Saturday, June 28, 2003

Comments broken

Comments are down. I believe this is due to the recent migration at Hosting Matters (I was moved to a new server). In the meantime, I am receiving an e-mail copy of every comment that is posted, but they don't show up on the site. Beth, Susanna--I received your comments, and hopefully they will show up soon.

posted at 07:55 PM | permalink | Comments (1)

Just to clarify, the problem was running out of disk space. If you're using the Berkeley flat file database that will often corrupt the db beyond salvation.

Anyone who's still using the flat file should consider converting to MySQL at their earliest convenience.

posted by Sekimori on June 29, 2003 09:05 PM

Supreme court moves left?

That seems to be the jist of this AP article (via Yahoo! News), discussing several of the surprise rulings in the last week.

WASHINGTON - In blockbuster rulings on affirmative action and gay rights and in less heralded decisions this term, a Supreme Court dominated by conservative jurists looked less conservative than it has in years.

"On vitally important issues to social conservatives, they suffered serious defeats this term," said Thomas Goldstein, a Washington lawyer who specializes in the Supreme Court. "There was not a single victory to balance it out."

Of course, the writer is quick to point out that the court has not gone all mushy on us:

That is not to say the court abandoned its conservative leanings.

A string of law-and-order rulings strengthened government powers to go after suspects and punish criminals. For example, the court upheld the nation's strictest "three-strikes" law, ruling that a California man's 50-years-to-life sentence for stealing videotapes was not unconstitutionally harsh.

Those tough-on-crime rulings were in keeping with the court's rightward shift under Rehnquist's leadership, a path that has taken the court far from its progressive stance under the Civil Rights era stewardship of Chief Justice Earl Warren.

It is a mark of the current court's fundamentally conservative outlook that all nine justices voted to allow Michigan to cancel family visits for prisoners caught with drugs, and that a six-member majority said Congress can require public libraries to block objectionable material on their Internet terminals or lose federal money.

The further we get away from the Earl Warren era, the better off we will be. While some of the Warren Court's rulings were sound and/or necessary, most of them were ill-conceived experiments in social engineering, a role that the court should never assign to itself.

It is ludicrous to call the court fundamentally conservative because all nine justices agreed on a law that is opposed by far-left prisoner's right groups. They all agreed because it was constitutionally sound, not because Ginsberg, Souter, and Stevens suddenly started channeling J. Edgar Hoover, Tomás de Torquemada, and Adolf Hitler.

The article continues with this:

Rehnquist and fellow conservative Justices Scalia and Clarence Thomas still eld sway in a large percentage of the 73 cases decided this term. The three usually vote together and prevail when they can attract one or both of the court's center-right justices, Reagan appointees Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy.

I suppose this means that Stevens, Ginsburg, and Souter don't often vote as a bloc, and that Breyer seldom joins them to create a four-bloc vote that needs only one of the two centrist judges (usually O'Connor, sometimes Kennedy) to create a majority.

The writer is really straining to create the image that the court is really something out of the middle ages, and that this year was an aberrent burst of rationality and right-thinking. At least the article had quotes from conservatives who dissented with the court's rulings, although they picked foaming-at-the-mouth Pat Robertson and a Pepperdine University professor who sounds like he's sure the apocalypse is upon us because of the new rulings. It would have been nice to have conservatives who were a little bit more rational.

posted at 07:43 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 27, 2003

No posts

I sprained my ankle today, and am consequently a bit cross.

I'll be posting tomorrow, when I am in a better mood.

posted at 06:17 PM | permalink | Comments (2)

I'm so sorry! That really hurts. I hope it wasn't a bad sprain, so you'll be back in form soon. What happened?

Resubmitted by Timekeeper.

posted by Susanna on June 29, 2003 08:57 PM

I am the world's least coordinated person, which means that playing football of any sort is a bad idea. I jumped up to bat a pass down, and landed funny on my right ankle. I have a pair of crutches, an ace bandage, and 800 mg Motrin (the navy's miracle cure-all) to tide me over. The doctor told me to stay off it for the next week or so. It was apparently a mild sprain, since it's not a longer term.

posted by Timekeeper on June 29, 2003 09:09 PM

Wednesday, June 25, 2003


I was fooling around with some blog info links when I clicked on the one for Blogstreet. When I looked at the visualization for my neighborhood, I saw this. I must be the doublewide trailer in the high-rent neighborhood. Every single one of my neighbors is a high-powered major blogger. Since I am so obviously NOT, I wonder how I managed to end up in such a crowd.

Even more interesting is the fact that most of these blogs neither link to me, nor I to them. (The exception is, of course, Instapundit, who is one of my absolute daily reads, and who has linked to me.) I am aware of these blogs, and occasionally read most of them, but neither side has linked to the other. It's one of those "things that make you go hmmmmm".

posted at 09:40 PM | permalink | Comments (1)

In my case, also, I don't believe any of the blogs in my 'neighborhood' have linked directly to me. My guess is that the top ten blogs listed are more like the 'city council' for your neighborhood: the most-read and -linked bloggers in the crowd that does link to you.

Resubmitted by Timekeeper.

posted by Beth on June 29, 2003 09:02 PM

point made

Francis W. Porretto, writing at The Palace of Reason, makes an interesting point on the reactions of six of the nine dwarves to the whole UMichigan Supreme Court decision. To quote him:

Note how four of the six candidates directly referred to the president in commenting on this development. It's not that they're unaware that President Bush doesn't sit on the Supreme Court. President Bush is their opponent; therefore, whatever they say from now until November 2004 must somehow connect to him. If Osama bin Laden were to nuke Tokyo, these candidates would strain to color it as somehow Dubya's fault.

(He is responding to the statements of the six dwarves who spoke at the Rainbow/PUSH convention in Chicago.)

