Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Hobson's Choice

Your Money or Your Life
© 2011 Ross Williams

Headline: Did Humans Crowd Out Neanderthals

Article synopsis: British anthropologists studying hominid settlements in southern France have opined that early modern humans out-reproduced the Neanderthal and simply squeezed them out of existence in the same way dandelions take over a lawn. Other anthropologists criticized the research calling it an old and outdated finding that doesn’t mesh with the current position that humans assimilated Neanderthals – mating with them – until they had no separate identity.

What I see: This is among the tedious academic dichotomies in the soft sciences that would consider themselves hard; it is the nature/nurture of anthropology. Was there prehistoric diversity? or was it the first case of cultural-specieist imperialism foreshadowing the future of the fledgling human race?

The answer is “yes”. There is ample genetic evidence that humans and Neanderthals procreated; there’s also archeological evidence that humans and Neanderthals fought. They would have fought over the same things that people fight over today: resources, paranoias, threats, “Otherness” .... Same as every higher-order species on the planet. And since Neanderthals don’t exist today ... it was their assimilation into, and their losing struggles against, the humans that did them in.

Conclusion: Nature will out. “Diversity” doesn’t work the way the soft-skulled soft scientists believe it does. Static diversity, the kind being pushed by today’s “enlightened” eugenicists which denounces assimilation as “cultural imperialism”, is nothing short of the religious fundamentalism of anti-intellectual academics. Diversity is assimilation if the diversity is to evolve, and the evolution includes force. If diversity doesn’t evolve, it will consign one of the cultures to extinction by force alone. Assimilation is the only mechanism in which the useful traits of the inferior culture can be taken into the future.

Headline: Prosecutors Want Anthony to Pay for Trial

Article synopsis: The lazy and inept prosecutor who failed to get Casey Anthony convicted of murder because he only provided evidence that she was nothing more than a self-involved mother of a dead child has asked the court to compel the bad mother to pay for the failed prosecution. The amount they’re requesting is currently $141,000; it may go higher.

You’ve gotta be kidding me: Citizens in this country have a presumption of innocence – even when, as with O J Simpson and Casey Anthony – they are very likely guilty. But you have to prove they are guilty. If you can’t prove they’re guilty then we’re obliged to treat them as if they are innocent. Compelling an innocent person to pay the government for trying to prove him guilty is insulting, despotic, and is effectively punishing them through the wallet for the government’s legal incompetence.

Conclusion: It was the prosecutor’s incompetence, not her guilt. Nut up and take the blame. And if the voters send the prosecutor packing for wasting their money, ... he’ll be the only one in this case to get what he deserved. At least someone will.

Headline: Economy Slows – Americans Worry

Article synopsis: The recession, which the government keeps insisting is over, was bigger than previously believed, the rate of recovery is less than believed, and American consumers – who haven’t gotten a decent pay raise in years – are simply not spending on anything they don’t have to. Neither are American businesses.

Knock me over with a feather: How long has this been happening? How many people who understand the fundamental connection between government control of the economy and the results of same have been predicting this to be the result?

You don’t saddle the economy with regulation and costly mandate without incurring a penalty. The penalty for coating businesses with, in the example I’ve mentioned before, $500 billion regulations aimed at preventing 3,000 people from getting a tummy ache is that the businesses facing that regulatory cost will raise their prices and/or not hire more employees. Period. That’s the way it works. You aren’t getting around that. It doesn’t matter how eloquently you explain why spending over $150 million for each of those 3,000 people is a good thing.

Prices, which are rising independent of the current regulatory and mandate nonsense, directly affect what consumers will buy. Consumers don’t have the government’s luxury of ignoring their credit card bill. If they do, then they will incur a penalty.

Conclusion: None of what’s going on should be a surprise to anyone unless their name is Keynes, who was notoriously dense. The rest, even the semi-socialist democrats among us pushing for more and more government, have been repeatedly warned what would happen ... and here it is. The only remaining question is whether they will understand what is happening, or whether they’ll blame the evil spirits and spell-casting of modern-day political mysticism. ...by which I mean: the other party and its conspiring league of fiends.

