Monday, October 27, 2008

if obama loses, blame the sauce:

we all know you're incredibly lazy, sauce, but don't let this happen.

all joking aside, this video gives me chills.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Crowning Jewel of the McCain Campaign

This is fantastic. Note the fictional black man, always a key in any fake crime. Also the "you will be a Barack supporter"--if you come to make up the story at least create some realistic dialogue--or maybe that's how violent criminals talk in College Station Texas. I hope they throw this dirty wench in jail, where she does a softball interviw with Sean Hannity about how the liberal media didn't tell her side of the story. Evidently Obama's militant robbery based volunteers are dyslexic, based on the backwards B.

On "Socialism"

For me the biggest joke in this year’s election (besides the Palin-pick) was the constant cry for less government by the Republicans. I think they forgot, that they helped push through an incredible bailout plan. The current Republican administration, bought up large stakes in insurance companies and banks. McCain’s proposal to just buy up all the faulty home owner loans speaks for itself. You cannot have it both ways. I don’t know whether the “socialism” label has the same stigma that it once did. I wouldn’t know anyway since I haven’t lived here long enough. All I know is that it is laughable to believe in the free market but to expect that the government comes running to rescue your bank if it fails.

In my opinion the words “socialist” and “socialism” are used in the wrong context in the American media and it really bothers me if the media uses the words without really thinking about their real meaning. I am writing this in response to Huevo’s post and in response to the media’s description of European countries as being "socialist”.

I think it is safe to say that European countries are not “socialist” societies. At least not in my understanding of “socialism”. The socialist country that I spent the first 12 years of my life in looked like that: Everything was state owned. And if I say everything, I mean everything. Hard working people were regarded as at least as valuable for society as doctors if not more valuable. My dad, for example, earned more money (1.400 East German Mark/month) than a practicing doctor (1.200 Mark/month). He was a miner and indeed one of the best paid workers in the nation. However, he did not earn a lot more than everyone else since socialism tries to guarantee that everyone pretty much has the same standard of living. In former socialist (and by the way also communist) East Germany everyone was granted free health care, child care and a little retirement money. Paid with taxes and the profits of the state owned businesses.

So that was socialism in Former East Germany. When the American media today refers to “socialism” in Europe, I think people might get the wrong picture. None of the European nations today is truly a socialist country. Germany, for that matter, is a democratic country with a capitalist market governing everything. However, the German constitution says, that Germany is a “social” country. Which does not mean “socialist”. It only means that the government has to make sure that no one gets left behind and that simple things like health insurance, social security, unemployment insurance, retirement, and money for child care are provided for everyone. In real life that means: If you loose your job you’ll get paid up to 60% of what you earned after taxes for one year as unemployment money. After that you are a case for social security which means you will get money for a small place to stay, for health insurance, and some extra money for the rest – but only after you used nearly all the cash money you have left, sold your house, and move to a smaller place (apartment, not house). The extra money you get does not allow you to have a “normal” lifestyle. However, providing the money for a place to stay and for health insurance allows you to keep your dignity as a human being and allows you to stay part of the society which makes it easier to find a new job. The extra money allows you to eat.

All this is paid for by taxes. 45% of our income probably goes to taxes (including health insurance, unemployment, retirement, ....). Health insurance is roughly 7% of what you make. The other 7% is paid for by your employer. No one can employ anyone without paying (partly) for his or her health insurance. All this is not socialism, it’s being human. I call it a democracy with a social face.

