Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How the Pilgrims Came to America

Until they fix this:

1. Go to Google Directions:

2. Enter From: portsmouth, uk

3. Enter To: plymouth rock, ma

4. Hit "Get Directions". Note step #11

It works the other way too, but results are in kilometers.


They "fixed" it so it no longer works. Why?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Flat Tax Social Security!

Some conservatives love the idea of a flat tax, but are worried about social security running out of money.

Let's meet BOTH concerns by funding social security with a flat tax. That way we can see whether a flat tax works as advertised.

Currently, the social security tax is only partly flat; it is about 6.2% up to $90k, then it goes to zero. See

Let's just make it a flat 6.2% for all income. That'll make social security solvent for all time, and may be have a surplus for helping retire the general debt.

What say? Do we have a deal???

Monday, April 09, 2007

Today's RightWing Talking Point: Obama's Ethics

The right wing talkin' point for today: a photo of Obama chatting with his campaign manager in his office "proves" he violated Senate Ethics rules on page 10:

This is part of the GOP "Little Lie" Strategy: when your Big Lies fail, just fire off a thousand little lies, so the weak-minded people figure that something must going on. (Remember when Bill Clinton trashed the White House? Remember when Nancy demanded a bigger plane? Remember when AlQaeda congratulated Democrats on winning in 2006? Remember when Nancy violated the Logan Act? Remember when Obama did a dirty land deal? etc. etc. etc. Paul Krugman explains the strategy in "Sweet Little Lies, April 9, 2007.)

Now in this case, it's obvious the story is a lie; it would be unreasonable for the Senate to pass a rule saying that one of its members can't talk to a campaign manager in his own office. Otherwise, Senators would have to be leaving their offices all the time, just to ask the smallest question. And that's just not gonna happen, no matter which Party is in charge.

So what about the rule on "Page 10"?

Mostly it's about very reasonable limits on taxpayer-funded Senatorial staff. But the Senator is not a member of his own staff, and nor is his campaign member.

What's left: "Contributions may not be solicited on, or for delivery to, Senate property." This has nothing to do with a Senator talking to his campaign manager.

And: "Senate space and equipment may not be used for campaign activities."

That leaves us with the question is: does "campaign activity" mean talking with a campaign manager?

Well, of course you could define it so. But that would lead to unreasonable results:

*The Senator must leave the Senator several times a day to find out his itinerary et

*When the Senator meets constituents,the constituents could not say "I hope you win re-election!"

* And it make moot the rule: "Contributions may not be solicited on, or for delivery to, Senate property." For if a Senator can not TALK about his campaign, he surely can not solicit money about his campaign.

It is clear that "campaign activity" means something OTHER THAN soliciting money, or just talking about the campaign with voters or someone who is not a Senate staffer.

A rule should always be construed in a reasonable manner. "Activity" more reasonably means "event" in this context. Senators can't hold campaign parties in their office; can't offer sleepovers in exchange for funds; can't even hold a Victory Ball there.

But Senators CAN talk about their campaigns with people who are not Senate staffers, as Senators of both parties did for generations.

And the Little Lie is DEBUNKED.

Who Should Prosecute Subpoenas on U.S. Attorney Firings?

Should it be:

  • Someone who lost a job to one of the fired attorneys?
  • Someone who worked for the Attorney General who did the firing?
  • Someone who helped draft legislation for the Administration who did the firing?

You don't have to choose! You can get a three-fer with Jeff Taylor!

Remembering Stolp Netflix

Back in 2007, Kris' mother Ginger was staying with her mother to provide living assistance. Ginger lived in a small housetrailer on the family farm in Chewelah, WA. Her mom was quite elderly and infirm, while Ginger was unemployed so this seemed like a reasonable arrangement. However, she said the TV reception was not very good there.
I suggested getting them a subscription to Netflix. At the time, this was a service that would mail you you DVD selections, and when you returned some, would mail you the next on the list.
I set it up and paid for it of course (Kris was never very good at either setting things up or paying for them - other than the rent which is significant.) I can across Netflix's welcoming email, which said we'd set up the account in the name "Stolp" and listed the 1st 3 movies: "Happy Feet", "Deep Sea IMAX", and "Walk The Line".
I am happy to have made life a little bit better. I neither got nor expected thanks, although a couple of times I was told that they enjoyed it. Perhaps that is what they thought a thank-you was.
Anyway, they're out of my life and into my history! 

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Logan Act Gate?!?!

A recent WSJ editorial accuses House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of violations of the Logan Act, when she spoke with Syria's dictator the other day.


1. The Logan act does not prohibit Members of Congress from performing their official duties; Congress is part of the government of the United States and therefore Congress-sanctioned investigations have the "authority of the United States". If Pelosi were off on a frolic, perhaps she would be subject like any other citizen, but her visit was part of her official Congressional duties.

2. Several Republicans went on the same trip and, logically, would be subject to prosecution if Pelosi was. So what's stopping Attorney General Alberto Gonzales from indicting the lot?