Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

"
If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"
Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot,
by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse.
" -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Monday, December 31, 2007

Gas Prices

According to this article, national gas prices will hit $3.75/gal by Spring. The Feds are projecting $3.40/gal, if you're willing to trust anything coming out of this administration. Last May, the same group of feds projected that crude oil prices would be around $64/barrel and that diesel would be around $2.70/gal now; I have seen it as high as $3.83/gal. Nobody seems to really know. But what is notable is that gas prices traditionally fall after Labor Day and this year, the drop has been minimal at best.

Diesel is worrisome, as that, even more than gasoline, has an impact on food and goods prices, and so much of everything is delivered by trucks.

We may regret ripping up the railroads, after all.

Toady of the Year; 2007 Edition

This is my own awards category. The award goes to the politician who best emphasizes the qualities of political cowardice and/or loyalty where it is not deserved. I have two winners for 2007, one from each side of the political aisle.

For Republicans, oh, there are so many good candidates. Every member of the Unites States Senate from the GOP should be a finalist, along with Joe Lieberman, for they have shown unswerving and mindless loyalty to the worst president (and the most corrupt administration) since Warren G. Harding. Other than being on the other side of the economic ideological line, the GOP is indistinguishable from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in their slavish followership and devotion to ideological purity over competence.

However, this is not an award that is given to a pack of slavish sheep. Therefore, the winner is Alberto Gonzalez (Scumbag, Texas).


Gonzalez epitomizes the worst kind of lawyer that there is: The amoral gunslinger who, no matter what evil or illegal thing his patron wants to do, constructs a legal argument to support the evil act. The fact that Gonzalez was the first Hispanic attorney general will be a footnote in history. The fact that Gonzalez supported the use of torture and the wholesale disregard of the Constitution whenever it suited his masters will be the historical mainstay of his unfortunate time in office. He turned the Department of Justice into a bunch of badge-toting partisan goons, who winked at the foul crimes of Republicans while pushing show trials of the Chimperor's political opponents. Under his leadership, the Justice Department brought numerous terrorism cases, almost all of which were textbook examples of shitty prosecutions on the flimsiest of grounds and pursued for political reasons alone.

If there is any justice in this Universe, Gonzalez will live out the end of his days in a prison cell for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity.

For the Democrats, the choice is almost a no-brainer: Senator Harry Reid (Spineless, Nevada).



If politics were analogous to armed combat, Reid would be the guy who brought a Nerf-bat to a gunfight. Rather than meet hardball tactics with the same, Reid led his party into caving every time the Bush butt-monkeys opposed anything. Leading the Senate of the 110th Congress, which was elected on a national wave of discontent for Bush's Iraq War, Reid could do nothing other than give Bush everything he asked for. Reid, who apparently feared being portrayed as "soft on national defense," is now portrayed as having all of the backbone of your average invertebrate.

If there is any justice, Reid's retirement job will be handling nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

"I Am Legend"

I just saw this movie. I agree with a lot of the critics; the first part of the movie was terrific, the last part sucked.

But was it worth the price of the ticket? Fuckin' A, it was. I don't agree with the character's choice of weaponry, but it was probably easier to find M-4s from dead soldiers than to scavenge a short-barreled M-14. For what he was up against, 5.56mm rounds would seem to be pretty sucky. A Saiga shotgun would have been better.

Dave Barry's Year in Review

For 2007. I don't follow football, but from his piece, it would seem that the Miami Dolphins pretty much suck.

Almost every month has an item like this:

"Democrats in Congress -- continuing to implement their policy of being passionately against the war while avoiding doing anything that might get them blamed for stopping the war -- vote to continue funding the war, but boldly enter many snippy remarks about it into the congressional record. President Bush receives this devastating news stoically, then goes ahead and makes his putt."

Making fun of Democrats for spinelessly giving in to Bush is sort of like making fun of the Earth because it rotates on its axis.

If the Congressional Democrats were a product made by Ronco, Ron Popiel would have made an infomercial touting the virtues and benefits of "The Amazing Cave-O-Matic!"

Because You Suck. And We Hate You; Comcast Edition

From Gene Weingarten's column in today's Washington Post Magazine:

"I remained at home for four hours, obediently waiting for the Comcast man to come and make my land line phone work. He never arrived. When I finally contacted customer service, someone explained what had happened: Following company procedures, the repairman phoned my home first, and when no one answered the land line that was broken, he canceled the appointment on the theory that no one was home. It was at that very moment that I elected to officially terminate my service by yanking some wires out of the wall."

There is a reason why the cable companies have a reputation for customer service that is so bad, only the airlines and loan sharks are below it.

Now, as for what is truly bizarre about the cable companies: They have separate divisions for dealing with consumers and with business customers. The businesses get far, far better service from the cable companies. Yet a small business which has a standard cable Internet package pays less per month than a consumer who has cable Internet, cable TV and phone service from the cable company, and they usually pay a lot less.

I know a lot of people who have different cable services. To a person, I have not met a Comcast residential customer who does not secretly wish to see the management of Comcast skinned alive and dipped into hot salt water.

Da Blues!

At San Francisco, natch!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Worst of the Worst

From Buffalo Beast's list of the 50 Most Loathsome People in America for 2007:

No surprise here, Bush is the most loathsome:

"Is so clearly not in charge of his own White House that his feeble attempts to define himself as "decider" or "commander guy" are the equivalent of a five-year-old kid sitting on his dad's Harley and saying "vroom vroom!" ... The first president who is so visibly stupid he can say "I didn't know what was in the National Intelligence Estimate until last week" and sound plausible. Inarguably a major criminal and a much greater threat to the future of America than any Muslim terrorist."

Cheney is No.2.

Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi share No.5:

"Graduates of the Neville Chamberlain school of appeasement, the Democratic leadership continues to ignore the constitution-and the American people-by keeping impeachment "off the table" and refusing to defund the war. True pushovers, they're too stupid, cowardly, weak and outmatched politically to accomplish anything substantive, their "strategy" essentially boiling down to whining a lot while handing Bush whatever the hell he wants."

(H/T to Mock, Paper, Scissors)

Late to the Party; Chimpy Edition

Stupie McFuckwit seems to be coming to the conclusion that he needs to do something about the environment, other than just turning over the national forests to the timber industry and the national parks to the oil and gas folks. Maybe he is concerned that he is going to go down in history as being the Lester Maddox of climate change.

Doesn't matter. The Chimperor has spent seven years doing everything he can to hinder any attempt or plan to do anything to address pollution, environmental conservation, climate change or energy conservation. His record is less than zero, for rather than doing nothing, his administration has been outright obstructionist. There is little he can do in the last year of his misbegotten reign to atone for his slavish devotion to whatever it takes to fatten the profits of the extraction industries.

Whether or not he really is going to do anything now is akin to a Death Row conversion. (Which, you may recall, he was never swayed by when he was governor of the Execution State.) It is too little, too late. This chapter of the Legacy of the Unelected Preznit has already been typeset.

Chimpy the Dunderheaded

Seems that there was a provision in a funding bill for the Defense Department that Bush didn't like, so he's pocket-vetoing the bill. You know, the bill that he was so insistent on getting passed? That one.

Of course, he didn't tell his butt-monkeys in the Senate that he didn't like a provision in the authorization bill. For if he had, those toadies would have saluted and removed it.

Of course, if it were me running the Senate, I'd point out that since the Senate remains in session, Bush cannot pocket-veto the authorization bill and I'd argue that without his signing it, the bill is now law.

But that's just me. I see no reason to try and get along with Chimpy at this point.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Campaign Trail Stupidity: Right-Wing Bombast Edition

Benazir Bhutto's assassination is a reason why we need a border fence. At least in the universe inhabited by Mike Huckabee.

Is he doing crack, now? His grip on reality seems to be even weaker than that of the Chimperor.

