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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

NSA Says: "Trust Us, We Won't Violate Your Privacy."

Emperor Alexander, after repeating his unsubstantiated claim that the NSA has disrupted 54 terrorist plots, claims that although the NSA is collecting every bit of communications that Americas make (other than the contents of sealed letters) we can trust them not to violate our privacy.

"Trust me" is not our governmental system. We are not free if the cops don't come tramping through our houses. I'll bet that 99% or better of Russian households during the Soviet era were never searched by the KGB, but that didn't mean they lived in freedom. But that's precisely the argument that Emperor Alexander is making.

What the NSA is doing is operating an electronic Panopticon. They have access to everything that we do online (unless you personally encrpypt it). They broke the encryption system for online banking. They broke (or they were given the keys) the encryption backing secure browsing. We have only the assurances of functionaries whose stock-in-trade is lying and disinformation that NSA employees/contractors aren't looking through your shit.

Hell, if the NSA's protections were so robust, how the fuck did Ed Snowden walk away with all the shit that he did?

Freedom and liberty are nonexistent when the NSA or the cops leave you alone because they don't think that you're worth their time. Freedom and liberty exist when they can't bother you without getting a warrant, and not just a blanket "go ahead, wiretap the fucking planet" warrant from the FISA court. The Congress since 2001, both Presidents Bush and Obama and the Supremes since long before then have eviscerated the Fourth Amendment to the point that the cops only need a search warrant when they feel like they probably have the time to get one. The judicially-created exceptions and exemptions to the Fourth Amendment have rendered it a shadow of its former self.

And we already know that the NSA has been feeding information to the cops and telling them to lie about where they got it. (They call it "parallel construction".)

Collecting our telephonic and online communications is a violation of our privacy, whether notr not anyone at the NSA ever looks at them. We have only the assurance of the NSA that some loyal Bushie or Obamadroid hasn't been looking at records for political purposes.

That's not good enough. We need robust and independent oversight of the NSA, not just the cookie-cutter FISA Court or DiFi's Committee.

We must demand that the NSA (and the DEA) stop electronic surveillance of American citizens without a warrant that is issed by a neutral and detached magistrate for every instance, not the blanket "go ahead and wiretap everyone" orders of the FISA Court.

Otherwise, we all might as well just go watch "Survivor" or any of those other vapid reality shows and forget about all those freedom and liberties that so many people have fought and died for over the last 240 years.

(Shout: "All hail Emperor Alexander.")

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chinese Pollution

One of the things that is interesting to me are the stories about pollution in China. Not because of the fact that the Chinese are polluting their nations, but because it shows the resilience of human intractability to facts.

Almost all of the Chinese fuckery, be it air pollution, water pollution, tainted food, poisonous toys, you name it, all of that has happened before in the countries that began their march to industrialization over 200 years ago. We've had our killer smogs. There was a time when people could tell what color cars were being painted in an auto plant by looking at the river.

You'd think that the Chinese government would have said to themselves: "We can learn from what those stupid gweilos did. We can avoid their errors."

But sadly, no.

Craven GOP Cowards in the Senate Apologize to Tea Party For Not Destroying the Government and Thereby Bringing on the Economic Ruin of This Formerly Great Nation

If there is another way to look at this:
Twenty-seven Republican senators voted with Democrats on Oct. 16 to lift the debt ceiling and avert a catastrophic default. And each one of those 27 senators voted Tuesday to "disapprove" of their own votes.
I am open to considering it. Salon (annoying pop-up alert) thinks that this is a cynical move to fool the more impressionable imbeciles in the Tea party.

I don't think so, for I doubt if the Tea party hard-liners are impressed. No, I think that those Senators are just a batch of gutless fucking weasels, the lot of them.

Take Clapper's Lies For What They Are Worth

The firestorm of criticism facing the National Security Agency from Capitol Hill has created "an erosion of trust" within the U.S. intelligence community, according to the community's top official.

The repeated criticism and second-guessing by Congress over the agency's operations has hindered intelligence community leaders from doing their jobs, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told lawmakers on Tuesday
.
First, Clapper has a track record of lying under oath to Congress.

Second, what he's saying is right, but not in the way that he means it. We can't trust Clapper and his ilk to tell the truth about anything. Everything in any statement from Clapper should be treated as a lie, including the punctuation.

But oh, poor little Jimmy the Perjurer's feelings are hurt because he's been caught lying and people no longer trust him??

Don't let the screen door hit you on your way out, Jimmy. You can probably get a cushy job with Rudy Giuliani's "Rent-a-Fascist" company.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Our Pansy-Assed Spies Are Having Their Feelings Hurt!

WASHINGTON -- The White House and State Department signed off on surveillance targeting phone conversations of friendly foreign leaders, current and former U.S. intelligence officials said Monday, pushing back against assertions that President Obama and his aides were unaware of the high-level eavesdropping.

Professional staff members at the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence agencies are angry, these officials say, believing the president has cast them adrift as he tries to distance himself from the disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that have strained ties with close allies.
Here's some free career advice to those "professional staff members": Suck it up, Cupcakes. Deniability is part and parcel of the game.

There was a time when we thought that our spies were tougher than that.



But now? Why, they put in a call for the waaabulance!

Don't Worry, NSA, DiFi Has Your Back

This is just a bit of security theater:
The chair of the Senate intelligence committee, who has been a loyal defender of the National Security Agency, dramatically broke ranks on Monday, saying she was "totally opposed" to the US spying on allies and demanding a total review of all surveillance programs.
Sen. Feinstein has been one of the more vocal members of the "Rip Up the Bill of Rights Caucus" that there has been (other than maybe Rep Peter King {R-IRA}). You can bet your next paycheck that by the time any changes to how things are done clear DiFi's committee, they will be akin to renaming "Total Information Awareness" something like "Prism" or "Global Liberty-Sucking Squid".

After all, Emperor Alexander has declared that the First Amendment doesn't apply to him or his agency. They don't have such things in Old Blighty and the British government is signalling that they are going to follow the lead of Valdimir Putin and the Chinese and just end such shenanigans. Because when you're in power, what's the fun of having reporters make life difficult for you?

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Flags of Our Enemies:1776 through 1945

I am ignoring short skirmishes, the Indian Wars and the various "interventions" fought on behalf of the United Fruit Company.  I am also ignoring the more pissant nations in both World War I and World War II.

 With the possible exception of the Quasi-War, these are all full-on fights against another nation.

