Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Give Me A Good Reason Why Corporations Should Be Taxed

One of the reasons corporations were created was to encourage investment. The shell allowed investors to invest without the then concomitant risk of loss greater than the value of the investment.

Limitation of liability encouraged investment, which was thought to be a societal good. The fiction that a corporation is a person is normative as it seeks to change behavior.

Tax laws are also normative in effect, if not purpose. Corporations spend enormous amounts of time and money complying with tax laws. They spend more time planning their businesses because of tax laws. They make decisions, in part, based on tax consequences. Should they?

A corporation does not pay taxes. It passes them on to its customers. If, starting tomorrow, corporations stopped paying taxes, there would, after transition, be no net tax increase to individuals. To compete, the corporations would lower prices, a benefit to their customers. Government would presumably increase taxes to individuals, which would be paid out of the price savings they were enjoying. There would be a net wash in cost to people and income to the government. In fact, by taking corporations out of the taxing chain, they would save the compliance costs mentioned above, money that could be passed on to their customers, reinvested in the economy, or both. Either results in a net gain to people. Corporations would conduct their business without having to worry about tax consequences, instead deciding on true economic factors, again, presumably a good thing.

The other big gain is that currently trendy word, transparence. People would have a better idea of what they were actually being taxed versus the present system that hides taxes in prices.

So, I ask is there a good reason for corporations to pay taxes?

Implanted Chip Ban Proposed, Among Other Pressing Matters

Georgia's General Assembly meets only forty days a year (though it takes them three or four months to get in the "forty days" due to tricks with the clock).

During those forty days there's a lot of stuff that has to get done. This year our Governor, Sonny Perdue, is promoting fishing in the state by a bill that would spend just under $20 Million Dollars under the slogan "Go Fish Georgia." Tick Tock. Our esteemed Governor is opposed to selling beer and wine at retail on Sunday, though bars and restaurants are free to sell it. Tick Tock. Republicans are proposing that we install a statue of former Governor and Senator Zell Miller on the Capitol grounds.The Democrats aren't sure because Miller is nominally a Democrat but gave the keynote address at a recent Republican convention. Tick Tock.

With all of these pressing matters pending, one of our representatives has introduced a bill that bars employers from forcibly implanting tracking chips in employees. I know that sentence can be read two ways. I take it that the bill will not allow an employee that refuses a chip to be fired. Since the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was brief and vague in its article this morning as is often the case, I'm left with guessing why such a bill was introduced. My guess is that Georgia is a "right to work" state, which, interestingly means that an employee can be fired for any or no reason. We aren't much for unions here in Georgia. But, the reason can't be racial, religious, etc. I guess we are adding silicone intolerance to the list. Tick Tock.

Somehow this strikes me as silly. If it's silly, it is becoming mass silliness because Wisconsin passed a similar law last year; and, seventeen other states have the matter under consideration. You'd think that if it were really a dumb law that it would have originated in California or Oregon.

I guess I'm just glad that the Georgia Legislature and Governor are ahead of the curve in protecting me and my fellow Georgians, especially as they only have those forty, short days to do it in. If all goes right, Sundays in Georgia are going to be the alcohol and implant free, fishin' and statue buildin' paradise God (Southern Baptist edition) meant for us to enjoy.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Unheeded Predictions

In February 2003, the U.S. Army War College issued a 60-page report, "Reconstructing Iraq: Insights, Challenges and Missions for Military Forces in a Post-Conflict Scenario," warning of possible pitfalls. Among its specific cautions: " ... Thus, a small number of terrorists could reasonably choose to attack U.S. forces in the hope that they can incite an action-reaction cycle that will enhance their cause and increase their numbers. ..." "... Without an overwhelming effort to prepare for occupation, the United States may find itself in a radically different world over the next few years, a world in which the threat of Saddam Hussein seems like a pale shadow of new problems of America's own making. ..." "The longer a U.S. occupation of Iraq continues, the more danger exists that elements of the Iraqi population will become impatient and take violent measures to hasten the departure of U.S. forces. At the same time, a premature withdrawal from Iraq could lead to instability and perhaps even civil war. ..." " ... To tear apart the Army in the war's aftermath could lead to the destruction of one of the only forces for unity within the society. Breaking up large elements of the army also raises the possibility that demobilized soldiers could affiliate with ethnic or tribal militias. ..." " ... However, a withdrawal from Iraq under the wrong circumstances could leave it an unstable failed state, serving as a haven for terrorism and a center of regional insecurity or danger to its neighbors. The premature departure of U.S. troops could also result in civil war. ..."

