Sunday, January 4, 2009


I read that America must find an “exit strategy” from Iraq that will bring “peace with honor.” My God. Honor? I’d rather have infected hemorrhoids. These at least are not a mental aberration. Well, depending on where your head is.

Honor means nothing more than prickly infantile vanity dressed up, usually, in desperate class-consciousness. Of all the symptoms of a weak ego, honor is the most embarrassing, and the most harmful. In a right-minded society it would be made a capital offense. (In women honor usually means chastity, also a bad idea but not nearly as pernicious.)

I do not mean to rail against the virtues, manly or otherwise. A few of them seem to have merit. Courage is doubtless admirable, at least when not engaged in by criminals or ambitious soldiers. Loyalty to friends in the face of adversity is to be commended. Common decency has its allure and occasional practitioners. Honesty? I think it worth trying, though with care until we ascertain its effects. But honor? It is a sure indication of a bad character.

Consider its usual display throughout history. A duke or baron, or some such befeathered artifact of excessive inbreeding, encounters another, a count perhaps, or more likely a no-count, who is in a bad mood. This latter says, “Yomama, Monsieur. Your granny wears combat boots.”

Whereupon the duke, instead of saying, “Oh buzz off, Lancaster, before I York a knot on your head”—this would be sensible and therefore inadmissible in affairs of honor—takes off his glove and throws it on the ground. This benefits dry cleaners, though a man with one glove looks eccentric. Anyway, this constitutes a Challenge, more to common sense than anything else.

And so the Duke and the Count meet on the Field of Honor, in the manner of small boys settling a dispute on the playground after school, but with more gauds and glitter. A duke disposes of greater resources than does a third-grader, though this may be the only distinction. After fulsome precedent ceremony, they fight with swords, suggesting grave inner dimness, until one pokes the other, who thereafter waits for peritonitis to set in. The survivor stalks off with the ostentatious pride of a swamp bird in mating season, his honor satisfied.

Smarter people would settle quarrels by playing marbles, I think.

Now, credit where credit is due. Most often, the code duello approach to honor served to rid society of men it would be better off without. A country can prosper without dukes, while a strike by the plumbers would be disastrous.

But sometimes the effects of aggrieved vanity were actually deleterious. In 1832, Evariste Galois, a preternaturally talented French mathematician, died in a duel at age twenty, fortunately having invented the theory of groups beforehand. His was an extraordinarily unuseful foray into the practice of honor. What might he have done had he insisted on marbles? Honor has a high price.

Military men are particularly susceptible to notions of honor, and should be indoctrinated against it in their formative years. They employ it largely as a veil covering their actual business, which has generally consisted in killing, raping, burning, and pillaging, in putting cities to the sword, massacring the unwilling conscripted peasants of the opposing army, and generating widows, orphans, and prisoners for the slave trade.

None of this would seem particularly honorable if examined carefully, so it carefully isn’t. The soldierly focus is on teary-eyed memories of fallen comrades, on the bravery of the cavalry at Balaclava or of the leather-jacketed bomber crews who burned a hundred thousand civilians to death per night, and such like.

The infantilism undergirding honor can be seen in the game of chicken. This curious parallel to aristocratic bloodletting was played decades ago by brooding teenagers with ducktail haircuts and a pack of Camels rolled into the shoulders of their tee-shirts. One adolescent duelist-in-waiting would insult another in some mortal manner. “Yer a yellow-belly Yankee,” perhaps, or “You’re a four-eyed sissy.” The other, experiencing a hormone surge frequently confused with a call of honor, accepts the challenge to play chicken. They’re going to settle it man to man, though emotionally they belong in diapers.

So they meet in their cars at night on a deserted stretch of road, each with friends as witnesses and supporters (exactly like nominally adult duelists with their pistols and seconds: there is no difference). The witnesses get out and the antagonists, facing each other from behind the wheels of their cars at a distance of perhaps a mile, race furiously at each other like rutting mountain sheep. The idea is that whoever swerves to avoid a collision is a coward, and thus besmirched. Of course they then both survive, and can continue trying to tap the cheerleaders.

Here is the very essence of honor, an engorged, all-consuming vanity, a willingness to die for one’s ego. Marbles, I insist. Much better.

This irrational behavior finds a place in international affairs. In fact, it comes close to being international affairs. One sees it often in the unwillingness of countries (read: psychological short men in charge of countries) to back down when nothing important is at stake, or to cut their losses when hobbyist wars go awry.

As noted, today our thunder-thump patriots say that we must find an honorable exit strategy from Iraq. This means that if we can’t steal the oil, we can at least pretend we won the war gloriously. Again, honor is ego: We aren’t going to swerve. Better that we bankrupt the country, fill the hospital wards with paraplegic and blind teenagers, kill who-cares-how-many Iraqis, than blink. Mine is longer than yours. It is, it is, it is.

Honor is a protective device for people whose self-esteem needs protection. Picture some archduck in England—actually “archduck” was a typo, but I think it better conveys the sense. Anyway, this gorgeous trinket of chivalry, which is itself a loathsome hotbed of honor, probably has twelve toes from more intermarriage than a holler in West Virginia, and a thistle-down intelligence, and the self-reliance of a queen ant. He is a monument to non-hybrid unvigor.

