Monday, June 30, 2014

Community Will Get Season Number Six


You cannot kill good television, even if you tried.

You Would Think Seinfeld Was Still Culturally Relevant


If you're New York Magazine, everything that matters to you can be compared to Seinfeld. It's as if the show still had some cultural significance. It's as if it actually mattered. It's as if it wasn't just an exercise in self-centered nothingness.

While browsing their site, I noticed two stories from two different writers that referenced Seinfeld.

Really? How'd you pull that off?

It's a no-brainer. The readers of New York Magazine have spent the last sixteen years lamenting the fact that Seinfeld is off the air. Boo hoo. At what point does the nostalgia give way to the reality that Lena Dunham isn't interesting and that the culture is all but bankrupt because you can't make money on television showing the rest of America or minorities?

I've never understood the appeal of the show. It was a show that automatically excluded large segments of the American population. If you didn't live in New York and have a lot of money, forget about being "in" on what the show was really about, which was using phony social markers to exclude others. Few television shows in American history have been as successful while having absolutely no diversity or inclusion.

Watching Seinfeld meant that the bi-coastal dominance of programs that focused on New Yorkers and Californians would continue well into the present day. Nobody gives a shit about anyone from anywhere that isn't one of those two places. It was a little like how people in the south keep voting Republican and how their own situation never changes--voting against your economic self interest is about as smart as thinking that Seinfeld was a show that someone from rural Indiana could relate to. There are social situations where exposing someone else's choices are hilariously funny. After a while, how can you keep going to that well?

The overwhelming majority of America is broke, under-employed, rural, and fed lies about what matters. You would think someone would mine that for laughs but it's so much easier to come up with another show about smartassed rich people who live in Manhattan. That's what people want to see.

It's 2014. Seinfeld left the air in 1998. And there's no shortage of writers who keep using it as a cultural touchstone. I guess it works if people want it to. As soon as I see someone compare the economy to Seinfeld, I roll my eyes and move on without clicking on that bait.

Dirtbags do Dirtbag Things


He's a dirtbag, of course:
A U.S. Marine corporal who was declared a deserter twice has turned himself in to authorities and is on his way to Virginia.
Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun failed to report for duty in January 2005 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, the Marine Corps said in a statement. He is expected to arrive in Norfolk, Virginia, on Sunday.
"The Naval Criminal Investigative Service worked with Cpl. Hassoun to turn himself in and return to the United States to face charges under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice," the statement read.
Hassoun, 34, is believed to have been in Lebanon for much of the time he was gone, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to talk to the media. It was not immediately clear where he turned himself in to authorities.
Before his 2005 disappearance, he had disappeared in Iraq, just one year earlier. The Marines charged Hassoun, who served as a truck driver and translator, with desertion and theft.
Now, if they release him on his own recognizance, and if they ask him to stay in the barracks and report to the duty officer at 9 P.M. every night, and if they let him have car keys and the run of the bars outside of the base, well. I'm sure he won't run off or anything because he clearly doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would do that.

Hassoun is no different than Bergdahl or any of the other dirtbags who have dirt bagged their way into the hearts of people everywhere--he held up his hand, swore an oath to defend this country, and then decided, nah.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

New Zealand Practices Bombing People?


One of the things you learn about blogging is that the best stories are the ones that aren't even stories and that you can write about anything you want.

So, when I saw the photo above, and glanced at the caption, it made me think. As in, New Zealand practices bombing things? With actual bombers that look like the old B-29s and have propellers? How weird is that?

New Zealand, of course, has a functioning military and defense needs. It is an island nation, it's part of the British Commonwealth, and has defense pacts with Canada, Australia, the U.S., and Great Britain. Their military is small but professionalized and is more like the civil service than it is like our own military. Canadians are like that as well--their military people are highly skilled and professional, by and large.

But, the idea that they are having to deal with protests over a bombing range is something I had not considered. Are there folks in New Zealand who wonder why they're even practicing such things? Is this money well spent? Is there a debate about reducing their military down to almost nothing save a coast guard and an internal security force for dealing with natural disasters?

That's the plane New Zealand is going to defend itself with against invaders? From where?

I don't know. I'm probably wrong and ridiculous at the same time, but this strikes me as being a story that really lends itself to blogging. No one is going to read this far anyway, so, you know, whatever.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Phony Patriots and Ridiculous Rules


Come on. Not another sad old Vet who loves the flag and lives near rich people who hate America:
A veteran could lose his home because of a small American flag he has placed in a flower pot in front of his home.
Larry Murphree explained that his homeowners’ association in the Sweetwater community wants him to remove the flag because it violates home display rules. Furthermore, he is facing $8,000 in fines if he doesn’t take it out of his flower pot.
“I want it to go away. It’s such a minor little thing and they keep coming after me,” Murphree told WAWS. “They just sent me a letter that says I owe them around $8,000 and they put a foreclosure lien on my house.”
Murphree has 30 days to pay the fines and remove the flag or the homeowners’ association will move forward with the foreclosure.
I hate these stories. Buried in there somewhere is usually a telling detail. As in, the dude is a shirtless crank with no money who is mad because they won't let him keep a car with three flat tires in his yard so he put out an American flag just to be difficult.

First of all, Mr. Murphree is being stupid on purpose. When you move into a house in Florida, you are going to encounter the mentality that surrounds exclusionary communities (otherwise known as compounds of scared, semi-wealthy people who fear the hordes outside the gate). They initiate "home display rules" because they don't want anything looking cheap, fake, or stupid to drive the value of their property down in any way, shape or form. When someone sticks the American flag in front of their house, and when they allow it to become tattered and torn and when they display it improperly (like not illuminating it at night), they make the place look run down. Sensible people know that there's nothing wrong with the American flag but there is something wrong with flying it in front of your house in lieu of fixing the siding or keeping the yard looking neat. It drives down property values to have flags and other symbols out in front because it tells the people who come into the neighborhood that there's a VETERAN somewhere around there. And everyone knows that a VETERAN is going to come apart at the seams and start shooting, man, especially if the heroin runs out and a guy named Zeke comes over on a motorcycle to cook meth so you can both buy an electric Harley with a sidecar because your back gives out when you have to put your feet down while riding because your're flipping old.