Exactly. If Gore were president, the same case might very well be heard, but you wouldn't have the Dems bashing the president, because he'd be one of them. (Or in Al Sharpton's case, "One of my kind".)

posted at 08:20 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Cop fired for Smoking a cigarette...

Off duty, at a party. Yes, folks, the fascist nanny state is at it again.

Alphecca links to the story in the Boston Globe. Apparently, the state legislature passed the law to accompany a union negotiating point on work-related disability.

My argument is not with the firing (which is likely to be upheld), but the fact that such a law exists for any reason.

We'll have to blame it on that nazi John Ashcroft. It must be his fault.

posted at 11:30 AM | permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Customer disservice

The day before I started blogging again, I sent off an e-mail to the company that registered my domain, because I was having problems accessing the site, and Hosting Matters was telling me that the problem was the nameservers pointing to the wrong server. The problem resolved itself (?) the next day.

I JUST NOW received a boilerplate response from my registrar. For those who are counting, it has been 26 days. To top it off, the information they gave me would not work; I tried it over a month ago.

Needless to say, as soon as I can, I will be switching registrars. Hosting Matters, my host, tells me they can do domain renewals; as I have had nothing but great service from them, I will be entrusting my domain registration to them. HM has great customer service (I never had to wait more than 30 minutes for a response) and their prices are reasonable (cheap to competitive, depending on the service in question). Maybe they can teach my (unnamed) registrar a thing or two.

posted at 09:13 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Sidebar vanishes; film at 11

For some reason, the sidebar has decided to start vanishing again. It required two back-to-back rebuilds to make it come back this time.

If the sidebar is not here when you visit, e-mail me and I will rebuild the site as soon as possible. (I don't view the site as often as I read my e-mail, so e-mail is the fastest way to reach me.)

posted at 01:40 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 23, 2003

The Greens—International Solidarity

(See this post for background on this series.)

A Global Green Deal: Build world peace and security through a Global Green Deal. First, the US should finance universal access to primary education, adequate food, clean water and sanitation, preventive health care, and family planning services for every human being on Earth. According to the 1999 UN Development Report, it would take only an additional $40 billion to Fund Global Basic Human Needs, an amount that is only 13% of the 2000 US military budget. Second, the US, which now spends half of the world's military expenditures by itself, should demilitarize its economy and reinvest the Peace Dividend in financing and technical assistance for an Ecological Conversion of Human Civilization to Sustainable Systems of Production.

The US is expected to be responsible for curing all the ills of the world. How typical; a blame-America-first in reverse (demand handouts from America first). Considering how much graft and waste occurs is some of the most impoverished countries, that figure should be four or five times higher, at least. And if we expect the countries to spend the money on the projects for which they are intended, isn't that a form of imperialism, exerting our will upon sovereign nations? I can guarantee that some will use that sort of convoluted reasoning against any sort of control.

Also note the capitalization of "Ecological Conversion of Human Civilization to Sustainable Systems of Production"; it's as if they are citing chapter and verse of their bible; perhaps they are. Fundamentalism comes in many forms, and this is just as offensive as any other manifestation.

Peace Conversion: Cut US military spending unilaterally by 75% in two years to establish a non-interventionist, non-offensive, strictly defensive military posture and save nearly $250 billion a year.

This is just about the only way they can even conceive of financing their grandiose plans for a government-run paradise. Their plans for a defensive, non-interventionist military sound suspiciously like the Republicans of the 1930's who opposed Roosevelt's plans to strengthen our military. I don't know about you, but *I* am glad that Roosevelt kept the military growing.

Peace Dividend: Dedicate the $250 billion a year Peace Dividend to the Global Green Deal, Ecological Conversion, the Economic Bill of Rights, and providing full income and benefits for all workers and soldiers displaced by demilitarization until they find new jobs at comparable income and benefits.

Considering that this will irrevocably and permanently damage or destroy our military's ability to fight, offensively or defensively, and will shutter the entire defense industry, with hundreds of thousands of workers, we are talking about a mighty big dividend indeed. By wiping out a tremendous number of relatively high-paying jobs, there will be people looking for a LONG time for jobs that pay as well.

Unilateral Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Disarmament: These weapons of mass destruction have no place in a non-offensive military. The US should set the example and demand that other nations match our lead before the proliferation of weapons to countries around the world leads to mass destruction.

When has this strategy worked? Do you really think that China and France will give up their nukes? Do you really think that India and Pakistan will back down? Do you think that Libya and Syria will give up their chemical weapons and their research facilities? For what it's worth, the US does not possess any bioweapons, and all of our research is geared towards finding antidotes and cures to bioweapons such as anthrax and pneumonic plague.

Cooperative Security: Pursue a "cooperative security" strategy that seeks mutual arms reductions, progressive elimination of cross-border offensive capabilities, and further cuts in military spending. The goal is to progressively demilitarize down to a non-offensive defense of U.S. national territory using a coast guard, border guard, national guard, and light air defense system, which would cost about $3 billion, or less than 1% of current US military spending.

There is no way that our country could be defended for such an absurdly low sum. After 12 straight years of decline (in absolute terms, before taking inflation into account), our military budget starting inching up again during the end of the Clinton Administration. It didn't kick into high gear until after 9/11. The events of September 11, 2001 illustrate that we cannot survive through wishes and hopes, and I sincerely hope that the official Green Party platform will be adjusted to take those events into account.

NOTE: The party's platform was adopted in 2000, but this is the current wording from the official website. If they have changed their platform, there is no identification as such.

Democratize the United Nations: Cooperative security cannot work as long as the United Nations remains a US puppet. Support reforms to democratize the United Nations, such as more proportionality and power in the General Assembly, an elected Security Council, and the elimination of the Great Power Veto on the Security Council.

The UN is a US puppet? What are they smoking? I support the veto as a guarantee against tyranny of the majority, as Israel would have been voted out of existence long ago if not for the US veto power. It sounds amusing to wish to democratize an organization of nations of which a plurality are not (and never have been) democratic.

