Monday, September 30, 2013

Return to the 50 State Strategy


I think this is a non-story. We are almost half of the way between election cycles and I am wondering if we should be surprised that the enthusiasm gap in politics is broadening, given the fact that we are shooting ourselves in the foot every time a Democrat tries to reason with a Republican. If the DNC wants to move the debate, start the argument by explaining how extremism ruins the American way of life. How about we start calling them the American Taliban and fundraising off that for a change? How about we apply common sense to the situation and explain why we can't have nice things? Is that bridge falling down in your town? Remember who voted to cut funds to fix it. And then remember who fought for you and who took care of you. If you think a Republican cares about you, think again. Unless, of course, you're a banker or a Koch brother, of course.

The Democratic Party needs to bring back Howard Dean and go full court press on the 50 State Strategy. We need to have this argument. We need to fight every Republican everywhere in the country no matter what. We need to give hope to beleaguered Democrats in every Congressional District in the country. This has to continue for at least three election cycles and people have to buy in on it as a viable means of leading the country out of the darkness.

This is the legacy of Rahm Emanuel--the death of the 50 State Strategy and the collapse of the City of Chicago's school system. Fuck Emanuel for ruining those two things.

Who Hired Lane Kiffin in the First Place?


My guess is that Lane Kiffin will now coach at either Notre Dame or for the Dallas Cowboys; each and the trend says that every time he quits or gets fired, he gets a higher profile job. At some point, he'll be running the New England Patriots or Alabama. I'm guessing he will join his father in Dallas and make Jerry Jones happy for about five minutes.

One of the last gifts that Mike Garrett gave to USC was Lane Kiffin. Now, that era is finally over.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Let the Appeasement Begin


America has decided to stop being a dick to Iran. This will last about as long as it takes for the United States Senate to assert an inherent dickishness put there by God and the Constitution and bring back the dickery.

The detail on the piece is nice, but isn't the Griffin proof that the pagans who lived in Iran would hate the existing fundamentalist Shiite government? That the godlessness of this blasphemy would have no value in a world made holier by the destruction of all that is unworthy?

Just curious.

Terrorists Everywhere, Some Wearing Suits


Today is one of those days where running a blog about current events and politics is akin to running something too stupid to believe. We are living in a thoroughly depressing time, full of madness and mayhem, and it is frustrating because the madness is not properly identified or explained.

The Republican Party is terrorizing the American people by shutting down the government.

What? You thought this was complicated? It ain't.

The Republican Party is terrorizing the American people by shutting down the government.

The Democratic Party is simply trying to govern this country. There have been times in our history where the two parties have not been able to reach an accord. When it comes to health care, that fight ended years ago. Everyone had their say, the law was passed, and it was signed into law. Now, you have the side that lost doing whatever it can to ruin this country in order to hew towards an insane philosophy of governance.

The Republican Party is terrorizing the American people by shutting down the government.

That's all you have to say. They have lost their minds.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Useless Drunks of Mother Russia


America has a lot of drunks, too. The difference is, our drunks get better welfare benefits. I would not know. I do not imbibe.

All of this fear of a resurgence of Russian hegemony is misplaced. We should fear a Russia teeming with stumblebums who set themselves on fire because they don't know how to work the stove when they are blind drunk.

Discourse and History


Robert Reich tells the story of being accosted by an ignorant, but well-dressed, man in an airport and I am guessing that the man called him a douchebag. In some circles, this would be worthy of an asskicking, but the former cabinet secretary took it upon himself to correct the man rather than deliver a righteous public stomping.

I don't believe we are living in extraordinary times; I just think these are worse times than the 80s, 90s and 2000s. The Internet has helped to make these bad times, but so has the collapse of the working media. We are so uninformed and ignorant that it is breathtaking. Fifty years ago, a person read newspapers and listened to the radio and received a fair amount of information. There were public service organizations and connections to community that don't really exist anymore. Virtually every large city in America once had at least two if not three newspapers and a slew of locally-operated radio stations that vied with one another to provide news and information.

Now, your newspapers have been consolidated and are barely reporting any news. Now, your radio stations run satellite programming. Now, you have Patch, whatever that is, and there is a dearth of real information. What comes out as news is nationally broadcast and sensationalized and corporatized so as not to offend.

Reich is considered a Communist solely because the people who agree with the person who used that term don't have any idea what constitutes an actual "communist." It's a hold over term used by older people to try and smear someone with an older-skewing demographic. It should be laughed at and mocked for being ignorant of history and politics. Instead, it goes out over the airwaves and lands with some unthinking fool in an airport, making Reich's day less pleasant.

This is the stupidest fucking time in American history, except for all of the other stupid fucking times. Let us not forget that nasty, ignorant discourse is a common theme in American politics. Our knowledge of what used to mean an informed comment on something has shifted over the years to include the ravings of lunatics and the desires of sponsors and the needs of network television executives who are being strangled by technological changes and an overall disinterest in knowing things.

People who want to know things find them out in spite of the media and our culture. That will never go away. What changes, over time, is how much we remember about how bad the good old days were.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

It Is Not a Filibuster


When the hacks have to acknowledge that what Senator Ted Cruz is doing is not a filibuster, and when they have to say things such as "filibuster-like" up front, then you know we're being treated to a theater of the absurd.

Timothy P. Carney fails to acknowledge one thing we know about the American system of government--when the Congress passes legislation, and when the President signs it into law, we don't get to scream for a do-over. This Congress couldn't pass anything to revoke or rescind or defund anything right now because it is a non-functioning deliberative body. And it is non-functioning because of extremists like Senator Cruz. If the American people don't like the law, they have to vote for people who can accumulate the votes to get rid of it.

The fear is that Obamacare is working, and it is a legitimate fear because it is working, and it will work, and these antics and theatrics are a sickening show. If the Democrats had tried this during the Bush years, they would have been arrested and deported. The hacks fail to understand this. Democracy isn't supposed to come unraveled like this, but it is, and it is happening because the American public is less informed than it has ever been. What a disgrace.

