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

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Caturday

Jake was waiting for dinner. The mat upon which he was lying was one of the feeding stations.



George has appropriated a cardboard box.



I brought the box home in order to make a cheap-ass boresighting rig.



You take the bolt out, look down the bore and line the bore up on something. Then you look through the scope and adjust it so that the scope is on in windage and parallel to the line of sight in elevation. Or, if you want to cheat, shine a laser pointer down through the barrel and look through the scope. The laser's dot should be right under a vertical crosshair and a little below the horizontal one.

It works well enough to ensure that, when you go to the range to dial it in, your first shot will be on the paper.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Quote of the Day

From Overheard in NY:
Upper East Side girl reading book about knights: Mommy, what does our family crest look like?

Upper East Side mom: Poor people being crushed by a boot.

Dick Cheney Must Wonder Why He Never Thought of This One

In Russia, the cops can now arrest people and throw them in jail if they think that they might commit a crime.

(Not that the FSB gave a frak about the rule of law in the first place.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

And the Pearls Will Be Clutched, Oh My

The New York Times goes to an Appleseed Shoot. Of course, they found some anti-government loons and they also found some people to bemoan the fact that Americans are training with rifles.

Going to one is on my "to do" list.

(Appleseed's website)

The Krugman Rule

It would seem to be this: When Paul Krugman speaks about economic policy and trends, pay attention.

The Federal Reserve finally may be taking the threat of a deflationary cycle seriously.

About fraking time, Krugman has been warning us that we are at risk for a "lost decade" of deflation for over two years.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are bleating about deficits and slashing government spending. Which didn't work the last time around and won't this time. But as the Republicans demonstrated two years ago, they are perfectly willing to wreck this nation in order to remain pure to their ideology,

Continuous Active Sonar?

A company called Alion Science and Technology thinks it has a way for surface ships to better detect diesel submarines: Continuous Active Sonar.

There is another name for a continuous sonar: A targeting beacon.

Active sonar can be detected a hell of a lot further away than its own detection range, in the same way that you can see somebody using a flashlight a lot further away than they can illuminate you with it.

Besides that, if continuous sonar is put into service, I would look for the day when a potential adversary develops a sonar-homing torpedo. Anti-radiation missiles make continuously operating a radar during wartime an iffy proposition (at least against an enemy with the resources to field ARMs). Torpedoes that home on the noise of a ship were first used in World War II, they are not a new technology. Tuning the receiver to look for the frequencies of a continuously active sonar would not be terribly hard, I imagine.

Hell, the submarine doesn't even have to be there, if they seeded the area where the ships are expected to operate with a form of CAPTOR mine.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Would Somebody Please Remind the Administration That Dick Cheney Is Not in Charge?

For it sure seems like it at times.
The Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual's Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation.
If I wanted a president that treated privacy concerns as though they were soap bubbles and kowtowed to every request by the Stasi FBI for more and more surveillance powers, I'd have voted for Grampaw Grumpy and Bible Spice.

If you think that the FBI might be overusing "national security letters", the "double-top secret we doan need no steenkin' search warrant" letters, maybe it's because they have issued hundreds of thousands of them.

This fuckery needs to stop.

Yet Another Ignorant Right-Wing Asshat

Elizabeth Hasselbeck:
The co-host of "The View" said older women who have lead heterosexual lives are choosing same-sex partners because men their age are chasing younger women.
Right. And all of the gay men are gay because they can't find a woman to sleep with?

Well, considering that she seems to adopt the line of the all religious conservatives that it is the fault of women if they are harassed (until it backfired on her), I shouldn't be surprised.

Shows What the Hell I Know

If you have ever watched the movie Shooter, you may have noticed the scene where Mark Wallberg's character is camouflaging his rifle with a couple of cans of spray paint.

I've always cringed at that scene (more from the idea of graffiting up a fine rifle), but it seems that is the way things are done. The one tip from the Firing Line is to apply a coat of Matte Clear as the top coat for durability.

Best Leak Ever

Jon Stewart takes on the idiots in cable news as well as the insanity of what is going on in Afghanistan.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Best Leak Ever
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Fareed Zaharia was on and also talked about the clusterfuck in Afghanistan:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Fareed Zakaria
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Thought on Self-Defense

I was asked, not very long ago, why I thought it would be permissible to kill someone in self-defense.

This is my thought: If I am in a self-defense situation, then the decision that a life may be taken has already been made by the other guy. What I insist on, and why I would use a weapon, is to have some say on whose life is forfeit.

(Or, if you like, if you are going to call the tune, you had better be able to pay the band.)

I'm Going to Buy This One!

The Most Powerful Idea in the World: Steam engines!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
William Rosen
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party


Oh, yeah, and there was also this one.

Kafka-Land in the Caribbean

That is how the Department of Defense operates at Guantanamo.

In essence, there are no rules, they just make shit up as they go along. They might as well all of a sudden specify that all proceedings will be conducted in Xhosa or Mongolian, for nobody would be a bit surprised if they did just that.

zOMG!!!! Airplanes Can Crash!!!

That is basically the thrust of USA Today's shocking expose that, yes, if 10,000 airplanes fly into the EAA Oshkosh fly-in each year, that a few will end up crashing during their journeys.

I presume that tomorrow, USA Today will have a story that pedestrians occasionally get hit by vehicles, to be followed up by their hard-hitting story that the moon is not really eaten by demons during a lunar eclipse.

It is stuff such as that story which helps persuade most pilots that "reporter" is a synonym for "moron".

Leaking the Obvious

The folks at Stratfor are pretty much saying the same thing as everyone else: Other than the point that the Taliban has used MANPADS, what is in the WikiLeaks document dump is a lot of detailed data that confirms what everyone who has been paying attention to the Afghan War already knows:
The WikiLeaks portray a war in which the United States has a vastly insufficient force on the ground that is fighting a capable and dedicated enemy who isn’t going anywhere. The Taliban know that they win just by not being defeated, and they know that they won’t be defeated. The Americans are leaving, meaning the Taliban need only wait and prepare.
The article is worth reading, though, because it lays out why Pakistan has maintained relations with the Taliban and why it is in the national interest of both Pakistan and the U.S. to not obsess over that point.[1]

The U.S. cannot win this war, not with the level of involvement that the American people will tolerate. The GOP will fight any taxes to help pay for an expanded war.[2] We cannot get enough troops into Afghanistan without a draft (and without greatly expanding basic training to make it into a weight reduction clinic).

What remains to be discusses is how and when we are going to leave.

We were at this point in 1968 during the Vietnam War. Roughly 50% of the Americans killed in that war died as the Nixon Administration dithered and floundered for an exit.

We should try to do better this time around.

[1]The NY Times has an editorial today that calls on Pakistan to end its "double game". That the editorial writers in the Times even think that the Taliban will be crushed demonstrates the Times's editorial board's usual lack of grounding in reality.
[2] The deficit hawks in the GOP have closed their eyes to the fact that both of the Bush Wars have been paid for entirely by deficit spending. For the first time since the Revolution, the Federal government has made not even a fig leaf of levying any form of war taxation.

Monday, July 26, 2010

You Cannot Resist the Dark Side of the Force
And NO DYE PACKS!!!

Darth Vader robbed a bank on Long Island last week.

Well, That Put a Smile on My Face This Morning

I picked up my vacation mail today. In there was a mailer from the Brady Campaign.

I don't know what it cost them to send that to me, between the cost of postage and paper and the envelope. Obviously they get junk mail rates, as if there is anything that would qualify as "junk mail", it would be anything from those folks.

But whatever it cost them, I took distinct pleasure in ripping it up and tossing it into the recycling bin.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

MANPADS in Afghanistan

The Taliban have used man-portable surface to air missiles to shoot down at least one helicopter. This comes from a Wikileaks document dump to the NY Times, Der Spiegel and the Guardian.

One piece that is no surprise to anyone who has paid any attention to that war is that Pakistan is playing off both sides.

The Global Vampire Squid and the Other Banksters

At the same time that the global economy was teetering on the edge of collapse, the banksters had the guts to give themselves two billion dollars in bonuses for, well, I have no idea. It certainly can't be for doing a good job. The only people who might have thought that they were doing a good job would be those emotionally invested in the idea that the economic system should collapse: Marxists, acolytes of Ayn Rand and goldbugs.

Meanwhile, it has come to light that Goldman Sachs (a/k/a the Global Vampire Squid was lying when it said that if AIG had defaulted, that Goldman Sachs would have had few losses. The AIG rescue, which has cost well over a hundred billion dollars, looks more and more like it was engineered to be a hidden bailout of Goldman Sachs and the other banksters.

I suspect that the NY Fed (then headed by Timothy Geithner, now our Treasury Secretary) had its fingerprints all over that deal.

Plant Version of a Dinosaur

Live trees, thought to have gone extinct around the time of the dinosaurs.

Presidents

Can you, from memory, name all of the American presidents? You have ten minutes.

(I missed two.)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Science Fiction- Don't Forget the First Word

I have a personal rule for how I view SF movies and shows and it is this: They get to break one fundamental rule of science. Stretching doesn't count, it has to be shattering a rule.

By that yardstick, generally the most often broken rule is faster-than-light travel, whether jumping to "hyperspace" or "warp drive" or just jumping from one place to another. Unless the action takes place wholly within a star system (Firefly/Serenity), then if the flick or show is a space opera, it has to travel to the stars.

One I'll pretty much spot everyone, for cost reasons, is artificial gravity. It is probably prohibitively expensive for most films to shoot an entire movie aboard a vomit comet. It doesn't have to be that way, Babylon 5 had rotating portions on both the space station and the Earth ships to generate gravity, though I don't recall them ever showing that objects would not drop exactly straight down.

I'm less willing to grant leeway for instantaneous communication over vast distances. EM comms can't go faster than the speed of light.

The more they add on, the less I care for it. Matter transporters are a device that set me off: The idea of dematerializing someone, shooting the information across thousands or millions of miles and then putting the transportee back together with such accuracy that every neuron is exactly duplicated and there is no damage whatsoever seems, well, fantastic beyond belief. Additionally, they have to displace every molecule of everything in the volume where the transportee is rematerialized. That's just all a bit much. Beyond that, since what is being sent is information ("build this thing over there"), what's to stop it from building duplicates or thousands of duplicates?

Noises in space: In space, nobody can hear you scream. They also can't hear you shoot guns, blow shit up or zoom by.

The more they add on, the more it diverges from science fiction to fantasy. By my yardstick, Star Wars was fantasy. "The Force" tipped that over the edge. Hell the Lord of the Ring Trilogy probably came closer to following the laws of science than did Star Wars.

Maybe the single best SF film made, at least as far as the science was concerned, was The Andromeda Strain.

The Disappearing Flash Fiction Challenge

I don't know what happened to it, but my entry is here.

Caturday; Guest Edition

This is Ozzarella, also known as Ozzie. She is very friendly.



Max is a polydactyl kitten. She was abandoned last year by some asswipe. She is also friendly, but not as much as Ozzie.



Two other cats in that house were nowhere to be seen.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Glenn Beck's Targeting Service

Media Matters puts forth the proposition that the asswipe in California who got into a gunfight with the cops (on his way to shoot liberals) got his information on whom he should go kill from Glenn Beck.

Daniel Schorr, R.I.P.

Daniel Schorr has died at age 93.

I believe he was one of the few living reporters who had worked for Edward R. Murrow.

Don't Let the Screen Door Hit You, On Your Way Out

Oh, please do.
Rep. Zach Wamp (R-03) suggested TN and other states may have to consider seceding from the union if the federal government does not change its ways regarding mandates.

"I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government," said Wamp during an interview with Hotline OnCall.
Virtually all of the states that bleat about this get far more from the Federal government than they pay in. They get all sorts of pork and other bennies.

So fine. Go. You'll get nothing more from us. We'll put the sort of border security fence that you've been slavering for, but it'll go around your nation of morons and we'll make a shitload of improved SM-70s to make certain that you stay in your new nation.

Oh, and as for all of those Federal benefits that the new citizens of the Cracker Republic have been collecting? Forget about it. We're not going to pay you seditious bastards a penny.

Have fun!

(H/T)

Scum of the Earth

The CEO of RightHaven.

As well as the CEO of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Very Short Zombie Story

Enjoy. (It's not mine.)

I Can't Wait for the Rangel Bleg E-mail

A few years ago, I gave money to the guy who ran against that batshit crazy congresswoman from Minnesota. [1] As a result, my email address seems to be one of those traded around by Democrats and I get "please, please send me money" e-mails from more and more of them.

I expect that now ol' Charlie Rangel is officially in trouble, that I'll be getting more from him.

Generally, I don't care for term limits. To my mind, imposing term limits only says "we don't trust you stupid idiot voters to do what is necessary". Rangel is, however, a poster child for term limits. I feel that he is the sort of politician who grows into a sense of entitlement and, whatever he can glom onto, he thinks he has it coming to him. He may not have taken anywhere near as much in "tips" as Former Congressman Randy "Call Me Inmate 94405-198" Cunningham, but a smaller-time crook is still a crook.

I'll shed no tears for you, Chuckie.

[1]He lost.

Northworst Airlines

Northwest Airlines flouted over a thousand safety directives. The FAA played ball with NWA for a decade (or longer) and never brought down the hammer on them.

One of the airworthiness directives that the FAA winked at was one that required inspection of the landing gear to make sure that it didn't fall off.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Working on the Chain Gang; BP Edition

British Petroleum is using prison labor in Louisiana to clean up from its massive oil spill. Something like 20,000 convicts are being forced to work for BP, 12 hours a day, six days a week.

BP is engaging in this level of fuckery because inmates can't complain very much, inmate labor is cheap, and BP gets some big-ass tax credit or writeoff for using modern-day slave labor for the cleanup. Meanwhile, BP is running commercial after commercial in which some rat-faced good ole boy is promising that "we'll make this right (with slave labor"."

Just when you'd think that BP has plumbed the depths of corporate evil, they surprise everyone by drilling even lower into the depths of iniquity.

(H/T)

Cat & Vacation Blogging

I spent a good party of yesterday at a rifle range with two nephews of a good friend. The two boys are ages 20 and 16. Neither had ever shot a rifle before.