A Pro-Democracy Foreign Policy: We call for a fundamental shift in US foreign policy, from supporting repressive regimes in the interests global corporations to supporting the pro-democracy labor, social, and environmental movements of the people. ·Support International, Multilateral Peacekeeping to Stop Aggression and Genocide ·No Unilateral US Intervention in the Internal Affairs of Other Countries ·Close All Overseas US Military Bases ·Disband NATO and All Aggressive Military Alliances ·Ban US Arms Exports ·Abolish the CIA, NSA, US Army School of the Americas, and All US Agencies of Covert Warfare ·End the Economic Blockades of Cuba, Iraq, and Yugoslavia ·Cut Off US Military Aid to Counter-Insurgency Wars in Colombia and Mexico ·Freedom for Lori Berenson and All Political Prisoners ·Require a National Referendum to Declare War

Hmmm. Multilateral peacekeeping is not covered by the coast guard/national guard/border patrol security envisioned by their "cooperative security" plank. Is it too much to ask for consistency within sections of a party platform?

No unilateral intervention...the only one I can think of would be Panama. Korea was under the auspices of the UN. Vietnam was supported by a number of governments. The first phase of the gulf war (arguably just one, since the cease-fire terms violations by the Iraqis caused the resumption of combat) enjoyed international support; the second phase had the support (material and moral) of a host of nations. Even the Grenada invasion was at the behest of four of the island nation's neighbors, frightened of what was going on in their back yards.

NATO is not an aggressive military alliance. It is defensive in nature. The only reason NATO began the offensive in the Balkans is because the Europeans lack the infrastructure to adequately police their own neighborhood without US support.

We've accomplished two of the three, regarding embargoes—Iraq and Serbia and Montenegro are no longer under trade restrictions. Of course, they didn't end under the circumstances that the greens envisioned, but it's what they wanted.

Lori Berenson is not a political prisoner. She was jailed by the outraged Peruvians, who really resented a foreigner aiding a murderous terrorist group which derives its support from the Cuban government. In any case, wouldn't forcing the Peruvians to release her be intervening in their internal affairs?

Requiring a referendum to declare war is another one of those things that requires an inconvenient constitutional amendment. Damn that pesky piece of parchment!

End Global Financial Exploitation: Cancel the debt owed by poor countries to global banks. End the exploitation of poor countries by IMF "structural adjustment" policies. Abolish the IMF and World Bank and replace them with a democratic international financial institution for balancing international accounts and financing short-term current account balances.

They're not content with destroying our banking system; they want to destroy the entire global financial system. Wipe the slate clean and abolish the accounting systems to keep track of how the money is spent. Why should we have any money? We can give it ALL to the third world. We know how they have demonstrated their fiscal prudence.

Fair Trade: Withdraw from the World Trade Organization, NAFTA, and all other corporate-managed trade agreements that are driving down labor and environmental conditions globally. Establish an internationalist social tariff system that equalizes trade by accounting for the differences among countries in wages, social benefits, environmental conditions, and political rights. Tariff revenues to a democratic, international fund for ecological production and democratic development in poor countries in order to level up social and environmental conditions to a high common standard.

More anti-globo claptrap. It all sounds nice and warm and fuzzy, but it is totally unattainable, and in any case it rewards countries which are unwilling to play fairly. As long as there are nations with corrupt leaders, those nations will be mired in poverty, and they will continue to get more money to line their leaders pockets.

posted at 07:37 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

The Greens—Free, Diverse, and Uncensored Media

(See this post for background on this series.)

Infodiversity: An uninformed people is not free. Create a vital, democratic, diverse media system, delinked from corporate profit objectives and able to present a wide range of issues and ideas in their full complexity, free from censorship by government or by private corporate power.

Private corporate powers cannot impose censorship. They may "spike" a story (such as Newsweek's treatment of the Michael Isikoff story about Monica Lewinsky, which would have been a scoop, or the New York Times' decision not to publish the stories that did not support their agenda re: Augusta National), but they cannot compel other outlets to bury them as well. In fact, the competitive nature of the for-profit media business makes it almost impossible to bury news, as any news sells, and there are plenty of outlets with which to work. If Fox News doesn't want it, perhaps CNN does. If MSNBC passes, then ABC might be interested. And that covers just the TV medium. Between radio, newspapers, magazines, and the internet, there is a thriving, lively debate out there. Even if one is exposed to only one medium, there is a dazzling array of choices within that medium. Mother Jones and National Review are both magazines, the Washington Post and the Washington Times are both newspapers, Rush Limbaugh and the guests on the Pacifica Network are all radio, and Fox News and CNN are both cable television.

Support Nonprofit and Noncommercial Media: A decentralized, democratic system of public funding of diverse nonprofit, noncommercial media, including broadcast, print, film, website, and other cultural production. Funding to exceed existing support for for-profit media, including lower mailing rates and tax deductions for donors. Guarantee free, universal Internet access.

There is already support for nonprofit media, although it is nowhere near what the Greens feel we need. In regards to internet access, does that include a computer for every home, and a phone line to go with it? Universal internet access is available in almost every public library, at least in the places where I have lived.

Real Public Broadcasting: Complete public funding for real public radio and television broadcasting, with no advertising or grants from private corporations or foundations. Support a decentralized, pluralistic system of multiple national networks and local stations, all independently controlled by boards elected by their publics and their workers.

There is nothing that is preventing more networks from forming; indeed, 15 years ago we only had four (including PBS); we now have eight (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PAX, PBS, UPN and WB). None of this was via government mandate; all was accomplished by way of the free market.