Time to Dangle


If Robert Benmosche is that stupid, then perhaps he really is a symptom of what really ails the world economy and our elites as a whole. They are ignorant of history, incompetent at what they do, and they don't know anything about how the world really works.

One person's persecution complex is another person's day to day existence. If this poor man had to live like a person who is truly in danger or being hung for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, imagine how he would feel about being culpable for the misery of millions. He'd probably hang himself if he understood how many lives he and his fellow elitists chose to ruin so they could grab more of the economic pie for themselves. He would not need to be hung by anyone for that to be driven home. What sustains this world is that the knowledge and compassion and creativity of the people far below him on the economic ladder creates a world worth living in where the act of lynching would not be considered justice for such a thief. He belongs in prison with all the rest of this criminal cohorts, but treated humanely, of course.

Our media and our government allow people like this to exist and thrive without conscience.

An Olive Branch in One Hand, a Knife in the Other


Why is the "moderate" man wearing holy garments? Why are people surprised to see the Iranian government mounting a fully developed diplomatic effort to ease the crippling sanctions against it?
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday that his country poses "absolutely no threat to the world," and sanctions that have crippled its economy are "violent — pure and simple." 
In his first address to the world body, hours after President Barack Obama spoke, Rouhani also said he is prepared to engage in "time-bound" talks to resolve the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program. 
Rouhani’s closely watched visit to the United Nations followed a series of diplomatic overtures the centrist-leaning cleric has made to the West since he was elected to replace hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and he stressed his moderate credentials.
You can say whatever you want about Admadinejad, but he never went anywhere cloaked in anything other than a cheap suit and a lingering patina of anti-Semitism. This new version of Iranian diplomacy looks as harmless as all the other efforts. The modern media are much easier to fool, however, so this man and his Twitter account are getting more attention than necessary. The "president" of Iran has no real power or influence. He is a figurehead.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

President Obama and Senator Ted Cruz Are Equals?


To the everlasting chagrin of every Republican not named Ted Cruz, we're seeing two great rivals go head to head:
Thousands of workers and the American economy stand to lose if the government shuts down next week, but some political leaders might see their hands improved by such a crisis. 
Nearly every economist warns of negative repercussions for the U.S. economy should Congress fail to forge an agreement to fund the government’s day-to-day operations past Sept. 30. But a handful of Republicans – and even President Barack Obama – are among the select few Americans who have something to gain should negotiations fail and a shutdown come to pass. 
The fact that it’s in the political best interests of some people (or groups) to force a government shutdown has actually contributed to the fiscal impasse, which shows no sign of resolution with little more than a week to go until all but the most essential government functions cease.

Cruz is now the de facto head of the Republican Party. Senators and governors and politicians all over this country with far more experience and capability have to follow their new leader straight off of the cliff in the weeks ahead.

They elected this man. He has a constituency that commands respect. He's out of his mind, but that's a feature, not a bug.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Jackals Are Howling


Peter King has decided to mortgage his future in the Republican Party in exchange for a ride on the crazy train, courtesy of the Tea Party.

It has not escaped the attention of anyone that the reason why we are where we are right now is entirely because these jackals decided to destroy America in order to defeat President Barack Obama. It is too late to turn back now. The Republican Party is now fighting itself more than it is fighting for the economic security and well-being of the American people. If the media has any function whatsoever left in it, the primary responsibility of everyone watching this fiasco would be to explain why the GOP is carrying out the wholesale destruction of the American economy in order to destroy a two-term Democrat.

Still Stinking Up the Gym


It may not be polite to point out that these people are incompetent and don't care about the American people, but it would be accurate.

This is governing by kicking the can, and the can is filled with unpleasant things. At some point, the Republican Party will severely damage the country in a significant and lasting way and it will finally dawn on people that these people cannot govern. Throwing them out of office is the dream that refuses to come true.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Endless Debate


You can count on one hand the number of people who have made a reasonable defense of maintaining Native American names for sports teams. Rick Reilly is not one of them.

Reilly is an inherently dumb analyst who doesn't do nuance or reasonable. He spouts off things like this in the middle of and endless stream of self-serving bullshit:
[...] even though an Annenberg Public Policy Center poll found that 90 percent of Native Americans were not offended by the Redskins name, and even though linguists say the "redskins" word was first used by Native Americans themselves, and even though nobody on the Blackfeet side of my wife's family has ever had someone insult them with the word "redskin," it doesn't matter. There's no stopping a wave of PC-ness when it gets rolling.
Polls can be skewed to demonstrate whatever the people paying for that poll want it to say. Reilly's attempt to personalize the debate is ridiculous because Native Americans are distributed throughout different regions. What might be acceptable for a tribe in Montana is vastly different from something know to a tribe that originated in a different part of the country. Cultural differences and linguistic differences are vast when it comes to Native Americans so the etymology of the term doesn't apply. It is not politically correct to object to the use of Native American terms for sports teams. It is, in point of fact, a demeaning act of cultural insensitivity. This is precisely because the Native Americans were not celebrated, elevated or triumphant, ever. They were removed, subjugated, and allowed to die off in massive numbers. When you adopt their names and images and use them to celebrate sports teams, all you are doing is relegating them to the status of mascot.

In the case of the Redskins, they use a racial term, not a tribal name or term, as their mascot. That's why the Seminoles in Florida have no problem with Florida State's use of the name and why the debate is far more nuanced than people realize.

I'm not able to add anything new here but I will say this--it's about money. Culture and other considerations need not apply. Money talks. The Redskins are too valuable for the franchise to survive a name change. There is too much wrapped up in merchandising and marketing to even consider a change. The Redskins franchise is worth over a billion dollars, depending on who you believe, and that is why you won't see a change until if affects the bottom line. No one cares about right or wrong when you're talking about a billionaire's plaything.

