Thursday, July 31, 2014

Stay the Hell Out of North Korea


What is the United States supposed to do when people don't follow simple instructions?
Kenneth Bae, an American citizen detained in North Korea, said he feels like the U.S. government has abandoned him, according to a pro-North Korea newspaper.
Bae gave an interview to Choson Sinbo, a newspaper based in Japan, which has been given access to Bae in the past.
The newspaper published a picture of Bae wearing a blue prison garment in an interview that it said took place on July 30.
Bae said that he heard the U.S. government is doing everything it can to have him released and thanked the American and North Korean government for allowing him to speak to his family over the phone and medical treatment.
The Department of State strongly recommends against all travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK). This replaces the Travel Warning for North Korea of November 19, 2013, to update information on the risk of arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens in North Korea.

Travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea is not routine, and U.S. citizen tourists have been subject to arbitrary arrest and long-term detention. North Korean authorities have arrested U.S. citizens who entered the DPRK legally on valid DPRK visas as well as U.S. citizens who accidentally crossed into DPRK territory. The Department of State has also received reports of DPRK authorities arbitrarily detaining U.S. citizens without charges and not allowing them to depart the country. In the past 18 months, North Korea detained several U.S. citizens who were part of organized tours. Do not assume that joining a group tour or use of a tour guide will prevent your arrest or detention by North Korean authorities. Efforts by private tour operators to prevent or resolve past detentions of U.S. citizens in the DPRK have not succeeded in gaining their release.
The Government of North Korea has detained, arrested, and imposed heavy fines on persons who violated DPRK laws, such as entering the country illegally or attempting to contact private DPRK citizens without government authorization. Travelers to North Korea must enter the DPRK with a valid passport and valid DPRK visa. Foreign visitors to North Korea may be arrested, detained, or expelled for activities that would not be considered criminal outside North Korea, including involvement in unsanctioned religious and/or political activities (whether those activities took place inside or outside North Korea), unauthorized travel, or unauthorized interaction with the local population.
North Korean security personnel may regard as espionage unauthorized or unescorted travel inside North Korea and unauthorized attempts to speak directly to North Korean citizens. North Korean authorities may fine or arrest travelers for exchanging currency with an unauthorized vendor, for taking unauthorized photographs, or for shopping at stores not designated for foreigners. It is a criminal act in North Korea to show disrespect to the country's former leaders, Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, or to the current leader, Kim Jong Un.
If DPRK authorities permit you to keep your cell phone upon entry into the country, please keep in mind that you have no right to privacy in North Korea and should assume your communications are monitored. It is a criminal act to bring printed or electronic media criticizing the DPRK government into the country. If you bring electronic media, including USB drives, CD-ROMs, DVDs, or laptops, into the country, you must assume that North Korean authorities will review the information on those devices. Please be sure that the information contained on those devices does not violate the laws or regulations of the DPRK, as penalties for knowingly or unknowingly violating North Korea's laws are much harsher than U.S. penalties for similar offenses. Sentences for crimes can include years of detention in hard labor camps or death.

In
other words, don't go to North Korea. Period. End of story.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

John LaDue is Going to Get Away With It

Minnesota prosecutors said Wednesday they will appeal a judge’s decision to toss out the most serious charges against a teenager accused of plotting to blow up his high school. A Waseca County judge dismissed four counts of attempted first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree damage to property against 17-year-old John LaDue, arrested May 1 after a neighbor called 911 to report the teen’s bizarre behavior. Police say LaDue detailed in writing how he wanted to kill his family and then bomb Waseca Junior/Senior High School, murdering “as many students as he could.”
LaDue continues to face the lesser six charges of possession of explosive devices after prosecutors allege he had a storage locker of ammunition and bomb-making materials. In juvenile court Wednesday, he wore a navy suit with a dress shirt and only spoke to give his birth date. The judge decided to put on hold a decision whether to try LaDue as an adult until the appeals process is over.
This kid was ready to kill as many people as he could. We know this because he had an arsenal of bombs and guns and was stupid enough to actually write down what he intended to do--a sure sign of intent if there ever was one.

The Waseca County Prosecutor at the center of this inept performance is Brenda Miller, and she is the assistant Waseca County attorney who prosecuted former Albert Lea City Manager Jim Norman.

Norman, if you don't know already, was a newly-hired employee of the city and he used the credit card he was issued by the city to make purchases that were not authorized. Norman apologized and said that he made a mistake (never mind that he was told to use the card during the move of his belongings from one city to another). Norman was prosecuted by Miller in what I would call a zealous fashion.

If you follow the link, read towards the end of the article where she congratulates herself on figuring out that Norman did something he wasn't supposed to and that destroying his life was more important than using some sound judgment. That is, suspending her zealotry to accept the recommendation of the Albert Lea City Council to NOT prosecute Norman. Miller's judicial application of the law appears to have failed her because that same zealotry did not extend to prosecuting any of the other employees of the city of Albert Lea who used their city-issued credit cards to make unauthorized purchases.

So where was this zealotry in relation to going after John LaDue? Would it have taken a bombed-out school full of dead kids to get the staff up to speed on getting past the judge?

In any event, young Mr. LaDue is going to end up getting away with it and you can thank the crack team of legal professionals in Waseca County, Minnesota for that. Maybe they can find a jaywalking scalawag to go after in order to make up for what they have failed to do to protect the citizens of Waseca County.

A Sad and Pathetic Franchise

This is an advertisement that popped up on my computer when I was visiting a news site; it's for the professional football team that plays in Washington D.C.

They have a racist name.

The real problem here is that not enough people like myself realized this nickname, this "mascot" for the team, was racist and we denied the legitimate efforts of a number of people who wanted to have Native American mascots retired where they were inappropriate and celebrated where appropriate.

Native Americans are, by and large, excellent judges of what is offensive to their culture. No matter how many of them are bought and paid for by the likes of Dan Snyder, it's still racist to use the term you see at left. No matter what the "logic" used says, it's offensive to a group of people in this country. No amount of money can turn a no into a yes for everyone because this is not about taking care of a billionaire's dream of owning something that only increases in value.

Yes, it's about money. Yes, it's tied to the mistaken idea that the only thing that matters anymore is money. And, yes, it's still racist.

So, no matter how much money Dan Snyder thinks he's going to make by defying the call to change the name, it's still a doomed experiment in defying the decency of the culture to hang onto a relic of the past. His business acumen is horrible--witness how many of his customers are gouged every year and pay close attention to how this is reflected in the fact that a smarter businessman would be cashing in on a new name, new logo, new jerseys, new licensing deals and new everything instead of clinging to something that people are beginning to reject.

Sometimes, you gotta let it go.

Why?

