Thursday, October 31, 2013

So What?


This is the latest in a series of stories about the ethics and values of people who hold security clearances. Far too many Americans are "cleared" and far too few of them meet the minimum level of ethical standards.

You can go back and find stories of people who routinely abuse their government credit card, frequent prostitutes, hit their spouse, steal government property, leak sensitive information, lose their homes to foreclosure, and travel overseas without approval and it still won't matter. The process of granting clearances to people is severely broken.

Who Donated Money to Keep George Zimmerman Out of Prison?


How'd that donation to the George Zimmerman Defense Fund, Inc., work out for you?

This man is a raging maniac. He has guns, a license to kill people, and drives like he doesn't care what happens to him. A wonderful neighbor, I suppose, especially if you want things to stay interesting.

Zimmerman is exactly the kind of person who should be denied the right to possess a firearm. He has assaulted a police officer, he has repeatedly assaulted women, and he has a history of receiving medication for mental illness. He hits the trifecta, and this society keeps handing him free guns.

Wow.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Geese on Wilde Lake


This is for a whole slew of new readers coming to the site from HoCo Blogs. Thank you!

Shot today, and shot with a simple digital camera. Some enhancing done on the mac, nothing special.

Today was the most gorgeous day of the year and I had to shoot something.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No Wonder Ask.com Sucks


The Ask.com extension crept into the Google Chrome browser, and I used it to look for The Guardian newspaper.

Instead of going to the newspaper, you're bombarded with ads and sponsored links. Guardian dental shows up as the number one search result? Fine. But I'm used to the idea that there is a hierarchy in search which should lead the user to the most prominent site, and that would be the site of the Guardian newspaper. I suppose you could argue about this, but, to me, sponsored content should not take up as much real estate as you see in the above screenshot.

Ask.com is gone. See ya! No wonder you lost the search engine wars.

Jason Richwine is a Race Hustler


National Review adds a race hustler to its stable, and no one should be surprised that it's Jason Richwine, who was too ridiculous for the Heritage Foundation to keep on the payroll. Richwine hates the Hispanics, you see, and now that we've all but killed off the idea of immigration reform, Rich Lowry has a writer on staff who can beat the horse dead a seventh or eighth time, but with feeling.

Via this to that, and go read this.

London to Beijing by Train


Turkey wants to build an earthquake-safe tunnel under the Bosphorus and connect Europe and Asia with as little fuss as possible. The importance of Turkey in world affairs continues to be a source of conflict, however, and you can lay this at the feet of the man who would be Pharoah:
[...] critics of Prime Minister Erdogan have seen the tunnel as one of his grandiose construction projects for the city where he used to be mayor. 
Detractors of his proposals, including a third airport, a parallel canal, a third bridge over the Bosphorus and a second tunnel, for cars, south of Marmaray, say they illustrate Mr Erdogan's "pharaonic" ambitions. 
Authorities came under fire earlier this year when protesters opposed plans to redevelop a park in Istanbul. Widespread violence between anti-government demonstrators and security forces ensued. 
The rail tunnel will not be fully operational after its official opening on Tuesday, AFP reports. 
"The part that is in service is very limited. All that has been delayed until much later," said Tayfun Kahraman, president of the Istanbul Chamber of Urban Planners. 
"We are wondering why this inauguration is happening so soon."
Russia is in steep decline. Freedom and fundamentalism are struggling inside of Turkey, and I would bet on whichever side is willing to cut some deals and open up this trade route. 

America's contribution to all of this was to create the failed states of Iraq and Afghanistan, destabilize most of Turkey's neighbors, and allow Japan and China to march in and strike deals. Brilliant.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Crazy Jennifer Rubin Loves Jerry Brown


The oft-linked and reliably insane Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post begins her hatchet job on Senator ted Cruz by pretending that she loves how "interesting" Jerry Brown is by way of him being a liberal with fresh ideas.

This is an interesting pivot for Rubin because you can't just come out screaming and throwing hapless cats around when you attack an unpopular Senator--you have to make yourself look reasonable by praising someone who is inconsequential in American political life.

And this is the sad part--Jerry Brown is not inconsequential. He is turning around the biggest state in America with good government, competence, and an insistence on applying the values liberals love to how things should be done. You can hate on California all you want, but Brown is ten times the governor Arnold ever was and he has a good chance of fixing more problems than he creates.

Rubin's pivot against Cruz is a safe bet. There's no way Cruz will beat Mitt Romney in 2016, even though neither man has a chance at winning the nomination to be defeated for President of the United States by Hillary Clinton. Now that Cruz is being buried, Rubin wants a chance to throw a shove full of dirt on him and run away. So, the most interesting thing here is here strange praise of Brown while failing to acknowledge just how she has tired out her own audience with these batshit crazy diatribes that are thrown from a safe distance.