Regulate Public Airwaves in the Public Interest: Reassert the public's right as owners of the electromagnetic spectrum used as broadcast airwaves to regulate their use in the public interest. Re-appropriate 6 prime-time hours a day of commercial broadcast time on each station for real public service broadcasting: ad-free children's and news/public affairs programming. Fund this liberated time by charging commercial broadcasters rents for the bandwidths they use, a tax on sales of commercial stations, and a tax on advertising. Program this ad-free time under the control of artists' and educators for the children's programs and journalists for the news and public affairs programs. Restore the Fairness Doctrine. Free time for all candidates for public office. Prohibit paid political ads or require free ads of equal time for opponents. Redistribute substantial bandwidth concessions to public, nonprofit, and locally owned commercial stations, including low-power stations. Increase stakeholder representation on and public accountability of the Federal Communications Commission.

The fairness doctrine is inherently unfair, and undemocratic. Its abolition was one of the more significant moments in the history of broadcast media, and allows for true opinions to be expressed. Prohibiting free ads is a violation of the first amendment; requiring free ads for an opponent is a violation of common sense. Redistributing bandwidth is going to restrict the options of those who no longer receive a station that has been replaced by a low-power public access channel filled with programs that they do not like or with which they disagree.

The biggest problem with mandating certain types of programming is who controls the content of mandated broadcasts? As we've seen from PBS and NPR, government overseers are either negligent or biased themselves, as these "public" fora carry a distinctly liberal bent. Somehow, I think the greens would be horrified by a robust public radio system with Rush Limbaugh at the helm. Be careful what you wish for...

Antitrust Actions to Break Up Media Conglomerates: Reform antitrust legislation to require the break up of corporate giants because their concentrated power threatens democracy, not just competitive pricing, especially with regard to media concentration where a few media conglomerates control the public's access to information. Require separate, independent firms for all TV stations, TV networks, TV show producers, radio stations, newspapers, magazines, book publishers, film producers, music recorders, Internet service providers, cable TV systems, cable TV stations, amusement parks, retail stores, and so forth. Repeal the pro-conglomeration Telecommunications Act of 1996. Subsidize the existence of multiple newspapers and magazines to express a diversity of opinion in all communities.

Media concentration is not the be-all and end-all of life as we know it, despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth emanating from the outer darkness. The biggest obstacle is the simple fact that nobody can prevent another newspaper from starting up in a given town. Another (relevant to radio and TV) is that sameness of content will breed a desire for change; if there are fifteen stations all playing the same format, one or two stations with a different format are likely to garner higher ratings, IF THEY ARE SUFFICIENTLY INTERESTING. By mandating the dissemination of material that is neither popular nor interesting on media consumers, the greens are attempting to impose their moral standards upon everyone else.

posted at 06:02 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Headline Comparison

From AP:

Affirmative Action Upheld by Split Court

From The New York Times:

Supreme Court Splits on Diversity Efforts at University of Michigan

Same basic story, but the framing is just a bit different. Diversity efforts and Affirmative Action are not the same, nor is the perception the same. The NYT is working a subtle bias into their headlines again.

posted at 05:08 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 22, 2003

From Down Under

On a lighter note, check out "Tom Paine"'s post at Silent Running on Australia's new Governor-General. (Tom, you've got to ditch the name, else people will think you're affiliated with that other site. "Tom" has a list of headlines he expects to see over the new few weeks about the new GG. Check it out.

posted at 06:23 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

The Greens—Revitalize Public Education

(See this post for background on this series.)

Equalize School Funding with Federal Revenue Sharing: Federal financing of all public education (instead of by regressive local property taxes) so that every school has the resources it needs to provide the highest quality education for every child. Use a simple formula based on student population with adjustments based on need to help bring up school quality and student performance in poor communities.

Well, first off, you're going to need a constitutional amendment for that.

How are property taxes regressive? The poorest people (renters) don't pay a dime in property taxes. The wealthiest pay the highest amount.

Spending and achievement are not linked. States such as Iowa and Montana spend very little per student, yet their pupils are consistently among the best educated. The District of Columbia, on the other hand, spends 61% more per student, yet only 28% of their fourth graders can read at grade level. If funding were the issue, then Hawaii (with its statewide school district) and Florida (with countywide districts) would have far less variation in performance.

Decentralized Administration: Cut through stifling centralized administration with site-based planning, policy-making, and management with participation by parents and teachers with release-time. Maintain central support staff for decentrally administered schools.

There it is again, the bizarre Green fetish for Federal funding and local control. Why not let the local districts handle the whole thing? We can then get rid of the wasteful and inefficient Department of Education.

Class Size Reduction: Federal legislation and financing to reduce student-teacher ratios in classrooms to 15 to 1 in all public schools.

This is another popular myth; repeated studies have shown no link between classroom size and student performance.

Preschool Programs: Federal legislation and financing for public schools to make available Head Start-type programs for pre-Kindergarten children starting at age 3.

Head Start has shown little long-term effectiveness (the benefits disappear after grade 3 or 4); expanding it provides no sense.

After School Programs: Federal legislation and financing to make available after-school recreational and educational programs for all school age children.

This makes sense from a safety standpoint; supervised children as less likely to get into trouble or danger.

Children's Health: Clinics in all schools to check eyes, teeth, and general health at all grade levels. Healthy food at breakfast, lunch, and after school programs. Birth control information at middle and high schools.

Birth control information in Middle School? I don't think so. Nor do I support dispensing birth control products at any school level.

Improve Teacher Training and Pay: Improve the quality of teachers with support for career-long training. On-the-jobs apprenticeships for teachers-in-training. Teacher pay scales comparable to other professionals with similar education and responsibilities.

Teachers are not underpaid at the lower end of the pay spectrum, nor are they underpaid when compared with people of similar education and responsibilities. Teachers are NOT professionals; they do not have credentials, and they cannot lose their certification to teach, for malpractice.

Multicultural Teaching Staffs: Strengthen affirmative action programs to recruit and support ethnic minorities to enter teaching at every level: teacher, aide, assistant, apprentice.

