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

Sunday, January 31, 2010

DoJ: Still Whitewash Central

The Department of Justice has whitewashed a report on war criminals John Yoo and Jay Bybee, downgrading the admonition from "violated professional responsibilities" to "exercised poor judgment." The difference is stark, in that the former finding could get them disbarred and that latter is a literal slap on the wrist with a wet noodle.

I respectfully suggest that anyone who buys, as Newsweek apparently has, that Attorney General Eric Holder had nothing to do with this has mush for brains. The guy who supposedly is the one who made the call to downgrade the sanction, David Margolis, allegedly has a long history of participating in whitewashes and cover-ups of FBI and DoJ misconduct.

Same as it ever was. What is saddening is that President Obama has assigned no priority to the job of emptying the trash left from the Bush Administration. He and Holder are more than happy to help sweep it all under the rug. History will not remember them kindly for this.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Murder

The Wichita Asswipe who shot and killed Dr. Tiller was convicted of first-degree murder this morning.

The jury deliberations took 37 minutes. I'm guessing that about 25 minutes was spent voting on who the jury foreman would be.

Tony Blair: Pants-Wetting and Terrified Like a Pack of Little Kids

Believe it or not, that is Tony Blair's rationale for attacking Iraq: 9/11 scared the pants off both him and the Bush Administration, so they had to attack somebody.

Calling All Conspiracy Theory Buffs: Man Your Stations!

One of the Teabuggers has (or had) some ties to the CIA. (More here.)

Stand by for the usual spate of half-baked conspiracy theories.

UPDATE: The mug shots of the Teabuggers:

(H/T)

Third World Nation

Economically, the U.S. began to resemble a third-world nation during the Administration of George W. Bush.

Which is pretty much what the GOP wanted to have happen.

(H/T)

If You Really Want to Help Small Businesses

The party of Hoover has its usual broken-record playing of what to do to help small businesses, and that is "cut capital gains taxes."

That, of course, is nothing other than the usual GOP-brand bullshit of pretending to care about small businesses while offering tax breaks that benefit the rich. Long-term capital gains taxes already are lower than income taxes; so if you are able to make a profit with your investments, you get a lot more income out of it than you do if you work for the same gross dollar amount.

No, if you really want to help small businesses, then what you should do is this: Eliminate income taxes for people making under $40,000.[1] That would help small businesses because they would not have to pay the income-based payroll taxes. They would not have to withhold the income taxes from their employees and then pay them to the IRS every quarter. You could also cut the employer's share of Social Security taxes for those employees making under $40,000, which could be made up by lifting the current cap on Social Security taxes from $106,000 or so.[2]

Cutting capital gains taxes won't help small businesses. If someone is trying to keep a small business afloat during this recession, they probably are not in a position to pay capital gains taxes on anything. Hell, they're probably losing money, so they are likely not personally paying any income taxes. The only tax help they can get is to cut the taxes that they pay on their employees. And we should do that.

[1] I chose $40,000 for that is roughly equivalent to a pay rate of $20 an hour.

[2] Income from dividends and investments is not subject to Social Security taxes, so there is another area where the wealthy make out like bandits.

Teabuggers: "Only a Stunt"

The "only a stunt" defense is what is being offered by the lawyer for one of the Teabuggers.

Too bad Martha Stewart's lawyer didn't think to offer the "only a stunt" defense when she was tried.

We Are So Screwed; Economics Edition

That is basically the central point of Paul Krugman's column today in the NY Times.

You should read the entire piece. But if you don't want to take the time, here is the conclusion:
We’re paralyzed in the face of mass unemployment and out-of-control health care costs. Don’t blame Mr. Obama. There’s only so much one man can do, even if he sits in the White House. Blame our political culture instead, a culture that rewards hypocrisy and irresponsibility rather than serious efforts to solve America’s problems. And blame the filibuster, under which 41 senators can make the country ungovernable, if they choose — and they have so chosen.

I’m sorry to say this, but the state of the union — not the speech, but the thing itself — isn’t looking very good.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Let the Flogging Begin!

Sweet:
the UK’s General Medical Council has found that Andrew Wakefield — the founder of the modern antivaccination movement — acted "dishonestly and irresponsibly" when doing the research that led him to conclude that vaccinations were linked with autism.
Not to mention that he faked his research, too. I don't know how many thousands of children were denied the protection of vaccination because of that pustulent asswipe, but it is fair to say that the old childhood diseases are back because of him and his acolytes.

In a more just world, Wakefield would now be flogged on live television.

(H/T)

Color Me Unimpressed; Railroad Edition

President Obama announced Thursday that the federal government will spend $8 billion developing a nationwide high-speed train system.

Yeah. California is going to get money to start design and site work on its high-speed railroad project between Sacremento and San Diego, the only truly high-speed project, as trains would go 220mph.

As for the rest? Not so much. Vermont will get money to upgrade the trackage for the Vermonter, so it can travel up to 79mph. That's nothing to sneeze at; the Vermonter takes nearly four hours to travel from White River Junction, VT to Springfield, MA. A decent driver on the paralleling interstate can make the trip in two hours or less. But still, 79mph last qualified as "high-speed rail" in the 19th Century.

The project in Illinois for high-speed rail between Chicago and St. Louis calls for train speeds of 110mph, which was impressive before the Second World War. 46 years ago, the Japanese bullet trains began running at 125mph and now run at 180+mph. The French TGV runs as fast. Even the Acela, which can hit 150mph, has an average speed that is akin to the old CB&Q Zephyrs in the 1960s.

We are so far behind in train technology that we might as well be still using steam. $8 billion is a welcome start, but it is still a drop in the bucket.

Court to Teabugger: "Go Home and Sit In Your Room!"

Part of the condition of the release on bail of one of the Teabuggers is that he go live with his parents until his case is adjudicated. ("PTS" is the office of pretrial services.)

Over in the Nation Formerly Known as Great Britain

It seems that it is considered to be bad form in the UK to discriminate against worthless workers. No, I am not making this shit up:
When it comes to hiring staff, there are plenty of legal pitfalls employers need to watch out for these days. So recruitment agency boss Nicole Mamo was especially careful to ensure her advert for hospital workers did not offend on grounds of race, age or sexual orientation.

However, she hadn't reckoned on discriminating against a wholly different section of the community - the completely useless. When she ran the ad past a job centre, she was told she couldn't ask for 'reliable' and 'hard-working' applicants because it could be offensive to unreliable people.
Crimus. I take this comment back, all it would really take would be a couple of companies of Hessians with Brown Bess muskets.

(H/T)

A Career Limiting Move

From Navy Times:
The commander of the Charleston Naval Weapons Station has been reassigned after he was arrested on a charge of soliciting a prostitute.
That'll impress the living shit out of the O-7 selection board.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of the Union Speech

It is tonight. I'll pass.