Social Security Is Still Screwing Up?


The government just can't do anything right, can it?

I mean, isn't that what we keep hearing, day in and day out? We keep hearing how Obamacare is a nightmare (it isn't) and that no one is being helped by the new laws (patently untrue) and that our darned government is incompetent and we might as well stop trying to help people (whatever).

Even after 73 years of delivering benefits, the Social Security Administration is having a tough time figuring out how much and when to pay people, including Veterans. Not only are they dealing with the Veteran's Administration, they're dealing with Social Security as well. There are bugs in it and there are problems figuring out who gets what. Social Security has overpaid on benefits by over a billion dollars in some estimates, and figuring out who is entitled to what requires a great deal of tweaking and improving the system.

Why are people freaking out over the ACA website? Because it is the newest red-headed stepchild?

If you hate government, good for you. Enjoy your retirement benefits and your medical coverage. I'm sure it will be a sickening nightmare for you, especially the part where you have to fill out papers and prove you're not ripping off the government. Have a nice day!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Saturday, October 26, 2013

All Your Wars Are Over Now


Another blogger stops, another one starts, when will it all end? Who knows?

Rarely will you find a warblogger or a milblogger or a popular blogger who knows how to regulate discussion, appeal to the academics and the amateurs, and provide information with more care and concern than AM.

Now that our wars are coming to an end, we will need peace bloggers and Veteran's issues bloggers and bloggers dedicated to making sure we won't need another AM to explain COIN and counterterrorism and all of that...

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Floating Plastic Gyre


I can specifically remember being told that we, as humans, needed to stop throwing shit into the oceans. That was in the 1970s, and it was not that long after a thing called Earth Day.

Apparently, we haven't been paying attention.

Someone, somewhere, needs to invent something that can go out in the ocean, suck up all of the plastic, and then turn it into magical ocean-renewing pixie dust. We need to turn loose a vast army of ships to go and clean up this mess and I can almost guarantee you, someone somewhere is smirking about how it's not really a problem and that Obama sucks! that's why.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

This is Not Happening


The Marine Corps Uniform Board is considering updates and changes to the various uniform combinations worn by the Marines. The President is not involved in these discussions, but the wingnut freakout from the New York Post is a pretty clear indication as to how deranged these people have gotten.

When I was in the Army, we were handed black berets to wear. Be grateful that this debacle passed. It was the fault of a general, not the President, that the beret atrocity was perpetrated on an unsuspecting Army and the President does not meddle with these sorts of things.

People who "hate" the French military forget their history on purpose. The quickest way to end up being ignored by serious historians is to talk about French surrender monkeys and things of that nature. Go read about a place called Verdun and then tell me that there isn't something to admire about the ability of the French to hold on and survive in a time of terrible conflict.

UPDATE: Yes, it was a ridiculous (and pretty funny) hoax.

Leaving it All in the Ditch





So, this is done. I'm slowly ramping up more stories and more pieces for the Kindle store. This one is a short story piece that ended up being acceptable enough to publish. It will be on a free promotion starting next Tuesday. If you are a Kindle owner, you can get it free.

Did Bush Say He Was Sorry When the Government Fucked Up?


Politico sent out someone to slut-shame the Obama Administration and deliver a Puritan tsk tsk today for not bursting into tears in front of a half of a room full of nutty Congressmen, and my takeaway from this was to laugh and ask a childish question?

How many times did Bush say he was sorry when everything got fucked sideways?

How did Donald Rumsfeld respond when asked by men in uniform in a combat zone about the vehicles they were using while fighting the Iraqi insurgency? Rumsfeld said "you go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want." And men and women died because of that.

Yeah, the Obamacare website isn't great. It is a Federal contracting and Information Technology problem someone has to solve. But, to sit there and harrumph and demand a sorry (which won't be accepted by grumpy wingnuts anyway) for something that doesn't even begin to compare to lying us into a war, letting an American city drown, exploding the Federal debt, torturing people on foreign soil, and tanking the world economy.

I mean, goddamn, son. Perspective much?

Jonathan Franzen Still Hates the Internet


I can see where the despair comes from. Jonathan Franzen is honestly lost when it comes to the issue of whether or not we should even have an Internet. He doesn't care for the technology or the philosophy that goes into it. And he has correctly identified what is happening during our modern phase of being in the thrall of the robber barons. The problem is, he's just not that interested in looking at this from the perspective of someone who studies the Humanities.

This is not a question of technology; it's a question of ethics and regulation. The government needs to correct the direction of capitalism. The technology we use today has no bearing on the discussion of how much the robber barons should restrained and whether or not we're going to guarantee workers some basic rights. The Internet, in many cases, helps educate people about how they're getting fucked over. Once people know they're getting fucked over, the technology is irrelevant. The laws and the ethics of the people fucking them over is what matters.

