Craigslist: Cyber Pimp

•May 18, 2009 • 2 Comments

Speaking of no Full Release…

I always figured the Erotic Services space on Craigslist was much like the back pages of The Village Voice. Somebody obviously finds it useful because it it’s there. But chances are you’re less likely to find Julia Roberts and more likely to find yourself with a nuclear-strength venereal disease and/or beat up and robbed by some dude in pantyhose. So it was no surprise to me when someone used Craigslist ads to start dropping bodies left and right. Actually, it was only one body but that was enough to earn the nickname: “Craiglist Killer”. And that sexy nickname was all the media needed to put the story on heavy rotation.

Unless you’re a rapper, it’s never good when then name of your your neighborhood or business is followed by “Killer” or “Slasher” or “Strangler”. The cops already had it in for Craigslist. It was probably about a year ago when I read a NYT article about cops going after prostitutes who were hawking their panties there. The cops said that the online classifieds site had become a haven for illicit sexual activity. So when Phillip Markoff allegedly donned his Craigslist Killer mask, he gave authorities exactly what they needed to come down on them even harder.  Naturally, Craigslist cooperated to help catch the killer, but while the investigation was ongoing, law enforcement officials from around the country put extra pressure on them to do something about their online brothel. So they did. They renamed it! Starting this week, the ‘Erotic Services’ section will be called Adult Servicesand Craigslist will force (ahem) adult advertisers to pay between $5-$10 to do business. Problem solved! The good folks at Craigslist aren’t stupid. If there’s a market for goods or services that can’t be provided by a mainstream market, the black market will take it. Why not take a slice? At least Craigslist is trying to make it as above board as possible. They’re going to screen ads for nasty pictures and make sure they get working telephone numbers to protect their uh… ladies. Which effectively makes them Cyber Pimps.  But this also raises a larger question: Should prostitution be illegal?

Sex is as important to the human species as protein and not being eaten by lions. Obviously, you can’t buy a steak from just ol’ anywhere to get your protein. The place you buy your meat is controlled by some government Health Department. The place that slaughtered the animal is controlled by Food and Drug Administration -as is the place that housed and fed the cows from the day they were born. Steak isn’t illegal, it’s regulated.  And in some parts of the world, including some parts of this country, prostitution isn’t illegal, it’s regulated. Though inadvertent, don’t think the irony of comparing prostitution to the meat industry is lost on me, either. But if we take a lesson from our friends in Amsterdam who have legalized prostitution, their working girls are licensed and constantly medically screened by the government. Their industry exists in an open market so there are little to no instances of murder or physical abuse … unless that’s what you paid for. Why not get a government agency to regulate prostitutionin the US? This would probably be one of the few agencies that would operate without needing funding.

This isn’t to say that I’m an avid proponent of legalized prostitution. The industry places a monetized value on sex, which has far reaching consequences even into the lives of people who would never sell their bodies or partake. That value is what causes people to sell other people into sexual slavery. That value is what makes some men think that money can buy anything from a trophy wife to a sex tour vacation. That value is what makes some women not mess with no broke niggas. There’s a lot more to it, and correlation isn’t causation, but it’s not that far a leap. Sex is a human necessity and those who can’t get it for free, are going to pay for it. I’m just not convinced that allowing it to operate underground is the best thing for those on either side of that transaction.

If I were Barack Obama, I’d release this statement:

“Uh, look… I have to tread lightly with this because, well first of all, Michelle watches everything I do. And also when I make decisions for what’s best for this country, I always keep my two daughters in mind. So, I wouldn’t want them to get the wrong idea about the value of sex. However, prostitution isn’t called the world’s oldest profession for nothing. It’s had its place in human society for a very long time. The prohibition on prostitution hasn’t stopped it and it never will. Regulation doesn’t work with all markets, but it may be worth giving it a closer look in this case. Perhaps this could help us to break the shackles of our puritanical roots. Taxes are the government’s way of pimping you out of some of your cash. Why not get some money from those who might already have pimps?”

Full Release or No Release? – Torture Photos, That Is.

•May 14, 2009 • 2 Comments

torture muthafucka, what?

So the political internets have been ablazing since President Obama announced yesterday that he was reversing his decision to release photos of detainees being tortured by US troops. The change was a complete 180 from his previous stance of providing transparency into the atrocities of war (while leaving the door open for bringing criminal charges against members of the Bush administration). Obama said his change was based on Generals’ assessments that US troops would come under more fire if the photos were release. And it would ultimately be a threat to national security because everyone knows: terrorist may not have many family photos, but they got albums full of Abu Ghraib torture photos that make awesome recruiting tools.

The military and intelligence community provided the president with their case for the potential fallout and he changed his position based on it. Cool! It shows that he can make decisions based on facts and that he’s not afraid to change his position if provided with options that justify it. Very cool… we haven’t seen that from a president in a very long time.

But, I don’t agree with it. And that’s not to say that I’m smarter than the military or smarter than the president (far from it). But I think the discussion the country is having right now (including me hitting the “Publish” button) is proof enough to terrorists and their potential pledge classes that some really foul shit has gone down. There are actual pictures of it… you just can’t see it… yet.

Yes, the Abu Ghraib photos caused a worldwide shitstorm over the abuses and Yes, the troops saw an increase in violence over it. And the terrorists propagandized it to demonize the Satan Uncle Sam. But don’t you think there’s a point of diminishing returns here? If you’ve seen one detainee torture photo, you’ve probably seen them all. Unless they’ve got torture photo genres – like porn! In which case, you might get desensitized after looking at one type of torture photo for a while, so then you gotta move on to another genre to get the same effect. Obviously, I digress… too much.  The point I’m making here is the cat is already out of the bag. They’ve already seen torture photos. Will seeing more torture photos make them more angry?

And I don’t know if they got Comcast or Optimum broadband in the Middle East (if they don’t, it’s really only a matter of time til they do… though I’d advise them to hold out for FIOS) but I know they got the internets… and they got television… and they got radio. They are not shut out of our discussion. The fact that we’re creating a new shitstorm over new(?) photos transcends propaganda-ready rumor and brings it into the concrete without actually having to actually see photos. The fact that the President of the United States has had to publicly change his stance on the release of these photos legitimizes the existence of these photos. The terrorists or “the enemy” could simply use this debate to step up their attacks on the troops without having to spend money on prints at Walmart or new recruitment centers at strip malls.

Look. The president promised transparency. And aside from satisfying morbid curiousity, the release of these photos -responsibly and in context- would provide the world with a view into the depths of depravity of our previous presidential administration, hopefully with no impact on troop and national security. Why? Because Cheney, Bush & Co “need to be brought to justice.”

The terrorists don’t hate our freedom. They hate that our government lies and uses individuals and groups and nations to do their bidding. And they hate that we hide behind principles; because those principles are used conditionally. Unless Barack Obama is playing an intricate chess game, and is using formal channels (like using the Supreme Court to force the release of the photos) he’s falling back to the role of the tried and tired and I’m not cool with that.

Jesse “The Body” Ventura Ain’t So Crazy

•May 14, 2009 • 2 Comments

JESSE VENTURA

I used to think that Jesse Ventura was crazy.  OK, I still do. But I just realized that a big part of his crazy is the way he speaks. It’s like he’s a s-l-o-w chain smoker who’s part Donald Trump, part hick from Fargo, part blustery old school wrestler. Listening to him on Larry King Live, though (video below), made me realize that he’s not as nutty as I’d originally thought- or he’s on his meds.

A few things to note:

He’s been waterboarded, defends Colin Powell and he crucifies Darth Cheney on toture, his service record, and his ability to handle a gun- OH!

Says that we would have caught bin Laden if torture worked.

He’s basically plagiarizes my argument for stopping violence in Mexico by legalizing marijuana.

Says government should not define marriage. Keep it civil and don’t even ask for the gender of the couple.

He’s met Fidel Castro and he’s all for normalizing relations with Cuba and drops a gem in the process: (rough paraphrasing) “We live in a free country, but our government tells us where we can’t vacation.” And he’d be willing to be ambassador to Cuba.

He’s a surfer and a poet and will probably kill you if you don’t let him spit.

I’m still pretty sure that if he’d been allowed to just speak (the poetry is a clue) he would have appeared a lot less than sane, but this Larry King Live interview was pretty much on-point.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Michael Steele’s First 100 Days

•May 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment

steele-pac

Man.. When I posted Let’s Get Ready to ROFL, I had no idea how much rolling and laughing we’d get at Mike Steele’s expense. His appointment to “head” the RNC was an obvious attempt at Republicans to say “Hey we got a black guy too!”  Only their black guy was Bizarro Obama and that dude was a study in how to set gasoline and match to everything that hadn’t already been reduced to rubble.. and make an ass of yourself along the way. The funny thing is, I feel bad for him. I like to see the underdog succeed. And I think he knows what needs to be done to change the party around, but he doesn’t have the intellectual capacity nor the leadership abilities to make it happen. Not to mention, the RNC’s base, really doesn’t want it. Their game of accumulating least common denominator voters has worked for so long that they no longer know how to speak intelligently to intelligent people; and enough of the populace has evolved beyond falling for their tools of fear and loathing that they’ve severely marginalized themselves. But still, they’d rather continue playing that game. So in our universe, like Superman’s, Bizarro was doomed to failure from jump. Just substitute the yellow sun and blue kryptonite with reason and common sense. And two or more political parties with reason and common sense would be a lot better for this country than almost one.

Maybe I don’t feel so bad…. He knew about the landmines that awaited him… and fuck if he didn’t smash himself onto each and every one.

Ladies and Gents, Micky Steez’s First 100 Days

If I were Barack Obama…

“Well.. Look. What is there to say? When someone ether’s himself on this level… all you gotta do is stand by and let them twist in the wind.”

My President is Pretty Fucking Funny

•May 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Nowhere as biting as Stephen Colbert’s complete immolation of the White House and the Press Corps who licked their boots a couple years back (seriously, watch that shit). But the president drops some well placed zingers on Micky Steez, a few others and himself. Enjoy.

Oh and here’s Colbert’s roast in case you were too lazy to click the link above.

SEC Investigating Manny Ramirez for Insider Trading

•May 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

[||]

The Securities and Exchange Commission is now investigating Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez for insider trading. This, after Ramirez’s publicist told reporters today that his suspension costing an estimated $7.7 million will be offset by a stock market windfall.

The Dodgers left fielder was suspended for 50 days after testing positive for HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, a drug commonly prescribed to women having difficulty getting pregnant. Publicist Gina Fernandez told reporters that Ramirez’s stock portfolio included millions of shares of 3 pharmaceutical companies that manufacture HCG and their stock prices more than doubled in early morning trading. When interviewed, Mr Ramirez said  “At first, I was really mad because my doctor gave me some drugs to take which I didn’t know was illegal. However, my doctor is also my stock broker and my cat groomer and he’s a freaking genius. I’m not upset. I made almost 9 million dollars overnight. I’m going to Puerto Plata to relax, maybe play some pickup beisbol. But I’m truly sorry to the fans.”

Market analysts say the stock surge was partially brought on by better than expected unemployment figures, but mostly spurred by publicity on the Ramirez suspension. Officials from the SEC could not be reached for comment.

Shit Smears and Tax Evasion

•May 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

@ 1:30 Erin Burnett of CNBC defends tax havens on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Ever watch one of those documentaries on how they built NYC’s first skyscrapers? Back then, the corporate powers that be let everyone know human life was expendable. Occupational safety laws weren’t what they are today and that combined with the fact that so many people didn’t have much to do it made for a macabre NASCAR  spectacle. People gathered outside construction sites hoping to see a body slam to the earth from record breaking heights. During the Great Depression, out of work construction workers also gathered with tools in hand, hoping to replace one of the newly be-splattered. One skyscraper construction firm said that by the early 1920’s there was 1 death for every 33 hours worked.

The food business wasn’t much better or safer. Imagine if instead of the small percentage of roach legs and rat droppings that’s acceptable today’s food, you found fingers in your can o’ soup like Cracker Jack prizes.

That’s just the way it was before people opened their eyes. Big money corporations always had a way of rubbing wads of cash on their asses and smearing it on the noses of everyone outside of the power structure. Once the industrial revolution had grown deep enough roots, people’s complaints about lost lives and limbs no longer feel upon deaf ears. Government regulation made it necessary for corporations to wash and powder beforehand, but they continued to try to rub and smear nonetheless.

Even though we’re not officially in a Depression, events of today seem like a bizarro throwback to the Great Depression and Pre-War America. Multi-national corporations and banks somewhat necessarily (we may never really know) get trillions of dollars to save them (and us) from their own fuckups -failing to do what they’re supposed to do, pushing the world’s economies to the edge of catastrophe; but then reward their inept employees with million-dollar bonuses…. And then months later, pull up to the drive-thru asking for more cash: rub and smear… but they’re in no real position to do so.

Monday when Erin Burnett went on her rant about tax codes being in place to avoid taxes -It’s the American Way! – she tried to cheer lead the ol’ corporate rub and smear. I don’t think people are buying it -once again, eyes are opened. That’s not to say she doesn’t have a point. A small but irrelevant point. Individuals and businesses would find little incentive to invest in their homes, themselves or their businesses without write-offs to offset certain expenses.  But that’s not her point. She’s attacking the White House and Treasury’s talks of dismantling the racket of corporations and individuals using off-shore banks to avoid paying taxes.

This table below shows the monies  States lose annually from off-shore tax hideouts. (click to see complete chart)states-tax-theftThe New York Tri State area and Cali alone would reclaim a total of over $26.5 billion. $100 billion for all 50 states. Only in the age of the corporate benefactor/ “robber baron” does Burnett and Republicans defending off-shore tax shelters somewhat make sense.  As fucked up as they were back then, people didn’t mind a little shit smear from them. Why? The pre-war corporate machines and robber barons were the financiers, true creators  and visionaries of American growth. As exploitative as they were, they actually left the world better than they found it. So much so that in 1907, like a financial super hero, Jay Pierpont Morgan single-handedly saved Wall Street and the economy. Flash forward a century when last year, JP Morgan Chase took $25 Billion in TARP funds so that they wouldn’t contribute to the financial world’s death spiral. If you can rescue the business world from annihilation, we’ll take some shit from you every once in a while. But if your modus operandi is raping the world for profits and then needing to be rescued when you fail, you might want to close your mouth when that shit smear comes your way.

If I were Barack Obama, I’d say this:

“Look. If they don’t pay up the tax money they’re hiding outside the country, they’re going to have to worry about a lot more than shit stains”