I was in favor of the financial bailouts, of course, but I wanted them tied to meaningful financial reform, including a restoration of Glass-Steagel. That didn't happen, the window for serious financial reform has, to my mind, closed. Considering the opportunity the President had when he came into office to make some serious financial reforms, he has wasted time. Which, as far as I can tell, is just what the two Wall Street Boys, Larry Summers and Timmy Geithner, had in mind.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

The window for health care reform may be closed, as well. On the plus side, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed, he did get some stimulus into the economy (not enough, to my mind) and the provision to hold defense contractors accountable for the rapists in their midst.

But in the main, I am starting to sign onto the belief that we now have George W. Bush Lite in office. All of the civil liberties violations and, just like the Chimperor, the same 24/7 concern about politics over leading the nation.

I don't care what he says tonight. Speechfying isn't going to cut it for me anymore. I want to see what he gets done.

Goodbye, Moon

Goodbye, heavy-lift rockets, as the Obama Administration is planning to cancel the Ares, Orion and Constellation programs. Goodbye, manned space program. Goodbye, Mars.

"Short-sighted" does not even begin to cover it. Which is no surprise, as the Bush Obama Administration has opted to cancel ongoing projects in favor of more study about a more advanced vehicle, the cost of which will be paid somewhere in the future (like after 2016).

So not only has Obama adopted the national security and economic policies of George W. Bush, now he has adopted the same method of space exploration- Study, Design and Delay. If either one of those two men had been King of Spain, they'd still be mulling over whether to send an exploratory mission to the Western Hemisphere.

Sometime in the last 50 years, our national appetite for exploration was sated and our national tolerance for risk was drastically reduced. We have become a fearful, petty people. Our ancestors, who founded this country and who expanded it from a narrow strip of land to "from sea to shining sea" would be deeply ashamed. We are now like the folks in old Europe who said: "America? That's too far, I'm happy just being a peasant in this disease-ridden village."

As a nation, we are fucking pathetic.

43 Years Ago Today

Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chafee were killed in the Apollo 204 fire.

The fire was entirely avoidable. NASA used pure oxygen in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft because the spacecraft didn't need to be as robust (3 or so psi cabin pressure over 14.7psi for an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere) and they only needed to carry oxygen as a breathing gas, saving weight. The all-up test on January 27, 1967 was conducted with the astronauts in full gear and, because the capsule wasn't built to keep pressure out, the capsule was pressurized to 16 psi with pure oxygen.

Anyone familiar with how well fire burns in a pure oxygen environment would have been horrified. The Soviet space program, not known then as a model of safety, used regular air for pressurizing their spacecraft because of the fire hazard. Add to that the point that NASA was more concerned about an astronaut blowing out the hatch by accident than a requirement for easy escape, so the hatch could not be opened quickly. Finally, in violation of every known tenet of emergency egress design, the hatch opened inward.

There was a spark. A fire erupted. The three astronauts were incinerated inside the capsule. The Apollo program was set back over 18 months for a redesign of the capsule.

The Teabuggers

They were allegedly planting bugs in the offices of Sen. Landrieu's offices:
An official close to the investigation said one of the four was arrested with a listening device in a car blocks from the senator's offices. He spoke on condition of anonymity because that information was not included in official arresting documents.
The FBI affidavit is fun reading, too.

I can't begin to count how many times during the Watergate mess that the "conservatives" were calling for the reporters involved to be arrested and charged with something. Since then, that has happened every time a reporter has broken a story about government malfeasance.

So let's see how they react now that four of their butt-monkeys have been arrested on a couple of felony beefs. I'm betting that they are going to demand that those four assholes be released without charges.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

100 Years Ago, It Would Simply Have Been Inconceivable

100 years ago, if someone were to chart a course for going into space and landing on the Moon, it would have been a rational supposition to assume that the nation which made the effort would have been Great Britain, drawing on the resources of its vast empire. That supposition died nearly seventy years ago, when it was obvious to all concerned that the United States was the nation which had the resources and people to carry out such an intense project.

Now there is going to be yet another review of the manned spaceflight program. For that is all that we do nowadays: Make plans and review them when the time to start ponying up serious cash is near. President Bush put forth a plan to stop using the Shuttles and to build a new series of rockets to permit manned deep space missions. The bill for that, conveniently, would have come due this decade.

Here are my predictions: First, the Ares I/V programs will be funded, if at all, just above survival level. There will be no serious push, certainly nothing close to the Apollo Program, to fly them.

Second, when another human walks on the surface of the Moon or walks on Mars, his or her primary language will not be English.

On the scale that we spend money in this country, manned spaceflight is chump change. Why we cannot muster the will to do this, to keep exploring with humans, is beyond my comprehension. One thing is clear, and it has been true since 1963: Our government is populated with small-minded people.

Heh. Heh. Heh.

Enjoy your upcoming stretch in the Greybar Hotel, assholes:
Federal officials arrested four men on Monday and charged them with posing as telephone technicians to tamper with the telephone system in the New Orleans offices of Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana.

One of the men arrested was James O’Keefe, according to The New Orleans Times-Picayune, a filmmaker who produced videos purporting to document questionable practices at some field offices of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as Acorn.
You can probably safely bet that the various folk on the Right will be stumbling over their feet to come up with excuses as to why those four fuckers were trying to buy the phones of Sen. Landrieu. In the meantime, the four putzim might want to buy this book.

UPDATE: The best nickname I've seen: The Teabuggers.

Why Anti-Aircraft Guns and Surface-to-Air Missiles Should Be Legal

To stop this sort of shit:
Police in the UK are planning to use unmanned spy drones, controversially deployed in Afghanistan, for the ­"routine" monitoring of antisocial motorists, ­protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers[1], in a significant expansion of covert state surveillance.
On more thought, a powerful pulsed-laser may be a better countermeasure; just blind the stupid camera system. Still, it just amazes me no end how willing the Brits are to have the authorities watch their every move. I'm surprised that they haven't begun placing monitoring cameras in people's homes to detect reading illegal books or having illicit sex.

[1]A "fly-tipper" is an illegal waste dumper.

(H/T)

Spending Freeze

President Obama has listened to the "deficit hawks" (the same group of clowns who had their mouths welded shut during the Bush Administration) and has proposed a spending freeze on non-military discretionary spending for three years.

This is a terrible idea. Look at this chart (from Calculated Risk) of unemployment rates during the Depression:

(Click on the chart to enlarge it)

Note the spike in the unemployment rate in 1937. That occurred when FDR listened to the deficit hawks of his day and scaled back Federal spending. It took three to four years for the economy to recover from that move.

Unemployment is still stubbornly high. State governments are slashing employment and programs, which only makes things worse. This is exactly the wrong time to be listening to the deficit hawks. Cutting discretionary spending and pulling back from stimulating the economy makes the conservatives happy, but when it comes to economic matters, when have they been correct on anything?

Paul Krugman calls the idea of a spending freeze a capitulation to the economic theories of George W. Bush.

Heckuvajob, Barry.

You Can Now Legally Import Toxic Waste into the U.S.!

US to lift 21-year ban on haggis.

Haggis is made from what a deer hunter would call "the gut pile", which is left in the forest for scavengers to feast upon. It was probably invented by the French.

(H/T)

So Where is Their Fealty to the Free Market?