Headline: US Healthcare Expected to Cost $4.7 Trillion by 2020

Article synopsis: ...per year. And that’s if the population remains the same [it won’t], and that’s if government estimates for the government’s share of those costs conforms to current assumptions [they never have, why would they start now]. This also assumes that the true cost of Obamacare will only be fractionally lower than the cost of “healthcare as we know it” continued out [which is highly speculative and irrationally optimistic at best]. Also, many employers will drop their group insurance forcing more into the government program[s]; those who won’t will incur wide job losses due to greater government control of the healthcare plans they provide.

Who’d-a guessed: A far better manner of figuring the true cost of a government program is to take the official government estimate, double it, and then add a zero immediately to the left of the decimal place. The budget office for the Congress which gave us the Obamacare monstrosity declared that it would cost the US $1,000,000,000,000 over ten years. One trillion over a decade. For the purpose of providing health coverage for the declared 15 million Americans who are involuntarily not covered by another health coverage plan. There are another roughly 30 million Americans who decline coverage that is offered and who would be required by law to buy health insurance, and these people would not directly be included in the Obamacare program.

At $1 trillion over a decade to provide government health insurance for 15 million of us, this is a health insurance policy which costs almost $7,000 per year, per person. This is the type of health insurance that, if it were auto insurance, would be advertised late at night and offering low weekly rates regardless of one’s driving record.

Obamacare’s true cost? $20 trillion over ten years. I’ll be far closer to the actual figure ten years into it than the CBO was before it started. Due in no small part because – as the article notes – it will be required to include those who are newly involuntarily uninsured because their employers dropped their group plans. The penalty is cheaper than the cost of the benefit.

Conclusion: There’s nothing so bad that government intervention can’t make it worse. Most of the reason for the problems assigned to health insurance in the first place, and that Obamacare was created to address, are because government got involved with it and declared what had to be covered. Stop helping, already. You’re helping us to death, by way of gross fiscal irresponsibility.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Stunning Revelations

Stunning Revelations
© 2011 Ross Williams

Alright, so there was this guy in New York City who wanted to get to Los Angeles a few weeks back, so he stole several boarding passes over the course of a few days, and used one of them – in conjunction with a college ID – to get through TSA security at Kennedy Airport in New York. The guy is Nigerian, living in the US, vaguely affiliated with a software slash IT outfit in Chicago, and routinely travels for them all over the country.

He boarded a Virgin Airlines plane and flew to LAX. Virgin gate agents, following the TSA lead, let the guy through with an expired and invalid boarding pass but the stewardesses, while counting passengers during the flight, noticed that there was one too many passengers on the plane. He was turned over to LA police and TSA in Los Angeles when the flight landed, but neither TSA nor LAPD chose to do anything with him so they let him go.

The Nigerian, a 24 year-old named [something] Noibi, then attempted the same game a few days later on a Delta flight from LA to Atlanta. TSA once again allowed him through security, but Delta’s gate agents in LA are a bit more on the ball than Virgin’s are in NY, and they stopped him from boarding the plane. This time TSA had LA police arrest him. He is now charged with various crimes from attempting to stow away, to improper documentation, to theft of boarding passes – he was found in possession of nearly a dozen more boarding passes in his carry-on bag.

And of course TSA is once again caught in the embarrassing position of having to publically explain to the general public [and, no doubt, privately explain to their DHS superiors and critical members of Congress] how they could allow a non-ticketed person with stolen, expired and invalid boarding passes in other people’s names, and using a non-approved form of ID through security. Passenger verification is supposed to be their first step.

And of course TSA is once again giving the subject the ol’ soft shoe. Attempting to distract the public with irrelevancies and shiny objects works with some people, naturally, but the general consensus on the TSA’s own website(1) is that they’re dissembling.

TSA’s first rationalization is that they have 21 Layers of Security® and they don’t rely on any of them. The next is that even though he got past the ID check, he was still given the same physical screening that everyone else gets – including having gotten the new advanced imaging technology [which is known as jocularly as possible as the PornoScan], and so therefore there was no danger to the passengers or the plane.

The third rationalization is that they are “considering” taking “disciplinary actions” against those trained apes who allowed Noibi to pass through security ... in New York.