The Revolutionary War and the War of 1812:


The Quasi-War:


The Quasi-War was pretty much fought only at sea as a result of "the XYZ Affair".  It ended because the French were more interesting in fighting the British (sort of the reverse of the reason why the War of 1812 ended).

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

A Cessna Citation on a very short strip (for a jet):



Saturday, October 26, 2013

Obama's War on the First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I'm pretty certain that having the Department of State Security Homeland Security goons, ably assisted by the Maryland State Police,[1] conduct a pre-dawn raid on a reporter and seizing her notes qualifies as "abridging".

The Stasi DHS conducted the raid apparently because the reporter had the temerity to write bad things about Federal Air Marshals. Besides having no discernible purpose to what they do, the Air Marshals had been lying to Congress[2] and the reporter was covering that.

Which apparently upset the DBP and so they did what all such fascist organizations do: They conducted a pre-dawn raid.

There was a time when middle-of-the-night police raids were regarded as things done in totalitarian countries. Such things did not happen in free states. But the Wars on Drugs and Terror have been boiling away our liberties and protections. Judges sign off on middle-of-the-night raids. Cops dress up in full battle-rattle to go raid the home of a reporter.

We are just about there, folks. Our country has just about finished converting the Constitution into a meaningless text that is praised in public and then ignored in practice.[3] We say we have a First Amendment, but freedom of speech and freedom of the press have shrunken to the point that the Founders would not recognize them. We say we have a Fourth Amendment, but the NSA, the DEA, the FBI and others wiretap us and rifle through our online communications without a warrant. We say we have Fifth and Sixth Amendments, but the government has arrested people, including American citizens, and held them without bringing charges and without permitting them to have access to legal counsel.

We say we have an Eighth Amendment, which is hard to reconcile with a government that has practiced torture and extra-judicial killings.

We do not have a free country if the police leave most of us alone. That's akin to not being shat on by birds-- just because you haven't been pooped on doesn't mean the birds are forbidden to do so.

Our Constitution means very little anymore. Either we do something about it,[4] or we learn to live in a state where freedom is just another meaningless worship word.

(H/T)
_________________________________
[1] The MSP has a long track record of goonish behavior.
[2] Lying to Congress is only a crime if the witness plays professional sports. It seems to be OK if a witness works for the government.
[3] Much like people who pervert the actions and words of Jesus into license to war, murder and plunder.
[4] We can start by kicking out the statists in Congress. You know how they are.

Caturday

I have one piece of upholstered furniture that does not have a cat bed or a throw or a towel on it.

Guess where Jake chose to lie?

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Eternal Trade-Off in Carry Pistols

Dear NSA: Don't Do the Crime If You Can't Do the Time

Which is just another way of saying that you have to balance the risk against the possible gains.


Nobody at either the NSA or the Bush or Obama Administrations gave a thought to asking this question about engaging in wiretapping our allies: "What happens if we are found out?"

From here

Nobody is going to get too upset if the NSA had figured out how to tap the phones of the Russian, Chinese, Iranian (etc.) leadership. Those countries are all, to some degree or another, adversaries or it is readily foreseeable that they will be adversaries some day.[1] But when you snoop on your friends, there can be hell to pay if you're found out.

The NSA was found out and now there will be hell to pay.

I get the feeling that the NSA is run by geeks with the emotional maturity of fifteen-year-old boys. A rational adult might have asked a few questions before tapping the cell phone of the German Chancellor.
_____________________________________________________________
[1] Yes, I am aware that of virtually all major European powers since 1789, Russia is about the only one we haven't been at war with at one time or other. Yes, that includes France.


Because It's Friday

The Xingyang Brickworks Railway:



When the American railroaders needed steam engines with good low-speed performance, they geared them down. When the Chinese did, they just used itty bitty driving wheels.

Keep your eyes open at the very end of the clip....

Thursday, October 24, 2013

NSA Fuckery: Like Using a Gun to Rob Someone of Five Bucks

The NSA mined contacts of our own government officials (with their knowledge) to develop more phone numbers of foreign officials to monitor. The problem is that they got hardly anything for it:
But the [2006 NSA] memo acknowledges that eavesdropping on the numbers had produced "little reportable intelligence". In the wake of the Merkel row, the US is facing growing international criticism that any intelligence benefit from spying on friendly governments is far outweighed by the potential diplomatic damage.
The Obama Administration's carefully worded denials do not deny that the NSA was monitoring German Chancellor Merkel. She is royally hacked off and personally called President Obama to let him know.

What the press is forgetting, because they have the attention span of an insect, is the reason why Merkel is so pissed off: She grew up in East Germany. This probably seems to her the sort of shot that one would have expected of the Stasi.

The Obama Administration has been stonewalling the French, the Germans and the Brazilians. Merkel is having none of it. I suspect that there will be not inconsiderable blowback from this, as most of our foreign friends come to realize as far as the NSA was concerned, there is no difference between the Germans and the Russians or between the French and the Chinese.*

Oh, and as for the stuff that is starting to trickle out from the "conservative" side, which is trying to blame Obama for spying on allies-- who was the President when this spying really got going? The NSA memo first mentioned was written in 2006-- remember who was living in the White House back then? So shut the fuck up.
____________________________________
* What the hell, as far as the NSA is concerned, there is no difference between American citizens and members of al Qaeda.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bank of America/Countrywide: GUILTY! GUILTY!! GUILTY!!!

Bank of America Corp.’s Countrywide unit was found liable for defrauding Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac by selling them thousands of defective loans. The case was the first brought by the U.S. against a bank over defective mortgages to go to trial.

A federal jury in New York today also found former Countrywide Financial Corp. executive Rebecca Mairone liable for defrauding the U.S. Mairone was the only individual named as a defendant in the government’s lawsuit.
The trial took four weeks.

The jury was out for five hours. Which means besides choosing a foreman and ordering in lunch, they probably deliberated for all of forty-five minutes, if even that long.

Now, can we get going with the kind of trials where the guilty get to go live in Bernie Madoff's cellblock? Can someone please take a cattle prod to Holder's nuts and get him moving?

NSA, the Fuckery Continues

To be honest, though, I don't know if much of this really qualifies. Sure, it's kind of amusing that the NSA seems to think that all of North America comprises "the Homeland".[1]

But outrage that the NSA is spying on France, Germany and Mexico? How is that surprising? They're foreigners and spying on foreign nations is what spies are supposed to do. In the last hundred years we've fought two wars with the Germans and the Germans tried really hard to get the Mexicans to come in on their side in the first one. As for the French, well, enough said.

