Words of Advice:

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

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

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

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

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

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Monday, August 31, 2009

One Song That Does Not Seem to Get Old

Life in Wartime:



Other than references to records, the Mudd Clubb and CBGB, the times have only gotten worse. There are a number of different versions of the lyrics on the Intretubes, but one had this as the last two lines.
Try to be careful, don’t take no chances,
You better watch what you say.

Free Tip to Businesses with Web Sites

If you have a business with a web site and if your web site has a "contact us" button or a link to your business e-mail address...CHECK YOUR MOTHERFUCKING E-MAIL ACCOUNT ONCE IN A WHILE!!!!

It is rather annoying to those of us who would use that feature to ask a question regarding some of the goods which you are offering for sale.

That is all.

The Truth About City-Wide Surveillance Cameras

They are not effective. In London, probably the most monitored city on the planet, the cameras solve one crime per thousand cameras per year.

CCTV cameras are nothing more than a sop to a gullible public and to politicians who feel the need to show that "something is being done, by the Jeez."

Why We Are So Screwed

According to Paul Krugman, it is a combination of two factors. First, the GOP has gone from rational moderation completely into batshit-crazy mode. Second, the corporate lobbyists give so much cash out on Capitol Hill that they have, in essence, purchased enough to the Congress to stifle any real reform.
[S]urveying current politics, I find myself missing Richard Nixon.

No, I haven’t lost my mind. Nixon was surely the worst person other than Dick Cheney ever to control the executive branch.

But the Nixon era was a time in which leading figures in both parties were capable of speaking rationally about policy, and in which policy decisions weren’t as warped by corporate cash as they are now. America is a better country in many ways than it was 35 years ago, but our political system’s ability to deal with real problems has been degraded to such an extent that I sometimes wonder whether the country is still governable.
I think he may be correct. And it is not going to change anytime soon, since not only is the Congress in thrall to corporations and cash-flush interest and astroturf groups funded by them.

In recent years, the Supreme Court has aligned itself, time after time, with the rich and the powerful to the detriment of the poor and the workers. Any attempt to rein in the effect of corporate cash on the political process would fail at the Supreme Court.

Let's get to the most corrosive idea that has corrupted the political process: The legal fiction that corporations are natural persons. They are not. You cannot beat the shit out of a corporation. A corporation cannot be imprisoned. Corporations feel no pain, they have no emotions, no instinct. Corporations may be considered to be artificial persons for the purposes of contracts, regulations and criminal law. Corporations should have some limited rights of free speech; the concept of commercial speech is fairly well settled.

The idea that corporations have the full First Amendment rights of citizens does little more than enable corruption. You need only look at the current health-care debate to see senators from marginally productive states falling in line to defend the health insurance companies. Those senators are from states with high levels of poor and working poor people who would stand the most to benefit from a national health care system with a robust public option, yet those senators are more than willing to put their boots in the backs of their constituents and stand on their prostrate bodies in order to accept larger and larger bribes campaign contributions from the health insurance industry's lobbyists.

One of the things that keeps workers tied to bad jobs is health insurance. People will stay in a job that does not suit them and accept masses of abuse from their superiors because they have health insurance. And that last point, Dear Reader, will be the subject of another post.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bob Dole, A Republican No More

From his piece in Newsweek on Ted Kennedy:
[Ted Kennedy] was proud of what he did, but he didn't wear it on his sleeve and remind you every day what a great guy he was. He was doing things that should have been done. He was not helping the rich. He was helping the disabled and seniors and children who didn't have enough to eat. Who can fault that?
Obviously, virtually all of the GOP these days could fault that.

Conservatism over the last couple of decades has struck me as being basically about the meanest, greediest and most self centered/selfish ideology there possibly can be. If a government program benefits them, they are all for it. Even if they are against the program, they have no compunction enriching themselves from it.

You can find no shortage of conservative politicians who railed against the stimulus package but then took credit for the stimulus money going to their states/district. Look at the current health care debate and you'll find conservatives working to make certain that their special interests get money.

The meanness trickles down. I've known no small number of Republicans who complained about the schools cutting programs when their kids were in school but, once all of their spawn have graduated, they were against all school funding. That is an attitude that is dripping in selfishness., it's an attitude of "government should serve only me."

Liberals have their faults. But liberalism, especially the New Deal type, is concerned with those who are on the bottom rung of the economic ladder. The only concern of conservatives is to make it easier for employers to exploit such people and for corporations to sell them shoddy goods.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Oh. Gee. The Pentagon Lied. What a Shock.

I noted a few days ago that the Pentagon was denying that they were not letting reporters go out to visit units in Afghanistan if the reporters had written unfavorable stories. I expressed disbelief at that denial.

Well, guess what, sports fans? They were lying all along and they have now admitted that they were denying access to reporters who were not willing to participate in promulgating Pentagon propaganda. Stars & Stripes:
The secret profiles commissioned by the Pentagon to rate the work of journalists reporting from Afghanistan were used by military officials to deny disfavored reporters access to American fighting units or otherwise influence their coverage as recently as 2008, an Army official acknowledged Friday.

What’s more, the official said, Army public affairs officers used the analyses of reporters’ work to decide how to steer them away from potentially negative stories.
What the Army and the Pentagon are looking for are propagandists, not reporters. They want people who will just regurgitate the stuff the Army puts out. What they don't want are reporters who will go look under the rocks and find out the real truth of the matter.

Maybe the Army and the Pentagon ought to dwell on what "freedom" and "liberty" are all about, for it seems that they have forgotten.

When Coffee Comes Out My Nose

When I read this:
The only [Judeo-Christian] tradition I'm aware of is that every 50 or 100 years the Christians try to exterminate the Jews.
Might want to point that out to the Wingnuts sometime.

Guest Caturday

These are outdoor cats around a friend's house.

Sweetie is Gracie's littermate. She is maybe 60% of Gracie's weight, yet both sisters are showing signs of arthritis. She is mostly feral.


Ralph is a neighbor's cat. He destroys screens to get out, so they gave up trying to keep him in. He was told my my friend to stay out of her catnip pot and she was convinced that he was obeying her. This photo proved otherwise.


This is a new arrival for the food line. He's been named "Tom". For an apparently unneutered male, he is very mellow. Long term plan is to gain his trust and then have him neutered.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Another GOP-Wingnut For "Democracy by Bullet"

The Wingnuts who are for the assassination of the Presidnet just keep on coming.
An Idaho Republican gubernatorial hopeful insists he was only joking when he said he'd buy a license to hunt President Barack Obama.

Rex Rammell, a long-shot candidate slated to run against incumbent C.L. "Butch" Otter in the May 2010 GOP primary, made the comment at a Republican rally Tuesday in Twin Falls where talk turned to the state's planned wolf hunt, for which hunters must purchase an $11.50 wolf tag. The hunt is due to begin on Tuesday.