You would think that if a product is a best-seller, that the glibertarians would be in favor of it, for after all, "the free market spoke."

That doesn't seem to be the case for the movie "Avatar", which has been slammed by conservatives for having a "far-left" viewpoint. Too bad, though, that the movie has taken in over half a billion in US ticket sales and $1.8 billion worldwide. You'd think that with numbers such as those, the glibertarians would be raving about the movie.

But, no.

Kiss Your Democracy Goodbye

From the WaPo:
A new report warns that al-Qaeda has not abandoned its goal of attacking the United States with a chemical, biological or even nuclear weapon.

The report, by a former senior CIA official who led the agency's hunt for weapons of mass destruction, portrays al-Qaeda's leaders as determined and patient, willing to wait for years to acquire the kind of weapons that could inflict widespread casualties.
If that happens, the Right will complete their push to gut the Bill of Rights once and for all. They came pretty close after 9-11, but they didn't make it.

Corporate Asshole of the Week

Bill Nuti, CEO of National Cash Register. He didn't like the idea of living in Dayton, Ohio, so he moved the company to Atlanta.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What, No GOP Outrage?

General McChrystal is proposing to cut a deal with the Taliban:
General Stanley McChrystal, the Nato commander in Afghanistan, has raised the prospect that his troop surge will lead to a negotiated peace with the Taliban. ...

“As a soldier, my personal feeling is that there’s been enough fighting,” he said. “What I think we do is try to shape conditions which allow people to come to a truly equitable solution to how the Afghan people are governed.”

Asked if he would be content to see Taliban leaders in a future government in Kabul, he said: “I think any Afghans can play a role if they focus on the future, and not the past.”
You'd think that the GOP Outrage Machine would be calling McChrystal a "surrender monkey" about now. But oh, wait, the GOP's favorite general, David Petraeus, is saying much the same thing:
Frontline offensives will run alongside initiatives to reach out to Taleban elements. When the time was right, General Petraeus said, there was a possibility that Afghan officials would hold reconciliation talks with senior Taleban and other insurgent leaders, perhaps also involving Pakistan.
Of course, if a Democrat had argued that we should be negotiating with the Taliban, the bloviators of the right would be calling for heads to be taken.

The problem, though, is obvious. Right now, the Taliban probably believe that they have the wind at their backs. The NATO, American and Afghan forces have to convince them otherwise if there is to be a negotiated end to this war.

Prequels Suck

They all suck for the same reason: Everyone already knows the story. There is no real suspense.

Consider, if you will, "Star Wars". The broad outlines of the second series of movies (1999-2005) was well known to anyone who had seen the first three (1977-1983). The same holds true with "Caprica". Consider this synopsis:
Somebody on Caprica invents and builds a sentient robot, which then goes into series production. The robots, called Cylons, eventually tire of being slaves and rebel. The rebellion ends in an armistice. Decades later, the Cylons, now commanded by biological Cylons, return and almost wipe out the Colonials. After several years of running skirmishes, the Colonials and bio-Cylons end up on Earth nearly two hundred thousand years ago. Before they all die of starvation, predation and disease, they contribute DNA that gives the resident humanoid species a jump-start towards Homo Sapiens.
The "Caprica" series takes place within the first sentence or two of the above synopsis. There is no suspense to be had, other than in the details, just as any Star Wars fan who saw the "Phantom Menace" knew how, at least in outline, "Revenge of the Sith" would end.

Prequels suck. Why watch them?

Wth Apologies to Samuel Clemens

It is my heart-warm and world-embracing hope and aspiration that all of us, the high, the low, the rich, the poor, the admired, the despised, the loved, the hated, the civilized, the savage (every man, woman, sister and brother of us all throughout the whole earth), may eventually be gathered together in a heaven of everlasting rest and peace and bliss, except the inventor of the cellular telephone.

Oh, and the douchebag who invented "robocalls"? Him, too.

Our National Nanny Loses Another One

The Bloomberg Administration lost a case in the Supreme Court. They sought to use the RICO laws as a way to enforce out-of-city businesses to pay NYC sales taxes.

The Logical Outcome of Citizens United

The corporate zombies will eat your brains.



(H/T)

UPDATE for this cartoon.

(H/T)

Bet You Won't See This in the Bible

From Abtruse Goose:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

When We Could Make Shit in This Country

Before greedy fuckers people like Mitt Romney sent much of our manufacturing capability overseas, we could make shit.

And 40 years ago, we went to the Moon.



By the end of this year, the only way to the ISS will be, once more, on a Russian rocket.

Testilying

One reporter's experience of being on a jury and seeing the "testilying" by the cops.

Avatars

This is what I wrote about Citizens United v. FEC a few days ago:
One of the most evil things that the Supreme Court did in the 19th Century was to comment that corporations are legally equivalent to people. That was then, and still is today, bullshit. You cannot throw a corporation (or a labor union) in jail. All you can do is fine them, which the managers don't give a shit about, as long as the fines don't put the company into a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
There is a way to get around that, and that is by the use of the corporate avatar.

Corporations have to act through living people, regardless of what those five ghouls on the Supreme Court think. So here is my idea: If a corporation is found guilty of a felony, the corporation has to pay the fine associated with the charge. The officers and directors of the corporation do the time. It won't matter if they knew anything about it or not. They don't get a criminal record out of it, nothing has to be proven against them, as individuals. They are the stand-ins for the corporation, the avatars, and if the corporation does the crime, the avatars will do the time.

It will, of course, suck to be them if the actions of a corporation are a capital crime. But that's why they pulled down the big bucks.

Tiny Bit of Gun Snark

So today I stopped by an out-of-state gun store. They had some surplus rifles in the floor racks, both Mausers and Mosins.

As lore has it, the Mosin-Nagant is famous for being a rifle that has fought against itself. (Russian Civil War, Winter War and Continuation War)

In the two great wars of the first half of the 20th Century, the Mauser was the rifle of choice of the loser.

Attacking "Citizens United"

We can begin with a short and sweet change to the IRS Code:
Advertising for any purpose, other than the promotion of the sale of a product or promoting the business entity itself, shall not be deductible for tax purposes. In any proceeding which questions the deduction of any advertising, the taxpayer shall prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that the sole purpose of any such advertising was to promote the sale of a product or to promote the business entity itself.
Comments?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Quote of the Day

"The only strong evidence we have that Oklahoma Senator James M. Inhofe isn't a clown is that his car isn't small enough." -- Steve Mirsky, February, 2010 issue of Scientific American, page 88.

So, You Thought That the "Blue Angels" Were Hot Shit?

Compared to birds, they're rank amateurs. You can see for yourself; they've miniaturized cameras enough so that birds can carry them.

How it is done, a camera on a golden eagle:



And a peregrine falcon and a goshawk, which is a pro at flying low:

A Very Bad Idea

This is a very bad idea:
Senator Evan Bayh, an Indiana Democrat, said there is a “fighting chance” that President Barack Obama will call for a freeze in most federal discretionary spending in his State of the Union speech next week.
Unemployment is at 10% for the U-3 rate. The real rate of unemployment and underemployment is probably double that. There are close to 600 "problem banks". There are roughly six applicants for every job opening (the ratio was about 1.2 to 1 when Clinton left office).