I started them off with a Savage Mk II in .22lr. (Mine has open sights, though.)



This was to go through the basics of shooting. (The range was benchrest-only.)

Then it was on to the M-1. Both of the boys have played "Call of Duty" a lot. They were surprised at both the weight of the rifle and the recoil.



They also shot this rifle, which is my "frankenrifle". It is a .30-06 made up of an Interarms Mk-X long Mauser action and stock, with a FN surplus Mauser .30-06 barrel and a Weaver K-4.



Ammo used was CCI minimags and some surplus M2 ball that I had purchased many years ago. One of the surplus rounds blew out its primer pocket, locking up the M-1's action. A little force on the operating rod handle and the action popped open, ejecting the offending case.

I lost track of the number of .30-06 rounds we went through, but it was a lot. I kept telling one of the boys to snug the rifles into his shoulder, which he wasn't too good at doing, so he should have a bit of bruising by now. He also wasn't operating the bolt on the Mauser anywhere near as firmly as he should have; I kept telling him "don't baby it, it's steel-on-steel, you're not going to break it." He kept having to manually clear the action. The oldest was soon operating the bolts on the rifles like a pro. He shot very well for a noob.

I was impressed with their sense, as both of them switched back and forth between the centerfire and rimfire rifles. Neither seemed to be letting testosterone rule things. I only shot the Savage a few times at the start to demonstrate proper positioning. They did the rest of the shooting and I just kept a close eye on them. Good kids and we had a good time.

I didn't make them suffer through the joys of field-stripping and cleaning, that's for the next time.

So I'm staying at a friend's house. I have the cats with me, there are five total in the house. The other night, she saw a ball in her bedroom and kicked it over for one of her cats, who ran off. She then picked it up and discovered that it was a turd that George had dropped. She was outraged and, as she told me what had happened, I had a devil of a time not laughing. Today, she finally admitted that it was funny.

The first night was rough, with Gracie running back and forth on the bed and growling at all of the other cats. But she settled down soon enough.

Top Secret America, Part III

Not a whole lot of surprises, other than the sheer scale of the Empire of Spookdom.

Hey, MapQuest, Google Driections, Route 4 Me, and All the Rest

You guys really ought to figure out a way to set the directions engines so that they are not telling me how I need to get off my own frakking street. There are at least three steps, maybe more, that are so patently obvious that they should only offered to people who parrot Rush Limbaugh.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

So Why Not Fire Tom Vilsack?

It will still be a terrible injustice unless they give Shirley Sherrod her old job back.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday he had offered to rehire fired department official Shirley Sherrod, and the White House extended a full-throated apology to her, calling her ouster as the result of an out-of-context video an "injustice."

"It was a decision I regret having made in haste," Vilsack said at a news conference late Wednesday. He said he had offered her a "unique" position.Sherrod told the Associated Press that she's considering the offer.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs conceded Wednesday afternoon that the government had acted rashly and without all the facts when it sought Sherrod's resignation for racially themed comments she made during a recent speech to the NAACP.
Unless, of course, the "unique position" is being the one who gets to tell Vilsack to go home until he grows a pair.

Wingnuts With Guns

Yet another nut case was on a mission to kill liberals.

But hey, nobody on the Right is willing to stand up to the Limbaugh, the Becks, the Hannities, the Dobbses and say: "You clowns bear some moral responsibility for this shit. Tone it down."

You won't hear a word from the Right about how their rabble-rousing rhetoric might be inspiring the crazies to do things.

Which leads me to conclude that they are just fine with it.

Oh, and if this guy were a Muslim, you'd be hearing "terrorism, terrorist, a religion of murder" and all of that crap from the Wingnut bloviators on cable news. But this asswipe apparently is a good ol' `Murrican white dude, so those words won't be spoken about him.

(H/T)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gutless, Spineless and No Balls At All.

The Obama Administration, which got stampeded by the Right into another firing. There is more at TPM.

Jesus Effing Gawd, how stupid/scared are these folks? Some Right-wing hack posts a severely edited video and the Obama Administration fires Shirley Sherrod without even a modicum of fact-checking? Those fuckers in the Ratfuck Brigade will make up lie after lie and the stupid patsies in this Administration fall for it each and every time.

Don't those idiots realize, by now, that anything that airs on Fox News has to be suspected as propaganda and must be treated as being a lie until proven otherwise? They got played like a cheap fiddle and a good woman got fired because the brass panicked.

Somebody better send Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack a case of night lights and a fresh blankie, maybe he won't jump at shadows so fast the next time around.

Time to Shut Down the Gusher of Money

Part II of the Top Secret America series.

Contractors whose job it to kill people are called "mercenaries".

Beyond that, the clear implication of the series so far is that there is zero accountability for the hundreds of billions of dollars that are being blown on all of this security folderol.

About What We Have Come to Expect From British Petroleum

Seems that they were pumping shit into the well as a method of disposing of stuff.

It is becoming clearer and clearer that BP is a toxic mix of incompetence and ineptitude, leaved with a flagrant disregard for both good safety practices and the law.

Monday, July 19, 2010

How Very Appropriate

The Department of Homeland Stupidity Security is building a huge-ass headquarters on the grounds of an abandoned mental hospital.

The WaPo's first installment on their series about Top Secret America is up. The clear implication is that there are nearly a million people who are generating untold volumes of intelligence reports, most of which are of dubious worth and 99% of which will never be read by anybody.

I have no idea how many hundreds of billions of dollars are being blown because agencies like the DHS and DoD and all of those faceless contractors are suffering from edifice complexes. But the existence of all of those shadowy contractors and black-funded projects probably pose a far greater security threat to this nation than any group of terrorists living in the hills of Yemen and Afghanistan.

Quote of the Day

Eric Idle on Sarah Palin: "What's wrong with you guys? Bush wasn't bad enough?"



(Starts at 2:30)

(H/T)

Prison Nation; NY Edition

The best private-contract medical care that New York City can provide for its inmates:
The doctor in charge of medical care for 12,000 New York City jail inmates abruptly resigned last week after questions arose about his professional certification, forcing city officials and executives at the company that employed the doctor to race to find a temporary replacement.

The doctor, Trevor P. Parks, resigned on Wednesday, a day after a reporter called the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which oversees the delivery of medical care to jail inmates, with questions concerning Dr. Parks’s board certification for internal medicine.
I like the metric that the contracting company uses for whether they are delivering good medical care: Hown many inmates have died. That's sort of like a mechanic bragging about his skills because the cars he works on aren't scrapped right away.

Meanwhile, over at the state level, the operation of the juvenile detention system is so shitty that four of the prisons are being subjected to a Federal consent decree. 26 "youth facilities" (ie, prisons) and the state doesn't employ a single full-time shrink.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

It Is High Time That We Take These Profiteering Goons...

...and start lopping off some heads.

In this case, one evil fuck, John S. Carter, looted the USS Olympia museum of nearly a million dollars. But that was just the cash he stole, he diverted far more, including something like two million to buy a residence and furnish it for the president of the museum (himself).

Money that was largely diverted from the maintenance of the ship. And, as a result of this man's thievery, the USS Olympia, Armored Cruiser No. 6, Commodore Dewey's flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay, may have to be scrapped or sunk. Unless, that is, nearly 20 million dollars can be raised, in these tough economic times, to save her.

Carter is doing fifteen years in a minimum-security Federal prison, he is due for release in 2021. Fucker should have been given a sit-down in Old Sparky.

The Intelligence Community: In the Thrall of the Contractors

First there was a contractor named Mike McConnell. He was a big wheel in the intelligence contracting biz and then he became the DNI, cementing the primacy of contractors in the intelligence community. A book about it, Spies for Hire, was published two years ago and sank without a trace.

Only now, the WaPo is about to go over the same ground. And the contractors and their butt-monkey in the Federal intel community are nervous.

Note that their big concern is being able to spin the story. That's all. Those bastards routinely run roughshod over the rule of law and the Constitution for their own greedy motives and they don't like that a spotlight is going to be trained on them.

Oh, and you might have noticed that you won't find the Constitutionally-concerned Teabaggers worried aobut any of this. No sirree.

What if the Tea Party Was Black?

The answer is probably obvious. If the Tea Party was a Black group, ATF'd be hamming down the doors. The FBI would have the state organizers under close surveillance. The local cops would be hassling the shit out of them.



(H/T)

Teabaggers & Regulation

Go look.

An Entire Series About the Government Breaking the Law

"Covert Affairs" on the USA Network. The action supposedly takes place in the "Domestic Protection Division" of the CIA, which would be amusing if not for the point that the CIA is not supposed to operate on U.S. soil.

I can see why the show is based on that premise, though, as location shooting overseas would be expensive and other nations might not be too thrilled at the idea of a show about CIA operations operating in their borders. But this show, whether unintended or not, this show makes the idea of the CIA operating within the U.S. more acceptable.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

This Guy Obviously Plans On Never Getting Laid Again

I was waiting at a stoplight behind this induhvidual on his moroncycle. As Connecticut is a "dash your brains out on the road, see if we care" state, he had his helmet strapped to the back of his machine.



This is a close-up of the sticker he had on it.



Any woman with an ounce of self-respect who saw that sticker, having planned on going for a ride with him, would find the nearest blunt object and use it to good effect. Or, since this fool had Kentucky plates, she just might shoot him.

Cue the Wingnut Noise Machine in 3...2...1...

zOMG!!!1!! It's just not terrorists having babies in the U.S., now it's the Perfidious Yellow Peril!!!
SHANGHAI -- What can $1,475 buy you in modern China? Not a Tiffany diamond or a mini-sedan, say Robert Zhou and Daisy Chao. But for that price, they guarantee you something more lasting, with unquestioned future benefits: an American passport and U.S. citizenship for your new baby.
Let the freak-out commence!

The Big Boys Hate Competition

And maybe that is why state agriculture departments are trying to shut down private food clubs.

"Free market" and "competition" are just worship words mouthed by the larger players. They sure don't believe in any of that nonsense.

Caturday

An all-George Caturday today.

For some reason, he decided that he would like to lounge around in Jake's carrier.  Maybe because it has a skylight?



Possibly. Jake's carrier has one towel in it, George's has layers of fleece. So either it was the "this is different" or it was the skylight.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Blackwater Retail Update

The proposed store in Salem, CT showed no sign of life last week, or any hint that it was going to open anytime soon under any name. The place looked dead and abandoned.

We Are All So Frakked (Unless You Are Younger Than Age 10)

From the Brookings Institution via TPM, comes this chart which compares how many jobs will need to be created in order to get back to where we were before the Chimpy-Greenspan Recession began against the rates of job creation in past recoveries.


If the job creation rate for each and every month is as good as it was for 2005 on average (which was the best year for job creation during the Reign of the Tsar of the Baboons), it will take 140 months to crate as many jobs as were lost in this recession.

That's right, a skosh over eleven years.

At the highest rate of job creation in the Clinton years, it will still take five years to get those jobs back. Supposedly the recovery rate after each recession since the end of the Second World War has been weaker than the one preceding it, so as a nation, we may not be back to where we were until 2025 or so.

Which would put this recovery on a pace with the recovery after the `29-`32 crash, or at least what it would have been if Hitler and Tojo hadn't gotten us on a program of truly massive government spending.

Mindset: Women as Priests are Equivalent to Fucking Children

No, I am not kidding about this. Not in the slightest. That is the mindset of the Church of Rome:
The Vatican issued revisions to its internal laws on Thursday making it easier to discipline sex-abuser priests, but caused confusion by also stating that ordaining women as priests was as grave an offense as pedophilia.
"Misogynistic" doesn't even come close to it. This is women-hating at a level that even Calvin didn't reach.

Why that church doesn't die out as fast as the Shakers have is a mystery.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Goldman Sachs Sez: "We Did Nuttin' Wrong, See! We're As Pure As Da Driven Snow, See!"

But they are going to pay out $550 million to make the SEC charges go away.

Right, the Global Vampire Squid was innocent as a new-born babe. Which is why they are paying out that much cash to settle the SEC's case against them.

On the other hand, half-a-billion or so to those thieves is chump change. They probably expense that much a year in food and booze. A proper fine against those bastards would be $30 billion or so.

Congressional Republicans Want to Give Wall Street Another Chance to Wreck the Global Economy

That is the position of most Senate Republicans, who want to let the banksters operate in a rules-free environment.

Because, you know, it worked so well in 2008 and in 1929 when the banks and Wall Street were allowed to do whatever the frak they felt like!

Torture Nation; UK Edition

The British government tortured its own citizens.

At least the Brits are moving to clean up their own house. Tony Blair could end up with his retirement in one of the UK's involuntary guest houses.

As for the U.S., not so much. We're going to have to wait for one of the principal architects of torture to be so foolish as to transit through the airport in a nation that does not wink its eyes at war criminals.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Barack Obama and His Administration Are Economic Idiots and Gutless Cowards

Hell, for all of the crap being run by the Right about "zOMG, Teh Socialism!!!1!", the truth of the matter is that Obama might as well be a Republican.

His deficit hawk act in the middle of a recession with the recovery stalling out is an atrociously bad idea. Not that it matters all that much, not when the opposition has politicians who are frothing at the bit to cut taxes for the wealthy while making sure that those at the other end of the economic pyramid are ground further and further into the dirt.

It would be nice to see Obama stand for something, to come out swinging, win or lose, and fight for those who are getting the short end of the stick. But Jesus Motherfucking Gawd on Roller Skates, he makes Harry "No Balls" Reid look like a total bad-ass. Neither one of them have a tenth of the political guts of Nancy Pelosi.

I weep for this country.

There was a time when, no matter how dark the day was, the future was bright. Those days are gone and may be gone forever. Ever since the 1960s, it seems that things have kind of jumped the rails. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the implosion of the USSR seems to have brought even more confusing strife to the world. The Internet is nice, but the signal-to-noise ratio is abysmal. Cable TV is hundreds of channels of bullshit heaped on bullshit. Whoever conceived of reality shows should be drawn-and-quartered as the guest star of the last ever reality show.

People seem to be meaner and nastier. Society seems to be becoming more barbaric. "Please" and "thank you" seem to be as rare in usage as spats. Common courtesy and manners are almost extinct. You don't see people giving up seats on the subway or bus to those who obviously cannot stand. The men who think that it is good manners to wear their hats indoors should have those hats pinned to their heads with 20-penny nails.

The political noise level has exploded. It used to be that legislators would horse-trade and cooperate to get the people's business done, but now they seem to just yell at each other (for pickup by C-Span and the news channels). The clowns who agreed to televise the House and the Senate should be skinned alive and thrown into vats of hot salt water.

The extremists, especially on the Right, are in ascendancy. The legislators are running afraid. Those who did what needed to be done two years ago to avert another depression (bailing out the banks) are being punished for putting pragmatism ahead of ideological purity. The economy is stalling and it is on the verge of a deflationary cycle (if it is not already in one, as BadTux thinks it is) because the budget hawks will not permit the spending necessary to jump-start the economy. Obama's stimulus package was too small, it was like trying to turn a stampede with a bamboo switch, and the idiots on the Right are yammering that not doing enough is proof of the concept failing (which is sort of like using a plane crash to say "man cannot fly").

Meanwhile, the rich are amassing dynastic trusts because some of the greediest states repealed their rules against perpetuities. More and more money is being concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people and tens of millions of morons who are at the bottom edge of the economic scale are cheering them on.

Because of the Right, in refusing to permit anything meaningful to reform the banking system, we are one good crash away from the entire system coming down in ashes. And yet the brainwashed devotees of El Drugbo and the Weeping Nazi think that is all just fine.

I don't feel any undercurrent of optimism in this country. What "optimism" exists smells more like disguised desperation. Between the economy and climate change and peak oil and impending water shortages, I feel a real sense that the next few generations are going to have a far harder life. I look at my siblings' children and I feel like weeping for them and their future.

We are so screwed.

Happy Bastille Day!


Allons enfants de la Patrie
Le jour de gloire est arrivé !
Contre nous de la tyrannie
L'étendard sanglant est levé
Entendez-vous dans nos campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras.
Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes!

Aux armes citoyens
Formez vos bataillons
Marchons, marchons
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons

Accountability for Official Murder

It is happening in New Orleans, where more cops and former cops were charged with killing people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

But if the DoJ is serious about stuff like this, then isn't it high time that they also look into the killings and torturing done by officials following the 9-11 attacks? The justification for the Danziger Bridge shootings and Bush's pro-torture policy are pretty much identical: "Things were chaotic." we need to clean up our own mess here. Otherwise, outsiders are going to do it for us, just as is now happening in New Orleans, where the state of Louisiana largely turned a blind eye to the killings by the NOPD.

And why doesn't the NY Times post a link to the Federal indictment on its web page? They have the one for the cops charged with shooting and killing Henry Glover and then burning his body inside of his car, which was another post-Katrina murder.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

And If You Stay Longer, Kids...

... Mr. Gibson will tell you what he thinks about Mexicans, women, Russians and how the Holocaust never happened!!

demotivational posters - HEY KIDS, WAIT UP...

(And then he'll probably try to sell you a timeshare in his new development at Crossburning Acres...)

How Many Nuclear Weapons Have Been Detonated So Far?

The answer may surprise you: 2,053



The number may be low by at least one test, as the suspected Israeli/South African test(s) in 1979 are not counted.

The US detonated just over half the total number of nuclear weapons (1,031 tests, two combat uses). It was awfully nice of the Aussies to let the Brits blow up a bunch of nuclear weapons on their territory, though.

(H/T)

zOMG!!! A Cop Was Touched By a Bubble!!!

And so, the cop arrested the woman who was blowing bubbles for assaulting his august person.

Police fuckery has crossed the border into Soviet Kanada.

Update: If you read through the comments on Turley's post, you'll find out the identity of the cop who was so violated by being touched by a soap bubble.

TSA Won't Be Reading This Post

Because they are blocking "controversial opinions". After all, we simply cannot have any of the drones at TSA (or, presumably, the DBP) reading anything that might cause them to question what the fuck they are doing or learn that they are the second most despised Federal agency in existence.

(H/T)

Quote of the Day

Heh. Heh. Heh.
George W. Bush did not intend to get bogged down in a guerrilla war in Iraq. What he intended and what happened were two different things because his view of American and Iraqi capabilities were not tied to reality.

A Tale of Two Oil Giants

First there is British Petroleum, which pretty much fits the definition of a "rogue company."[1] They take lots of risks with safety and good practices and, when things go wrong, they don't learn a fucking thing. BP's management is a toxic stew of both arrogance and stupidity. As much as they proclaimed that safety was their number 1 priority, that was just lip service. Safety, in practice, was about the very last thing that BP cared about. Four years after a refinery explosion that killed 15 workers (and which earned BP $21 million in fines), the safety inspectors went back to the same refinery, found even more safety problems than existed at the time of the explosion and fined BP $87 million. It is clear that the institutional attitude towards safety at BP is "well, shit happens".

Then there is Exxon, now ExxonMobil. The Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska 21 years ago and dumped over ten million gallons of oil into the water. The environmental damage is being felt even today. Exxon's reputation took a well-justified beating. Exxon's brass decided that they did not want to be a part of a similar catastrophe and Exxon changed. They set a goal of making the company into the gold standard of safety in the oil industry.

Exxon also drilled a very deep well in the Gulf of Mexico, one that was six miles deep. They spent over 18 months doing it and over $150 million. But when Exxon's drillers thought the conditions were too severe and that the risk was too high, Exxon's management ordered them to cap the well and Exxon walked away.

BP seemed to believe, and may still do, that with a few pronouncements about safety from their corporate tower in London, that magical managerial fairy dust would be dispensed throughout the company and everyone would follow safety rules. But it is clear that whatever BP's stated safety policies may be, their actions and practices on the ground had little regard for it.

There is way to make safety work in a company. But it takes a hard-nosed attitude and even harder enforcement. BP is even now basically letting OSHA do the safety inspections and discover the problems. But if BP wants to truly change, then they have to find their own problems and fix them on their own.

BP won't ever be a safe company until they break the code on that.

UPDATE: And neither will TransOcean.

[1] They also sell shitty gasoline.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Firefly, `80s Version

If it had aired back then, these might have been the opening credits:



(H/T)

Stupidity to the Right of Me, Stupidity to the Left of Me,
Idiots Rhetorically Volleyed and Thundered

People on the Right are fuming over the bank bailouts in 2008. On the other side of the spectrum, the governor of Massachusetts is pushing a "one gun a month" bill while Mayor Daley and his butt-monkeys on the Chicago City Council had a meltdown over losing in the Supreme Court. You can find no shortage of people moaning about the fact that it is now sort of legal to carry a gun in a church in Louisiana.

First, I'll deal with the morons on the Left.

I've been paying some attention to the Second Amendment issues for a very long time, now and one thing that I can say for certain is this: When it comes to the Second Amendment, most liberals are both hypocritical and entirely full of shit. The hypocrisy is easy: The Second Amendment is the only one in the Bill of Right that a lot of liberals not only will not defend, but run away from. Dedication to liberties and civil rights seems to have its limits.

What business is it of the government, any government, whether or not parishioners can carry concealed weapons in their houses of worship? Why not leave that to the people in charge of them? If the parish priest or the board of managers or whomever is running the show doesn't want guns there, fine. If they don't mind, also fine. But it should not be up to the state to decide, not after the state permits concealed carry.

As to them being full of shit:

Twenty years ago, a great many states prohibited carrying concealed firearms. One of the handful that did was Connecticut and there were no bloodbaths and Wild-West shootouts on the streets of Hartford or New Canaan.

But that didn't stop the various chiefs of police groups and the anti-gun whackaloons from opposing permitting concealed carry in every state where it came up. It was the same "parade of horribles" wail everywhere they lost the argument from Florida in the 1980s to Kansas a few years ago, "the streets will run with blood" as people legally carrying concealed firearms engaged in shootouts over parking spaces or whatnot.

Which didn't happen. Which is why concealed carry rights are spreading nationwide, except for anti-freedom states such as Wisconsin, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland and Hawaii. It is spreading because the plan truth is that gun control does not stop criminals from possessing and using weapons. It never has. Gun control has been about making sure that "certain people" do not have access to legal firearms ownership. It always has been. The hypocrisy of much of the Left on this has been galling.

However, the morons on the Right are far, far more dangerous to this country. Two years ago, the credit markets worldwide were freezing up. There was a very real risk of the banking system collapsing. The Bush Administration, although mostly conservative, looked at the implications of that, swallowed hard and proposed bailing out the banking industry with loans. Vice President Cheney, who was about as much a right-wing ideologue as then existed in American politics, went to Capitol Hill and pleaded with Republicans to back the president on this, cautioning them that if Republicans once again allowed the financial system to collapse, they would be known as "the party of Hoover" forever.

Some Republicans heeded his call. They threw aside the ideology of the Right for the good of the country. Most didn't, preferring to keep their ideological purity intact (and probably secretly hoping that enough other Republicans had the courage to vote for the bailout).

Averting a second severe depression wasn't good enough for the purity police on the Right, I guess. They would have rather seen the country slide into a depression. I have to wonder why they hate this country and its people so much that they would willingly inflict an economic collapse and depression upon the nation. Why would they seek to wreck things so? Are they such treasonous bastards that they would take pleasure in destroying the economy? Is their ideology so precious to them that they would willingly throw tens of millions of people out of work in order to adhere to the printed babblings of some Russian emigre?

Apparently so, for the courageous politicians who did what was necessary to avert a full-blown economic collapse are being replaced by ideologically rigid idiots. As a result, we are now one economic downturn away from a collapse of our national economy, which would not be averted because of the Right-wing purists. We came damned close in the 1930s to losing our freedoms to a Right-wing putsch. I have to wonder if that is what the Right really wants to see happen.

So I ask this: Why does the Right hate this country so? Is it because the halls of power are less of a WASPy male country club than they once were? Or is it something else?

Prompt Global Strike

The Navy is looking into adapting surface-ship vertical launching tubes into a long-range strike weapon. The missile will be an SM-3 with a "hypersonic glider" and it will be capable of delivering a warhead of 100-200lbs.

A general rule-of-thumb is that for a bomb delivered by aerial means, roughly one-half (or less) of the bomb is high explosive. So for a 100-200lb warhead, the stuff that will go "boom" will be 50-100lbs or less, which makes it smaller than the average car bomb. I have no idea what the all-up cost is for one of these rounds, but I suspect that anybody who thinks that it will cost less than a million dollars a shot is smoking crack.

Seems to me that is a lot of money to drop a tiny bomb on something, unless that payload is a nuke or a chemical shot.

Then there is the point that VLS cells are not reloadable at sea. VLS loadout is a zero-sum game; in an SM-3 capable ship there would then be SM-3 ABM missiles, SM-2 air defense missiles, VLS ASROC and, now, long-range strike rounds. Whoever plans the loadout will need a damned good crystal ball. PGS rounds would likely be a national-command-level weapon, not a tactical one. And it will probably have to be used against fixed targets, unless there will be some method of real-time control over the hypersonic glider.

Color me "skeptical". This smacks of a weapon designed to keep the DDs and CGs relevant in a war against a land-locked low-tech insurgency. Against the Iranians, who presumably are mindful of the risk of being hit by far larger bombs, this weapon may be a popcorn fart.

(H/T1H/T2)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Motorcycling Morons

This photo was taken in Middleton, CT. I had earlier seen these two on I-84. It was a Friday evening and traffic on the Interstate was moderately heavy.


Connecticut, like many other states, is running a sporadic "click it or ticket" campaign; the cops look for motorists who have not fastened their seatbelts and the cops give them tickets.

But clowns like these two just sail right by.

You can't see the rider too well. He is wearing jeans, work boots, a t-shirt and sunglasses. His passenger, as you can see, has on a short-sleeved top, shorts, no helmet and she is wearing flip-flops. In that get-up, she was riding on the back of a motorcycle that had been doing 70mph.

Picture what would happen if he were to dump the bike at any speed. She would easily lose several tens of square inches of skin to road rash. I've been told that the healing process for that much skin abraded away is both long and painful. Unless, of course, she were to crack her head against the pavement, in which case, her problems would be over forever.

On the other hand, don't wear your seatbelt and even though you are riding inside a vehicle with six different kinds of airbags, you'll get pulled over by the troopers, given a lecture and a ticket to boot.

Does this make any kind of rational sense to anyone?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Immigration Enforcement: And Yet, the Republicans Are Upset

The reason, really, is pretty clear once you read this article:
The Obama administration has replaced immigration raids at factories and farms with a quieter enforcement strategy: sending federal agents to scour companies’ records for illegal immigrant workers.

While the sweeps of the past commonly led to the deportation of such workers, the “silent raids,” as employers call the audits, usually result in the workers being fired, but in many cases they are not deported.

Over the past year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has conducted audits of employee files at more than 2,900 companies. The agency has levied a record $3 million in civil fines so far this year on businesses that hired unauthorized immigrants, according to official figures. Thousands of those workers have been fired, immigrant groups estimate.
What the Obama Administration is doing is going after the demand side of the problem, not the supply side. That is completely antithetical to the party of Hoover's ideas of only going after the supply side (the illegal migrants themselves), which is little more than a reprise of other campaigns which sought to only go after the supply side, such as Prohibition and Nixon's Enduring War on Drugs and Civil Rights. And we all know how well those have worked.

Arresting and deporting illegal migrants does not work, but it gives lots of jobs to law enforcement and those who run the private prisons that have become ICE's black sites. Trying the idea of "maybe they won't come if there is no work for them to do" apparently really upsets the party of Hoover, not to mention their donors from industries that use undocumented workers.

As to what will happen once those industries are faced with the choices of either closing down or improving their working conditions and pay to attract American citizens to fill those jobs, well, let's just say that things will get interesting, indeed.

Caturday

It was a hot morning. I had the blinds and shades drawn to keep the Sun from heating my place too much. So the cats opted to spend the morning snoozing in various spots.





George was lying on top of a chair. I set my camera up on a mini-tripod and took a shot.



I saw in the camera's preview screen that the blue vase appeared to be resting on George's head. So I moved the vase and went to take another shot. But George had other ideas.