Let's worry about hiring COMPETENT teachers, rather than worry about the ethnic composition of the staff.

Tuition-Free Higher Education: Federal legislation and financing for tuition free education at public universities and technical schools for everyone who wants it.

This was discussed earlier. We will create legions of overeducated people with useless degrees.

Oppose the Privatization of Public Schools: We oppose all schemes for corporations to pursue private profits at the expense of public schools and schoolchildren. ·No School Vouchers: No school vouchers from public budgets for private schools. ·No For-Profit or Religious Charter Schools: Stop the diversion of public funds to for-profit corporations or religious organizations running charter schools with unaccountable administrations, uncertified teachers, and segregated student bodies. ·No Commercialization: Stop turning school children into a captive market for commercial marketing interests with franchises that undermine democratic funding and accountability.

Vouchers are the best hope for poor students to escape from underperforming school districts. They don't drain districts that educate their students.

"Unaccountable administrations, uncertified teachers, and segregated student bodies"—sounds like they are discussing public schools, not private schools. Vouchers are the best way to provide integration in neighborhoods where whites have fled the public school systems.

Commercialization is less damaging to children than the propagandistic textbooks and "progressive" crackpot theories used to educate children these days.

No High-Stakes Testing: Stop the curriculum takeover by commercial standardized test and test-prep corporations. Stop linking administrator and teacher pay and student graduation and retention to standardized test performance. Stop reducing education to answering multiple choice questions. Put teachers back in charge of ongoing, genuine assessment in the classroom.

Unions hate testing because it provides empirical evidence of what works (phonics, traditional math) and what doesn't ("whole word", "new math"). I grew up in a district that has been testing for many years, and we were never "taught to the test", unless you refer to learning the skills that are tested, such as reading comprehension, science, and mathematics. As for graduation, is the party actually advocating granting a diploma to a student who cannot pass a standardized test?

Curriculum for a Multicultural Participatory Democracy: We support a democratic public school curriculum that fosters curiosity, critical thinking, and free expression, that explicitly promotes democratic and egalitarian anti-racist, anti-sexist, and multicultural values, that replaces Eurocentric with multicultural textbooks and other curriculum materials, that does not sort children into academic and non-academic tracks, and that is academically rigorous with high expectations for all children.

Oh, yes. The multi-cult. We cannot have a discussion of education without bringing up the multi-cult and its baggage. When it comes to Science, the accomplishments of China, Egypt, and Europe far outweigh the relatively backwards cultures of Africa, the Americas, and the rest of Asia. For literature, it's hard to discuss ancient literature of a civilization that did not have writing. These facts may be unpleasant, and may seem impolitic, but that does not diminish their accuracy. It's not racist to teach children about history, even if it reflects poorly upon certain cultures

Support Bilingual Education: Minority-language children with limited English proficiency must have instructional programs that build on their native language and culture while building English proficiency.

California's Prop 227 has proved the folly of this plank. English immersion is much more effective as a method of learning, it diminished the amount of time non-English speakers are segregated from the rest of the student body, and it reduces the number of (expensive) bilingual teachers needed. Of course, it's opposed by the cultural pressure groups and the unions, but its especially popular with the parents of children who do not speak English.

posted at 05:51 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

The Greens—Labor Law reforms

(See this post for background on this series.)

…Repeal Repressive Labor Laws: Repeal the Taft-Hartley Act, the Landrum-Griffin Act, the Hatch Act, and state "Right-To-Work" laws which have crippled labor's ability to organize by outlawing or severely restricting labor's basic organizing tools: strikes, boycotts, pickets, and political action.

The Taft-Hartley, Landrum-Griffin Act, Hatch Act, and Right-to-Work Laws are hardly the oppressive, Draconian regulations Big Labor would have us believe; they simply prevent labor from exercising excessive control over the rest of the country. Taft-Hartley prevents unions from sympathetic strikes (in Europe, unions will often go on strike to support another striking union, even if there is no relation between the two unions), and requires workers to vote in a union by majority vote; Landrum-Griffin requires unions to disclose their financial affairs (and prevents Communist Party members from holding union leadership positions); Hatch prevents government employees from participating in political affairs while at work, and Right-to-Work laws prevent unions from compelling employees to join as a condition of employment.

A Workers' Bill of Rights: Enact a set of legally enforceable civil rights, independent of collective bargaining, which (1) extends the Bill of Rights protections of free speech, association, and assembly into all workplaces, (2) establishes workers' rights to living wages, portable pensions, information about chemicals used, report labor and environmental violations, refuse unsafe work, and participate in enterprise governance, and (3) establishes workers' rights to freedom from discharge at will, employer search and seizure in the workplace, sexual harassment, and unequal pay for work of comparable worth.

Much of this is covered under previous posts, so I will not revisit it again.

Expand Worker' Rights to Organize and Enjoy Free Time:
·Majority Card-Check Recognition of Unions
·Strong and Speedy Penalties for Employers Who Break Labor Laws
·Ban Striker Replacements
·Triple Back Pay for Illegally Locked-Out Workers
·Unemployment Compensation for Striking and Locked-Out Workers
·Binding Contract Arbitration at Union Request
·Full Rights for Farmworkers, Public Employees, and "Workfare" Workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act
·Ban Prison Slave Labor: End the use of US prisoners to produce goods and services for sale to the public.
·Double-Time Pay for All Overtime
·Prohibit Mandatory Overtime
·6 Weeks Paid Vacation Annually in addition to Federal Holidays
·1 Year Paid Educational Leave for Every 7 Years Worked
·1 Year Parental Leave for Each Child Born with No Loss of Seniority
·Right to Work Short Hours: No discrimination in pay and promotion against workers who choose to work short hours.

A few thoughts on these:

Replacement workers would not be available during a strike, because we'd have full employment, right?