The point is that yesterday's enemies can be today's friends and today's friends can be tomorrow's enemies. I'd be shocked if our spooks weren't spying on every other nation around.[2]

By the way, the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, denies that the NSA has engaged in massive wiretapping of French citizens. But since ol' Jimmy is a noted perjurer, you can decide whether or not you believe him.[3]
_______________________________________
[1] I cannot begin to tell you how much "Homeland" sounds like a term used by a Fascist nation.
[2] Except maybe Chad. The "Chadian threat" is probably not a term you'll see in our press anytime soon.
[3] I regard every statement released by his office to be a complete lie, including the commas and periods. Clapper got a pass on perjury charges and Roger Clemens didn't, probably because there's no lying in baseball.

Soon to Be the Rarest Cessna Since the War?

The Cessna 162 "Skycatcher". It seems pretty clear that Cessna is going to kill off that model.
Cessna CEO Scott Ernest told aviation media at NBAA 2013 in Las Vegas the company's made-in-China S-LSA Skycatcher has "no future" but he didn't have much to say about it other than that. ... Ernest's comments after his presentation categorized the Skycatcher program simply. "That program didn't have a business model that worked," he said.
Cessna is also going to bump up the top speed of the Citation-X to Mach 0.935. Up at the top of the airplane's service ceiling, that's cooking along at 617 MPH (speed of sound up there is 660 MPH).

("Rarest" as in "production model". I'm not counting the Cessna 620.)

Poisoning the Pooches

Nearly 600 pets have died and more than 3,600 have been sickened in an ongoing, mysterious outbreak of illnesses tied to jerky treats made in China, federal animal health officials said Tuesday.

Most of the cases have been in dogs of all breeds, ages and sizes — although 10 cats have been sickened, too — after eating chicken, duck and sweet potato jerky treats. The pace of the reported illnesses appears to have slowed, but federal Food and Drug Administration officials are now seeking extra help from veterinarians and pet owners in solving the ongoing puzzle.
The best answer for pet owners asking what they should do is to not give jerky treats to your pets.

Hell, eating any food product made in China is about as dangerous as it was to have eaten American food products before the FDA and USDA began their work during the Theodore Roosevelt Administration.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

1-Adam-12

A great place to waste some time online, especially if you remember the show.

Back when cops carried revolvers and didn't shave their heads like they were auditioning for roles in Starship Troopers.

Vampire Squid News: Didn't You Always Suspect that the Regulators and Goldman Sachs Are in Bed Together?

And now comes the proof: When a young examiner at the NY Federal Reserve challenged the business practices of Goldman Sachs, the Fed's reaction was to fire her.

It seems that having blatant conflicts-of-interest were how Goldman made much of its money. It simply was not profitable for them to follow the rules or the law. So they didn't.

Any the NY Federal Reserve went along with it. Because those guys had worked at Goldman and they intended to go back there (for a lot more money) once they were done rigging the rules for Goldman's benefit.

It's nice to see that the DoJ is (finally) going after JPMorgan, but when are they going to go after the true villains?

A One-Sentence Summary of Bush-43's Presidency

The Bush administration opened with a second Pearl Harbor, ended with a second Great Crash and contained a second Vietnam in the middle.
The book review seems to suggest that the book is actually rather sympathetic towards Bush's presidency, though it seems that much of the time, he was more of a spectator than a leader.

And then there is this, from Politico:
As one senior official who came to rue his involvement in Iraq put it, “The only reason we went into Iraq, I tell people now, is we were looking for somebody’s ass to kick. Afghanistan was too easy.”
So we went into a three-trillion dollar war because those clowns needed to tack some more skins on their walls? They needed a more difficult war, one that cost more American lives, to slake their bloodlust?

That was it? We engaged in a war of aggression for that?

Can we get going with the war crimes trials, now?

Time to Start Driving More

The TSA is now doing some serious snooping into the backgrounds of air travelers. And they are sharing that information with commercial companies, like debt collectors.

The TSA is probably the least-trusted government agency in modern history. And yet they're being allowed to do a NSA-style datamining on everyone? And then they sell the results to private companies?

If you can make the time, we're now at the point where you are better off loading up your car and driving to where you need to go (as long as you're not crossing an ocean).

A Great Achievement for Humanity

We have managed to break the Pacific Ocean.
"It as if the ocean itself was dead," [Ivan] Macfadyen said.

"We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumor on its head. It was pretty sickening.

"I've done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I'm used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen."
Humanity has, for ages, operation on the concept that "dilution is the solution for pollution." That worked until it didn't. And then, sometimes, with much gnashing of teeth, primarily from the polluters, things got cleaned up, at least a little.

But we never have really learned.

We have shat in the biggest nest that there is.

As a species, we are pretty retarded.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Tea Party Will Bring Gun Control Bills into Law

Not directly, mind you. But we will have new gun control laws because of the Tea Party's batshit-crazy politics.

When you get right down to it, people want the government to work. They want their meat and food inspected. They want good medicines to be approved. They want the parks and monuments to be open, the benefits to go to seniors and disabled vets. And most rational people want clean air and water.

Governing in a legislative body means compromising, unless you have enough like-minded allies to pass veto-proof legislation. If there is something that you really want to happen, you have to trade for it. You get some of what you want, the other guy gets some of what he wants, and that's how it works. That's an adult fact of life, kids. Screaming and ranting and histrionics only gets you so far. Eventually, people get tired of your shit and you lose seats.

And what happens if you lose seats is that the people who you wouldn't work with do gain seats. And then they start to pass the laws that you didn't like because you sucked at governing and they feel like indulging in a little bit of payback.

If an AWB passes in 2015, then you can blame the Tea party for wrecking things.

Oh, and conservatives? Just shut the fuck up about whatever is messed up with the Obamacare website. You damn near drove our country over a cliff because you hate the idea that the Democrats enacted a GOP idea for health insurance-- we're supposed to believe that now you're unhappy because the system is a bit glitchy?

Give me a fucking break.

Bribery, Corruption, Venal Contractors, Crooked Cops-- Just Another Day at the DoD.

The surprise is that this one doesn't involve the Air Force, it's all on the Navy.
The Navy is being rocked by a bribery scandal that federal investigators say has reached high into the officer corps and exposed a massive overbilling scheme run by an Asian defense contractor in exchange for prostitutes and other kickbacks.

