AIDS, Homelessness, Valor and Cowardice

U.S. Reports Drop in Homeless Population |

The evil liberal media dominators at the New York Times report on a Bush initiative that has had an apparently remarkable impact on the chronically homeless in the United States. What is especially surprising is that all sides of the issue seem to be in agreement that the data are reliable. If such consensus is born of truth, then it is true that the chronically homeless population has declined by nearly 30% in the United States over the past four years.

Coupled to this report on PBS’s The News Hour about how resoundingly successful the President’s AIDS relief program in Africa has been, this astonishing development compels one to think of all the remarkable good that could have been achieved with the trillions of dollars (projected costs including interest) currently being squandered in Iraq. After all, the total cost of these programs ($15 billion for AIDS relief as cited by The News Hour report, and ostensibly no more than a few billions of dollars for the “housing first” program; I can’t presently find a citation) absolutely pales when compared with the $752 billion cited by the CBO for the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan thus far. Had such resources been allocated to AIDS relief and homelessness, the earth may well have been purged of both scourges.

Could the President be asking himself if the pursuit of the war in Iraq was a gross misappropriation of resources? After all, the three-quarters of a trillion dollars thus far spent in Iraq has had the sole effect of bringing the American economic engine to a halt by sending the price of crude oil into the stratosphere. Thus, the military operation in Iraq has, in effect, quashed all effective programs undertaken by the government in two ways. First, it has absorbed moneys that would otherwise have been dedicated to such effective programs like AIDS relief and housing first. Second, it has reduced the capability of the American economy to provide for any government program by reducing economic output.

Thus, the reasons why the neoconservatives keep insisting on the validity of the military operations in Iraq are almost understood. Any admission that moneys spent elsewhere would be more effective than the moneys squandered in Iraq would reveal these war mongers to be the frauds and the hucksters that they are. It is, therefore, nothing but an article of fear that compels the cowards who wage war to deny their misdeeds.

And, that is why their cowardice is almost understood. Those occupying positions of power must have the courage to make such admissions. It is their duty. It is, in fact, their legal obligation to confess to their mistakes so that these mistakes can be rectified or remedied before they erode the public’s trust and destroy the institutions that guarantee accountability and efficacy in governance. This very fact that persons vested with authority must carry a higher responsibility is the reason why such childish denials of fault in government are labeled high  crimes and misdemeanors, while those of the child who had broken a vase are labeled mere fibs.

If the constitutional mandate that punishments fit crimes were observed, then such high crimes and misdemeanors would merit harsher punishments than those meted out by parents for their children’s fibs. As it is, however, children are being held accountable for breaking vases, but politicians are exonerated for their squandering of the common wealth and the nation’s prestige. Who is measuring the merits of spending a pittance for the sake of the welfare of humanity against the spending of fortunes to increase the misery of mankind and opting for the latter?


A Respite from Mediocre Food

Bennigan’s, Steak & Ale Close, File for Bankruptcy Protection |

It is indeed difficult to mourn the demise of two lousy restaurant chains that marketed lousy food and pathetic atmosphere as a good time.Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the demise of TGI Friday’s, Applebee’s, Chilli’s and the like. Could this effect an improvement in the average national diet? Will Metromedia Restaurant Group, the owner of the two chains, elect to erect better restaurants in their place, should the market for mid-price restaurants recover?
One thing is absolutely certain. This collapse could not possibly be the consequence of a struggling economy.


The Economic Oracles Speak

BBC NEWS | Business | US economy at a glance

Perhaps the only thing gloomier than this picture is the fact that no American news source can be bothered by the simple process of consulting publicly available data from the government. The Brits seem to have grasped the utility of the internet browser better than American journalists. Perhaps that’s because it was a Brit who invented the world wide web and the browser.


To Protect and to Serve the War on Drugs

BBC NEWS | Americas | Drug stash found in US police car

We are led to believe that the huge stash of cocaine found in this undercover Dallas police officer’s car was an accidental discovery. The car in question was an asset seized from a drug operation, and the police claim that drug traffickers have become so sophisticated in their means of concealing contraband within the various open spaces of a car that the police had no idea that nearly $400,000 worth of cocaine remained hidden protected by various hydraulic schemes inside this car which was seized from a drug dealer.