Tactical Pliers

Yes, they make "tactical pliers." Paint it black, call it "tactical" and you can charge the schmuckazoids a lot more for it.

The Goddess only knows what you can charge for a "tactical screwdriver" if you hang a laser on it.

Tactical undershirts. Underpants. But oooh, they are "tactical" skivvies.

P.T. Barnum was wrong, they are being born at a faster rate than one per minute.

Peace On Earth If You Go to My Church, Otherwise, Fuck Off

Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostilic priests brawled inside the Church of the Holy Nativity. They were beating on each other with sticks, stones and iron pipes over who got to clean what part of the inside of the church, as part of preparing for the Orthodox Christmas. Four people were wounded before the Palestinian police (probably all of whom were Muslims) broke up the brawl.

Way to go with the whole "peace on Earth, good will towards men" stuff, guys.

Why Some People Need to be Beaten into a Coma; Parenting Edition

This item appeared in the "crime & police" section of the New London Day:

"Junior Cadet, 22, of 46 Donahue Drive, Norwich, was charged Wednesday with driving with a suspended license, driving without proof of insurance, misuse of marker plates, driving without headlights lit and driving an unregistered vehicle."

You have got to be kidding me. About the only thing that could have been worse would have been if Mr. and Mrs. Cadet had named their kid "Space."

A friend of mine used to work as a city prosecutor. She kept a list of strange names of defendants who had passed through her city's criminal justice system. Some were truly bizarre and most of them were "frequent fliers" though the criminal courts. This might be an urban legend, but there supposedly was someone in Cleveland, a frequent flier whose name was pronounced "shi'thead", but you can guess how most people pronounced it. She seemed to be of the opinion that in some circles, a weird name, especially for a boy, might cause the kid to gravitate towards the dark side of the force.

In some countries, you cannot give your child strange names. It should probably come as no shock that Germany is one of those nations. Denmark is another. I don't think we need to go that far.

Atlantis Delayed, Again

The January 10th launch of Atlantis has been scrubbed as NASA tries to fix the problem with fuel sensors. There could wind up being a mini traffic jam at the International Space Station as the Europeans are preparing to launch Jules Verne, a robotic supply craft that is larger than the Russian's Progress supply craft.

Rep. Dave Weldon (R, FL) has proposed
keeping the Shuttle fleet flying past Bush's plan to decommission them in 2010. If the Shuttles are retired in 2010, there is a five year gap between then and the first flight of the Orion spacecraft, which means for five years, the only way for people to get to the ISS will be by using Russia's Soyuz spacecraft. This just makes good sense. Anyone who remembers the development of the Shuttle itself will recall that the first flight of the Space Shuttle was delayed for almost two years. It could be that for one reason or another, Orion won't be ready on time.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Post-Holiday Musings

I felt pretty good about my holiday gift shopping. For one thing, I was able to avoid going to a shopping mall. Between the insanity of parking and the huge crowds, I don't want to go to the mall unless I can install one of these on my car:


I made the mistake one year, many, many years ago, of going to the mall on the day after Thanksgiving. It was a bit of a schlep to get there, I had a cup of Dunkin's finest with me to fortify me on the drive. After I arrived at the Gates of Hell Mall, I found one parking space after cruising around the parking lot and I and walked to the entrance. On the way there, I saw a cream-colored BMW that some putz had parked cater-corner across two parking spaces so nobody could ding his precious widdle Beemer.

I took my cup of coffee (cream, no sugar) and poured it lovingly over the windshield and hood of that car. Then I set the cup on the roof of the car. When I came out of the mall 90 minutes later with my swag, the cup was still there. And it had been joined by two others and it appeared that their contents had also been poured over the BMW.

(Hey, at least I didn't key it or smash in the windshield.)

I was given a Bugs Bunny action figure with an Acme anvil-shooting gun.

The anvil gun is a big hit with George. If I flick my wrist as I fire the anvil gun, the anvil travels for about four feet; George pounces on it and baps it around.

I was also given a DVD of V for Vendetta. I've watched a couple of the special features, but not the DVD of the movie yet.

Oops, here's George. Time to shoot off an anvil.

Chimpy: Ever the Moron

I am going to withhold comment on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto for a little bit to let things fall out.

But there is one thing that I cannot resist commenting about, and that is the gall of the Chimperor. He said this:

"The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan's democracy," Bush told reporters at his ranch in Crawford. "We stand with the people of Pakistan in their struggle against the forces of terror and extremism."

Reprehensible? Yes. Evil? Yes. But cowardly? No. The assassin carried out his crime knowing that, whether he succeeded or failed, he would die in the act. That no more makes him a coward than were the kamikaze pilots of World War II.

No, the true cowards are those who, having done their level best to avoid going to war when it was their turn, now have sent thousands of Americans to their deaths in a land of sand and blood and have condemned tens of thousands of more Americans to live out their days in disability and pain.

The true cowards are those who say they support the war, but cannot find the courage to go down to the recruiting office and sign up for the war they say they so earnestly support. From George Bush, Richard Cheney and the rest of the neo-cons, down through the members of the Young Republicans and the Federalist Society, those who say they support the war by putting a yellow ribbon on their vehicles but not by putting on a uniform, those are the true cowards.

The cowards are not those who give their lives for what they believe, whether or not you agree with what they believe.

Thou Shalt Not Tease a Tiger

For if you do, the tiger may rip your lungs out.

There is an unconfirmed report that the three men who were mauled by a tiger were teasing her. Blood and one of their shoes were found inside the moat and there is circumstantial evidence that stuff was thrown at the tiger.

Note that the tiger ignored everyone else, she only went after the three men who were at the scene. That may add weight to the supposition that the three were teasing the tiger and she was not pleased with that.

Hard to blame the cops for this one, but if the report is confirmed, then the cops shot the innocent party.

And if the report is confirmed, we have a finalist for the 2007 Darwin Awards, as well as two "honorable mentions."

Coronation of the Figurehead

It is being apparent that the upcoming presidential election in Russia will be more of a coronation of Dmitry Medvedev than a free and fair election. Boris Nemtsov dropped out of the contest, calling it a "farce."

I don't know anything about Nemtsov's political ideas. But from all of the coverage, Vladimir Putin has stage-managed the process to ensure that he retains control of the levers of power in Russia.

Chimpy and Darth must be green with envy.

Coincidence?

Texas leads the nation in police officers killed in the line of duty in 2007 (roughly one every sixteen days).

Texas leads the nation in executions with 60% of the total executions in 2007 (averaging one every two weeks).

While the news is blaring the "more officers died in the line of duty in 2007" factoid, take a look at the statistics in the news article. Physical causes, including heart attacks, count for 18 deaths. (Heart attacks?)

More questionable is that five Air Force cops were killed in a bombing in Iraq and they are counted. They were killed in a combat zone just like any other soldier. Counting them as "police line of duty deaths" makes me wonder if the flexible accountants in Fort Fumble didn't count them as being killed in combat in Iraq.

Fleet Week; SF, CA

Wow.


More here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Poking Chimpy in the Eye

The Senate is meeting in pro forma sessions in order to prevent Chimpy from using a recess appointment to appoint his torturers.

It'd be nice if they could do a little more than just block Disgustus Maximus from appointing his pet Neanderthals, but it's better than nothing, I suppose. At least the Democrats are not completely supine, only 98.5%.

Early Bird; Police Brutality Division

The latest crop of probies from the Idaho State Police Academy have announced their intention to commit acts of brutal violence upon the unfortunate citizens of Idaho.

Their motto: "Don't suffer from PTSD, go out and cause it."

Gee. I guess they haven't advanced much from the day when the cops used to carry clubs that they openly acknowledged were used to beat minorities. Either that, or the flagrant disregard for the rule of law evinced by the Chimperor's minions has percolated down to Idaho.

Domestic Terrorism

Or is it only considered to be terrorism when Muslims are the perps?