Second, the fines are a binding aspect of living where there is a homeowner's association so allowing them to climb into the thousands of dollars is immature and foolish. Don't like the rules? Move out. Good luck finding a decent place to live where they want you to fly the flag because then you're going to be all contrary and difficult and assert your free right NOT to fly no damned flag except the Gadsden Flag, which means, when upside down, that Obama is a tyrant and your nephew can't get his pills anymore from the free clinic or something. When you buy a home, you sign a blizzard of papers. Inside of that blizzard is an agreement to accept the rules of a homeowner's association. Good luck fighting that. Just because everyone around you hates flags, symbols, and the cheapening effects of things like a Florida Marlins World Series Victory Banner doesn't mean you can't sit in the privacy of your own home and hum the Battle Hymn of the Republic while watching Bruce Willis movies.

Third, your pride in America does not come from sticking a cheap piece of plastic in a flower pot. It comes from knowing that these phony stories trade on misplaced outrage. Grow up, abide by the rules of your homeowner's association, pay your fines, and stop using cheap local media outlets to draw attention to the fact that you're pathetic and make bad choices. The reporters who write these stories are lazy and can't think of anything to do so they love it when a cantankerous old coot pretends that his dishonorable discharge for going AWOL six times in 1974 when he was stationed in Kansas means he's now a retired Special Forces sniper colonel snake eater bomb expert airborne assassin and HAS TO BE LISTENED TO despite the fact that he marches around with his gut out and can't find his DD 214.

Do you love America? Then love America and stop pretending that it has anything to do with a flag.

Obamacare is a Profound Success


Some disaster.

Paul Krugman has a victory lap column up today, and it's well deserved. Far be it from me to dance around and laugh at people who are stupid, but that's exactly what we should be doing right now--pointing and laughing at how absolutely ridiculous the enemies of the PPACA were just a few short months ago:
What was especially odd about the incessant predictions of health-reform disaster was that we already knew, or should have known, that a program along the lines of the Affordable Care Act was likely to work. Obamacare was closely modeled on Romneycare, which has been working in Massachusetts since 2006, and it bears a strong family resemblance to successful systems abroad, for example in Switzerland. Why should the system have been unworkable for America?
But a firm conviction that the government can’t do anything useful — a dogmatic belief in public-sector incompetence — is now a central part of American conservatism, and the incompetence dogma has evidently made rational analysis of policy issues impossible.
It wasn’t always thus. If you go back two decades, to the last great fight over health reform, conservatives seem to have been relatively clearheaded about the policy prospects, albeit deeply cynical. For example, William Kristol’s famous 1993 memo urging Republicans to kill the Clinton health plan warned explicitly that Clintoncare, if implemented, might well be perceived as successful, which would, in turn, “strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government.” So it was crucial to make sure that reform never happened. In effect, Mr. Kristol was telling insiders that tales of government incompetence are something you peddle to voters to get them to support tax cuts and deregulation, not something you necessarily believe yourself.
This would be same William Kristol who championed the Iraq War and has been going around telling everyone that we should re-invade Iraq. Seriously, though--if Kristol is your intellectual guide, you've spent over twenty years being wrong about everything in America. With a track record like Kristol's--and with all of the hysterical predictions about how the PPACA was supposed to fail--how could anyone seriously believe there is a conservative intellect anymore?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Jody Has Never Been in a Uniform


Hey, Jody. Why haven't you spent a day in uniform? Why have you lived a life full of ignorance?

This man served.


I think his religion deserves a little more respect than what you're giving him, Jody.


Monday, June 23, 2014

The Cuckoo Clock is German, Not Swiss


Dumbassery abounds. The Swiss made a "chalet" style cuckoo clock hundreds of years after the Germans stole the idea from the Bohemians (or something like that). But, as everyone knows, the cuckoo clock is a Black Forest item, and not a Swiss invention.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Everyone is Perfect in This Failed Agency


Of course they're perfect--why wouldn't they be?
No matter what you call it -- bonuses, incentives, market or performance pay -- the Department of Veterans Affairs gave out a lot to senior managers in recent years despite sometimes deadly waits for health care and other problems faced by American veterans.
A top VA official confirmed to a congressional committee on Friday that 78% of VA senior managers qualified for extra pay or other compensation in fiscal year 2013 by receiving ratings of "outstanding" or "exceeds fully successful," and that all 470 of them got ratings of "fully successful" or better.
Such widespread laudatory performance appraisals occurred shortly before CNN started reporting in November how veterans waited excessive periods for VA health care, with some dying in the process. The VA has acknowledged 23 deaths nationwide due to delayed care.
This has another name--institutionalized mediocrity. No on at the VA should get a bonus for another two years, if at all. Let this drive the people who place money over service from the agency; everyone who rises through merit and competence should be rewarded with a bonus for being part of the solution.

If all 470 of the people at this level in the Department of Veterans Affairs are that good, then the VA should be the most successful agency in the entire government. Or, if not, then it is an agency rife with corruption and incompetence that has gone undiscovered because of flawed leadership.

Fire them all. See if that fixes anything.

I've said it before--this wasn't about being embarrassed because a few old vets were waiting to see specialists. This was widespread fraud, plain and simple, driven by greed. These administrators covered up bad numbers everywhere so they could lavish bonuses on each other.