Because the damned name is racist. Was that so hard?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jesse Ventura Proves That Chris Kyle Was a Liar


Ouch! [no link, I still despise the Minneapolis Star-Tribune]
Jesse Ventura won his defamation case against an author who said he punched out the former Minnesota governor for criticizing theU.S. Navy SEALs’ role in the Iraq war.
The jury awarded a total of $1.845 million: $500,000 in defamation damages and $1.345 million for “unjust enrichment” — or to be specific, $1,345,477.25.
Jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict, as instructed. Instead, with the consent of both sides, they voted 8 to 2 in Ventura’s favor.
Ventura was not in the courtroom when the verdict was read.
U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle said federal rules require a unanimous verdict but allow for a split verdict if both sides agree. Attorneys agreed to 8 of 10 jurors taking one side.
Appeals? Denials? How does a dead man defend himself?

Jesse Ventura is now a litigious former SEAL, one who will stop at nothing when you lie about kicking his ass in public. Someone somewhere is going to have to reconcile this with Chris Kyle's book. Ventura, of course, won't be attending too many SEAL reunions in the future, given his propensity to sue anyone who might get in the way of his need to tell people what he thinks.

Ignorance is a Virtue for a Republican


This will not hurt Joni Ernst at all:
Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee in Iowa, doesn’t want “federal legislators” to pass laws that “states are considering nullifying,” like Obamacare.
Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Iowa, appears to believe states can nullify federal laws. In a video obtained by The Daily Beast, Ernst said on September 13, 2013 at a forum held by the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition that Congress should not pass any laws “that the states would consider nullifying.”
I'm not sure what happened to the people of Iowa. They used to love the Humanities. They used to be champions of learning and knowledge. They used to be conservative but enlightened enough to deal with tough issues and very knowledgeable about how this country was supposed to work. They have a long history of electing people who are sober and responsible, except of course in Northwestern Iowa where they keep re-electing one of the most insane members of Congress ever, Steve King.

Iowa must now be full of yammering old buffoons who watch nothing but Fox News and the 700 Club.

In the end, oh well. The Founders have spoken (but it took a Civil War to settle the issue of nullification, once and for all, except in the fevered imagination of Joni Ernst). The ignorance of Joni Ernst will simply get her more votes from shut-ins and cranks.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

ESPN Needs to Get Rid of Stephen A. Smith

Stephen A. Smith ran his mouth and what you see above is what came out. If it sounds ignorant, that's because it is. If it sounds like he's blaming women for provoking their own beating, that's because he kind of is doing that.

And that's the kind of word salad that makes it difficult to figure out what to do next, so I'll help ESPN in any way that I can.

You should let this fellow go work out his issues somewhere else. Clearly, when he had a chance to fix things, he went into a completely different mode and basically said, woman--take your beating and shut up.

Don't do anything to provoke wrong actions is another way of saying, take your beating and shut up.

One thing you can count on is that ESPN never really gets around to doing the right thing, and that's what it has in common with the NFL--a fundamental lack of courage and commitment to doing the right thing whenever there's a little money at stake.

A man who believes that it's not okay to beat a woman and then basically says woman, take your beating and don't provoke a worse one or it's your fault doesn't really believe that it's not okay to beat a woman. He believes something else entirely, and you better watch your mouth.

Good God, where do these people come from and how do they end up in front of cameras?

The Right Will Never Stop Trying to Destroy Social Security


Do you know why Republicans hate Social Security and Medicare?

Because they work.


Nah, me neither:
I don’t see a lot of appetite for that kind of bullet-biting on the center-left right now, whereas on the Republican side there’s a much greater willingness, post-2010, to bite the alternative bullet of entitlement reform. And that matters: The emerging policy vision on the right only coheres and makes (at least some) fiscal sense because it includes proposals to change Medicare and (from leading politicians like Ryan and Marco Rubio, if not from the party as a whole) Social Security as well. A center-left analogue would need to come to grips more fully with the long-term cost of the liberal vision, and the need, eventually at least, for new taxes on someone other than the rich.
New taxes on "someone other than the rich" is doublespeak for "kill the poors." Occupy Wall Street scared the living hell out of the people who thought that they were going to be able to waltz into the decade with government-slashing politicians in their hip pocket. You know, the ones exactly like Paul Ryan, who was a middle class kid from Wisconsin who cashed in on Social Security death benefits and got an education in the very ideology that would condemn anyone who took a handout from the government.

Inadvertently, the American taxpayer funded the life plan of a man who hates what America does for kids just like him. When you get through that door, slam it hard behind you so no one else can have a good life just like yourself. Pathetic.

Here's an idea--accept government for what it is and what it does and attack the one thing we know that does NOT work, and that's giving the rich tax cuts in exchange for creating jobs.

People in this country actually are free, and they're free from worse levels of poverty and fear than the Republican Party is comfortable with. Social Security isn't broke, Medicare works, Obamacare works, and that drives people who have NO ideas crazy.

More and more, it looks like we missed the ball on Occupy as a movement for real reform and change, and, just like in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we lost a chance to talk about poverty and race in this country. We lost one hell of a good chance and I don't think we'll get it back until we defeat the ideas that give Douthat his woody.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Small Town Corruption


Please explain to me how it is that Sheriff Bob Kindler is not under some sort of scrutiny or investigation for what happened here. He's probably smart enough to keep his hands clean, but all it would take would be a warrant to see if there was any communication between him or the person who started this mess. What happened to being able to face your accuser?

How is it that the accuser isn't named or identified? Would that instantly mean an unraveling of what went on? Or was this someone completely unconnected to the Sheriff's department who wanted to embarrass the accused and mess with his life?

How is it that, "mere hours" after filing to run for Sheriff that Dale Glazier ended up taking a couple of months off? Thank God the man was paid for his trouble. And if I were him, I wouldn't drive anywhere without looking under my car for a puddle of brake fluid.

Jeebus, these small town people. They think they can get away with anything.

Shooting Up Myrtle


Did you hear? Someone shot up Myrtle, Minnesota:
Man cited for discharging gun
MYRTLE — Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office deputies cited Larry Prantner for reckless discharge of a firearm after receiving a report of gunshots fired at about 2 a.m. July 17 on First Avenue in Myrtle.
Pranter, shown above, was merely cited. Not arrested. Not jailed. Not charged with a felony. Not given a sobriety test.

No one shot him. No one brought in a fully militarized SWAT team to blow up his house and seize all of his weapons. No one even took the gun away from him that he was shooting at two in the morning, leaving him with whatever other guns he probably owns. No one beat his ass and dragged him to jail. He was not inconvenienced in any way until they had him sign the paper they gave him that indicated "your bad." They probably even called him sir.

Just cited.

For shooting his gun, repeatedly, in a municipal area in the town of Myrtle at two in the morning.

Freedom never tasted so good.

This is Why You Keep Guns Away From Assholes


No, I'm not blaming guns here. I'm blaming the asshole.

Chad Pickering of Bemidji, Minnesota is an asshole. He's a rolling freakshow on lawn mower wheels. He's lower than low. He's an asshole who used a gun to sort out his place in life, which, if we're lucky, means he'll never own a gun again and he'll spend a good amount of time in jail.