Or is it because the perps probably were aligned with groups that support the Disgustus Administration that this is not labeled as "terrorism."

And if this is not terrorism, what is?

(H/T to the Rude One)

Will Smith Was Right

Will Smith is justifiably angry over the reaction to his comment:

"Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'let me do the most evil thing I can do today.' I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good.'"

I don't get the outrage. Grow up and face the uncomfortable truth: Will Smith is right. Those who do evil don't have horns, most of them think they are doing the right thing. And yes, I think that George Bush and Dick Cheney really do think they are doing good, even if they are blind to the facts that by their use of aggression and torture, they have destroyed America's standing in the world and that by their rank politicalization of the justice system, they have simultaneously decimated the respect for the rule of law in this country.

The same can be ascribed to people on the other side of the political spectrum. Sarah Brady and the folks at the Violence Policy Center no doubt think that it would be a very good thing to completely disarm the American people; they probably believe that there is no way that America would fall to a tyrannical regime.

Those on the left and on the right who would control what we consume, what we read, what we watch, what we do for recreation or whom we sleep with certainly must feel that they are on the side of the angels. Those who use the power of the state to turf people out of their homes so a developer can build an office/retail project or who want to run a super-highway through a town think they have the greater good in mind. No doubt the people in Los Angeles who destroyed rivers and towns so so the city could have their water, as well as those who did the same in New York and Massachusetts, thought they were doing the right thing. That it probably took two generations for the families whose homes and farms were drowned to recover economically wasn't a concern of theirs.

People who think they are serving the "greater good" by inflicting their visions on others may be right in their belief. They may also be horribly wrong and they may cross the line into evil.

Evil wears a nice suit, is well-scrubbed, often well-spoken and is earnest in its belief that it is doing the right thing. The Munchkin Wrangler discussed this awhile back.

Will Smith was right.

Oh, This is Rich; Consultant Edition

Democrats are seeking to rein in the fees they pay to consultants.

Considering how well some of these consultants have served past candidates, you'd think that most of them would now be sitting outside of Au Bon Pain in Harvard Square, begging for spare change. Their payment should have been being taken out into a dark alley and being given the brutal beatings that they so richly deserved.

Those "highly paid stars" have proven to be skilled at losing presidential elections. Going back to the same group of chuckleheads in the hope that they might get it right this time is close to being a textbook definition of insanity.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Driver's Report; Waterboarding Edition

Through Andrew Sullivan's blog, comes this tale of a man who was curious enough about whether or not waterboarding is torture that he did it to himself.

You should go read it. But if you are not going to do that, let's cut to his conclusion. and pay particular attention to his last sentence (which I have underlined):

"So, is it torture?

"I'll put it this way. If I had the choice of being waterboarded by a third party or having my fingers smashed one at a time by a sledgehammer, I'd take the fingers, no question.

"It's horrible, terrible, inhuman torture. I can hardly imagine worse. I'd prefer permanent damage and disability to experiencing it again. I'd give up anything, say anything, do anything.

"The Spanish Inquisition knew this. It was one of their favorite methods.

"It's torture. No question. Terrible terrible torture. To experience it and understand it and then do it to another human being is to leave the realm of sanity and humanity forever. No question in my mind."

The True Story of Father Christmas

Watch in sequence:

Part 1:



Part 2:



(H/T to Main & Central)

You Got What You Wanted, So Shut Up

Peter Wehner, a self-described conservative evangelical, who served for six years in the Bush Administration, is having second thoughts about an evangelical running for President:

"And for those of us who are Christian, there is an important context to bear in mind: Jesus's entire ministry was directed against the pretensions of earthly power, and Christianity is trans-political, beholden to no party and no ideology. The City of Man and the City of God are different, and we should respect and honor those differences.

"Mike Huckabee, by all accounts a faithful Christian, may not have crossed any bright lines yet -- but he's edging close to them. He should pull back now, before his political ambitions injure what he claims to care about, and undoubtedly does care about, most."


This is beyond rich. For the last 30+ years, what these guys have said they wanted was one of their own in the White House. And now that they have a real shot at it, however tenuous, they are having qualms. I am not very big on Bibilical quotations, but isn't there some reference about "sowing" and "reaping" that is relevant to this?

But I can make it plainer. For the self-proclaimed conservatives who have worked for decades for the day when an evangelical preacher can run for president: Have a drink. And I know just the brew for you:


You might get what you want: The American version of Hezbollah, a political party that claims to act in the name of the Almighty. This will, of course, result in your beliefs not just having feet of clay, but having political shit smeared all over them. And you. It will do your particular religious belief subgrouping no damn good to be transformed into just another political interest group and if you aren't already there, Huckabee is going to complete the process for you. And you will deserve all of the blowback that comes from being seen as just another grubby special-interest group.

Second, and if you haven't figured this out, you really are dumber than you look: Institutionalizing religion, making your church into a government-sponsored religion, is about the surest way of killing it off that there is. One of the reasons that the various faiths are strong in this country is because they are all independent of government and, more or less, are voluntary. Nobody has to go to worship. Nobody has to donate to a religion if they don't want to. At some level, everyone in your congregation wanted to be there. But tie your religion to the government and your religion will come to be seen as just another piglet sucking at the teat of the public purse and it will come to be despised for that.

You can see this work in western Europe, where a lot of nations have state-endorsed churches that receive tax moneys from the government. As a result, those religions have come to be seen as just another parasitic class and a tool of those governments. Which is why the level of church attendance in western European nations has been dropping off for decades.

The same will happen to your churches. And you will have had it coming.

Santa's Jepp Book

It seems as though Santa lost one of the approach plates from his Jepp Book:

Click on it to enlarge.

Ya Gotta Be Shitting Me; Labelling Edition

My sister gave me a target-shooting game; it uses little darts to shoot at ping-pong balls that are floating on columns of air. The gun looks like this:


The box has this warning on it:

"IMPORTANT: any person who changes, alters, removes or obliterates any coloration or markings that are requirements by any applicable state of (sic) Federal U.S. Law or Regulation for any imitation firearm in any way making the imitation firearm look more like an actual is guilty of a misdemeanor. Also any display or brandishing of an imitation firearm in public which may cause confusion may be a crime."

Yep. Only in a Looney Tunes universe does this thing resemble a real gun.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Um, No. Frak, No.

The Ornery Bastard tagged me with a Christmas meme. That particular branch dies with me, but if you feel like picking it up and passing it along, knock yourself out.

Most of the answers are "not applicable" for me. I'm Jewish. Sure, I give gifts and receive them for Christmas, so fucking what. But no tree, no ornaments, no wreaths. Still, Santa is way cooler than spinning some stupid dreidel.




Look, I don't get pissed off over Christmas. First off, it's nothing more than a bastardized version of Saturnalia. Get the day off, give gifts, eat, drink and be merry. That's basically Saturnalia. If you want to throw the Baby Jesus and the three wise guys, Larry, Moe and Curly, into the mix in order to warp Saturnalia into a pseudo-Christian holiday, that's fine by me. Ever since the demise of the Puritans, the observance of Christmas has been secularized past the point of no return.

So if you want to have a creche on the lawn of the Town Hall, knock yourself out. I don't particularly take it as an official endorsement of Christmas any more than that it already is by being a government holiday (you might have noticed that the Post Office is open on Yom Kippur). If you want to have a Christmas pageant in the schools and have the sixth-grade class slut play the role of Mary, go to it.

Have fun.

Roundup of News and Snark

I might not have time to do a series of posts today, so here goes a Global Roundup of News and Snark

1. This one had too long of a chain to give a "H/T" credit to, just know it's not from me:

You probably have heard that Ol' Turdblossom Hisself has been trying to shop around his memoirs for an asking price of $3,000,000 (working title: "Present at the Shredding: the Bush Administration and American Democracy"), with no takers at that price. It sold for half of that and the buyer was a co-worker in the Fascisti, Mary Matalin. So Mary had to go bail Rove out, and you can bet that is an advance, which means if it sells as well as it should, most of the copies will be available in Books For a Buck (last stop before the pulp mill) in a few months after the presses roll and Mary will be asking Karl to please cut her publishing firm a check for $1,499,950.