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, online edition, January 29, 2007.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

I Hope I'm Right About This

Why is there nothing in the news about what Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, et alia think about Iraq?

Why does the the Bush Administration refuse to consider talking to Syria and Iran about Iraq?

Why did the Iraq Study Group recommendation that regional talks were a necessary component of any plan to "solve" the Iraq problem, arrive still-born?

My hope in answering these questions is that:

Behind the scenes, the countries in the Middle East are involved in plans to stabilize Iraq.

We are talking to Syria and Iran, or communicating with them through third parties.

The study group recommendation is not still-born. It's in an incubator in the critical care unit being nurtured back to health by all of the above named players.

If these things are not happening, Iraq and maybe the Middle East, will be toast soon after we leave. Is it too much to hope that President Bush, lover of secrecy that he is, is in fact taking steps to achieve in-country and regional stability?

Who Are All These People?

A couple of times a week I log on to The site tracks visitors to my blog. Among the information it gives is the "referring" URL when the visitor came as the result of a search on a search engine.

A couple of months ago I did a short post with a link to "The Federal Judge Song" on It's a funny bit along the lines of the songs done by The Capitol Steps. Since then, for some strange reason, scores of people are doing Google searches for "federal judge song" on Google. I am the second result, which I don't understand. When people come to my blog as a result of this search, they then go to That being the case, why doesn't that site come up as a top result for the search? Regardless, who are all of these people doing the search?

The wonders of the Internet.

Friday, January 26, 2007

It's Almost Too Easy...

to take shots at the Justice Department for the positions it takes in defending cases concerning domestic surveillance.

From an article by Adam Liptak in today's online edition of The New York Times:

"Plaintiffs and judges' clerks cannot see [the Justice Department's] secret filings. Judges have to make appointments to review them and are not allowed to keep copies. Judges have even been instructed to use computers provided by the Justice Department to compose their decisions….Justice Department lawyers have been submitting legal papers not by filing them in court but by placing them in a room at the department. They have filed papers, in other words, with themselves….[A] government lawyer refused to disclose whether he had a certain security clearance, saying information about the clearance was itself classified….[The government accused plaintiffs in one case of misconduct by 'mishandling] information contained in [a] classified document' by, among other actions, preparing filings on their own computers."

It doesn't seem necessary for me to say anything about any of this. To steal from numerous comedians over the years, "you can't make this stuff up."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Almost A Plan

Media reports of the State of the Union address indicate that it was a clunker. Don't know, didn't watch.

About a third of the way through, the President said:

"Extending hope and opportunity in our country requires an immigration system worthy of America — with laws that are fair and borders that are secure. When laws and borders are routinely violated, this harms the interests of our country. To secure our border, we are doubling the size of the Border Patrol and funding new infrastructure and technology. Yet even with all these steps, we cannot fully secure the border unless we take pressure off the border, and that requires a temporary worker program. We should establish a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis. As a result, they won’t have to try to sneak in, and that will leave border agents free to chase down drug smugglers, and criminals and terrorists. We will enforce our immigration laws at the worksite and give employers the tools to verify the legal status of their workers, so there is no excuse left for violating the law. We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals. And we need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country — without animosity and without amnesty." (Emphasis added.)

Seemed like a plan to me, until he got to the most contentious issue, what to do with those illegals that are already here. Having no solution that will appeal to the anti-immigration groups on the last issue, probably makes any "comprehensive reform" DOA.

