Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Department of the Interior Employees Exploring the Privates of their Private Sector Counterparts

So, in addition to windfall profits, government subsidies and shady tax write-offs, oil company employees are also into hookers and blow. Nice.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Dictator Jokes

I love dictator jokes - and although I'm not creative or thoughtful enough to weave them into an amazing text on seditious politics I can record them here so we can all get a laugh.

Joke #1

So, Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak (the first two make a posthumous appearance but after all it's a joke) are all in a cab together headed to a conference on the future of Egyptian reform. They come to a fork in the road and the cab driver asks which way to go. Nasser says "left," Sadat says "right," and Mubarak says, "no just stop here."

Joke #2

The Yemeni ambassador travels to the villa of his Italian counterpart for a diplomatic visit. The Yemeni ambassador is impressed with the opulence of the Italian's residence and asks him how he managed to build such a place on a diplomat's salary. The Italian responds, "Look out the window. See that bridge over there? Well, I skimmed a little off the budget for that bridge and built myself this house." The Yemeni ambassador nods in approval. A few months later the Italian ambassador pays a visit to his Yemeni colleague. He's surprised to find him living in a palatial mansion. "How did you afford such a place?" the Italian ambassador asks. "See that bridge over there?" the Yemeni ambassador asks pointing out the window. "I don't see any bridge," the Italian responds. "Of course not" the Yemeni says, "if I had built the bridge I never would have been able to afford this house."

That's all my tired mind can come up with right now - but I'll post them as them come flooding back . . . .

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Roots of 'Foreign Subversion' Conspiracies in the Middle East? - Actual Foreign Subversion

"Foreign Subversion" is probably the first English phrase any Arab politician learns, and is the explanation for everything from peasant resistance to childhood vaccines (they obviously cause sterility) to curbing media freedom (Israel will infiltrate Syrian Facebook groups). Next to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict it's the number two reason Arab regimes give for maintaining archaic restraints on human freedom. "Irrational appeals to conspiracy theories" could just be another footnote in some Orientalist publication on the Arab Mind, but turns out, they're not so irrational after all.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Statistics Don't Lie But Corporate Interests Groups Do

I am SO sick of business interest groups running these ridiculous commercials that criticize the US for supposedly having "the highest corporate tax rates among OECD countries." Everyone knows (including the jerks who are running these advertisements) that loopholes in the US tax laws in fact result in much lower tax rates for corporations in the US than in European countries and Japan. Most corporations don't even pay income taxes (the result of a perverse interpretation of the 14th amendment that allows corporations to be granted rights as 'individuals' under US law). What taxes they do pay comes from the paychecks of their employees (and I think we've all seen in the last few years that the more money executives make the more they can pay their accountants to hide it in offshore accounts). It disgusts me that these groups can run these commercials that are in essence lying to the public (especially to the public that hasn't had the fortune of a higher education in economics). Here's a link that explains in detail why US corporate tax rates are NOT in fact higher than those elsewhere in the developed world.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

When it's good to just keep your trap shut

A spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry warned that, "Europe should be very careful in its relationship with Syria." Sounds a lot like the British foreign ministry in the 50s convincing the US government not to negotiate with Mossadegh - and we all know how well that turned out . . . .

Despite the fact that the article is about French-Syrian talks, you can read all about the Israeli government's constructive input here.