Fire. All. of. Them.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Finally, We Hear From Dick Cheney


Dick Cheney and his daughter have teamed up to attack the President of the United States of America on a foreign policy issue:
As the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threaten Baghdad, thousands of slaughtered Iraqis in their wake, it is worth recalling a few of President Obama's past statements about ISIS and al Qaeda. "If a J.V. team puts on Lakers' uniforms that doesn't make them Kobe Bryant" (January 2014). "[C]ore al Qaeda is on its heels, has been decimated" (August 2013). "So, let there be no doubt: The tide of war is receding" (September 2011).
Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many. Too many times to count, Mr. Obama has told us he is "ending" the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—as though wishing made it so. His rhetoric has now come crashing into reality. Watching the black-clad ISIS jihadists take territory once secured by American blood is final proof, if any were needed, that America's enemies are not "decimated." They are emboldened and on the march.
Never mind that the "black-clad ISIS jihadists" exist solely because, after invading Iraq, the United States made the decision to purge Iraq of the Ba'ath party, disband the army and all civil services, and create a massive political and logistical disaster. Never mind that Cheney, et al, then spent years doubling down on the whole thing, killing thousands of Americans in a witless neoconservative bungling that serves as the single greatest strategic foreign policy blunder in generations. Never mind that there is absolutely no justice in a world where the media takes this man seriously about anything related to foreign policy.

In one of his final acts in office, President Bush in December of 2008 had signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the Iraqi government that set the clock ticking on ending the war he’d launched in March of 2003. The SOFA provided a legal basis for the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq after the United Nations Security Council mandate for the occupation mission expired at the end of 2008. But it required that all U.S. forces be gone from Iraq by January 1, 2012, unless the Iraqi government was willing to negotiate a new agreement that would extend their mandate. And as Middle East historian Juan Cole has noted, “Bush had to sign what the [Iraqi] parliament gave him or face the prospect that U.S. troops would have to leave by 31 December, 2008, something that would have been interpreted as a defeat… Bush and his generals clearly expected, however, that over time Washington would be able to wriggle out of the treaty and would find a way to keep a division or so in Iraq past that deadline.”
But ending the U.S. troop presence in Iraq was an overwhelmingly popular demand among Iraqis, and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki appears to have been unwilling to take the political risk of extending it. While he was inclined to see a small number of American soldiers stay behind to continue mentoring Iraqi forces, the likes of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, on whose support Maliki’s ruling coalition depends, were having none of it. Even the Obama Administration’s plan to keep some 3,000 trainers behind failed because the Iraqis were unwilling to grant them the legal immunity from local prosecution that is common to SOF agreements in most countries where U.S. forces are based.
So, while U.S. commanders would have liked to have kept a division or more behind in Iraq to face any contingencies — and, increasingly, Administration figures had begun citing the challenge of Iran, next door — it was Iraqi democracy that put the kibosh on that goal. The Bush Administration had agreed in 2004 to restore Iraqi sovereignty, and in 2005 put the country’s elected government in charge of shaping its destiny. But President Bush hadn’t anticipated that Iraqi democracy would see pro-U.S. parties sidelined and would, instead, consistently return governments closer to Tehran than they are to Washington. Contra expectations, a democratic Iraq has turned out to be at odds with much of U.S. regional strategy — first and foremost its campaign to isolate Iran.
I mean, honestly. The nerve of some people to speak out on anything anymore...

Dr. Oz is Just Another Grifter


Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of "The Dr. Oz Show," was grilled Tuesday by senators on Capitol Hill about the promotion of weight loss products on his show.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, chairwoman of the subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance, led the panel that looked at false advertising for weight loss products. Subcommittee members took issue with claims Oz has made on his show about products that don't have a lot of scientific evidence to back them up, such as green coffee beans.
"The scientific community is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you called 'miracles,'" saidMcCaskill, a Missouri Democrat. She said she was discouraged by the "false hope" his rhetoric gives viewers and questioned his role,"intentional or not, in perpetuating these scams."
The Subcommittee on Consumer Protection could meet every day for the next year and still not put a dent in the widespread fraud and abuse committed against American consumers. Dr. Oz is a telegenic reminder that the practice of fleecing people and using their hopes and fears to separate them from cash money is alive and well in the modern age. He is using the elusive promise of a miracle drug to make people skinny--something that should have been outlawed outright as a marketing practice decades ago--to steal money from desperate people.

What kind of theft will send you to jail? Dr. Oz is rich because he has a platform with which he can lie to people. Who gave him that platform and how do we sue the worthless hacks who empowered him to be the face of weight loss grifters everywhere?

Put them in jail and take away the money they made selling useless products to consumers. That would be a great start.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Heritage Foundation is a Hate Group

Awfully nice of the folks at the Heritage Foundation to firmly establish their ties to the most virulently racist and bigoted elements of American society. It would be a shame if the media forgot to start referring to them as a hate group.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Nielsen and the Portable People Meter


Oh no! You mean someone figured out how to trick the Portable People Meter and manipulate radio ratings? How did that happen?
[...] on Monday, Univision — the nation's largest Spanish-language media company — acknowledged that it has terminated the programming executive who worked at its popular radio station KSCA-FM (101.9).
The executive apparently had access to several Nielsen "people meter" measurement devices.
The company declined to name the executive.
Subsequent to last week's announcement about the delay in Los Angeles PPM Radio data, Nielsen has learned that a media affiliated household participated in the Los Angeles sample.- Nielsen

"Nielsen recently reached out to inform us that a media-affiliated household had been identified in Los Angeles, and that it was connected to a Univision Radio employee from the KSCA station," Jose Valle, president of Univision Radio, said in a statement.
"We commenced an investigation and took immediate action by terminating the employee based on our findings," Valle said. "We are cooperating fully with Nielsen. A radio station employee being related to a Nielsen participant seriously undermines the industry and is unacceptable."
The problem here is one of scale--how big was the Los Angeles panel and how many PPM devices did Univision have access to? Note that the story says "several" and that it won't name the executive. This is critical because the advertisers in Los Angeles could band together and sue the hell out of Nielsen because they provide the data that was responsible for overcharging them for ads based on compromised ratings data. The industry is simply not amused by this kind of thing.

People get fired for the kind of thing. People could very well have lost their jobs because of  what happened when Univision rocketed to the top of the ratings. How would you like to be the guy who was canned because Univision couldn't resist gaming the system?

The PPM device is a passive data logger. You keep it on your person and it records the embedded tones that it hears. It tracks radio stations--choosing to record the loudest audio signal in its vicinity for ratings purposes--and it tracks the inaudible tones that are embedded in the Muzak you hear in stores. I believe it also picks up a signal whenever it is in the vicinity of a billboard. When it was launched, full disclosure, I worked for Arbitron (now Nielsen Radio).