This recession is by no means over. The recovery, such as there is, is tenuous. A lot of state governments are in serious trouble. If Obama cuts spending now, he risks repeating FDR's mistake of 1937.

Somebody needs to flog Evan Bayh with a chain.

(H/T)

Speaking of Pandering

Does anyone know what rationale Fox News had, other than pure old-fashioned racism, for not pitching in on the drive to raise money for Haitian Relief?

Would doing something for desperate people in need in a devastated nation lessen the evil corruption of the collective souls of Fox News' people to a level that would be unacceptable to its satanic overlord?

The "Citizens United" Case and the Second Amendment

Here is a thought:

First the preamble: Citizens United opens the door to a corporatist state, where the government looks out for the interest of corporations because the corporations have the money to drown out all dissenting voices.[1]

Now the question: How long do you expect that the relatively unrestricted right to purchase and possess firearms will last in a corporatist state?

The Second Amendment is, at its core, not there so people can carry weapons for personal protection or go target shooting or hunting. Its basic purpose is to give the American people a last-ditch option to stop tyranny. It is almost novel in the history of the world when you consider it that way: A government has freely granted its people the right to possess the means to overthrow it.

Joseph Stalin purportedly said: "The only real power comes out of a long rifle." Mao Ze Dong said: "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." The Founding Fathers would have, in my opinion, agreed with both sentiments.

Once the corporate interests have managed to buy enough legislators to dominate the political process, which, admittedly, they are pretty much close to doing anyway,[2] how long do you expect that it will be before the corporations start a drumbeat of advertising and news stories about the evils of firearms ownership? They will demonize the possession of firearms, much like the Brits have done for decades. Then there will be laws passed, incrementally, to make it harder and harder to buy weapons and ammunition. The concealed carry laws will be rolled back.

Of course the laws will be written in such a way that the wealthy and their security companies will be able to own and carry weapons, much like the Jim Crow firearms regulations were enforced against Black people and in the same way that the rich and powerful in New York City have little problem obtaining carry permits.

But as for the rest of us, we will be shit out of luck. Which will suit the rich and the powerful just fine, as they have never been comfortable with the idea that the people are armed.

[1] If you want a micro-level story of how monied interests buy government policies that both directly impair people and cost government money, the story of the bail bondsmen buying out the Broward County commissioners is worth listening to.

[2]What, you really thought that Max Baucus's fervent opposition to a public option for health insurance didn't have anything to do with the six million dollars in campaign donations that he got from health insurance companies?

Caturday Resumed

Gracie, as pretty as always.

Jake looks as though he knows things we will never be privy to.

When the bedclothes are disturbed, George likes to lay on them. The white spread is for the cats to lie on, so they don't gunk up what is underneath. Not that George cares.

Friday, January 22, 2010

H&K USP Compact .45

I got to examine one at the local gun shop today. Damn, it seems like a nice gun. Pricey, though. And I am familiar with their customer service motto, which is a variation on the German for "go have anal sex with a sheep."

Does anyone have any thoughts about the USP Compact? I do like the 1911 and the Colt Agent is similarly priced, but for a carry gun, I'm not a big fan of the cocked-&-locked bit. I'm also not a fan of striker-fired guns, so you can ditch recommending those.

Geithner Death Watch

When the fact leaks that you disagree with your boss, don't expect to keep your job:
Reuters) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has expressed some skepticism behind closed doors about the broad bank limits proposed on Thursday by his boss, President Barack Obama, according to financial industry sources.
I, for one, will not be sorry to see him go. Geithner was so cozy with the banks and Wall Street that he should have been working for a Republican president.

My Most Sincere Apologies to Hillary Clinton

I humbly apologize for all of the nasty things I blogged about you during the primaries.

Yes, you might have been polarizing. Yes, you might have energized the Republican voters. I still think those things were true. You might have even lost, but given the melt-down of the McCain Campaign and the financial collapse of the Fall of `08, maybe, maybe not.

But I admit, now, that you would have been a better president than the "post-partisan" chucklehead we now have. Yes, he is better than George W. Bush. Being better than Bush is like hurdling over a chalk line.

I was wrong about you. I am so sorry.

On Hunting (a Gentle Remonstrance by a Reader)

I received an e-mail which said, in essence, that if they had not bothered to click on a link of an earlier post, that the reader would not have read a post I wrote almost two months ago about hunting, which I posted to my blog annex. The unspoken comment was that I should have posted it here in its entirety.

OK, I can do that:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It has been a very long time since I last took to the woods with a rifle. I used to hunt fairly regularly. But my opinions on it have not changed.

As I see it, there are three broad categories to hunting: Trophy hunting, meat hunting and varmint hunting. To my mind, the latter two categories are honorable, the first is not.

Meat hunting is honorable, far more honorable than going to the supermarket and buying a shrink-wrapped portion of a critter. The hunter, at least, is intimately familiar with where his or her meat is coming from, as opposed to the supermarket shopper, who usually has barely an idea of what a steer even looks like, let alone how the steers are treated. In some rural areas, the only meat that appears on the kitchen table was taken by hunting, store-bought meat being too costly.

Varmint hunting is done to control population levels or to stop predation. It can be combined with meat hunting, such as in areas where the numbers of deer have exploded. There once was, and may still be, a predator control law in Vermont that was passed in the 1850s, when the state was a major producer of wool. It allowed farmers to kill predators by any means other than nuclear weapons, which were not permitted only because they didn't exist back then.

I have problems with trophy hunting. It would seem to me that going out and deliberately removing from the population the fittest adult male members of any species is counter to the long-term health of that species. It would be like identifying the smartest students in a college and then killing them so that someone could have a collection of the heads of valedictorians.

I've done varmint shooting to control predators and pests. Not much to say about that, it's what needed to be done at the time. Electric fencing around the chicken coop worked well, too, and was far more reliable.

Opening Day of whitetail season in some states is an unofficial holiday. I lived in one of those states for a time and would go back for years afterwards. We'd meet at the house of a friend who lived adjacent to a forest. It would be full dark, around 5:30 AM. Eggs, bacon, toast, fried potatoes and coffee were what was prepared and served up in copious amounts. Everyone pitched in to help prepare, cook and clean up, so that the pans and dishes were washed and the kitchen was clean when it was time to go into the woods. (For those hunters who did not have a place to go for breakfast or who didn't want to make one, the volunteer firehouse served a hunters' breakfast on Opening Day, beginning at 4:30.)

As soon as it became light enough to see, we would make our way into the woods to where each one of us wanted to be and wait for sunrise, which was just after 7AM. Usually, nobody would see a buck, only does. I've had does walk right by me and look at me as if to say "we know you can't shoot us." Every few years, somebody would manage to shoot a buck, which would be dressed out, taken to the game-check station and then butchered.