When an audience member shouted a question about "Obama tags," Rammell responded, "The Obama tags? We'd buy some of those."
So this is what it has come to: If they can't try to force a Democratic president out by impeachment, they'll try to stir people up to shoot him.

He's about a day behind an Arizona preacher to preached to his congregation that President Obama should die.

What is it with the Right on this? Are they so upset by the idea that a Black man actually won an election for the presidency (the first honest presidential election in 12 years) that they are now reduced to threats of violence and prayers for his death?

Stop the Security Insanity

This is the aviation security zone, known as a "Temporary Flight Restriction", that was imposed because the President is going to attend the funeral of Sen. Kennedy


Note that it extends down to Providence, RI, out to Worchester, MA and up to NH. The one imposed over Martha's Vineyard covers Nantucket and most of Cape Cod.

This insanity needs to be stopped. I have not seen anything whatsoever that supports the notion that terrorists are planning to use aircraft to carry out a presidential assassination. There is no reason to stop every itty bitty Cessna out there from flying within 30 nautical miles of the president's location.

And let's say, for the sake of argument, that airplanes were considered to be weapons. Airplanes are legal to own in every state in the Union and are nowhere near as controlled in ownership as firearms. All one has to do is send the appropriate bill of sale to the FAA, there is no background check. It's like buying a car from a private party. If people can bring guns to the vicinity of a presidential event, then why can't we fly our airplanes?

The presidential TFRs are security theater, nothing more, nothing less. They should be drastically scaled back.

When Beer Glasses Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Beer Glasses

The Milquetoast Nanny State (formerly known as "Great Britain") is in the process of outlawing the use of beer glasses and beer bottles in pubs because they can be used as weapons.

No, this is not a joke. There is no word on whether they are going to mandate that every citizen in the UK wear a helmet, install safety rails on their beds, require the use of plastic scissors and whether they are going to wrap foam-rubber padding around all parking meters and utility poles so that their most loyal subjects don't hurt themselves. But you can bet that the British Home Office will be looking into it real soon.

(H/T)

The Kennedy "Luck"

Anne Laurie wrote a beautiful essay about Ted Kennedy and Eunice Shriver, in which she give a firm back-of-the-hand slap to those Wingnuts who are insulting their memories before their bodies have cooled.

I suggest that you take a few minutes out of your day and read it.

Torture Fallout

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is connecting the dots:
“To put it simply, we need to worry a lot less about how to communicate our actions and much more about what our actions communicate,” Admiral Mullen wrote in the critique, an essay to be published Friday by Joint Force Quarterly, an official military journal.

“I would argue that most strategic communication problems are not communication problems at all,” he wrote. “They are policy and execution problems. Each time we fail to live up to our values or don’t follow up on a promise, we look more and more like the arrogant Americans the enemy claims we are.”
Which is something that a lot of of people have been saying for years, with little effect, as the supra-legal arrogance of the Bush Administration was acted out. "Do as we say, not as we do" has never been a workable way to persuade people of the righteousness of one's cause. You may also want to read "A Long, Hard Fall from the Pedestal", though there is an undercurrent in the article of "most of us didn't want to do this, but `befehl ist befehl'."

The prison complex at Guantanamo Bay, the feeble attempts at any sort of legal process there, and the use of torture have done enormous damage to our national credibility, as has the entire Iraq War, which has been regarded as a war of choice (if not an outright act of aggression) by virtually everyone outside of the Loyal Defenders of All Things Chimpy.

Humor that Cuts Too Close to the Bone

I saw these pieces yesterday in the Onion and frankly, they are both too close to the truth to be very funny.

First the Birthers, now the Afterbirthers.

If that wasn't bad enough, this video is just too frelling close to how the torture debate has been playing out. You might need a drink.


Is Using A Minotaur To Gore Detainees A Form Of Torture?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Oh, Gee, Guess I'm Twice as Rich as I Thought I Was"

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY, who amended his financial disclosure forms to show he has twice as much loot as he earlier said.

I'm not buying the "there's a good explanation" line. If there was, he would have offered it. Rangel has a pretty bad record over the last few years of skirting ethics rules and the law, including having four rent-controlled apartments when only a "primary residence" can be under rent control.

Good timing on his part to release this latest story at the same time that Ted Kennedy died, almost guaranteeing that the Rangel story will sink like a lead brink.

Price Cut for "The Red Ring of Death" Machine

Microsoft is cutting the prices for the Xbox 360.


If you buy one, may you avoid seeing The Red Ring of Death.

Yet Another GOP Politician Proclaims a Lack of Bigotry

Yeah, sure, she's not a bigot:
U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins offered encouragement to conservatives at a town hall forum that the Republican Party would embrace a "great white hope" capable of thwarting the political agenda endorsed by Democrats who control Congress and President Barack Obama.
Gordon explains where that term originated and you can bet your flabby ass that it was very much a racist origin.

If Rep. Jenkins is not a bigot, then she is terribly tone-deaf. Is there a politician around who does not now understand that any remarks made in public, as well as most made in private, are going to be broadcast to the world? There probably was once a day when what was printed in a Topeka newspaper wouldn't have been seen outside of Kansas, but those days are long gone.

Babbling Out of Both of Their Faces

Republican politicians who both lambaste the stimulus and then line up to get money from the stimulus package for their favored campaign contributors constituents.

If it is true that "money is the mother's milk of politics", then blatant hypocrisy is a first cousin.

787 First Flight

Being expects to fly it by the end of the year, which is two years behind schedule.

EADS had delay problems with its A380, but the A380 was just huger than shit, it wasn't the leap in technology that the 787 promises to be.

In one of the burgeoning number of "Downfall" parodies, Hitler is not at all happy about having ordered 787s for his airline.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why Choose a Pistol

I am using "pistol" in this post as a shorthand for "semi-automatic pistol" or "autoloading pistol".[1] The earlier post with regard to the case for revolvers is here.

Pistols have several advantages over revolvers:

First, a similar-sized pistol will almost always carry more ammunition. A snub-nosed revolver in the 13-19oz weight range will normally hold five rounds, possibly six. A pistol in that weight range (.380, 9mm) will hold six to eight rounds. As you go closer to 30oz or so, you can have double-stack 9mms that hold a dozen rounds or more and single-stack .45s with nine rounds. The advantages of having more cartridges in a gunfight need hardly be expounded upon.

Second, if you carry a second magazine, a pistol is far faster and easier to reload. Eject the empty magazine, insert a second magazine, thumb off the slide release and you're back in the fight. Revolvers require more steps and unwieldy gadgets such as speedloaders or speed strips.

Third, a pistol is almost always thinner across than a revolver. Even a five-shot .38 snubbie is nearly two inches thick, while a compact 9mm/.380 will be half that. Thinner means easier to conceal.