2. The New York Times has a story today about how a good chunk of the US aid for Pakistan's antiterror efforts has been either misdirected or outright stolen. Note this quote: "During a recent visit to the border, an American official found members of the Frontier Corps “standing there in the snow in sandals,” according to the official. Several were wearing World War I-era pith helmets and carrying barely functional Kalashnikov rifles with just 10 rounds of ammunition apiece."

I wonder about two things. First off, this is an old-news story, as none of this is really unknown to someone who has been paying attention, which means that Chimpy doesn't know anything about it.

Second, there are a few days of the year in which you can bury a story by printing it on page 1 and above the fold. Christmas Eve is one of those days. So the NY Times gets to run a story about how the McFuckwit Administration is screwing the pooch with your tax dollars and they can be reasonably assured that nobody will pay attention to it.

3. Jeff Huber has a good piece outlining how the line of the Pentagon that 'the Turks only told us they were attacking the Kurds at the very last second" is pure bullshit. Jeff knows a hell of a lot about air operations, his argument is worth paying attention to.

4. Scientists inscribed the Old Testament on a pinhead. No, they did not tattoo it on the Chimperor's head, but you get snark points if that was your first thought.

5. Now it seems that the El Stupidico Administration had plenty of warning that the use of security contractors in Iraq was a recipe for disaster. Note that the rules for contractors were written by the trade association for contractors. That would be like turning over the rule-making on cigarettes to the American Tobacco Association; anybody who thought that was a good idea probably needed to be watered twice a week. One of the nicer comments directed at the goons of Blackwater in the article was along the lines of "to say they were universally despised would be an understatement."

6. The retailers aren't feeling the joy this season. It seems that their sales figures suck. People seem to be spending as though there is a recession going on. Of course, with the threat of a recession looming, Bush is acting as firmly as he did for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

7. In the Times of London, Andrew Sullivan explains why the Torture Tapes and their destruction show that George Bush is a war criminal.

That ought to do it for today.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Gearing Up and Heading Out

I've got to get a couple of things done and then I am getting on the road. I'll be back home Tuesday night. I'd have left Friday, except that due to the number of people where I am going, this time the cats can't come and given that the folks working in a kennel over this weekend are probably the ones who cannot con someone else into taking their shift, I wasn't going to board them. I don't really like leaving them for two nights, but with extra food, water and another litter box, they'll be OK.

Blogging from me will be light to non-existent for the next couple of days.

Merry Christmas.

Just Opt Out

As the ability grows of the government and the private sector to "data mine" and track what we do, where we are and what our preferences are, I think it is advisable to start opting out of all of this.

You opt out by paying cash for things. You go to grocery stores that don't use those stupid "affinity cards". You don't use the "member discounts" and "buyer's clubs" in stores. You pay cash, and if you might want to take the item back, you keep the receipt. You buy books, either in new bookstores or second-hand bookstores.

You shut your cellphone off unless you want to make a call. Up until cellphones started to get cheap a decade or so ago, people got along just fine without having a telephone with them 24/7. People actually made trips without needing to make calls as they sped across I-80.

You throw the "EZ-Pass" into a tinfoil bag and go through the toll booths. But even that may not help, as companies are developing license plate readers that will scan all passing license plates. (That technology is being developed for police cars; the computers will automatically run checks on every plate the scanners see. )

And you buy as little as possible online.

The Bush/Cheney Surveillance Society depends, in part, on our compliance with using those tools of modern life. It is nobody's business but yours what books you read or what movies you go to see or what groceries you buy. But the only way, now, that you can make sure it remains nobody's business is to deny the dataminers the ability to go after your particular vein of ore.

If you want to maintain your freedom to be left alone and your freedom to do what you choose without being monitored by the Surveillance Society, you are going to have to start making it harder for them to track you.

Just opt out.

When Will We Ever Learn?

Aitzaz Ahsan argues, in an op-ed piece in today's New York Times, that the Bush Administration is being complicit with Pervez Musharraf's destruction of Pakistan's legal system. Musharraf, like any other tinpot dictator, wants to make sure that the judiciary is a compliant tool of the dictator.

If you seek a reason as to why the militants are gaining traction in many nations, this is why. The various dictators squash all moderate dissenters, to the point that the only voices that can survive in opposition are the militants. This is not just Musharraf, they all tend to do that (and yes, even Bush would if he could).

But dictatorial regimes inevitably fall. And when they do, the people of that nation look at who supported the dictator. Many, many times, they see that it was the hand of that self-styled paragon of democracy, the United States of America, that supported the dictator. And they remember that.

Sending out Karen Hughes on "touchy-feely" public relations trips and promoting advertising, as though the USA was a brand name, isn't going to cut it. Anti-Americanism finds fertile soil where the ground has been prepared by our actions, not by our words or ideals. When the "regime of the colonels" fell in Greece in 1974, there was a bitter harvest of anti-Americanism. The same thing happened in Iran in 1979.

And it may happen in Pakistan and in Saudi Arabia. There is no guarantee that the successor governments will be anything more than distrustful of the US, if not hostile.

Guiliani- Paving the Way to Drop Out?

Guiliani said that his doctor will "update his health" just after Christmas.

I have to wonder if we are seeing another round of "since I'm not going to be anointed the nominee, I'm going to quit" from Rudy.

Or maybe I'm overly cynical about that fascist bastard.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

No Jews Need Apply

to the Air Force Academy. Same goes for you Muslims and Catholics. They only want evangelical Protestants.

I wouldn't be so harsh about this if this were not the only instance. But it's not. Not by a long shot. More here. And here. This is not a new story. But it doesn't seem to be going away.

Maybe it's time to administer the Mozambique Treatment to the Air Force Academy: Close the place. Fire everyone. Go back to sending USAF cadets to West Point and Annapolis and, in the meantime, get rid of everyone at Zoomie Tech and start over, in a different location, to try and get away from the Christian Taliban.

There's a nice ex-SAC base at Loring, Maine. Put the new school there. With all new people.

Oh, This is Rich; Guiliani Edition

You'd think only a liberal would come up with artwork depicting Rudy as a "9-11 Fascist".

You'd be wrong.



"Giuliani, when he was merely in charge of New York’s garbage collection, zoning rules, and a municipal police force, developed a reputation as a power-hungry, dissent-intolerant authoritarian, obsessed with secrecy and expanding his own power. It takes little imagination to apprehend the grave dangers from vesting in such a person virtually unlimited power to control the world’s most powerful military as well as a sprawling, federal bureaucracy. "


And this is from conservatives, mind you.

Evolution

One of the criticisms of the theory of evolution is that it doesn't explain everything and you cannot track with preciseness just how one species evolved from another.

While that is a valid criticism, it is also a misleading one. Until very recently, the primary way that species development was tracked was by fossils. That required an animal (I am not getting into plants) to die in a spot where its body could be quickly entombed before scavengers scattered the remains. Then the entombed body had to be slowly converted into a fossil. Then the fossil has to survive for millions of year and then it has to be found by someone who recognizes what it is.

That's a lot of "ifs" for a fossil to be created and found.

Now, there is growing use of DNA to "track back" evolutionary relatives. DNA is being used to determine how closely related extinct species are to existing ones, or give possible explanations how species evolved.

The other problem is that if the theory of evolution is not a good theory, then what theory is better? As of now, there are none that fit the category of being a scientifically based theory.

The two competing theories are the creationist "God did it" and the intelligent design idea, which is "God did some of it." Both beliefs suffer from theology; both beliefs require the belief in a supernatural being.