The bucks were smart as hell. You wouldn't seen them out in the fields during the day from just before the beginning of bow season, through rifle season and then to the end of muzzle-loader season. After hunting season was over, you'd see bucks during the day. One year, I was out in the woods several days after Opening Day. I managed to get a glimpse of a buck and he saw me at the same time. He ran for a few seconds, bounding through the woods, and then dropped to the ground, completely invisible against the leaf litter, brush, rocks and sticks. I tried walking him down, but whenever I got close, he'd bound up and run, weaving through the trees. He seemed to know how long it would take me to bring up the rifle and get a bead on him, for just as soon as I managed to swing the front sight onto him, he'd drop to the ground and disappear. That buck, a six-pointer, also seemed to work it so that the one time I had a clear shot, there was a house down in a valley which was in the line of fire. I gave up then, it was almost sunset.

Another year, it was cold, lightly snowing, and I was in the woods with a Garand.[1] I had been sitting on a log, which was a remnant of a fallen tree, with the rifle in my lap. It was sort of under the boughs of a pine tree, out of the snow fall and it was pretty comfortable. A red squirrel's curiosity overcame its caution and it came out to investigate me. It walked down that log, jumped up onto the handguard of the rifle and looked me over. I guess it was satisfied that I posed no threat to it, for it jumped back onto the log and sauntered away.

Snow in November is almost magical, as it often falls with still air. The flakes of a Fall snow are usually fat ones that drift down among the trees and deposit the first coat of white of the season. There is little traffic noise out there, just an occasional vehicle on a paved road over a mile in the distance and the falling snow muffles even that sound. The quiet is only broken by the faint whine of a passing airliner, six miles above. The woods are second or third growth, that entire area was clear-cut in the 18th and early 19th Centuries for livestock and crop farming. The woods began to come back after the Civil War and the building of the railroads, when farmers went to the Midwest to farm land that was neither hilly or filled with rocks. Now there are probably more woodlands in New England since the time of the Revolution.

Several minutes after the squirrel left, I heard heavy steps in the leaves on the floor of the woods. (By Spring, the leaves would have composted themselves and one could move through the woods silently, but that was almost impossible to do in the Fall.) I shifted around, pointed the rifle in that direction, keeping my finger out of the trigger guard.[2] It was a buck and one of decent size, a six pointer. I snugged the butt of the rifle into my shoulder, quietly disengaged the safety and settled the front sight on his chest. As I took up the slack of the two-stage trigger, the thought came to me, or something spoke to me, but either way, the message was clear: "You don't really need the meat." I took my finger off the trigger, thought "bang, I've got you" and clicked the safety on, making no attempt to hide the metallic snick. The buck whirled his head around, saw me, and took off.

The times I went deer hunting after that were for social reasons. I left the Garand at home and carried a 6" Smith Model 29, telling everyone: "Hell, I never see a deer anyway, so I might as well carry something light." But the real reason was that since I wasn't going to shoot anything, the revolver was just for show.

[1]I had some five-round clips for my Garand, which made it legal to use.

[2]Yes, I know, you're supposed to verify your target before you point a gun at it. But if you make that much movement in those woods within eyeshot of a deer, it will see you and be gone before you can fire.

Can't We Make Anything Anymore In This Country?

Not only are the Navy's new landings ships sidelined for a myriad of problems, every ship made by Northrop Grumman at its Avondale and Pascagoula shipyard for the past several years will have to be re-inspected and possibly undergo very costly repairs. Every pipe welder and quality control inspector at those yards was de-certified. Those who were unable to pass a new certification exam were fired.

NorGum's spokesweasel said: “Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding is committed to building quality ships for our customers..." I'd be more impressed if they just did it rather than talk about it. When a company bleats about how they are "committed to quality", it's a safe bet that their main product line consists of various iterations of pieces-of-shit. [1]

Meanwhile, over at LockMart, the new littoral combat ship that they built has such stability problems that the ship has to have the equivalent of a live preserver welded on before it can deploy. The radar system sucks and if the ship takes a punch, it is expected to sink.

Oy. Maybe we can get EB to make surface ships. They'd cost a lot more, though. This is embarrassing. Avondale made the last 20 Knox-class ships, which were decent warships. Pascagoula cranked out the Spruance, Tyco and Kidd class ships, as well as a number of different amphibs. There were individual problems, of course, but I'm not aware of any serious class-wide problems.

This latest crap, though, is pretty damn bad. Both LockMart and NorGum need to think about spending a little less on lobbying and a lot more on building their fucking products.

[1]Ford was renown for cranking out piece of shit cars at a time when their advertising proclaimed that quality was "job 1".

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fair Warning To the Next Conservative Who Makes A Comment to Me In "Meat Space" About "Activist Liberal Judges":

I may be sorely tempted to just simply punch you right in the throat.

(This is why).

What the Fuck; Evil Black Rifle Edition

I'm not sure where I was when I read about this, but Bushmaster's new "ACR" is going to cost over $2,600 for a "basic" rifle and $3,000 for an "enhanced" rifle.

OK, I'm not a big AR geek, but if you buy a compatible upper receiver for your rifle, I think all you have to do is push out the rear pin to swing the lower down and unscrew the front hinge pin. Take off the old upper, put on a new one, change out the bolt, if necessary, and you're back in business. The new upper has to use a caliber that is compatible with STANAG magazines.

So Bushmaster does away with the need to use a screwdriver to remove the front hinge pin and they charge over $2,600 for that? Who the fuck do they think they are, H&K? No wonder Bushmaster is marketing this to police and the militaries, as they are the ones who are playing with other people's money.

(And of course, expect to pay for the nose for additional barreled upper receivers for that pig.)

All You Need to Know About the Supreme Court Ruling on Campaign Finance is This:


One of the most evil things that the Supreme Court did in the 19th Century was to comment that corporations are legally equivalent to people. That was then, and still is today, bullshit. You cannot throw a corporation (or a labor union) in jail. All you can do is fine them, which the managers don't give a shit about, as long as the fines don't put the company into a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

This decision by the "conservatives" is what everyone expected, as they have consistently come down on the side of the powerful over the powerless. Allowing corporations and unions to flood the political process with money will only serve to drown out grass-roots organization attempts.

If the Democrats were of any force, it would be nice to see a bill passed to attack this ruling. But the Allies of the Rich and Powerful, namely the Republicans and the "Blue Dog" Democrats would never allow such a bill to make it out of committee.

Make no mistake about it: This ruling moves this nation incrementally closer to either full-blown corporate fascism or chaos.

Heckuvajob, guys.

I Have Some News For You Morons at U.S. Scareways

If you are going to divert your flights because you see somebody praying, then you might as well permanently ground your entire fleet here.

Security Theater

Stratfor, which is a fairly conservative bunch, says that profiling people based on their nation of origin is a measure that is "doomed to fail". Without directly saying so, they noted that the enhanced screening for citizens of 14 nations was only a bit of security theater. These two observations were interesting:
When we look back at the early jihadist attacks against the United States, we see that many perpetrators matched the stereotypical Muslim profile. In the killing of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing and the thwarted 1993 New York Landmarks Plot, we saw a large contingent of Egyptians, including Omar Abdul-Rahman (aka “the Blind Sheikh”), ElSayyid Nosair, Ibrahim Elgabrowny, Mahmud Abouhalima and several others. In fact, Egyptians played a significant role in the development of the jihadist ideology and have long constituted a very substantial portion of the international jihadist movement — and even of the core al Qaeda cadre. Because of this, it is quite surprising that Egypt does not appear on the TSA’s profile list.
And another example:
Frankly, there have been far more jihadist plots that have originated in the United Kingdom than there have been plots involving Nigerians, and yet Nigeria is on the list and the United Kingdom is not. Because of this, a British citizen (or an American, for that matter) who has been fighting with al Shabaab in Somalia could board a flight in Nairobi or Cairo and receive less scrutiny than an innocent Nigerian flying from the same airport.
It would be nice if we had a government that both treated Americans as grown-ups and acknowledged that basing counter-terror strategy on paperback novels and television shows is a really dumb idea. But whether Democratic or Republican, that doesn't seem to happen.

Even if they tried, the shrieking heads in the media would never let them do it.

Hey, Moms, Try This!

When your child refuses to eat something, try donning riot gear, dousing the kid with pepper spray, beating the shit out of the kid and then locking the little shit in a barren room in the basement.

Does that sound like a ridiculous way to get someone to start eating? Well, go tell that to the goons at ICE, who tried to break a one-day hunger strike by detainees the same way.

Oh, Wow. Color Me Surprised

I am shocked, shocked, that arms dealers are willing to pay bribes to the officials of foreign governments in order to sell stuff.

Apparently, the practice came as a real surprise to the FBI and the Justice Department, which, only in the last year, decided to try to investigate the business.

(Gee willikers. I wonder what happened a year ago that would have made the Justice Department more receptive to investigating such things. I'm drawing a blank . Oh, well, it'll come to me, eventually.)

An Amazing Life

Thomas Lanman Hine, 11/21/1918- 1/20/2010.

(If it disappears from that link, go here.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Technical Violation"

The FBI's misuse of its power to obtain telephone records was more than the "technical violation" described by one of the FBI's attorneys. It wasn't just a matter of not doing the right paperwork, it was an ongoing and flagrant disregard of procedure, safeguards and oversight. The Justice Department's IG used the term "egregious", which is a lot more serious than "technical".

By the FBI's scale of things, if you were to drive onto the sidewalk and run over a bunch of pedestrians, they would give you a ticket for illegal parking.

This is rather disappointing, as the conduct of FBI agents who witnessed the torture of the CIA and the armed forces showed that those FBI agents both disapproved of the tactics and knew that they were both wrong and would come back to bite the government in the ass. Yet when it came to phone records and, presumably, wiretaps, the FBI gave short shrift to the law, because their agents have those nice shiny badges and laws are only for us civilians to obey.

This shows, as Nangletor commented to my earlier post, the old rule applies: Once a cocksucker, always a cocksucker.

Somebody Smack the President, Please

And jolt some sense into his fucking head.
"Here's one thing I know and I just want to make sure that this is off the table. The Senate certainly shouldn't try to jam anything through until Scott Brown is seated," Obama said. "People in Massachusetts spoke. He's got to be part of that process."

He also urged people to look at the "substance" of the health care bill.

"It is very important to look at the substance of this package and for the American people to understand that a lot of the fear mongering around this bill isn't true," he said.

"I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on. We know that we need insurance reform, that the health insurance companies are taking advantage of people. We know that we have to have some form of cost containment ... Those are the core, some of the core elements of, to this bill," Obama said.
Let me be loud and clear about this: There are no "elements of the package that people agree on." Republicans want to kill health care reform dead, dead, motherfuckeringly dead! They do not give a shit about health care or anything else; it is only being used as a vehicle to cripple the Obama presidency.

For a guy who got his start in Chicago politics, for someone who should understand Chicago Rules, President Obama seems to be remarkably clueless. His is trying to play patty-cake with a bunch of stone killers (politically speaking, of course; I have no knowledge as to whether Mitch McConnell has ever really shot someone).

I hope he wakes out of his stupor, out of his fantasy that he is president of Kumbiya-Land. But I am not optimistic. What he should be doing is figuring out what he can jam up and break off in the collective asses of the GOP as a message that they shouldn't be fucking with him. But for now, he is giving the GOP a free pass and they are cornholing him with the abandon of Larry Craig in an airport john.

Fucking Surrender Monkeys

From an e-mail to me:
The House leadership met last night and decided not to go with the Senate bill. That leaves three options: reconciliation, end-run around the filibuster or give up entirely.
I suspect that the option chosen will be Door Number 3. The Senate Democrats are too spineless for anything else.

Let's be clear on this: Health care reform never was a matter of the content of the bills. The opposition to health care reform, from day one, was purely political. It didn't matter whether the bill was excellent or a piece of shit, the Republicans were going to oppose it tooth-and-nail because it largely benefited working Americans and did not benefit the powerful insurance companies. Well, that's their right as the party of the rich and powerful. If they can con enough Americans into buying into their line of phony concern for the average guy, that's life.

I blame the Democrats, particularly Harry Reid, for this one. They had 59.5 votes in the Senate (the 0.5 vote being that of Joe "Old Unreliable" Lieberman [Weasel-CT]) and they have proven that they can only muster excuses. They have the largest majority in the Senate in decades and they cannot get shit done. If they want to try running in the Fall elections on the premise of "ooohh, we are in the majority, but we can't get bills passed, so vote for us", then the Democrats will have their asses handed to them. And they will have it coming to them. (UPDATE: Concur Ref A.)

As for now, if you want a 1941 analogy, given the GOP's proven disdain for the rule of law as well as their love of torture and the Democrats' abject spinelessness, the choice is between living under German rule or in Vichy France.

Life

It is interfering with blogging today.

Anyway, this song came up in a conversation:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Goddamn You, Lincoln Motors

For screwing up this song, forever:



This is the goddamn ad:



I guess the geniuses in Lincoln's ad department didn't catch the fact that at the end of the song, Major Tom is killed.

Is "Trijicon" Arabic for "Ignorance"?

A comment from an e-mail list that I am on: "Haven't any of those mooks in either Ft. Fumble or at Trijicon ever heard of the Sepoy Rebellion?"

We really do need to be doing a better job of teaching history in this country.

Where the Money Went to Produce "Avatar"

It cost a lot of money to make "Dancing With Very large Smurfs." This pie chart shows where it all went:

funny graphs and charts
see more Funny Graphs

Yeah, and Bernie Madoff's Ponzi Scheme "Technically Violated" the Law

"Yes, we technically violated the law." That is the argument that the FBI is making with regard to the latest revelation that they illegally gathered thousands of telephone records. When faced with that reality, the FBI wrote up bogus and blanket National Security Letters to justify the requests.

Shame on the FBI. And shame on the phone companies for releasing the records.

Given that at least some of the FBI's requests apparently targeted reporters, it's probably fair to say that there was a political motivation for at least some of the requests.

F-35 in Trouble?