Fourth, a pistol is far easier to maintain, tune and customize. Revolvers are far more intricate in their workings. Only brave souls and gunsmiths toy with the mechanism of a revolver. Many pistols can be easily detail-stripped to their individual parts and reassembled, as they were designed to be maintained by people without trade-school level training and in not optimal conditions.

Fifth, pistols can be safer around children. The average child will have a very hard time trying to load and fire a 1911 or most other pistols. Racking the slide normally takes some hand strength.

Sixth, the complexity and the variability of the operation of many makes of pistols could give you a moment's edge in a struggle if your opponent gets possession of your gun. He may try to move the safety up when it is moved down to fire or vice versa. He may decock the weapon instead. He might drop the magazine out of the pistol. Revolvers, on the other hand, can be fired by idiots and small children.

Seventh, because pistols use the recoil energy of the cartridge to chamber a fresh round, the ammunition generally has the same level of impulse for both target and defensive rounds. You will have to train the way you will fight. You won't be surprised by the recoil of the weapon; unlike in a revolver, where if you use light target loads for practice and heavy loads for defense, you may have a nasty surprise when you fire one off and the weapon kicks back a lot harder than you are accustomed to.


[1]So sue me.

Republican Congressman Praises Self-Identified Terrorist

California House Representative Wally Herger (R) has expressed support for right-wing terrorism. Herger was hosting a town hall meeting when citizen Bert Stead called himself a “proud right-wing terrorist.”

Herger responded, “Amen, God bless you. There is a great American.”
So this is what it has come to-- Republicans are acting as cheerleaders for terrorists.

Ah, I remember the days when someone who proclaimed that he was a "terrorist" would have been disappeared right into the brig at the Charleston Naval Weapons Station or sent to GITMO. But now, a Republican in Congress is praising a terrorist, calling him a "great American" and asking the Almighty to bless him.

I'll bet that Herger has an autographed photo of that most famous right-wing terrorist, Timothy McVeigh on his wall.

Ted Kennedy

Has died at age 77.

I am certain that there will be no shortage of conservative bloggers who are chortling today as they type their nasty-ass entries.[1] On one level, I understand that, for I would probably feel much the same way if the news were about the passing of Jeff Sessions.[2]

On the other hand, they can go fuck themselves. Ted Kennedy, unlike the members of a prominent Republican family I can name, did not spend his days working to ensure that his wealthy buddies got even richer. Ted Kennedy did not spend his political life destroying the programs that help the poor while providing larger and larger tax breaks for the wealthy. Ted Kennedy worked for the people of his state and, yes, for the rest of the nation, not just those who made over $300,000 a year and who could afford to give large campaign contributions.

To the Democrats in the Senate who have gleefully shat all over Ted Kennedy's dream of making routine health care available to all Americans: Go fuck yourselves. No doubt you are now mouthing platitudes to the stenographers reporters about "how great a senator he was." Save it. You guys are pre-paid whores to the health insurance companies and you know it. You're nothing more than backstabbers and weasels in expensive suits.

To the Republicans who are now offering condolences and tributes: Stuff it. You're not fooling anyone.

(Ann Laurie , Jill, `Nucks are all worth the read)

[1]This afternoon, I visited a few conservative blogs, but not the batshit wingnut ones. For the most part, I saw what I expected to see. Pretty sad, considering that Ted Kennedy cared more about the American people than any busload of folks from the last Administration and their goat-fucking colleagues in the Congress.

[2]Sessions is in the Senate, which is why I named him.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Torture Nation

Andrew Sullivan compares the response of the American people to allegations that our government tortured prisoners to the response of the Iranian people to allegations that their government tortured people. Americans come up short. The money quote:
Our job, in other words, is to raise the core moral baseline of Americans to that of Iranians. That's the depth of the hole Cheney dug. And it's a hole the current GOP wants to dig deeper and darker.

Yeah, Sure, Tell Me Another

Military commanders in Afghanistan are not rejecting requests from reporters who want to accompany U.S. troops in Afghanistan because their prior coverage of the military has been negative, the Pentagon said Monday.

The denial came after the newspaper Stars and Stripes reported that The Rendon Group, a Washington-based public relations firm with a controversial past, is screening work by journalists seeking "embed" assignments and giving them positive, neutral or negative ratings as part of a background profile.
Yeah, sure, they'd never ever think of rating reporters and refusing to embed reporters who did not write favorable coverage.

Except when they do.

Heavy Lifiting on Gun Control

Marko the Munchkin Wrangler:

Why voting for gun control is voting for thunderdome.

Why the gun is civilization.

Give them nothing
.

At least one of the above has been credited to a fictional "Major Caudill".

The End Result of GOP Obstructionism

is that while the Bush Administration and the GOP goons in the Congress obstructed and argued against and delayed any work on renewable energy sources and while they denied any need to do so (funded by their friends in the coal, oil and gas industries), the Chinese are on the verge of eating our lunch when it comes to solar power.

If you want to have inexpensive solar cells, you will be buying them from a Chinese company.

Chalk up another win for the party of Neanderthals.

Watch for the Great Flip-Flop on Guns

Rudy Giuliani is thinking of running for governor of New York. He was strongly for gun control when he was mayor of New York City. he was against gun control when he ran for president.

If he does run for governor, I'll bet that he flips once more.

Apparently, the only thing that Giuliani really believes is that he should be in charge. All of the rest is negotiable. You can bet that if the GOP primary electorate in 2008 had been strongly in favor of castrating illegal aliens, that he would have been in favor of it. He'd be a communist or a fascist if either party had the best chance of winning an election.

Torture Nation

"Extraordinary rendition" will continue. The only change is that the nations receiving the prisoners for "questioning" have to really no-shit promise that they won't torture the prisoners (wink,wink).

Color me "seriously unimpressed."

Conan the Comedian

From last night's show:
"Fox News host Glenn Beck has lost over thirty sponsors since he called President Obama a racist, and the latest sponsor that he just lost is Clorox Bleach. Isn't that weird? It's amazing! Even a company whose sole purpose is to make things whiter thinks Glenn Beck has gone too far."
It is also weird that Viagra is one of Conan's sponsors; late-night sex and late-night television are kind of contradictory, no?

Bill Mahrer was on the show, he made this proposal to the Birthers: He will show them Barack Obama's birth certificate when they show him Sarah Palin's high school diploma.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Doctors Are Stupid

Seriously stupid.

This is what I mean: When I go into a doctor's or dentist's office, the staffie behind the desk almost invariably hands me three or four pages of forms to fill out. The information is the same: (name, date of birth, residence, etc., etc.) When I ask "don't you have this on file", I invariably get some lame-ass excuse that "we have to re-verify everything" or some crap like that.