No amount of arguing or logic will change the monetary considerations that are driving this debate. Rick Reilly has made an attempt to subvert the racism in this case and he has failed to make a dent in the logic of changing the name. If it wasn't for the money, the name would have changed long ago.

The Jeremiah Program


Someone needs to pay attention to the success that The Jeremiah Program is having when it comes to lifting people out of intergenerational poverty:
The Jeremiah Program opened its doors near the Basilica of Saint Mary’s in 1998, when 18 families moved into its apartments. Over the years, it developed a model for combating intergenerational poverty that has won national recognition. The nonprofit has received calls for years from leaders in other cities, wanting to learn the magic formula. 
That formula includes safe, affordable housing for the family; quality early education for the kids; “life skills” training and a career track college education for mom — all linked to businesses, volunteers and the broader community to support the families along the way. 
A Wilder Foundation analysis of the model released this year showed that for every dollar invested in the program, there was a $4 return. Those savings took the form of less reliance on public assistance, increased taxes paid by the parents, and lower spending on special education and other services for their children.

They're adopting this program in Austin, Texas. Look for Governor Rick Perry to try to destroy it before it gets off the ground. If there's one thing a Republican hates, it is proof that the problem of poverty can be solved by using common sense and government money.

The formula of this project uses common sense and, to be honest with you, it flies in the fact of practically everything we are told about poverty. This strategy does not abandon people or relegate them to criminal status simply by being poor. It uses dignity and instruction to move people from one place to another.

How long before Nick Gillespie's outfit derides this as another boondoggle? How long before we see the Breitbart Kidz with hidden video of a pimp trying to get into an apartment?

Success breeds the kind of hate that has to be reckoned with. If you're going to successfully move people out of poverty, you have to be ready for the blowback.

Pacman and Peso Will Do Anything For a Buck


This has to be the dumbest stunt anyone ever pulled in order to gain virtually no fame whatsoever. Who's going to watch these two idiots in a video shot in North Korea?

I mean, duh:
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: Travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea is not routine, and U.S. citizens crossing into North Korea without proper documentation have been subject to arbitrary arrest and long-term detention (see Travel Warning ). You must have a valid passport and a valid DPRK visa to enter North Korea. The U.S. government does not issue letters to private U.S. citizens who wish to apply for DPRK visas. If you plan to enter and depart North Korea through China, you must obtain a multiple-entry visa for China, because a valid Chinese visa is required to enter China after leaving North Korea at the conclusion of your visit. Routine travel from South Korea to North Korea is prohibited. Travel across the demilitarized zone (DMZ) is allowed only infrequently for official and government-authorized cultural and economic exchanges or aid shipments. Commercial airlines do not operate regular flights between South and North Korea. 
If you arrive in North Korea without a valid passport and a valid DPRK visa, you may be denied entry, fined, detained, arrested, or imprisoned. North Korea has imposed heavy fines and long prison sentences with hard labor on persons who entered the country without the proper documentation. Even with the proper documentation, visitors may be subject to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment and may not receive appropriate legal protection against inhumane treatment. 
Internet access is limited to non-existent, and many hotels do not offer international telephone calls. If you use a cell phone in the DPRK, please keep in mind that mobile telephone networks are operated as a joint venture with the North Korean government. You have no right to privacy in North Korea and should assume your communications are monitored. If you bring electronic media, including USB drives, CD-ROMs, DVDs, or laptops, into North Korea, you must assume that North Korean authorities will review the information on those devices. Please be sure that the information contained on those devices does not violate North Korea’s laws or regulations. If you violate North Korea’s laws, knowingly or unknowingly, you can be harshly punished, even for offenses that would not be illegal in the United States.
How delusional are these two? They are backed by some serious idiocy:
“This trip will be a fantastic opportunity for Pacman and Peso to meet young, dynamic people and significantly broaden their horizons,” read the proposal, which was posted Aug. 30, “in addition to jump starting their musical careers.” The title was straightforward and surreal: “Pacman & Peso Make a Music Video in North Korea.”
This sentiment comes from, in part, a manager who should probably give up on his dreams and get a real job:
Ramsey Aburdene has a slight build, a post-college beard and an earnest way of communicating that makes him seem both younger and older than his age, which is 24. By day he works in commercial lending. But Ramsey grew up attending District public schools and always dreamed, after college at the University of Connecticut, of returning to his home and forming a small production studio for rap music.
North Korea? Really? Good luck, chumps.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Function Over Inspiration


This article details the liftoff of a supply capsule that has been sent to the International Space Station.

Sorry, but, *yawn.*

Our modern space program has abandoned sending people into space unless they're going to stay in the International Space Station. No one is going to Mars and no one is going to the moon anytime soon.

Where's the adventure? Has it been replaced with boring functionality and budget realities?

No wonder no one pays attention anymore.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Crazy People Should Not Be Allowed to Buy Guns


Here's what we should be talking about:
Veterans With Mental Problems Should Not Be Allowed to Buy Guns
And you can extend that to people with mental problems should not be allowed to buy guns. I have no problem with that. The problem is, we have an active, fully-financed gun lobby that believes that all the crazy people in the world who hear voices and gnaw on the insides of their cheeks and run around slapping themselves with hams are buying guns because they can and they're using them to shoot people to make the voices stop and that's perfectly okay with the free guns for everyone lobby because Obama is going to take their guns away and this will stop that from happening.

We are well and truly fucked because we can't get past this idea that taking guns away from people who shouldn't have guns is anti-American. It's not. It's common goddamned sense.

Our Congress is bought and paid for by the anti-gun control lobby. This is not just an NRA issue. It's a case where the will of the people is being thwarted directly by money and this has left us with a public safety issue that could be addressed fairly quickly.

Have you been treated for mental illness? Have you been arrested for a gun-related incident? Guess what, Skippy? You don't get to buy anymore guns. And yet, we live in a society that gets outraged--outraged--when you point out the fact that when crazy people buy guns, they tend to do crazy things with them. Shocking, but accurate.

Here's how the dumbest man on the Internet deals with such things--outrage being plentiful when other people are being shot down at work:


When the debate is happening at this level and when sensible people can look at Jim Hoft and agree with his ridiculous posts, that should tell you where this issue is going to land. Someone is going to stand up and give a mournful speech and promise deeds, not more words, and then nothing is going to change. Nothing.

We now have clear evidence that a crazy guy bought guns legally and used them to shoot up his workplace. Full stop. And yet, we will not have that sensible conversation about guns because, of course, Freedom!

This is a public safety issue. If you think it is just about guns, or about liberals taking away guns, think again. It is about ensuring that crazy fucking people are not able to walk into a gun shop in Lorton, Virginia and buy a shotgun. All I want to see happen here is that the guy selling guns in Lorton can have a thriving, decent business that is based on allowing him to, without penalty, deny the crazy fucking ex-Navy guy from buying a gun because he has lost his right to buy guns by being fucking crazy and shooting at things and breaking the law and hearing voices.

Why is that so hard to understand?

Moderator Delete This Perverted Article


Fort Bragg is a military installation where damned near anything still goes:
A Fort Bragg soldier and his wife are accused of engaging in sex acts with dogs, filming them and posting the videos on the Internet, police said. 
Ruben Chance James Fox and his wife, Amber Nicole Fox, both 23, of the 900 block of East Prospect Avenue, were arrested Monday morning, according to the Raeford Police Department. 
They are charged with multiple counts of crimes against nature involving bestiality, disseminating obscene materials and conspiracy, police said. 
Amber Fox also is charged with soliciting a crime against nature, police said. 
The cybercrimes unit of the Fairfax County Police Department in Virginia contacted Raeford authorities about two weeks ago after videos appeared online showing sex acts with dogs, said Raeford police Maj. Marc Godwin.
This is more of a commentary on what young military couples have to do to make ends meet than it is about the sexual preferences of the Internet generation. In the old days, these videos would have been made on VHS tapes and then circulated through the Fort Bragg community by selling them at a stand outside of the PX or by trading them through the mail. Usually, this is done by the S-3 or the S-4 in the artillery battalion, or it's traded off by the battalion commander's girlfriend and her husband in the Corps logistics battalion.

Nothing should surprise you about what goes on there. Nothing.

But the whole thing is classic for this one comment from the website:
Stefanik 
Moderator: Delete this perverted article!
Lord, please grant this person their wishes.
  • Monday, September 16, 2013

    The Senate Protects Itself While Ignoring Your Safety


    This struck me as worth blogging about:

    In the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook, and in the wake of virtually every other mass shooting in recent memory, the United States Senate has done nothing to make it harder for mentally incompetent people to get their hands on guns. They haven't made it harder for criminals to get guns. Today's shooter, a man like Aaron Alexis, who was thrown out of the Navy for shooting off his gun, can get guns and there's nothing wrong with that, at least if you're a United States Senator, because, goddammit, Freedom!

    And so, our debate goes on without ever reaching any kind of conclusion. We will be distracted and lied to and misinformed again and again until people wake up and realize that maybe we should have a common sense debate about public safety and what we can do to be smarter about controlling who gets a gun and who doesn't.

    Gun control, as an issue, is a non-starter in America. It won't happen because there is too much money being spent to keep it from happening. When the cash swings the other way, then and only then will we see a comprehensive effort to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. Alexis was a criminal, and how he got his guns will inform this debate. It doesn't matter--he shouldn't have had his guns, period.

    Look at the profiles in courage we've seen today. When the most recent mass shooting happens within walking distance of the United States Senate, of course they go on lockdown. Of course they shut things down and go secure. They are simply not willing to live in an America where people are running around with guns, shooting one another. They are above that, you see. The America you live in is separate and not equal to the one that keeps them safe. You are fodder for violence. They are the elites and they will not be touched by the thing they won't deal with.

    In the middle of a public safety crisis, the Senate locks the doors and hides while doing nothing to make it so that the rest of the American people can be a little safer and more secure. You don't matter. You can soak up the bullets and live in cities and towns teeming with guns but our elites will lock themselves inside and hide under their desks. They must be kept safe.

    You are on your own.

    Off the Reservation

    Does a man like Archbishop John Niendstedt have a future in the modern Catholic Church? Will this new Pope Francis completely transform the church in time to relegate men like this to the fringes?

    Never bet on goodness when it comes to the transformation of a major religion. It all skews evil, always, and it usually comes with a marketing plan that adapts to the times in which we live. You can almost hear the Opus Dei collapsing around you, whips and chains optional.

    So Long, Larry Summers


    A lot will be written about denying Larry Summers yet another perch from which he could look down on the economy and do whatever it is he does. I find it hard to believe that anyone on the left, anyone who considers themselves a liberal, and the left wing of the Democratic Party in general has the power to determine who gets what job anymore.

    If you are a conservative Senator, you can pretty much deny this administration anything you want. We have numerous judicial appointments that are still languishing in limbo. We have an incomplete Federal cabinet and we have gridlock when it comes to nominees that require confirmation from the Senate. That power is not held by anyone who comes from the left side of the political spectrum. Summers was sunk because of some other issue or reason, probably having more to do with a general lack of approval from some obscure Republican Senator than anything else.

    This article seems to suggest that there are Democratic Senators who can, you know, change things. Senators Sherrod Brown, Jeff Merkley and Elizabeth Warren are powerful and won't be hung out to dry by the Democratic Party establishment, I gather? They are not going to face the music for helping to drive Summers out of the Fed job?

    When did the left get this magical power to deny appointments? Why doesn't the left use this power more often?

    Flooding in Colorado


    The vengeance and fury of flying Baby Jeebus has visited itself upon Colorado and these floods are devastating and terrible. When you talk about 19,000 homes being damaged or washed away, you are talking about a pervasive natural disaster that would make any libertarian over completely into a big government Democrat in about five minutes.

    When things like this happen, we are now so conditioned to look at Red State vs Blue State politics. It was true of Oklahoma--small government living meant fewer tornado shelters and tragedy. Both of Oklahoma's crazy Senators have voted to cut off funds for other states, especially New Jersey, and the hypocrisy has been breathtaking.

    In Colorado, there is just sadness and ruin. They are saying that there are 1,200 people missing. This story should get way more coverage.

    Friday, September 13, 2013

    Enlisted


    This is the actual premise of a show on Fox:
    Enlisted is a military-set family comedy centering on three brothers who, when the best of the best are sent overseas, stay behind to keep the post in order. Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell and Parker Young star alongside Keith David and Angelique Cabral.

    Sounds like a hoot. The problem is, this sort of a situation wouldn't actually happen and that means that the premise of the show, which is critical in any comedy, falls apart right away.

    You would never see three brothers anywhere near each other unless they were on leave in the Army and you have what would appear to be three men in their thirties with what amounts to almost no rank whatsoever. The dude in the middle has a combat patch, is Airborne qualified with the Pathfinder badge, and he's a mere private? A buck sergeant, if that? Really? And the other two have too much hair and not enough rank as well.

    The people who stay behind are usually non-deployable. These three able-bodied men are all brothers, serving on the same Army post, and they didn't deploy with their units? How are you going to mine that for laughs? Good luck.

    These things matter even if it is just a comedy.

    Wednesday, September 11, 2013

    Is It Really Just a Piece of Wood?


    One of the great joys of my life is watching Baby Boomers bankrupt themselves trying to acquire obscure scraps of the legacy of the Beatles. This is yet another example of how virtually any object can be transformed into something worth a fantastic amount of money that will only matter to a dying generation of people who have overvalued the music of their youth to an extent not really ever seen before.

    There must be a piece of wood out there with Noel Gallagher's lyrics carved onto it. Who is paying too much for that?

    When the last of these fools dies off, their talismans and objects and souvenirs are going to be worth what, exactly?

    Almost nothing.

    Maryland vs Texas


    Texas Governor Rick Perry has decided to live his life as a troll. Good for him. I hope he gets the help he needs before they try to run him for President again.

    It is unseemly for a governor to decry other states for business reasons. Virtually all of America's corporations are incorporated in Delaware. Does Perry have an answer for that? Why not go after that low-hanging fruit and make it so that companies would actually want to incorporate in Texas. I remember that Austin, Texas used to be a hub for tech companies. How's Dell doing now?

    I happen to be a person who moved directly from Texas to Maryland by way of a short stay in the country of South Korea. What a magical time that was. We went from no trees, blasting heat, and few, if any, government services to the place where we still live today. It's not as hot, the trees are way better, and we have a host of services available to us that we didn't have in Texas. Maryland has its problems, but at least--at least--it is not Texas.

    Here in Maryland, nobody seems interested in letting a fertilizer plant next to a residential area blow sky high and kill people because, well, Freedom!

    Food Obsession Reaches a New Level


    McDonald's has a new "product" that is really not any different from the supersized meals offered by Taco Bell or Kentucky Fried Chicken. Those restaurants package large amounts of food in boxes that can be purchased by people and they are designed to disguise how much food they are gathering up and consuming.

    Our society is no longer about ordering a late night pizza; it's about consuming an ever-increasing amount of food that can be boxed and hidden away from prying eyes.

    We're not just getting fatter. We're eliminating the stigma associated with getting fatter.

    In other words, why is this news? Because the news organization in question, Time Magazine, has a vested interest in writing stories about how we are getting fatter and less healthy and so it seeds the discussion with stories about products that help transform America into a land full of weight-obsessed food abusers who have to now buy boxes of the stuff they want.

    Circle jerk? Yes. And on purpose as well.

    Mr. Pierce Says No


    The left has turned on President Obama, but not in a huge way. There are domestic issues that prevent the thinking, rational left from completely disavowing this administration, and the Republican Party is still too crazy to be taken seriously on any issue, big or small.

    I think this has more to do with the President's early status as a completely lame duck. We will see inaction and and neglect for vital issues continue up until the 2014 election. If the Republicans are not thrown out of office, en masse, and if the House does not return to Democratic control, the Republic is well and truly fucked. Permanent unemployment and an economy stuck in first gear are the reality that waits ahead for us.

    A war might have kickstarted the economy in some respects by adding to defense spending. It might have bolstered certain markets and given us an opportunity to increase our trade with prospective allies in the "fight" against Syria. In particular, severing Lebanon from Syria would open up new customers. I think that the goal should always have been the elimination of Syrian dominance in Lebanon and the creation of new clients and customers there, as well as a concerted effort to destroy Hezbollah.

    You can listen to these speeches only for so long until you realize that the real goal should be the isolation and destruction of Hezbollah. Selling that to the American people isn't happening and appealing to the public with stories of a limited chemical weapons attack hasn't budged thinking people at all.

    The bottom line is, we can't go to war again, not for a long time.

    Tuesday, September 10, 2013

    Nothing Ever Changes


    Why even bother to study this sort of thing?

    Will it lead to change? No. Will anyone do anything about this? No. Will there be a badly-needed course correction in time to save our capitalist society from a meltdown?

    I hope so. We do need to see reform and change, and this time in favor of people who don't own everything.

    Monday, September 9, 2013

    Heidelberg


    The U.S. military has seen fit to close the facility in Heidelberg, Germany. In reality, this means that there will be fewer Americans living and working in the Mannheim and Heidelberg areas. If you spent any time in Germany during the Cold War, this may come as a bit of a shock. If not, oh well.

