why should we hear about body bags and deaths and how many, and all that. It's not relevant. So why should we waste our beautiful minds on something like that? Better to just think about a buncha fat men in spandex, yessir howdy!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Reason #12342354 for universal healthcare

Let Them Eat Cake Let Them Go To The Emergency Room
People do not take kindly to being told that, if they have no food, they should just die quietly without bothering their betters. Similarly, people do not take kindly to being told that, if they have no health care, they should just die quietly without bothering their betters. And as someone whose income decidedly qualifies him for the "betters" category, and who values his neck... well, you see where I'm coming from. Marie Antoinette didn't. George W. Bush and John McCain don't. But, unlike them, I study history. Those who are ignorant of history are condemned to... be ignorant. Sigh.

-- Badtux the Historical Analogy Penguin

Health care funding and mandates

One of the secrets to why Medicare is successful at providing medical coverage for all elderly Americans is that it is *mandatory*. If you are employed you pay into the Medicare fund, period. If you are receiving Social Security you must apply for Medicare at the same time and pay into the Medicare fund. Period. You can't opt out and say "oh I can't afford it." You can't say "I'm going to not join Medicare until I get sick, and only then start paying into it." You pay into Medicare, period. It's the only way to insure that there's not a two-tiered medical system for old people -- one for those with lots of money, and one for those without. That's the law -- for Medicare-covered procedures, doctors who accept Medicare must accept Medicare for the full cost of those procedures, regardless of what other private insurance the patient has or whether the patient is rich enough to pay extra. That's the only way to make sure that, rich or poor, everybody on Medicare gets the same treatment, rather than poorer people being shuffled off to second-class-citizen status and warehoused in dingy dirty "Medicare hospitals" while richer people get better healthcare coverage.

The unpleasant secret of universal health care is that if everybody doesn't pay, then it's not universal. You end up with poor people in crowded dirty publically-funded hospitals, and wealthier people in clean elite private hospitals. Take Costa Rica as an example. The single payer system is woefully overloaded because richer people buy private insurance instead of participating in the public system. The result is that they have clean hospitals for wealthier people, and poorer people get typical charity hospital type care, overloaded, dingy, dangerous. This is why most Canadian provinces outlaw private health insurance -- they've seen what happens when you have two medical systems, one for those covered by private insurance and one that is publically funded, and it ain't pretty.

Hillary's plan has been criticized because it mandates that everybody pay into the healthcare system, either via purchasing private insurance or by participating in a Medicare-lite public insurance pool, and, as with Medicare, will take it out of everybody's paycheck for those who do not pay into the healthcare fund voluntarily. "But I'm a millionaire and self-insure!" cries the wealthy millionaire. Tough. If you want the benefits of a modern society provided by a healthy population that is capable of being productive, you have to pay for those benefits. You can't be a freeloader who accepts the benefits of having a healthy workforce, but isn't willing to pay for them. "Don't tax me, don't tax you, tax that guy behind the tree" is not a viable option.

This is reality, people. There is no free lunch. If we as a people want health care for all of our population, for the many good reasons why this is a benefit to the nation as a whole (healthy people are more productive and less likely to spread plagues around, healthy people are less likely to lead to drug-resistant diseases that will kill insured and uninsured both, etc.), we have to pay for it. All the whining about how paying for the benefits you get is somehow "un-American" is the same kind of whining that I hear from a ghetto kid who takes a candybar from a store then, when caught, whines "it's not fair!" Well, kid, you can't just take things for free without paying for them. If you don't want to pay for the benefits of living in a healthy society, fine. Move to Mexico. Mexico's taxes are half those of the United States, so surely that makes it a paradise, right? Right?!

Next up: Why HillaryCare's funding mechanism is inherently flawed... but is still 100% better than Obama's in that at least it is universal.

-- Badtux the Health Care Penguin

Thought for the day

Those who are ignorant of history are... ignorant.

-- Badtux the History Penguin

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Lest we forget

I have heard some Democrats say that they will not vote for Hillary Clinton if she gets the Presidential nomination. It seems to me that they're forgetting the stakes:

Can we really stand eight more years of this kind of "compassionate conservatism"? Because that's what failure to vote for a Democratic candidate for President in 2008 dooms us to, unless you think Congress is suddenly going to discover where their balls went to...

Do we really want eight more years of one Katrina disaster after another where government refuses to do what's needed to serve the public that elects it because it's not ideologically correct to do so? Can we survive eight more years of this kind of "government"?

-- Badtux the Realist Penguin

Friday, February 01, 2008

More tighty righty nonsense

The tighty rightys are in deep denial of both science and sanity when it comes to peak oil. Despite data that shows that the world's giant oilfields are starting to sputter and run dry, they've invented a new theory to avoid having to confront reality -- the "abiotic theory" of where oil comes from. They say, "oil is naturally and continually forming, it isn't a limited resource." To which an oil man snorts, "so why did my well run dry?".