Nielsen now has to reissue those ratings and re-evaluate all of the data if they want to remain credible and stay certified by the industry. If they can identify the compromised devices, they should be able to remove their data from the combined panel data and issue corrected ratings information. If they can't determine which devices were manipulated (for Los Angeles, there could be a thousand or more devices--I have no idea exactly how many), then the ratings data for Los Angeles will have to be thrown out and a new panel established, and that could delay the release of updated ratings data for months. 

Their business standards may alter what they have to do. Under Arbitron, any compromised data caused a massive chain reaction within the company, one that was designed to ensure integrity and compliance with the Media Rating Council. 

Meanwhile, you have regional and national advertisers who are now going to question everything they see because there's tons of money at stake. This is the sort of thing that could absolutely kill Nielsen's stranglehold on radio ratings.

And, of particular note, the whole reason why the PPM device became controversial was because it absolutely killed the minority radio station business, prompting Congress to get involved. I was with Arbitron when its own CEO was accused of lying to Congress over this issue. I find it hilarious that Michael Skarzynski has been allowed to serve as the CEO of another company and that Arbitron no longer appears on his LinkedIn profile. Congress let him slide, but still. 

The fact that Univision was the conglomerate that tried to undo the damages done to this part of the radio business should surprise no one. If Skarzynski could get away with it, why couldn't they get away with it, too?

Tony Gwynn 1960-2014


Open Carry and Nervous Cops

What you see above is the partial transcript of a confrontation between local law enforcement and a belligerent open carry advocate on a city street in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The statement "I can threaten you if I want to" is central to the fallacy of gun advocates and open carry fanatics--no, you cannot threaten people. You cannot issue terroristic threats and threaten to shoot people. You simply cannot engage in this behavior.

Now, if you want to march around with your rifle on a sling--and this story goes on to say that the poor old man with the unloaded carbine who decided to engage in a game of suicide by cop (without succeeding) did express a wish for a sling for his weapon. It's a sad day in America when a man can't get his life together and find four feet of canvas belt, but still.

This story centers around two things though. One, there are a lot of people who do not have their shit together. This man's life has a high degree of quality in it if his idea of fun is to walk around with a rifle in public and scare people. That's entirely outside of the realm of responsible gun ownership and enters a zone that warrants examination. How messed up are you if that's your life? What chemical dependency issues inspire such a thing? You're not in a good place when you're threatening the family of a police officer and stumbling around, bumping into things while other people call 911 because you can't find a sling for your weapon.

Two, the police aren't there to die for your rights. How it came to be that they didn't just shoot this man after his first threat is a testament to how cautious they were and how professional they were in terms of handing the situation. They were well within their rights to deliver a beating or worse when the man failed to follow their public safety commands. And yet, because the laws are so messed up, they knew that they had to hold back and do nothing because of the lunacy of open carry laws.

When you say to a cop, "I can threaten you if I want to," you're asking for the successful conclusion of a suicide by cop scenario. We are not done with this insanity. We have not seen the end of this kind of advocacy. Someone somewhere got it into their head that they could shoot cops and walk away unscathed and it didn't come from Obamacare or anything like that.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

You Go to War With the E-mail System You Have, Not the One You Want

You mean to tell me that the E-mail system that you were using turned out to be less than perfect about keeping everything that your sworn enemies wanted to use to embarrass you and throw you in jail? And that's a new thing and that it's the kind of thing you'd expect from President Obama?

Ron Fournier can't control his spasms of outrage:

A sloppy mistake, the government calls it, but you couldn't blame a person for suspecting a cover-up -- the loss of an untold number of emails to and from the central figure in the IRS tea party controversy. And, because the public's trust is a fragile gift that the White House has frittered away in a series of second-term missteps, President Obama needs to act.
If the IRS can't find the emails, maybe a special prosecutor can.
The announcement came late Friday, a too-cute-by-half cliche of a PR strategy to mitigate backlash. "The IRS told Congress it cannot locate many of Lois Lerner's emails prior to 2011 because her computer crashed during the summer of that year," The Associated Press reported.
Of course, Ron Fournier can't recall anything like this ever happening again so everyone has to go to jail this time:
Late Tuesday, the Bush Administration admitted that in reviewing documents requested by Democrats for their investigations, it discovered that as many as 50 of its staffers may have violated the Presidential Records Act. The staffers, the White House said, were using e-mail accounts, laptops and BlackBerries provided by the Republican National Committee for official executive branch communications rather than the exclusively political work for which they were intended. Because the RNC had a policy until 2004 of erasing all e-mails on its servers after 30 days, including those by White House staffers, and because some of those staffers may have deleted e-mails on their own, the White House said it could not assure Congress that they have not violated the PRA, which requires the retention of official White House documents. The White House officials who may have broken the law include senior adviser Karl Rove, his deputies and much of their staffs.
Both sides do it, right? Isn't that what we hear over and over and over again? In the case of the IRS, someone will figure out what happened and there will be accountability for it. In the case of what happened with the Bush Administration, oh well. Stuff happens. You can't expect anyone to be held accountable for anything ever because that would embolden the terrorists.

See, what's missing this time around is, we aren't hearing a presidential administration defend everything it does because of a need to fight terrorism. This president kills terrorists, trades with them, and figures out how to keep them at bay. The previous president let his minions run wild without any accountability but at least he wasn't that Negro in the White House so it's all good.

What a world.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Indecent Things Thad Cochran Did With Animals


Oh, this is horrible. Horrible:
In a campaign appearance on Tuesday, embattled Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran (R) raised eyebrows with what appeared to be an off-color joke about his rural boyhood.
The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported that Cochran was addressing a group of donors and supporters at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg.
The senator explained his connection to the area, saying that his grandparents lived their whole lives in the area.
“I grew up coming down here for Christmas,” he said. “My father’s family was here. My mother’s family was from rural Hinds County in Utica.”
“It was fun, it was an adventure to be out there in the country and to see what goes on,” he said of his boyhood visits to Hattiesburg. “Picking up pecans, from that to all kinds of indecent things with animals.”
The audience chuckled.
“And I know some of you know what that is,” Cochran said.
I know, I know. Pics or it didn't happen.