It's true--he might not actually be an asshole. He might be a drunk. I'm betting on both, and that's good enough for me with regards to taking away his right to bear arms.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Kids Don't Follow


Who really plays pickleball? Is it really for kids?

I think it's great that someone decided to give money to build a Pickleball court. I just don't know any kids who would play it; therefore, this was a donation specifically for someone who wants to play Pickleball and to hell with the youngsters and their iPads and their pickleheaded ways.


Not everything in a community has to be for one group. But don't pretend there isn't a form of elitism at work when corporations give money to build things.

Mark McGwire Lives in a Fantasy World


What you did was wrong, too:
The Bash Brothers' relationship has been smashed to pieces, and it doesn't look like it will be put back together again.
Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco formed one of the most deadly offensive duos in the late 1980s and early '90s, but Big Mac doesn't want to reminisce on the past, tellingESPNLosAngeles.com that he's unwilling to mend the relationship between him and Canseco.
"It's too late. I don't care to ever speak to him again," McGwire said, viaMark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. "What he did was wrong."
McGwire lives in a world where everyone but himself can be blamed for something he put in his body in order to cheat. He has to pay for that with the continued indifference of the baseball writers who won't give him a pass and put him in the Hall of Fame. Attitudes towards steroids have softened a bit lately, and I would say there's an slight chance he'll be chosen. Jose Canseco probably shouldn't wait for a call, however.

The Ethically Challenged World of Senator John Walsh


This is ridiculous. How can someone get away with such a blatant form of plagiarism? And then to use PTSD as a reason as to why plagiarism might have happened is the perfect way to cheapen what others are going through. This kind of logic would be great if you needed to get out of a speeding ticket, and it would be about as effective. What a disgrace.

Senator John Walsh of Montana has a long, proud history of cutting corners and creating opportunities for himself. He is a combat veteran, and we should be grateful for his service. That doesn't mean he should be a United States Senator and he definitely has not earned a higher degree. There's a track record here and it cannot be ignored. No one should get a pass because of their party affiliation or their service.

At a minimum, he should resign and accept the academic discipline that goes with blatant plagiarism, which would include, I suspect, the withdrawal of the degree he was awarded.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Your Scroll Bar Did Not Disappear


This is one of those rare occasions when Apple makes a mistake and assumes people can tolerate even a fraction of the change they were never looking for:
For longer than I care to admit, I have been unable to scroll down on my computer. This is only the latest in a series of laptop-related inconveniences, but, given the nature of my employment, is something of a problem. If you manage to catch the scrolling bar to the far right of the screen, you can generally navigate okay, but if you relax your vigilance for a moment and move your cursor, that option is closed, and it is necessary to refresh the screen. At least, that’s the only way I know how to do it.
See above for the answer...I struggled for days with our newly-upgraded MacBook and finally figured out what to do. I Googled the problem and someone coughed up an answer. That's how you do it nowadays. You look for people who are similarly challenged and copy them. What could go wrong?

Now, if this person doesn't have an Apple, then they're screwed and no one should care. But still...one should never be too proud to Google or beg.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This Guy Doesn't Even Read His Own Newspaper


There were no "olden days."
In addition, no child in the history of Albert Lea has been abducted by a stranger and gone missing. Our city’s crime rates are about the same as 30 years ago when children roamed the neighborhoods, not the couches. Our city’s violent crime rate is about one-third of the national average.
By sheltering our children, we, as a helicopter society, are doing more harm than good. We are part of the obesity epidemic.
We are letting the pedophiles, drug dealers and other bad guys win.
Even the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights has acknowledged the importance of play in the cognitive, physical and emotional well-being of children. And here we are, taking it from them. Our children are in greater danger when we drive them at 70 mph on freeways than when they are playing unsupervised with friends at parks.
In the olden days, boys played pickup games of baseball. Now, they only play baseball as part of an organized summer league, surrounded by grown-ups telling them what to do. It used to not be that way. They used to just be kids, playing how they want to play.
Where can young people go to get away from grown-ups and be themselves? For at least one generation, they have gone to video games and the Internet. They aren’t allowed go play with friends at the park because a social worker will visit the home, so, instead, kids will find strangers online.
So because we are worried about the imagined ill will of strangers at parks, we force our kids to stay home where they find strangers over the Internet or get fat playing video games.
Way to go, society.
I happen to have lived during what Tim Engstrom calls the "olden days" and none of that is anything I recognize. I remember Jacob Wetterling. I sure as hell remember what happened to Johnny Gosch. They were regional disappearances and abductions, to be sure, but they were part of the lore of the Midwest and they changed the way parents behaved. I remember stories of kids who wandered off and were found dead because of accidents--very common in the winter and in farm communities. I remember when Loren Bellrichard was allowed to run around blowing people up, or so they failed to prove. I remember a whole lot of colorful characters who wouldn't hesitate to beat the living shit out of a kid for nothing--the history of Albert Lea is a violent one, not a lemonade dream on the front porch. I remember the racism, too, but that's a whole other can of worms.

So, the problem is, I've got a memory, too, and things are much, much better when we have laws in place that force parents to be accountable for keeping track of their kids. See, I remember a whole generation of neglectful parents--the Baby Boomers--who took a powder and didn't bother raising their kids because they were drunk or high all the time.  Their kids ran wild. The very laws that Engstrom decries exist because bad parents can't be corrected without some form of legal code in place to help people sort out who is and who is not really, really neglecting their kids. I remember a lot of stories about abused and neglected children all around us, and most of the laws we have in place now are designed to help social services deal with awful parents--the kind that go off and drink and the kind that leave their kids in hot cars, and, yes, the kind that abuse their kids or let them have the run of the place. Letting your kids go around unsupervised actually makes them someone else's problem, and that's not exactly the way things should be. Your dopey kids are your problem, and that's that.

Tim Engstrom doesn't care about any of that because olden days and playing baseball and he's tough and you're not so shut up. This is how nostalgia gets in the way of common sense. You let a kid run wild and it won't be about sports--it will be about theft, vandalism, and drinking near beer where there is no adult supervision. Each and every law he complains about is rooted in experiences that left social services and the state's law enforcement community trying to find an answer for parents who let their kids get into trouble through a lack of adequate supervision.

I mean, doesn't Engstrom bother to read his own newspaper notices about the near-constant plague of unsupervised children--some as young as fifteen--getting caught drinking? Didn't he notice the big story last week or so about the kids who vandalized the Salvation Army? Those kids were improperly supervised and allowed to take out their frustrations on the Salvation Army. I don't blame society. I blame the parents who showed them what rocks do to glass.

The problem with his nonsense editorial is that it doesn't even bother with the facts of living in Albert Lea. This would be the same city where a large number of predatory sex offenders have been allowed to locate themselves and live their lives because we can't lock them up forever. When a new one pops up, the cops don't even bother holding a meeting anymore because of the apathy of the community. Up until he moved to Austin, there was at least one good reason not to let your kids out of your sight in certain parts of Albert Lea. Does the name Paul Berg ring any bells?

