Thursday, August 29, 2013

Leave David Schwimmer Alone

There is absolutely no chance that you are going to get through a Gawker piece on someone who was famous in the 1990s without it turning into a pissing contest about real estate or sex. In this case, it's about David Schwimmer and real estate. Coulda been worse.

The hard-luck sadboys and sadgirls of the Gawker staff have the ass for the idea that Schwimmer might want to live in New York City and do something to modernize or improve the community. By tearing down a home built in the early 1850s, he is now equal to the devil or some such bullshit. Of course, the idea that a townhome in New York is the same as a home built in Paris or London in the 1600s is kind of ridiculous. From a European perspective, 1852 is nothing; in New York, it's merely a firetrap and a public safety hazard waiting to happen.

Schwimmer, who made the mistake of not inhaling his money and throwing it into the wind, is thus not allowed to build a safe, modern, and valuable home where an unsafe, old, and less valuable home once stood. He is not allowed to add to the New York City tax base in a positive way and his is not allowed to improve the value of the place where he lives by investing money into making it better. He's not allowed to bring a building into existence that meets the modern fire code. He's not allowed to do something that demonstrates just how much he wants to live in a place and have a home there. No, we hates what we hates, and we hates the spending of the moneys, you see.

Celebrities and bullshit are a routine thing now, and it is nobody's business what Schwimmer does but we think it is because of envy and things like that. If he was my neighbor, I wouldn't spray paint anonymous hate messages about him because, well, who the hell does that anyway? The world is full of entitled, seething, hateful psychopaths and that's why we can't have nice things.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Jim Eddy

Jim Eddy was my professor of political science at Winona State University many years ago. Here he is, still vibrant and active in the community, and a part of the remembrance of Veterans who have served.

All throughout this country, there are people like Professor Eddy and we do not appreciate their service, their sacrifices, and their desire to make the country a better place.

Death For Nidal Hasan

The important thing here is that this man is no longer a Major in the United States Army. He is a death row prisoner:
The Fort Hood gunman, former Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, was sentenced to death Wednesday for killing 13 people, most of them unarmed soldiers, in a 2009 shooting rampage.

The jury of 13 retired military officers, which convicted Hasan of 45 counts of premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder, deliberated for just over two hours on the sentence. They also dismissed Hasan from the Army and stripped him of his military pay.
Hasan will now be flown to the maximum security U.S. military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he will be placed on death row while awaiting lengthy, automatic appeals.
I think that his appeal process will focus on the fact that his lawyers were prevented from defending him while he behaved, in legalspeak, as a "shithead" the whole time. The wrangling over his beard and what to do with his massive amount of backpay as a Major is going to tie up the military courts for a while as well.

This case has set some precedents that will affect military justice for a good long while.

More details here:
Fort Hood gunman sentenced to death

Bonuses and Mediocrity

This story is not generating enough attention or outrage. The Veteran's Administration is virtually paralyzed by poor leadership, incompetent management, and widespread entitlements. Scores of managers and directors are raking in bonuses for doing very little to solve the problems that modern veterans are facing.

If your performance was this bad, you'd have been fired long ago. That's how it should be with the VA. And yet, they're paying out massive bonuses. Who, in their right mind, would give a man a $62,000 bonus or service award for presiding over a hospital that covered up an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease?

It is unthinkable. And yet, this is how we're doing things. Nothing ever changes with the VA except the numbers, and they're always going up in favor of the status quo and the people who are doing nothing for veterans.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Crazy Old Man Screams For War

Senator John McCain (R., War) has a serious case of delusion and dementia on his hands. His loved ones need to get him some help.

Syria does not have an air defense system or a command and control system that can be taken out "easily" by any stretch of the imagination. Syria has been aided by the Russians in developing an air defense system that can protect itself against Israel and thus, by extension, the United States. This is true because we have armed Israel for as long as Syria has been taking Russian help to defend itself. This is the Cold War standoff that never really happened.

Syria is not worth a single American plane or life. It is not vital to any of our interests. We should not be going to war there.If we push over the Assad regime, we are simply handing anti-American terrorists a chance at becoming the new Taliban.

If Syria were a pushover, Israel would have destroyed it long ago. And while Syria is not invincible or strong, and could not sustain itself for very long against American airstrikes, it has planned and prepared for such a thing for decades. The Syrian partnership with Russia is not a game changer or a winner but it makes them capable of inflicting losses.

Right now, I highly doubt if the American people are prepared for a war or for a conflict that costs us planes and American lives. Cruise missiles would have to be backed with manned air attacks, no matter what people like McCain think they know.

The story linked to above was written by Luke Russert, the new media courtier to the likes of McCain, who represents the use of America's military as a constantly swinging hammer, desperately seeking out another nail to hit. If McCain were president, we'd be suffering through our ninth war right now with no end in sight.

The Stock Market is Against a New War in Syria

If the people who thrive on war and disaster capitalism and knowing how things are going to turn out are down on the idea of a new American war overseas, then there's something about that war that should warn people. Don't count on being properly informed. This whole thing with Syria is about pushing America into a neoconservative war against an irrational actor that is looking to be replaced by an even more irrational set of actors.

This is good news for the contractors who make and maintain all of those cruise missiles we haven't been using because the drones have been getting all of the attention. Maybe they just want to wait until the stocks of chemical weapons need to be replenished; maybe they're waiting on contracts from the Department of Defense to build new vehicles we don't need. In any case, Wall Street usually loves a new war. This time, they're hoping to take a pass.

The Motion Picture Business is in Decline

I don't have a lot to add to this:
As Jason Kennedy reported on TODAY Tuesday, the increasing cost of shooting films has led productions to seek less expensive places to shoot elsewhere. Over the past 10 years, runaway production has led to a 9 percent drop in productions filming in California, a loss of 90,000 jobs and $3 billion in wages. Movies like "The Hunger Games" trilogy film in North Carolina and Georgia, while "Battle Los Angeles" shot largely in Louisiana. 
"We've lost the blockbuster films," said Garcetti. "They don't film here any more. Tax credits around the world and around the country have taken them away." 
Garcetti's solution? Make Hollywood the go-to place again for film and TV makers by removing limits on tax incentives that drive away production, and hire a "Film Czar" in the fall.
There are business considerations here and then there are common sense things at work that have more to do with art than commerce. As the movie business collapses because, well, you can't make shit films again and again that follow the same plot formulas and not see an audience walk away because of fatigue, there is a small chance that there will be a re-alignment of priorities.

The reason why a film franchise like Hunger Games is being shot in North Carolina has more to do with the design and feel of the films, which are outdoor adventure movies that require a setting that is retro in some ways and dystopian in others. Hey, congrats, North Carolina. You seem enough like hell for the setting of the films. This is why they shoot period films in Eastern Europe as well--it is backwoods enough there for the films and shows to work.

Quit making crap, film business. All of these other issues will go away. If you're making profitable films that people want to see, you're not going to be chasing tax credits and other arrangements in order to get around the gaps in funding that exist because, well, Johnny Depp had to have that extra $15 million dollars.

This isn't about tax credits. It's about a business model that cannot sustain the continual remaking of the same dumb ideas as dumb films that people are less and less interested in seeing. This summer, for example, animators made Turbo and Cars 2 and their plots are interchangeable with dozens of other films--plucky underdog [spoiler alert!] overcomes adversity to win it all! And in the nick of time as the bad guy loses! Yay!

I am sick of that shit. Absolutely sick of it. And I don't think I'm alone in this opinion.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Syria Is Not Worth One American Life

Given the fact that we are headed for war in Syria, let's establish several things that are not going to be dealt with properly by the media or by bloggers.

First. this is what the neo-conservatives still clinging to power want. They want a change to "get it right" and erase Iraq from the popular mindset. A war with Syria clears the decks and allows them to tarnish a Democrat with a war of choice in the region. This should be avoided at all costs. America should disengage from the region and focus on developing relationships elsewhere.

Second, this would be a chance for John McCain and his lackey, Lindsey Graham, to reclaim stature as it relates to international issues. They cannot deal with their colleagues and domestic issues are beyond their comprehension. The "foreign policy" senators are dwindling because of the rise of the Ted Cruz/Marco Rubio type senators--the know nothings are winning. Let them win the Republican caucus in the Senate. America needs a know-nothing party to break the deadlock and give people a reason to vote.

Third, no one is a "good guy" in Syria. They are all aligned against US interests and against Israel, so why support any of them?

Fourth, there is no United Nations effort to do anything that should concern the United States. Ban Ki-moon is a cipher who is holding down a position with a stature that is dwindling about as fast as that of McCain and Graham.

Fifth, another war of choice will not revitalize our economy because we have a surplus of equipment needed for war. We don't have the people; we have broken our military for a generation. The VA (see the post ahead of this one) can't deal with the Army we have and we are planning to go to war on the cheap with drones, missiles and planes? This will only make things worse, not better. The only legitimate reason to use the military is to destroy and break a foreign army that wears uniforms. We need to build a military that breaks and destroys the enemy and their will to fight. And we need to use that force as sparingly and as rarely as possible. Nation building is not a function of the military; it is something our State Department is welcome to try.

Sixth, starting a war in Syria will export more terrorism, not less, and this will increase the need to continue violating the privacy of Americans because they can't be bothered to stop telling Facebook, Verizon, Google, et al, everything they don't want the government to know.

When it comes to war, at least fight the next one, not the last one. The next war will require boots on the ground that are yanked off the battlefield as soon as American interests are achieved. If you find yourself wanting war, and agreeing with McCain, and believing something that someone in Syria or with the United Nations is telling you, then you are a goddamned idiot. A parade of clowns is stampeding the country into a war. If President Obama falls for this, then he deserves what he will get, which is a legacy of being as stupid as George W. Bush about foreign policy in the Middle East.

America's natural focus should be on Latin America and the Pacific Rim. Why we are getting bogged down in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East is beyond me. America should be developing a clean way to extract oil from the sea and the land and it should be making the finest solar and wind energy products in the world, ones cheap and reliable enough to use everywhere by everyone.

Our priorities are now sex, religion, reproduction, morality and racial issues. These have derailed American industry and innovation. We are in decline precisely because we're not making things people are desperate to buy.

The Veterans Administration Fails Again

It is time for new leadership and new blood at the Veterans Administration. At a minimum, Eric Shinseki and his deputies should have the decency to resign. It is time to replace those sentimental old fools that believe that they can run treacly old ads about honor and service and integrity and thus eliminate the piss-poor image many people have of the VA. It is time to make the VA into an agency that delivers on time, automatically, and with little fuss. Whatever the Social Security Administration is doing, the VA should be doing that. 

Social Security drops a check into the bank accounts of Americans. The VA should be doing exactly that as well. Then we can talk about the VA health care system and all of the other things that it does. What cripples the VA is getting bent out of shape about the backlog of fraudulent claims that has people who have never served still getting VA benefits. It should be a felony, punishable up to 20 years in Federal Prison, for wrongfully claiming VA benefits. Let them collect their benefits and then throw them in prison when the investigators catch up to them.

If you have a Social Security Number, you should automatically be designated as a Veteran or non-Veteran, based on whether or not you actually served. The day you enter the military, this change should happen and it should follow you for the rest of your life.

We can sit and complain all day, every day about the VA but there's really only one solution--the act of entering the military should trigger a lifelong benefit that follows the Social Security number. Whether this is for disability, education, health care, or death benefits, that's what needs to happen. These two systems should be brought completely into sync with one another. And the VA can't do that, get rid of the VA and replace it with something that will work.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Who Gives a Rat's Ass?

The death of Cory Monteith was a tragedy, but it wasn't a tragedy that should have sent the entertainment industry spiraling into several months of melodrama and garment rending. And I am certainly not saying that there shouldn't be grief, sadness, and a little commercial exploitation of his passing. From a drug overdose.

What I am saying is, who gives a shit now that we have seen two other people throw their lives away since Monteith killed himself by not taking fewer drugs? There was a reality television contestant and an actor on a cable drama who deliberately killed themselves. Is that anything to hold up and show as an example of how to live? No.

If this keeps up, people are going to throw themselves from cliffs and off buildings. The show called Glee is milking this tragedy. They are going to turn out fabulous numbers doing so and revive interest in the show and sell a lot of ads. But let's face the facts.

The kid was on drugs. He died. There is a respectable amount of grief that should come from that. And now that it has been a while, let it go.

ESPN Is Not In the Business of News

The National Football League is well into a campaign to deny the fact that concussions have destroyed the lives of thousands of former players. The liabilities alone dictate that this multi-billion dollar industry is terrified of being forced to pay the medical costs of linebackers who haven't played since the Nixon Administration. Those players, some obscure and some superstars, are dying young, and with their dying comes the realization that the NFL has chosen to delay the accountability moment for as long as it can so that it can find a way to survive this crisis.

By dictating to ESPN what it can and cannot say about this issue, we learn two things. One, the NFL is in trouble. Two, ESPN is merely an outlet that shows sports on television. It is not a network, it is not a broadcaster, and it doesn't do objectivity or news. It makes money by pretending to be something it is not.

ESPN is in the business of selling ads that people ignore while watching sports, often on two different devices. This industry cannot be threatened by anything, especially the dead and dying brains of people who have been injured playing the sports that are profitable. So, what is the word of ESPN worth on anything? Their word is worthless.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ben Affleck Cannot Play Batman

This is a terrible turn of events for anyone who cares about the legacy of the Batman character. Ben Affleck is a poor man's Batman; he is a celebrity actor who will probably ruin the franchise for a generation.

Christian Bale was Batman; he took the role away from everyone and made himself the character by turning in three exhaustively researched and emotionally draining performances. He survived being upstaged by Heath Ledger; in none of the other films was anyone anywhere near as good as he was in terms of being able to flesh out the role and make it his own. This is why Katie Holmes was so easy to replace and why Tom Hardy was wise to wear the Bane mask.

I didn't think Bale would do it for the money and that turned out to be the case. He looked at the payday, looked at what he had accomplished, and went on with his life. This one, single act of artistic integrity makes him the character of Batman. For fucking ever.

Affleck doesn't care about anything other than getting to spend time away from his nagging wife; a franchise-worthy action film puts a nice placeholder on his calendar. It won't make him anything other than the target of fanboy antipathy.

Whatever, Frau Merkel

German Speed Camera
This is hilarious:
“With every day it becomes clear to the United States that this is important for us,” she said at a July press conference in Berlin. “Germany is not a nation of surveillance. Germany is a nation of freedom.”
I'm sorry, but as an American who has lived in Germany, I can tell you, without hesitation, Germany is a surveillance state without peer.

Everything is monitored, tracked and recorded. The presence of cameras is ubiquitous whether you live in Berlin or the Hansel and Gretel Village of Bumfuckheim in the Black Forest. There are cameras everywhere. You cannot wash your car without someone watching to ensure that you get out of your vehicle and stand outside of the car wash while the machine passes over it, back and forth. God help you if you forget to get out of your car and wait patiently while this occurs.

Every single retail store features some form of surveillance and tracking technology. Carrying a mobile phone? As soon as you pass a certain landmark, your provider sends you a text, asking you if you want a deal at so-and-so retail store. Your license plate is, throughout all of Europe, the easiest thing about you to track and record. You cannot hope for privacy when your every movement is being traced by some tracking method embedded or hidden somewhere. Even the speed cameras are able to capture the surprise on your face when you travel past them.

Now, in contrast to this, it was entertaining to watch our German neighbor freak out when the Google car went past his home. He got into his Opel station wagon and followed it, dutifully, and that was the last we saw of Google in the neighborhood.

Whether or not Angela Merkel wins is no longer of any concern. But, her statement is a howler that should follow her into retirement.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bradley Manning Got Off Easy

I had predicted that Bradley Manning would get about 12 years in prison and, given the fact that he will probably get out in less than that, all is well and good. Given how overcrowded prisons are, he could get out in six years, easily. He should not be pardoned; that would not be justice.

The message being sent to future leakers and whistleblowers is not chilling by any stretch of the imagination; those who want to be someone, rather than do something, are going to take heart from this display of leniency and they will violate their oaths and ignore the agreements they have signed with the government.

I have never felt more out of step with people who exist on the left side of American politics. I view Manning and Edward Snowden as ridiculous narcissists who shouldn't be held up for anything other than ridicule. I don't even bother writing about Snowden because, well, nobody really cares about the cases they are involved with, other than to use phony outrage to ignore the reality of defending this country. I, personally, think that the government should remind people that terrorism can't be stopped or defeated; it can only be pushed back and thwarted. How far we want to go in order to do that requires sophisticated applications of politics. Modern American politics are too "dumbed down" for this to be effective.

The Army should have relieved his entire chain of command. He demonstrated an inability to serve as an intelligence analyst and he should have stayed at Fort Drum. If they had simply yanked his clearance and processed him out of the military, all of this nonsense could have been avoided. This is the direct result of a permanent state of war and ridiculously low standards. How did Manning ever make it out of Fort Huachuca? That's what I don't understand.

Job Creation Requires a Big Stick

There is "faltering" economic growth at home precisely because companies won't part with record profits and hire full-time wage earners. If you want to see sustained economic growth, watch what will happen when companies are forced to stop these practices and start hiring people to work for a living wage.

This is where government regulation and policy could push companies with incentives to hire; tax credits would certainly help because we've seen how they have allowed companies to hire more Veterans. Punishing employers for relying on an unhealthy mix of part-time workers in order to pass the costs of health care and other benefits on to state and local governments would also be a great idea to pursue.

When a company fails to pay a living wage, the costs are passed on to whoever has to make up the difference with regards to health care costs and other benefits. We have a nation of starving children and we're debating a minimum wage hike? We're seeing an entire generation of kids with malnutrition issues that will affect them for decades and we're debating whether it is a good idea for a company to eliminate full-time positions and replace them with part-time workers? Please.

We cannot allow companies to reap huge profits while pushing their employees onto public assistance. Tax their profits if they behave in this manner and change their behavior.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Daily Caller

In America, the President of the United States can get a dog for his family and this is what the media writes:

Nah, there's no problem with "race" in America anymore. None whatsoever.

Everyone is Stealing From Roger Farmer

Roger Farmer is an award-winning economist who thinks Paul Krugman is ripping him off. Professor "K-thug" Krugman claims that Farmer's work is dense.

In response to Krugman's denial, Farmer posted several articles and papers that he believes will prove Krugman wrong.

These are the first two paragraphs of one of those papers.
Six years after the onset of the Great Recession, Western economies are still underperforming by historical standards. There have been calls from prominent academics, politicians and policy makers for a rethink of the foundations of macroeconomics. But what would that mean? This article explains how a radical restructuring of macroeconomic theory, based on models of multiple equilibria, can help us to understand the crisis.  
To make my case, I summarize and synthesize results from my recent books and academic articles. This body of work (Farmer 2002, 2006, 2008, 2010a,b 2012a, 2013a, 2014) reconciles Keynesian and classical ideas in a new way. Instead of assuming prices are sticky, I develop a new paradigm to explain why high unemployment persists.
Game, set, match to Roger Farmer, bitches. Equilibria for thee but not for me.

Change the Laws

The surveillance state is here and it is not going away.

There are people who are struggling to figure out which path is the one that is more correct than the other. With that comes an agenda-driven desire to arrive at the superior position, at least that is what I'm seeing in the shrill and misguided opinions that are on the extremes of both sides.

This is the best expression of that struggle--between acquiescing to the surveillance state or opposing it--that I have seen so far:
I try to avoid the emoprog-obot debates. I don't really get them really. It's just posing. I never claim to have the ultimate authority over things but, honestly, I'm really not posing. That I imagine I call-em like I see-em doesn't mean I think I'm always right, it just mean that I'm mostly not being a hack. Tell me I'm wrong when I am! I listen.

The surveillance state is obviously out of hand, super expensive, and quite likely totally pointless (for its expressed purpose) and incompetent. I don't even consider this to be a comment on Obama, except to the extent that he is dishonest/supports dishonesty on this issue.
In order to answer these questions, you have to think about what you would say if Mitt Romney was president. Would you support a Romney administration's use of these powers? If I'm being honest, of course not. I don't trust the Republican Party to find acceptable individuals who will protect our national security without first using their power for the good of their own personal agendas. For all of the expressions of bias out there, it really is important to note that this is the dividing line--an acceptance of the legitimacy of President Obama or a complete rejection of politics and a belief in the conspiracy theory of government. If you have concerns about this administration, join the club. If you think there is no salient difference, you haven't been paying attention for the last decade or so.

The Congress is responsible for ensuring that there is no abuse of government power. It is supposed to prevent the Executive Branch from abusing the rights of American citizens. There is no "unitary executive" and there never has been one--there have simply been instances where Congress didn't exert enough pressure on the Executive Branch. We should be mad at this Congress--mad enough to throw the bums out. Eight years of President Bush have left us angry at the office of the President when we should be demanding accountability from the House of Representatives.

When I look at what has been happening, I keep coming back to the abuses of power that were commonplace under J. Edgar Hoover. There were no checks on his power--he abused his position worse than anyone could possibly imagine. If there's a Hoover in our government now, God help us all. The problem is, we have to provide basic security in a competent way without giving way to abuse. We need to defend this country without surrendering to any tyrants or bullies.

The solution to all of this is a strengthening of oversight and compliance. Nothing succeeds like transparency and sunlight and throwing people in jail if they break the law. In the American system of government, you never, ever trust anyone to do what they are supposed to do. You ensure they are doing the right thing through a vigorous process of checking and verifying what they have been doing. It does not matter which party we are talking about--never, ever put your faith in someone who looks like a swell guy.

All of this talk about the current scandals ignores the most basic thing of all--we have neglected our laws and this is what we're left with. We neglected oversight, we failed on compliance, and we have a set of laws that does not properly safeguard privacy.

In my opinion, expecting privacy in the digital age is akin to being naive and foolish. The commercial gains from selling private data are too great and those laws should definitely be updated as well. If the laws were tough enough, Facebook would be looking at selling itself to someone right now.

It is not--and it should never be--naive to expect oversight and compliance from the Congress. If this isn't a call to arms to throw the bums out and end the gridlock, I don't know what is. We need legislators who can actually legislate; we need to get rid of the ideologues and the incompetents and the show ponies in both parties.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Blessing of Phony Outrage

I'm sorry, but you've been trolled.

If you believe what happened in Great Britain over the weekend, the British detained the partner of Glenn Greenwald because Glenn Greenwald told everyone that his partner was going to carry classified information stolen from the United States from Germany to Brazil by way of a stop at Heathrow Airport.

The United States government cannot order the British to do anything. They do cooperate with one another; Greenwald's partner was held and questioned. His electronics were confiscated.

This has created a massive public relations victory for Greenwald.

However, consider this. No one was arrested. No one was given an extraordinary rendition. No one was put in a temporary facility and made to disappear. No one was tortured. No one was subjected to any violence, other than the removal of some gaming equipment. No one was executed or beheaded in a public setting. For all of the evil that America is supposed to be responsible for, very little of it has actually appeared before our eyes.

What, if anything, did the British get?

Probably nothing. Because this was all staged for the benefit of the enrichment of Glenn Greenwald.

This is what Greenwald intended all along--to take Edward Snowden's windfall and be someone that the world cannot ignore. Now he's making threats against the British and the American governments. How does this translate into enlightening people about civil liberties? How does the bluster and the promise of damaging these entities translate into informing the public? It does translate into making the story about Greenwald and very little else. Because when you stage incidents like this and whip up anger, you are trolling people because you have created a phony premise. When you count on phony outrage, you are engaging in the same sort of tactics that have served liars and lying governments well. At some point, maybe we'll have that discussion about privacy and civil liberties.

Until then, ignore the marketing schemes that are designed to get people angry about things that have been ginned up to gain hits and favorable donations.

I'm sorry, but when Andrew Sullivan is wholeheartedly on board with something, I get a little leery of being there as well.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Your Privately Run Juvenile Correction Facility Sucks, Florida

In Florida, there was a riot. Lots of things got broken and lots of people got hurt. The fact that it happened at a privately run juvenile correction facility is the actual lede, by the way:
A fight between the two teams broke out, and soon others joined in. As the conflict grew, the privately-run correctional facility evacuated its entire nighttime staff of 21 because they were not equipped to deal with the conflict. "G4S (the private company in charge of running the prison) employees are not allowed to have any specialty equipment to include pepper spray, which would have allowed them to deal with the fight before it escalated into a riot,” Polk County Sheriff's spokesperson Carrie Eleazer said. The facility also lacks any security cameras.
Ah, the private sector in action. This company, G4S, boasts about helping to secure airports and they can't even be bothered to provide the absolute bare-bones kind of security that you would think would be present in a juvenile correction facility. Here, they boast about keeping Central Piedmont Community College safe and secure. From what? All it will take to bring down CPCC is a serious case of the college kid munchies and a dispute over the custody of a few bags of Doritos.

If this is how they "secure the world" then what the hell kind of a world is it anyway?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Art as a Vehicle of Change

This is why I love the performing arts and why an appreciation of the Humanities will go a long way in this life.

If you can understand the significance of this photo--and, believe me, few people can--then you are already well on your way to a place of cultural and historical literacy that will leave others in the dust. If you grasp how dangerous it is to celebrate and display this image in China then you know your stuff.

Really, it's that simple. If we can place images, context and history together and know what they mean, we are transmitting the importance of events into the present tense and we are informing others who haven't seen this image and don't know what it means.

Could you teach what it means to someone who doesn't speak your language? Are there Chinese parents who are trying to explain this to their children? Are there kids in the Middle East--Egypt, for example--who could communicate openly and honestly their own belief in what this image represents?

I remember it as a stunning piece of video and not a single still image. The man runs out and blocks the path of the tank. The tank lumbers forward and to the side and he moves again to block it. After a few moments--not sure how long--friends of the man pull him to safety. And he goes, reluctantly.

After all of these years and after all of the repression--it still resonates. It still hits home.

It's an icon of freedom and it actually didn't accomplish a damned thing. The tanks kept rolling, the people kept dying, and the slaughter continued. All that was left was the context of the attempt to stop them.

Yeah, it did accomplish something. That's what we have to keep trying to define.

Cirque du Soleil gave it an airing and a definition; they have flipped Chinese officials the bird. This is what the Humanities look like when properly applied.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Princess and the Cockfight

Irina Walker looks about what you would expect a Romanian princess to look like but that's not the half of it. Where is it written that minor Eastern European royalty are enamored with the rituals of cockfighting? That must be something that happened when she was tainted by the commoners and their rough-handed sports.

Back home, they must be proud.