Contrast that, if you will, to when I take my car into the local dealership for a major maintenance check. I call and make the appointment, they verify that it's the same car that I had the last time. When I get there, they have a work order printed out with name, address, telephone numbers, car data, etc. If I haven't moved or changed jobs, the only thing they have to fill in is the mileage. Everything else is pre-printed.

So, you might ask, why is an auto maintenance shop far more efficient for paperwork than a doctor's office?

Hell if I know. Maybe we ought to, as part of the health care "reform"[1], make all doctors go work for six months in an automobile repair shop.

(So what I do is sit down, ignore the "please print" instructions and scrawl, in my quasi-legible handwriting, into the blocks. Where nothing has changed, that's what I write. I have never had any of the staffies question me on this.)

[1]"Reform" being defined as "kowtowing to the senators who (i) have been bribed received large donations from the health insurance lobbyists; or (ii) are part of the party which overwhelmingly lost the last election."

Message to the Wingnut Dumb Shits Who Do Not Know that Hawaii is a State

Why, then, did you think that the show was called "Hawaii Five O"?

"Some", in This Instance, Equates to "95% or Better"

Rep. Maxine Waters referred to some of the GOP Senators as "neanderthals".

I wonder why she is being so courteous and deferential to them. I think they are all pigs who don't give a fuck about the country.

40+ million uninsured Americans and the GOP's advice to them is: "Die soon, unless we can figure out a way to make it worth the while of the health insurance companies to keep you alive."

Don't Pee on My Leg and Tell Me That It's Raining

Former Senator and current sleazeball Tom Daschle, who is advising both President Obama and the health insurance companies/big pharma at the same time (and probably pulling down millions of dollars to do it).

And he is, quite possibly, breaking the law:
Some of the health overhaul bills would make deep cuts in Medicare payments for home health services, but Mr. Daschle has instead argued for an increase. And though he does not lobby, he took that message to Capitol Hill last month, giving a paid speech at a meeting for Congressional staff convened by a group of home health care equipment concerns.
Making a case for something to congressional staffers is lobbying. "Lobbying" is not just talking to congresscritters, it is trying to persuade any government official to see things your way. The "oh, he only gave a speech" is a legal fiction. David Kirkpatrick and his editors at the NY Times ought to be pelted with rotten fruit for buying into it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Those Crazy Englishmen



Only they would be crazy enough to raise the money to build, from scratch, a brand-new mainline-capable steam locomotive.

It is an amazing feat.

What Joe Lieberman Has in Common With the French

Both Joe Lieberman and the French are allies upon whom you would be foolish to rely.

As President Obama is finding out
. Lieberman switches sides faster than the Italians once did.

Why Choose a Revolver

It was been roughly 100 years since the world's larger militaries began to adopt semiautomatic pistols. American police began their wholesale shift to pistols over 20 years ago. It would seem that revolvers are a dying technology. Why would anyone choose a double-action revolver?

There are several reasons. The chief operating characteristic of a revolver is that none of the energy from the discharge of the cartridge is used to operate the revolver.[1] The revolver's mechanism is operated by the squeezing of the trigger, which rotates the cylinder, cocks the hammer and then releases the hammer to strike the primer of the cartridge. This is what gives the revolver its advantages.

First, the mass of the revolver is independent of its operation. If you want a .357 that weighs less than a pound or is close to three pounds, you can buy one. With a pistol, there is a size limit for any particular cartridge below which the weapon cannot go, as the slide cannot open the chamber until the pressure drops to below certain levels (which is why some pistols are "blowback" operated and others use a variant of John Browning's locked breech system).

Second, because the operation is so simple, there is less to go wrong. There are no "tap-rack-bang" drills for a revolver. The manual of arms for a double action revolver, especially the S&W shrouded-hammer models is as simple as "load the cylinder, close the cylinder, aim, squeeze the trigger to fire, repeat until empty, open the cylinder, eject the spent cartridges. Repeat as needed." The rest is just practice.

Third, because of the method of operation of a revolver, there is no issue of "limp-wristing" to cause a malfunction. Some pistols will jam if the shooter does not hold it firmly. True, revolvers can jam, but it is a rare occurrence compared to a pistol.

Fourth, because the energy of the cartridge is not also used to operate the mechanism, you can fire any round that will safely shoot from the weapon. In a .357, you can use everything from primer-operated wax rounds for training to heavy 158 grain soft points. You can shoot wadcutters or .38 Specials on the range for practice, which is a real plus when your revolver is one of the featherweights, as long as you occasionally shoot your full-power carry load so you know what to expect. Yes, the point of impact will be different, but I submit that at the typical ranges for close encounters of the deadly kind, the difference in the points of impact between target and full-charge loads will be insignificant at best.

Fifth, revolvers are dirt-simple to operate, which means in a bad situation, when your heart is racing and adrenalin is flowing, there is nothing to remember, no intricate steps to perform. Aim and fire. It also means that there is less training to be done. If you cannot spend a lot of time at a range, a revolver is a better choice.

(Soon to come- the other side of the argument)

[1] Yes, I know about the Webley-Fosbury Automatic Revolver.

Good Book

"The Great Game", by Peter Hopkirk. I bought it because I had seen a good reference to it at Abu Muqawama. When it came, along with "World War Z", I looked at it and thought "500+ pages of history about Central Asia, yeah, right, this is going to be dryer than sand." So I put it aside.

This past week I read it. It was very readable, I'd even call it a fast read, or as fast as you're going to read just north of 500 pages. The first chapter starts with the Mongol Invasion; this is the first paragraph:
You could smell them coming, it was said, even before you heard the thunder of their hooves. But by then it was too late. Within seconds came the first murderous torrent of arrows, blotting out the sun and turning day into night. Then they were upon you - slaughtering, raping, pillaging and burning. Like molten lava, they destroyed everything in their path. Behind them they left a trail of smoking cities and bleached bones, leading all the way back to their homeland in Central Asia. "Soldiers of the Antichrist come to reap the last dreadful harvest," one thirteenth-century scholar called the Mongol hordes.
If you want a long-term look at how we got to the current state of affairs in Central Asia, this book should be on your real-short-list.

Why Snubbies Rule

This is a Government Model Colt, Series-80, commonly referred to as a "1911". Lying on top of the pistol is a loaded 8-round magazine, with an additional round on top of that. This would be the common carry configuration.

Note the weight: Just a skosh over 2lbs, 10 oz, or 42oz.

This is a Taurus Model 85. This particular model has a steel frame and is chambered in .357 magnum. The rounds are .38+P. I added a speedloader with an additional five rounds to bring the ammunition capacities up to something similar.

Note the weight: 1lb, 12oz (ok, just a shade under), or 28oz. Leaving out the speedloader would reduce that to 1lb, 9 oz, or 25oz.