Among those arrested on corruption charges are a senior agent for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and a Navy commander who escaped Cambodia’s “killing fields” as a child only to make a triumphant return to the country decades later as the skipper of a U.S. destroyer. The investigation has also ensnared a Navy captain who was relieved of his ship’s command this month in Japan.
The WaPo article is longer than the one being printed in other papers. They are looking at a lot more people for this. Apparently Glenn Defense Marine, the contractor which was bribing people, has apparently been at this for quite some time. They turned an NCIS agent in 2008, who was the boss agent in Quantico (the real-life "Jethro Gibbs"), as well as one of five "agents of the year" for 2010, until he recently was arrested.

Somebody go find the popcorn, this one might get even better.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

The B-47 "Stratojet":


The B-47 set the pattern for the jet world: Swept wings, podded engines. Most airliners flying to day carry the B-47s DNA in their designs.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tab-Clearing

I doodled in math class, but never anything like this:



Almost three weeks ago, I was kvetching about what a piece of shit Nikon made because the battery had died. When I put the dead battery into the charger, instead of blinking on-and-off at about the speed of a railroad crossing signal, it was flashing like it was on meth and it was a really weak flash.

I contacted Nikon's customer service and they said (rather predictably): "The battery is dead. Get a new one."

So I did. I put the new battery in and the charger also did the "charger on meth" signal.

I contacted Nikon's customer service and they said: "Oh, well, it must be the charger. Send it in for repair." (Yep, BadTux called it.)

I asked back; "Hey, this thing is over a year old, so it's out of warranty. Isn't it going to cost more to send it in, pay for the tech's labor rate to test it, and then pay for the shipping back than it would to just get a new unit?"

Thing is, when you ask questions like that, you're going off their script and I never got an answer.

So I just ordered a new charger. Pissed me off a little that Nikon was easter-egging the problem on my dime, but meh. Both the old and the new battery charged up on it, and in about the time-to-charge for a flat battery. The old charger is on its way to Ye Olde Landfille.

Doesn't hurt to have a second battery, especially on trips, so I figure that I came out kinda sorta OK. (Other than my good camera being out of service for three weeks.)

Caturday

Go down to your local shelter and give these critters a home!


Do it now!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pervs With Badges

One, anyway:
A federal air marshal was arrested Thursday morning at Nashville International Airport after being caught taking multiple upskirt pictures of female passengers boarding a plane, police said.
Another passenger saw him doing it, grabbed the pervo's phone and gave it to a flight attendant.

Pervie the Cop was then arrested.

Serious question: Do Air Marshals actually do anything?

Because It's Friday, Extra Edition

A Union Pacific video about one aspect of preparing Big Boy 4014 for movement to the steam shops in Wyoming.



There are other videos on UP's YouTube channel. One of the interesting things is that the folks who had the locomotive on display kept the bearings greased. Some folks apparently never lost hope that the locomotive would steam again some day.

They're having to do much of the same work to other locomotives on display, as they have to be moved to allow them to remove 4014.

Because It's Friday


The Mt. Washington Cog Railway.



The Cog began dieselizing in 2008.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Emperor Alexander is Stepping Down?

General Alexander and his chief henchman deputy, Chris Inglis, are said to be leaving their jobs.

Alexander is, arguably, the NSA's version of J. Edgar Hoover,* in that he stayed so long in the job that he seemed to regard it as his birthright. It's worth a mention that the term "Emperor Alexander" was coined by those who worked with him.

Both Alexander and his erstwhile boss, Jimmy the Perjurer, not only misread how things were changing because of the Snowden Revelations, their ham-handed responses only amplified the stories. Both men kept trying to conceal the truth by lying, only to be publicly revealed as liars over and over again.

There needs to be some serious reform. Neither the Emperor or the Perjurer are the ones to do it.
________________________________
* Without the cross-dressing. So far as we know.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Now Commence the Circular Firing Squads; GOP Edition

The attempt by the GOP to hold our government and the economy hostage has failed.

The Tea Party wing of the GOP was defeated in its quest to throw out Obamacare. The Democrats have come away strengthened. The Republicans are proceeding with their blaming each other and blaming the media for not propagandizing for the Tea party (Fox News notwithstanding).

Obama had better keep his boots on. These snakes will be back and they will need to be stomped on some more. They will never truly go away. But they can be marginalized some more.

Oh, and Iran is talking seriously about making concessions to reach a deal on its nuclear weapons program. No doubt the neocon war caucus is having a real conniption fit.

How McDonalds, Burger King (and Wal-Mart) Pick Your Pocket, Even If You Never Spend a Dime There

The short answer is that they pay their employees so poorly that the majority of fast-food workers are also on public assistance. So what happens is that the Federal treasury (that's *us*, folks) subsidizes those companies' labor costs.

McDonalds ranks 111 on Fortune's 500. Their 2012 revenues were $27 billion and they had over $5 billion in profits. Burger King is much smaller, but they still had $190 million in profits. Yum Brands (Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut) is #213 with $1.3 billion in profits.

And yes, we're subsidizing Wal-Mart to the tune of about two grand per employee. Wal-Mart is #1 on the Fortune 500 list for 2012. They had $469 billion in sales and $17 billion in profits.

Why are we subsidizing these greedy fuckers' labor costs? When you hear the GOP and the Tea-baggers screaming about "welfare queens", why aren't they yelling at Wal-Mart and McDonalds?

The answer is easy: Those corporate welfare kings have the money for lobbyists and lawyers. A single mother working at McDonald's or Wal-mart isn't making campaign contributions to The Canadian Usurper or the Tea Party Caucus.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

More FISA Court Fuckery (and the "Good Little Americans" Defense)

The chief judge of the FISA court is making the rounds and pleading that the court is not a puppet of the NSA:
Reggie Walton, the presiding judge of the court, wrote to the leadership of the Senate judiciary committee to rebut accusations that the Fisa court is merely a judicial rubber stamp.

His letter, dated October 11 and released on Tuesday, is the latest move by a court that is closed to the public to shed light on a surveillance process that has sparked an international outcry.

“During the three-month period between July 1 through September 30, we have observed that 24.4% of matters submitted ultimately involved substantive changes to the information provided by the government or to the authorities granted as a result of court inquiry or action,” Walton wrote to senators Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley.
I call bullshit.

The Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Sounds OK, so far, right.

Not hardly. There is a 40 year old Supreme Court case, Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443 (1971). That case requires that a "neutral and detached magistrate" issue any search warrants. I don't see how the FISA court giving the NSA's lawyers drafting hints in how to rewrite their FISA warrant requests qualifies as either neutral or detached.

But they say they're not a rubber-stamp court. Ya, sure, you betcha!