Everything Franzen cites above is a Humanities problem. How do we reconcile technology and society? How can we have jobs that pay living wages, careers that guide people through the phases of their life, and alleviate the shock of obsolescence? How do we wrestle with this without overreacting? Calling for the Internet to be regulated is the classical overreaction. Good luck with that.

Over a hundred years ago, buggy whip makers and wagon assemblers were rendered obsolete by the invention of the automobile. Those people had to go find something else to do. Their modern counterparts are faced with the same situation, one that is no less more brutal. Where they land will test the ethical positions of our collective governance. Hating people is inherently unethical and yet, in tribal America, we live with the attitude of you're fucked if you're not me because I want the government to take care of me and screw you at the same time. You're not allowed to complain because I have always had it harder than you. All of that is bullshit. We have to exit the era of the modern robber baron.

And that's why Franzen is wrong. Or is that illegal to point out?

We Should Spy on Everyone All the Time


There is something to note about these statements:
One genre I tire of quickly involves variations on "of course that happens you naive fool!" The latest is that of course we spy on world leaders! 
One reason not to do so is that, you know, there is no way to expect to keep the billion secrets we have given the hundreds of thousands of people who have access to them. If your surveillance state is that big, and it involves an unholy alliance of government agencies with cowboy contractors with little oversight (they outsourced the effing granting of security clearances), there is no chance of keeping such things secret. Snowdens everywhere. 
And what are the good reasons to spy on our closest allies in effective peacetime? None, other than blackmail or as part of a broader program of commercial espionage.
Atrios is right about the naivete that surrounds common espionage practices. I think that there are still way too many people who just don't understand that eavesdropping on your enemies, friends, and sometime-adversaries is a pervasive and normal practice. It is the currency of back-channel diplomatic communications. The French want to know what we think of what Chancellor Merkel is saying to members of her party and her opposition as well as to the bureaucrats and the bankers. In many cases, simply having the same take that they are having is essential for everyone's sanity.

Our allies would be privately shocked if we weren't watching them--they would accuse us of not caring about our security and stability and question our dedication to the functioning statecraft necessary for protecting ourselves. We know that industrial espionage is pervasive and routine; we tolerate a great deal of it.

There are not Snowdens everywhere, and that's an outgrowth of this need to be someone rather than do something. The contractor system broke down and allowed a known practitioner of bullshit theories and wild political ideas to hold a clearance well above his pay grade. The real question is what will be done to fix it. The next leak will get around that, security will be refined, and we will ultimately see improvements. Everything has to be tested.

The real justification for spying on Frau Merkel is this--we need to know that she is in charge of her coalition, her country, and her sanity. We may not care what she's saying but we do care whether or not she is delusional, ineffective, out of touch, and stable. America's ally in Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, is batshit crazy. We can manage that, but we have to watch everybody else in case they start seeing ghosts and begin telling the bankers to print money.

You Are Paying For This


Every individual who receives a Federal benefit puts strain on the system. It's no where near as broken as people claim to be--it's actually very efficient and relatively free of fraud and misuse. But taxpayers should not have to subsidize anyone who works 40 hours a week and plays by the rules. The people who work at McDonald's and do the right thing are being encouraged to sign up for food stamps. Which is a common sense thing because we wouldn't want anyone working in the restaurant industry to starve to death so that their employer can reap obscene profits.

A 40 hour a week job should pay a living wage, period. End of story.

Bonnie Prince Charles


No one is clamoring for the Queen of England to die off so that her son can rule England into his rapidly-approaching dotage. Americans certainly don't care--they want more Kate Middleton! And she isn't even a royal by blood. The royal family of England, these Hanoveran Windsors, will be fundamentally changed for a century or more when Queen Elizabeth II passes away. Charles, William and George will rule England for the next 80 years or so, and it is very likely that the eldest child of George will be a boy as well. After Victoria and Elizabeth II, we are finally done with old women ruling the Commonwealth.

Prince Charles is royal by blood and he will rule, albeit briefly, and he will do so without any real affection. He is superstitious, a man of the 11th Century when it comes to science and technology, and he has muddled about in public affairs with all of the sophistication of someone paying for a seance.

Now is the time for all good men to consider cutting off the Windsors so that the British public can enter modern times. Why does anyone want or need a monarchy?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

National Security Wonk


If you truly care about national security, why would you read the bitchy, immature Twitter stream of someone who wants to bring a Gawker-level of sophistication to something no one cares about?

I have a feeling it was read by people looking for mention of their names. Absolutely no one in this country cares about national security outside of the very small community that works on these issues. This is inside baseball stuff as if it were written by one of the three or four guys who edits the gossip page on the back of the Inside Baseball magazine (if one actually existed).

