April 16th, 2012

Godzilla, default

On the cultural vaccuum of the West:

One statement I've come to consider the more true the more I consider it is the idea that Western civilization is essentially an anti-civilization of sorts, at least as far as any consistent, straightforward application of its own concepts.
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Depressingly often one sees apologists for the West proclaim the justice and superiority of democracy and freedom by appealing to base and evil dictatorships' worst excesses, as though this argument would at all convince someone with two brain cells to rub together that the worst acts of group 1 somehow compensate for bad acts of group 2. At a crude level, if your fundamental argument for the virtue of Western civilization relies on not being a tinpot kleptocracy dependent on one resource only or a hellhole ravaged by 30 years of civil war and 20 years of war with superpowers, that's an argument *against*, not *for* the West, as it indicates that the West can't make a strong argument for itself, only the rallying cry of the political coward looking for an excuse to avoid coming up with depth.

But that's what I think. Your thoughts?

Secret Service "Scandal"

Secret service agents engage in prostitution off duty in a country where prostitution is legal and when there is no US federal law prohibiting prostitution.

Will someone please explain to me why this is a scandal? Would it have been a scandal if they went to a legal brothel in Nevada?

I have been asked to expand this, edits follow.

The article among others is here:
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57414500/secret-service-reels-from-prostitution-scandal/

My opinion: This isn't a scandal. It is not a job requirement for agents to be morally superior, just to act lawfully and uphold the constitution. By all I've read, they have not been accused of breaking any laws nor misusing government funds.
GL
  • dwer

Oh, SNAP -- The benefits of Food Stamps, and why Republicans want to cut them anyway

On April 9th, the USDA Economic Research Service released a report suggesting that food stamps (called SNAP) have an enormous beneficial effect mitigating poverty, especially in children.

http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err132/

We found an average decline of 4.4 percent in the prevalence of poverty due to SNAP benefits, while the average decline in the depth and severity of poverty was 10.3 and 13.2 percent, respectively. SNAP benefits had a particularly strong effect on child poverty, reducing its depth by an average of 15.5 percent and its severity by an average of 21.3 percent from 2000 to 2009.

Today, the GOP announced that they want to cut the SNAP program by over 10%.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0412/75190.html

Those effected most are people who have never used the service before, but have struggled in the recession.

So why cut services now? When it's being used more than ever, when people are in more trouble than ever, why on earth would the GOP decide that it's not even enough to phase out some of the recent increases, but simply cut them off beginning this September?

Defense. If they can't cut social spending, the Budget Control Act automatically cuts the DOD budget. Why is that unacceptable? Well, I don't know, but I certainly look forward to the GOP rank and file having to run on a platform that says "paying defense contractors is more important than keeping children fed", particularly in Florida, where SNAP participation has doubled.