John McCain Has Jumped the Shark


As if there weren't already fifty or more examples of this same thing, here's proof that John McCain is crazy:
He repeated his call for Obama to bring back retired Gen. David Petraeus and other leaders from the Iraq war to develop a strategy.
Which mistress is old Dave going to hop off of first? How are you going to get this band back together? They didn't have any hits, they were voted off as soon as the thing was over, and nobody has ever apologized or taken responsibility for creating hundreds of thousands of wounded Veterans who aren't getting the care they need.

The answer, my friends, is war. That's the only answer McCain has for anything, period. End of story.

The Third Iraq War


I guess we need to go back and fight a third war in Iraq:

This is insane bullshit and it is typical of the level of commentary in the wake of the collapse of the corrupt and incompetent Shia-led Iraqi military:
The United States made a grave mistake by invading Iraq in 2003. Yet it also made a grave mistake by withdrawing its military forces in 2011.

The notion that we were wrong to go in but that we were also wrong to get out is hard to comprehend for many people. Once Americans collectively settled on the idea that the Iraq War was a disaster, it was perhaps inevitable that we’d want to wash our hands of the whole ordeal. President Obama appeared to do just that when he declared in December of 2011 that “we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq,” knowing full well that we were doing no such thing. The disaster that is the Iraq War did not end when the last convoy of U.S. combat troops left the country more than three years ago, as many of us are now learning as the fragile Iraqi state loses ground to Sunni extremists.

There are precious few people who’ve been right about Iraq from the start. One of them is Brent Scowcroft, who had served as national security adviser in the first Bush administration. Americans had two big opportunities to listen to Scowcroft on Iraq. We blew both of them.
One of the people who was right about the war from the start got elected President with a mandate from the American people to end the war. And, when you get right down to it, the idea that we should go back to Iraq and fight another war is not only ludicrous and insane but completely anti-democratic as well. Joe Biden was right when he said that Iraq needed to be split into three distinct nation/states, one Kurdish, one Shia, and one Sunni. And if you opposed the 2003 war from the start and were right about everything since then, fuck off because you are impolite for being right.

The voters spoke--they removed the Republicans from Congress in 2006 and they chose President Obama over Senator John McCain. They spoke forcefully and unequivocally and they rewarded President Bush with a second term in large part because he pulled U.S. troops out of Iraq and has begun to disentangle America from Afghanistan. 

And what I really want to know is--who is going to pay the butcher's bill for this third war that so many on the right want to start? Who is going to find the 300,000 man invasion army and who is going to recruit and train the 750,000 men needed to occupy Iraq over the next five years, assuming we go back to rotating National Guard units in and out of the country on a one year on, one year off timetable? Who's going to rebuild the bases we abandoned? Who's going to recall all of the uparmored vehicles we dispensed with after the war? Who's going to put together the logistical chain to supply a third Iraq war?

Got three trillion dollars sitting somewhere? Get ready, because someone is itching to spend it and blast the national debt into orbit, all in the name of making certain that Doug Feith doesn't have to answer difficult questions for the rest of his life.

Are you a 17 year-old kid with all your fingers and toes? You should get ready for President Palin's draft, starting on January 21, 2017. Good luck getting into a college that will help you get a deferment.

This is a Sunni revolt against Shia rule in Iraq. That's really all it is, and it is far more complicated than the media's contention that a terrorist army will take control of Iraq and start flying ship-delivered drones into Martha's Vineyard by autumn. There was never going to be a Shia-ruled Iraq that didn't involve massive pushback and resistance from the professional Sunni military men behind the factional move to seize territory and drive the Shia-led military from the field. 

Terrorists don't seize and hold territory; armies of occupation do that.

So, go ahead, neoconservatives--cry about the loss of Iraq. It was never yours to begin with. You never accepted defeat so now you don't get to claim anything against the President who was elected to end the war and who brought the troops home.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

An American Lion


I should have changed the name years ago, but I didn't and now I have to figure out how to change it and get away with it.

Anyway, this is the proper name of the blog. The reasons are too ridiculous now to remember, but consider this a hiccup along the road to obscurity.

Miranda's Party


Norman tells the story of what happened when his disinterested third or fourth wife hired a stripper instead of an actual Little Mermaid...

There Isn't a Bench Yet


It's way, way too soon to start thinking about 2016, but some people can't get past the whole idea of what a Hillary Clinton candidacy means to the country:
Yes, it looks like Hillary Clinton is running. But what if she doesn’t? Suddenly it’s going to be the Democrats’ turn to panic.
There are not very many Republicans lying awake at night, unable to sleep, trembling with fear at the possibility of President Martin O’Malley.
No, though the Republican Party certainly has its share of troubles heading into the next presidential election, the biggest worries haunting the minds of Republicans hungry to retake 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are not the specters of the Maryland governor or Vice President Biden or many of the other might-runs out there on the left.
At this stage of the game in 2006, no one in their right mind would have picked Barack Obama to be the next President of the United States. He surged to the top of the polls because of his ability to hold his own against Clinton, Biden, and a host of others and he raised tons of money. He mastered the technology of eight years ago and figured out how to tap small donors and appeal to the bigger ones.

Whoever wins the 2016 nomination will have to collect money by the truckload and inspire people to come and vote. Obama knows that he cannot embrace the potential nominee because of the damage done to him but he cannot abandon his own agenda, even though there isn't a Congress worth working with on anything anymore. 