Yeah, Paul Berg actually tried to abduct a young girl from the streets of Albert Lea, and he would have gotten away with it if he hadn't been beaten like a dog on the sidewalk. And if you think he was the only sex crazed maniac trying to have sex in public with children, you haven't been reading the Albert Lea Tribune.

So, you know. Olden days were better and now everything sucks. Whatever, man.

Kurt Vonnegut Couldn't Have Said it Better


When I read things like this, I can't help but wonder how much fun Kurt Vonnegut would have had with the idea that troops invading someone else's territory should be given a peace prize and that they cannot be criticized for anything at all.

Here's what he thought of indiscriminately bombing and killing people:
Every day we walked into the city and dug into basements and shelters to get the corpses out, as a sanitary measure. When we went into them, a typical shelter, an ordinary basement usually, looked like a streetcar full of people who’d simultaneously had heart failure. Just people sitting there in their chairs, all dead. A fire storm is an amazing thing. It doesn’t occur in nature. It’s fed by the tornadoes that occur in the midst of it and there isn’t a damned thing to breathe. We brought the dead out. They were loaded on wagons and taken to parks, large open areas in the city which weren’t filled with rubble. The Germans got funeral pyres going, burning the bodies to keep them from stinking and from spreading disease. 130,000 corpses were hidden underground. It was a terribly elaborate Easter egg hunt. We went to work through cordons of German soldiers. Civilians didn’t get to see what we were up to. After a few days the city began to smell, and a new technique was invented. Necessity is the mother of invention. We would bust into the shelter, gather up valuables from people’s laps without attempting identification, and turn the valuables over to guards. Then soldiers would come with a flame thrower and stand in the door and cremate the people inside. Get the gold and jewelry out and then burn everybody inside.
Clearly, humanity has jumped the shark and we're left with the crumbs at a table that hasn't been pleasantly set for a long time. Humanity is starved for substance and truth in the age of instant communication and smart phones, and a symptom of the insanity that affects us all is when far too many people accept without questioning the kind of logic displayed above. War is always a horrible, horrible last result that rarely accomplishes anything other than killing people who no one would reasonably conclude should have been killed to begin with. We're clawing at the idea of being able to believe someone about something, but the sad fact is, the only thing that sells anymore are lies.

The fellow in the suit above is one hell of a salesman for lies. He has a counterpart in a similar suit somewhere, and I wonder how ridiculous that fellow is when he talks about killing for peace.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

James Garner 1928-2014


This is far and away one of the best tributes to a Hollywood actor, ever. It comes from Rose McGowan's Instagram account, and it speaks volumes to how people live their lives and what they stand for.

In 1963, it was not easy nor was it popular to support Civil Rights of any kind in this country. It invited hatred and dissent and it guaranteed the kind of violent and inhumane threats to a person that accompanies such a statement of conscience. It meant hate mail. It meant that, in the television industry, that if you had a network show, and if you ran afoul of sponsors, you might end up cancelled no matter what your ratings were. It meant the loss of income and it meant that if you wanted to act in films, you might end up being passed over for a less controversial actor.

Think of what it's like to make a positive statement today about being pro-choice or pro-gun control. The violent threats that people face every day make them heroes. James Garner was certainly a hero like all the rest.

That's because, in 1963, James Garner said to hell with that and put on a suit and walked in Washington D.C.  He could have put on that suit and gone and made money somewhere. He could have been toasted by the opponents of Civil Rights as one of their own, him being a celebrity and all. He was not the only brave man to do it, but he was a man worth remembering. He was not just a white man doing the right thing that day. He was a man doing the right thing most every other day as well.

Friday, July 18, 2014

SAMs Leave Traces


Hearing the voices of the guilty speak about their war crimes is rare, indeed, but this sort of thing isn't really necessary:
Intercepted phone calls purportedly between Russian military intelligence officers and members of a pro-Russian separatist group that appear to capture the moment the rebels realized the plane they shot down was a civilian passenger plane could be the smoking gun that helps prove Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed Ukraine by the insurgents.
The tapes were released by SBU, Ukraine's security agency, and transcript was published in the Kiev Post. It appears to capture the chaotic moments after the plane was shot down — and the realization that it was a passenger plane rather than a Ukrainian transport plane, which had been targeted in recent days by the Russia-backed separatists.
"We have just shot down a plane," says a man the SBU identified as Igor Bezler, a Russian military intelligence officer and leading commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

That call came just 20 minutes after the crash and was placed to a person identified by Ukraine’s SBU as a colonel in the main intelligence department of the general headquarters of the armed forces of the Russian Federation Vasili Geranin, according to Ukraine security officials.
The individuals in question--Ukrainian separatist rebels aligned with Russia--have decided to operate with impunity and without understanding just how easy it is to identify who fired the missile that brought down the plane. Various news stories have referenced "American" officials, but, really, the American intelligence community knows who fired the missile, what kind it was, and where it was launched from. They know all this because it is their job to know such things, Edward Snowden notwithstanding.

When a surface-to-air missile is launched, it leaves numerous traces that are collected and stored in databases and a missile launch with this level of sophistication requires coordination with command and control elements well beyond the level of expertise found in a simple battery. If the separatists have no command and control, why are they talking with the Russians? If there's nothing but chaos out there, then the Russians are going to abandon their allies because their complicity in mass murder will eliminate any separation between a nascent independence movement and a Russian land grab.

This is why we collect intelligence on foreign countries in bulk--it gives us access to critical data when incidents like this happen. This is why it is money well spent--having this capability means something. Your garden variety Edward Snowdens will give this to our enemies and then hide behind the idea that your privacy and your uninteresting life are threatened by an agency that is more interested in locating and tracking weapons, not hipsters.

To the separatists, life means nothing and their provocation hangs a target on their backs. My guess is that the Russians will sell them out first.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

23 Americans Were on Board MH17


Thus far, it has been determined that 23 U.S. citizens were onboard the flight. 

American engagement in Ukraine just escalated dramatically. It is no longer possible to ignore what's happening.

This, as they say, was the game changer.
 

Everything Just Went to Hell in Ukraine


Holy crap:
A passenger plane with 295 people on board has been shot down as it flew above eastern Ukraine, according to aviation sources.
The Malaysia Airlines plane, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was travelling at an altitude of 10km (6.2 miles) when it was shot down, Russia's Interfax reported.
An adviser to the Ukrainian interior ministry said the Boeing 777 was brought down by a Buk ground-to-air missile.
All 280 passengers and 15 crew members who were on the plane are believed to have died, he added.
This is going to escalate tensions dramatically in the region and it is now going to put Ukraine back in the news. I can't imagine a scenario where the world doesn't lose its shit over this, I really can't. I'm probably wrong, but we are now going to see the world deal with this issue.