My thought would be to ignore the last issue. If the rest of the legislation were passed, current illegals would either be caught and deported or leave on their own if they couldn't keep or get work under the new law. There would then be an orderly line (?) to re-enter as temporary workers.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Scary Statistic

"In New Orleans, before the storm, about 4 out of 10 men in the working-age population were out of a job or not looking for one, compared with less than 3 in 10 nationally." Quoted from an article by Adam Nossiter in The New York Times online edition, January 21, 2007.

The four out of ten in New Orleans is not the scary statistic. Think about it, 30% of men of working age in the country aren't working. However you juggle the numbers, there are a bunch of people being supported by the rest of us.

The unemployment rate for December 2006 was 4.5% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate for white and black men, respectively was 3.5% and 8.3%. "Unemployed," as I understand the term means not working but looking for work. Putting these numbers together means that more than 21.5% of men of working age aren't looking for work. (The percentage would be higher using a blended white/black rate, which I couldn't find.)

I'm not an economist. I'm not great at math; and, I'm even worse at statistics. But, an economy where at least twenty percent of the available male work force is "sitting it out" is not healthy.

Posting Failure

It is Sunday morning. I've been working on a post dealing with the controversy surrounding music and movie downloads and my thought that the controversy will die out once law catches up with technology.

Having stated the premise, I am scrapping what is currently four or five pages of meandering discussion. Try as I did to get from the premise, through the discussion, to the conclusion, I have failed. I'm going to stop now and try to think of some interesting issue that I can expound on for a page or two without boring even me.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Torture: Kind Of Bad. Coercion: OK.

The Pentagon announced yesterday that it is implementing new rules for upcoming Guantanamo trials.

It will not use statements obtained by torture. It will use physical evidence obtained by torture.

Coercion? No problem, coerce away, the statements and evidence obtained are admissible.

Class assignment: Re-read Alice In Wonderland.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Who's Story Is It?

Yesterday I wrote the words "[n]icely written. Your words gave me your experience" as a comment to a post on Stiff. Inarticulate. Here's what I meant to say.

You may think I'm wrong; but, reading is better than watching a story. Hedy wrote about going to breakfast at a diner last Saturday with her husband. In her post, she took me with them.

I've been to diners. After the fact, thinking about what I saw, smelled and tasted in them is one story. Reading someone else's description, results in a different story, one I helped to "write."

When I was in college, I saw a performance of Shakespeare's The Tempest. They did it wrong. I know they did because I had read, and in the process, cast, staged and directed the play, in my head. As the performance unfolded, I felt I and Shakespeare were being badly wronged. Bill had created a wonderful world that I could populate while reading. Those people on the stage had done it differently.

Without belaboring differences in art and craft, good writing engages your imagination. Even the best stage or film production does little to ignite your imagination.

When I went to the diner with Hedy and her husband the "narrow green doorway" was on the right of the building as you faced it. The "seven stools at the curvy counter" were along the back wall, in front of the grill. The "maybe ten tables, tops" were along the front wall. Kathy, the proprietor, "with her salt and pepper hair [and] warm smiling eyes" was wearing a red sweater. Hedy by her descriptions, gave me the basics with which to cast and stage the play.

Had I not read Hedy's story, and gone to see her or someone else's production of it, their interpretation would be limiting. They might put the door on the left, the counter could be on the side wall and Kathy could be wearing an apron. I'm then stuck with their interpretation whether good or bad. I could like it, or not. In either case, I can't participate. Reading good writing trumps watching even the best play or movie.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


The following is from a January 16, 2007 New York Times online article about a judge's efforts to enjoin further distribution of documents online. The documents had been "sealed" in connection with a lawsuit; but, had made their way to several people and organizations (including the NY Times) who published them. The judge's order told the people who got them to tell the people who got them from them to destroy them and tell the people getting them from them to..... You get the idea.

"On his TortsProf blog (, William G. Childs, an assistant professor at Western New England School of Law in Springfield, Mass., put it this way in a headline: 'Judge Tries to Unring Bell Hanging Around Neck of Horse Already Out of Barn Being Carried on Ship That Has Sailed.'”