We haven't seen the full field. We know that the conservative movement will continue to exhibit all the signs of insanity and delusion that we have come to appreciate. I think there is an overwhelming fatigue with all things Clinton and Bush and that will rule the day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

They Threw One of the Bums Out


Eric Cantor may have been asked to leave Congress:
In what was described as a political "earthquake," the No. 2 Republican in the House, Eric Cantor, lost his primary on Tuesday to a college professor and political neophyte.
Cantor conceded the race with 97% of precincts reporting from the Richmond-area district, Cantor trailed Dave Brat 56% to 44%, according to the Virginia Secretary of State's website. Turnout was low.
"Obviously we came up short," Cantor said in his concession speech.
The Tea Party still exists? And this can happen? Oh, my.

A pampered elite just saw the world flash before their eyes. If you were to throw forty or fifty incumbents out of Congress, no matter their party affiliation, it would be a fantastic start. The problem is, the people being thrown out of Congress are being replaced by crazies who have a single issue.

In any event, holy crap. The plebes have spoken.

Cantor could still run, of course, because Joe Lieberman and all that, but the mechanisms that will kick in will be swiftly orchestrated by his number one enemy, Speaker of the House John Boehner, who is probably still hollering his pleasures out the window.

Another Neoconservative Gift to the World


Iraq is a failed state, in case you are keeping score at home:
Militants seized control of the airport, TV stations and the governor's offices in Iraq's second-largest city as police and soldiers ran away from their posts in Mosul on Tuesday, a stunning collapse of the security forces that has raised questions about Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's ability to hold the country together.
In perhaps a sign of just how serious the threat is to Iraq's stability, al-Maliki took to the airwaves to call on all men to volunteer to fight, promising to provide weapons and equipment.
"We will not allow for the remainder of the ... province and the city to fall," he said in a live broadcast carried on Iraqi state television.
The militants are believed to be members of the extremist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, an al Qaeda splinter group also known by its acronym ISIS. Many foreign fighters are believed to be among their number, senior police officials said.
Joe Biden's idea was to partition Iraq into three distinct states--one Sunni, one Shia, and one for the Kurds up north. If we had gone with that plan, Iraq would be less of a failed state than it is now, but it would still be a brittle, violent place. This region will be fought over again and again until someone can play the part of strongman and slaughter the weaker groups opposed to a centralized power.

Large tracts of Iraq will soon be in the hands of groups crazier than al Qaeda and meaner than a snake on LSD in a petting zoo. Once the country gets around to electing Rand Paul the next president, get ready for Iraq War III, starring Sylvester Stallone and the Texas National Guard.

Not a single neoconservative will ever be held accountable for Iraq. My guess is that it's all Obama's fault, now and forever.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The NBA Has a Crazy Old Man Problem


It's beginning to look a lot like a Monday night, which is when Donald Sterling traditionally releases an unfocused tirade on the NBA and makes his regularly scheduled "I'm not selling" statement:
Donald Sterling isn’t giving up.
The embattled owner of the Los Angeles Clippers said Monday he intends to “fight to keep” the basketball team, despite his lawyers' announcement that he had agreed to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
“From the onset, I did not want to sell the Los Angeles Clippers. I have worked for 33 years to build the Team,” Sterling said in a statement released to NBC News titled “The Team is not for Sale.”
I'm guessing that the strangely capitalized statement came directly from whatever iPad or Tandy computer the Sterling family failed to keep out of Donald's hands when he was off on his own having some me-time and that someone who is charged with providing him adult supervision was fired this evening by the family. In any event, the man is nuts. There's no good reason to avoid telling it like it is--dementia has claimed his mind and the media is irresponsible for publishing whatever statement emanates from his corner of sanity. It's sad, no matter what. It's sad for anyone to get to the point where their worst moments in life are broadcast to the world through every sneering outlet.

It looks more and more to me like this has been a game of thrones all along--months ago, the NBA realized that they were going to have to get rid of Sterling and the only way to do that was to expose his mental incompetence, give his wife her half of the sale, and let him humiliate himself in public. He probably has access to money and lawyers, and he probably has allies left among some of the owners, but he's pretty much done because the league wants Steve Ballmer to run the Clippers like a real franchise from now on and compete at a high level.

The real loser? The Los Angeles Lakers. Period. End of story.

Ruin Never Looked Better Than This



Fear! Calamity! Ruin! Oh, the humanity of it all! President Obama acted like a President and got an American returned alive from the Taliban! It's the end of Western Civilization as we know it forever and ever:
It is no coincidence that the deal with the Taliban to release five terrorist leaders from Guantanamo brought the first threat of presidential impeachment from a respected member of Congress. GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said that if Obama tried to release others without lawmakers’ approval, it would lead to “people on our side calling for his impeachment.”
That is the nuclear option, and there is good reason why it has been so rarely invoked throughout history. And yet the intense fever gripping Washington, largely created by Obama’s go-it-alone approach, needs to be broken. The country simply cannot continue to remain the beacon of the free world if we are consumed by our own dysfunction and distrust.
Impeachment is one way to try to resolve a political crisis, but as former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy argues in his new book, public opinion is a vital ingredient, and it is missing. Titled “Faithless Execution,” his book’s subtitle, “Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment,” is based on McCarthy’s claim that the legal case is solid that Obama has violated his oath to execute the laws faithfully.
Senator Lindsey Graham is a "respected" member of Congress? Really? Then why has he been ridiculed and mocked for inserting the word Benghazi into every issue every time he opens his mouth? Whenever Graham speaks, it's this, that and Benghazi, all day, every day.

The intense fear gripping Washington centers around the failure of the rhetoric, not on what has actually happened. Obamacare was supposed to be the socialist nightmare that would destroy America. Guess what? No one talks about it anymore because it's working. The only thing left to do is convince the lazy, incompetent media that there's a failure on the part of the President to execute the laws faithfully. But, let's not be rude and bring up all of those signing statements issued by President Bush, shall we?

You can see the delusion from here. Never has a ruined America looked better. Now if we could just get some Republicans to allow the government to spend some money on infrastructure...

Guess Who Is Shrinking and Irrelevant?