That is for a steel-framed, steel barreled revolver. Smith& Wesson Airweight (aluminum frame) .38s would weigh in at about 18oz, fully loaded. You can shave about 3oz from that with a S&W "Scantium" airweight or a Ruger LCR.

So, which would you carry, day in and day out?

It's That Time of the Year Again

For Beloit College's annual "Mindset List".

If they had been doing them back in my day, the entries would have included items such as "there has always been a war in Vietnam", "you could always watch political conventions on television" and "you have never needed an operator to place a long-distance, station-to-station telephone call".

I Don't Know the Answer to This Question

When one man, Abdul Hanan, complained that “more people are dying,” First Lt. Jake Weldon told him that the Taliban “take away your schools, they take away your hospitals; we bring those things.”

Mr. Hanan remained doubtful. Some people have fled the area, fearful of violence since the Marines have arrived. He asked, “So you want to build us a hospital or school, but if nobody is here, what do we do?”
Read the whole article. The Marines have a near-impossible task in Afghanistan, given the size of Helmand Province.[1] Hamid Karzai, the Mayor of Kabul President of Afghanistan, has been on the job for nearly eight years (he was installed by the Bush Administration until he won the election five years ago). There is no meaningful local security force in Afghanistan, leaving it to NATO and the Americans to supply security.[2]

The problem there, of course, is that Afghans have a long history of limited willingness to tolerate the presence of foreign forces. The Taliban's leadership are a brutal bunch, but they are Pashtuns, which make up over 40% of the population.

The West (NATO and the U.S. commands) has been in Afghanistan for nearly eight years. It can be argued that the window for a favorable outcome has come and gone. We cannot flood the country with troops. Afghanistan has far rougher terrain, few paved roads and is nearly 50% larger than Iraq and we have far, far fewer troops in Afghanistan than in Iraq.

According to Unicef, the literacy rate for young people (15-24) in Afghanistan is 49% for men, 18% for women; the corresponding statistics for Iraq are 89% and 81%. Faced with widespread illiteracy (the numbers are undoubtedly worse in the remote areas that are under Taliban control), the geniuses running this war only now have figured out that they should use radio stations to try to reach the Afghanis.

The Taliban have the support of enough people to win an insurgency. They have a place of refuge, where western forces cannot go. And they have funding, both from the growing of opium and the sale of heroin into the wholesale black market and from elements of the Pakistani intelligence community. If we cannot break at least one of the three legs of their insurgency, we can stay and pour in more troops and all we are doing is running up the butcher's bill, for they will outlast us.

And therein lies the answer to Mr. Hanan's question.

[1]I saw "near-impossible" because the Marines have a well-deserved reputation of accomplishing the impossible.

[2]The blame for the failure to build up any sort of meaningful indigenous security forces rests with the Bush Administration, which starved the effort in Afghanistan in order to go on Bush's Most Glorious Iraqi Adventure.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Whiny-Ass Liberals of Fox News

Jon Stewart points out that Fox News has taken on all of the traits that they once loathed. One among them is how Fox used to give the back of the hand to political protesters, but now they are stoking them.


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Fox News: The New Liberals
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests


Anyone who doesn't realize that Fox News is a Right-wing propaganda machine has, with all due respect, mush for brains.

Whiny Ass Crybabies With Guns

The current debate over health care should be a battle of ideas, of philosophies. Bringing a gun to a political event or public debate is not a debate or an argument. It is a threat.

Imagine, if you will, that you are sitting at a conference room table and you are negotiating a deal. At one point in the negotiation, when the negotiation is getting difficult, the other negotiator pulls out a .45 and puts it on the table. That is a threat.

In the political context, the threat is that "if you don't see things my way, I'll pull out my gun and make you do it my way." As noted in the opening chapter of the book "Collapse", when a Ravalli County Commissioner (Montana) proposed instituting a system of land use planning, members of far-Right militias showed up at the public meetings, openly carrying weapons in order to intimidate people.

Intimidating people as a political tool is not democracy. It is fascism. And more to the point of this post, if you feel the need to show up at a political or public event while ostentatiously carrying weapons, then you are both a whiny ass crybaby with a gun and you are a disgrace to the the concepts of freedom and democracy.

"Heads Full of Chuckle"

Are words which accurately describe those who are buying into the Wingnut disinformation campaign about health care. I'll let the writer's words speak for themselves.[1]
More and more people are taking the time to consider end-of-life health-care issues before the time of need.

A critical health event can happen without warning, and you might not feel comfortable leaving important decisions to an anxious, overwhelmed family member. Discussing advance directives with your doctor can give you peace of mind, knowing that your wishes will be honored.

Now we learn that Republicans don't like advance directives, though they put them into Medicare a few years ago.

A woman named Betsy McCaughey claimed that "Congress would make it mandatory...that every five years, people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner."

Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and others spread this false story far and wide. There is not a word of truth in the claim, but the provision that would have paid your doctor to discuss a living will with you has been removed from the bills before the Congress. That's a loss for all of us.

You might ask yourself why the Democratic Party, which brought you Social Security and Medicare, would suddenly want to kill you. I think it would take a head full of chuckle to believe such a tale.

Perhaps if the tea party people worked a little harder on their reading comprehension we could have an intelligent and spirited debate on real health- care issues. Or they can just keep trying to shout us down.
(H/T)

[1]I'm too frelling tired this morning to come up with much in the way of original content. A couple of hours worth of high-speed driving through heavy rain last night wiped me out. I'm getting old, damn it.

So, What's Happening in the Clean World? or, Mark Everything as "Read".

I've been offline for two days.

Caturday Preloaded

George is attending to a little personal grooming. It takes work to look that fine when you are a 13 year old cat (his birthday was last week.)

Jake is also attending to his appearance. Cats try to look good, they take great pains about their grooming, and they'll slit open another critter without a second thought.


Gracie is bored.



(I have been away this week, this post was uploaded a week ago yesterday.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Serious Timewaster on the Intertubes

Pingwire, which allows you to watch, in near real time, what photos are being uploaded to Twitter. Some are pretty good, most are awful in both subject matter and photo quality.

It seems to have a cycle if not enough new ones are being sent in.

I Am Shocked, Shocked, to Learn That the Bush Administration Played Politics With the Terror Alert Level

Yeah, that's a real surprise, ain't it? [/sarcasm]

At least it is to anyone who doesn't remember how the alert level went from yellow to orange and then back again on a damn-near weekly basis during the summer of 2004.

It is a surprise to anyone who doesn't remember that the alert level hasn't hardly changed since then.

(H/T)

The Dependable Renegade has the revised Stoplight of Death.

Idiotcracy, Part Duh

As the CrankyProf noted, only 23% of American high school seniors who took the ACT are ready to do college work.