Well put.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Screwed Up Again

Ten minutes ago I realized that my brother, Tim, celebrated his birthday, drumroll, three days ago. I am always forgetting these things. My excuse, lame as it is, is that my former secretary used to keep a diary and give me a sheet of paper a week ahead, four days ahead and the day before. I usually ended up patronizing FedEx or UPS the day before.

Happy Birthday Tim!!!

Feel free to wish him well by way of a comment below.

What Hath TiVo Wrought?

If you've read this blog before, or talked to me in person, you know I love TiVo.

Three stories on the influence of TiVo:

First. I've been in a hotels (being male, the remote is always near). While watching TV, I miss something or want to see it again. Reach for the remote. Damn, no TiVo. Timeshifting becomes part of watching TV when you have TiVo.

Second. I'm driving down the road, half listening to the radio. Something catches my ear and I have the same reaction as I had in the hotel room. Damn again. I think XM or Sirius or both are starting to sell receivers that have a mini-DVR in them so you can back-up while listening.

Third. And the best. I think I'm glad this wasn't me. A friend was in his office which has a TV and a security camera monitor. Thus, there are remotes on his desk. Several people were having a discussion that he wasn't paying much attention to. Yes, for a moment he started to reach for the remote to play back what he had missed while zoning out.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Maybe I Should Rejoin The ACLU

Back when George H.W. Bush was the President he made a snide comment about "card carrying members of the ACLU." It pissed me off, so I joined and became a card carrying member.

I let my membership lapse somewhere in the '90's because I thought the organization was too strident. Maybe some stridency is needed in this century.

Back in 2002 a guy named John Gilmore went to the Oakland, California airport and then to the San Francisco airport with the intent to get on planes to Washington, D.C. As we all are, he was asked for identification. He refused. No boarding. He was told that he could board without showing ID if he submitted to a search which was more intrusive than normal. He again refused.

He investigated and found out that the TSA issues directives about what ID and searches are required of passengers at different airports. These directives varied by airport and were changed, sometimes weekly. He was told they were given orally, not in writing. Thus, he could not see them.

He filed suit. He lost in the U.S. District Court. He appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court which issued a twenty-five page opinion which dismissed his claims. As it always is with law, the Court looked at a bunch of different legal issues. One of the issues raised was that his constitutional right to due process had been violated because he was penalized for failing to comply with a law that he had never seen.

I don't have any problem with a legal requirement to show identification or submit to a search prior to boarding an airplane. On the whole, I think Gilmore, who was trying to get rid of airport security, was, to put it mildly, misguided. But, here's what bugs me. Recall that Gilmore tried to fly in 2002. He filed suit in 2004. Not until 2005, and then on appeal, did It turn out that there was indeed a written directive. Until the appeal to the Ninth Circuit, the government wouldn't even admit that it had a policy. The District Court had decided the case based on the "assumed truth of the content of the identification policy" as alleged by Gilmore. How could such a policy get so far without the public knowing what it was? Congress exempted the TSA from providing notice and the opportunity for public comment because the policy related to security. Given that exemption, no one outside of government knew that the policy was being formulated or what what it was.

Even in the Ninth Circuit, Gilmore wasn't allowed to look at it because the TSA had classified it as "sensitive security information." The Ninth Circuit looked at the Directive in camera and ex parte. That means it was turned over to the Court by the government, only when ordered to by the Court, which read it in private and without the parties' input. Gilmore couldn't look at it and neither could his lawyer. The Court decided that the Directive did not violate due process protections because whatever was in it that Gilmore, you and I can't see "articulates clear standards. It notifies airline security personnel of the identification requirement and gives them detailed instructions on how to implement the policy." The Court reasoned that the signs at the airport that said he must show ID notified him of the policy and that that was enough. Since the TSA and the implementing airline employees know what they are supposed to do, whether or not they do it, and whether or not they do it correctly, no one can challenge them.