The last rationalization is that we shouldn’t worry because they are now testing another neat, new one-dimensional gizmo that the taxpayers will gladly purchase for them which will do the cumbersome task of matching the boarding pass to the ID.

And naturally, these rationalizations don’t even begin to pass the sniff-test.

Of TSA’s 21 Layers, one is confined to the hiring criteria for TSA employees, and two are the way TSA employees do their jobs:
1] match ID photo to face, match ID name to boarding pass name, and match boarding pass date to today’s date; and
2] operate the various nazi-stand apparatus: the x-ray conveyor, the PornoScan, the magnetometer and the hand wands.

Not mentioned are those whose job it is to hector and nag people at the top of their lungs to take off their shoes and put all liquids and gels into plastic bags, or run the plastic conveyor bins back and forth, and to stand around in clusters debating how to best check a newborn for more than 3 ounces of urine in its diaper. Of the 21 Layers, TSA is responsible for 3.

Local police are responsible for several, airlines themselves for several, the military and CIA for several, the US Marshall service for several, airplane manufacturers for at least one, and even passengers for a few. TSA is 14.3% of the solution, and they can’t – with 67,000 employees – manage to do their portion satisfactorily. No wonder they’ve expanded the responsibility for air flight security by 600% and to everyone else under the sun, including passengers themselves; TSA’s portion of it is guaranteed to not work. There’s eighteen built in back-up plans.

The physical screening with all its various moving parts and removable items is notoriously inept. TSA routinely allows between 60 and 70% of the test bombs and guns through the x-ray conveyor. These are the ones that other federal agents posing as airline passengers attempt to sneak through to determine how good TSA is at their job. Conclusion: they aren’t. They’d have a better record by flipping coins.

Saying that Noibi got the same physical screening as everyone else “including the PornoScan” so therefore the plane was safe is less than comforting, frankly. And how can TSA say that he got the PornoScan when TSA has sworn up and down that they keep no record of who does and who does not get subjected to it? They were either lying then about the records they keep, or they’re lying now about him having gone through it. In either case, it makes no difference, because the physical screening is only good at determining when a 95 year-old and feeble terminal cancer patient who cannot stand up is in need of an adult diaper change, but it cannot find stun guns.

A stun gun was discovered a few days ago in the seat back pocket of a JetBlue airliner. My guess is that it was put there by a passenger wishing to do nothing more than embarrass TSA even further. It seems to be a game with some people today: folks stripping to their skivvies to undergo the patdowns ... people staging hissy fits afterwards for traveling companions to capture for YouTube fame...

Government excess can withstand everything but mocking, which is why most excessive governments outlaw impoliteness. I’d further describe this impoliteness in accurate terms, but certain aspects of Political Correctness stand in the way.

TSA agents have repeatedly been caught stealing property from passengers [apart from toothpaste and shampoo, that is], repeatedly been caught damaging property, repeatedly been caught not catching bombs and guns and knives on the x-ray conveyor, repeatedly been caught being inept, incompetent, misfeasant and malfeasant, and the only TSA agent known to be fired “for cause” is one who slugged a coworker during a PornoScan demonstration for making fun of his teeny weeny tiny weenie visible on the screen.

Now, there have been other trained apes fired, certainly, but mainly for failing to conform to agency rules [i.e., tattling on the agency] rather than for not following society’s rules or the function of the job. The main “disciplinary action” TSA imposes, though, is “retraining”. That’ll learn ‘em.

There was recently a huge sting operation at the Honolulu airport undertaken by local and [non-TSA] federal investigators to look into deliberate non-screening of luggage that had been reported by a TSA agent who was fired for reporting it. Something like 34 TSA agents and supervisors were implicated; TSA has taken “disciplinary action”: they have “delivered over thirty proposed letters of removal”(2).

They didn’t fire anyone for deliberately not doing their jobs. The TSA agent who originally tattled on them, however, was fired. Firing the “over thirty” has not been done; it has merely been “proposed”. This is described on the TSA website – and bragged about with no discernible irony – in an entry called “Accountability”. Apparently, besides not knowing what security is, and being clueless on Constitutional rights, TSA has a bit of confusion over what it means to be accountable.

I’m positive that the agents responsible for allowing Noibi past the ID check station of the security checkpoint will not have to worry about a “proposed” firing; they’ll be retrained on how to look at the ID and tell the difference between a passport or driver’s license [which are valid forms of photo ID] and a college badge [which is not], how to look at the picture and match it to the face of the one holding it, how to match the name on the ID to the name on the boarding pass, and how to read a calendar well enough to tell if the boarding pass is for today.

That’s some pretty complex stuff there. We’d all need refreshers from time to time, I think. The TSA agents in LA who also let him through their security aren’t being “disciplined”, though; Delta Airlines – another of the 21 Layers, did TSA’s job for them so they’re off the hook.

But rather than training and retraining and possibly re-retraining apes how to do what a reasonably bright 3rd grader can do, TSA is trying to get a machine to do it for them. It’s too difficult to match face to face, name to name and date to calendar consistently well, so technology to the rescue. Instead of a grunting ape taking 30 seconds to do 5 seconds of comparison [or send the passenger away to find a real ID, get a real boarding pass, or stand to the side and wait for the real cops to come get him and ask why he has fraudulent documents], he’s going to be replaced by a machine which will, in a minute and a half, need to scan a face, then scan the photo on the ID, then digitally compare the two, then scan the name on the ID and the name on the boarding pass for an exact match. Taking three times as long will be seen as an improvement.

And to a government computer, Robert is not the same as Rob, Bob, Bobby or Robbie. And Robert A is not the same as Robert.

Of course this would all be far easier with standardized inputs. Driver’s licenses all having digitally readable magnetic strips or bar codes that would link to a database holding a digitized photo and name; newer US passports already have a bar code on them. Better yet, why not just implement the national id that the RealID Act of 2005 allows TSA’s parent department – DHS – to implement at their whim. A magnetic strip on the back with your vitals: photo, address, phone number [cell and home], social security number, employer, credit rating, travel history, security clearance, known affiliations ... whatever is seen as useful to the feds.

TSA can mandate standardized boarding pass formats from all the airlines, even if they have to pull Transportation Department strings in order to accomplish it.

There are those who point at Noibi and declare that his little scheme was a dry-run for another round of pan-islamist hooligans up to no good. Others are saying that it’s a common way to save money flying around the country in Nigeria, where he comes from. In either event, it points to TSA not doing the job they volunteered to do, that they claimed to be able to do, and that they were given to do ... and which many of us looked at and said, “Uh, dudes ... no you can’t.” We were right all along it turns out, and what a surprise that is.

Once again, TSA is attempting to replace themselves with technological apparatus to do for them the job they cannot do because TSA reduces security to “things” and not the people holding those things. By doing this, TSA will reduce their job to mere “monitoring”.

They currently “monitor” the x-ray machine, the PornoScan, and the magnetometer. Those parts of the job they do by hand – the patdowns and the ID checks – they either hate doing [they continually claim they hate abusing our Constitutional rights as much as we hate having them abused], or they are – as the Noibi episodes suggest – farcically incompetent at doing them.

Of course, they are also incompetent at monitoring their technology, as the JetBlue stun gun, not to mention countless security audits, shows. But monitoring technology reduces their already reduced job of “things” by adding a layer of deflection; it creates a ready excuse. It isn’t the fault of the agent, the agency, or the US when things go wrong in screening for “things”; it’s the fault of the technology and they need to buy more technology to fix it. Lucky us, we get to buy it for them.

Doing it the right way in a free nation is too awkward when that nation embraces political correctness, especially when the government workforce is tripping on their own power and impunity, and the loudest group of citizens, even if a dwindling minority at this point, equates annoyance and harassment with effective government policy.

1 http://blog.tsa.gov/2011/07/jfk-lax-stowaway-was-screened-by-tsa.html#links
2 http://blog.tsa.gov/2011/06/accountability.html#links

Truth or Consequences

Penny-Wise, Pound Sand
© 2011 Ross Williams

“A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking real money.”
- Senator Everett Dirksen, R, IL

The US is about $15 trillion in debt – $14.3 but who’s counting? …apart from the foreign governments which own almost a third of it. We’ve been in debt since FDR’s days and have added to the national debt each year since with very few exceptions. We had a balanced budget back during the Nixon Administration – just one, I recall – but it didn’t make a dent in our debt. Maybe a dimple.