If not, those people were murdered and their loss is the fault of the world's indifference to the Ukrainian situation, plain and simple.

And, yes--this has NOT been a good year for Malaysian aviation.

UPDATE: The modified "Buk" anti-aircraft system is fairly sophisticated; I would almost immediately rule out an accidental shootdown since it is a defense system that uses IFF (Identify Friend or Foe) technology. If the Malaysian aircraft had no IFF working, then that would be one thing (it would have numerous other systems to identify it and track it, especially in the wake of MH370). But the balls on the person who ordered this are made of pure brass because this will escalate things dramatically. We are talking about a highly sophisticated weapons system, not a shoulder-fired Surface-to-Air-Missile. It would require comprehensive, multi-vehicle command and control and a fully operational SAM system to shoot a Buk missile at a commercial airliner. This was not the work of just one trigger-happy rebel. This was state-sponsored mass murder.

Americans Don't Care About Foreign Policy


John Bolton is delusional enough to think of himself as Presidential material? Really?
John Bolton is making his first foray into the all-important presidential primary state of New Hampshire—and he is bringing Benghazi with him.
In a new online ad set to debut Thursday, Bolton’s super PAC knocks Ann McLane Kuster, a first term Democratic congresswoman, for flubbing a question at a town hall last year about the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. In the ad, a halting Kuster says the issue is “a Senate [matter]…and I don’t think we have anything about that in the House,” though numerous congressional committees have addressed the attacks. She then tries to dismiss the question, telling the audience to catcalls, “We’re certainly not here to talk about it. We are here to talk about the Middle East.”
“This isn’t a geography lesson, but Ann Kuster should have known better,” Bolton intones after the ad’s footage of the town hall.
I guess he doesn't have anyone in his life to call him on his bullshit. Normally, a friend would sit him down at lunch and end this before any cash could be wasted hiring flunkies to start building a nascent organization . Bolton has no appeal in politics and the American people will reject his credentials outright because he's never had a prominent position that wasn't handed to him as payback for dirty favors (the only reason anyone knows who John Bolton is is because he was active on the ground in Florida during the 2000 recount debacle that elected his patron, George W. Bush).

He is a hack when it comes to foreign policy, having risen to a position well above his level of competency. He must need the money.

The Horrible World of Chuck Beaver


Good God.

Chuck Beaver has been arrested for a morals crime?

I doubt very much that anyone would have thought that Chuck Beaver would be a perv.

If Chuck Beaver is a bad guy, who the hell is a good guy?

Chuck Beaver is a guy you have a barbecue with. He's the guy you go golfing with. He's good people when there aren't any other people around.

But, no. Chuck Beaver is one of those people you can't socialize with anymore. He's too stupid to be on the Internet, too horny to let into your house, and he's done. America chews these people up and it spits them out. They run afoul of the law and ruin themselves. No one looks at the cops and their greasy little tactics and the photos they use to catch Chuck Beaver and his ilk. We just want them out there, trying to catch a few more Chuck Beavers.

Well, goddamn, son. Chuck Beaver caught himself.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Martin O'Malley Fails the Leadership Test


You would think that demonstrating compassion during a humanitarian crisis would be a no-brainer. You'd be wrong, because this is America and the specter of "illegal immigration" has made sensible people lose their minds:
After his strong criticism of the Obama administration's plans to return thousands of young undocumented migrants back to Central America, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley asked a top White House official that the children not be sent to a site that was under consideration in his home state, sources familiar with the conversation said Wednesday.
A potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, O'Malley surprised some in his party when he sharply criticized a White House proposal to give new legal authorities to the Department of Homeland Security to expedite the deportation of the unaccompanied minors and their families."He privately said 'please don't send these kids to Western Maryland,'" a Democratic source told CNN. The heated discussion between O'Malley and White House domestic policy adviser Cecilia Munoz occurred during a phone call late Friday evening, sources familiar with the conversation added.

I'm going to spell this out for people--when a bunch of children show up at your door, alone and afraid and abused and neglected, you take them in and you care for them. Individual people do not need to open up their houses (damned if a lot of people wouldn't, though) but our government certainly should have a humanitarian response to a humanitarian crisis like this. Our government has FEMA and a whole host of other entities that could be used to respond to the border crisis. We have the military, of course, and we have Federal control of the National Guard. Simply order the Texas National Guard to mobilize for operations, and be done with it.

I think it would be supremely intelligent to bring in every kid we can find and give them a home. We could raise them as our own--a generation of Latin American kids could be educated and housed and fed in this country for the price of a single oil company subsidy and we could teach them English and Spanish and give them a chance to go back home with what they have learned and do one of two things--either have a life or tear down the failed states that they came from and build them up anew.

At the end of the day, you take in these kids, you take care of them, and you find the best solution for them. You act like a Christian, in other words, and this will allow you to safely ignore the morons who think this is a Christian country (because most of them are opposed to the "illeagles," you know).

If these kids were Irish, we'd take them in a heart beat. If they were Cubans, we'd hide them in closets when it was time to send them home. We took in untold numbers of Vietnamese kids who came here by any means possible and we gave them a life. There are tens of thousands of refugees from Cold War conflicts that were brought to this country and given another chance--whole families were settled in enclaves all over America. Their integration into American society has not been stress free but it's a damned sight better than the killing field that waited for them back home.

So, I gotta ask--which brown people do we like and which ones are we going to turn our backs on? Who's a Christian now? Who believes in taking in Afghan interpreters and Hmong refugees and Cuban exiles and giving them a shot? Why does ideology have anything to do with it? Is this because we (gasp!) have a Negro in the White House and we can't do anything anymore forever until he's gone? What's different with these kids? Oh, that's right. They're no different than any other kids who come here, desperate for a chance. But they're "illegal immigrants" circa 2014 and the raving lunatics who worship God with one hand while stirring the frothy drink of insanity brewing in their two-cent heads have all of the power right now, apparently. They've taken a man like Martin O'Malley and turned him into a hypocrite and a loser. Must not have been much of a stretch on that one.

O'Malley should have stepped up and said, "send me 5,000 kids and we'll make this work." He should have said, "we will care for those who are in need and we will show them what America is all about."

Instead, he effectively ended any hope he might have had for being a decent leader.

Adios, governor.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Minnesota Vikings Are a Douchebag Franchise


In case you've been wondering, yes. Chris Kluwe's release from the Minnesota Vikings was about his support for gay rights and for being outspoken about issues that made one of his fundamentalist Christian coaches uncomfortable.

It would appear that Kluwe has a case against this franchise for being bigoted and intolerant, one that may have legal ramifications that could lead to civil legislation. Otherwise, the report would have exonerated everyone and would have been released. Instead, someone decided to sit on it because, well, why hand over a surefire lawsuit and draw even more attention to the fact that your franchise is full of douchebags?