On another note, an NSA code-breaker is saying that the folks at the NSA are good Americans, too, and they'd never ever violate the rights of their fellow Americans.

I call bullshit on more than one level.

First off, both the NSA and the FBI were undoubtedly staffed with good and loyal Americans in the `50s, `60s and `70s. That did not stop them from illegally monitoring and spying on their fellow Americans who were active in the civil rights and antiwar movements.*

Second, our government was not founded on the principle of "trust us". The Founding Fathers knew that a working government was necessary, they had the utter failure of the American Confederation staring them right in the face. They were smart guys, they knew that power corrupts. They knew that relying solely on the good will of those who have power is futile. That's why they set up for form of government that they did.

Right now, the NSA has no check, no balances, only a rubber-stamp court. If Emperor Alexander and his court of lackeys decide to just disregard the law, there is nobody to call them out on it. The only route out of that is the one we are now treading: Reacting to the revelations of a brave whistleblower. We cannot depend that there will be another one, not with the current guy living in exile in Russia.

I am not comforted by the assurance of an NSA employee that they are all good people who would never ever break the law. Not when there were reports of NSA employees getting their jollies by listening in on the sexually-charged phone calls of our soldiers.

This shit has been going on for a very long time. The abuses get swept under the carpet by Emperor Alexander and his congressional stooges. It is time that the NSA be forced to obey the law, not the just the whim of its director.
_____________________
* And yes, I have no doubt that both agencies were monitoring people opposed to the Wars of the Chimperor.

Another Day, More NSA Fuckery Revealed

If you use any of the web-based email services, the NSA has collected your address book. They're not supposed to be doing that, so the NSA has their foreign partners do it and then pass the data back to the NSA.

Oh, the NSA says that it's not collecting stuff from American servers, but that's just quibbling bullshit. All of the big players in the cloud-computing game have overseas servers that mirror everything they have stateside. For the NSA to claim that they are not doing anything wrong is like a pickpocket claiming that he didn't pick your pocket because the edge of your wallet was sticking out of your trousers' pocket.*

For the NSA to claim that because they got the information from a server located in, say, Tokyo or Prague, they can assume that everyone who has a Gmail/Outlook/Yahoo/Facebook account is not an American citizen is a huge whopper of a lie.

James Sensenbrenner says that he wants to reform the Patriot Act to take away the NSA's power to stalk Americans. While that's a good idea, this most recent revelation shows that the NSA has no regard for the law. Emperor Alexander and his cabal of spies regard themselves as being above the law.
________________________________
* The one funny thing is that the NSA says that it is being overwhelmed by spam. Finally, a use for that shit.

Monday, October 14, 2013

What Is Killing Off the Moose?

Moose populations throughout the lower 48 seem to be crashing. The winters haven't been snowy or cold enough to kill off the winter ticks.

Moose have a hard time if the temperature in winter is much above 20degF. The winters are getting to be shorter and warmer.

Moose were hunted out of most of New England two hundred years ago. Reforestation following the abandonment of most of the farms after the Civil War allowed them to return. And now, climate change is going to push them back north again.

The Political Cowardice of the GOP

No, I am not talking about whether or not they make a deal to open the government or avoid a default. Only an idiot keeps fighting a losing war.*

What I am talking about is running away from responsibility. That is the tactic of a six-year old child.

The Tea-Party Wing of the GOP has been bragging about what they were going to do since the 113th Congress was sworn in. They kept saying that they would follow up with their success at forcing the sequester by using the start of the new Federal fiscal year and then the debt ceiling to force the Democrats to cave. They stated, ad nauseum, that they would force Obama to defund the Affordable Care Act. Boehner bought into it. The Republicans agreed to a plan to wreck the government last January if they didn't get their way.

Here's the thing: Nobody really likes hostage-takers. When somebody takes a hostage, what follows from that is on them. Oh, the other side might make mistakes, they might even make mistakes that get the hostages killed. No matter how the other side screws up, the blame rests with the hostage-takers.

Republicans have figured this out, belatedly. Which is why their propaganda organs are spreading their usual lies that none of this would have happened if the Democrats had been reasonable and acceded to the GOP's blackmail. The thing is, that's the blame-shifting tactic of either a six year old child** or a criminal***.

Blaming the other guy for your screwup is certainly not what a mature adult would do. Grownups own their mistakes. But the "party of personal responsibility" only seems to bleat about personal responsibility when they can blame someone else.
____________________________________
* Gen. Robert E. Lee and Kaiser Wilhelm II were both far smarter than The Canadian Usurper.
** "It's not my fault that the window got in the way of my baseball! It's not faaairrrr!!"
*** "Yer Honor, if she had just let me rape her, I wouldn't have had to beat her up."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"The Million Vet March (Minus 999,800 Veterans, That Is)

And that's assuming that all of the 200 bigoted cranks who showed up were veterans.


No shocker that The Canadian Usurper and Bible Spice were among the nuts. And I'm pretty sure that the closest they've ever been to the military was watching a DVD of "Saving Private Ryan."

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

OK, in this case, rocket noise.

This is a test-firing of the gas generator from a F-1 engine:



The gas generator ran a turbine on the F-1. That turbine powered the fuel pumps that fed kerosene and liquid oxygen to the combustion chamber.

The gas generator produced more power than the engine of a F-16 fighter.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Relighting a Saturn V's F-1 Rocket Engine

NASA has been analyzing the Saturn V's F-1 engine (powered the first stage) and test-firing the gas generator. There is a lot of awe expressed in the article about how meticulously and over-built those engines were. The idea is to possibly build modern versions of them.

I've thought for a very long time that the closing of the Saturn-V production line was one of the dumbest things that the Nixon Administration did.

But I digress.

If you don't feel like reading the articles, here's something I didn't know. This is a line drawing of the F-1.


On the right side, you'll see the turbine which powered the fuel pumps. The turbine's exhaust goes down the side of the engine and then into a ring surrounding the bell of the rocket's exhaust, about half-way down the length of the bell. The engineers did that for a reason: The exhaust of the turbine was fuel-rich and cooler than the exhaust of the rocket engine. Feeling the exhaust of the turbine into the side of the rocket nozzle served to protect the rest of the nozzle's length from the heat of the rocket exhaust.

You've probably seen this close-up shot of the engine of a Saturn-V firing on a test stand:


You can see the darker lawyer of exhaust at the outer edges of engine's plume. That's from the turbine's exhaust.

The engineers today think that a newer F-1 won't need to do that. They hope to get 1.8 million pounds of thrust out of a F-1B.