It is sometimes said that bad facts make bad law. Gilmore's case may be an example of that bromide. Gilmore tried to fly to set out a test case to argue that the government cannot impose restrictions on airplane travel, specifically requiring ID and searches, without violating a host of constitutional provisions. On the merits, the government probably had the better case. But,the way it went about establishing its policy in secret, defending its position by refusing to even acknowledge that it had a policy and the fawning deference the courts gave to its obscuring tactics are much more important in the long run than the obvious point that reasonable levels of security don't violate the Constitution.

On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court issued an Order denying certiori. Thus, the Ninth Circuit's opinion, for most purposes, is the law of the land. The government is now free to classify pretty much any law, regulation, rule or policy (and do it behind closed doors without the knowledge of or participation by citizens), and put up signs or take out an ad in a newspaper on on TV saying what it is you must do or not do. Four or five years down the road a court may review the piece of paper, again behind closed doors, and vote yea or nay. That's "process;" but, I'm not sure it is that which is "due."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

With Apologies to Trekkies

I stopped last night at a bar to meet with some friends. There were a bunch of big plasma screens scattered around the room. Usually they show sports and news. For some reason, one was airing an episode from Star Trek: Whatever It's Called Now.

I would occasionally glance at it. It struck me that in the original series, the bad guys were always aliens. Romulans and that other species that I can't ever remember, that invented the cloaking device? Hah, remembered, Klingons. Romulans had bumps on their heads. The Klingons had distorted faces. Vulcans had pointy ears..Then I remembered that Spock was half Vulcan, half human. Nice guy, torn by his mixed planet heritage. Pure bred Vulcans were good people, if a little rigid. So too when Michael Dorn became a character. Good guy. So it can't be that alien equals bad.

Alien does equal lack of variation among a species. One facial type per as evidenced by the aforementioned Romulans, Klingons and Vulcans Having gone to Wikipedia, I've confirmed this: Ferengi, all one type. Cardassian and Borg, same. I assume this is budget. Squiggly, tentacled creatures cost money.

But how come all aliens breath air? They do, except for some I remember on the original series that were a sort of low budget Northern Lights. They are always on the bridge on the Enterprise. No helmets. If you want squiggly and methane breathers, you have to go to Mars Attacks. There they had long necks with little bubbles over their little heads. But again, this is big budget movie versus smaller budget TV.

But then there are Tribbles. Easy on the budget, with lots of colors. They may not need air. As I recall they spent most of their time in overhead compartments and utility ducts. Maybe they were anaerobic.

All this is in contrast to the humans on the shows. United Nations. Rainbows. You have your Uhuras, Scotties, Chekovs and Sulus (though we didn't know it back then, your straights and gays). Then came Whoopies (and a little person Whoopie, if I remember correctly), Geordis and Data (I don't want hear about android v. human). The episode last night had some people with wires around their heads. Human or alien? Over the years all of these characters had an episode or two when they were out of character. Good and bad. Maybe, just human.

I guess all you can really conclude from all this is that Gene Roddenberry's future and maybe our present have enough problems without complicating them with racial divisions.

I'm Pissed

A few minutes ago I was midway through doing a post. Google told me it was unable to establish a connection with Blogger and that I should test the connection. Blogger said it was down for maintenance. Result: post lost. Moral of the story: compose in Word, then copy and paste.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Death of Privacy

Several of my recent posts have been about the Bush Administration's, in my view, obsession with trampling civil liberties in its quest to increase national security.

On reflection, I don't think President Bush is the biggest threat to privacy that we face. To paraphrase Pogo (because I'm too lazy to look it up): we have met the enemy and it is us.

Being relatively ancient, I didn't get a social security card until I was sixteen. Now they are passed out with the birth certificate. My first driver's license was filled out on a typewriter. My current driver's license has a digital representation of my thumbprint on the back.

Kroger knows what I eat and drink because I let them swipe the little key-chain card so I get the "discounts." Kroger also knows that I didn't completely fill out the form to get the card because the register periodically spits out a note to me saying that I could get even more savings by mail and Email if I would give my addresses. If I use a coupon, the register spits out another coupon for me tailored to my purchases.