How does he protect his etiolated parsnip-like self-esteem from some village kid named, oh, say, Newton, who would regard him as the intellectual equivalent of a turnip? Easy. He invokes his honor. Defensive vanity. “A mere commoner. Pish.” Elevated nose, depressed intelligence.

None of this is necessary. Perhaps the greatest military thinkers in history are Fredwitz and James P. Coyne, in that order. Dr. Coyne’s proposed exit strategy is simple: “OK, on the plane. Now.” Should this seem unfathomable by its complexity, it could be reduced to four words. But no. What general, what president who has said “Mission accomplished,” is going to admit that it didn’t work so well? We must leave with honor. Not necessarily with all our body parts, or all the soldiers we came with, but with honor.

Question: Can someone smart out there answer a question about Dreamweaver? I want the text of the columns on this site to appear as they do here instead of running all across the screen. I don’t have a Dreamweaver book, but it was easy enough to make the new template used here. This will work for future columns.

The problem is that I don’t know how to backfit the text of past columns into the new format. It’s easy enough to add a table to the old template, but that doesn’t put the text inside it. In code view I can put table tags around the text, which works for individual columns, but “Apply Template” doesn’t apply the new format to old columns. A site-wide search-and-replace to put table tags around text might work, but would probably be messy. Is there a way to do this? I am an appalling Dreamweaver unwizard.


Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table
At which he's fed.

Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes
Are the rule.

Tax his work,
Tax his pay,
He works for peanuts anyway!

Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.

Tax his ties,
Tax his shirt,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he
Tries to think.

Tax his cigars,
Tax his beers,
If he cries
Tax his tears.
Tax his car,
Tax his gas,
Find other ways
To tax his ass.

Tax all he has
Then let him know
That you won't be done
Till he has no dough.

When he screams and hollers;
Then tax him some more,
Tax him till
He's good and sore.

Then tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in
Which he's laid.

Put these words
Upon his tomb,
'Taxes drove me
to my doom...'

When he's gone,
Do not relax,
Its time to apply
The inheritance tax.

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Excise Taxes
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food Li cense Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax (44.75 cents per gallon)
Gross Receipts Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Personal Property Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service Charge T ax
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax
Sales Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Cha rge Tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax


Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, and our nation was the most
prosperous in the world.

We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middleclass in the
world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What in the hell happened? Can you spell 'politicians?'

Thursday, January 1, 2009


When a company falls on difficult times, one of the things that seems to happen is they reduce their staff and workers.  The remaining workers need to find ways to continue to do a good job or risk that their job would be eliminated as well.  Wall Street and the media normally congratulate the CEO for making this type of "tough decision", and his board of directors gives him a big bonus.
I feel our government should not be immune from similar risks.  It is therefore recommended that the following cuts be implemented by the next president.
Reduce the House of Representatives from the current 435 members to 218 members and Senate members from 100 to 50, just one per state.  Also, reduce remaining staff by 25%.  Accomplish this over the next 8 years. (two steps / two elections) and, of course, this would require some redistricting.
Some yearly monetary gains include:
$44,108,400 for elimination of base pay for congress. (267 members X $165,200 pay/member/yr.)
$97,175,000 for elimination of the above people's staff. (estimate $1.3mil. In staff per each member of the House, and $3mil. In staff per each member of the Senate every year.)
$240,294 for the reduction in remaining staff by 25%.
$7,500,000,000 reduction in pork barrel earmarks each year. (for those members who's jobs are gone since current estimates for total government pork earmarks are at $15 Billion/ yr.)
The remaining representatives would need to work smarter and would  need to improve efficiencies.  It might even be in their best interests to work together for the good of our country?
We may also expect that smaller committees might lead to a more efficient resolution of issues as well.  It might even be easier to keep track of what your representative is doing.
After all, Congress has many more tools available to do their jobs than it had back in 1911 when the current number of representatives was established.  (computers, cell phones, jet airplanes - to name  a few.)
Note: Congress did not hesitate to jump on a train for home this week when it was a holiday, when the nation needed a real fix to the economic problems.  Also, we have 3 senators that have not been doing their jobs for the past 18+ months while on the  campaign trail and still they all have been accepting full pay.  These facts alone support a reduction in the number of members of Congress.
Summary of opportunity:
$44,108,400 reduction in Congress members.
$282,100,000 for reduction of House members staff.
$150,000,000 for reduction of Senate members staff.
$59,675,000 for 25% reduction in staff for remaining House members.
$37,500,000 for 25% reduction in staff for remaining Senate members.
$7,500,000,000 reduction in pork added to bills by the reduced number of members of Congress.

Total estimated savings: $8,073,383,400 per year (And that's just for starters - when you factor in their retirement costs the number increases exponentially!)
Big business makes these types of cuts all the time.
If you are happy with how our government is right now, just delete this message.
If you are not happy, I assume you know what to do.