The program could be in some real trouble:
Close on the heels of reports that the Pentagon plans to cut F-35 orders over the next several years, an internal Navy study leaked last week drove a new wave of speculation in the defense and aerospace industries.

The study, by the Navy’s aviation arm, says the cost to buy and operate that service’s version of the F-35 will be dramatically higher than predicted — 40 percent more than existing aircraft — and will put a serious squeeze on future budgets.
The defender of the F-35 program, who was quoted in the article, works for LockMart, the maker of the F-35, but you'll have to read the article carefully to discern that.

Can they make anything these days?

The Germans Could Take Them Now

If the Wehrmacht were to set foot on one of the Channel beaches now, they could conquer the country with a battalion of men armed with rusty Mausers.[1]
LONDON (AP) -- Officials will ban drinking contests in bars and force pub owners to offer patrons tap water in a bid to help tackle Britain's boozy culture, the government said Tuesday.
I gather that a ban on solid food is not too far in the future for the Great Nanny State.

[1] OK, that was terribly unfair. No self-respecting German soldier would have a rusty Mauser. They'd all be nicely blued with mirror-bright bores.

Murder Most Foul; the Coverup

I blogged last month about the apparent murder of three detainees by the guards at the Guantanamo Bay Prison in 2006.

More details are available from Harpers Magazine. The navy was running a "black prison" within the GITMO prison complex. Here is an excerpt:
Two years later, the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which has primary investigative jurisdiction within the naval base, issued a report supporting the account originally advanced by Harris, now a vice-admiral in command of the Sixth Fleet. The Pentagon declined to make the NCIS report public, and only when pressed with Freedom of Information Act demands did it disclose parts of the report, some 1,700 pages of documents so heavily redacted as to be nearly incomprehensible. The NCIS report was carefully cross-referenced and deciphered by students and faculty at the law school of Seton Hall University in New Jersey, and their findings, released in November 2009, made clear why the Pentagon had been unwilling to make its conclusions public. The official story of the prisoners’ deaths was full of unacknowledged contradictions, and the centerpiece of the report—a reconstruction of the events—was simply unbelievable.

According to the NCIS, each prisoner had fashioned a noose from torn sheets and T-shirts and tied it to the top of his cell’s eight-foot-high steel-mesh wall. Each prisoner was able somehow to bind his own hands, and, in at least one case, his own feet, then stuff more rags deep down into his own throat. We are then asked to believe that each prisoner, even as he was choking on those rags, climbed up on his washbasin, slipped his head through the noose, tightened it, and leapt from the washbasin to hang until he asphyxiated. The NCIS report also proposes that the three prisoners, who were held in non-adjoining cells, carried out each of these actions almost simultaneously.

Al-Zahrani, according to the report, was discovered first, at 12:39 a.m., and taken by several Alpha Block guards to the camp’s detention medical clinic. No doctors could be found there, nor the phone number for one, so a clinic staffer dialed 911. During this time, other guards discovered Al-Utaybi. Still others discovered Al-Salami a few minutes later. Although rigor mortis had already set in—indicating that the men had been dead for at least two hours—the NCIS report claims that an unnamed medical officer attempted to resuscitate one of the men, and, in attempting to pry open his jaw, broke his teeth.

The fact that at least two of the prisoners also had cloth masks affixed to their faces, presumably to prevent the expulsion of the rags from their mouths, went unremarked by the NCIS, as did the fact that standard operating procedure at Camp Delta required the Navy guards on duty after midnight to “conduct a visual search” of each cell and detainee every ten minutes. The report claimed that the prisoners had hung sheets or blankets to hide their activities and shaped more sheets and pillows to look like bodies sleeping in their beds, but it did not explain where they were able to acquire so much fabric beyond their tightly controlled allotment, or why the Navy guards would allow such an obvious and immediately observable deviation from permitted behavior. Nor did the report explain how the dead men managed to hang undetected for more than two hours or why the Navy guards on duty, having for whatever reason so grievously failed in their duties, were never disciplined.
There is more:
Now four members of the Military Intelligence unit assigned to guard Camp Delta, including a decorated non-commissioned Army officer who was on duty as sergeant of the guard the night of June 9–10, have furnished an account dramatically at odds with the NCIS report—a report for which they were neither interviewed nor approached.

All four soldiers say they were ordered by their commanding officer not to speak out, and all four soldiers provide evidence that authorities initiated a cover-up within hours of the prisoners’ deaths. Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman and men under his supervision have disclosed evidence in interviews with Harper’s Magazine that strongly suggests that the three prisoners who died on June 9 had been transported to another location prior to their deaths. The guards’ accounts also reveal the existence of a previously unreported black site at Guantánamo where the deaths, or at least the events that led directly to the deaths, most likely occurred.
There was evidence of a manual strangulation of at least one of the detainees. There was evidence of torture.

But none of this is overly surprising to anyone who has any knowledge of the track record of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. When the navy needs something swept under the rug, whether blamed on outsiders or on junior sailors, it is the NCIS that steps up to the plate and carries out the cover-up/whitewashing.

Inept

The Democrats will probably lose the MA special election today. As much as I do not want to see this happen, I have to admit that the party has it coming to them. They are about as inept a goup of political clowns as I can ever remember. Bush never had a supermajority in the Senate and he was able to ram most of his pro-rich, anti-people, environment-destroying, pro-tyranny agenda through the Congress. Even if the Democrats had 65 or 70 seats in the Senate, they would not be able to do shit.

When are the Democrats going to buy a clue and realize that the Republicans are not interested in governing, they are only interested in ruling? When are the Democrats going to wake up and realize that the other party is a party, not of adults, but of bratty, spoiled rotten children? The Republicans' conduct since they lost the majority has collectively been like a whiny kid deprived of his shiny new toy: All they do is pitch hissy fits and throw tantrums. There is no sense of responsibility on the part of the Republican party, no sense that there is a government or country to run. No, the Republicans have been taking the position of "if you don't do things our way, we'll go home and not play, so there, nyahh!"

It's pretty pathetic, but given that the de facto leaders of the GOP these days are a drug-abusing radio broadcaster and a know-nothing dropout, that should not come as a surprise. What is the real shocker is that the Democrats cannot do anything about it.

Jon Stewart had a good riff on the first point of this post last night, but the Daily Show computer geeks have been posting the clips later in the day than they used to, so check back later.

UPDATE:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Mass Backwards
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis


Stephen Colbert was pretty good, too:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Massachusetts Special Election
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorEconomy

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Double-Humped Camel

From Calculated Risk: Take a good look at this graph.

What the chart shows is that there is another wave of mortgage resets/defaults coming. Those are the "Option-ARM" five year mortgages, a class of mortgages that were almost as trashy as the sub-primes. Drop back five years from the peaks of the chart for the Option-ARM mortgages and you can see that those were the mortgages that were written at the very peak of the real estate bubble.