    My memories of these places are positive; the PX and the Food Court on Heidelberg were wonderfully retro in that they weren't "modernized" and ruined. They allowed you a glimpse of what was, and not what will be, which is nothing.

    I agree with closing these bases and reducing our footprint overseas. But the closure of Heidelberg cuts to the bone.

    Saturday, September 7, 2013

    What Did You Say Your Name Was?


    Apparently, there's this fellow named David Petraeus and he once had some jobs or something in the government and he wants people to listen to him...

    At some point, he may have had some influence or some power. Now he sounds like a confused man who wandered in from a golf course somewhere, hoping someone would invite him to lunch or maybe nod politely while he gave his opinion about things that have been going on in the world.

    Anyway, he had a cute girlfriend for a while but now his wife is all mad or something and he can't work anymore. Something like that--I forget.

    Friday, September 6, 2013

    Why Aren't We Bombing North Korea?


    What would you do if you had overwhelming evidence that a country was systematically killing its own people?
    The report disclosed that two camps have been closed in the past year but that up to 130,000 individuals are still being held in penal labor colonies. 
    "They are deemed 'wrong-thinkers', 'wrongdoers', or those who have acquired 'wrong knowledge' or have engaged in 'wrong associations,'" it said. 
    "Through this vast system of unlawful imprisonment, the North Korean regime isolates, banishes, punishes and executes those suspected of being disloyal to the regime," the report added. 
    Detainees are "relentlessly subjected to malnutrition, forced labor, and to other cruel and unusual punishment", the report said, with thousands more forcibly held in other detention facilities. 
    Some are held under the yeonjwa-je system, a “three generation, collective punishment system,” which can see children held because of the “real, suspected or imagined” political disloyalty of the grandfathers or fathers.

    Activists say that as many as 40 percent of the male, female and child inmates die of malnutrition, while others succumb to disease, sexual violence, torture, abuse by the guards or are worked to death. Some are required to work for up to 16 hours a day in dangerous conditions, often in mines or logging camps.
    If you're wondering why we haven't bombed North Korea lately, you're not alone. Because it has been able to build up a mythological and hardly impressive military posture, the argument tends to run along the lines of "if we attack North Korea, they will set Seoul on fire."

    Well, if you want to be consistent, and prevent hundreds of thousands of people from being worked to death or to starved to death, then you need to go bomb North Korea when you're done bombing Syria.

    I am not in the mood to be lectured about Syria when reports like this one out of North Korea continue to be ignored.

    Remember When We Were Supposed to Bomb Iran?

    Click the link to play video...

    The people of Arizona are still not completely in love with their senior United States Senator.

    I seem to remember a time when John McCain wanted us to bomb Iran. Mother Jones has even made a map of all of the countries that McCain has wanted to bomb over the years.



    We did not bomb Iran, however, and it is important to note that this was directly in opposition to everything McCain was saying. To date, Iran has not developed nuclear weapons or bombed anyone else (Israel) or taken over the world like any respectable supervillain state would probably have done by now.

    When you consider how completely and utterly wrong people like McCain have been about everything, and especially about Iran, you have to wonder why anyone puts him on television. Or lets him walk around in public. Or who takes care of his needs when he's through playing video poker.

    Now, for those of you who haven't been paying attention, there was a hysteria that persisted for years over the fact that Iran has nuclear power and centrifuges and bunkers or something along those lines. Iran was the worst thing since Hitler times twenty. Iran deserved precision airstrikes and indiscriminate bombing. Iran was our biggest threat and Iran was a dangerous country full of madmen.

    Well, hold on. We never bombed Iran. And now we're going to bomb Syria, which is the worst thing since Hitler times infinity and it's dangerous and full of madmen? And we're supposed to trust the judgment of a man who got it wrong about Iran every time he opened his mouth?

    At some point, you have to stop bombing everyone, or wanting to bomb everyone, or being an old man who just hates the world and wants to see it burn because FREEDOM!

    John Kerry Fails Again


    Joan Walsh is trying to maintain some of her access within Democratic Party politics in this article, and it shows very clearly how far you have to be willing to go if you want to end up shunned for having an opinion. The fact is, the Obama Administration has already lost the "war" in Syria before it began. There is too much opposition and no where for supporters to hide. The case has not been made for military action in Syria and the level of failure on display here is stunning.

    John Kerry has failed again.

    I don't know if he's snakebit or a fool or if he simply puts himself ahead of everything else, but it is fair to say that this man could screw up a one-car parade in a town with no stoplights. It should be the easiest thing in the world to take the American people to war--God help them, they love it so. But they have failed to do even that, and it strips away the rotting skin on the back of this old, tired, half-dead warhorse. America is done fighting wars of choice on the landmass of Asia, and we should vote for someone who knows how to make peace.

    Thursday, September 5, 2013

    Encryption is Meaningless


    This is hilarious.

    If you think encryption means anything anymore, continue to live as if no one has ever figured out how to crack these things. Secrets in the digital age? Please.

    There is No Reason to Embrace the Russian Bear


    Oh, this is a bunch of nothing:
    President Barack Obama was intent on getting the upper hand as he greeted Russia's Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit on Thursday, according to body language experts who watched the frosty exchange. 
    From a jacket-buttoning pause to a hard-pumping handshake, Obama displayed tell-tale signs of dominance after he alit from a limo in front of St. Petersburg's Konstantin Palace, where Putin waited to meet him, communication experts said. 
    There was no outright hostility, but the chill between the two world leaders — at loggerheads over NSA leaker Edward Snowden and a strike against Syria — was evident in clenched-jaw smiles and lack of eye-contact and touching, the experts said.
    Russia, as a player on the world's stage, becomes more and more irrelevant by the day. In terms of GDP, Russia is only slightly ahead of Italy and is well behind Brazil, Germany, China, and the United States to name just a few. Moments like this are supposed to suggest a return to the Cold War. Russia would very much like to return to those days but, the fact remains, it is a dying country full of alcoholics, brutality, and misery.

    The ability to project power is what matters. China is desperately chasing a blue water navy and influence wherever it can. Without the ability to do so relegates a nation/state to a very limited ability to demonstrate why it matters. Russia simply doesn't matter anymore. It can be counted on to perform the duties of a troll on the world's stage, one that is increasingly easy to ignore.

    The Russian bear is a shadow of itself. In five years, it will be lucky to find itself in the top 20 in terms of GDP and it will still be largely irrelevant.

    Notice How They Are Posing


    For some bizarre reason, CNN has decided to put Newt Gingrich on television and bring back Crossfire, which was a show that failed that now stars a man who failed to convince America that he knows something about how this country should be lead. No amount of spin will change that fact:
    When CNN resurrects Crossfire on Monday, the show is set to include a one-minute segment at the end where the debate could turn to whether any agreement between left- and right-leaning pundits can be found. Host Van Jones called the planned daily occurrence a "Ceasefire" moment. 
    "The hope is that at the end of each show...we might have what we call a 'Ceasefire' moment where we actually try to explore any common ground that’s surfaced or any reason for hope that’s come out of this discussion," Jones told The Hollywood Reporter by phone on Wednesday. "We're not going to fake" any sort of takeaway though, he added.
    That should make for some great television moments, especially when they are able to spend all of a half an hour discussing the topic or topics of the day. With Newt Gingrich, of all people. When someone involved in producing a news and information show has to specify that nothing on it will be fake, you have to wonder how long it will take them to do a show about Duck Dynasty when the ratings tank. Painted decoys or not? That's the topic today on Crossfire...

    I mean, did anyone notice that they're building a show around Newt Goddamned Gingrich? He of the complete and utter FAIL of a Presidential campaign?

    And, yes, S.E. Cupp is still a complete and utter moron:
    “Having half an hour, or just under, to really dive deep, I think is going to be so much more valuable than the drive-by hits that most other shows give their viewers," said Cupp to THR. "I don’t think anyone is satisfied after four minutes on Syria, or the debt or any of these other issues. It’s just not enough time to have a meaningful conversation."
    There was a time when a half an hour was considered insufficient for discussing anything beyond the most superficial of subjects; in the modern parlance, this is now way more than anyone needs. The fact that she actually said this in public is proof that no one associated with Crossfire really has any self-awareness. And did you know Gingrich is actually on it? A man with zero self-awareness who is probably still waiting for the recount that will make him President.

    Crossfire is proof you can dumb it down all over again and sell serious television simply by asking the ladies to straighten their backs and stick out their boobs. I mean, look at that promo photo. It has Newt Gingrich in it. And who told Cutter and Cupp to stand like that? Talk about a WTF moment.

    More Profitable Than Cocaine


    The Associated Press inadvertently gives you all the information you need in order to make phony money:
    First, design: Software such as Corel Draw or Microsoft Office is used. Then comes photolithography, the etching of metal plates, offset printing and finishing.
    Finishing is next: A sheet of bills is lightly coated with varnish. Individual bills, typically 12, are then cut from the sheet. 
    Security strips are inserted with needles and affixed with glue applied with medical syringes. (Hold a $20 bill up to the light and you can see a strip with "USA TWENTY" printed repeatedly across it). 
    The bills now pass through what counterfeiters call an "enmalladora," or netting machine: Two rollers covered with coarse fabric to give them a rough texture.
    The last step: Sand down the bills with fine sandpaper.
     
    "It takes four or five days to make $300,000" in counterfeit notes, the investigator said.
    Clearly, this is more than just doodling on heavy paper or trimming off the corners of a bill and tricking a slackjawed retail clerk into taking a folded over note. It's good to see that all of the effort that has gone into preventing this from happening is working. My understanding was that the new designs currently in circulation were extremely hard to counterfeit. And yet, there are 13 year-olds who have mastered the art of making fake money.

    At some point, money will have to go away and we'll all live with virtual money programmed onto plastic cards that are, of course, the easiest thing in the world to use to steal things. We spend money to create money that is worthless when it is this easy to copy.

    They Will Never Stop Trying to Ruin America

    Richard Epstein
    The Hoover Institution is out with more nonsense. If there's an organization out there that is more dedicated to the economic ruin of America, it would have to be the Republican Party.

    This is what it looks like when they're barely even trying to make the case that anything that improves the lives of poor Americans is a bad idea:

    Richard Epstein:
    A recent New York Times editorial “Labor, Then and Nowunwisely uses the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington to renew its plea for a whole host of restrictions on the labor market, including adopting a $15-per-hour minimum wage, which would be an increase from the so-called “miserly” $7.25-per-hour minimum wage of today—a figure that is lower in real terms than $1.15 minimum wage in effect when the march took place. 
    Similarly, New York Democratic mayoral front-runner Bill de Blasio has made enormous headway in his current mayoral bid, clearly eclipsing the stolid Christine Quinn, with his unabashed call for a “progressive agenda” that includes a sharp rise in the minimum wage. De Blasio will try to survive on a minimum wage to show how insufficient it is.  
    What is characteristic about these and other similar attempts is how little effort they make to understand anything about the underlying principle. For example, de Blasio’s stunt makes it appear that the test of a good minimum wage law is whether people can live on that salary. In so doing, he ignores all the non-pecuniary benefits that a job can give people: exposure to business, professional skills, networking, and the like. College seniors are eagerly seeking unpaid internships to gain experience in the work force. Why deny that opportunity to those from less privileged backgrounds who must contend with unemployment rates of 41.6 percent in the case of black teenagers aged 16 to 19?