Then Carter came and, thankfully, went, but only after ballooning our debt by amounts previously unthinkable and making FDR [and LBJ as well] look like a skinflint. Then Reagan came and ballooned the debt further still ... but destroyed the Soviet Union, so at least there was something to show for it. Bush the Elder arrived and spent our Peace Dividend on the type of humanitarian wars that Hollywood lame brains drool over. Clinton soon swaggered in the door announcing “It’s the economy, stupid” and allowed his wife to attempt to scuttle it with Universal Healthcare, making the House turn R in a big way two years later by saying, “Yes, stupid, it IS the economy”, and forcing a series of balanced budgets on Clinton that he didn’t really want to accept. The economy boomed as a result.

The White House Frat Party ended with Bush the Younger moseying in, and one thing led to another as they so often do, and we found ourselves with a suddenly tanked economy, more wars than our enemies could shake their pointy sticks at, and paranoiac federal bureaucracies spending money as if it grew on their printing presses for things they insisted we needed but which we aren’t really so sure about. We added around a half trillion dollars to the debt each year during Dubya, making spendthrift Carter look like a piker.

Enter now the National Savior who insists on a stack of Bibles, Korans or Keynesian textbooks ... whatever works this week ... that his predecessor’s $500 billion annual deficits was bad, and the way to fix it is to throw Mrs Economy-Stupid’s universal healthcare on Dr Frankenstein’s gurney [as well as other things] and create $1 trillion annual deficits. And Barama is making Dubya look like a Scottish miser.

The grand total? about $15 trillion in debt and climbing.

I’ll spare the lecture on how money and the lack of it is either the primary or contributing factor in the demise, destruction and dismemberment of nations, kingdoms and empires. Places like the Western Roman Empire, pre-revolution France, the Soviet Union ... and how self-indulgence is a leading cause of this lack of money [with the Soviets, it was building their nation upon an inherently faulty economic model, which is ideological self-indulgence].

I’ll spare the second lecture on the current state of the world which is seeing a whole series of self-indulgent nations on the brink of collapse and revolution because they can’t stop spending money on things they want rather than only those things they need. Rich, western nations like Greece, Portugal, Spain, Iceland, Ireland, Italy ... and the US.

And I’ll forgo the irony of “the richest country in the world” being the most in debt, and musing upon why so many people don’t know the difference between cash flow and wealth.

But we’re still about $15 trillion in debt. The saddest thing about a nation like the US being in debt is that it is allowed to control its own credit limit. This is like giving a teenager a credit card with a $500 limit, and when he spends $499, we give him the password to the bank’s credit card system where he can add another $500 to his limit whenever he wants. Only the US has the ability to do this. Greece cannot, which is why their Finance Ministry building was set on fire last week during their austerity riots.

The US can do this because the dollar is the world’s “benchmark currency” or some idiot rationalization like that. The world believes they can trust us to be financially responsible. The rest of the world is apparently nuts.

Not that we’re any better. It’s a funny thing about the different political parties we have. Republicans, when they’re the only game in town, spend money like water. Democrats, when they are the only game in town, do as well. However, when Democrats control the House and Republicans control everything else, Democrats still want to spend money like water, but only on things the Republicans don’t want. When the opposite is true, Republicans turn miserly and damn the consequences.

That’s what happened in ’95 under Clinton, and that’s what’s happening now. We have until early August to hack the credit card company and increase our credit limit. If we don’t ... we default. We stop paying bills, the military forgoes paychecks [the Roman legions went without paychecks and started sacking the empire alongside the barbarians streaming across the frontier...], interest rates skyrocket, the financial systems collapse in a cascade of dominos, and the US becomes prime pickin’s for foreign nations to collect on the bonds they own with US collateral.

Of all the foreign nations holding US bonds, China owns the most [$1.2 trillion] – they might want northern California, Oregon and Washington. But Japan [#2 at $900 billion] may give them a run for their money on Washington and Hawaii. Britain may take back New England for their share [3rd place; $333 billion]. OPEC [4th; $220 billion] might like Alaska. Brazil [5th; $206 billion] might take Louisiana and Arkansas. Taiwan [7th; $154 billion] can have New Jersey and Delaware. Caribbean banks [8th; $138 billion] get Florida. Canada may plunder Michigan and Wisconsin just because they can, and I believe Mexico will claim squatters’ rights on southern California and the desert southwest; they’ve been salivating over the area since we rooked them out of it more than a century ago.