Striking workers are not unemployed, therefore they are not entitled to unemployment benefits.

Items produced by UNICOR (Federal Prison Industries) are not available to the public. Further, inmates who work for UNICOR are learning a marketable skill AND get paid (a nominal fee, but still it's payment). It's hardly "slave labor".

Six weeks of paid leave (in addition to federal holidays) is excessive. Four weeks is more realistic. Perhaps allow an additional two weeks of UNPAID leave.

Workers who choose to work fewer hours are known as part-time workers; they do not receive the same benefits and considerations as full-time employees. If they want the benefits, they need to work full-time.

posted at 04:59 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

The Greens—Criminal and Civil Justice Reforms

(See this post for background on this series.)

Abolish the Death Penalty

No. The vast majority of the public supports the death penalty, and it carries with it the ultimate deterrent effect; someone who is executed will never commit another crime. I do, however, support the use of DNA evidence whenever feasible.

Prosecute Police Brutality-The Jonny Gammage Law: Require independent federal investigation and prosecution of law enforcement officers charged with violating the civil rights or causing the bodily injury or death of a human being.

The police are subject to criminal and civil penalties if they are convicted of brutality. As to "bodily injury or death of a human being", virtually all such instances are caused by a suspect resisting arrest, or actively targeting law enforcement officials.

End Political and Racial Persecution by the Criminal Justice System: Freedom for all political prisoners and prisoners of racial injustice. Clemency for Leonard Peltier. New trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

End racial proselytization by communist agitators. Neither Peltier nor Abu-Jamal are "political prisoners", no matter how many times their supporters argue the point. They are criminals and murderers, and nothing can change the facts.

Restorative Justice: Establish a humane criminal sanction system based on prevention, restitution, rehabilitation, and reconciliation rather than vengeance, forced labor, and profits for the Prison-Industrial Complex. Restore full funding for college degree granting programs in state and federal prisons. Jobs and justice, not more police and prisons.

Ooooh, the "Prison-Industrial Complex". I suppose that UNICOR (the federal prison job corps) is totally different from the massive public-works projects envisioned by the Greens. Jobs and Justice is a cool sound bite, but it is meaningless when discussing the murderers, rapists, arsonists, armed robbers, embezzlers, and swindlers who are in jail. Or do you feel that Dennis Kozlowski is also a poltical prisoner who should be free?

Legal Aid: Expand funding of legal aid and public defender programs so all people can have competent legal representation.

Why not socialize the legal profession? They want to socialize damn near everything else.

Fight Corporate Crime: Strengthen laws and enforcement against corporate crime with penalties that include incarceration of executives and revocation of corporate charters.

It's already happening, without more laws. Enforcement of existing laws should always come before adding new laws.

Oppose Tort Reform that Limits Class Action Lawsuits and Caps Victims' Compensation: The threat of high victim compensation awards by civil juries must be maintained as an important deterrent to corporate crime.

Of course, the lawyers support this, as long as it's not tied to that pesky "Maximum Wage" thing discussed in the previous post.

Civil Liberties: Support the Bill of Rights. No compromise on civil liberties and due process for "national security," "anti-terrorism," or "the war on drugs." Repeal the 1994 Crime and 1996 Anti-Terrorism bills. End domestic political spying by police, military, and intelligence agencies.

Support the bill of rights, except for the Second, Ninth, and Tenth amendments. The War on (some) Drugs is a valid target for repeal, but the crime and anti-terrorism bills are useful.

NOTE: This document predates the WTC and Pentagon Terrorism attacks, so I don't know if they have changed their plank. This was on the official site as of 22 June 2003, however, so I have to assume that they have not changed their platform on this issue.

End the "War on Drugs:" Decriminalize possession of drugs. Regulate and tax drug distribution. Release nonviolent drug war prisoners. Treat drug abuse as a health problem, not a criminal problem. Drug abuse treatment on demand.

As indicated, I support ending the "War on (some) Drugs". I do not support treatment on demand, however. Drug abuse and its consequences need to be the responsibility of the individual, not the government. Drug abuse is only a criminal problem if they conduct another crime while under the influence, in which case they should be punished accordingly.

posted at 03:47 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

The Greens—Human Rights and Social Justice

(See this post for background on this series.)

End Institutionalized Racism, Sexism, and Oppression of People with Disabilities: Strengthen civil rights, anti-discrimination, and affirmative action laws, programs, and enforcement.

By supporting affirmative action programs, we are substituting one manifestation of racism for another.

While the Americans with Disabilities Act was a noble idea, it has turned into a cash cow for opportunistic lawyers and a regulatory nightmare for everyone else. It's time to reexamine the ADA, and put an end to some of the excesses it has engendered.

African American Reparations: A national commission on reparations for African Americans.

No. Stop picking at the scab of reparations. By constantly beating the drum in support of this inexcusably stupid issue, you are harming race relations in this country. Reparations are a bad idea, and unworkable. Not all whites benefited from slavery, and not all blacks are the descendants of slaves. Then there is the issue of intermarriage (do you get a smaller payment if you are part white), immigration after the civil war (do whites have to pay? Do blacks not get checks?) and war fatalities (do the families of union soldiers who died to defeat the pro-slavery south get anything?).

Indian Treaty Rights: Honor all treaty obligations with Native Americans and Chicanos.

This is another hot-button racial issue that owes more to identity politics than to real-world discrimination.

Immigrant Rights: Support the rights of immigrants to housing, education, health care, jobs, and civil, legal, and political rights.

Insert the word "legal" prior to "immigrants", and you will strengthen the validity of the position (and support from the public) immensely. I don't advocate discrimination against immigrants, but non-citizens should not have the same privileges as citizens. I'd adjust their rights and benefits accordingly.