I think people in America don’t have to be worried about this “socialist system” that’s brought up all the time. First of all, there will never be such a system in the U.S. out of obvious reasons. Secondly, even if some of your taxes go to someone who needs the money it will benefit the society as a whole. While the European and the Canadian systems are far from being perfect (and yes there are people who exploit the system – but there are also people who need the system to survive), they make sure that the gap between the really rich and the really poor does not get too big. And just a remark regarding the “spreading the wealth”-discussion that is going on right now: paying taxes is always spreading the wealth. Oh yes, and taxes pay for roads, bridges, schools, street signs, community projects, …

I know that systems like the German one can be exploited. There was a reform a couple of years ago to make just that a little harder. While the reform was quite successful, there are still people living off the government. However, there will always be people who benefit from the system when they need it. Like me when I was 15 or 16 years old: When my parents got divorced my mom, my sister and I were on our own. My mom is an incredible hard worker. But as a hair dresser you just naturally struggle to support your family. Times were not easy, but they could have been disastrous if we would not have been able to benefit from some of the government programs that were in place to help families like ours (affordable health care, free education, and even financial help with paying the rent for our little apartment, just to name e few.). And we benefited from the programs even though my mom didn’t even pay income tax because she didn’t make enough money. My mom somehow managed to get her own little hairdresser business and things became better. But for a while my family suddenly was in a place that I could have never imagined it to be in. And again, while I am not a socialist and Germany is not a socialist country, I do believe that a capitalist (democratic) society does need a social countenance in order to let people keep their dignity and in order to guaranty every child the same possibilities in life.

It still amazes me that the U.S. is hands down the greatest place on earth when it comes to community work and the willingness of people to volunteer and help one another. However, as soon as it comes to taxes and money, everyone is on his own. I think taxing people making lots of money way more than others is perfectly sound. And a health care system that benefits everyone (and I mean “everyone” – not “everyone that can afford to buy a plan”) is a must. Let’s face it – the health care system in the U.S. is a joke! I know tons of people in the U.S. who do not have coverage at all or have just an “emergency” coverage even though they have a good job. If a friend of mine (Ph.D. student at UGA with a teaching position) brakes his hand while playing ultimate Frisbee, but is afraid to go to the doctor because of the money, I can just shake my head. It’s a joke if I hear Republicans (and also some Democrats) say we do not want Canadian or European state of things. Well, I went to 3 doctors in Germany 2 weeks ago just to get a check-up. They tested everything with all kinds of expensive machines. Turns out I am healthy and my bank account was healthy afterwards as well, because it didn’t cost me any extra money to do that. Oh, and I also went to the dentist – no extra cost, no deductable.

People here in the U.S. just have to get used to the fact that if you preach to love your neighbor you should also be willing to pay taxes that enable your neighbor to survive hardship times especially when it comes to illnesses. That doesn’t have anything to do with socialism but with closing the gap between the extremely rich and the extremely poor. That’s just normal social behavior, at least in my opinion. I don’t like to pay taxes either but I like to be not worried about my health care and retirement, for example. And I like to know that none of my friends and family has to worry about stuff like that. Obama put it like this in his convention speech in Denver: “Government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves: protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.”

The fear of “socialism” taking over in America quite frankly is a direct result of people not knowing anything else. I bet that a lot of people would be more receptive to the idea of more government involvement in the social field if they would have lived in a country where government involvement works (if not always perfect) and if they would trust the government a little more (which is hard after the last 8 years I guess). This is a reader’s opinion to David Brooks column “Big Government Ahead” in the NYT from last week:


I'm frankly thrilled to imagine a "European style economy." Here's my argument: My husband and I made $100,000 last year. Of that $25,000 went to taxes. (I am self-employed and pay the extra FICA.) $12,000!! went to health insurance (2 adults in our mid-50's, no children - we pay our own insurance), another $3000 to medication and medical expenses (my husband is diabetic). So, after taxes and medical, we have $60,000.

Now we move on to college: I had two children in college last year - one at George Washington University at $52,000 PER YEAR. I have another at University of Wisconsin Madison at $21,000 per year. (Now even the government knows I can pay for all of that, so they heap loans onto my children.) But, I did contribute $12,000 to their education (while their father contributed another $12,000.) Okay, now we're down to $48,000.

Now I have to save for my retirement. Well, there's another $12,000. And I'm left with $36,000 to pay the rent (we don't own a home - sold our 4 years ago when we realized we couldn't afford it!!!! Imagine!), eat, pay for the one car our family owns, clothe ourselves, pay for heating oil in Minnesota, and have a little fun.