Stupidity Has a Favorite Beverage

I couldn't make this up if I wanted to:
Many people who end their Friday or Saturday nights in a hospital emergency room have been drinking alcohol. In fact, public health experts estimate that about one-third of all injury-related ER visits involved alcohol consumption. 
But what, exactly, are people drinking? What types of alcohol and even what brands? Is there a direct link between advertising and marketing and later injury? 
Until now, those questions have been unanswerable, frustrating alcohol epidemiology researchers. But if results of a pilot study conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health hold up, there may soon be a way to connect the dots.
When the Hopkins researchers surveyed ER patients who’d been drinking, they found that Budweiser was the number one brand consumed, followed Steel Reserve Malt Liquor, Colt 45 malt liquor, Bud Ice (another malt liquor), Bud Light, and a discount-priced vodka called Barton’s.
They say that 15% of the "Emergency Room" market consists of people who drink Budweiser. How that breaks down regionally is another guess. Budweiser's advertising campaign looks a little too highbrow to be the sole source of blame.

Alcohol and stupid things seem to always go together. You don't have to be drunk to set off a pipe bomb made out of things bought right there on the state line but it sure helps when you end up driving forty minutes to the nearest emergency room where they ain't all "judgmental" and whatever.

Christian Bale Is Done Playing Batman

Honestly, I don't see this happening. Christian Bale is all about artistic integrity and the craft of acting. He would rather be the next Daniel Day-Lewis than the next Mel Gibson.

If you think about what drives American actors (money) and British actors (art that makes money), it's easy to come away with an understanding of what matters most to Bale. He would rather be the guy who turned down $50 million than the guy who took $50 million and made a film that would not earn him an Academy Award nomination. He would rather look good spurning the system than wrapping himself in it.

What's he got to prove? Nothing. And so that might make him do it--I could definitely be wrong. But I suspect that he will embrace the idea of telling Hollywood to politely transfer the part to someone else.

Go read the article, though. It is more of a fanboy's wet dream and a blockbuster movie inside baseball fantasy than anything you'll read this month. Whoever wrote it needs to wash their hands and throw away all of their underwear.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Forever 21 Sticks it to Their Employees

Companies like this remind me of how awful things are going to get before the country starts to accept the fact that Obamacare went through multiple iterations and was severely watered-down before it ever became the law of the land.

This is wingnuttery, plain and simple, and the people who get hurt are the ones who need health insurance and health care coverage the most. This means they will become more dependent on emergency rooms and emergency care, thus making health care more expensive, not less expensive.

They are passing the buck on to the taxpayers. A company like Forever 21 has accountants to help them pay as little tax as possible, of course, thus making the government do more with less. This is a strategy, and it is designed to make government fail to take care of people, and then make people hate government. When they hate the government, they're too busy ignoring the fact that they should be hating the shortsighted beancounters at Forever 21.

Our so-called business elites are frauds and fools.

Institutionalizing Racism

Representative Steve Stockman wants to institutionalize the idea of using racism to mock the President of the United States:
The controversial rodeo clown who on Saturday fired up a crowd at the Missouri State Fair by wearing a mask of President Barack Obama — and encouraging a bull to run him down — now has a standing invitation to perform in Texas, a Republican congressman said Wednesday. 
Though the clown has been banned from future state fairs in Missouri and the other performers have been ordered to undergo sensitivity training, Rep. Steve Stockman invited the rodeo group to perform in his congressional district near Houston. 
"Liberals want to bronco bust dissent. But Texans value speech, even if it’s speech they don't agree with… They want to crush dissent by isolating and polarizing anyone who questions Obama, even if it's a rodeo clown with a harmless gag," Stockman said in a statement.
"Liberals" want this? No, I'm sorry to have to explain this but liberals want the racist attacks on the President to stop. Conservatives have no ideas, nothing to govern with, and they are madly appealing to a base that wants to see the President humiliated on a daily basis by race hustlers and people who don't understand humor or satire.

How is it that The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Saturday Night Live can all mercilessly mock and satirize the President and do this in a non-racial way? Let's see. Perhaps by not going with material that shows the President being run over by a bull in order to delight the crowd? And perhaps by not using the mask that mocks his appearance and features?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Orson Scott Card is an Unhinged Racist

You need to read this to believe it. Yes, it is that bad.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Orson Scott Card:
Barack Obama needs to have a source of military power that is under his direct control. Like Hitler, he needs a powerful domestic army to terrify any opposition that might arise.
Obama called for a "national police force" in 2008, though he never gave a clue about why such a thing would be necessary. We have the National Guard. We have the armed forces. The FBI. The Secret Service. And all the local and state police forces.
The trouble is that all of these groups have long independent histories and none of them is reliably under Barack Obama's personal control. He needs Brown Shirts -- thugs who will do his bidding without any reference to law. 
Obama will claim we need a national police force in order to fight terrorism and crime. The Boston bombing is a useful start, especially when combined with random shootings by crazy people. 
Where will he get his "national police"? The NaPo will be recruited from "young out-of-work urban men" and it will be hailed as a cure for the economic malaise of the inner cities. 
In other words, Obama will put a thin veneer of training and military structure on urban gangs, and send them out to channel their violence against Obama's enemies. 
Instead of doing drive-by shootings in their own neighborhoods, these young thugs will do beatings and murders of people "trying to escape" -- people who all seem to be leaders and members of groups that oppose Obama. 
Already the thugs who serve the far left agenda of Obama's team do systematic character assassination as a means of intimidating their opponents into silence. Butphysical beatings and "legal" disappearances will be even more effective -- as Hitler and Putin and many other dictators have demonstrated over and over.
But it's satire, right? It's fiction, right? Ha ha!

Nope, sorry. This is proof that Orson Scott Card is just a high-functioning racist jackass. This is where you have to separate the man and his art and see that both are part and parcel of the same ignorant filth that continues to populate a world in which you can say things like this about the President of the United States of America.

Whenever someone would compare Bush to Hitler, I would always laugh and say, no, sorry. You can't compare Bush and Hitler because that's crazy. You can be opposed to Bush but you still can't say he was Hitler, so knock it off, Chumley, and crawl back to 2007.

Orson Scott Card is out of his goddamned mind. And if you read his books and support his lifestyle and if you plan on seeing Ender's Game, you should be ashamed of yourself. Specifically, Harrison Ford should be ashamed of himself for not denouncing Card when he had the chance. Associations matter, especially when you consider the fact that Card has probably been asked to shut up until after the movie comes out. The fact that he continues to peddle his craziness is worthy of praise. Card simply won't run away from being a hateful bigot. The marketplace should speak to that.

And I mean that--Card should NOT be censored. His views should be exposed for what they are and the marketplace of ideas should be allowed to respond.

How can you take this goober seriously? That's Card, not Ford, but I can see where you mixed them up.