The NPR series on how drug seizures have become a means for police departments–especially those in the south states of the United States–to fund themselves casts serious doubt on the authenticity of this claim of accidental discovery. Incidents in which police seize private assets legally but illegitimately are on the rise, and the impetus seems to be the independence that the departments gain from the municipalities and constituencies that support them. Confined by meager budgets that restrict their hiring practices and their appetites for high-powered fire arms, police departments have found a bounty in poorly written laws that empower them to declare private assets as ill-gotten arbitrarily and to seize those assets thus declared  illicit. Thus, the poorly written drug-related asset seizure laws have become a means for police departments to disentangle themselves from the accountability that binds them to the communities that they serve. If these drug seizures are appreciable, police departments no longer need popular support to receive additional funding. They can simply seize what they need.

At least, one can only pray that this is not the destination toward which we are headed. For if it is true that police departments do view and employ drug seizure in the manner outlined above, then the war on drugs has been transformed from the politicians’ wet dream to a perverse vehicle that empowers the most corrupt elements of society against the society that created them. If any of the foregoing has any truth, then the war on drugs is what the war on drugs is seeking to protect.

In other words, the war on drugs is no longer the pursuit of the protection of the public. It has become exactly what the most pessimistic among us had predicted. The war on drugs has become a power grab that seeks only to perpetuate itself. More drugs lead to more war which leads to more power to those who are waging the war.

Put away that joint, if you know what’s good for you. In truth, this means “put away that joint if you want to keep your car and your house”.


Degrees of Depravity, Redux

BBC NEWS | UK | Women deny Mosley ‘Nazi theme’

Our wealthy hero must have struck a very resonant cord today in court when he managed to get one of his sadism and masochism partners to confess in court that calling the proceedings “Nazi” constitutes overreaching. After all, one of the lovely maidens tending to Mr. Mosley testified that:

Witness B said that during the session she played a guard wearing a German Luftwaffe jacket, which she had previously bought in Camden Market to wear to a concert.

Naturally, she didn’t mean a Nazi guard, because there must have been Luftwaffe officers who were not officially in the Nazi party. Ergo, the depravity lies in the minds of those who would be so presumptuous as to associate a Luftwaffe leather jacket with Nazis.

Yes, the British are clearly superior to the Germans, and especially to the Nazis, and more especially to Nazi sadomasochists.

Mea culpa. The concept seems to have been lost on the obscenely wealthy.

Shakespeare, a mighty famous Brit, famously declared that that which we call a rose, if we called by a different name would smell as sweet. The ugly parallel of this maxim seems not to hold for Mr. Mosley. That which we call depravity is more depraved if it happens to smack of racist role playing, and he really needs to clear his name because he is not that depraved.

It is precisely these sorts of revelations that make one take comfort in the fact that the world is more and more ruled by the spectacularly wealthy.


Violence Tainted by Sex

BBC NEWS | Also in the news | Porn appears on rugby programme

The digital media infrastructure is still undergoing much debugging. This is how hardcore pornography interrupted the feast of violence known as the game of rugby. Rugby fans in New Zealand had their feast of violence interrupted by four minutes of hardcore pornography that was destined for a different channel.

It would have been incredibly entertaining had the Superbowl been similarly interrupted a few years ago. So far, it seems, cooler heads have prevailed in the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” incident. It would have been awfully funny to find out what the repercussions of this (hardcore) software bug would have been.


Degrees of Depravity

BBC NEWS | UK | Mosley denies ‘Nazi-themed orgy’

Life imitating art. In this instance Max Mosley, head of Formula One Racing, got himself into some hot water for what he did with five prostitutes. His situation imitates a sick joke by the legendary blue comedian, Robert Schimmel. (His Wikipedia entry.) The joke goes something like this:

A guy was tried for animal necrophilia. What’s the guy’s excuse going to be in court? “Sorry your honor. I could have sword the cat was alive when I started fucking it.”

Now, Mosley has to resort to a similarly pathetic excuse like “Aryan doesn’t mean Nazi“. Apparently, Mr. Mosley feels no need to apologize for sleeping with five prostitutes simultaneously, but that he may have partook in an orgy that might be potentially misconstrued as racist or anti-semitic is cause for apology and legal action. The depravity of sleeping with five prostitutes is apparently better than the depravity of pretending to be Aryan or Nazi in bed.

That’s ok, Max. We all know that the British are far better than the Nazis and the Aryans. Especially the rich Brits. Your orgies are far cleaner than the Nazi orgies that the Allies finally quashed in 1945.


Love is not a Scriptable Application

Why is the stereotypical computer geek typically single? Because he can’t find a woman who is perfectly scriptable.

Not that the rest of us have not contemplated that prospect.