Netflix knows that I have rented Naughty Nurses: Vol. 23, six times (ah, poor old Judge Bork, who got "borked" in part because the clerk at his local video rental place gave out his rental list). Netflix also knows if I am, in its view, a rental hog and slows down delivery if I am. DIRECTV and Tivo know what I've watched on television and when I watched it. (When I went to DIRECTV's website to confirm how its name is spelled, at the top of the screen, it greeted me with "Welcome back, David.")

I go to a restaurant here in Atlanta on fairly regular basis. It uses a POS (point of sale) computer system. Even if the person at the podium has worked there for an hour, when I give my name, he or she knows where I like to sit and what I have eaten in the past. The screen has a code on it, giving me a customer rating (though I'm sure they call it something else).

In the good old days, Joe, the VP at the bank, was happy to give a signature loan. He knew where you lived and worked, he passed them every day on his way to work. Now, HAL the computer, in the server room at Ditech or ELoan, whirs for a second or two and says yea or nay to your loan request.

Microsoft knows everything about you. What it doesn't know, Google does. Microsoft over the years gained a reputation as the Evil Empire. Google, though slipping, still engenders warm feelings among the populous. Both have "privacy policies" that I am willing to bet are very similar and which don't protect you against any of the stuff talked about above.

Each of these "invasions" of my privacy (except the social security card and thumbprint) was agreed to by me. I gave "them" the information. No one was pointing a gun at me. For the most part, I knew that these companies were keeping track of me. I submitted anyway.

My point? We the people have given up our privacy. It isn't coming back. We have come to rely on the benefits of transparancy of lives and habits. President Bush is only taking our complacency over the past few decades and using it to his (he would say our) benefit just like all of the companies mentioned above.

Privacy is on its deathbed and you and I will be found complicit in its murder.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Lost Opportunity

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Hank Johnson, the newly elected representative for Georgia's fourth congressional district, walked up the steps to the House of Representatives yesterday and a guard stepped in front of him. Mr. Johnson, not taking advantage of this opportunity to wap the guard upside the head, smiled and said that his name was Hank Johnson, one of the the new congressmen. The guard smiled and Mr. Johnson went on his way. To date, Cynthia McKinney, his predecessor, has issued no comment.

Postscript To Neither Rain...

First, if you haven't read the previous post, read it before you read this.

After finishing the "exigent" post, I realized I had missed a point about Bush's anti-privacy bent: it's stupid and unnecessary.

Search warrants, especially those sought by federal law enforcement in connection with suspected terrorist activity, are ridiculously easy to get. In a case where it is suspected that a piece of mail contains evidence relevant to a criminal or national security investigation, and it isn't thought that there is a bomb, anthrax, etc. in the piece of mail, the officer can hold the piece and go to a judge, set out facts that indicate that the officer has "probable cause" to believe that the evidence is relevant, and the judge will give the officer a search warrant for the piece of mail. Under this system, the government has full ability to investigate and prosecute crime and terrorism; but, individual citizens are afforded some degree of protection from unwarranted invasion of their privacy.

Where the suspected activity is related suspected terrorism, the government has even more leeway. Some years ago the Foreign Intelligence and Security Act (FISA) was enacted. Under FISA, a special court (FISC) was set up that operates in secret and hears warrant applications. Officers can even get a warrant after the fact in many cases. The warrant is almost never made public, even to a defendant charged based on evidence obtained under the warrant. In 2005 the government applied for 2072 warrants to the FISC court. A total of NONE were denied.

With such a rubber stamp process available, why in the world does President Bush need even more leeway?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Through Rain or Sleet or Dead of Night...

nothing will keep us from our appointed rounds. Except us. Us, the Federal Government.

President Bush has a neat trick he often uses when he signs bills, to try to subvert their purpose. When he signs the bill he also issues a "signing statement." In the statement he sets out how he "interprets" the bill. White often becomes black, sunshine can become rain.

On December 20th he signed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. According to an article in the New York Daily News the bill "deals with mundane reform measures." It also "explicitly reinforced protections of first-class mail from searches without a court's approval.'' In his signing statement President Bush said he will "'construe' an exception, 'which provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection [read first-class mail] in a manner consistent...with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances.'"