Reproductive Freedom: People should be free from government interference in making their reproductive choices, including abortion, which should be covered by all publicly funded medical insurance programs.

Abortion should not be a federal issue. In places where abortion is legal, the federal government should not be paying for abortions, except in cases of rape or where the mother's life is in danger.

Comparable Worth: Legislation to enable women and minorities to receive equal pay for work of equal value.

This is an issue which cannot be resolved; for every study that shows that women and minorities are paid unequally, there is a study that shows higher absenteeism, less experience, or lower productivity.

If the issue were so cut and dry, and women and minorities are paid less for the same quality and quantity of work, why haven't companies fired all of their white males and hired the cheaper females and minorities?

End Discrimination Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered People: Outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in housing, employment, benefits, and child custody.

I agree with this, to a certain extent. Some behavioral differences must be taken into account, and religious institution must be exempted from laws that would compel them to hire LBGT people, or provide benefits to their partners (unless, of course, the next plank is considered).

Same-Sex Marriage: Legal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Regular readers know that I am fully in support of civil unions. I dislike the term "marriage", due to its religious trappings, but any non-clerical union should have the same legal benefits as a marriage performed in a religious context.

posted at 03:18 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

The Greens—Progressive and Ecological Taxes

(See this post for background on this series.)

Ecological Taxes: Tax pollution, resource extraction, harmful products, and the use of our common wealth of natural capital (land sites according to land value, timber and grazing lands, ocean and freshwater resources, oil and minerals, electromagnetic spectrum, satellite orbital zones).

Of course, the concept of such a tax never takes into account how this will affect consumer prices on everything (food too; "Grazing lands" and "land sites according to land value", not to mention taxes on water used for irrigation). It also ignores the concept of property ownership, something to which the greens are pretty strongly opposed. And somehow, I cannot see how we can regulate orbital zones. Are we going to tell the ESA that they cannot launch satellites unless they pay our tax? They'd (rightly) laugh in our face, and tell us where to get off.

Simple, Progressive Income Taxes: Enact a no-loopholes, graduated personal income tax with equal taxation of all income, regardless of source. Provide an income tax credit for each dependent to replace and fully compensate for the current exemptions and deductions that benefit to the average taxpayer, such as the home mortgage deduction and medical deductions.

Well, the conservatives have been lobbying for years for a simplified tax structure. The only difference is that the greens want a radically progressive structure, and the conservatives want a flat tax. Why don't we compromise and simply use the current (progressive) structure, and eliminate the 1.4 million word US Tax code? No deductions, no loopholes, just a tax. It is a starting point.

Eliminate Regressive Payroll Taxes: Fund Social Security, Health Care, Unemployment Insurance, and Workers Compensation out of progressive income and wealth taxes.

I'm not terribly opposed to that, except that it means that everyone is going to end up paying taxes to support the massive increase they will add to the current budget.

Guaranteed Adequate Income: Build taxable Basic Income Grants into the progressive income tax structure to create a Universal Social Security system that ensures everyone has income for at least a modest standard of living above the poverty line.

This, I assume, goes along with the "guaranteed job" thing, which will (theoretically) put everyone to work.

Maximum Income: Build into the progressive income tax a 100% tax on all income over ten times the minimum wage.

Here's where you are going to lose a lot of support from the big guns. Hollywood, the sports industry, and all of those VC people who have been cheerleaders for the left are going to oppose this one. Of course, since the minimum wage is going to be raised to $26,000/year, this means that only income over $260,000 will be stolen by the government.

End Corporate Welfare: Target subsidies for worker- and community-owned enterprises, not absentee-owned corporations. Put subsidies in the public budgets where they can be scrutinized, not hidden as tax breaks in complicated tax codes.

Another idea that manu on the right have advocated. Subsidies and secret tax breaks are a bad thing.

The difference between the capitalistic approach and the green approach is that capitalists want to eliminate all corporate welfare, while the greens only want to eliminate welfare to companies that don't meet their criteria.

Progressively Graduated Corporate Revenue and Asset Taxes Wealth Tax: Enact a steeply progressive tax on net wealth over $2.5 million (the top 5% of households).

Now they are going after wealth, not just income. Older people on fixed incomes are going to feel this one the most; after a lifetime of productive work, many retire with a sizable nest egg. Now, they are going to be taxed again and again on this money, simply because their total worth exceeds the threshold, despite the fact that their income is small. They are going to have to sell their assets to pay taxes on property that they have ALREADY paid taxes upon.

Inheritance Tax: Replace the loophole-ridden estate tax with a no-loopholes, progressive inheritance tax on inheritances over $1 million.

There goes more of the family farms of which the greens are so fond. Remember, a farm is more than the land, and the livestock (or crops) and the equipment an easily push the value of even a small farm over the $1 million mark. People are losing their family businesses with the threshold at $1.3 million; lowering it is going to accelerate the process.

Stock and Bond Transfer Tax: Encourage a shift from speculative to productive investments through a federal stock and bond transfer tax on all securities transactions.

Without speculative investments, innovation is going to be stifled. Of course, considering the platform's position on biotech, this is obviously not a big concern of the greens.

Currency Speculation Tax: An internationally uniform tax on currency conversion to discourage speculation. Revenues from the currency speculation tax should be channeled through international agencies into ecologically sustainable, democratically controlled development in poor countries.

So instead of speculating on a currency in an effort to make money, we should simply throw our money to other countries? (I will have more to say on this subject in a later post.)

Advertising Tax: A tax on advertising to fund a decentralized, pluralistic media system of real public broadcasting, public service broadcasting on commercial media, and independent nonprofit, noncommercial media.

Wow, yet another new form of tax. I must admit, I had not thought of this one before.

(I can see another tax, for the Zero-Population Growth crowd: A Boxer Shorts tax, since there appears to be a correlation between underwear choice and sperm fertility rates. Tighty whities and speedos are the ecologically correct choice, and therefore don't get taxed.)