The WSJ article she cited
stated that depressing number was actually a slight improvement.[1] Only two-thirds are competent in English and barely a majority can competently read. Cranky is on the front lines in collegiate education and she is surprised the numbers are even that good.

Back in the old days, those numbers would not be so depressing, as there were plenty of decent-paying blue-collar jobs to absorb the high school graduates (and dropouts) who weren't so good at school. For example, my first job out of high school was in a factory that paid me $3 an hour, which nowadays would be about $20 an hour, which is a pretty decent starting wage, especially if you can get any overtime. The factory offered the five of us they hired as summer help permanent work and two accepted. A lot of the full-time workers, who were pad 50 cents an hour more or better, had late-model cars, they owned their own homes and their wives stayed home with the kids.

That factory closed a long time ago. Those days are gone. The steel mills, the factories are gone. Those jobs are gone. The schools need to step up to the plate. This isn't the job of the politicians, this is the job of the American people. We have to regard educating our kids as an investment in our national future and, frankly, we are falling down on the job.

(part 1)

[1] As far as I know, the reporters of the Wall Street Journal have not yet been fully infected the the Murdoch Fox News Zombie Virus. You know what I mean by that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

39% of Americans Are Certified Imbeciles

Why? For that is the percentage of Americans who do not realize that Medicare is a government-run health insurance program. Another 15% are morons who are "not sure."

That is 54%; a majority of Americans do not understand that Medicare is a government program. We are changing from a democracy to a true idiotcracy.

It is mind-boggling that people are seriously that stupid or that poorly informed. How is it possible to have a viable discussion about health insurance with such citizens?

Barney Frank is right: It would be like talking to a wooden table.

Speaking Truth to Morons

As only Barney Frank will do:

Faking DNA Evidence

It apparently is not that difficult to do. If the lab has the DNA profile of the suspect (not even an actual sample, just the profile), they can make the test results match the profile.

Since there has been no shortage of crime labs that have skewed or even faked tests to "prove" the guilt of people that the cops wanted to convict (the FBI and Texas crime labs come readily to mind), this should be a serious concern.

I remember that there was a cop-killing in Boston about 20 years ago; the cops were so sure they had their man, but the physican evidence was lacking, so they transferred his fingerprint onto the weapon. The defense expert spotted it and the jury acquitted him.

Eyewitness testimony is malleable, witnesses lie, physical evidence can be forged. On the other side, there is witness intimidation and experts for hire.

So who do you believe?

(H/T)

Ah, Good Old New Jersey Never Disappoints

Not when it comes to issues such as ethics and/or corruption:
A contrite Christopher J. Christie, the Republican former prosecutor running for governor on a platform of corruption busting and ethical reform, apologized Tuesday for failing to report a $46,000 loan to a top aide on his tax returns and financial-disclosure forms.
After all, any guy with political ambitions would willingly make a large loan to someone in a Federal prosecutor's office and then fail to disclose it. That's perfectly normal.

For New Jersey.

Explain This One to Me

Why is it that wearing an anti-Bush t-shirt to a Bush public event would get one arrested (at the order of the Secret Service) or kicked out five years ago, but bringing guns to an Obama public event is just peachy?


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Gun Show - Barrel Fever
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

(Daily Show, can you please fix your fucking HTML code?)

Here is one difference: The Bush Administration worked very hard to make sure that there was no visible public dissent to an appearance by the Chumperor, viewing people who wore anti-Bush t-shirts as security threats worthy of Secret Service attention. The Obama Administration is not so fearful.

Which begs the question: Why did the Bush Administration so fear people exercising their First Amendment rights, while the Obama Administration does not fear people exercising their Second Amendment rights?

Or: Why do Republicans hate freedom so?

Aviation Factoid

The mother of the very last pilot who will fly a KC-135 Stratotanker has not yet been born.

The same thing is true, by the way for the B-52, which will still be flying in the forties and possibly may be the first military aircraft to be in service for a century.

Stupid Ignorant Aviation Reportage

That would be the New York Times, which is upset at the idea that a fugitive from justice still has a pilot's license and owns an airplane.

This is why it is stupid: I have had a private pilot's license for over 30 years. I have owned my own airplane for 20 years. I have never ever flown into anyplace where I was asked to show my pilot's license. Most of the places where I once rented airplanes from did not ask to see my license; my ability to fly during the checkouts spoke to that. Where they did ask, it was on so they could make a copy for their records for insurance purposes.

If this is surprising to you, ask yourself when was the last time, other than a traffic ticket or renting a car, that anyone asked for your driver's license for anything to do with your eligibility to operate a motor vehicle.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

If You Get Raped At a Marriott Hotel, It is Your Own Goddamned Fault

So there was this woman who was brutally raped a few years ago at gunpoint in front of her children in the parking garage of the Marriott Hotel in Stamford, Connecticut.

Not surprisingly, she sued. Marriott's attorneys filed a counterclaim saying that the woman was negligent, which is legal-speak for "it was her own damned fault she got raped."

Needless to say, the legal strategy of "blame the victim" did not really win the Marriott any friends out among the folks in blogostan.

So they've retracted it, and, like the true weasels that they are, they are alternatively blaming the lawyer who filed the papers for not retracting it because of "a death in the family" and then they are blaming the insurance company.

Sad to say, Marriott is not the only sleazebag to try this. Carleton University in Canada evidently has the same idea that if you are raped, it's your fault.

The Evil Anti-Privacy Bastards at Adobe

They've invented something called "flash cookies".

Bottom line: If you think you have your browser set to delete cookies, no, you haven't. The computer I'm sitting at had 351 of them.

(If you are reading this and you are asking yourself, "what's a cookie?", then you really need to educate yourself about the risks of playing in the Intertubes.)

To Antonin Scalia, "Justice" is Only His Job Title

For "justice" is clearly not what he has on his mind:
“This court has never held,” Justice Scalia wrote, “that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent.”
How can one have a "full and fair trial" when the prosecution witnesses are lying? And how can anyone whose job is the dispensing of justice have no qualms about executing an innocent man?

Vultures

In almost any crisis, you can find no shortage of economic vultures who prey on the weak. This time around, the vultures are companies that buy tax liens from towns and cities and then proceed to screw the ever-loving shit out of people who are already in trouble. They charge people who have already fallen on hard times over twice the interest that governments can charge and they have no compunction on destroying a neighborhood or a town with massive amounts of foreclosures, which change neighborhoods from homes filled with families to devastated communities with boarded-up homes that become magnets for crime.

I don't know how people like Howard Liggett, executive director of the National Tax Lien Association or John Garzone, president of Plymouth Park, one of the vulture companies, can sleep at night. They probably can, though, because they apparently have no humanity, no soul.

Musing on Congress and the "Public Option"

For all the disdain being expressed by the Republicans in Congress towards the public option, nobody in the media seems to be paying attention to the fact that every one of those worthless fucks have public health care. If they have a health problem, they are treated at a government-run hospital.