If your theory relies on this, to any extent:

then it is not a scientific theory. Scientific hypotheses and theories are testable, whether by the computation of mathematical proofs or by experimentation or by observation. If you are unaware of this, watch a few episodes of the television show Mythbusters on the Discovery cable channel. It is an excellent basic science show: They take a belief and develop an experiment or series of experiments to test the belief.

The existence of God is not something that can be scientifically tested or proven. The existence of God is a matter of faith. Without having to pull a Willard Romney, if you are unfamiliar with the definition of faith, try this: Faith, in the religious context, is a belief that is not based on proof. Faith is.

Science is not faith-based. Science is, at its core, based on observation. And when the observable data does not support what the prevailing hypothesis or theory was, then scientists come up with new hypotheses to fit the observations.

That is, in a nutshell, how science works. If your explanation depends, in any way shape or form, on the intervention of a Supernatural Sky-Fucker, it is a religious explanation, it is not a scientific explanation. Such explanations belong in a religious setting, not in a science class.

Whether you like the theory of evolution or not, it has been out there for 170 years and nobody has seriously been able to challenge it with anything other than quibbling or pseudo-religious rantings.

Evolution may not explain everything, but then again, gravity is not fully explained. Those who try to explain how gravity works seem now to have to use terms such as "quantum gravity" or that gravity is a force that acts across many dimensions and may be stronger in other dimensions. But if the concept of gravity is not fully explainable, the observational data shows it is real and if you claim gravity is not real, try walking off a high cliff (but have a camera recording it so everyone can laugh at your demise on YouTube).

If another theory comes along to explain how species arose, scientists will test it and if it fits the facts more precisely, it will be adopted. If you doubt that, see how many astronomers still believe in the "steady state" theory of the Universe.

But until that day comes along, the Theory of Evolution prevails.

I Have No Excuse

It says that I am a "major SciFi geek."








Take the Sci fi sounds quiz I received 64 credits on
The Sci Fi Sounds Quiz

How much of a Sci-Fi geek are you?
Take the Sci-Fi Movie Quizdigital camera ratings


And for the record, I do not speak Klingonese.

FEAR! FEAR! PANIC! FEAR!

The cops in Newton, MA are looking for a woman. Her alleged offense? Taking photos of an elementary school.

Taking photos in public! Oh, the humanity.

Local Governments and Schools: Stand By For Heavy Rolls

As housing values fall, the homeowners are going to have their homes reassessed. And local tax revenues are going to fall as a result.

Any local government official who did not see this coming probably needs to have his or her life support withdrawn, because they are brain-dead. For a lot of local governments and school districts, most of their funding comes from property taxes. They are going to be hammered and hard.

It Is Not "Gotcha Journalism"

when reporters point out that Ol' Willard has a problem with the truth. It's called "journalism."

Claiming he saw things that he didn't see. Claiming he was endorsed by groups that didn't endorse him. Claiming he was a "lifelong hunter" when he had been hunting twice. Misremembering when he graduated law school by three years. Saying he "cracked down on meth" when all that happened was he proposed doing so.

Willard seems to have a problem with the facts. The Wingnuts who went nuts over Al Gore's failings in that regard have nothing to complain about. He seems to have the same problem with English that Bill Clinton did, in that Willard twists definitions around so it doesn't seem as though he was mis-speaking or lying.

Catch 22: Torture Tapes Edition

The CIA, of course, is denying that they stiffed the 9/11 Commission.

The CIA held people in secret prisons and tortured them. The operative word here is "secret" and it doesn't take a Willard Romney to understand what that word means. What the CIA is saying is that because the 9/11 Commission didn't ask to see the tapes of secret torture sessions of unknown prisoners in black prisons, the CIA is off the hook for not furnishing documentation.

That, of course, is utter bullshit.

UPDATE: Yes, the 9/11 Commission did indeed ask for information on interrogations.

Early Gift

I was given a battery-powered helicopter at our office bash.




The damn thing is surprisingly difficult to fly, it took me several tries to get it to take off without crashing.

This is the controller. The helo is connected to it for recharging and George is checking it out.

As it turns out, the stability of the helo is dependent on main rotor RPM. You set the yaw trim with the two little buttons on the right side of the controller. A trim setting that is good for one rotor RPM is wrong for any other, so the trim control is extremely important. If you try to take off by slowly increasing the rotor RPM (the rotors are fixed-pitch), the helicopter will screw itself into a crash.

What you have to do is "bang" the main rotor throttle right to the setting needed to climb and then use the trim control for directional stability. It will turn as you climb or descend, because you are out of trim, and you have to be careful on landing. It also does not turn very easily and it has a tendency to lose trim when you try to execute a turn.

This is stuff that unless you knew something about flying to begin with, you probably couldn't get it to fly, as the directions gave no clue.

George is fascinated by it in flight, I think he regards it as fair game. If I had a third hand, I'd take a video.

New Fashion Items: Burkhas and Mirrored Sunglasses

You might want to add gloves, too, as well as blackout curtains on your windows. Because it seems that the FBI is moving towards the "we're watching you all the time" method of security.

I don't think it is a "tinfoil hat" idea to imagine that this is leading towards a system where, as long as you are in view of a security camera, that the FBI will be able to record and review whatever you do and when. There already are plans to begin networking private security cameras so that the police can monitor them. It is not too far-fetched to imagine that it will become a requirement to network any such private security cameras so the police can monitor them.

And since the Department of Reich Homeland Security is fine-tuning its idea to turn the American spy satellites on Americans, it is starting to seem that the concept behind the 1998 movie Enemy of the State is getting closer and closer to reality. Stalin and Beria would have had orgasms at the level of surveillance and control that the DHS is envisioning.

Those in charge of security will destroy any remnant of liberty or freedom they can in order to "keep you safe." It has always been this way in any political system, from fascist to free, and it is happening here.

UPDATE: In 1950, the FBI wanted to lock up 12,000 people for "disloyalty", which the FBI seemed to define as "dissenting." The more things change, the more they stay the same. And one thing that has never changed is that the greatest threat to liberty and freedom has come from those who claim to protect it.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Willard Tortures English

"I'm an English literature major," he added, after the questions didn't stop. "When we say I saw the Patriots win the World Series, it doesn't necessarily mean you were there."

For crying out loud. I've got a better idea, Willard: If you are going to torture the English language to get the meaning that you want, why not write a fifty-page thesis on what the meaning of "is" is?

Here is a bit of free legal advice, Willard: If you ever get up on a witness stand and say "I saw him do it" and then it turns out that you weren't there and you didn't see him with your own eyeballs, there are two other words you should be prepared to give a discourse on: Lying and perjury.

Yes, it is true that when you say "I saw what he meant", you're not talking about vision. That use of the verb has to do with mental constructs, ideas, and knowledge of facts. "I see that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor" means that I learned that fact. "I saw the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor" means that I am claiming to have been present for the event.

Willard obviously slept through his classes if he is trying to hang his hat on that distinction. And he is patently assuming that most Republican voters are complete idiots. But then again, since the Republicans chose Bush, the latter assumption may be a valid one.

Beyond that, this moron was the Governor of Massachusetts. The only way he could have ever seen the "Patriots win the World Series" would be if he was doing LSD at the time.

PanderBear; Huckabee Edition

So Mike "God Chose Me, Me, Me" Huckabee was asked by a seven-year-old girl who was his favorite author. He said it was Dr. Seuss. She later told reporters that she thought he would be "reading at a higher level."

Even children can see though this pandering asshole of a Jesus-freak.

Don't Tase Me, Bro; Part MDCCLXXIX

A woman who was upset, but was not committing any crime, yells at a cop and then back away. The cop tasers her anyway.