But that’s only if we default. ...and if Hollywood writers get hold of the story. Saving us from this outcome are House Republicans and the National Savior. Success is guaranteed.

Their respective positions on this are trivially easy to distinguish: House Rs point out that most of the federal budget is taken up with entitlement expenditures and regulatory authorizations; Barama points at rich CEOs who get tax breaks for owning a corporate jet. And ... well ... waddaya know? They’re both right.

I’ve got no particular desire to see billionaires save a half-million dollars on their taxes by buying a Lear jet, but let’s be rational about this. The problem is in the trillions and CEO tax breaks are in the millions. Corporate jet tax is one millionth of the solution. To provide a metaphor that’s only slightly less incomprehensible, it’s like being a million dollars in debt and going through the couch cushions and finding $1.04 in coins. It won't help. You’re now $1,000,498.96 in debt, because the compounding interest added $500 to it while you were rifling the couch for pennies and dimes.

To put it another way, it's like being $1,000 in debt and trying to pay it with a coupon for fifty cents off a can of Spam.

There’s also a war [or three] to consider. A few hundred billion a year to protect Iraq from itself and Iranian hegemony, and also to protect Afghani dictators from Afghanis and pan-islamist hegemony, and also to protect pan-islamist hegemony from Libyan dictators. Take your pick. One war ... two war ... three war ... these are anywhere from one ten-thousandth of the solution to one hundredth of the solution; between 0.01% and 1%, depending if we want to stop our involvement in Libya alone, or Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan combined. This is more like real money, but it’s still grossly inadequate.

Another easy mark would be the recent regulatory authorization to the FDA of $500 billion aimed at preventing up to 3,000 Americans from getting food poisoning each year so badly that they need hospitalization. That would be a cool 5-10% of the solution, depending on how much other regulatory spending we would be willing to stop. But the main target has to be entitlements.

Democrats elsewhere in the government [and most of them on the street] are less than no help, here. Most are clueless about how our government is supposed to work and refuse to understand the difference between a right and an entitlement. They believe everyone has the right to health care which ... sure. Okay; we have the right. So this, they believe, obliges the government to pay for it.

Incorrect. This obliges you, the citizen to pay for it … for yourself … if you want to exercise that right. A right is what we have when the government gets out of our way and allows us to do something for ourselves. An entitlement is what we have when the government steps in and does it to us. We are given rights by our Constitution; we were not given entitlements.

Would we did have the right to healthcare, rather than the entitlement to it; Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare would be gone tomorrow – and the deficit would self-correct in a decade or so. Would we had the right to old-age pensions; Social Security would be gone. Welfare, another entitlement, is the “right to be a slug”. These are all entitlements, and they cost us trillions each year. If we’re going to be serious about debt reduction then we’re going to be serious about entitlements.

On the other hand, if we aren’t going to be serious about entitlements, then we’d better become serious about speaking Mandarin or Spanish, because that’s the Hollywood ending here. As for myself, we’ve got plans to move to the high desert in southern New Mexico and raise blue agave for the tequila. Stop by if you can get across the new US-Mexican border. I figure it’ll be north of us, somewhere around Truth or Consequences.

¡Vaya con dios, muchachos!

Friday, July 08, 2011

There Oughtn’t Be a Law

There Oughtn’t Be a Law
© 2011 Ross Williams

I’m going to side with everyone else in the country outraged that Casey Anthony was acquitted. But I doubt that many will appreciate my agreement. Too many people already don’t like my form of agreement on this subject.

Like everyone else, I believe that she killed her child – accidentally or otherwise. But it’s important to distinguish, here: I believe this. I don’t know it. That difference is crucial. A legal system which operates on belief and not proof is a legal system that is otherwise referred to as “mob rule”. Vigilante justice. The posse sometimes gets the right guy strung up by the neck, but it’s only by accident.

We’re supposed to be better than that. We’re supposed to be able to set aside our gut reactions and say, “Okay, big guy, prove it to me.”

People are now howling because a jury in Florida did just that: demanded that it be proved.

Only they’re howling at the jury and not the one responsible for proving the case to them: the prosecutor. The prosecutor, from all knowledgeable commentary, failed to do his job, and failed conspicuously. Watching from the sidelines, I was noting that the case being made against Casey Anthony was pretty much speculative and overly concerned with her not being qualified for Mother of the Year.

Yes, the prosecutor proved her to unequivocally be a bad mother. Oh, and by the way, here are some gory and gruesome photos of a dead toddler, so let’s convict her of murder while we’re here impugning her character.

No, Mr Prosecutor; the law does not work that way, and you of all people should know that.

I am not ashamed to say that I abhor how our otherwise nobly-intended legal system is run. The system itself is swell; the people who run it are charlatans, quacks, egomaniacal imperious assholes, power-hungry petty tyrants, overcompensating short-dick narcissists, and lazy political hacks. From cops to courts and beyond; federal, state and local. To say I have little respect for those who populate our legal system is to suggest that there exists a microscope so powerful as to actually detect my respect.

And nothing that occurred in this case does anything to change that.

When asked to explain how the jury reached its verdict, the prosecutor replied, vapidly, “They didn’t see what I saw in the photos.”

Pardon me? The photos showed a desiccated child. I’m sure they saw that; it would be quite hard to miss. If the prosecutor saw anything else, like, oh, I don’t know ... cause of death, or motive, it was his job to point it out. He didn’t. Near as I can tell, no one knows even now how the kid died. No one knows why. Without knowing how, you cannot conclude human involvement; without knowing why, you cannot conclude deliberation.

Murder is the deliberate act of taking someone’s life. Non-deliberate death, if it’s caused by another person, is manslaughter at worst, or an accident at best. If it’s not caused by another person, it’s an accident, period. They don’t know how or why. They just guessed. They guessed, paraded out a bad mother, and showed gruesome pictures.

If murder conviction is going to be a slam-dunk just by trotting out gory photos of dead bodies in front of a person who is easy to dislike, then why go through the motions in the first place? It would seem to be unnecessary. Paste the photos on the gnarled old cottonwood tree, slap the horse on its hindquarters, and watch as the varmint swings in the wind. Photos equal guilt; whoever we catch to pin it on is trivial – and justice is done.

A prosecutor assuming that a jury is nothing but a group of shallow, easily manipulated fools willing to translate grotesque photos into automatic guilt without him answering the pesky questions of “how” and “why” is insulting and offensive to me. And, apparently, the jury as well. They convicted the young woman of the Bad Mother charges – lying to the cops, and failure to report the death or disappearance of a child.

Casey Anthony has been in jail for so long waiting on this prosecutorial circus that her prison time for those Bad Mother convictions will be up next week, within two weeks of the verdict. And people are howling about that as well.

Some states, having watched this freakshow masquerading as justice, are now so indignant that they can’t [or won’t] see straight. Many bills for “Caylee’s Law” are being proposed around the country. They would turn the failure to “promptly” report the death or disappearance of a child into a felony. It is currently a misdemeanor to not talk to the police when you should.

Does anyone seriously think this is the answer, though? making a new law to cover for the prosecutor’s arrogant ineptitude? This won’t stop the next bad mother who offs her nuisance child she never wanted, and it won’t make that mother’s prosecutor do his job any better than this one did.

Want to know what it will do? It will give needless felony convictions to dozens of teenaged girls who, while babysitting for a neighbor, friend or cousin’s child, has the child run off somewhere; the babysitter will panic, call her own mother instead of the police, who will also panic and come rushing to help find the missing child ... who will be found in the basement playing with toys behind a row of moving boxes.

But because the missing child wasn’t reported, it will be a felony, and the babysitter will provide a prosecutor with a slam-dunk gimme conviction to pad his conviction rate. And this will help him get re-elected so he can continue in the fine tradition of the lazy political hacks that fill our legal system from cops to courts and beyond. He’ll then be free, for another term, to assume that the citizens who form the juries he presents cases to are nothing but shallow, easily manipulated fools willing to translate his inept legal quackery into a murder conviction ... as long as it comes with gory photos.