Just in time for summer, another lazy media meme that will constantly be recycled for as long as there are Democrats who get elected President:
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Less than two years after voters gave President Barack Obama a strong mandate for a second term, the White House is struggling against perceptions that it is losing its grip.
At home, the bungled rollout of the Obamacare website and the shocking revelations about an entrenched culture of incompetence and fraud in the VA have undercut faith in the President’s managerial competency.
The central reason for the President's "shrinkage" is Obamacare's website? That's old news, my friends. Old news. Millions have cheaper health care and no one cares if a website ran slow months ago. 

The actuality of the PPACA is this--Americans are getting health care that they can afford. People who had to work to keep health care coverage can now retire and do other things. Bankruptcy because of a health care issue is rapidly becoming a thing of the past for many Americans. Women are getting health care they need. And the President is shrinking because of that?

Because the website was slow? 

Well, this President got rid of Kathleen Sebelius. He cashed in Eric Shinseki and I would be willing to bet you that corrupt VA hospital administrators everywhere have stopped counting on their bullshit bonuses. He has fired people and issued orders. How is that "shrinking" in any way, shape or form?

I mean, damn. This ain't my first rodeo:

Time Magazine, circa 1993

Bill Clinton went on to give everyone peace and prosperity. Let's hope that President Obama can do the same before he shrinks away into nothing.

Armed and Armed Some More


The militarization of the police continues unabated:
During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.
The equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units. Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs.Masked, heavily armed police officers in Louisiana raided a nightclub in 2006 as part of a liquor inspection. In Florida in 2010, officers in SWAT gear and with guns drawn carried out raids on barbershops that mostly led only to charges of “barbering without a license.”
What was high satire thirty years ago with Lt. Hunter getting a tank to use against criminals on Hill Street Blues has become commonplace reality for podunk police departments all across the land. At some point, the police will be as well armed as any military unit. At some point, we will not see police but a de facto military presence everywhere and we're seeing it more and more. There's no rolling back on this--once you give the police military equipment, you have to keep giving it to them because that's what they will train with and that's what they will respond with. 

Guns drawn while carrying out raids on establishments that are barbering without a license? What the hell is that but a complete and utter militarization of the police gone horribly wrong. Policing is about a measured response to crime that serves the needs of the community. Body armor is something I completely understand but tanks and drones and SWAT teams converging on permit violators? Come on.

Camouflage, by the way? Really? I thought you had to announce the presence of law enforcement. I thought that a police officer had to identify themselves. Apparently not if they're wearing military grade camouflage.

Look What Happens When You Ruin the Economy


We have not recovered from the financial crisis of the late 2000s because nobody has any money:
U.S. fertility is not recovering from the financial crisis — and demographers aren’t sure why.
The fertility rate fell to a record low 62.9 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in 2013, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
The total number of births, at 3.96 million, inched up by a mere 4,000 from 2012, the first increase since the financial crisis. But the total fertility rate, or TFR, the average number of children a woman would have during her child-bearing years, fell to just 1.86, the lowest rate in 27 years. TFR is considered the best metric of fertility. A TFR of 2.1 represents a stable population, with children replacing parents as they die off.
Demographers expected the fertility rate to fall during recession, as financially strapped families put off childbearing. But what has surprised some demographers is both the depth of the decline and the fact that fertility has continued to drop even over the course of the country's five years of slow but steady recovery. The rate has fallen steadily each year since 2007, when it stood at 2.1 percent.
Wages have not kept up with this soft "recovery" and we still have far too many people who are unemployed. Couple that with the fact that your average job is rapidly becoming a two year temp-to-hire position paying less than what you made before and you have the recipe for a sharp demographic shift. Women would have more children if this were a more secure economy, and it isn't secure enough right now.

The very same people terrified of a foreign invasion of anchor babies have perpetrated this situation by ruining the economy, confiscating the wealth and assets of the Middle Class, and paying CEOs ridiculous amounts of money. Thomas Piketty scared the crap out of them because he was right--we have far too much inequality in America.

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Train Wreck in South Dakota


Oh, dang:
A candidate who finished fourth in the Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat in South Dakota was charged on Wednesday with violating campaign election laws, prosecutors said.
Annette Bosworth, 42, a doctor from Sioux Falls, was charged with six counts each of perjury and filing false documents and accused of falsely claiming she was gathering nominating petition signatures in South Dakota when she was really in the Philippines, the South Dakota Attorney General's Office said.
This is the candidate who found out she lost when Megyn Kelly blurted it out to her on live television. Nothing stings like that, nothing. Here we find out that Bosworth was as incompetent at disclosing where she was on legal documents as she was at keeping her business afloat. Funny thing about the Senate--they're only occasionally taking failures.

That deer in the headlights stare didn't help, apparently. Bosworth needs to find a new line of work, and fast. I'm sure that the Koch brothers or the Heritage Foundation would love to hire her as a medical expert.

Politics is the new racket, my friends.That's where the cash is.

Ol' Roy is Going to Have His NCAA Championships Taken Away


Roy Williams is staring at destiny in that picture. He's trying to imagine what it will look like when the NCAA takes away the only thing that has ever mattered to him as a coach--one or both of his NCAA championship titles is being threatened by the revelations of a player named Rashad McCants.

In the old days, what McCants has said would be enough to vacate wins and an entire season. Widespread academic fraud, cheating, and players getting paid are just part of what can cost you victories and titles. But, then again, we live in an age when a crook like John Calipari can publish vanity books about how great the players are and sign huge deals and thrive. Williams must be wondering where his accolades and where all that cash is located now that he's become another cheating coach.

John McCain is Flip Flopping and as Senile as Ever


Honestly, how do they allow this man access to microphones and public places? Who on this man's staff allows him the opportunity to embarrass himself by constantly going on television?

At this point in John McCain's career, you would think avoiding television would be the smart move. He's a fool if he runs again and he's finished in American public life. The media now uses him as the de facto voice of the opposition, letting him bluster and give belligerent answers. It's great TV. It's a farce when you think about the importance of governance.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Is Lara Logan Even a Journalist Anymore?


If you're wondering how someone can get caught fabricating the news and lying about it and generally show up regularly as a cheerleader for the military's version of what happened in several disastrous wars, look no further than Lara Logan. She is to journalism what Rob Ford is to responsible civic stewardship.