Mr. Joseph will have no trouble bringing his junior high material with him when he tries to live on what the media will pay for his services. Is there a book deal yet? Does he have a monetized blog with plenty of liability-free content? Has Buzzfeed given him an offer?

This is what happens when you encourage people who want to be someone rather than do something.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Another Reason to Despise Lanny Davis


If Dan Snyder has turned to Lanny Davis to bail him out of having to change the name of the Washington Redskins, all hope is lost. Welcome to next season, and your favorite team, the Northern Virginia Confederates (I'm guessing that's what they will be called).

Lanny Davis is one of the most despised men in Washington D.C., and no one should underestimate his ability to sow discord and angst in places where it did not previously exist.

Unemployment Falls to 7.2%


This could be so much better:
[...] the good news is the unemployment rate fell to 7.2% as 73,000 people joined the labor force and 133,000 people said they got jobs. That's considered encouraging, after months in which thousands of Americans were dropping out of the workforce. 
Still, 11.3 million jobless people continued to look for work.
We have become enamored with the idea that unemployment is going to drop on its own; I think we need to push for a jobs bill or make that the reason why people should throw Republicans out of office. And I think that would be a legitimate reason to encourage people in Republican-leaning districts to vote Democrat or stay home.

Without some stimulus or encouragement from the Federal sector, the job growth we need isn't happening. At least, not on its own.

Glenn Taylor is the Dumbass of the Year


That's Glenn Taylor, rocking the grey t-shirt and he might just be the dumbass of the year.

Taylor and his dumb, stunt-filming buddies have been ejected from the Boy Scouts and are facing possible legal ramifications for destroying a natural feature in a state park. Now, come to find out, he's a deadbeat trying to catch some disability money raining down on his goofy head:
The attention has led to revelations that Taylor filed a personal-injury lawsuit in September, claiming he had suffered "serious, permanent and debilitating injuries" from a 4-year-old car crash. 
"Someone with a bad back who's disabled, who can't enjoy life, to me, doesn't step up and push a rock that big off the base," the defendant in Taylor's lawsuit, Alan MacDonald, told Salt Lake City television station KTVX. 
Taylor's lawyer did not return calls for comment. But when CNN affiliate KUTV noted that Taylor didn't look particularly debilitated in the video, he replied, "You didn't see how hard I pushed." 
CNN Legal Analyst Danny Cevallos said when someone has a pending disability lawsuit, "You'd think they'd avoid the camera like the plague. 
"But instead, they think no one will ever see it or repercussions will ever come of it," Cevallos said.

A breathless nation, shocked by the sheer dumbassery evident in the video, can't wait to find out.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Smacking Trolls Around on My Birthday


It's a sad, sad life...

Tina Brown is an Expert at Screwing Up Websites


Tina Brown is an expert on fucking up websites and blowing shit up. Her level of credibility on this subject far and away exceeds that of pretty much everyone else, so, you know.

The problem with her article is that she is punching the wrong strawman. The states that deliberately chose not to implement their own versions of Obamacare, and build the requisite websites needed to enroll their citizens, ended up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Accompanying her article is a screenshot of a state-run website designed and intended specifically to ease the burden on the national Obamacare website. This is what people need to remember:
Responsibility for the system is shared between the federal government and some states. The Affordable Care Act gave states the option to run their own exchanges or to leave that job to the federal government. Only 14 states and the District of Columbia opted to operate their own exchange. The other 36 states opted to let the federal government do some or all of the work of setting up the exchange for their consumers. 
That means the bulk of the Obamacare implementation has fallen to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the Department of Health and Human Services. As its name suggests, this agency has traditionally administered key aspects of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The Affordable Care Act gave it a new role administering the exchanges that form the heart of Obamacare.
Brown couldn't be bothered to connect the dots (plenty of others have already done that) and correctly assign the blame here.

When you dump millions onto a system that wasn't intended to handle the traffic, it fails. It's as simple as that. And that was the plan from the start. States that did not build their own exchange websites ended up abandoning their citizens and those people, desperate to embrace affordable health care, broke the system.

Miss Brown would rather chortle at the fate of the poors than apply common sense. If Jimmy Kimmel is your best "shoe-leather" reporter, you're completely and utterly out of the common sense business and living in the world of viral videos and junk hits for laffs. It's a cock up! Ha! And, meanwhile, who's going to hire her to ruin their next web venture? Wacky!

What Are They Going to Talk About?


Come on. This is ridiculous:
France summoned the U.S. ambassador on Monday to protest allegations in Le Monde newspaper about large-scale spying on French citizens by the National Security Agency.

The allegations that the agency was collecting tens of thousands of French telephone records risked turning into a diplomatic row just as Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris for the start of a European tour over Syria.