And you don't hear any one of them complaining about it.

If LBJ or Sam Rayburn were on the job, they would have been working the blue dogs over with rubber hoses and there would have been none of this insurance-company-funded shit from any of them.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Yeah, Good Luck With That

"Twenty years after the Cold War ended, this is simply not acceptable. It's irresponsible. Our troops and our taxpayers deserve better," [President Obama] told a national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. "If Congress sends me a defense bill loaded with a bunch of pork, I will veto it."
Good luck with that, Mr. President. The way things are going for you right now, if the Republicans saw a political gain in replacing the M-4/M-16 rifles with matchlocks,


they'd ram the bill through Congress somehow. Hell, if a government lab came up with a vaccine that prevented all forms of cancer, Republicans would block all funding for further research. The sole aim of the GOP is to obstruct anything that President Obama wants. Whether or not that is good for the country is not relevant to the GOP.

It is fucking high time that this Administration wakes up to this point: The Republicans in Congress are no less of an enemy to the Obama Administration than are the Taliban.

Obama had better start playing some real hardball if he wants to get shit done. This nicey-nice "post-partisanship" shit isn't getting the job done. Between the bald-faced lies of the Right and the corrupt self-interest of some senators from states which have fewer voters than there are cookies in a box of Girl Scout thin mints, this Administration is getting its lunch taken away.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Spine of Pasta

WASHINGTON - Bowing to Republican pressure and an uneasy public, President Barack Obama's administration signaled Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new health care system.
More:
The administration, mindful of steadfast Republican opposition to a government insurer in addition to Medicaid and Medicare, has previously indicated that it could accept nonprofit insurance cooperatives as an alternative, and the Senate Finance Committee appears to be forming a bipartisan consensus around the idea of nonprofit insurance cooperatives. The health care industry prefers that format, even though many liberal Democrats have argued that cooperatives would not have as much sway over the prices Americans pay for health care.

Without going anywhere to check on this, I will wager that across the Wingnutosphere, they are proclaiming this as a huge victory.

And they should. Giving up on a public option means that this purported health care bill is now the Health Insurance Corporation Protection Act of 2009.

Sixty votes in the Senate. 257 votes in the House. And the Democrats come up with one lame excuse after another as to why they cannot do squat, that is, when they even bother to come up with excuses. They couldn't agree to step out of the path of an oncoming train. Fucking Democrats in Congress wouldn't take a walk in the rain without drowning. I hope none of them are allowed to play with sharp objects.

The Obama Administration has to be "mindful of Republican opposition"? Oh, bull-fucking-shit! With that sort of majority, the Bush Administration would have seated card-carrying Fascists on the courts, mandated that a quarter of all of the course time in biology classes be devoted to the teaching of creationism, and sex before marriage would have been a capital offense.

Great choice we have: Either the American Taliban party or the VW-Full-of-Clowns party.

Mental Health Break, the Sequel

The piece I posted the other day was the semifinal performance.

This is the final:

Part 1:



Part 2:



George is sitting behind me, hissing at the world. He doesn't like traveling.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Limited Service

I am going away for a week. Expect few posts during that time.

That is all.

"He Was a Decent Man"

So said the brother of Raylin Footmon. Footmon and three of his buddies tried to pull off an armed robbery of a restaurant supply store in Harlem. After they started pistol-whipping one of the employees, the shop owner opened up on them with a shotgun. All four of them were shot, two died, including Footmon.

Decent men do not participate in armed robberies.

Once the DA reviews the case, the two survivors may wind up spending 25 to life on two counts of felony murder.

Caturday

Here's Jake! He doesn't seem to mind that this photo makes his ass look huge.


This was sort of a half-laser-eye effect with Gracie. I had to use flash, there was not enough light for this camera.


George is helping me do laundry by pre-treating my whites with cat hair and dander.

Friday, August 14, 2009

World War II Heresy

We got off light.

Yes, I know over 400,000 American servicemen were killed in the war. Our industrial base was effectively nationalized. Some staples, clothing and gasoline were rationed. Twelve million or so Americans were in uniform atone time or another.

But still. There was no sustained attack on American soil. American cities were not bombed. Armies did not fight to any significant degree on American soil. There were no famines in the US (there was a nearly global famine immediately after the war), no rampant starvation.

What brought this musing on was the "mental health break" from yesterday. It doesn't take long to find casualty figures from the war that show that of the major combatants in the war, our losses were the lightest. The United Kingdom had almost as many combat casualties as the United States, but the UK had less than 40% of the population of the US, not to mention the Blitz, the near destruction of the Royal Army as a fighting force in France in 1940 and the U-boat siege.

And no other nation came near the Soviet Union for suffering the effects of the war.

We got off light.

The Astroturf Factory

McClatchy has the story on the people who are funding the astroturf anti-health care movement.

Here's something that won't surprise you: It is funding by people who have a financial interest in maintaining the status quo.

A Bad Idea

Training Georgian Army soldiers for duty in Afghanistan.

This is a really bad idea. The last time we got involved in training the Georgian Army was for duty in Iraq. Their crackpot president, Mikheil Saakashvili, took advantage of the training received by the Georgian Army and the new weapons they had purchased to start a war with Russia. The Russian Army, largely using weapons and equipment that dated back to the 1970s, stomped the Georgian Army into little pieces.

I understand that we need more soldiers in Afghanistan, but in order to get 750 more soldiers from Georgia, we have to train them and then supply them with everything other than uniforms and rifles and I'm not even certain of that. There is no way to be certain that Saakashvili now understands that being trained to operate in a counter-insurgency war doesn't mean squat when the other side has motorized rifle divisions which have heavy artillery, armor and air support.

The next time that Saakashvili picks a fight with Russia, the Russian Army will probably carry out Putin's threat to "hang him by his balls". Do we really want to be in a position of having enabled that Bush-grade moron to start another war with the Russians?

The Day the Guns Fell Silent

August 14, 1945, 64 years ago today, Japan announced that it accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration and that it was surrendering, effectively ending one of the most brutal wars in modern human history.

The terms of surrender would be signed by the combatants on September 2, 1945.

Stifling Glenn Beck

There is a growing campaign to persuade advertisers to stop running ads on Glenn Beck's show on Fixed Noise. Stephen Colbert had a piece on it last night. You can go around the blogs and find others who are supporting this movement.

Let me make this clear: I do not. I think this is a dangerous tool to play with, it is like going hunting with hand grenades.

There is probably nothing wrong, in and of itself, to point out to companies that they may be hurting themselves by sponsoring an ignorant racist. But if the goal is to kick Beck off the air, that's wrong.