Which means three things:
  • First, those are probably going to reset at a rate that the homeowners will have trouble paying.
  • Second, and more importantly, the majority of those mortgages are now underwater (the homes are worth less than the mortgage balance). Banks will not re-finance underwater mortgages, not unless the homeowners can pay down the principal balance so that the new mortgage has a principal balance less than the loan amount.
  • Third, and maybe worse, those Option-ARM mortgages were likely all "securitized" into more collateral-debt obligations. Which means that there is another huge pile of CDOs out there that are going to be going toxic in the next two years.
Which will, in turn, mean that the very same banks which are now in the process of handing out whopping-ass bonuses will be back down in Washington, pleading for another rescue.

And, oh by the way, there likely will be another bad recession before the recovery from this one has gathered very much steam. But that only has an effect on us, not the Villagers in DC nor the rich, so once again, we will basically be told to go fuck ourselves.

Chutzpa, Pure and Simple

The GOP claims that it is upholding the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

That is revisionist history writ large. The "southern strategy" of the GOP was all about co-opting the white southern bigots. From the fact that outright sheet-wearing racists such as Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond jumped to the GOP when President Johnson signed the 1960s civil rights acts, to the praise for segregationists given by Trent Lott, the "states' rights" arguments of the GOP, and the persistent and unrelenting moves by the GOP to eliminate any and all programs that benefit poor people, the GOP has consistently embraced the very same people who were cheering at the assassination of Dr. King.

Does anyone not believe that Dr. King would have been in favor of childhood nutrition programs, improving public education, paying a decent wage to all workers and making health care available to all Americans?

By claiming to uphold the legacy of Dr. King, the GOP is urinating on his grave and claiming that they are only watering the shrubbery.

Yeah, This'll Play Well in the Moslem World

Trijicon, a manufacturer of rifle scope sights, has been inscribing references to New Testament verses on the scopes that they have been selling to the U.S. Military.

The management of that company has to be composed of either willfully blind religious freaks or they are actively trying to sabotage our country and get our soldiers killed. It has been a consistent propaganda point by our enemies that American forces are "crusaders", who are intent on converting Muslims to Christianity or just killing them. Stupid shit such as this only plays into and validates that propaganda point.

They are also, apparently, violating Federal procurement regulations. There has to be some heavy-weight penalties brought against them, or this will really stick.

Dumb arrogant fuckers.

(H/T)

You Can Purchase the Blasted Soul of Oxycontin Rush!

If the bidding on the festering soul of Pat Robertson is too rich for your blood (currently at $910), you can bid on Rush Limbaugh's. Proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders.

What the Hell?

They are landing 90 airplanes a day at Haiti, according to this press release from the US Southern Command. That is less than one airplane every fifteen minutes, given that the airport is "open for 24-hour operations".

Four landings an hour is a snooze-level operation. There has to be major problems with offloading and cargo handling.

Admittedly the airplanes were smaller and slower, but during the Berlin Blockade, airplanes were landing in Berlin between one and two a minute. True, there were three airports in Berlin, plus the Brits were landing seaplanes in the river, and there are two international airports in Haiti and only one heavy-jet capable runway in the whole nation. But there are other airports capable of handling C-130s.

The bottlenecks need to be solved, and fast. 90 flight a day into the country, even if they are all heavy-lift cargo flights (which they obviously aren't), isn't going to cut it.

(H/T)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

You Can Purchase the Dark, Festering Soul of Pat Robertson!

It is up for auction on e-Bay. (All profits go to the Red Cross.)

(H/T)

If

If you:
  • Think that the Bush years were a disaster for the nation;
  • You live in Massachusetts; and
  • You are not going to vote for Martha Coakley on Tuesday,
Then, arguably, you need to get your head realigned.

However, if you think that it is a good idea to elect a Birther, or if you are so disappointed that President Obama has not unwound eight years of Bush-Cheney criminality within one year that you feel a need to punish the entire nation, well, then do what you will and vote for this weasel, if you want.

Har!

"Twilight" meets "Modern Warfare".



I'm still of Buffy's persuasion on vampires: Kill them all. Why anyone seems to regard as romantic sentient evil creatures that regard us as food is beyond me.

Vampires regard as as prey. We have weapons. Any questions?

(H/T)

Dodd- Still a Weasel

Anyone who thought that by announcing his retirement from the Senate, that Christopher Dodd might shed his thrall to Wall Street and the Banks had best be disabused of that notion. For he is doing everything he can to accommodate the banking industry and to fuck the American people:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The head of the Senate Banking Committee may scrap the idea of creating a consumer financial protection agency, the Wall Street Journal said on Friday citing people familiar with the matter.

Such a decision would set back White House efforts to overhaul financial sector regulations.

Sen. Christopher Dodd has discussed abandoning the idea for an agency with key Senate Republicans as a way to secure a bipartisan deal on legislation, the newspaper said, citing the people.
The only reason to seek a bipartisan deal is because that way, nobody needs that untrustworthy old scumbag Lieberman in order to pass a bill. But the sad truth of the matter for the last century has been that the Republicans will line up, in lock-step, to protect the interests of the banks and to screw over working Americans. It was true in 1929, it was true when the Regan Administration deregulated the savings-and-loan industry (resulting in a massive wave of bank failures) and it has been true over the last decade (de-regulating the banks, refusal to regulate derivatives and mortgages), resulting in the worst economic downturn since the Depression.

In that regard, Dodd has been a virtual member of the Republican party. He, like all of the Republicans and a disgusting number of Democrats, was a supporter of the 2005 bankruptcy "reform" bill, which was a giant reach-around to the banks by the Congress. When it comes to looking out for the interests of the middle class, the working class and the poor, Dodd has consistently come down on the side of the banks and Wall Street. In no small degree, part of the responsibility for the looting of the economy by the financiers and the current recession can be laid at Dodd's feet.

He is a weasel. He won't be missed by Americans who were not already in George W. Bush's base (those who made over $300,000 a year).

The Christian Taliban

AKA "Christian Reconstructionism". Like the Taliban, the Reconstructionists also would execute non-believers. Disobedient children would be stoned. Slavery would be legalized.

They may be fringe Christian nut-groups. Yet there are no shortage of people who argue that the fringe Islamic nut-groups are representative of thw hole.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tar, Feather and Pitchfork Stocks May Be a Good Investment

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Fuck the big boys. Move your money. (Only because it may be a felony to bust a cap in their asses.)

Acting

Gabrielle Anwar, on the USA Network series Burn Notice, plays a world-weary, trigger-happy IRA gunwoman and demolitions expert. For whatever she did during the Troubles, she cannot return home to Ireland.

Pauley Perrette, on the CBS and USA Network series NCIS, plays Abby Sciuto, a Goth-loving forensic technician and computer geek.

Now the kicker: Perrette is older by almost a year.

Don't believe me?

Check the bios for Perrette and Anwar.

Nice to See Those "Compassionate Conservatives" At Work

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) was showing some of that old "compassion" that conservatives are so known for:
"Illegal immigrants from Haiti have no reason to fear deportation, but if they are deported, Haiti is in great need of relief workers, and many of them could be a big help to their fellow Haitians."
Thankfully, at least this time around, there seems to be no shortage of Republicans who see things otherwise.