I've said this before and I'll say it again here: Tasers were first sold with the concept that they were an alternative to shooting people. We need to get away from the idea that Tasers are just a handy-dandy way for cops to torture people for fun. The use of aTaser by the police should be subjected to the same standards and the same level of review as using a firearm.

For only then are we going to stop this growing propensity for cops to use Tasers.

Bad Day At the Office?

You might want to be in a place that's safe for laughing.

Lowering the Bar on Hypocrisy; Foreign Policy Edition

"My hope, of course, is that Russia is a country which understands there needs to be checks and balances and free and fair elections and vibrant press, that they understand Western values based upon human rights and human dignity ...values that will lead to a better country,"-- George W. Bush at his press conference, December 20, 2007

This is just too funny. The whole thrust of the Bush Administration has been to dismantle all checks and balances that would impede its actions. The McJackboot Administration has done everything it can to cloak its operations from scrutiny by Congress, the judiciary, the press and the public. They have classified and re-classified everything they can and they probably would have classified the Rand-McNally Road Atlas if they could have found a way to do it. And the very last thing they believe in is free and fair elections, the track record of the Republican Party in 2000, 2002, and 2004 have shown that.

If anything, George Bush and his henchmen are green with envy at everything that Vladimir Putin has been able to do in Russia to squelch political dissent and the Russian press.

How to Know Bush is Lying

His lips are moving.

This standard Bush Administration delaying bullshit. "We won't say anything while an investigation is in process" becomes "we won't say anything while legal proceedings are ongoing."

But when those proceedings are over, they still won't answer questions. You might have noticed that even though convicted perjurer Scooter Libby has dropped his appeals, the Chimpy Administration and Duty Spinner/Obfuscator Dana Perino have had nothing to say about Plamegate.

When someone says that a politician is "being truthful," as Perino did in referring to her boss, the Torturer-in-Chief, that is like waving a huge flag embroidered with "he's lying, but you can't prove it."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The New Excuse For Lying Politicians

"I was speaking figuratively." That is the line that RoboWillard has been tossing around. seems he said, on two occasions, that his father marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Except for the fact that he did no such thing.

Remember how all of the Wingnuts used to go spastic over Al Gore for claiming to have invented the Internet? (Even though Gore made no such claim.)

I'll bet you'll hear nothing but silence from the Wingnuts over Willard's little exaggeration/fib.

Poor Little Clarence Hates His Job

Awww, poor bay-bee. He's got a lifetime job and he doesn't like it.

So quit, already, if you're so unhappy.

Rails to Trails Bullshit

One of my nephews is a bit of a railroad geek. So when I was in a bookstore a few years ago, I found a book on the New Haven Railroad and, after looking through it, sent it to him. There was one thing that struck me, and that was the map of the railroad.

At one time, the NHRR had a line called the "Putnam Division." The tracks went from Grand Central Station, right up through the spine of Westchester County, NY, and into Putnam County in the vicinity of Mahopac, NY, where the line swung to the east and met up with the New York Central's Harlem Line in Brewster, NY. The Putnam Division was slowly abandoned after World War II and the tracks were torn up in Westchester and Putnam Counties. Much of it now is a hiking/bike/perpetrator trail.

That is a serious waste, and, if I had my druthers, I'd rip up the hiking trail and rebuild the railroad. The right-of-way runs through some heavily populated areas that are bedroom communities for New York and White Plains. If the Putnam Division were operated as a commuter railroad line, it might be possible to get several thousand vehicles a day off the highways.

I don't mean to just pick on New York for this. You can find similar misbegotten rail-to-trails in many urban areas. Boston has one on part of an old Boston & Maine railbed that ran from North Station out through Lexington and Concord; fifty years ago, Budd cars provided commuter services on that line.


These railroad lines were a great resource; allowing them to wither and die has proven to be short-sighted. They should be rebuilt.

You Have to Be Fucking Crazy to Visit This Country

And by "this country", I mean George W. Bush's America.

Blue Girl has the story. Pay particular attention to the petty nature of the attitude of the security officials.

That is the image that George Bush and his goons in the Department of Rodina Reich Homeland Security are presenting to the world.

We have much to be proud of, ya, sure, you betcha.

Hey, Let's Run "The Yellow Kid!"

With all of the modern, edgy and funny comic strips out there, I don't see why newspapers continue to run "Peanuts."

First off, Charles M. Schultz is dead. Get over it.

Second, these publications are called "newspapers." They aren't "history lessons printed on pulp," they're supposed to print the "news". If it happened before your last deadline, it ain't news, it's history.

If people want to read "Peanuts", direct them to the nearest bookstore or the library. If you are going to run old comics, why don't you just stop paying your editorial cartoonists and run Thomas Nash's old stuff? Or better yet, run Herblock, since his cartoons of Nixon's evil deeds are timely once again.

Ditch "Peanuts."

Justice Department: Facilitating Election Fraud

The Justice Department delayed its investigation of election fraud in New Hampshire during the 2002 elections past 2004, in order to do a solid for the GOP.

Neutral non-partisan enforcers of the law, my ass.

I can understand delaying a politically charged prosecution past an election, but only if those decisions were made in a even-handed non-partisan way. There is nothing about the Justice Department under George Bush that can even remotely be called "non-partisan" or "even-handed." The Justice Department under this president is nothing but a bunch of badge-carrying political goons, who are eager to do whatever it takes to politically prop up the Chimperor.

Green Zone Hypothetical

For the sake of discussion, say that you and I both work for contractors in Iraq. Our company was hired by the State Department.

The day finally comes that I get good and tired of your whiny bullshit. So I take my trusty Glock 19 from my desk drawer, point it at your head and I pull the trigger. *BANG* Blood, bone and brains speckle the wall behind your desk.

Under what law can I be charged? Iraq law doesn't apply to contractors, Paul Bremer made sure of that. I am not a soldier and I am not working for or under the Department of Defense, so I cannot be charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Well, Maybe We'll Cooperate, Since You Insist

The CIA has decided, for now, to cooperate with the Congressional demands for documents and witnesses. The fact that the subpoenas were being prepared was apparently enough to convince the CIA and the Administration that they didn't want to be seen as obstructionist. For now.

Subpoenas are the legal equivalent of asking nicely while pointing a gun. The Administration apparently didn't want to be seen as being forced to do anything.

To Know Rudy Is To Dislike Him

That would seem to be the message of the current polls.

This article explains, in part, why to know Rudy is to distrust him. If you like the Constitution-shredding programs of the BushCheney Administration, then you would really love Rudy Guiliani. If you think that an elected fascist is the best form of leadership, you'd love Rudy.

But if you think that the Founding Fathers had the right idea and if you have been leaning towards Rudy, you might want to rethink that.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Army's Long Term Crisis

Is that its best and most talented captains are leaving.

You don't get lateral transfers into the military from civilian life. The sharpest young junior officers are leaving and, as the Iraq War drags on, it is only going to get worse. The comment made in the article that all one has to do now to make lieutenant colonel is "have a pulse" should be shocking to anyone who has any experience with the military promotion system.

You cannot have a good Army and you certainly cannot have a larger one without good officers. If a lot of the good ones are leaving, that means the less-than-stellar ones, the guys who normally would have been separated out for failure to make it to major, are the ones who are staying and they are the ones who are going to be running the Army.

You don't have to know anything about the Army to know that pushing the cream out and promoting the scum is a long-term recipe for disaster.

"How to Raise Sluts" Probably Wasn't a Good Working Title

Plans to publish Lynne Spears's book on child-raising were put on hold.

Lynne Spears is the mother of Britney, of "do lots of drugs and shave my head" fame. Britney's younger sister, Jamie, is 16 and 12 weeks pregnant.

Jamie was apparently named after her father, Jamie. Good thing for her that his name wasn't Beauregard. Or maybe not, for she might not have gotten knocked up.

(H/T to Wyatt)

Like This is a Surprise; Emission Control Edition

The EPA will not let California set stricter standards for vehicle emissions.