Federal Revenue Sharing: Reduce state and local government dependence on regressive sales and property taxes through federal revenue sharing that combines centralized collection of progressive and ecological taxes with decentralized decisions on spending.

Of course, by reducing federal taxes, the federal government won't feel the need to give back ANY money to the states, allowing them to set their own tax structures and spend it as they see fit. That sounds even better.

Ecological and Feminist Economic Accounting: Expand the Bureau of Labor Statistics into a Bureau of Household, Labor, and Environmental Statistics with revised national economic accounts, statistics, and indicators that include stocks and flows of natural wealth, household production, and labor time values. Existing national income accounts and indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP) ignore the ecological foundations of the economy and the value of household production. Ecological accounting will identify the true costs of resource depletion and pollution and hence appropriate eco-taxes to internalize full costs. Social accounting will identify the true value of household production and its contribution to the economy and social well-being. Labor time accounting will record and publish the current and dated labor time for goods and services, establishing the average labor time required for each product. These labor time values will serve as shadow prices against which to judge the fairness of actual market prices.

Wow. This must be more of that "relativistic" science I've heard about, where the answers to a question may differ because of gender or racial issues. I'm rather old-fashioned; I think that science deals in absolutes, and math is a hard science, with right and wrong answers.

I think the real reason to create such a bizarre new form of accounting is to obscure the wealth-obliterating effects of the Green Party's economic proposals. By changing the rules of accounting, there will be no direct comparisons available to document the carnage effected by such a radical restructuring of our whole society.

posted at 02:41 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

The Greens—Economic Democracy

(See this post for background on this series.)

Eliminate Corporate Personhood: Legislation or constitutional amendment to end the legal fiction of corporate personhood.

In other words, eliminate the constitutional protections extended to individuals. Corporations and their assets exist at the whim of the government.

End Corporate Limited Liability: Make corporate shareholders bear the same liabilities as other property owners.

Gee, there's an incentive for investment. If the company's officers engage in misconduct, the shareholders are the ones who end up paying.

Federal Chartering of Interstate Corporations

As opposed to the states doing so. Tenth amendment, anyone?

Periodic Review of Corporate Charters: A public corporate charter review process for each corporation above $20 million in assets every 20 years to see if it is serving the public interest according to social and ecological as well as financial criteria.

And who decides whether the company is meeting its goals, and whether or not it serves the public interest? I am not particularly fond of Microsoft, but I can make the argument that it is serving the public interest because the increasing ease of use of MS products has opened up the market for computers and internet access. The purpose of a corporation is not to serve social and ecological needs.

Strengthen Anti-Trust Enforcement: Require breakup of any firm with more than 10% market share unless it makes a compelling case every five years in a public regulatory proceeding that it serves the public interest to keep the firm intact.

Ten percent? There are few fields out there where the leading company has less than 10% market share, What this proposal means is that companies that innovate and gain market share will be dismantled as a result of their innovation. That never serves the public interest.

Democratic Production: Establish the right of citizens to vote on the expansion or phasing out of products and industries, especially in areas of dangerous or toxic production.

And you that NIMBYism was bad now. Wait until all heavy industry is voted out of existence.

Workplace Democracy: Establish the right of workers at every enterprise over 10 employees to elect supervisors and managers and to determine how to organize work.

That is the purpose of management. What they are describing already exists—we call it of a union. Don't we already have more than enough of them?

Worker Control of Worker Assets-Pension Funds and ESOP Shares: Pension funds representing over $5 trillion in deferred wages account for nearly one-third of financial assets in the US. 11 million workers participate in employee stock-option plans (ESOPs). Reform ERISA, labor laws, and ESOP tax provisions to enable workers to democratically control their assets.

And the first time a pension fund goes bankrupt due to mismanagement, there will be calls to have the government step in and recapitalize the fund.

It's interesting that they advocate personal management of pension funds, but bitterly oppose social security privatization. Why?

Democratic Conversion of Big Business: Mandatory break-up and conversion to democratic worker, consumer, and/or public ownership on a human scale of the largest 500 US industrial and commercial corporations that account for about 10% of employees, 50% of profits, 70% of sales, and 90% of manufacturing assets.

Nationalization. No investor on Earth would ever again invest in any US business. Further, this plan once again rewards companies that are innovative and successful by destroying them.

Democratic Conversion of Small and Medium Business: Financial and technical incentives and assistance for voluntary conversion of the 22.5 million small and medium non-farm businesses in the US to worker or consumer cooperatives or democratic public enterprises. Mandate that workers and the community have the first option to buy on preferential terms in cases of plant closures, the sale or merger of significant assets, or the revocation of corporate charters.

Even the smaller businesses are not exempt from the pogrom.

I'd like to know their definition of "small business". Is a one-man operation a business? Would (with its two employees) be forced to break up or become a federally chartered entity, with all of its assets and profits going to the government?

Democratic Banking: Mandatory conversion of the 200 largest banks with 80% of all bank assets into democratic publicly-owned community banks. Financial and technical incentives and assistance for voluntary conversion of other privately-owned banks into publicly-owned community banks or consumer-owned credit unions.

After we destroy the business world, we're going to wipe out the financial services sector as well.

Democratize Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve System: Place a 100% reserve requirement on demand deposits in order to return control of monetary policy from private bankers to elected government. Selection of Federal Reserve officers by our elected representatives, not private bankers. Strengthen the regional development mission of the regional Federal Reserve Banks by directing them to target investments to promote key policy objectives, such as high-wage employment, worker and community ownership, ecological production, and inner city reconstruction.

I don't trust our elected representatives with the money they currently control. I sure as hell don't trust them to elect people to control the entire nation's money supply. I suppose the Federal Reserve Banks are going to have to invest to create high-wage employment, after nationalization destroys the sources.

posted at 01:47 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

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