Golden Credit

So I hear we as a country now have a brand shiny new credit limit debt ceiling. Nine trillion dollars. Or 9e12 as nerds write it.

Allow me to establish some facts before I get to my main point:

From these facts, and some simple unit conversions, we find that it would cost $50,316,759.87 to buy enough gold to cover a square mile (and who says you can’t get anything for fifty million bucks anymore?).

Nine trillion smackers divided by $50,316,759.87 equals 178,866,8432.

Therefore, if we maxed out our national credit card, we could gold-plate Nevada, South Carolina, Maryland, Vermont, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Obviously, it doesn’t help that the borrow-and-spend Republicans have already spent most of that money. That’s why they had to raise the limit in the first place.

The Price of Congressmen

I wrote earlier
about my dismay at finding out just how cheap some of the whores on Capitol Hill are. Rasmussen Reports

on what people think congressmen cost.

Half of all Americans believe it takes a contribution of at least $50,000 to influence a Congressman or Governor. That includes 27% who believe the price of influence begins with at least $100,000.

A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 24% believe influence can be obtained with a $1,000 or $10,000 contribution. Twenty-six percent (26%) are not sure.

The survey also found that just 11% believe that they could get their Congressman to change his or her position on an issue for a $1,000 contribution.

Unfortunately, Rasmussen is a polling organization, so they only report on what people think congresscritters cost. Maybe Consumer Reports can investigate and tell us how much they really cost, and which ones provide the best value for money.

Poly Punctuation

Hey, kids! Spot the punctuation error in
this National Review article
by Stanley Kurtz:

polyamory has much greater potential appeal [than polygamy], and poses a much deeper danger to the American family […]. Take away the stigma against multiple-partner marriage, and our larger family system will be profoundly weakened.

Yes, you got it: he put a period at the end, when obviously he should have used a colon and one or more explanatory clauses.

I’ve often seen the same mistake in articles against gay marriage. Right-wingers tell us that all sorts of things will happen if gay marriage (or, in this case, polyamory) is legalized. But with the exception of a few slippery-slope arguments, sometimes involving
box turtles, they never get around to telling us exactly why these things are bad.

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Best South Dakota Comment Yet

From Digby
by way of

I hope you’re ready to be daddies, boys. Last time abortion was illegal they didn’t have DNA testing

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You Paid How Much For That Congressman?

Think Progress has a succinct summary of the unraveling Abramoff scandal.

What struck me is not the extent of the corruption, but how low some of the bribes were: $1,000 each for Conrad Burns and John Doolittle to write a letter to the Secretary of the Interior to try to sway her. $5,000 for Burns, again, to change his mind and vote in favor of sweatshops and sex trade. $1,000 to John Cornyn to shut down a casino that Abramoff wanted closed. And so on.

What surprised me is not that they’re whores, but that they’re cheap whores. Then again, influence-peddling is a buyer’s market. It’s also a good investment, since the dot-com and housing bubbles broke.

I should write these people letters:

Dear Senator/Representative Trollop:

I didn’t realize your rates were so low. Please send me a catalog of your services.

Sincerely, etc.

PS: Do you accept your competitors’ coupons?

Alexander the Great and Abu Ghraib

Those who do not remember the past, yadda yadda yadda. Will Durant reminds us what war was like in the Assyrian army, in the 18th-7th centuries BC:

The loyalty of the troops was secured by dividing a large part of the spoils among them; their bravery was ensured by the general rule of the Near East that all captives in war might be enslaved or slain. Soldiers were rewarded for every severed head they brought in from the field, so that the aftermath of a victory generally witnessed the wholesale decapitation of fallen foes. Most often the prisoners, who would have consumed much food in a long campaign, and would have constituted a danger and nuisance in the rear, were despatched after the battle; they knelt with their backs to their captors , who beat their heads in with clubs, or cut them off with cutlasses. Scribes stood by to count the number of prisoners taken and killed by each soldier, and apportioned the booty accordingly; the king, if time permitted, presided at the slaughter. The nobles among the defeated were given more special treatment: their ears, noses, hands and feet were sliced off, or they were thrown from high towers, or they and their children were beheaded, or flayed alive, or roasted over a slow fire. No compunction seems to have been felt at this waste of human life; the birth rate would soon make up for it, and meanwhile it relieved the pressure of population upon the means of subsistence. Probably it was in part by their reputation for mercy to prisoners of war that Alexander and C???sar undermined the morale of the enemy, and conquered the Mediterranean world.

— Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, vol. 1, Our Oriental Heritage, p. 271

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One Christmas, Under God, With Fries, Hold the Drama

For years now, whenever someone argued that the insertion of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance or “In God We Trust” on dollar bills was a violation of separation of church and state, there have always been people who’d jump in with comments like “What’s the big deal?”, “Get a life”, “Aren’t there more important things to worry about?”, “So just don’t say the `under God’ part”, and so on.

Now some retailers, in an effort to make as much money as possible during the various end-of-year holidays — and I hope you won’t think me overly cynical for thinking that a company like Lowe’s or Target is motivated more by profit than anything else — have been writing “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” on their bannners, flyers, and ads. And right-wingers like Bill O’Reilly and the American Family Association are getting their knickers in a twist.

I think this is the part where I get to tell them to get a life, and what’s the big deal, anyway?

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Am I A Conservative?

Over at, nazgul12 has an article on what it means to be a conservative:

But I think there are some pretty basic things that are central to the conservative movement, which is the movement the Republican party has come to identify itself with. If you fundamentally disagree with some of these central tenements [sic] of conservatism then you probably don’t really belong amongst the ranks of Republicans. Before someone says I’m being too vague I’ll try to list at least a couple. The the order is in no way meant to convey order of importance.

  1. Limited government
  2. Free market economies
  3. Democracy is superior to monarchy, dictatorship, communism, etc.
  4. A strong military is necessary to insure [sic] peace.
  5. Life is precious and innocents should be protected at all stages of life. In matters of diplomacy you should take that action which helps insure [sic] the greatest number of lives are protected. Sometimes this means declaring war to protect your people, even though it means the death of others.

Let’s take these point by point:
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Not Such A Good Deal

As of this writing, the Ronald Reagan Memorial National Debt stands at eight trillion, ninety-five billion, nine hundred forty-four million, eight hundred ninety-two thousand, three hundred seventy-one dollars and forty-eight cents. That’s a stack of $100 bills 549 miles high ([1]). The Hubble Space Telescope orbits about 375 miles above Earth.

In fiscal 2005, the US government made $2.053 trillion, and spent $352 billion paying interest on the debt. This is just the minimum payment to keep the debt from growing even more.

In other words, for every dollar that the US government receives in taxes, 17 cents gets taken off the top right off the bat to pay interest on the debt. For every one of your tax dollars, the government can only spend 83 cents on defense, homeland security, urban development, law enforcement, Medicare/Medicaid, research, and everything else the government does.

We Americans love a good bargain. I don’t think paying $1.20 for a dollar’s worth of defense is a good deal.

Guns for Tots

Here’s an idea: let’s give everyone a gun on their thirteenth birthday. After all, if we don’t exercise our second amendment rights, we’ll lose them, right?
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