Unintentionally Erotic and Hilarious

Still too stupid to notice after all of these years was my other headline...

Spitting in the Face of Science

This is what being stupid gets you--a rejection of science in favor of believing in phony health advice. And that's really what's at work here. Jenny McCarthy is just the face of the anti-vaccine crowd at this point. She is enable by untold numbers of people who have fallen for the predatory nonsense of alternative health merchants in California.

As a public health threat, children who have not been immunized represent a step back in human progress. They represent the idea that a parent can fully believe in bullshit and risk the life of their child--and the lives of other children as well--based on something that someone with no credibility has been allowed to peddle.

No school should allow a child who has not been immunized to attend classes with other children. Why that isn't the law in California is hard to understand.

McCarthy and her ilk believe they are special and can hermetically seal their kid off from reality. They believe in the superiority of their information and their choices--none of which can stop whooping cough. They deserve what they are getting and they are hurting public health.

Politico Thrives on Stupidity

This is a great example of what a terrible news organization can do with the facts:
The president and administration aides make a familiar argument that this is due to political obstructionism: look at how many nominees the Senate has sat on, they say, and Republicans’ unprecedented number of questions on so many previously untouched topics that have forced them into extensive and necessarily extended vetting.
But the president’s taking his time, too.
More than six months into his second term, Obama has left top positions throughout his administration vacant, or filled by acting officials. In many cases, he hasn’t even nominated people for the jobs. 
That has left unfilled dozens of high-level jobs at key departments that require nomination and confirmation. Even with the expected turnover of a second-term administration, that’s extremely high. And at Homeland Security — where Obama has already waited more than a month to nominate a successor to Napolitano and Republicans have already signaled a fight over her successor — and other agencies, that’s where things are stuck.
Things are stuck because the Senate will not confirm nominees. And that is because the Republican Party has decided to destroy the American system of government and take unprecedented steps to ensure that the function of government grinds to a halt. Without the oversight and accountability, and the talent, of actual nominees running things, there is a greater chance for government scandals when harried, temporary leaders make mistakes and run afoul of the oversight of Congress.

Politico does not want to take the necessary step forward and say this out loud--because the Republicans have, for the last five years, refused to govern and confirm nominees, no one wants to be nominated or serve in the Obama Administration. They have driven people out of the process.

There is no "both sides do it" story when you look at what has happened; the Republicans hate government and want it to fail. They want to keep people from serving and they are destroying the confirmation process, recent rebellions notwithstanding.

The Daily Caller Isn't Even Trying Anymore

Tucker Carlson's pathetic news organization isn't even making an attempt to say anything remotely interesting about Obamacare anymore. Now, they're just phoning it in. I don't link to the Daily Caller, and you shouldn't either.

Today's howler of a non-story centers around the idea that Federal workers are not interested in joining the program, which is ludicrous because Federal workers already have health care insurance; Obamacare is the government program which allows people without health insurance to find an affordable way into a coverage plan.

The demonization of this process continues. Not only do we have countless wingnut repositories of idiocy making up phony stories, now we have Republican members of Congress trying to further damage and destroy our health care system. Federal workers are already covered under health insurance plans that they can buy and so they are not part of the population that needs health care. So, in order to further screw things up, Representative Dave Camp wants to force Federal workers onto Obamacare to punish them and punish the system. 

What part of giving health insurance options to uninsured Americans do they not understand?

Here you have one party so actively engaged in destroying America that it should be a no-brainer to vote these people out of office. Don't count on it. America is so gerrymandered and uninformed by these activities that it should really be no surprise at all anymore.

Nothing Surprises Me About Tim Armstrong Anymore

America Online is a relic of a vanished age. How on Earth does it stay in business? What is propping up that old carcass of a money-sucking criminal enterprise?

Tim Armstrong got rid of an employee in public while firing hundreds because no one could make the news site known as Patch work within the confines of whatever AOL established for it and it made the news. This is a company in such rapid decline that the only interesting thing to emerge from this is how the Huffington Post failed to hype what happened.

What a horrible, horrible company. What a terrible boss.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Welcome Their Hatred

Why would anyone normal or sane care about what a bunch of yahoos at a State Fair have to think about anything? In this case, we're talking about country bumpkins slathered in gravy and sugar and walking around with their fingers in their mouths. The Missouri State Fair is where they go to celebrate agriculture, a practice subsidized by the government so that actual farmers can actually farm.. The hatred shown to the President comes with what has to be the irony of the ages--how many attendees have lived their whole lives without a single benefit check? Are there any opinion makers in the crowd? Is there anyone there who can even vote? The thing is, no one should take the State of Missouri seriously in this regard because, well, this is the state that votes for the loser or the Republican in national elections now and this is the state that can barely govern itself. Screw them.

The Republican Party has decided to go with racism and regional populism. It has decided to destroy the American government wherever it can and it isn't even opposed to the idea of telling 30 million Americans to go screw themselves. This is how they get popular--by destroying their own base.

Let the yokels laugh at the first President in modern American history to add a benefit to their lives beyond Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid (all Democratic Party issues, of course). Let them suck the teat and continue to survive into their old age because Democrats took care of American society while Republicans compared them to Communists and Terrorists and did nothing.

Welcome the hatred they demonstrate in public. They are ignorant. Pity them and continue governing in spite of the anti-American activities of the Republican Party.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Americans Who Embrace Russian Bigotry

It didn't take long for bigots in America to find something about Russia that they could wrap their arms around and fall in love with. Anti-gay laws in Russia are a family wingnut's best hope for gaining a little attention on the Internet:

Bryan Fischer loves the Russian way of doing things. It is patently anti-humanistic, it is rooted in age-old hatreds, and it has nothing to do with reality or the future. This is a religious fanatic having an orgasm over the Godless Soviet holdovers and their despicable ideas. Russia is well and truly screwed at this point. It is in the midst of a whirlwind of condemnation. These actions, should they lead to actual economic sanctions and penalties, could cripple what little there is of a Russian economy. Russia, in turn, might well stop natural gas from flowing to Europe this winter--look for that to happen.

Demographically, Russia faces a dwindling population. The crackdown on homosexuality is a ham-fisted Soviet-style attempt to get people to have babies. About all Russia can produce right now are drunks, and a generation of children who are afflicted with fetal alcohol syndrome. It is an absolute embarrassment to Russian society to single out homosexuals for anything remotely resembling the kinds of persecution experienced by Jews and so-called Gypsies and any other minority population.

Blame for all of this lies with the people who enable Vladimir Putin. How many dictators does Russia need?

Friday, August 9, 2013

One Hell of a Narrative

This is one development that will send shockwaves through the government.

There will be a wave of conscientious Snowden leakers that will now come forward; I think it will be a tsunami of troubled individuals who are tired of being ignored and given mediocre performance evaluations. They will see that if they can break their secrecy agreement with the government, it will mean instant fame and fortune for them, provided they can get into the welcoming arms of the Russian government first.