    If Richard Epstein paid attention to anything outside of the libertarian realm, and if he cared about those poor black teenagers, he'd be a firm advocate for raising the minimum wage. Raising it doesn't cause unemployment, and we've known this for years:
    Opponents of the policy [raising the minimum wage] have often raised the potential disemployment effects, but this analysis shows that minimum wage increases do not price low-wage workers out of the labor market. The employment effects, while negative in some models, never reach anywhere near the level where the benefits to low-wage workers would be outweighed by their costs in terms of job losses. These findings, especially when taking into consideration the characteristics and incomes of minimum wage workers and their families, provide convincing evidence that the policy is effective in raising the earnings of low-wage workers, most of whom (though not all) reside in below-average income households. 
    The minimum wage in this country should be about $15 an hour, if not more. That would relieve a great deal of the stress on state and local governments and it would push the costs for social services currently being carried by taxpayers onto companies that are reaping massive profits while paying little, if any, taxes.

    If you are dedicated to the economic destruction of America, keep following the progress of Mr. Epstein and the libertarians and the Republicans among us. They are winning every argument because hating people and ignoring the facts are far too popular right now in our know-nothing, do nothing, learn nothing culture.

    Fox News Channel Has a Store


    I did not know that Fox News had a store. A retail outlet gift shop kind of thing, actually, located in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

    And, while I did not go in, I was able to zoom in and, of course...


    The Fox News Store sells pornography.

    Which is fine, because these things go together, right?

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

    Stop Using Children to Sell the War

    The website for NBC News is using images like this, linked to videos, to make the case that we should let loose a stream of cruise missiles at the Syrian people.

    Never mind the logic--using imprecise weapons to weaken a regime that will hide weapon systems among civilians is the quickest way to kill more children than the Syrian regime could ever hope to kill is baffling and disgusting enough. But the marketing campaign to give John McCain another war that he always wanted is sickening.

    Do you want to do something about the fact that someone used chemical weapons in Syria? Then vote for people who trust diplomacy and engagement, not bombing campaigns and failed United States Senators. There should be a coalition of 60 countries standing against Syria and Russia and China right now but there aren't because we have failed to maintain credibility when it comes to standing up for human rights. We threw that away when we invaded Iraq and tortured and bombed civilians. We gave it away when we embraced drones and slaughter without so much as a care in the world about our overall strategic vision and the rule of law.

    Syria is a rule of law problem. If we were in possession of even a shred of credibility, we would have no problem bringing the full weight of NATO behind our effort to act in the place of the United Nations and punish the Syrian regime without having to blow up residential blocks. You see, the Syrian civil war is doing that already. Why speed the process along when the only way to end a civil war is to let the people fighting it get to a point where they have to stop?

    You'll have to excuse me for not wanting to go to war based on what the media and what failed members of the United States Senate believe to be the truth.

    Healthy Living and Phony Cures

    This is misleading and is not backed up by any evidence worth mentioning...

    This kind of thing is worth a comment or two:
    "The Sour Sop or the fruit from the graviola tree is a miraculous natural cancer cell killer 10,000 times stronger than Chemo."
    Another phony cure for cancer. Where is the evidence to back up that claim? Where is the accountability for whoever spreads this garbage and then doesn't have the ability to back it up?

    This is exactly the kind of marketing-driven pseudo-science that gives people false hope and kills them when they make an ill-informed choice.

    Claiming that "...It's because some big corporation want to make back their money spent on years of research by trying to make a synthetic version of it for sale." is a clever dodge. Who is doing this and why?

    If you put you health in the hands of an unproven "miracle" plant, all you are doing is lining the pockets of the people who are counting on ignorance to help them sell garbage to desperately ill people. Over 25 years ago, we were told to take a relative off chemotherapy medicine and go on Herbalife. Thank God we ignored that kind of bullshit.

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

    John Kerry is Wrong



    Bashar Assad is a third-rate thug who is quashing elements of al Qaeda because he inherited a secular dictatorship. He is so far removed from being a "Hitler" that anyone who equates him, and Syria, with the Germany of 1938 is out of their element when it comes to history or foreign policy.

    I hope they vote no on intervening in Syria. There is nothing there that is worth one American life. Syria is a meaningless, irrational player in Mideast politics. Helping the "rebels" in Syria is the equivalent of handing al Qaeda a country in which to train. And John Kerry is a stunning failure as a Secretary of State. Assad equals Hitler? This is a "Munich" moment?

    John Kerry and John McCain are incredibly incompetent old fools. Get them off the stage.

    Would You Pay Someone to Drive You Over a Bridge?


    I have driven over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge at least three or four times, which is not a lot, but I don't remember being "afraid" of it. I think it was more annoying than anything because I couldn't look and see the sights.

    This surprised me:
    Millions of Americans will be on the road heading back from the beach on the Labor Day holiday, which marks the end of summer in the US. 
    For those in the state of Maryland, that journey may involve driving across the long and notoriously nerve-racking Chesapeake Bay Bridge, ranked as one of the scariest in the world to cross. 
    The trip is too much for some motorists, who pay someone else to drive them and their cars across the water.
    My first reaction to this story was, someone is trolling the BBC. Then, it hit me that there are other legitimate niche markets for this kind of thing, so why the hell not?

    Monday, September 2, 2013

    Dumb Stunts Fail to Inspire


    This is good for Diana Nyad, but, really, who cares?

    It is 2013. If you are inspired by an old lady to go swim a long way in the ocean without a shark cage, then go for it.

    The sad thing is, no one is inspired by dumb stunts anymore. This is not the Depression--no one is going to give her a hundred dollars for her feat and no one is going to make her a movie star. No one will see this unless it goes viral and, even then, so what?

    We need to get beyond these outdated feats of whatever (Because someone will always wonder if there were there steroids involved. Was it a fraud?) because you simply cannot trust that these things are entirely free of interference.

    I'm impressed by art. I'm impressed by things that take the mind to create them. The human body and sports, in particular, are impressive but they are open to corruption, as is art, when you think of it, because of things like plagiarism and the like. In this case, someone swam a long way in the ocean. Why was this breaking news all day?