Friday, July 9, 2010

No Blogging Today

I do not anticipate being able to post anything today or, for that matter, until tomorrow evening. (The Caturday post is already in the queue for tomorrow morning.)

You'll have to amuse yourselves with other blogs. There are a lot of good ones in the blogrolls on the right side of your screen (hint, hint).

Thursday, July 8, 2010

NSA Still Seeks to Spy on All Americans

The National Security Agency, under the rubric of "cyber security" is going forward with a plan to monitor all traffic on the Internet. They call it "Perfect Citizen", as in "we'll make sure that you are perfect citizens, because we are watching your every move."

This is surveillance fuckery that I would have expected from the last administration, not from this one. You can bet your ass that the conservative heartless libertarian bloggers will be all over this like a cheap suit and they will be fully justified in doing so.

Companies and ISPs will have to put NSA black boxes on their systems in order to allow the NSA to tap their computer systems. I have no doubt that the government will provide a very strong incentive for them to do so (like denial of qualifying for government contracts).

I don't know why I am so disappointed in the Obama Administration for going along with this shit, other than the fact that Barry was a fucking professor of constitutional law and should have a pretty clear grasp of the concept that the main intent of the Bill of Rights was to protect citizens from government intrusion. The NSA once was prohibited from collecting any communications on American soil, I guess that has gone the way of steaming open letters and buggy-whips. Cheney, at least, had a long track record of being an advocate of having a police state, so I expected shit like this from him and Chimpy.

The Republicans had the Patriot Act and the various plans to massively engage in datamining and dossier-building on all Americans, as well as seeking to form a Stasi-like national network of neighborhood spies. Bill Clinton started the Nightwatch, er InfraGard, which is sort of a combination of the Junior G-Men and the Brownshirts.

Spying on American citizens has become a bipartisan endeavor. This shit needs to be vigorously opposed regardless of which party is in power or who the president happens to be.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Message Cat (Kind of Disgusting, You Have Been Warned)

Two nights ago, George was walking around my apartment, depositing small turds. At one point, I picked him up as he was hunching his back and put him in the litter box and held him there for a minute. When I let him go, he hissed at me, walked under the dining room table, and dropped a turd.

Then he walked into my bedroom and fired off a truly amazing power puke, it was: "Ack...Ack...SPLAT!" I haven't seen anything like it since I was in college (and that was back when it was legal to drink at 18).

He hasn't dropped a turd outside of the litter box since.

George drops random turds when something is bothering or upsetting him or he is pissed off about something. Of course, understanding why he is upset can make Kremlinology look easy.

And, If You're Lucky, You Might Not Get Kidnapped and Beheaded by the Taliban!

Karachi, Pakistan, is the cheapest city in the world for American ex-patriates.

Declining Sales

When faced with declining sales, probably about the worst thing that a business can do is raise its prices. If people are less inclined to buy your product or use your services, ratcheting up your rates is a strategy that will drive you into failure.

But that is exactly what the Post Office is doing.

Does this make economic sense to anyone? Don't they realize that this only gives more people an incentive to go paperless? The credit card issuers are more than happy to send out e-statements and they're ecstatic if people pay directly, rather than by paper check.

It will soon get to the point that the only thing arriving in the mail will be junk mail; the stuff that hardly anyone looks at and which goes right to the recycle/garbage bin.

Conservatives and the Taliban

There is not a significant amount of difference between the two groups in some respects. For one thing, if you disagree with the Taliban, they threaten to kill you. If you disagree with conservative talking points, they threaten to kill you.

Jill has the story. The conservative method of trying to win a scientific debate on climate change is to threaten to kill those they disagree with as a way to try and shut them up.[1]

Here is my tip to conservatives: If the only argument you can make is "shut up or I'll kill you", then you have already lost the argument.

Here is a tip to the scientists: If you seriously think that people are going to try to kill you, take some security precautions. And buy a fucking gun, learn how to use it and carry the gun with you!

[1] To the extent that there is any significant debate about climate change. On the one side, there are the climate scientists. On the other side, there are the shills funded by the coal, oil and gas industries and their various sock-puppets.

Wal-Mart Wants to be Free to Allow Its Security Guards to be Trampled to Death

Otherwise, why would Wal-Mart spend millions of dollars to fight a $7,000 OSHA fine, which was levied after a Wal-Mart guard was trampled by shoppers on Black Friday in 2008?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

500,000 Pounds of Toxic Shit- Dumped Into the Air by BP

BP kept their refinery in Texas running even though it was illegally venting off tons of toxic shit into the air. British Petroleum's refinery was already putting more benzene into the air than any other plant on American soil and that was before they began pumping even more crap into the air.
The part that malfunctioned, a hydrogen compressor, traps noxious chemicals, which can then be reused for fuel in the plant and other purposes. When the compressor stopped working, BP decided to send the gases to a 300-foot high flare, whose high temperatures turn the dangerous material into carbon dioxide.
Except that it didn't.

When are we going to do something about these environmental terrorists?

And why the fuck is the Coast Guard still allowing BP to clamp down on news coverage? Why is BP permitted to use local law enforcement as a goon squad to harass the press? Why does the Coast Guard use a reservist as a press liaison official when that same reservist works for BP's PR firm?

The Coast Guard might as well change its motto from Semper Paratus to Semper Pro Brittania Oleum. For I am starting to wonder where their loyalty lies.

Comments Seem to Be Broken

Comments are showing up in my e-mail as being posted to this blog, but they are not showing up in the comments section of the posts.

I have no idea what is happening. If you've posted a comment recently and it has not appeared, I did not delete it (other than Chinese spam).

"Try to Make Your Argument Without Appealing to Our Humanity"

Because, as we all know, the party of Hoover has none.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Unemployment Benefits - Paul Krugman
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

More people are unemployed for longer periods of time than at any time in the last 40 years:


This recession has been deeper than any economic downturn since the end of the Great Depression:


(The graphs are from Calculated Risk.)

The employment figures are sobering. The shattering job losses seem to have largely abated, but job creation is not there.

What is needed is another kick to the economy. The stimulus passed last year seems to have stopped the slide, but things are not getting better.

The Republicans, however, will operate in their routine hive-mind mentality and prevent anything from being done. The party leadership, largely a bunch of born-to-privilege white dudes, has no idea what it is like to go from being able to provide for one's family to watching one's saving evaporate away or watching the county marshals move your stuff to the curb.

But let's face it: The Republican party separated itself from the moorings of reality years ago. The GOP was largely willing to throw the county, if not the world, into an economic depression in order to stay pure to its principle of "no bailouts". But then, once the large banks survived, the Republicans have fought tooth-and-nail to try to prevent any meaningful reform of the banking system. The Republicans have been virulently against either breaking up the largest banks so that they are not too big to fail, or making the banksters pay into an insurance fund so that any future bailouts are already paid for.

Does any of this make a modicum of sense?

But it doesn't stop there, Gentle Reader. Once the Republicans were thwarted from making this recession into another depression, they have done everything that they can to ensure that the recession drags on for as long as possible. Their motivation is two-fold:

First off, as far as Republicans are concerned, Tevye the Dairyman was wrong when he said: "It's no shame to be poor." To Republicans, being poor (or a worker or even middle class) is a sin, if not a crime, and they will do everything they possibly can to grind down the poor and the middle class.