The NFL has an image problem and it cannot allow two things to continue: one, it can't allow the Vikings to bury Kluwe's complaints. It has to deal with them. And, two, it has to force the team that plays in Washington D.C. to change the franchise nickname. Until then, it's a hatefest and an intolerant league out of step with American society.

Haters Are Not Intelligent People


There are no words, just peals of laughter at the utterly ignorant fool who wrote this on a wall about children.
The glorious, patriotic message appeared on the side of a former Army Reserve warehouse in Westminster, Maryland that's been named as a potential site for housing undocumented children.
I mean, this was written about children. Whoever and whatever these people are, they were never Christians, ever.

One Third of the American People Are Always Crazy


Talk about a non-story.

Talk about a ridiculous subject for a story relating to American politics.

Talk about a nothingburger.

I mean, seriously. Support for impeaching President Obama is (gasp!) at the one-third mark? Meaning, about 33.3% of Americans want the President to be removed from office? Seriously?

At any given time in American political life, one third of the public is absolutely batshit crazy with a consuming belief that whoever is President (doesn't matter--it really does not) is wrong on everything, evil, and has abused their power.

One third?

Give me a break. I don't know who Peter Moore is but he has the cushiest gig in blogging. He doesn't have to think at all and he doesn't even have to try anymore.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Remember When Conservatives Wanted Latin American Kids to Come Here?


I remember when there was a kid named Elian Gonzalez, and I remember when he came here as an illegal immigrant. I remember how conservatives railed against the rule of law, which forced him to go back to Cuba to live with his communist relatives. They didn't scream at him and tell him to go. They hid him in a closet and tried to keep the government from sending him back to where he came from. I remember how they went crazy and hated the government and ignored the actual laws and wanted him to stay so he could live a better life in this country.

What happened?

Oh, yeah. That's right. Instead of Cuba, the new wave of little kids comes from Central America where they are fleeing the predators in violent gangs, and where they are trying to get away from narco-terrorists. And not only are they not coming here to seek freedom, they're bringing their diseases with them, right?

Except that they're not:
With thousands of children from Central America arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, an old plague is once again sweeping the country—the fear of the diseased immigrant.
“Our schools cannot handle this influx, we don’t even know what all diseases they have,” U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX)said recently. “Our health care systems can’t withstand this influx.” [Except that they can, thanks to Obamacare]
Fox News commentator Cal Thomas asks, for example, if “the unaccompanied minors pouring over the border…have brought with them proof of vaccination?” Thomas accuses the border-crossers of harboring vaccine-preventable diseases such as “mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus and diphtheria.”
Before demonizing undocumented children, we should look at the facts: The vast majority of Central Americans are vaccinated against all these diseases. Governments concerned about health, and good parents investing in their kids, have made Central American kids better-vaccinated than Texan kids. We fear them not because they are actually sick, but because of powerful anti-immigration narratives that link foreigners to disease.
Consider, for example, Guatemala. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Guatemalan kids are more likely than Texans to be immunized for most infectious diseases. Guatemala has universal health care. Vaccines are 100 percent funded by the government.
By comparison, one in six kids in Texas is uninsured, and even insured families often must pay for vaccination. That means that many Texas kids fall behind on vaccinations, or miss them altogether when their family can’t afford a doctor’s visit. Other families refuse vaccination.
Dr. Elizabeth Lee Vliet, a Fox News commentator and former director of the ultra-conservative political group Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, writes in the McAllen Monitor that measles is among the “diseases the United States had controlled or virtually eradicated” that are “carried across the border by this tsunami of illegals.”
Fact check: UNICEF reports that 93 percent of kids in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are vaccinated against measles. That’s better than American kids (92 percent).
Oh, but American Exceptionalism and They're Going to Take All the Jobs and They're Going to Get Welfare Checks All Day Long. The bullshit gets so thick you can't even stand looking at a computer half the time. Thanks again, Jenny McCarthy.

Good God. 

You mean that Texas is now a third world country run by lunatics? Again, this happens? And that means it's time for the citizens of Texas to vote in another Republican who will continue to destroy the environment, the education system, and give handouts to corporations? Again?

I guess so.

Somewhere in Cuba a young man is grateful he didn't end up living in a Florida subdivision where you can shot for walking around with Skittles. And he's probably thrilled he didn't end up in Texas, either.

Whitewashed History


I have never visited a Presidential library, but I've had numerous chances to do so. To me, they are not destinations nor are they worthy of a visit due to the propaganda referenced in this article. I agree with some of it, but I do take exception to the idea that this is shocking or otherwise. It's not.

The mere existence of a Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library speaks volumes to how ridiculous it would be to "celebrate" his legacy. He tarnished his legacy and remains a disgraced and horrible figure in American history. His own library has to draw out the releases of embarrassing audio tapes and transcripts of conversations that demonstrate him to be a craven and power-hungry man.

However, you can find examples of the same behavior in virtually all of the other administrations that have gone before but not really since. The libraries that exist now are tourist traps that whitewash the "Nixonian" stain from history.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Another Molon Labe Moron


Groups describing themselves as militias have set up a training area near San Antonio and say there already are four "operations on the ground" along the US-Mexico border in Texas.
The groups, which supported Cliven Bundy at a standoff at his Nevada ranch earlier this year, posted an update on a website used to organize the efforts Tuesday night that said there are currently three "troops on the ground" on the Arizona border, and "four credible operations on the ground" on the Texas border.
The Texas militia, known as "Operation Secure Our Border," is being led by Chris Davis, a 37-year-old truck driver who was discharged from the Army in 2001 "under other than honorable conditions in lieu of trial by court martial," according to a summary of Davis' military service obtained by the San Antonio Express-News.
So, this is how things are--they are against "illegal" immigration and "illegal" immigrants because there are laws against coming to this country illegally, but Cliven Bundy can get away with illegally withholding the million dollars he owes the United States (all of us) because he doesn't want to pay for grazing his cattle on Federal (all of us, again) land. Davis used to be known as private but now he's known as the Commander:
"The commander (Davis) has gone black because of security threats," said Barbie Rogers, founder of the Patriots Information Hotline, which offers 24-hour service and is helping the group organize.
By all means, allow these people to thrive and multiply. See where that ends up taking us as a nation.

What I don't get about these people is that they claim to be knowledgeable about the founding of the United States and yet they know nothing of the fear that precipitated the actual Constitution, the lawlessness of militia groups, and the need for a central authority (the Federal Government) to give everyone a chance to live their lives without fear of being shot down by lawless, drunken "patriots." Mob rule terrified the founders because they lived through decades of it, and mobs precipitated the armed revolt against George III. Everything we live under and have as the law today is a direct result of the fear of allowing mobs to run wild. Our 238 year pursuit of such a reality has had its ups and downs, but when we're talking about self-appointed militias with gun fetishes, we're definitely looking at a low, for sure.

The law only matters when you agree with it. That's how these people operate. Our founders would shudder at that notion. Yelling molon labe doesn't change the fact that these people are the modern day equivalent of the Know Nothings, about which we remember not nearly enough.

A Strong and Merciless Countermeasure


I don't know what the strong and merciless countermeasure will be, but I do suspect that the hype for this film far outweighs its comedic value:
In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the reclusive country called the film, starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, "an act of war."
North Korea has filed a complaint with the United Nations over the upcoming Sony film starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, The Interview, which tells the story of a plot to assassinate the country's supreme leader, Kim Jong-un.
In a letter addressed to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon dated June 27, North Korea's U.N. Ambassador Ja Song Nam accuses the United States of sponsoring terrorism and committing an act of war by allowing such a film to be made.
The North Korean government is savvier than this, surely? Free societies regularly enjoy uncensored films and music. Video games are the real threat to a world full of hermit kingdoms. And their usual insults follow the running dog lackey gangster format when properly applied to something they don't like. Someone will fly to a disinterested third party nation, buy up copies of this film, and deliver them to the ruling class. They enjoy a standard of living that would shock a plutocrat. They don't care if you're making fun of them. Just don't do it in a way that makes Kim Jong Un bother them with busywork. I imagine him with a bandage on his hand after slapping the table so many times, complaining about not getting a chance to be in the film with Dennis Rodman.

In any event, that's a hell of a propaganda marketing scheme at work...

This is Why They Want to Impeach the President


The wholesale destruction of America continues, unabated. Soon, there will be a time when Americans have health care insurance and coverage for their families. Once that happens, America will turn into Thunderdome and we will all be driving cars that have no gas. Do you have four camels lying around who can pull the thing? I don't. But, thanks to Obamacare, now I have to find extra shotgun shells, a water purification system, a Geiger counter, and four freakin' camels because we're all headed for a post-apocalyptic hellsphere, fights to the death optional.

And while we all look for feathers and castoff shoulder pads, let's remember one salient fact--Obamacare was the devil. It was supposed to rip the fabric of American life to pieces and leave nothing but horror and destruction in it's wake. It was supposed to give rise to a thousand Hitlers and burn everything to the ground. If you've been listening to the clowns on the right, you would think that socialism was really, really bad or something. So far, it's looking pretty good.

The Republican Party now has to impeach Obama in order to offset the success of Obamacare. They have tried, dozens of times, to legislate it out of existence. Now that we know it works, they have to do something to head off the damage it is causing to their ideology, not the country. We have been cursed to live in an interesting time--government actually works? Really? Why don't we try having a little more of it, then?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

We Failed to Remember Our History One More Time


The Bundy Rebellion isn't over yet:
The victory a Nevada rancher claimed in a government standoff with armed militiamen has served to embolden right-wing extremists and conspiracy theorists across the country, an organization that tracks hate groups said in a new report Thursday.
The Southern Poverty Law Center based its findings on online chatter among extreme right-wing groups. 
Cliven Bundy's faceoff with the Bureau of Land Management agents and Las Vegas police at his ranch in southern Nevada in April has "invigorated" an extremist movement that has exploded since President Barack Obama was elected, growing from 150 groups in 2008 to more than 1,000 last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center said.
The report warns of the potential for more violence like the recent killing of two Las Vegas police officers by a pair of anti-government zealots — Jerad and Amanda Miller — who spent time at Bundy's ranch before they were asked to leave because of their extremist views.
"Cliven Bundy may have faded from public view, but the movement that spawned him is boiling," said the report entitled "War in the West, The Bundy Ranch Standoff and the American Radical Right."
This boiling movement has no fear of armed confrontation with the United States Government--they are actively encouraging it. How is that possible?

The example of Shays Rebellion is instructive. It was put down largely because reasonable people saw the threat to peace and stability; it led to a more powerful centralized form of government--the one we have today. The Bundy Rebellion weakens the power of the central government and exists because enough people feel the U.S. government has no legitimacy.

In other words, watch what happens when we forget American history.

How Many Troops Does Southern Command Have?


I guess Rick Perry wants to run for President:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry and others are lashing out at President Barack Obama's decision not to tour border facilities overwhelmed by a flood of undocumented children, saying the U.S. leader needs to see with his own eyes what both sides agree is a humanitarian crisis.
"The American people expect to see their President when there is a disaster," Perry told CNN's Kate Bolduan in an interview that aired Thursday, citing Obama's trip to the East Coast to tour damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. "He showed up at Sandy. Why not Texas?"
Both Republicans and the White House have described the crush of Central American children as a humanitarian crisis, but Obama said Wednesday that visiting facilities where the children are processed and detained would be little more than a photo opportunity.
No Republican from Texas is ever going to be reasonable about anything. Write that down. Mail it to your future self. The President should have gone on vacation instead of Texas. Nothing reasonable can come of allowing Rick Perry the chance to speak out on anything. The President may have been smart not to go to the border, but it was foolish to go to Texas and let the man with anchorman hair look like he has control over something. Simply by holding the title of Governor in Texas, he automatically has little if any power anyway.

The patch you see above is the one used by the U.S. Army's Southern Command, which now exists in name only and has a handful of missions and no real troops or power to influence what is happening. The humanitarian crisis on the border is the consequence of pursuing policies in Central America that were insane in the 1980s and are still resonating throughout the region.

When you kill off enough reasonable people, you're left with thugs and criminals running things. That's what it is like in Central America today--the reasonable people aren't in power. When the United States dismantled Jimmy Carter's insistence on human rights, and when power was handed to the people who decried his efforts to restore sovereignty to the various countries where America's imperial ambitions got out of hand, it sent a message to the region--you're not going to survive unless you kill your enemies. That led to corruption and failed states, and it allowed criminal gangs to thrive in the absence of any rule of law. We sent troops to ensure that the killing fields would stay hidden, and we traded missiles to terrorists so that death squads could run wild.

The last time anyone cared about Central America was Christmas of 1989. I went to work at a small radio station, and found the AP wire printer running haywire, covered in bulletins from America's invasion of Panama. Since then, we haven't cared or paid attention to the growth of narco-terrorism because we're the ones who fed that machine. We have refused to end our own ridiculous war on drugs. If billions stopped flowing to the criminals, their empires would come apart. The societies they have been busy murdering are all but dead already. We prop up illegitimate regimes and forget our history. We did this to them. Now, they're mailing us their kids. Talk about an accountability moment.

At some point, someone in a uniform is going to have to go kill off thousands of heavily-armed narco-terrorists and gang members in a faraway land. They're going to have to go south wearing that patch and they're going to have to erase the situation we created by sanctioning the murders of nuns and the killing of villagers and the selling of drugs all over America. I don't suppose we have a trillion a year and an endlessly manned Army to do this, but that's what it will take for people to stop sending their four year-olds into the desert in order to wander into America, sunburned and afraid.