Not to go legal on you, but, exigent circumstances permit law enforcement to search without prior warrant. Ticking bombs are exigent. Fresh blood leading up the porch to the door of a house allows the police to enter to find the leaking body without going to get a warrant first. Exigent "EK-suh-juhnt\, adjective: 1. Requiring immediate aid or action; pressing; critical." (Google online dictionary) This time constraint on action begets the exception to requiring a warrant.

"Exigent" first-class mail has a bomb in it or some anthrax.

Emily Lawrimore, according to the article, a White House spokeswoman "denied Bush was claiming any new authority." She went on to talk about exigency and warrants.

She and President Bush doth protest too much. If current law lets you open first class mail to neutralize the bomb and anthrax and doesn't let you open it to find evidence of a non-exigent crime or hazard and you aren't "claiming any new authority" you don't need a signing statement. You need a signing statement to try to fudge existing law.

President Bush, I've read, did well at Yale. I have to believe he was exposed to the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution. I have difficulty believing that he doesn't understand them. So, I am left with the conclusion that somewhere along the line he developed a deep-seated antipathy for what they mean and guarantee. He has two more years to continue trying to gut them. Maybe one thing the new majority in Congress can do is slow him down; but, I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Misdirected Money

Advertising confuses me.

Take drugs. (I guess you can read that sentence two ways.) I would never think to "ask [my] doctor" about some drug which was the subject of a 30 second TV spot. Especially since I often am not sure that the spot was actually for a drug. And almost all of the time, I don't know what the drug is for. "Doc. Here's a list of TV ads that I think are for drugs. I don't know what they are for; but, could you check me out see if I can take any of these? Please, please?"

Actually, Viagra and Cialis are exceptions to this. Few men would have gone to their doctor seven or eight years ago and raised the subject of erectile dysfunction. Physicians didn't have the "disorder" high on their screening radar. The drug companies had to create a demand for a product that no one admitted to needing. Consumer advertising made sense. (While on the subject of male enhancement - isn't that a great phrase - the ad agency that turned the legal disclaimer into advertising gold, should get a lifetime achievement award. "If your erection lasts more than four hours, see your doctor immediately." Insert your own jokes here.)

I suppose I'm wrong about drug ads in general. The ads keep coming at a cost of tens of millions of dollars a year. They must work. Physicians must long for the simple days of "detail men (now pretty women)" with their pens, scratch pads and free staff lunches.

Now BASF. What's up with that. Raise your hand if you ever bought anything because it contained a BASF product. No hands. Purchasing Agents - when was the last time you poured over the BASF catalogue the morning after seeing one of its commercials? Hands?

McDonalds. I understand advertising Happy Meals and Ronald McDonald to kids. There is a valuable whine factor created. But McDonalds spends millions on, for wont of a better phrase, presence advertising. I know it's there. I'd be much more likely to respond to advertising that trumpeted that McDonalds' food now tasted good. I guess they can't do that without violating truth in advertising laws.

The Internet. I have three or four programs running on my computer that fight pop-ups, -overs and -unders. Are you like me and have subconsciously learned to scan a web page without actually seeing the ads? When using Google to shop, I almost never click on one of the blue results. For some reason, I'll click on the real result for the same site that usually is there, or just enter the URL for the advertising site. I think it's because I feel guilty for costing the company money when I am only window shopping.

I suspect that a lot of advertising spending is done on if "it ain't broke, don't fix it" and "we have money in the budget" bases. What would happen if we didn't advertise? CEO's get fired for cooking books, not spending ad dollars.

Finally, Tivo. Proof that God loves us and one big reason that advertising will change rapidly in the near future. In the past three or so years that I've had Tivo I've watched almost no TV advertising. Did you know that there is a rythmn to fast forwarding? I can half watch the commercials speed by and pick up visual cues that the program is about to come back on. I'm usually within a few seconds of the restart of the show. I shouldn't have written that since the channels will change their rythmns to fool me more often. I'm kidding guys. I can't really do that.