Second, Republicans would rather completely wreck the national economy than do anything to repair it if even a smidgen of the credit for an economic recovery were to go to a Democrat. They are either the party of spoiled toddlers or the party of saboteurs. The Republican politicians, at least the senior ones, know that even if they lose their posts, they'll just hop over to a well-paid no-show job at the American Enterprise Institute or some other right-wing "think tank" under a program that I and others refer to as "wingnut welfare".

Our economy remains fragile. If something is not done to spur job creation, we could find ourselves in a long recession/depression that could drag on for many years. But Republicans are against doing anything to ameliorate that situation for fear of adding to the deficit.

If they are so concerned about the deficit, then let's bring the troops home from everywhere. If a country or region wants to have our troops based there or our fleets present, let them cough up the cost of it. We can spend the money from that on fixing our highways, our bridges. We can build high-speed rail and invest in renewable energy, the way that the Chinese are doing (has it escaped everyone's notice that the Chinese are becoming the global leaders in both fields). Everyone seems to forget that it took massive government incentives to build the transcontinental railroads, but they seem to be of the opinion that the money for a new high-speed rail network is going to materialize out of thin air. Everyone also forgets that the reason that rural America has electricity today is because the Federal government provided the incentives to run the power lines.

Military spending is the ultimate in wasteful government programs. If it does not directly contribute to our own national security, we should not be doing it. If the Europeans want to have a missile defense system against Iranian IRBMs, fine, let them pay for it. If they want our people to run it, let them pay for that as well. But you cannot find six Republican politicians against military procurement programs (finding Republicans who oppose veteran's benefits is a lot easier).

There are a lot of things in this country that need to be fixed and need improvement. Besides infrastructure, we cannot hope to have an educated work force if we are unwilling to invest in a good educational system (another item of spending Republicans largely oppose). Without spending on physical fitness programs for children, we will be condemned to having generations of Americans who are overweight, in poor health and who die of costly and preventable illnesses.

We as a country need to do a lot of things, both to get our economy going and to remain competitive with the rest of the world. But neither will happen if the GOP and the conservatives have their way about it.

And so far, they are having their way.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Short-Sighted and/or Traitorous Bastards Who Run American Corporations

They are the ones who have made the decision to send American industrial jobs overseas.[1] And when those jobs go, so do the engineering jobs.

Andy Grove, one of the co-founders of Intel and its CEO/Chairman for almost 20 years, has written a lengthy opinion piece on how the business bosses and the free-trade disciples in this country are slashing the throat of this nation and allowing it to bleed out.

You should read it. As you do, you should keep in mind that it is the party of Hoover and its fellow-travelers in the Democratic Party who have encouraged an international trading system that permitted this to come about.[2]

(H/T)
[1] I'm looking at you, Mitt Romney.
[2] I'm looking at you, Bill Clinton.

A Computer-Operated Economy?

NY Times headline:
Turkey, Turing East, Asserts New Economic Power
They'll probably fix it real soon now.

"A Massive Oil Spill Ain't Gonna Be No Big Deal"

So opined the Fish & Wildlife Service during the Bush Administration.

This shit is just way too depressing.

Oh, and if you are curious about what the State of Louisiana has done to combat the effects of British petroleum's catastrophic deep-sea gusher, then you might want to know that Governor Bobby "Drilling is Cool" Jindal has ordered the state records to be sealed.

"It's Not Torture When America Does It"

I've read a number of blog entries recently wherein the writers are castigating the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times for waffling on referring to waterboarding as "torture" once the news broke that the CIA was waterboarding prisoners, with the express authorization of the Bush Administration. The information that those papers declined to call waterboarding "torture" is set out in a study that was done by a number of students at Harvard and published by the Harvard Kennedy School.

The study is not very long and it is available in PDF format here. Take the time to read it for yourself.

The study also looked at the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Predictably, the WSJ never referred to waterboarding as torture, unless another nation did it. Neither did USA Today.

The track record of the reporters and news editors of both the NY Times and LA Times is pretty consistent: When other nations waterboard people, it is torture. When the United States government waterboards people, then it isn't torture. To the LA Times' news staff, waterboarding was torture, except during a period of the Philippine Insurrection (when US Army soldiers waterboarded insurrectos) and after 2003. The NY Times' news staff began referring to waterboarding as torture in the 1930s; there was a dip in their so categorizing waterboarding as torture during the Vietnam War and then, like everyone else, after 2003.

The opinion pieces at both papers, since 2002, tend to sort of to refer to waterboarding as torture, but clearly referring to the practice as torture didn't take hold at the LA Times until the Bush Administration was very much a flock of lame ducks.

The study gives the readers of the mainstream media a clear reason to distrust their coverage, especially when the story is about government practices.[1] Hypothetically speaking, everyone would find the practice of having sex with young lambs to be repugnant. But it seems clear that if government were to engage in lamb-fucking, that the news staffs of the NY Times, the LA Times and USA Today would then describe having sex with lambs as maybe "ethically dubious" or "harsh treatment of livestock."[2]

I deliberately used the term "mainstream media" in the previous paragraph, for I have no doubt that if the authors of the studies expanded their work to cover every major city newspaper in this country, along with the newsweeklies and the broadcast/cable news operation,[3] they would find the same pattern.

Waterboarding is not the only example. If you were to read back over the coverage of the time four years ago when Dick Cheney allegedly downed a few beers and then, in fact, shot another man in the face with a shotgun, you will find no shortage of news stories that referred to the shooting as a "peppering". If you were to accidentally shoot another person in the face while bird hunting, any press reports would have no problem calling it a "shooting".[4] But the rules are different for powerful government officials.

It was once a maxim that the only way a reporter should look at government is "down". It is clear from the Kennedy School study that reporters and news editors have transformed the idea of "objective reporting" into functioning as stenographers for the government (though moreso when the government is run by Republicans, I suspect). The entire McChrystal Affair came about because McChrystal and his staffies ran into a reporter who was not playing the role of a government mouthpiece; there are plenty of reporters who view being a government mouthpiece as their job description (I'm looking at you, Laura Logan).[5]

Those reporters are falling down on the job. If all they are going to do is act as hagiographers to the powerful, then why do we even need the First Amendment? The press has been "dining out" for far too long on the efforts of a a few reporters for the Washington Post 37 years ago (the Watergate scandal). They need to stop admiring those reporters and start performing like them. or they do this country no good if they are as diligent and energetic as a stenographer from Pravda or TASS.

[1] I will presume that the same pattern applies to the practices of American corporations. It certainly applied to the RC Church until a critical mass of child-abuse cases broke through to the Boston Globe in the 1990s.
[2] The WSJ would have no problems with lamb-fucking only if a Republican administration was doing it.
[3] My comment in FN2 goes for Fox News, as well.
[4] You'd also be charged with some crime.
[5] Predictably, the reaction of the Pentagon was to crack down on reporters' access to top officials, not to have a serious talk with the brass about loyalty and deference to civilian authority. "Shooting the messenger" is still in vogue at Fort Fumble.