It's one thing for some nervous stoners to open a pot dispensary in the Mountain West and overcharge people for ditchweed. It's quite another to decriminalize drugs, make it a public health issue, and empty America's prisons of young black men and then send troops to Central America in order to kill a generation we birthed by re-electing Ronald Reagan.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Steady Diet of Nothing


When you feed people remakes and comic book movies, and when you do it year after year after year, don't be shocked when they stop going to see your tired old retreads.

The thing that surprises me is that Peter Jackson's Hobbit movies aren't doing as well as the Lord of the Rings, critically at least, and that there seems to be no desire on the part of people to actually make good films anymore.

Why would I go see another Spiderman movie? Why would I see another X-Men movie? There are so many of them on the shelf already. Today's studios have to feed an overseas market that just wants explosions and little dialogue, so they have no qualms about going to four or five sequels that rip off the same tired old remade idea.

I lasted about 40 minutes into Transformers 4. We walked out and didn't miss a thing. The humanities are all but dead in this country. Who's doing anything interesting? Someone has to, and they're probably broke and wishing someone would buy a few more copies.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Arundel Mills is an Insane Place to Be


Years ago, you could visit the Arundel Mills shopping center and about all that would happen is that someone would beg $20 off of you. That happened to me. In the parking lot of what used to be Circuit City. I bought a lot of stuff that I don't have anymore there. I gave the guy $20. But that's all gone now.

Last time I wrote about Arundel Mills, some crazy woman in an SUV tried to run me over because I was walking in the parking lot of a restaurant. They fled the scene, I called the cops, and nothing happened because, well, it's just par for the course now at Arundel Mills.

Thanks to the addition of the Maryland Live Casino, which ruined the property and brought in a desperate criminal element found around casinos nationwide, you can't have lunch over there anymore. You can't go to Arundel Mills without putting your head on a swivel. Don't go there at night and relax and walk around like a real person. Don't do it.

This story is just another slice of crazy. Thanks again for putting in that casino. Granted, there was crime before the casino, and I can understand that. But this is just an example as to how insane it is over there now and it speaks to why I just can't justify going there anymore.

The 4.5 Million Jobs No One Talks About


This is a great encapsulation of what I've been saying for years:
Do you have any idea how many more jobs Obama has created than Bush did? You don’t, because liberals are less likely than conservatives to cheerlead.
The terrific June jobs report may be the signal we’ve been waiting for that we’re finally turning the psychic corner. The overall jobs number was great at 288,000, and the unemployment rate was down to 6.1 percent. But the most important number was that the employment-to-population ratio, which many economists think of as the truest measure of the jobs market, was up a bit to 59 percent, a high for the recovery, indicating that maybe more people are finally out looking for work than staying home.
Republicans will tell you that cutting off unemployment benefits and making welfare a shameful state of affairs have helped to move these numbers, but, really, that's all bullshit. Shame doesn't motivate companies to hire people because corporations, being most emphatically not people to be begin with, don't care about shame. They care about profits. And if companies are hiring, it must mean that they can no longer function without more people or their profits will dry up.

The phony logic of "both sides do it" and the need for some sort of mythic "bipartisanship" has driven the narrative in America. Democrats did not shut down the government; Republican extremists did that. Democrats would love to pass a jobs bill; Republicans intentionally kill job creation legislation and get away with it, year after year after year. The economic misery of America is laid at the feet of a president who can't get anything out of an insane, extremist-driven Congress. Obstructionism killed the middle class, not Obamacare. How do you work with people who get away with everything and are accountable for nothing because the working media is committed to being fair when they should be fired for ignoring the destruction wrought by a Republican Party led by fools?

Good God--here's Patient Zero for all of this--courtesy of Charles Pierce. The Republican Party of the State of Texas wants to nullify Federal laws, pull out of the United Nations, and bring back spanking.

Spanking.

I'm not holding my breath for an accountability moment where hundreds of Republicans are thrown out of office. It won't happen--we have an incumbent protection racket that will not change the makeup of Congress in a substantive manner. We have a disconnect, driven by money for influence, that prevents the accountability moment from happening. 

Oh well. President Ted Cruz will have to lead us to the Promised Land, I guess, because that's exactly what America wants and what America is going to get, and sooner than you think.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Unemployment is Now 6.1% Because of the Worst President Ever


Despite a long, proud history of doing whatever it can to tank the American economy--government shutdown anyone? forty attempts at repealing Obamacare and no jobs bills anyone?--the Republican Party woke up to bad new today.

Unemployment has fallen to 6.1% in the United States. This is devastating news for the people who hate America.

The worst President ever, in the history of everything forever, just won the morning.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

This is Getting Out of Hand


Got something old, precious, historic and valuable that is made out of metal? Get rid of it, fast.

The voracious appetite of those who practice the stealthy art of metal recycling have claimed another victim. You cannot expect items like this to remain where they are--sooner or later, someone is bound to bring their old pickup by and drive away with another scrap for the yard.

Legitimately recycled material--not a problem. Good luck finding anything anymore. These historic gates are tucked under someone's sheet metal, and are probably being melted down as we speak. When a woman can sell $10,000 worth of copper for a measly couple of thousand dollars, then you know something's wrong.

A Shrinking President and the Worst President Ever, Of Course


I'm not sure what version of reality Americans are looking at, but it's not one informed by pragmatism and common sense. I think if people want persistent wars, no jobs, no spending whatsoever on anything except bailouts for billionaires, and a casual indifference to the suffering the poor, then go ahead and vote Republican.

We have a president who got us out of a war, is getting us out of another, has kept us out of at least three other wars, and has given the American people health care over the objections of plutocrats and health insurance lobbyists. He has created jobs on his watch, albeit without any cooperation from an insane Congress full of race-baiting climate deniers who hate anyone with brown skin.

We could have had a president entirely beholden to corporations (who are people now) with neocons telling him how to find the next great disaster in American foreign policy. At least this president refuses to give them jobs. Mitt Romney would have elevated many of the failed architects of the Bush years to positions of prominence. How would you like your four continuous wars, my friends? Instead of creating more veterans, a Romney Administration would have simply kept them deployed and engaged in combat, killing them instead of sending them off to complain about their benefits.

This president beat two Republicans in a row by wide margins and has never had a mandate to do anything except apologize for inconveniencing the wealthy. America faces a demographic transformation that will place women and people of color in charge of thins, thank you very much.

Anyone who thinks President Obama is the worst president since World War II clearly wasn't paying attention to the first decade of this century or the 1980s. They hate him because he's a black man in the White House. Who's got a pollster question that covers that bedrock fact of American political discourse?Any other president with his record would be as beloved as, well, Bill Clinton. And Barack Obama has accomplished two or three times what Clinton accomplished, and that's why Clinton envies him.

UPDATE:

This is why I read Gawker:

BREAKING: If you conduct a poll made up of 73 percent whites61 percent Midwesterners and Southerners, 66 percent non-college grads, 69 percent non-Democrats and 56 percent land-line users, you can get a Politico headline proclaiming Obama the worst president since World War II.

Thank you, Adam Weinstein....