Yeah, like nobody saw that one coming. Just the the Right Wing; all in favor of states' rights and letting the states do what they want.

Except when they are opposed to it, that is. Religious instruction in public school-- goood. Clean air---- baaad.

Score One For The Good Guys

After an outcry, the Chimpy Administration has shelved its plan to put its commissars in charge of approving the promotions of military lawyers.

Don't think this has gone away forever, though. Not as long as Vice-President Voldemort and his disciples draw breath, that is. Voldemort tried this during Bush41's reign and his followers will try again the next time they can scheme to get another unelected primate into the Oval Office.

Robo-Willard's Tears

The widdle Robo-Willard cwies. He thinks he's human!


How very special. The soul-less flip-flopper get teary-eyed over Mom's apple pie, no doubt. Unless that isn't popular, in which case, he'd pee on it.

Or maybe he was tearing up over the idea of using offshore shell companies to avoid having to pay taxes. That would be entirely consistent with the Republican idea that taxes are what working stiffs pay, not rich folks.

What The Three Wise Men Are Bringing Harry Reid

A spine:

Some guts:



And a pair of testicles.


(H/T to BadTux, but he only wanted to give Reid a spine. I think he needs the full gift pack.)

Scum-Sucking Timeshare Companies

From what I've been hearing from a friend, it would seem that Interval International and its affiliates, such as Wyndham resorts, are little short of being a huge operation of crooks, skells, con artists, flim-flammers, swindlers and they are basically about as dishonest and unethical as the day is long. They have bought up a large number of local timeshare operations and have concentrated in bilking those people who were unfortunate enough to buy into the timeshares.

Personally. I am of the opinion that in general, buying a timeshare is an indication that one has mush for brains. But if what I am hearing is correct, Interval International and Wyndham have been excelling at scumbaggedness and that anyone who buys into their operations has to be a certifiable moron or maybe an imbecile

Darth, Darth, Darth

You're supposed to use a shredder. Or an incinerator.

You're not supposed to just pile papers on your office floor and set fire to them.

Christmas Cat Photo

funny pictures

Memorandum to Doctors

If you have a patient who was stupid enough to get his penis tattooed, don't take a picture of it.

And if you are brain-dead enough to take such a photo, don't circulate it around.

We Knew Nothing, We Said Nothing, We Approved Nothing

That has basically been the line by the White House when asked whether or not they approved the destruction of the CIA Torture Tapes.

Seems that once again, it's all smoke, mirrors and bullshit. The White House knew about everything and, if they didn't say "burn them", they left no doubt in the minds of the CIA folks what they should do, and this was no matter of saying "will no one rid me of this troublesome priest." The White House was no doubt mindful of what had transpired once the abu Ghraib photos became public and the last thing they wanted to see was the Torture Tapes on the Internet.

But there is this inconvenient fact: The Torture Tapes were evidence of the commission of serious crimes. By approving or winking-at the destruction of the Torture Tapes, the White House engaged in one of its favorite extra-curricular activities: Obstruction of Justice.

And it should come as no surprise that one of those involved in this was Alberto Gonzales, Chimpy's legal douchebag advisor.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Plausible Deniability At Work

American commanders in Iraq claim that Turkey did not notify them of the airstrikes until the attacks were under way.

Yeah. Tell me another one. The US has air supremacy over Iraq. The idea that the Turks could sneak in and conduct a bombing raid with a number of airplanes without being detected is beyond fanciful. The Turks would notify American commanders in advance if only to prevent the possibility of an accidental dogfight.

GOP: Believing in Free and Fair Elections, Oh, Since Never

How the GOP stole the 2002 Senate election in New Hampshire.

How the GOP stole the 2004 Presidential election. And here. Note that the exit polls in Ohio had an error rate of over 6% and normally they have an error rate of under 1%.

This is why George Bush is so cozy with Vladimir Putin: They are nothing more than two suits cut from the same bolt of undemocratic totalitarian cloth. Except, of course, that Putin is far smarter.

Halliburton: Raping More Than Taxpayers

Last week I posed an entry about an allegation that Halliburton employees raped a co-worker.

Now there are allegations of two more episodes. One was a Halliburton employee who was raped by a State Department officer. The other was a Halliburton employee who was drugged and gang-raped.

In both cases, nothing was done by anybody.

Why are we paying these clowns? What message does this send when goons like this can do anything they want to our own people? And yes, this is all of a piece with the goons in Blackwater, for the Chimperor has established an area where gun-toting goons can do whatever they want to anybody without fear of consequence.

Santa's Taking Live Fire!

Over Rio.

Somebody notify Bill`O!

Can They Keep Him? Huh? Please?

Bush to visit Israel.

Heck, if they agree to keep him, I'd even offer to throw in Dick Cheney and a squadron of neocons, no charge.

Ho, Ho, Ho; Mall Edition

It's not nice to grope Santa.

Oh, Give Me a Fucking Break; GOP Campaign Edition

"Mitt Romney's eyes filled with tears Monday as the Republican presidential contender recalled watching the casket of a soldier killed in Iraq return to the United States and imagined if it were one of his five sons."

Riight. You know, the five boys who are "serving their country by trying to get [Willard M. Romney] elected." So somebody wrote the subroutine into RoboWillard's operating system to trigger tears, big whoop.

Willard is as phony as they come, and in this age of plasticized political candidates, that's saying something.

All Hail Chris Dodd

Chris Dodd forced a delay in approving the FISA bill to grant immunity to those lawbreakers in the telephone companies.

Note that although some of the other presidential candidates said they opposed it, only Senator Dodd took time off from the campaign to do something about it. Only Senator Dodd did more than just run his yap at a campaign appearance about how the immunity provision was wrong.

Where was Hillary Clinton?

Where was Barack Obama?

Fed Fiddled as Mortgages Burned

"Until the boom in subprime mortgages turned into a national nightmare this summer, the few people who tried to warn federal banking officials might as well have been talking to themselves."

"An examination of regulatory decisions shows that the Federal Reserve and other agencies waited until it was too late before trying to tame the industry’s excesses. Both the Fed and the Bush administration placed a higher priority on promoting “financial innovation” and what President Bush has called the “ownership society.”"

"The Fed was hardly alone in not pressing to clean up the mortgage industry. When states like Georgia and North Carolina started to pass tougher laws against abusive lending practices, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency successfully prohibited them from investigating local subsidiaries of nationally chartered banks."

And that is a surprise, how, exactly? The Comptroller of the Currency has made it its life's work to gut state usury and fair lending laws. Banks know this, which is why they are opting to become "national associations" so as to exempt themselves from state regulation.

Notice something else going on: The new-found concern of the Bush Administration for the issue of sup-prime mortgages has nothing to do whatsoever with foreclosures and people being thrown out of their homes. It has all to do with protecting the lenders of those risky loans and protecting the investment entities that purchased the "collateralized debt obligations" that are bundled sub-prime mortgages.

This is a financial Hurricane Katrina and just like what happened after Hurricane Katrina, George Bush does not give a fuck about anyone other than the rich.

If You Think The World is a Helpless Morass of Ethnic Conflicts

Then you can blame the French and the British for that. That is the argument of David Andleman, the author of A Shattered Peace, a book about the negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles.

Since I was a kid in school, I've heard the thesis that the punitive reparations forced on Germany wrecked the economy of the Weimar Republic and gave Hitler his chance to rise to power. I've since read articles that stated that the high-handed drawing of the borders within the Middle East after World War I was largely responsible for the failed states that keep popping up. Andleman may be the one who has tied this all together.

But it is news to me that the negotiations at Versailles were also one of the root causes of the Vietnam War.

Alberto Mukasey Is On The Job

Besides defending Vice-President Voldemort on his desire to keep the identity of his visitors secret,Gonzo Mukasey says he hasn't made up his mind yet on whether or not waterboarding is torture.