"I have immediately summoned the U.S. ambassador and he will be received this morning at the Quai d'Orsay (the French Foreign Ministry)," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters on the sidelines of an EU meeting in Luxembourg.
 What are they going to talk about? How no one ever spies on anyone ever for any reason?

Nation/states have engaged in open and flagrant espionage against one another since forever. The French are the most sophisticated practitioners of this kind of thing, and you don't have to cite their efforts in chapter and verse. You merely have to discuss their ongoing and comprehensive industrial espionage campaign and fold your arms and wait for them to bring up something else to talk about.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Natural Jackasses


I am of two minds on this example of this sterling example of wanton public jackassery. Basically, some clowns went into a place called Goblin Valley and altered the physical landscape in a significant enough way to make people mad. The "boy scout" leaders in question here toppled a boulder and bragged about it on social media. Common sense abandoned them. They made the lame excuse of doing something to protect the public.
Utah authorities did not see it that way. County and state prosecutors are considering criminal charges, Eugene Swalberg, a spokesman for the Utah state parks, told the Deseret News newspaper. 
“This is not behavior that is appreciated or should exist in state parks,” he said. “This has been formed for literally millions of years, and it’s supposed to last for a long time. It doesn’t need individuals doing the work of Mother Nature.”
How long should a perched boulder stay perched and can a lawyer successfully claim that the shelf life of this boulder expired several million years ago? And was this incident significant enough to warrant criminal charges?

Humans alter and change the environment every day. This is the natural course of events. We have created state and federal parks so that we can preserve our environment, and I think that is what will come into play here. They're going to fry these jackasses solely because they were stupid enough to post a video on the Internet. You'll note that this comes up quite often and that the number of stupid videos posted on the Internet does not seem to be in decline.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Heckuva Job, Luke Russert


Luke Russert continues to half-ass his way through the political culture of the United States. Who elevated this young man to his position ahead of all those other young reporters who actually can operate their Twitter account with some degree of accuracy? How hard is it to get something right?

The RINOs Saved the Economy


The bleatings and the complaints of the defeated are to be expected. The anti-government crowd was sold out and sent packing. At no point in American history have so many powerful men seen their Waterloo quite like this one. Factions have always existed, but this particular faction has run the table of American politics for almost three years. Yesterday, their table was upended and their fancy dinners were thrown back in their faces. They have been invited to play the part of the old hound dog that can't quite hunt anymore and they have been told to lay under the porch all day and suck on unacceptable eggs.

Todd Starnes wants to be outraged, but he can't quite bring himself to understand one simple fact: everything that was passed yesterday could have been stopped by a disciplined caucus of solid Republicans. The media didn't prevent that from happening. The Democrats didn't prevent it. The Republicans are not united behind a single goal. The politics of their issues are all losers, one and all. To call the ones who wavered RINOs ignores the fact that if there was a solid party apparatus capable of keeping the caucus in line, this wouldn't have happened. The wheels keep turning, and this country is in fine shape compared to everyone else.

My invitation to these people is this--if you hate government and if you hate America that much, find an island somewhere and show us how you would do things. Go, and then tell us how your new society compares to your racist idea of utopia.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Tea Party Embraces a New Dolchstosslegende

This would be the same media that can't stop talking about how the Republicans are the Daddy Party? The same media that can't stop fawning over John McCain? The same media that gave Ted Cruz a pass so that he could manipulate everyone and lose?

What lie are we talking about? The Tea Party has railed against Obamacare and has called for its repeal. They have passed dozens of bills in the House to repeal Obamacare. And now you have a member of the Republican Party claiming that the whole thing was NOT about repealing Obamacare?

We've been seeing this for months. The shutdown of the government was planned from the start in order to create a mechanism with which to repeal Obamacare. And now they are calling the media liars in order to do what, exactly?

Get out of being held accountable for screwing the pooch?

Really?


I mean, honestly?


Who's the liar? Who's actively forgetting everything they have ever done wrong in order to create a stab-in-the-back myth for their own use?

These people have never been acquainted with anything that looks like the truth.

We Have Plenty of Nuts


Noted:
“The last thing you want at a rally critical of the president is for some nut to be waving a confederate flag. Embracing the confederacy is bad history and bad politics.”
How about a nut who stands in front of the White House without a care in the world?

On the Waterfront


I came across this older photo taken along the Rhine River in Speyer, Germany when I was looking for adequate photos to inflict on others. You can see my shadow in the lower right of the photo because I am, of course, the best photographer ever.

This is a good indication of what people will put up with in order to live in proximity to a river. And, even though this is Germany, the houses are fairly new and modern. The photo was taken in the town of Speyer, which goes back to the Middle Ages. The Rhine is transformed by physical engineering--the bank is bricked up or paved, the level of the river is controlled, and the extensive system of docks and causeways allows people to keep their boats secured without actually touching the shore.