If they make them, I sure hope they put five together for a booster. I'd surely love to see and hear that monster fly.

Caturday

Two orange kittens. Their sibling, who darted off, is a gray tiger cat.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Gov. Nixon Bangs a Smooth 180

After saying that he wasn't going to let the EU tell him what drugs Missouri can use to kill people, Jay Nixon has changed his mind.

Seen in a Gun Shop

A Frommer Stop.


.32 ACP, the Stop has a long-recoil action for a cartridge that works pretty damn well in a blowback-action pistol. There are claims that the original and proprietary round for the gun was loaded much hotter than the .32 ACP, but others say that was true of earlier Frommers but not the Stop.

I'm not a collector, so I felt no urge to peel off four bills for it.

No Good Side

The killers of these civilians are some of the people that Senators McCain and Graham think that we should spending our blood and treasure to support.

Because It's Friday

Back to the K-4s:


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Costa Concordia Update

You may recall that the ship was righted and is now resting on a platform that was built on the side of the sloping sea floor. Plans were to weld floatation pontoons to the starboard side (they were affixed to the port side before they righted her), float her and tow her away.

Now it seems that the salvagers will pick up the ship with a massive self-propelled floating drydock and thus carry the ship to the scrappers.

A slightly smaller salvage ship, the Blue Marlin, transported the USS Cole to the Pascagoula shipyards for rebuilding after the Cole was attacked in Aden.

Mercury Astronaut Scott Carpenter, R.I.P.

Scott Carpenter, the second American to orbit the Earth, has died. He was 88. He suffered a stroke last month.

Of the original seven astronauts, only the oldest one of them, John Glenn, survives.

Further Tales From the National Security State

The Virginia State Police was collecting the licence plate records of people attending political rallies. Nobody in the state government could offer a reason why the Virginia Staties felt the need to do that. Finally, the VSP realized that maybe they ought to ask if it was OK to do that. They were told to knock that shit off.

A gunwriter has first-hand experience with this: The ATF is compiling a de facto gun registration database. If they think that you are buying too many guns, then they'll come visit to ask why. "Jack-booted thugs" doesn't begin to describe those clowns. They have a long history of fucking up.

Feeling safer, yet?

NSA and FBI Co-Opt the Deadliest Sin of All (And Still, the Tea Party Careth Not)

Greed.

Companies are lining up to sell anything and everything about you to the government, for a good price, of course. Companies invent new surveillance and wiretapping technologies and sell them to eager governments, ours included.

Emperor Alexander and the NSA, not satisfied with vacuuming up everything we do online, capturing our locations by tracking our cell phones and listening into our phone calls wants more power. To keep us safe, of course.

The Russians are going to vacuum up every bit of electronic information they can during the Sochi Olympics. And the difference between the NSA and the KGB FSB is what, exactly?

Meanwhile, the NSA, Senator Feinstein, Rep. Rogers and the rest of the national security state apparatchiks are doing what they can to ensure that any "reforms" are neutered before they hatch.

And notwithstanding their promises to be "the most transparent Administration in history (no shit)", Barry and his Boyos are turning out to be the most secretive and paranoid administration since [drum roll]... Richard Nixon.

/while all this goes on, the Tea Party and the GOP keeps wrapping themselves tighter and tighter around the axle of Obamacare. Because having a government that watches every fucking thing you do is no big deal, but making healthcare available to the 15% of Americans who didn't have access to it is treason. They've taken a stand and, regardless of how stupid it is, they can't walk away.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

One Big-Assed Boat!

The Majestic Maersk, a Triple-E class containership.



The ship is over twice as long and has about eleven times the displacement of the Maersk Alabama.

An Opportunity for the Forest Service, If They're Smart Enough to Take It.

One of the problems with fighting wild fires has been that the Forest Service's fleet of aerial tankers (once called "borate bombers") has traditionally been made up of old and tired airplanes. The Forst Service has been planning to replace them with old planes that are newer, but converted DC-10s are far more costly to operate.

The Forest Service has an opportunity: The Air Force is shelving its fleet of C-27Js. New C-27Js are being delivered straight to the Davis-Monthan AFB storage yard.

Seems to me that the Forest Service should snap them right up. They're brand new, they're turboprops and they were built for rough operation. They meet the speed and hauling requirements required by the Forest Service's specs for new tankers. They're available. And they're already paid for.

What's not to like?

The problem is that it makes too much sense, which is probably why those brand-new C-27s will sit in the boneyard while the Forest Service dicks around with converting old airliners with decades of service and thousands of flight hours on them, like old DC-10s and BAe-146s.

Hostage Negotiations

The Daily Show's Jason Jones consults with an FBI hostage negotiator.



The good news, if there is any, is that Boehner the Bungler is ruling out unconditional surrender. Which if you're an optimist, can be taken to imply that he knows that they are in an untenable situation.

But that's probably overly optimistic.

Maybe in the end, Ted Cruz and his buddies can flee into the Philippine jungles and hide out there until 2040 or so.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Word.

Bring Back the Party Bosses and the Smoke-Filled Rooms

Sure, that system was rife with corruption. But a good argument can be made that the "reforms", which were enacted in the late `60s and early `70s, have made things far, far worse.

The voter turnout in primary elections is low. In 2012, it ranged from a high of just below 32% of registered voters as low as 1.4%. It was much higher in 2008, but only one state cracked the 50% level (New Hampshire). The primaries in 2004 and 2000 didn't pull as many voters out to the polls.

So it seems that only the ideologues, the true believers, are voting in the primaries. As a result, we get candidates for both parties that reflect those views. They can't then pivot to the center, as their base will be outraged and then they will be challenged in the primary in the next election.

Either we have to go back to having the smoke-filled rooms or we have to persuade everyone else to show the fuck up for the primaries and vote for not-nutbar candidates.

I don't see either happening anytime soon. But I don't see how our government can continue to function with lunatics at the controls. This particular crisis could end today, apparently, but because Boehner the Bungler fears for his cushy job, it won't. If anyone ever publishes "Profiles in Political Cowardice", John Boeher's face will be on the cover.*

We may be truly fucked, Gentle Readers.
_______________________________________________________
* Same for "Profiles in Political Stupidity".

Surgery Patients Will Have Cause to Say: "Fuck You, Missouri."

Last year, a drug distribution company accidentally shipped a box of propofol to the Missouri Department of Corrections. They've been trying to get it back with no luck. They want it back because Missouri intends to use the drug, a widely-used anesthetic, to execute a few guys.