He ought to listen to Joe Galloway:

"Waterboarding is torture. Decent people have acknowledged that for centuries. We sent Japanese war criminals to the gallows for using it. We sent a Texas sheriff to prison for using it. One day, an ex-president and those who helped him and those he ordered to torture fellow human beings may have to plea bargain for their lives and their freedom."

Mukasey has a stark choice in front of him. He can oppose the use of torture or endorse the use of torture. If he chooses the latter, Mukasey runs the risk of joining those ranks of federal judges who have gone from sitting at the bench to sitting at the defendant's table. He would be unique in that he would probably be the first former federal judge to be accused of crimes against humanity. If he chooses to oppose the use of torture, he could get fired.

What is going on right now is not the deliberate determinations of a judge. What is going on is the attempt of a bureaucrat to run out the clock and hope that the issue goes away without his having to make a decision.

Judges usually decide who, of the parties in court, did the right thing. This time, it is Mukasey who has to do the right thing.

My money is not on Mukasey.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Airplane That Saved General Aviation

The Aeronca C-2 and C-3, a/k/a the "Bathtub", underpowered and probably much unloved, was the airplane that saved general aviation in the early 1930s.


Before the Aeronca C-2/3 came along, a typical general aviation airplane was the Curtiss Robin:


Robins were great airplanes for their time, but like most of the airplanes in the late 1920s, they were extremely expensive to own and operate. I've read in several places that the rental rate for airplanes like the Robin was $60 per hour. That was in 1929 dollars, and reportedly that's about what Amelia Earhart paid for her lessons. That is almost $700 per hour in today's dollars.

An Aeronca C-3, though, could be rented for $4 per hour, which works out to roughly $50 per hour today. (The C-2 was single place, the C-3 could carry two people, if neither of them were very hefty.)

Aeronca C-2s and C-3s were powered by the mighty E-113 engine. The E-113 is probably the great grandfather of today's opposed-piston aircraft engines.



The E-113 put out 36HP, which probably was barely enough to get a C-3 off the ground with a pilot and instructor. Note that it had one sparkplug per cylinder.

The success of the C-3 gave rise to a competitor, the Taylor J-2 Cub:


The J-2 wasn't much better than a C-3, it had a 4-cylinder engine that pumped out all of 40HP. The J-2s were still underpowered and on a hot day, the distance to clear a 50' tree probably approached infinity. I've heard it said that every J-2 that survives today was crashed at least once.

One of C.G. Taylor's investors in the Taylor Aircraft Company was William T. Piper. Piper eventually forced Taylor out. Bill Piper renamed the company (no prizes for guessing the name) and had a new, more powerful 65 HP engine installed in the J-2, which resulted in the J-3.



The Piper J-3 probably trained more pilots than any other airplane until the Cessna 150 came into being.

And the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Why Flamethrowers Should Be Legal

In case you happened to live across the street from this guy:


I Wish These Words Mattered

"The President has said that American lives will be sacrificed if Congress does not change FISA. But he has also said that he will veto any FISA bill that does not grant retroactive immunity. No immunity, no new FISA bill. So if we take the President at his word, he is willing to let Americans die to protect the phone companies. "-- Sen. Edward Kennedy

Unfortunately, we all know that Harry Reid and his bunch of spineless weasels will give Chimperor Disgustus everything he wants that.

No, strike that, I was wrong to call them "weasels." Comparing the Senate Democrats to weasels is insulting to weasels.

I apologize to the weasels.

So What Else Is New; Congressional Edition

Dems lose fight to ease abortion restrictions.

(YAWN)

Wake me up when The Italian Army of American Politics wins something.

Senate Democrats: What's Your Sign?

Their sign:


And their flag:


I'll retract this post when I see a sign that the Democrats in the Senate are starting to stand up to the Chimperor.

"Ho Ho Ho" in Triplicate, But Only For Three Weeks

If you work in Fort Fumble and if you want to have any Xmas decorations around your office, you can only have them up for three weeks and if you want to do that or have a party, you need to fill out the special request form. And you need to submit drawing of how you're going to set up for the party, including tables and such.

No, this is not a joke. There really is a form. And Santa Claus cannot rappel down from the Pentagon, because they don't want the Easter Bunny or the Hannukha Guy to do it.

Huckabee on Bush

Mike Huckabee had an article run in Foreign Affairs magazine. The article almost disturbed a hair on Willard M. Romney's helmet, as Huckabee dared voice a criticism of the Chimperor, to wit:

"American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out. The Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad."


Huckabee then goes off the rails somewhat, in his call to expand the size of the armed forces. While it may be desirable to have a larger army, nobody has ever explained how that is going to happen without either (a) reducing standards for recruits to an absurdly low level or (b) reinstating the draft. As it is now, the Army can barely fill its recruitment quotas now, and that is by taking 20% of the recruits who are below either moral or intelligence standards (in other words, the ranks are being filled with criminals and morons) and by offering extremely large bonuses for those who volunteer for cannon-fodder MOSs.

And let's face it: There will be no draft. Once we start drafting the sons and daughters of the middle and upper classes, the opposition to the Chimperor's Wars will grow exponentially and will resemble the last time a president from Texas confused his balls with the national interest got us severely tangled up in an Asian quagmire.

Willard, on the other hand, is hewing to the Bush policies because his polling data says that is what the Kool-Aid Drinkers want. You know that old flip-flopping Willard is never going to say or do anything that will upset his targeted demographic, which is why if the Kool-Aid Drinkers thought that sipping the blood of live puppies was a key to good health, Willard would be out there with a Labrador Retriever, a razor blade and a straw.

The Other War in Iraq

The Turkish Air Force carried out bombing raids against PKK (Kurdish) guerrilla bases in Iraq during the night.

The risk, of course, is that the PKK has a wide base of support among the Kurds. If the Kurds conclude that the TAF wouldn't have bombed without the permission, whether overt or tacit, of the Americans, then you have to wonder if the PKK will decide that Americans are now legitimate targets.

WTF; Biological Edition

Biologists are on the verge of creating new life-forms with wholly synthetic DNA.

Can anybody in that industry think past the "oh, we can make a shitload of money doing this" aspect and consider whether or not this is a good idea in general?

They should take a look at the history of other technologies and if they did so with open eyes, they would come to realize that what looks so nifty in the laboratory or on the drawing board often turns out to have a lot of consequences that would have horrified its inventors. And sometimes, what even seems to be really helpful and benign developments have downrange effects and consequences that have been anything but benign.

My feeling is that we, as a species, are not smart enough to be dealing with reaching inside the nuclei to create new life forms.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Great, Now We've Killed the Oceans

Or, at least, we are in the process of doing so.

New Fundraising Idea-- Buy the Democrats a Spine!

If Harry Reid were a car, I'd want to take him in and get all of those reverse gears removed from his transmission. I'd hold a fundraiser to buy ol' Harry some forward gears. Maybe even convert him into a half-track so he can get through some rough terrain. Maybe weld some stiffeners to the frame so he doesn't fold up like a piece of origami.

But as it stands now, Harry Reid is to the legislative process what the Italian Army was to military campaigns in World War II. If Democrats in the Congress were piece of furniture, most of them would be cheap-ass lawn chairs.

I can't begin to tell you how disgusted I am with the apparent spinelessness of the Democrats in the Senate and, to a slightly lesser extent, in the House. There are a few who lay it on the line, such as Russ Feingold in the Senate, but they are few and far between.

These guys ought to try taking a stand and try putting their political asses on the line. That may be a bit to ask, but considering that there are thousands of American teenagers and 20-somethings in Iraq and Afghanistan who put their lives on the line, asking the Democrats to take a stand now and then doesn't seem like a big thing to ask of them.

If the Democrats in Congress don't want to stand up and do the job they were sent to do, then they should retire and let someone else take over.