The whole thing has a sort of over-industrialized nightmare element to it, but, really, these people just want to live by a river that doesn't flood them out of their homes and destroy their town.

Alex Castellanos Pulls the Lever and Gets a Laugh


Alex Castellanos is my favorite kind of Republican--reality never bothers him. He goes with his gut. He sticks with what he feels, evidence be damned. His opinions aren't worth much because of this focus on what he feels over what he sees right in front of him. In other words, he's your average television pundit with your average record of being wrong more often than not. Laugh and point at the prettified man who thinks he knows something.

There is a bust cycle happening in American politics, and the Republicans are lucky the Democrats haven't been better at taking advantage of the fact that the wheels have come off the wagon pulling the GOP into the ditch.

The point Castellanos is making isn't a terrible one--there are population cycles in rabbit populations that decent people could talk about over the dinner table. But bunny sex doesn't work with live television.

Will Anyone Remember the Brinkmanship?


How bad is it going to get if the Congress decides to roll past the default deadline? Will everyone lose their jobs and then their homes and their retirement? Or will we see the last gasp of a dying political system that succumbs to chaos and fistfights over the last can of beans?

The 2014 election cycle should be focused on the brinkmanship displayed by the Republican Party. The mere act of flirting with default and disaster and carrying out a complete shutdown of the government is a great example of the irrationality of the modern Republican Party. They can't be considered the Daddy Party anymore, especially when it comes to foreign policy because, well, America's economic security is a foreign policy issue now; it may, in fact, be more important than anything else.

Economic security should be the key issue. Who is doing a better job of protecting America's standing and who is better at making sure that people have jobs and a future?

Right now, you can't make the case that the Republicans have anyone but their big donors at the forefront of their concerns. The poor, the unemployed, and the Middle Class have no reason to vote Republican ever again.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Good Doctor is Being a Ridiculous Fool

“Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And it is, in a way, it is slavery,” Carson said.
Carson spoke at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. on Friday. He offers this explanation of why he thinks Obamacare is the worst thing in the U.S. since slavery.
“It is making all of us subservient to the government,” he said. “And it was never about health care, it was about control.”
Really? Is that what the Affordable Care Act was about?

It was about controlling costs, and it was actually a Republican idea, passed by Congress, signed into law, and upheld by the Supreme Court.

Dr. Ben Carson is one of those individuals who had a very distinguished career doing something really difficult and ended up not knowing anything about history or the humanities. He is proof that people without context often make statements that are bullshit, through and through, because of their inherent ignorance.

Rielle Hunter Opens Up About Being an Insane Homewrecker


I'm not sure why I can't bring myself to forgive and forget when it comes to John Edwards. I voted for him and I supported him and I thought that he was the best candidate to talk about poverty and the two different Americas that existed in 2008 and that exist today. We are in terrible shape in this country when it comes to having a conversation about the poor and the hungry. We accept, as gospel truth, the idea that we have to cut benefits and entitlements without, um, paying attention to the fact that we have experienced the greatest transfer of wealth to the 1% in recorded human history. Dammit, Edwards was the guy to talk about that. He failed.

Apparently, though, Rielle Hunter was crazy when she exposed Edwards and his lies. We already know what a douchebag he was for running for President while screwing around with a woman who was crazy and not his wife and what that would have done to the country. He's sorry, but still a douche. She's sorry, and has a book to sell.

Can't she and Edwards just go away and give that little girl a good life? Giving a child a good life probably means keeping your scandal-ridden carcass off of websites and out of magazines and it probably means not writing books about how insane you were when you were wrecking someone's life.

In the words of a lifelong supporter of the Democratic Party, just go the fuck away and stay there, please.

Do Not Surrender on Obamacare


No, no, no.

Do not allow House Republicans to change a single thing about Obamacare. We're done with that issue. It's going into effect. It's a done deal.

Someone needs to bring out the Hulk! Smash! fists and smack this down.

What You Wear When You Blow Things Up is Important


I wore exactly one uniform while I was in the Army, and I guess I can consider myself lucky. Soldiers on active duty now have to prepare themselves for a complete revamp of their current duty uniform.

There are a number of complaints in this article, but it all comes down to the application of common sense--you can never expect common sense to be a part of the Army. You just have to deal with what they throw at you. The Army did change the PT uniform. Instead of functional, they went with expensive, stylish work out clothing that made people who don't actually exercise and want something cool to wear very happy. The old PT uniforms were perfect--they were cheap, easy to clean, and you could do grass drills in them without a care in the world. The new PT uniforms required soldiers to ground their expensive PT uniform jacket before doing anything.

My belief is that this new uniform is being gotten rid of because you can't iron it flat and look ridiculously turned out and "squared away" in it. You can count on one thing in the Army--if someone wearing rank is offended by the way someone looks in the uniform, everyone will suffer. I remember stories of the pregnant female at one of the major forts who wore maternity BDUs, tennis shoes, and either a green or maroon beret and how that resulted in a massive overreaction and created a backlash against giving everyone a symbol of elite status to wear.

The Army that I knew was full of that nonsense. And the first thing you had to do was get an iron, an ironing board, and a can of starch. We used to spend a fair amount of time starching BDUs and shining the black boots that went with them. Perhaps all of what's happening is being driven by a belief that the people who make Kiwi are going to go out of business if the military doesn't go back to black leather boots. Who knows?

The warrior mentality is all but gone from the Army. It's more about what will look good shuffling around on post. Uniforms should be serviceable and protective; good luck seeing something like that survive if some old Colonel decides he doesn't like a flapping panel or a stray button on his perfectly pressed vanity suit.

The National Football League is in Trouble


I have always thought that if what happened to Junior Seau didn't wake people up, someone would move the story along and present some pretty compelling evidence that professional football is too dangerous to keep playing in its present state.

Here, you can see the effects of that. This article breaks it down pretty succinctly. The evidence is there and the science seems to be pretty solid. And it doesn't help when ambassadors of the game say things like this:
Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, whose concussion in 1994 was featured in the documentary, told PBS: 
"I do not have a son; if I had a son, I wouldn't necessarily discourage him from playing football, but I don't know that I would encourage him to play, either ... I don't know what the data show, but I haven't sensed there's been a reduction in head injuries. With that in mind, that's concerning. As long as we're having contact and as long as there are collisions, there's going to be head injuries."
I guess we have to get to a point where there are few, if any, head injuries. That's just common sense. And if a multi-billion dollar industry has to change, then maybe it should change quickly and hope people don't walk away from the sport.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Greatest Failure


The track record of House Speaker John Boehner is atrocious when it comes to courage and conviction. This is a bought and paid for man who operates from one position and one position only--what's good for John Boehner is exactly what John Boehner is going to do, no matter what.

America, you're in trouble because this man is a moral and physical coward who won't put anything ahead of his comfort and his ability to strut around and be somebody. He did not come to Washington D.C. in order to be the Speaker of the House of Representatives. He went to Washington D.C. because he was considered the best man for the job of representing the area where he is from in Congress. Now, he represents himself and his own enjoyment of the privileges of his high office.

No one is better at maintaining absolutely little, if any, popular support for the institution that he leads. He is the blight upon democracy that the Founding Fathers figured would be handled by the Senate. How's that going?

The crazies put him in power and the crazies are going to do us all in. I have no optimism that this man would ever do the right thing because he believes he controls the crazies or benefits from them not removing him from the office of Speaker.

Have you started stocking up on guns, toilet paper, and bottled water yet? The stores are flush right now so you'd better get going.

You Don't Mess With the Alamo Drafthouse


When did Madonna decide to start looking like Lucille Ball? And why is anyone surprised that the latest Indie film cannot be counted on to tear people away from their selfish need to text about themselves?

This is a ban that will stand the test of time. Madonna isn't going to go back to your theater chain, sir.

A Frivolous America


This is a cheapshot from the Chinese ministry of propaganda (or whoever thought it would be fun to make a comment today) that won't inspire anyone to abandon the United States and embrace the Chinese culture. What does China have that anyone in Europe wants, culturally or politically? They love the cheap manufactured goods, but are the citizens of Europe going to watch Chinese films and organize their parliaments to accommodate China's new version of Communism? Are they going to shift their currency and banking to Chinese models? Probably not.

Here's what China has gotten good at over the past decade--denying the impact of pollution. Will the world wrap their arms around the methods by which the Chinese kill themselves with poisons? Or are they going to be relegated to lesser status because of concerns over their indifference to how they run things internally?

China is a useful nation for most of the world. It can be used for borrowing, manufacturing, and as a counterweight to the Americans. It can be used as far as the transfer or sale of goods and raw materials. It does not have the cultural cachet that would attract other countries into its sphere of influence. China will have to pummel other nations to dominate them; that is the phase that seems to be around the corner. China would love to pummel Taiwan and Southeast Asia and the Koreans. How they do this is evident in the fact that the Chinese would love to start a war with Japan over long-forgotten islands that are worth nothing.

While the Congress dithers, American exceptionalism takes another hit.

Why Greed Is Not Finished With Us Just Yet


Ronald Reagan still doesn't receive enough blame for exploding our deficits and embarking on a military buildup that left us with a military that had to be drawn down in the 1990s. There is a sunny view of Reagan that ignores the ugly reality of his two terms in office (we are no closer to an accounting of our involvement in Central America than we were twenty years ago).