I believe in free speech. I believe that the antidote to hate speech is more speech. Don't let the smears go unanswered, make fun of Beck to your heart's content. (That's not terribly hard, by the way, as Beck would have to spend months in dedicated study to become as ignorant as Sarah Palin.) When someone advances propaganda and hatred and lies the way that Fox News does, the cure is to counter it, not to try and shut them down.

Trying to shut off someone's message because you do not like it is the antithesis of a free society. it is no different from when the Wingnuts were trying to do the same to David Letterman or to Family Guy.

It is an evil tactic. I urge people to knock that shit off.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mental Health Break

Simply amazing.

Why the GOP Will Likely Lose on Health Care

Yelling and carrying on like a bunch of racist lunatics will do it.

You would think that the tea-bagging birthers on the Right might have learned something from the Left on this. Screaming and carrying on about the Iraq War changed nobody's mind. Politicians, like most adults, respond to polite and well-reasoned arguments that are buttressed by facts.

However, when you scream at them and yell imprecations and make loud comments that show that you are unhinged from reality, well, you're going to lose, big time. Screaming and yelling may make you feel better, but that is about as far as it goes.

I will bet that 95% of the politicians being confronted this month by the screaming tea-baggers against health will not be swayed. If anything, their resolve to support health care reform may have been stiffened.

UPDATE: Shit like this will not help the opponents.

The Torturer's Fine Whine

Cheney is whining that in Bush's second term, Bush stopped doing everything that Cheney wanted, went his own way as President, and refused to pardon that convicted perjurer, Scooter Libby

You can read more about his whining, if you want.

Which America Do the Tea-Baggers Want Back?

Helen has an idea:
Would that be the America where the Supreme Court picks your president instead of counting all the votes? Would that be the America where rights to privacy are ignored? Would that be the America where the Vice President shoots his best friend in the face? Or would that be the America where an idiot from Alaska and a college drop-out with a radio show could become the torchbearers for the now illiterate Republican party?

I fear that would not be the America they want back. I fear that the America they want back is the one where black men don’t become President.
I fear that she is exactly right.

I also need to address the blithering moron who brought a loaded handgun to an Obama event, something along the lines of "just because it is legal to do doesn't mean that it is smart to do", but later.

(H/T)

Bersa- Any Comments?

Does anyone have any first-hand experience with the Bersa ultracompacts?

I like the DA/SA feature and that the thing retails for half (or less) than an equivalent Sig or a commander-sized 1911. When I carry (albiet rarely), my carry gun is a .357 Taurus knock-off of a Chief's Special, loaded with .38 +P hollow-point semi-wadcutters (the FBI used this load before they went to automatics). There's nothing wrong with that, but I kind of like the idea of a handgun round that begins with a "4".

The price of the Kimbers, et al, is too much for me, but I can swing a Bersa.

Where to Go, Where to Go?

Mars.

A NASA panel is studying the future of American manned space flight. You should read that as background to this:

I believe that if we, as a nation, are not going to commit to sending humans deeper into space, then we should de-orbit the International Space Station when its time is up and then forget about going back into space. One of the worst presidents in our nation's history derailed this country from going further into space than low orbit and we have been stuck there ever since Apollo 17.

The ISS has been good for some things, such as experience with zero-gravity construction, but other than building the ISS, was there a real use for building the ISS in the first place? There may have been some good data generated on long-duration space flight, but wasn't that already available from MIR?

Low orbit spaceflight is a dead end. It is the choice of a bunch of cheap-jack unimaginative politicians and bureaucrats. It would be akin to Queen Isabella telling Columbus that he could go explore the oceans, but she was only going to give him three Sunfish.

We either ought to commit to flying manned missions outside of Earth's gravity well, including committing to the increased funding required, or forget about sending Americans into space anytime soon.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

You Already Are Subject to "Death Panels"

They're called "health insurance companies." And even if the treatment might save your life, you can be denied, and, in essence, told to "fuck off and die".

Here.
Here.
Here.
Here.
Here.

That only took a few minutes on the Google to compile. I'll bet that there are tons more stories like that out there.

Something Else For the Health Insurance Industry to Consider

Assume, for the sake of discussion, that what is going on right now is a lot of crap that is being funded by the health insurance people to protect their obscenely overfilled rice bowls, that a lot of the money for the Astroturfing is coming from them.

There has been some discussion over the last few months that in various regional markets, there is no meaningful competition within the health insurance industry. Whether by accident or design, in many parts of the country, there is no real choice.

So if the health insurance industry wins on this and torpedoes any meaningful reforms, might they then be faced with a lot of examination on anti-trust grounds from both the Feds and the states? Might "Plan B" entail some good old-fashioned trust-busting?

Behold! The Power of the Blogs!

It cannot be a good day for a certain motorcycle shop down in the bayou when you google their name and the very first result is a blog which is bitching them out for poor customer service and flat-out incompetence.

Torture Nation; the Psychologists

The two psychologists who allegedly oversaw the CIA torturing of prisoners have been named. They are two Ph.Ds., Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. Both apparently made millions in the torture business, without any academic qualifications pertinent to interrogation/torture.

And both are apparently now in considerable legal jeopardy, presumably both here and overseas.

What Underlies the Teabaggers

Racism, according to the Daily Show:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Reform Madness - White Minority
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorSpinal Tap Performance


(Yeah, I know, blogging would be a lot more work without Jon Stewart.)

One question, though: Is there anyone screaming "socialism" and such at those town halls who did not vote for McCain last year? And if they all did vote for McCain, as I suspect, then why are we paying any attention to them?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Was Bush a Complete Religious Whackaloon?

I have seen references to this story all around the Intertubes:
The president of the United States, in a top-secret phone call to a major European ally, asked for French troops to join American soldiers in attacking Iraq as a mission from God.

Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”
I'm not sure if I buy this. I do believe that George W. Bush was not firing reliably on all of his cylinders and, given his comments that God was telling him to go to war, it is believable.

On the other hand, the entirety of the story flows through Jacques Chirac, who has his own little problem with corruption and truthfulness, as well as reasons of his own to want to make Bush look like a buffoon.

I think I'm going to rate the "Bush Was a Crazy Holy Warrior" as "probable, but not proven".

But mull over this: If George W. Bush indeed was driven by his religious beliefs to wage war, then how did he differ in any significant degree from Osama bin Ladin?

Yes, They Are Indeed Watching

Remember, if you post stuff on Tweeter or Facebook or any of the other social networking sites, it's not private. The government can pay attention. They have paid attention.

And since the asswipe shooter in Pittsburgh was blogging about his plans to go kill young women, because he was some kind of pathetic and repulsive creep who could not get laid, expect the various levels of government to be paying a lot more attention.

Here is a Free Tip

Politicians know nothing about aircraft. These guys are idiots. As I noted yesterday, eight people were recently killed in a crash on the Taconic Parkway just north of New York City and none of those political morons were holding press conferences to demand closing that highway.