First, let's differentiate oil from methane gas. Methane ("natural gas") is naturally created in the Earth's deep crust, as can be proven when volcanoes belch vast amounts of it into the atmosphere during periodic eruptions. But to go from there to saying that oil is similarly created ignores the fact that the hydrogen-carbon bonds of oil are far more complex and would not survive the pressures found deep within the Earth where methane forms -- and furthermore, that the carbon in oil has C-13 in the exact same ratio as in plant tissues, whereas the carbon in the Earth's crust has a much larger concentration of C-13, as we can tell by analyzing the methane gas that volcanoes belch.

So whenever you hear about this "abiotic theory" of oil, figure that it comes from the same deranged mindset that insists that lowering taxes results in collecting more tax money (it doesn't, the data they use to "prove" it does includes a giant tax hike hidden in it that accounts for the bump in tax collection), "young earth" creationism, and other things of that ilk. We're talking about folks who are ignorant of math, ignorant of science, possessed only of superstition and greed who want desperately to believe that they are living the one and only life that is possible and live in their own fantasy land where their behaviors don't have consequences. While it is theoretically possible for methane produced deeper in the Earth's crust to seep upwards and be subjected to processes that result in oil in much the same way that you can create oil from coal gassification, from a scientific point of view analysis of the actual oil shows it doesn't happen -- it simply has the wrong carbon components in it. And if there really is any abiotic oil in the world it apparently forms at a rate much slower than needed to replenish oil reservoirs. To channel that Texas oilman again -- "dude, if oil naturally continually forms, why did my oil well run dry?".

-- Badtux the Oily Penguin

Thought for the day

Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.

-- Badtux the Shorter Penguin
Funny how an entire long diatribe of mine can be summarized in one sentence, eh?

Why I don't mind paying taxes

I've seen way too many people sneering at John Edwards, a poor boy who became a rich man, because he talked about caring for the poor and taxing the wealthy so that it no longer pays for the wealthy to loot companies and leave smoking ruins behind (see: Countrywide Mortgage). Most of these folks identify themselves as "Libertarian". Well, since we’re getting all “libertarian” here, I’ll just point out that in the fictional Libertopia that some of these folks talk about, you’d have nothing. The people who are most vicious, who have the least compunctions about killing, would own everything you have. I’ve seen it happen in nation after nation — Somalia, Afghanistan, the various Trashcanistans in central Asia, hell, in the 4th Ward of Houston back when I was teaching school there — and that’s how it always works out. No government means rule by the most vicious. Government is a necessity because government is how We the People join together in the common defense (it’s right there in the preamble of the Constitution, if you bother to read it) to keep these goons in their proper place (i.e., either in our employ as our enforcers, or in prison). Now, I believe in government being in its place -- limited to what We the People need, not trying to step in where it isn't wanted or needed -- but government itself is one of those things that just has to be if you want civil society rather than law of the jungle.

Regarding taxes to support that government, here’s my deal on all this: Folks who make a lot of money (like me, BTW — I ain’t a millionaire, but let's put it this way, I can get rid of a 7 month old laptop computer to buy the latest and greatest one without a second thought, and pay for the new computer with cash without too much thinking about it) benefit the most from civil society, whereas the gang bangers I once taught back in my days as a poor high school teacher benefit least from a civil society. If a homeless man's lean-to in the woods burns down, he loses everything he has but a few trips to his local charities to pick up used clothing and bedding and such and he’s back where he started. My house burns down, I lose tens of thousands of dollars worth of stuff as well as a three-quarter-million-dollar home. So it’s only fair that I pay more towards maintaining civil society — the roads, cops, fire departments, schools, etc. needed to keep society functioning in a smooth and efficient manner. Making sure that the general population is too occupied and well-entertained and too engaged in working hard and getting ahead to get the torches and pitchforks out and burn down my expensive home with me in it is a Good Thing, it’s either that or hire lots of them with guns and kill the rest and frankly that usually doesn’t turn out well (not the least because some of these poor people, if we give’em education and such, can turn out to be productive members of society that I can get a lot of work out of in the end — I know this ’cause I was one of them forty years ago).

So even though I’m in the 33% tax bracket, paying the taxes to maintain civil society doesn’t bother me one bit. I’ve lived the law of the jungle, I’ve seen it close up down the barrel of a gun on the wrong end of it and the right end of it both, and it simply is incompatible with the values needed for a productive society. But that’s where the “screw the poor” mentality gets you — law of the jungle, Mexico North, a dangerous place where people get kidnapped off the streets in plain daylight by armed gangs and held hostage, where the only people who are safe are the small number of oligarchs who huddle behind their glass-and-razorwire-topped walls with their dozens of armed guards when they’re not swooping through the streets in heavily armored limos, Mexico North. If you want the U.S. to be Mexico North, why don’t you just move to Mexico? Their taxes are half those of the United States, so surely it’s a paradise, right?

But then, that’s me living in the real world again, rather than in some fictional la-la land that exists only between the pages of bad science fiction novels (and yes, I read all those bad science fiction novels myself when I was a young man, but see, here’s the thing — *I GREW UP*). The notion that maintaining a civil society that protects my wealth requires that I spend some money caring about people other than myself to make sure they have an opportunity to get ahead too is heresy in fictional la-la land, but in the real world, if you forget this fact… Mexico North. Hope you end up on the right side of those razorwire-topped walls, or that you’re one vicious SOB who can get in good with a drug gang, if that’s your vision.

- Badtux the Been-there Penguin