As historians look at the late 2000s and the subprime meltdown, it is important to note that the working definition of history that we have is going to be tainted by the poor accounts of the facts rendered by media companies. Would you cite Fox News as a source for anything in a serious academic piece? Would you trust the Washington Post to deliver a fair accounting of what happened during the first year of the Obama Administration? The information that historians are going to have to rely on is badly skewed and unreliable. We are entering a period where history isn't going to make sense because it will pit conventional wisdom against facts that no one can agree upon.

In so many ways, this country was righteously fucked in the early Spring of 2009. How we got there is the story of why we are still on the path to economic meltdown--the bankers are not in jail, the money is still pouring in from the theft, sale, and resale of mortgages, and the actual rules around who gets to buy a house are still chaotic and confused. The system still favors the banks over consumers. And the Republican Party's complacency in all of this has not stuck to them any more than incompetence of American Foreign Policy have stuck to Reagan in the 1980s.

Greed, and I would define this as a return to the robber baron mentality of the late 19th Century updated for modern times, has not been regulated properly in decades. Greed is still washing away the foundations of the banking system. Greed is going to bite us in the ass, sooner rather than later, if we don't get a Congress that can perform oversight and compliance and start regulating the mortgage industry. We need this now, and we need to get it done.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Secessionists In Places Few People Want to Live


The movement to secede from the United States, and then self-govern or free the seceded area from Federal control (or state control) has gained more attention lately. These are not the one-armed eye patch people from the fringes anymore. My guess is that when we have a white Republican in the White House, these movements will evaporate, but still. There are cranks and crazies out there and then there are simply disaffected Republicans who want to establish themselves as power brokers in areas where they have little, if any, influence.

There was a time when this ideology would have been met with force. We are too enlightened for that now, so the courts will have to suffice. Anti-government movements have to contend with the rule of law or oblivion. When the patience of the American people runs out, they'll simply continue to live in decent places while the secessionists continue to live in less than desirable areas. Given the realities of Federalism, living in a state that gets more Federal funding than it pays in is not all that bad of a deal. The problem is, anti-government sentiments are usually based on lies and misinformation. People wouldn't be so eager to leave the Union if they knew how good they really have it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Another Fraud Perpetrated Against Veterans


A Veteran's organization called Special Operations Speaks, which is somewhat affiliated and sponsored by the Tea Party, wants you to come to Washington D.C. and visit the memorials that were closed when the Tea Party shut down the dang government.

This is what they actually put on their website:
In a mean-spirited fit of selfish anger, Barack Obama has shut down our nation’s war memorials. And he has declared open war on our honored veterans! The World War II memorial … the Vietnam Veterans Memorial … the Korean War Veterans Memorial – Obama has shut them all down to force his will on the House of Representatives and frankly, to get revenge on the American people who oppose Obamacare and his other naked power grabs.  
Let’s put it plainly: Barack Obama is behaving like a vicious tyrant. And if he succeeds in this assault on the democratic system, the Republic we love is at mortal risk. It’s just that simple.  
That’s why I am asking you now to take two decisive moves to show Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi – and all of their oppressive ilk in Washington – that “We the People” are still in charge. And we won’t rest until we take back our memorials and monuments!

Are you shocked that a Tea Party friendly organization is attempting to use Veterans to draw attention away from the fact that the Tea Party shut down the government and thus, by extension, the Veteran's memorials in Washington D.C.? You shouldn't be.

Ted Cruz and the House Republicans who have moved far to the right of the John Birch Society have shut down the government. It's a Tea Party circlejerk, plain and simple, and stunts like this have to be bankrolled and carried out in the name of maintaining the lies that have deluded these people ever since that Negro won the White House.

Of course, they need cash to make this happen:



In fact, if you have $2,500 lying around that you don't need, give it to them so they can spend money on making sure no one blames the Tea Party for shutting down the memorials for Veterans that are closed because, well, shoot. The Tea Party shut down the government.

How can you claim we're living under a tyrant when the tyrant is the minority party in the House that followed one Senator off of a cliff? How can you claim that this is "for Veterans" when you can't even get the facts straight?

Instead of using the money to actually help the men in wheelchairs with their basic needs, you want to spend it on making sure people stop blaming the Tea Party for shutting down the government? What a bunch of bullshit.

I Think You Meant to Scream the Word Freedom


The conservative crackup continues...

A World Without Mistresses


In case you were planning on renting an apartment in Beijing, remember to look for a building that is not full of country girls who are living as mistresses. It's not that you won't enjoy your neighbors--it's that you are going to pay too much in rent.

How is this a uniquely Chinese phenomenon? Couldn't it be said that this problem once plagued New York City or is the scale of mistress keeping much too high in China for this to be a universal problem?