All of this paranoia about the government is leading us to a place where virtually all of the nation/states opposed to the interests of the United States will have smooth sailing when they challenge our abilities to collect and analyze information.

Or we'll just continue on, ignoring the protests and the hysteria. That might be the better choice.

Anthony Weiner and Dickish Behavior

If Anthony Weiner wants to act like a dick in public, let him.

The thing is, this is a bad choice for a politician to make unless your name is Chris Christie. And what Weiner is trying to do is very much what built up the myth of Christie as a tough guy. Is Weiner trying to transform himself into a New York City kind of Christie? Or is he just being a dick?

If you parse the reporter's question, it is an uncomfortable analysis of how empty Weiner's bid for mayor really is. He is not running because he knows what to do; he's running because he has nothing else happening in his life and craves the power and the attention. Once he gets power and attention, he tends to channel his energies into sexting and carrying on a vivid adult fantasy life. Which is fine if you're in the private sector. In politics, no. You have to accept that there's a fake and fraudulent world out there that calls for piousness when you may, in fact, never encounter a truly pious person out there.

Weiner wants to put on a suit that he can't possibly wear for more than a few hours a day. His comfort zone leads to crotch shots and thumbing his way through scads of naughty chatter with strangers. He is a 21st Century perv with no need for lubrication or latex because all of his deviancy is normalized on a gadget. He's probably the most normal person there is--he expresses what he wants without actually going and getting it. He gets it out of his system in a way that harms no one. And that's okay--it really is. His wife seems to be okay with it. But this lifestyle does not work for a politician.

Chris Christie's career is based on dickish behavior backed with being morally certain about his positions. Weiner, unfortunately, is not a leader or a legislator of significance. The standards that are applied to him are hypocritical, of course, but we rarely hold an accountability moment for hypocrites anymore because that behavior is just as normalized as the mighty dick shot. Weiner doesn't have the talent to transcend his flaws. He's merely a bomb-thrower when it comes to politics and he attracts attention to himself by beating up on others. In order to do that, you have to have something going on--some measure of moral superiority that can give your arguments legitimacy.

Weiner? He doesn't have any of that. He's the empty suit who has run out of road.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Shut Up and Watch the Film

Get over yourself:
There are millions of people for whom the experience of going to the movies in public is expected to be enthusiastic, not monastic? I’m one of them, and I’ve sat among my kind on the opening night of Showgirls (there were two Prince songs in the movie!) and at the debut of the first X-Men movie. 
People who have fun at the movies can make almost any movie better. When the first Transformers movie came out, one of the key moments in the film is the first time the leader of the Autobots transforms in grand fashion from tractor trailer to giant robot, and pronounces “I am Optimus Prime”. At that precise moment, the guy next to me, a grown man in his early 30s, rose to his feet and shouted “YEAH!” while punching his fist in the air. I could see from his sheer emotion that he’d been waiting for this day, to hear this voice say those words, since the moment his stepdad walked out on his mother. This was catharsis. This was truly cinematic.
Going to a movie, a show, or a performance is a communal experience. You, and a collective group of other people, are there to watch something happen. You are not there to participate when it comes to film; you are there to watch and shut the fuck up.

This is not like going to see Rocky Horror Picture Show, which, as a communal event, evolved into a situation where everyone could participate because it was with the consent of everyone there. This is where you, as a member of society, give up your right to ruin things for others so that all may enjoy.

When you enter society, and interact with other people, you do not have the right to ruin their enjoyment of the film by hooting and hollering and acting like you don't know how to behave. If you think you are correct, then do what you did in the movie theater in a restaurant and see how that works out for you. Nobody in the movie theater is there to watch or hear how the cinematic experience affects you; they are there for their own personal experience and you should not infringe upon that in any way, shape or form. And nobody wants to see you act like a fool over a plate of spaghetti, either.

Shut. the. Fuck. Up.

Watch. the. Film.

It's really not that hard to understand. 

The Story of Hillary Clinton

The media world (and very little of it really matters anymore) is upset because entertainment outlets are trying to find things that will entertain people. Several of these organizations have figured out that they can appeal to people by telling the story of a famous, successful, and popular woman who happens to still be alive and might actually run for President.

This male-dominated, male-centric, and anti-Clinton attitude is coming from people who are terrified of a Hillary Clinton presidency. Don't put me in that category--I sleep comfortably at night because Obama is President and I would sleep soundly with Hillary in charge. I would view it as the continuation of a vast shift in American politics to the left (but not towards Progressivism) and I would vote for her any day.

Look at how they are crapping themselves:
When the chairman of the Republican National Committee and the Clinton brain trust agree on anything, I am inclined to grasp my wallet with both hands.

They both agree that the surge of Hillary Clinton "entertainment," including and particularly by NBC, is a bad idea. They are both right and dramatize the points I made in my new column, "Citizen Bezos," about the future of The Washington Post and the flood of insider nonsense that passes for political discourse these days. 
Republicans, who are desperate to define Hillary Clinton negatively, especially after their failed attempt to attack her over Benghazi, believe (correctly) that the NBC production will become a tribute to the woman destined to be president.
Desperate is right. She can and she will win against a Republican Party teeming with virulent racists and crackpots and men who want to force transvaginal ultrasounds on anyone with the ability to have sexual sexxxy time. It has gotten so bad that they think nothing of putting up a "Slap Hillary" button on their goddamned websites. That's right--slap the woman is their mindset.

The modern GOP has gone off the rails on women's issues and, as more and more people wake up to this fact, it will make a Hillary Clinton Presidency a fait accompli. Can't wait for Mitt to run and win the nomination and run a campaign based on making women obedient. Can't wait.

And what do these people have against capitalism? If the market wants Hillary, why fight it? Can't anyone make a buck these days?

Do you mean to say that this is fine and dandy:

And a Hillary project is a bad thing? Please.

Patch is Dying on the Vine

Tim Armstrong is one hell of a leader. He is giving people a day and a half or so's worth of notice before their sites and their livelihood go belly up. A real leader would have dropped that axe at five o'clock on Friday, giving everyone a chance to see happy hour shut down when they stagger into the bar.

The idea of Patch didn't fail; having American Online, for fuck's sake, run it was what failed.

How is it we have all but seen the total end of Blockbuster Video but there is still an America Online? How much blood money can you suck from the forgotten credit cards of old people who think they need to pay for the Internets?

The Racist Who Defended George Zimmerman

How's it going in post-racial America?