CBS News can hire whoever it wants. But this was not a decision based on serving the public, reporting what's left of the news in what's left of the news business, or even trying to do the right thing. This was a money decision based on not wanting to pass up the chance to continue to use Logan to appeal to people who think she does a good job. This was about money, not ethics or being in the news business.

She should have been fired, outright, for what happened with the Benghazi story, primarily because it helped fuel so many basic misunderstandings and misconceptions of what the attack meant and how it might affect the 2012 Presidential Election (which it did not, of course).

Logan lied and an entire political party has been screaming Benghazi with her assistance, and with the assistance of other liars, ever since. This has not enlightened or informed anyone, but it did get CBS News a lot of clicks and views.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

An Old Russian Plane Does it Again

SU-27 Flanker
Thankfully, there was no collision this time:
A Russian fighter jet buzzed dangerously close to a U.S. military plane in April, a U.S. official said Tuesday, describing the fly-by as "straight out of a movie."
The Russian jet flew within 100 feet of the nose of a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane over the Sea of Okhotsk between Russia and Japan, a Defense Department official said.
The fly-by "put the lives of the U.S. crew in jeopardy," the U.S. official said, calling it "one of the most dangerous close passes in decades."
The incident occurred on April 23, the Defense Department official said, when a U.S. Air Force RC-135U aircraft flying on a routine mission over the Sea of Okhotsk was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker aircraft.
The last time this happened, I was just out of high school:
At 10:39hrs of 13 September 1987 the Norwegian AF P-3B "602" of the No.333 Squadron, from Anöya AB was underway over Barents Sea, flown by Lt. Jan Salvesen and nine crewmembers, when intercepted by a Su-27 of the 941st IAP V-PVO, from Kilip-Yavr AB, flown by Vasiliy Tsymbal.
The Orion was underway at 13.000ft (roughly 4.500m) when the Su-27 did the first close pass: the Norwegians took few photos. After experiencing some problems with keeping his plane in close formation with the slow P-3B, the Soviet fighter disappeared - especially as Lt. Salvesen decelerated in order to signal his dislike for the Flanker coming that close. The Soviet pilot then accelerated away.

Several minutes later, the same Su-27 came back, and again took up a position very close to the P-3B. Lt. Salvesen decreased the speed, signalling the Flanker-pilot to stay away: the Su-27 disappeared again.

Around 10:56hrs, some 135nm E/SE from Vardö (Norway), and 48nm N of the Soviet border, the same Su-27 appeared for the third time, and now under the starboard (right) wing of the P-3B. The Flanker slowly moved closer and closer, Tsymbal obviously intending to once again suddenly accelerate when underneath the Orion. Finally, he did so, but while pulling up, the tip of his fin hit the prop of the Orion's outboard starboard engine, cutting an eleven centimer long piece of it and catapulting it into the fuselage of the reconnaissance aircraft, thus causing a decompression.

The Flanker is an old, old plane and the technology isn't anything to get spun up about. Unfortunately, you're not going to get that context with media reports of what happened; nor are you going to get the whole history of how these planes have been used to intimidate reconnaissance aircraft for decades. It's all part of the same game and it would be silly to assume that there aren't similar games being played elsewhere.

These outdated Russian planes have seen upgrades and improvements but their overall design and function isn't anything special. It's true that they can do some damage, but no one should assume that a few old Flankers are going to have instant air superiority any time they appear. Up against modern U.S. aircraft, they would be forced to flee.

Pessimism Rules in America


This is an interesting look at how pessimistic people have become in the United States. Despite having everything, Americans are still a miserable lot. Despite an extremely high standard of living, it's all going to hell in a handbasket.

I think the transformation of companies into temp agencies is helping this along. When no one has stable work, the country isn't stable at all and very few risks are taken. Fewer people buy new cars and homes, more people hoard and hunker down. This is not conducive to growing an economy.

That, and everything is Obama's fault.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Bowe Bergdahl Walked Away From the United States Army

I just can't square this with what happened:
Five years a captive from the Afghanistan war, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is back in American hands, freed for five Guantanamo terrorism detainees in a swap stirring sharp debate in Washington over whether the U.S. should have negotiated with the Taliban over prisoners.

U.S. officials said Sunday that Bergdahl's health and safety appeared in jeopardy, prompting rapid action to secure his release. Republicans said the deal could place U.S. troops in danger, especially if the freed detainees return to the fight - one called it "shocking." Arizona Sen. John McCain said of the five detainees, "These are the hardest of the hard core."

Visiting troops in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stepped forward at Bagram Air Field to thank the special operations forces who retrieved Bergdahl, who officials said was the only American prisoner of war still held by insurgents in that conflict. Gen. Joseph Dunford spoke of the excitement that spread through U.S. ranks when the sergeant's release was confirmed. "You almost got choked up," he said. "It was pretty extraordinary."
Bergdahl abandoned his guard post and walked away from a U.S. Army outpost in the middle of the night. His actions were inexcusable and he endangered countless lives. Men died trying to find him; and now he gets to be called an NCO in the United States Army?

What the hell?

I get that Ronald Reagan simply gave Iran 1,500 missiles in exchange for hostages that were replaced by other hostages and that the funds were diverted to help the Contras, but that doesn't mean anything in this context. Nor are the Republican criticisms worth paying attention to because they were the blind cheerleaders for the wars we started to begin with. 

No, this comes down to a fundamental fact--Bergdahl deserted his post and left his position unguarded. That's not a small thing and it isn't an excuse to say that he was "troubled" by the war. We have let far too many volunteers off the hook. Bradley Manning and Bowe Bergdahl are traitors to their country, plain and simple. They abandoned their fellow soldiers and betrayed the oaths that were taken when they put on the uniform. They did whatever they could to escape accountability and hurt the United States Army.

I am all for giving Manning the health care he needs to reassign his gender; I am all for allowing Bergdahl to come home and become a civilian again after he answers the charges for desertion. I would hope that, at some point, someone will ask him to remove the stripes and go back to being a private, however.