Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Independent Republic of Wyoming

The great state of Wyoming has been in the funny papers recently.

At some point, the people of Wyoming will stop laughing at their own elected representatives long enough to come to an informed decision. A reordering of their legislature is probably coming, and soon. If you follow the link and read the comments, there is one fellow calling himself "gladiator" and using the image of Gerard Butler from 300 as his avatar--he's pretty much the sole supporter of the idea of the bill that was just defeated and I would imagine that not everyone lurking over there thinks he's nuts.

What possessed 27 individuals to consider a bill that would have made provisions for Wyoming to procure an aircraft carrier should the need arise? Talk about being obsessed with war porn.

There are many distressed gentlefolk in Wyoming; people who are dealing with agricultural issues and with rural flight. I would think that a responsible legislature would be working to cut costs, improve government, and deal with the issues faced by Wyoming's population. The fact that they had the time to consider the implications of needing their own force projection flotilla concerns me.

Everyone knows you need three aircraft carriers, and not just one. You have to have one in port, one on the way, and one on station. Perhaps they just want their own Lego version of an aircraft carrier.

The currency of Wyoming is, of course, a buffalo chip.
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

You Have to Love a Poll Like This

These sorts of things are designed to get people chattering away on social media outlets and things of that nature. Is that really what you want your local paper engaged in? Stirring up trouble? Fomenting dissent against the political process?

Asking who is causing problems in the United States is likely to lead to some very biased and vehement reactions. What did you think people were going to say?

Monday, February 27, 2012

America Needs Another Concern Troll

This does not bode well for those who wish to see bipartisanship die a horrible, horrible death. Somehow, I'm thinking that Kerrey and his old pals John McCain and Joe Lieberman are ready to throw Lindsay Graham back into the water so that they can hang with Kerrey.

Either that, or there will be some other crazy configuration of confusion and whatnot. How much do you want to bet Kerrey votes with the Democrats exactly half the time or less and never when it matters?
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The Germans Are Sending Their Best Tax Collectors

The Germans are now beginning to be seen as a bit heavyhanded in their dealings with countries like Greece and Spain. Over the last few days, I've seen indications that there is a brewing backlash. Will anything come of it?

Well, if austerity continues to reign supreme here in Europe, yes. Yes you will see something come of it. The Greeks are well past their breaking point and Spain is there as well. I would imagine that a great deal of social unrest is probably going to sweep Europe, and soon.

Germany should keep their tax collectors and be prepared to send riot police.
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Always Good For a Tepid Laugh

I'm sure that the Academy Awards is thrilled to know that Sacha Baron Cohen was able to flog his worthless film for a few minutes on their dime by going with a lame, easily anticipated joke.

When did mediocrity demand an airing and why are we forced to see this sort of thing over and over again? Cohen practically had a meltdown in public when they wouldn't let him pull his seen-it-coming-from-a-mile-away prank and this is the best he could come up with? Bimbos, a fake beard, and crap dumped on Ryan Seacrest?

I just can't understand why anyone tolerates this stuff anymore. This is why they give money to Adam Sandler to make movies--there's no one willing to tell the people who hand out the bucks that this stuff is over and done with.
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Still the Most Evil Company in the World

About three million Americans are being fleeced--and I say that with great emphasis--fleeced out of their twenty-five bucks a month by America Online. It is a predatory company that exists solely to keep fleecing consumers until they die and until their heirs shut off their credit cards.

If you want proof that America needs a consumer watchdog with some bite, look no further.

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Warren Sapp and Character

The overwhelming majority of ex-pro football players end up bankrupt or broke with a matter of years when they retire. Sapp may not quite be there, but this is yet another indication of his character. Of which, like cash, he has very little.

Delegate David Albo is a Child

This looks cute and all, but one of the reasons why the Republican Party is actually shooting itself in the foot is because there is no possible way that the voters are going to continue to relate to such privileged, elitist and childish men.

Hopefully, enough people will see this and begin to understand what is really happening here. A small group of rich white men are trying to slut-shame America into denying health care coverage to women in the name of pandering to the anti-abortion crowd. This is directly related to the money spent to lobby against abortion and it speaks to how insanely ignorant they are of basic public health needs.

Laugh. It's funny.

Television Listings and Front Page Advertising

Over on Scribd, I noticed this upload for the television listings. I'm not sure why it's an issue, but front page advertising and the promotional photo of Laura Allen both seem to be in some sort of conflict with one another.

Even here in Germany, the television listings magazine feature a beautiful actress in some benign pose. The expressions are interchangeable and the colors all look the same. Only the actresses change, and they are usually blonde.

But this is an American television listing insert for a newspaper that slaps ads right on the front page. Do the people who licensed the image of actress Laura Allen know this? That their client could be misconstrued as endorsing the images of the ads that appear next to her on the cover?

TV Weekly - Feb. 26, 2012

Romney Faces an Indifferent America

That is the presumptive Republican nominee for the Presidency in a sea of empty seats. Nobody's buying what Mitt Romney is selling.

This has to be a severely crushing psychological blow to Romney and to the Republicans who currently support him. If he loses Michigan, it's not over for him but it does mean that there is the distinct possibility that vast numbers of Republicans might abandon his candidacy and turn towards Rick Santorum.

When you see the facts staring you right in the face--no one is interested, no one cares, no one wants to go into a football stadium and hear him speak, no one wants to engage with him as a candidate and get on his bandwagon--then there is little hope left for the idea of unseating President Obama. Romney isn't even corporate enough to be considered a possible winner. This is a man who has lost, and who has lost so badly, it's a wonder he still has a smile left in him.

I'm also encouraged by the fact that the vaunted get out the vote system in the Republican Party is now pretty much a thing of the past. In all of the Detroit area, there was no attempt to draw ten thousand Romney supporters. There should have been buses parked at nursing homes, shuttles to bring people in, and there should have been incentives handed out to get people to show up. Even that would have been understandable. Instead, the indifference shows that Romney has spent his money like a fool. No one wants anything to do with him, not even for free, not even for a chance to walk inside of a football stadium and mingle with the presumptive front runner of the Republican Party.


My belief is that the status quo wants Obama to stay in office. He's just corporate-friendly enough to be a two-term President.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Is This Really a Big Deal?

There is a controversy brewing over whether to take the staff of the Stars and Stripes publication and move them from Washington D.C. to Fort Meade, Maryland. I'm not sure what the problem is, but let's get a few things out of the way.

First, Stars and Stripes is an award-winning publication. It is not crap or unprofessional. There is great merit behind what they do. I have no reservations citing them in the posts that I do.

Second, it is not an "independent" publication in any sense. It is, in fact, an authorized news outlet of the Department of Defense, albeit one that, at the direction of Congress, has some independence in editorial judgement. Monetary considerations are understandable. Here in Europe, there are deep cuts on the way. Everyone has to do their part.

Third, there's nothing wrong with moving the staff to Fort Meade, unless you have a problem with Central Maryland. Having been stationed there, I can tell you, the facilities where these people will be working are pretty up-to-date. They are entirely separate from the other facilities located on the base. Where they will be working is in an area where there are barracks, a gym, a park with a lake, and numerous other quality of life benefits. Don't weep for these people to be moving out of Washington D.C.

When I was there, the construction boom had just started. Fort Meade has a great deal to offer. I think that what the people here might be uncomfortable with is "being inside the wire." Each and every person who goes onto Fort Meade has to show identification. This is how it is with military posts nowadays. It's inconvenient up to a point; if you can't handle it, find another line of work.

Sacha Baron Cohen is a Flop

Once you have spent a great deal of time reading about dictators and studying history, this sort of thing becomes tedious and unfunny. I'm not sure what is humorous about a man who calls for the slaughter of other human beings and parodies the inhumanity of your garden variety dictator. This looks like a fairly lame flop to me. If people are hungry for this, then they don't know much.
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Small Town Crank Beats His Drum

Somehow, the idea that illegal immigration is destroying the American way of life has taken hold in small towns (and, pretty much everywhere else) and it has driven people over the brink. This is all they think about. This is what is making them miserable.

But it's all a crock. This is the classic example of that.

First of all, there is no way of knowing how many "illegal" immigrants there are. Many of them may be illegal but they conform to the laws, earn money, pay taxes, and exist on the fringes of the economy.

Second, they hold jobs Americans won't do. Americans won't pick vegetables, clean offices, or do the things that these people do. And they certainly can't do these things as well as they do and that's important to note. So-called illegal immigrants outwork most Americans. It's a simple as that.

Third, this is a wedge issue used by one political party to get votes. No one who actually has money, runs a business, or doesn't have to worry about their next paycheck cares about this issue beyond the point where they might be inconvenienced and have to actually pay the people who do menial tasks for them more than they currently pay them. Those people tell politicians what to do, and that's why nothing actually gets done about illegal immigration except by accident.

The government can solve this problem in a matter of days. All it has to do is pass a law that says that anyone who employs a person who is not an American citizen can lose their business or property if convicted of employing a person who does not have a valid Social Security Number. All of their property.

So why don't they? Well, it's simple. Americans won't do what these people do no matter what. And they never will.
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Monday, February 20, 2012

The Worldwide Leader Needs a New Headline Writer

Here's what I think of all of this.

First, the inherent racism in the National Basketball Association is evident simply because a player who is not an African-American is now doing exceptionally well and is helping his team win, which is not what anyone really does during this part of the NBA season.

Second, I really do think that whoever wrote that headline had no idea what they were doing when they used the phrase "chink in the armor." I think that ESPN hires some exceptionally stupid people who do not understand history, culture, or society.

Third, Sports Illustrated is always the go-to place for a story about something ESPN did wrong.
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Lifestyles of the Permanently Unemployed

Kudos to CBS News for actually trying to understand the demographic shifts that have occurred in this country since the economic catastrophe of 2008. A number of Americans fell out of the Middle Class and are trying to get back in; this piece shows you what that has meant for these people and why it matters.

This gets to the heart of the matter:

These are not the statements of a hippie, or an Occupy Wall Street protester or a Democrat pretending to care about poor people while a Republican tells them to pull themselves up by the bootstraps of their trust fund. This is coming from a man trying to help thousands of people get back into the workforce.

The lack of focus on why this happened and what continues to happen in America is troubling. That is why there is a powerful disconnect out there between what politicians are saying and what is truly driving people to the end of their resources. This disconnect is why the American dream is disappearing.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Domestic Intelligence Gathering

The New York City Police Department has no business working with the Central Intelligence Agency. There is no reason why a municipal police department should be doing anything with the CIA; they are both encroaching on what is well within the purview of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Something here is broken, and it is at the systemic level. The FBI should have control of domestic intelligence gathering and monitor people who are suspected of being terrorists; they can certainly receive information that is freely shared from the NYPD and the CIA. Ultimately, though, the oversight and compliance of the FBI is the only thing preventing the abuse of this monitoring.

Who is watching over the NYPD and the CIA in this case? What judge is able to review what they have been doing? The FBI is required to answer to judges and when it does not, then there is a problem. That problem ultimately results in criminals going free.

As I said, something is wrong here. The CIA should not be doing domestic intelligence gathering and the NYPD is way out of its own lane. Someone at the FBI must be scratching their heads right now. Imagine if every major city in America tried this.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Old Man Yells At Cloud, Cloud Unmoved

Pat Buchanan has had his Grandpa Simpson moment, and now we can all breathe easier.

For those who haven't bothered to pay attention, his days as a highly-paid pundit have ended with one of the cable news networks. This is hardly censorship and it is hardly even a news item. There is this belief that a television network has to employ people who have different points of view and that they have to be people of substance and quality in order to be taken seriously.

You cannot explain this to free market conservatives, but, when the free market overwhelmingly rejects their nonsense, they think it is censorship. If someone could make money trading on his analysis, they'd be paying him for it as we speak. If the government cannot hand out welfare, why should a television network hand out money to someone who has no ability to draw viewers, stimulate meaningful conversation, and enhance the understanding of a subject? Let them make money; in the marketplace, no one's buying what Buchanan has to sell. If this cannot sink in with people like him, so what? Let him think he's being censored.

There is no one employed by Fox News who can even claim to have Buchanan's long resume. They prefer jokes and clowns over there when it comes to "opposing" points of view. The mere fact that anyone was still paying Buchanan for his opinion into the second decade of the 21st Century is baffling enough. Here was a man who cut his teeth writing nonsense for Spiro Agnew. How did he even last this long?

The Unraveling of Greece

The country of Greece has quickly begun to unravel. Due to the harsh economic situation there, the idea of property rights, a polite society, and a working political process have all been thrown out the window. And, even though most Americans don't care, it is probably true that most Europeans don't care, either. In many cases, you'll find an anti-Greek attitude that is no better than saying "they're getting what they deserve."

It would be an absolute tragedy if the cultural history of Greece went up in flames or was carted away by thieves. But, even more importantly, the people of Greece are beginning to see a future full of austerity, poverty and austerity. Politics have failed; will Greece fail as a nation? And, can Europe still keep a failed state as a member of the European Union?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Doesn't Everyone Know Who John and Ken Are?

You can read a story like this and wonder what they said. Well, John and Ken called Whitney Houston a crack ho.

Now, given the fact that she hasn't even been buried yet, that's still far too insensitive and harsh for California talk radio, and it probably wouldn't play anywhere else, either. There are certain things you can say about celebrities (if this was said about Charlie Sheen, no one would care) and there are certain lines that can't be crossed until the popular culture is ready for them. In the aftermath of Houston's death, there was a tremendous amount of name calling an insensitivity. much of it bordering on racially divisive language. Rarely, in death, is someone so profoundly abused quite like Houston has been abused wherever the mouth-breathing public can unleash anonymous comments.

Whitney Houston's rise and fall was undeniably a tragic story of great artistic promise thrown completely away over substance abuse and bad choices. But calling her a crack ho is crossing the line as it exists right now. KFI's bloodless suspension (hey, they'll be back on February 27th, so, you know, tune in) isn't fooling anyone.

When I sat down to come up with ideas for this post, it dawned on me that most of the country doesn't even know or care who John and Ken are; they are radio talk show hosts from California who appear on a talk radio station called KFI, which is a fairly prominent station when it comes to that sort of thing. They've been on, seemingly, forever, and that's what they do--they talk about things and they end up insulting someone or treading on sacred cows.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Larry King is Now Unemployed

Oh, poor Larry King. No one wants him because he's old and his time has passed. How is it that CNN couldn't find a way to make him a personality emeritus and trot him out from time to time? Wouldn't that have been the classy thing to do?

This Piers Morgan experiment is going to go up in flames before too long. Once it is apparent how guilty he is with regards to "phone hacking" it will be impossible for CNN to continue to employ him. Then they'll wish they had found a way to keep King around.

Apparently, there are people who forget the fact that Larry King was a radio personality. As hard as it is to believe, Larry King was a huge deal on talk radio. Will he be remembered for that? Probably not, but no one in this country remembers Arthur Godfrey either.

Flag Day for Canada Infographic

This is very well organized, and I like the way that the maple leaf is used to add some highlights. Really, all you can do there is white text on red, and I might have shortened the bullet items there, but it's fine the way it is.

One of the things that puts me off is the way the back of the ribbon is bright yellow but contains nothing in the way of information. It thus serves to divide the page unnecessarily. I don't know if that bright splash of yellow distracts you, but it distracts me on repeated viewings.

It's Flag Day!

Are You Better Off Today Than You Were Four Years Ago?

I certainly hope that this becomes the centerpiece of the 2012 election. For anyone to say that they are not better off today than they were four years ago is a tragedy, but things are looking up. Not only did this president stave off a second Great Depression, he saved the auto industry, killed Osama bin Laden, and has put in place policies that are creating jobs, fixing health care, and he is bringing the troops back home.

The Republican Party is insane if they keep trying to run with the lie that people are not better off. They most emphatically are.

There's a reason why Republicans don't do funny; the cards at the link are predictable and lame. Someone clearly wanted to do black jokes and make fun of women and how they look but couldn't get that past their supervisors.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Nancy Grace Can't Help Herself

From now on, anytime anyone dies, Nancy Grace is going to speculate in an irresponsible way and claim it was murder so that she can maintain some semblance of being relevant. This allows her to possibility of being right at least once over the next twenty years.

Just get used to it.

Joe Theismann Doesn't Want Peyton Manning to Crush His Legacy

Here, you can see the delusions of Joe Theismann writ large.

If the Washington Redskins were to sign Peyton Manning, several things would happen. Most notably, the fans would continue to forget Theismann in droves as they are doing every single day. Manning would become the greatest quarterback to ever play in Washington the instant the jersey hits his back. Theismann cannot handle this possibility. He can still claim to be their greatest quarterback right now and you'd only get a few arguments in a good sports bar.

But if Peyton lands in Washington, forget it. The fans will embrace him as the greatest to ever take a snap in a Redskins uniform. If he's healthy, he plays another five years or more and wins another Super Bowl. If he signs with them, he parachutes in and becomes the face of the franchise.

A healthy Peyton Manning, even today, is nothing like an aging Bret Favre or a washed-up Vinny Testaverde or a struggling Michael Vick. Peyton Manning is character, poise, and competence. Peyton Manning is a professional football quarterback of the highest caliber.

Theismann can't handle the possibility, and so, his freakout on the airwaves.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Steve Doocy Told Me We Should Move On

I seem to recall being told that this whole thing didn't matter.

Apparently, it does matter and I don't think we are anywhere near the end of this story. What follows is a badly-needed investigation in the United States that focuses on the role of News Corporation as an American company, breaking American laws, with regards to compromising the privacy of American citizens.

Steve Doocy probably wishes he had been a little more forceful when he said that we should all just move on and focus on all of the other companies that have been hacked into.

Americans Will Not Accept a Catholic Theocracy

I think what John Cole is saying here touches on something that has escaped a lot of the strategists and pundits so far.

Catholicism really isn't very popular in the United States of America, and it has never been popular. Our popular media has avoided this subject in order to appear unbiased. But, the fact of the matter is, the teachings of the Catholic Church have largely been rejected by most of the American people, and by most American Catholics.

Now, is that solely because of religious bias? I'm willing to grant someone the point that there is, and probably always will be, a bias against Catholics. But there is a bias against virtually every powerful religion in the world. And when it comes to the American bias against Catholicism, it stems mostly from the fact that the church is run by a hierarchy in Rome that has nation/state ambitions that are rarely acknowledged.

This battle may be fought in the punditocracy right now, but it will emerge as a battlefield in Latin America before all is said and done. It has been a battlefield going back over forty years. Contraception and the Catholic Church are issues that are going to reach critical mass in places like Brazil and Mexico if this insistence on absolute opposition continues to be the focus of Rome. Throughout the region, there are examples of how a polite coexistence have been achieved, most notably in Guatemala. Could it lead to a violent schism? Could we end up with one Catholic Church for the world and one that is specifically for Latin America, where half the world's Catholics are moving towards the same position that American Catholics have had for decades?

It's fairly clear to me that the actions of America's Catholic hierarchy is now bordering on being anti-American. Will it come to registering bishops as agents of a foreign power?

Well, if the stupidity, the overreach, and the absolutism are any indication, why not? Americans don't want theocracy. If they're not going to accept the born again version, why would they accept the Catholic version?

Cris Carter Should Be in the Hall of Fame

I can't really dispute the part where Carter has not gone into the hall because sports writers do not like him; I do think it is a shame if that is the case.

Whenever I would watch Carter play, I always figured he was Hall of Fame material. He was one of the few players that the Minnesota Vikings could count on. He was professional, consistent, and always played to an extremely high level. This became apparent after his first few seasons in the league. 

To suggest otherwise ignores the fact that the Vikings really never had anyone who could consistently throw to Carter. In the span of a few years, they had Warren Moon, Brad Johnson, Randall Cunningham, Daunte Culpeper, and Jeff George and had some success and some rather notable collapses. This, and the fact that teams used to isolate him and double-team him because he was one of the few stars that the Vikings could put on the field, is something that I specifically remember. I can certainly be wrong, but I used to marvel at the fact that Carter would catch passes while being covered by at least two players. 

So, I would heavily dispute the notion that other teams did not try to shut him down; for many years, the Vikings had little or no running game and their offense used to run through Carter and Randy Moss, at least when the two were paired up, briefly, towards the end of his career. What would be the biggest knock against him? The year they went 15-1 and lost to Atlanta, obviously. How was that Cris Carter's fault?

Now, bear in mind. I hate the Vikings. But Cris Carter deserves to go into the Hall of Fame.

Chipotle is Not Apple

This is the kind of hyperbole that would normally drive someone crazy. What Matt Yglesias is trying to do is use the recent growth of the Chipotle restaurant chain to justify picking someone to be the "Apple" of the fast food business. The problem is, Chipotle isn't going to be Apple, ever, because Wendy's has been Apple since before there even was an Apple.

If you think about it, McDonald's is Microsoft and Wendy's is the perfect antidote to McDonald's. Everything that Wendy's does is better than what McDonald's does, and Wendy's doesn't try to be anything other than a burger restaurant. They have a never-gonna-go-away slice of the market and a clientele that won't ever abandon them.

Chipotle is a fantastic restaurant, though, and I miss eating there. I miss their food like I don't miss any other chain's food because of the quality of what they make. Chipotle is extremely good at organizing and running their outlets. When you go into one, the place actually has the feel of what a fast food restaurant should be. You line up, you tell the preparer what you want, and then you pay. You can be in and out quickly or, if there's a line, in a relatively short amount of time.

The food that you get is damned good. The problem, though, is that even if it is damned good food it's a food that a significant number of people just won't eat and won't try. In 2005, for example, only 16% of Americans listed Mexican food as their favorite. I think that those numbers have increased, but by how much something I just couldn't find recent data on. Then there are the politics that go with certain restaurant chains, Right-wing nutjobs notwithstanding. America has already embraced Taco Bell, but will they embrace Chipotle's? I think that there will always be a price difference that Yglesias has overlooked.

Chipotle's is significantly more expensive than the top restaurant chains. Like Apple, they charge more but provide a better product. The problem is, factors like store location, a lack of a drive-up option (the Chipotle restaurants that I have visited have all lacked this feature), and competition from places like Five Guys is always going to hold them back. How they get over these limitations will be the deciding factor in how they grow and expand further. One of the Chipotle restaurants that I used to visit was located inside of a mall; perhaps they can find a way to get themselves into every mall in America.

The secret of Apple, though, is that you don't need everyone. You need people who have money in their pocket. And I think Chipotle has an advantage here. They use excellent food resources to provide a great product. They don't need everybody, but they do need to get a lot bigger before anyone can consider them the Apple of the fast food world. And, really, how can a fast food chain be equated with a company that makes and sells high-end electronic devices?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Don't Compromise On Basic Health Needs For Women

If you compromise now, you'll never get religious organizations to join us in the 21st Century. I think that the President needs to be clear and firm on this--if you want to do business, your religious beliefs should not take precedent over the need to cover the contraceptive needs of employees.

The religious freedom of employees to not use contraceptives is not in question here. If you're a Catholic, and if you work for a Catholic hospital, you already have the choice as to whether or not to use contraceptive drugs. If you're not a Catholic, and if you happen to work for a Catholic hospital, the law should say that contraceptive drugs are covered. It's really that simple. And if we follow that plan, then the religious beliefs of said organizations need not be compromised in any way.

There is a very good reason for this. We already hold these organizations to the American standard of law and the various codes and regulations that come with functioning within our society. This is why a Catholic hospital cannot simply allow a bishop to walk around dispensing prescription drugs or allow nuns with no medical training to perform open heart surgery. If you want Federal funds to be a hospital, you have to adhere to American laws and practices and standards. And the law says that employers will cover contraceptive care.

Robert Dewey Hoskins is On the Lam

Robert Dewey Hoskins is a piece of work. He has made terroristic threats and he has crossed the line from stalker into a very strange territory where his actions led him to being incarcerated. And now he has escaped.

I don't know if Madonna is still terrified of him, but Halle Berry is and she wants to move to France in order to get away from him. And who could blame her? The guy is batshit crazy.


Batshit crazy has been captured.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Incredibly Stupid and Historically Ignorant

I can't for the life of me figure out how this flag came to be used in this manner. The use of the "SS" runes is pretty cut and dried. Do not ever use them. To use them is to associate with white supremacists and people of that nature. How incredibly stupid.

You may read or hear someone try to defend these Marines. The flag is not actually one that would have been used by a Waffen SS unit or any other unit in the SS. It is not authentic. But the fact that these are white runes on a blue flag is insignificant. Even though virtually all of the SS flags were white on black, with death symbols or arrows added in, the runes themselves are the unmistakable aspect of the flag seen above.

For this, there is no excuse and whoever designed that flag knew exactly what he was doing and either the Marines serving with him were duped into thinking it was harmless or they knew what it really symbolized and went along with it.

The designer of this flag has no business serving in the military and should be given a chance to defend himself. If he cannot, then throw him out. This was not an innocent mistake.

George Romney Was a Lobbyist for Alcoa

Mitt Romney is trying to cast himself as the new John Edwards and appeal to the "populist" streak of the Republican Party, which simply does not exist. No one in the Republican Party cares about the fact that, for a brief period when he was young, George Romney worked as a carpenter or a plasterer. They only care that he got rich fast selling things.

And that's what George Romney was. A salesman. He parlayed his missionary work into sales and started selling aluminum for Alcoa. And when he got good at that, he became a lobbyist for Alcoa. Then he went on to run General Motors. And so on, and so forth.

Populism is dead in America. If your daddy was a big deal, celebrate that. Don't try to pass yourself off as the coal miner's son with a meager upbringing when you have never had to worry about being unemployed or broke. Republicans love trust funds, and Romney is the king of all trust fund children.

The Behavior of the Red Wolf

Somehow, I don't think that this Wikipedia entry really covers everything about the behavior of a red wolf.

Slaughter Comes With a Pretty Face

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Syria's first lady, Asma al-Assad, is just the sort of pretty face that tyrants love to show when they're not slaughtering their own people. The charm offensive against the Western media has basically fallen flat, though.

The Assad Regime is pretty much going to slaughter everyone in order to stay in power. I wouldn't expect too many more attempts to try to win over the media.

I Think I Know Where the Books Went

Patrick Smith asks a pretty straightforward question about what is happening at the little kiosks and stores that occupy airports these days. "Where are the books?"

Well, people can't make money selling books anymore because of readers and tablets. So they have to make money selling things that you can't read on your reader or tablet.

This is not hard to understand.

For Want of a Winter Horseshoe

The BBC has an interesting magazine piece about military logistics, and it touches on several key incidents in history. I took notice of this part of the story of Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812:

This is the first I have heard of this issue. One of the oldest stories about the collapse of the Grand Armee in Russia has always centered around the cheap tin buttons on the greatcoats of the soldiers:

I would think that both facts had an impact on the fortunes of Napoleon's men.