The producers for the shows that invited Frank Taaffe to appear as an expert and defend George Zimmerman in public should all be fired; there should be an accountability moment arriving for these ignorant jackasses. Taaffe makes no secret about what he is--a violent, insane racist with an agenda:
Taaffe was hardly the ideal person to be weighing in on a case suffused with racial angst—or commenting on criminal-justice matters, period. A Mother Jones investigation has found that the 56-year-old New York native has a lengthy criminal record that includes charges of domestic violence and burglary, and a history of airing virulently racist views. Just last Sunday, he appeared on The White Voice, a weekly podcast hosted by a man named Joe Adams, who has deep, long-standing ties to white-power groups and has authored a manual called Save The White People Handbook. (Sample quote: "A mutt makes a great pet and a mulatto makes a great slave.") 
During a previous White Voice appearance, on July 27, Taaffe argued that whites and blacks have no business mingling. ("They don't want to be with us and we don't want to be with them.") Taaffe also opined that if Zimmerman had racially profiled Martin, he was justified in doing so because "young black males" had burglarized homes in their neighborhood. "What if I—a middle-aged white man—wore a hoodie and went through Trayvon Martin's neighborhood?" he asked defiantly. Adams replied that "no sane white person" would dare walk down their "local Marcus Garvey Boulevard." 
"I'd only be there for one or two things," Taaffe shot back. "And I'm sure the vice squad would want to be interested in that." 
"This trial is waking up white America, man," Taaffe toldThe White Voice. 
Later, Taaffe accused African Americans of committing "self-genocide" by failing to address the "ills and diseases that are festering" in the black community—especially the absence of black fathers, which "leaves young black males growing up without direction." And he bemoaned the fact that some white women choose to date black men, saying that they invariably end up becoming single mothers. "Guess who winds up paying the tab on that? You and me and the rest of America," Taaffe grumbled. "It's called entitlement, man. It's called food stamps. It's called welfare."

Where are the gatekeepers?

Frank Taaffe says what a lot of people think and, for that, we should celebrate him as a reason to slap down anyone who claims that racism is a thing of the past. It is not. It is here and it is real.

Running From the Devil You Know

You can only govern as the party of Crazy for so long. When the base of the Republican Party goes from being seniors to being Insane White Men, then you know there is a transformation under way in American politics.

The danger we face is a complete and utter breakdown of governance. Once the crazies are thrown out of office, we will have to learn how to run the country without the participation of very rich and powerful white males. How that happens is difficult to predict. Will it happen quietly or with mercenary armies fighting one another? Who knows how nutty it will get?

Elites don't surrender power. It has to be separated from their cold, dead hands, or at least that's what history has always taught us.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Rick Santorum is Everyone's Favorite Shower Mate

Rick Santorum was deliberately linked to things that should never be Googled at work, and now he is trying to undo that damage by associating himself with young men showering at the Family Y.
Speaking to anti-abortion group Students for Life after receiving an award last month, Santorum attempted to explain what he saw as an enthusiasm gap between liberal and conservative activists. During his speech, a clip of which can be seen above, via Right Wing Watch, Santorum argued that the pro-choice movement infuses passion about abortion rights into "every aspect of their life." He said that because of this, showering at a gym had become an "uncomfortable" prospect for students. 
"They make it uncomfortable for students who come to Austin to shower at a Young Men's Christian Association, YMCA, gym," he said. "Because they live it. They're passionate, they're willing to do and say uncomfortable things in mixed company. They're willing to make the sacrifice at their business because they care enough."
Rick Santorum is a noted expert on showering at the Young Men's Christian Association, or YMCA, as it is otherwise known. When Rick Santorum showers at the Young Men's Christian Association, YMCA, he believes that people should be free to discuss things in the shower at the Young Men's Christian Association, YMCA and, oh, I just can't help myself.

This is the best that the Republican Party has to offer? Really? You can follow the link to video. I can't bring myself to watch it.

Your modern Republican Party is a paradise of self-inflicted wounds. In the face of reality--a demographic and cultural transformation that would naturally favor conservatives who want to guarantee economic and personal security for Americans--they have elevated ratfucks, stumblebums, and slapfaces to positions of stature and influence.

Mitt Romney Can't Stop Running For President

Starbursts for Mitt Romney and Paul Romney. Starbursts!
No matter what anyone tells you, Mitt Romney is still running for President. He is your modern version of Harold Stassen:
Having lost last fall's presidential contest, many Republicans eagerly shuffled Romney to the dustbin of history following the election, and he has mostly shied away from the public spotlight since that defeat. 
His speech was a remarkable effort by Romney to revive his reputation as a force in the GOP, following an election in which the former Bain Capital CEO struggled for months to rally conservatives behind his candidacy. Record-low performances among Latino voters and an absolute deficit in digital infrastructure versus the Obama campaign prompted Republicans to engage in post-electoral soul-searching, the implicit assumption of which was that the Romney campaign had failed on many fronts.
Failed on "many" fronts? Try the only one that mattered--getting people to vote for him in an election against a President tied to a weak economy and a disaster of a land war in Asia.

He campaigned unsuccessfully for governor of Pennsylvania (1958 and 1966) and for mayor of Philadelphia (1959). 
In 1978 Stassen moved back to Minnesota and ran a senatorial campaign for the U.S. Congress. 
In 1982 he campaigned for the Minnesota governorship and in 1986 for the fourth district congressional seat. 
He also campaigned as a Republican for the U.S. presidency in every election except 1956, 1960, and 1972.
Mitt Romney will never stop running, and he may end up ordering his children to keep running in his place.

What a fraud.

The Average American Car is 11 Years Old

Now, this really surprised me. I had no idea that the average vehicle in America is around 11.4 years old--that just seems very high to me.

What this translates into is a country that isn't buying new cars and a country that is driving vehicles that aren't as safe as cars made within the last few years. Things like airbags and other safety features in vehicles wear out; vehicles that have a lot of body damage that never gets repaired are also more common these days.

More importantly, newer cars are more likely to be more fuel efficient; we're burning less fuel now but would could be consuming even less than that.

The people who sell tires and auto parts and perform life-extending vehicle maintenance must be loving things right now. But car dealers trying to sell newer models? Probably not.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

This is Japan's New Aircraft Carrier

I am not a naval expert, but I can tell you one thing--that's an aircraft carrier.

Japan may call it a destroyer, which is shorthand for a small, fast warship, but this vessel is definitely not one of those. It is a small attack carrier, and it would be ideal for deploying a battalion of troops and a dozen helicopters into an area for security purposes.

Here's how the Chinese slammed them today:
"We are concerned over Japan's constant expansion of its military equipment. Japan's Asian neighbors and the international community need to be highly vigilant about this trend," the Global Times quoted the Chinese Defense Ministry as saying. "Japan should learn from history, adhere to its policy of self-defense and abide by its promise to take the road of peaceful development."
I would like to see Japan build a dozen of these things. They would be perfect for international aid missions, disaster response, and anti-piracy.  It would also help deter China's blue water navy initiatives and perhaps stave off the storming of disputed islands here and there.