The problem is that propofol is made in Europe. The EU is anti-death penalty. So what will happen if Missouri goes ahead with the executions is that the EU will slap export controls on the drug. Which means that propofol will be much harder to get for surgical use and probably a hell of a lot more expensive, as the drug distributors will have to implement rather strict tracking protocols.

Missouri governor Jay Nixon's response to all that can be summed up in two words: Fuck you.

Propofol is widely used because it has some advantages that are important to patients. It acts quickly, patients recover from it quickly and there is almost no post-anesthesia nausea. It's so good at what it's used for that something like for 80% or better of the procedures requiring general anesthesia.

But Nixon has two guys to execute and if that means that after your next colonoscopy you're going to have to spend the night in the hospital because you're groggy and barfing, well, fuck you.

And before you accuse me of being anti-death penalty, take a look at one of the guys that Missouri is going to execute. He killed (or participated in the killing of) two men who were acting as good samaritans. Those killers' cars had broken down at the side of the road several times. At least twice, men stopped to help and were murdered by the thugs. The other guy is a serial killer who killed people based on race and religion. As far as I'm concerned, the state could fasten them to railroad tracks and run freight trains over them.

Harming untold number of surgery patients as a side-effect of executing those guys is unacceptable. Nixon should change his mind. But he's a politician and if getting another office means tromping on bodies, that's what he'll do.

Texas is buying its execution drugs from a compounding pharmacy in the state as a way to avoid EU export controls. So the EU officially doesn't care.

It's sort of amazing that there can be a state governor that is dumber than Rick Perry, but Jay Nixon seems to have slipped below that mark.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Boehner Bunglers

I usually don't link to the NY Times anymore, not since they went behind a limited-access paywall.

But you may want to use a bit of your limited access to read Paul Krugman's column on how Boehner and the Tea Party wing of the GOP have bungled themselves into this mess.

This point needs to the shouted from the rooftops: The Republicans planned this all along. More more precisely, they planned to use the threat of a government shutdown and a deficit default to force the President to walk away from the Affordable Care Act. As Krugman put it:
This was crazy talk. After all, health reform is Mr. Obama’s signature domestic achievement. You’d have to be completely clueless to believe that he could be bullied into giving up his entire legacy by a defeated, unpopular G.O.P. — as opposed to responding, as he has, by making resistance to blackmail an issue of principle. But the possibility that their strategy might backfire doesn’t seem to have occurred to the would-be extortionists.
What do you call people who would use the threat of trashing the economy and the good credit of the United States in order to get their way?

You might call them "Republicans". Or "traffickers in sedition and treason." Or just criminals.

Man, do we need a centrist party to rise up, in the same way that the GOP itself arose from the ashes of the Whigs. My fear is that the ashes of the GOP will be mixed in with the ashes of our economy.

Why Aren't Federal Workers Back On the Job?

They'r going to get paid, so why aren't they working?
The House of Representatives passed a bill granting back pay to federal employees who have been furloughed during the shutdown. ... Senate Democratic leaders have not commented publicly on the proposal, but the White House has signaled its strong support.
It'd be like working for a company that was slow on getting its paychecks out. You're going to get your money, just not soon.

If they're not working and they're getting paid, then shouldn't they get charged vacation or sick days?

Look, I don't think it's particularly fair that the Federal workers take the hit because the GOP has decided to indulge in legislative terrorism, but I also don't think it's fair to the national treasury that people get paid for sitting at home and surfing the `net, either.

What Do Gangbangers and House Republicans Have in Common?

Apparently quite a lot.
Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN): "We're not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is."
I just went looking for the quote and found the WaPo column that I linked to. It does a good job in pointing out that the side screaming that it wants respect has been the side that has never given it.

The business community is going batshit, for they see nothing good coming out of both the shutdown and a debt default. They may be right, but I would want to ask this of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: How has electing all of those clowns worked out for you? You guys poured millions upon millions of dollars into electing those fools and now they are poised to wreck the economy. Did you get your money's worth from them?

Well, they said "the South will rise again". Seems that their version of "rising" will be to pull the nation down. Because like it or not, these are pretty much the same group of traitors who tried to rip the country apart in 1861. They're the same group that enacted Jim Crow laws, that battled over ending segregation.

And now they're trying to destroy the country through the use of tactics that can only be described as "legislative terrorism".

Back in the day when the Navy may or may not have had tactical nuclear weapons, the doctrine in dealing with any hostage-taking attempt to gain access was pretty stark: No negotiations. If it was necessary to kill the hostages to gain control, then go for it. That changed, slightly, to allowing a consideration of the welfare of the hostages, but the same bottom line prevailed: The hostage-takers were not to get what they wanted.

I don't see a way out of here.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

3-Gun Match: Medium Speed & Drag

What I shot at a three-gun match earlier today:


Top to bottom: Ithaca (SKB) Model 600 in 20 gauge, a M-1 Garand, and a Smith & Wesson Model 19.

The course of five was at 4 swinging steel plates at 25 yards with a handgun, two steel silhouettes at 20 yards with a shotgun and two double-taps on two silhouettes with a rifle at 50 and 75 yards. I thought that I'd speed up my game a little over the last match by taking a semiautomatic rifle.

I didn't do badly, something like 30.5 seconds, including a fifth shot at the handgun plates. The silhouette targets were hard to see; they were black on black backers and there was a lot of sun glare. I did outshoot a fair number of the "high-speed, low drag" boys to come in around the middle of the pack. They mostly all shot .223, 9mm or .22 carbines. One shooter had an AR-15A2, another had a Henry .22 and yet another shot a M-1 carbine.

All fun.

I would have liked to have gone flying, but a front came though bringing strong winds behind it. 20+kt gusts that are blowing directly across the runway are not fun to deal with, especially in a taildragger.

On to gun cleaning and laundry. Jake's litter box is overdue for a scrub-down. At least he is nowhere near as particular about that as was George (peace be upon him).

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

The DC-8:



DC-8s were not as famous as the 707s, but they were far more versatile. DC-8s were more easily stretched and they could be reengined and/or fitted with "hush kits" to meet noise regulations. Forty years after they went out of production, you can often still find one in the air, earning its keep.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

I Wuz Robbed, I Tells Ya!

Of $8 admission to the local gun show.

The prices that the vendors wanted were unreal. Which is probably why I saw a heck of a lot of people wandering around the hall and hardly anyone forking over any money.

One seller had a nice S&W Model 10-5 in his case, but he wanted $690 for it. I don't think that even Cabela's, which horrendously overprices its "gun library" would ask for that much.