Suddenly, IF the government wanted to take 50% of my income (as I understand happens in Europe) - and pay for all my health care, pay for college, and take care of me in retirement at a level equal to everyone else in my community, I would still have $50,000 a year to spend!!!! NOT the $36,000 I have here in America with the terror of a failing social security, rising health care, and my newly graduated son barely able to eat because of his high interest college loans!

European economics are looking good these days.”

That would be all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

ghost got married...

our long absent friend, ghostfacefillah, tied the knot this past weekend with the lovely madame parson (davis?). PC and i were in attendance at the intimate gathering at the jekyll island club.

the ladyfriend and i, enjoying the "champagne toast".

little PC junior (aka- "Q"). simply adorable.

a [one third] 4KS reunion.

the happy couple. we were very honored to join them at "table #1".

best wishes to the newlyweds. hope they enjoy their awesomely fun-sounding honeymoon.

Monday, October 20, 2008

palin on SNL:

she's still probably no more qualified to be VP than, say, athens mayor heidi davison (athens population 100K+, wasilla population <10K). but she didn't do too bad.

gallup daily tracking has obama up 10% today. i'm allowing myself to start feeling optimistic. btw, the powell endorsement announcement is worth watching in its entirety; pretty much says it like it is.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Another reason to vote Democrat, etc.

People have argued for years that Democrats are just veiled socialists. Republicans, on the other hand, look after an individual's pocketbook and are the true champions of capitalism. Well, here's some info to refute that argument:

By the way, Saxby can suck it and so can his (un)fair tax plan and just about everything else he stands for. I went to the UGA game yesterday and had to watch a Saxby blimp circle the stadium for most of the game. When are Democrats in Georgia going to get it through their heads that they need at least a few of the 90,000+ at a given Georgia game on their side to ever win another state-wide election? The least they could have done is get a blimp to follow the Saxby one that read "sux."

A quirky fact from the Georgia senate race:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ruminations on the political realm:

one of the interesting things about the whole financial system crisis is that it is, perhaps, revealing/causing a change in public perception of the relationship between government and the economy. i feel like during our lifetime the general consensus has basically been that the republican free market agenda does maximize economic productivity. and that liberal leaning folks just believe that it is worthwhile to sacrifice a small degree of that economic productivity in order to preserve social welfare. the free market argument is that, in the long run, maximizing economic productivity improves everyone's standard of living; so why waste time/resources with "wasteful government programs" (like medicaid and unemployment).

accepting my assertion that this has been the "general consensus" most of our lives, i feel like it could be changing. in this time of genuine economic crisis, on the cusp of disaster, the american public wants the democrats to take over. the electorate believes the democratic candidate is the better guardian for the economy. and it's not like obama is running as a hard core protectionist or anything.

first and foremost this bodes well for obama's chances in this election. and obviously i'm happy about that, even as i'm worried about the future of the economy. but let's face it, if it wasn't for the economic crisis obama would be neck and neck with mccain. as it is, he's up 7-10% nationally.

but secondly, i ask you loyal readers, does this mean there has been a sea change in public opinion? could it be the regulation is no longer perceived by most americans as merely a hindrance to economic growth? that the new "general consensus" is that effective regulation fosters smarter, longer lasting growth? or is it just that the public believes the republicans are to blame because they have been in power?

i started thinking about this during a recent political exchange on facebook. a guy with a "nobama" image for his picture labeled obama as a socialist. skipping over my disagreement with the applicability of that label, i argued that the word "socialist" no longer has the stigma that it once did. in 1994 the republicans labeled "hillary care" as socialism, and thus quickly put the kibosh on it. in 2008, republicans rumble the same attacks, but it doesn't seem to take hold. is this just because the health care situation is that much more wretched, or is it also because "socialist" is not the burn it used to be. i feel like, as the years grow between us and the cold war, labeling something socialist is no longer a sure fire way to discount it. this will be all the more true in the future, as we spawn generations who have never lived in fear of the Evil Empire.

speaking of changes in perception, do you think military service will cease to have the same political cache in the future? in this case, i'm talking about the coming decades. as the last of the Greatest Generation dies off, when all the veterans are essentially from unpopular wars, will military services cease to be such a trump card in the political realm? those who serve in the military will always be respected, as they should be. but let's face it, at this point people who join the military are not always our best and brightest. our perceptions of military service are still shaped by the world war realities, when the super wealthy/super education eagerly volunteered for war. this reality has changed; will the perception change accordingly?

Monday, October 06, 2008

secretaries i've loved...

since graduating from law school in 2004, i've had two secretaries, and both of them have shit themselves at work.

the first time, i was working at a little law firm in gainesville (50 minute drive from atlanta both ways, NO BIG DEAL!). i came in early and was sitting at my desk when ka_hy buzzed me on the intercom from her desk downstairs (the office was in a old two-story house). she said, [hostage crisis], i've got to ask you a question. "go ahead." i've got kind of an upset stomach and i, uh, think i need to go home and change my clothes. "go ahead."

the second time was a couple months ago at my current place of employ. our intern was chatting with marlene (name changed b/c of my own sweetly naive wariness about internet searches) and trying to make small talk. the intern said, wow, that was some heavy lunch we just had, huh? and marlene says, "no kidding! i was sitting at my desk and was like, uh oh! i tried to run down the hall to the bathroom but didn't make it." never went home to change her clothes.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Economist

Most of you, that know me, are aware of my devotion to British "newspaper" The Economist. On a good week, I read it pretty much cover to cover (minus the Britain section for some reason) and, on a bad week, I hit the highlights, of which there are many. Here's a nice little wikipedia blurb about The Economist:
The Economist once bragged about its limited circulation. In the early 1990s it used the slogan "The Economist - not read by millions of people." "Never in the history of journalism has so much been read for so long by so few," wrote Geoffrey Crowther, a former editor.
Ben Makin, no less an authority than Geoffrey Crowther, once said something in the nature of "The Economist is not really liberal or conservative, it's just right." I agree, completely.
Anyway, I'm not really writing to convince you to read The Economist. Just the obituary section, which might be my favorite thing I read all week, besides In the past year they've written obits for everyone from Albert Hoffman (LSD inventor), to Arthur C. Clarke to Benazir Bhutto to the Creature from the Black Lagoon to Gary Gygax (creator of Dungeons and Dragons). Last year they did one on Karlheinz Stockhausen and I recently read one on some British guy who basically spent his whole life riding his bike across deserts, carrying it through jungles and seeing the world. Worth your time.

Also from wikipedia, re: The Economist
In The Simpsons episode "Catch 'Em If You Can", Homer is traveling by air in first class and says "Look at me, I'm reading The Economist. Did you know Indonesia is at a crossroads?" and when questioned by his wife, he simply replies "It is!" Four days later, with its customary dry wit, The Economist alluded to the quote, and published an article about Indonesia referring to the "crossroads". The title of the issue was "Indonesia's Gambit".[58][59] About seven months later, The Economist ran a cover headline reading "Indonesia at a Crossroads.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

30th BDay Bash

most of you have probably heard via evite, but if any of our loyal readership was not aware my 30th bday party is tomorrow night. it should be an excessively good time.

WHAT: beer, pizza, and bouncing
WHERE: casa del lyndon
WHEN: 10/3/08 at 8pm

a solid 2/3rds of 4KS should be present, plus AG, the brownbear, and the whole keene fam!! hope everyone can make it.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

mission impossible

...a few articles/clips I read/watched this morning...

Every new day I am telling myself that I have to try to be tolerant and not biased, and every new day she gives me more and more reasons which make exactly that an impossible task...can you guys with an American passport please make her go away...please !!???

P.S. I saw that Huevos joined the facebook-group "I have more Foreign Policy Experience than Sarah Palin". The scary thing is that I think he's right and that I could easily join this group as well...what a joke...