CCI .22 ammo in hundred round boxes? One guy wanted $18 a box. The same 100-round box of Remington .38+P that the local Wal-Mart had on the shelf this week for $38 was $55 at the show.

A generic Mosin-Nagant, still dripping on cosmoline, that was $200. An equally generic SKS was marked at $675.

Maybe 30 or so years ago, gun shows were places where some decent deals could be had. The last few shows that I've been to, I've seen nothing that would be worth opening one's wallet. I hope those vendors have a lot of fun packing their shit back up.

Caturday

Jake is taking his ease on my bed. The sheets are off and in the washer.


I recently washed the white throw that he is lying on. I hadn't done that in months, I haven't needed to. When Gracie was alive, between her hairballing and tendency to sometimes get crap in her ass hairs (George also did that), I was washing that throw almost every week, sometimes more often.

Don't get me wrong, I miss both of them. But one cat is a lot less work than three.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Good Old-Fashioned Religious Bigotry; "Hobby Lobby" Edition

Hobby Lobby, as store that sells the same sort of crafting crap that you can buy everywhere else, opened a store in Marlboro, NJ. That town has a significant population of Jews.

So a local man went into the store and asked if they have Hannukah decorations. The store clerk said they didn't carry any. When asked why, the clerk gave this explanation:
"We don't cater to you people."
So the man called the store manager. In short the explanation was that the owner of the company, a thumper named Steve Green, is a bigoted asswipe who doesn't recognize anyone else's holidays. He called corporate in Oklahoma and was told much the same thing.

So a store that sells holiday decorations opens up in an area with a significant Jewish population and doesn't carry Hannukah kitsch? The only two possible explanations are "bigoted" and "stupid".

I'm going with "bigoted". They are a large chain, they surely do market research before opening new stores. They could not have failed to note the demographics of the town and the surrounding area. For a store of that nature, opening in the New York City metropolitan area and ignoring Jewish holidays is like opening a hardware store in Vermont and not stocking snow shovels- it's an inconceivable mistake.

One of the basic things in retail is to find out what customers want or need and sell it to them. I don't think Hobby Lobby is that stupid. But I do think they may be that bigoted. Good old-fashioned anti-Semitism never seems to go completely out of style in some circles.

There are lots of other stores that sell the same crap and they are happy to cater to Jewish customers.

I'll go there.

Because It's Friday

We'll end the logging miniseries with a Climax:


And from LRod, via e-mail:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Fable for Today

This story took place about seventy years ago.

There was this young boy of fifteen or so. He was kind of big for his age. He got caught up in all of the patriotic fervor of the time, he joined the Army.

Basic training was nothing like he expected. He was homesick and he got picked on a lot. So he wrote his father and asked for his dad's help in proving his age so he could be discharged for being underage.

His dad sent back a very short reply: "Boy, you got yourself into this. You get yourself out of it."

I'll bet that right about now, John Boehner knows how that kid felt.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

NSA Chronicles: Another Day, Another Lie Exposed, and Yet, the Tea Party Doesn't Give a Shit

Only this time, the leaker was Sen. Feinstein, who inadvertently disclosed that the NSA is collecting and keeping cellphone location data.

The NSA has repeatedly denied that they are doing this. But they are. Since it's a pretty safe bet that you have a cellphone, the NSA knows where you are and where you have been.

The NSA is also tracking everyone's use of social media because they want to know your personal relationships and who your friends are. They're collecting your browsing data (why are you still doing online banking).

This needs to be fixed.

Which brings me to the point of this post: How the Tea Party and the conservatives are wrapping themselves around the post on trivialities. They have shut down the Federal government over whether or not people who have not had heath insurance can have access to health insurance and medical care. Providing a national version of Romneycare is, according to them, the clearest and presentist danger to the Republic that has ever existed.*

Yet when clear evidence is presented to them of Federal government intrusion: Tracking what people do online, who they talk to on their phones and what they talk about, what they purchase with their credit/debit cards and where they are, well, all you hear from the Right is silence.

This is the Tea Party calculus:
  • Government providing health insurance to millions more people- that's tyranny! Shut down the government!!
  • Government actually spying on all Americans- meh. Nothing to worry about.
They are fucking insane. And no, I am not engaging in bombast, they are truly fucking drooling strait-jacket-ready batshit-crazy lunatics.

And they are holding our nation hostage to their delusions.

We are so screwed.

But fuck it, if they're going to try and wreck our country, let them do their worst. Let's have this fight, right here, right now. Let's get it over with.

We beat them in 1865. We can beat them now.

Let's do this thing.
______________________________
* Ignoring the British (18th-19th centuries), the German Third Reich, Imperial Japan and the Soviet Union, because they were minor threats.

Executive Summary of Investigation of F-35 Program: "Bow Wow! Woof! Woof"

Lockheed-Martin, the Navy* and the Air Force have been apparently using the F-35 program to conduct a master-level class in how not to run a large weapon system procurement program.**

Poor management, cost overruns, severe quality control issues-- hell, one might conclude they dug up the program managers for the Aardvark and gave them the keys to the F-35 office.

Note the comment in the article that the F-35 may break the Pentagon's budget.

Forty years ago, there was a procurement study that projected that, given the cost growth in aircraft procurement programs since the Second World War, by 2060, the DoD would not be able to afford a new fighter program.

It now seems that the study's authors were grossly optimistic. We may be already there, thanks to the F-35. And LockMart.
____________________________________
* In this case, "Navy" includes the Marines, who share much much of the responsibility for the dogginess of the F-35.
** As if the Air Force needed the practice.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Shutdown

I haven't blogged about the Federal government shutdown because it seems pointless. The Republicans lost the fight to enact the Affordable Care Act. They lost in the courts. The ACA, aka Obamacare, was a central talking point for Republicans in general and the Romney/Ryan campaign in the 2012 presidential election. They tried over three dozen times to repeal it.

They've failed every time.

So now they are taking the government itself hostage in order to get their way. They say they want the Obama Administration to negotiate with them, but it is clear that their idea of negotiation is "you have to do it our way."

The latest GOP talking point is "Obama can negotiate with the Iranians, but not with us?"

Jon Steward had the best comment on that: "If it turns out that President Barack Obama can make a deal with the most intransigent, hard-line, unreasonable, totalitarian mullahs in the world but not with Republicans, maybe he's not the problem."

PS: They might have to cancel the Navy-AF football game this weekend. Cry me a fucking river.

PPS: