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

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jimmy Obama's Pay Freeze

President Obama on Monday announced a two-year pay freeze for most of the 1.9 million civilians who work for the federal government, as he tried to address concerns over a mushrooming deficit and placate Republicans who have targeted the workforce for big cuts.

"Getting this deficit under control is going to require some broad sacrifices, and that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government," Obama said in a White House speech. He called federal workers "patriots who love their country" and said the cut is not just "a line item on a federal ledger." But he said he is asking federal workers to sacrifice for the country as "they've always done."
I have conflicted feelings about this. On the one hand, if the rate of inflation is such that Social Security recipients are not getting a cost-of-living increase, then it's kind of hard to see why other people paid by the federal government are getting pay raises.

On the other hand, Jimmy Carter tried to fight inflation by limiting federal pay raises for everyone to 5.5% at a time when inflation went to over double that. It didn't help worth a damn and the anger towards him by the federal work force was very real. Between that and coming dangerously close to having a "payless payday" in October for a couple years running, there was a real sense that neither Carter nor the Congress gave a fuck for the people who do the nation's dirty work.

Sometimes I wonder if Obama has an inner compass that is guiding him down the path of the Carter presidency. His caving into ham-handed efforts to reach out to the Party of No may result in a primary challenger in 2012. Which would be a signal that he is on track to be a one-term president.

Obama had better find his balls real soon now, and I don't mean the ones he throws through basketball hoops. If he seriously thinks that the GOP is willing to work with him on anything, then he is arguably seriously delusional. Playing three-dimensional chess is one thing, but 3-D chess is not a good idea when your opponent shows up with automatic weapons and shoots up the chess board and the room.

Maybe we ought to invoke the 25th Amendment and get Biden in there.

Well, It's Why They Have Their Own Island!

Most Aussies aren't very good neighbours, survey reveals.

"All We Wanted Was to Be left Alone to Govern Ourselves"
(And to Continue to Own Slaves)

Make no mistake about this: Anybody who says that the Civil War was not about slavery is either a lying sack of shit or is institutional-grade delusional.

But that is the Big Lie that the defenders of slavery the Confederacy keep putting forth. The South seceded and went to war to preserve slavery. Without slavery, there were arguments about what? Tariffs? Railroad construction?

The war was about slavery. The poor Southerners knew it at the time, which is why draft dodging and desertion were epidemic in the South. In areas of the South away from the plantations, men went north to fight for their country, not for the rich planters. In those areas, the Confederate press gangs had to go around with a heavy armed escort to preclude being captured and hung by the locals. It was why many Southerners regarded the war as a "rich man's war, a poor man's fight."

No, it was only a generation or two after the war that this "noble cause" bullshit began to be shoveled about. And it has only been in the last century or less that the apologists for the traitorous rebels have been trying to walk away from the brutal fact that their ancestors fought, first and foremost, to preserve slavery.

You cannot defend the Confederacy without defending slavery. To do so is like defining water as "a molecule made up of one atom of oxygen and two atoms of something else."

Let's Go Camping!

If your unemployment benefits are about to run out and you face eviction, here is a modest suggestion:

Get a few blankets and a pillow and then go camp out in the offices of your local Republican congressman or senator. If your local congressional delegation are all Democrats, then find out where the state or local offices are of your state Republican party and go camp there. Hang around the lunch room and when people are eating, start asking them: "Hey, you gonna finish that?"

Or show up and tell them that you are there to work and ask them to show you to a desk.

6.2 million workers have been unemployed longer than 26 weeks. The unemployment rate is well over 10%, when you factor in those people who have been so beaten down that they have stopped looking for a job.

And the answer of the Republicans is: "Fuck you, we only care about preserving tax cuts for the rich."

I cannot begin to tell you in how much contempt I hold the Republican party.

And what's President Obama's solution? He promises to engage in "more outreach" to the GOP.

I believe in reaching out to the GOP, as long as one is holding a weighted club with which to beat them into a pool of offal.

The Stupid Pun-dits of Cable News

Jon Stewart unloads on them:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
You're Not Punny
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorThe Daily Show on Facebook

Winders Question

My laptop, which has Win7 Pro, keeps bugging me to install an update that is 28Mb in size. It is the "Microsoft.NET Framework 4 Client Profile." The rationale for it seems to be mostly gobbledygook about "running client programs" and "faster deployment of Windows Presentation Technology," whatever the hell that means.

Should I bother with or ignore it?

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Message to All of Those Arab Nations Who Want Iran "Dealt With"

We've sold you guys plenty of weapons, as have the French, the British, the Russians and the Chinese.

So gather your armies, form a coalition, and do the job yourselves.

Leave us the frak out of it.

Very truly yours,
The U.S.A.

Supporters of Terrorism; Takes One to Know One, I Reckon

Rep. Peter King is advocating that Wikileaks be designated as a "terrorist organization".*

That seems like a stretch to me. Wikileaks has taken up arms against nobody. There is not a shred of evidence that they have done anything other than air the dirty laundry of the U.S.

In fact, one can make the argument that much of what Wikileaks has done has been helpful to the U.S. Wikileaks has put out in the open the muttered innuendo about the corruption of the Afghan government. It has laid bare the fact that Pakistan has been supporting the Taliban all along.

Nobody should be surprised to learn that Silvio Burlusconi, the Prime Minister of Italy, is pretty much a clown, or that Russia is a kleptocracy. Anyone who is astonished that the Arab nations despise Iran hasn't been paying much attention. If someone is shocked that one of the functions of diplomats is to gather intelligence, then they need to have a custodial guardian appointed for them. Is it astonishing to anyone that South Korea is doing contingency planning in the event that North Korea implodes? Does anyone not understand that Iran has been in bed with North Korea, or that North Korea will sell anything to anybody for cash?

From what coverage I've read, most of the cables consist of telling people shit that anyone who was paying attention should have already known, such that Robert Mugabe is basically power-mad, paranoid and arguably insane. It's pretty much known that Hugo Chavez is nuts, as well. Some of it is interesting social information, such as attending a wedding in Dagestan.

My sense of it is that this latest data dump will be more of a flash in the pan than anything else. Which won't stop the blowhards in our government from hyperventilating about it, just as they did for the previous two data dumps, where they predicted all sorts of Bad Things Will Happen, none of which did.

_______________________________________
* But maybe we should look at Mr. King's argument. After all, he was a supporter of the Irish Republican Army during the Troubles, when the IRA was engaged in planting bombs and killing civilians. He had no difficulty with allying himself with a terrorist group back then.

"Surely you can't be serious!"
"I am serious, and don't call me `Shirley'."

Leslie Nielsen has died. He was 84.

If you have never seen the movie "Airplane!", then I don't know you. (You should also watch some of "Police Squad".)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The WikiLeaks Data Dump

I'll refrain, for the time being, from commenting on the substance of the latest data dump from WikiLeaks.

But nobody seems to be asking this: Assuming that there has been one source for the material, PFC Bradley Manning, how the fuck is it that a single Army E-3 had access to all of this shit?

Why did an Army anybody have access to State Department cables going back over 30 years? What the hell ever happened to compartmentalizing classified material?

Back in the day (my day), you had to have two things in order to see classified documents: The proper security clearance and the need to know. If a radioman with a top secret clearance walked up to Sonar Control and had asked for a book on the acoustic signatures of Soviet submarines, he'd have been thrown out on his ear and then reported up the chain of command. I had some pretty goddamned high level security clearances and there was no frakking way that I could have seen State Department cables because I didn't have (let's say it all together, class) a need to know.

But no, now that there are computerized databases, it seems that once you're in, you can see anything and everything that you feel like looking at.

Which, from a security perspective, is pretty fucked up. And that doesn't even address the point that this dude was able to downloads hundreds of thousands of documents without setting off some kind of alarm somewhere.

I imagine that is going to be fixed, maybe.

But I'm not betting heavily on it.

Family (Keyboard Safety Alert!)

Don't say that I didn't warn you!


A Travel Advisory from the Canadians



(H/T)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

George Bush & Son, Cheapskates

Rumor has it that neither one of the George Bushes, neither "Poppy" nor "the Dim Son", could unhinge their wallets and send a donation to Andover Academy, the prep school that paved the way to their entry as legacy admissions to Yale.*

Since both of those clowns are rich in their own right and are also pulling in presidential pensions, that's pretty fucking pathetic.

_______________________________________________
* "Legacy admission" = "the idiot offspring of an alumnus"

Print the Legend!

The truth of the Boston Tea Party, as opposed to the legend contained in works of fiction like Johnny Tremain.

But, as we all know, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.



If you want to see the rest of the show:







"History is a myth that men agree to believe." Napoleon Bonaparte

Another Caturday???

Gracie seems bored by it all.


Bella is lying on the back of a chair.


She likes lying up there and looking out the window. But then she'll fall asleep, roll over and fall off.

George is taking a break from the other cats. When he wants to pull a Garbo, he lies in his carrier.


Gracie, looking more normal.


Finally, Jake, just being cool.


Gracie barfed up a massive food puke on my bed this morning. It soaked both the white cat-fur-crud shield and the comforter underneath, so I've been doing wash.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm Not a Big Car Nut, But....

I'm really not. Cars, for me, are just transportation. I've tended to stick with Hondas because, if you maintain them, they are nearly as reliable as gravity.

But imagine, if you will, an extended-range hybrid that has a top end of 205MPH. Jaguar built it as a concept car. Even if they brought it into production, I'd have to hit a few major lotteries in order to afford one. All wheel drive (individual electric motors), 778 HP, 0-50 in a skosh over three seconds....yow!



(H/T)

No More Mooneys?

Mooney Aircraft is shutting down production. They will only exist to fill orders for spare parts.


I've never flown one, so I can't comment directly on how they fly. I did get a ride in one several years ago when I had to ferry my airplane from the Midwest to the East, a ride I try not to think about because it induces drooling.

One of the better ways to have started a flamewar back in the days of the Usenet "alt-dot" groups was to go to an aviation usegroup and ask: "Which is better, a Money or a Bonanza?"*

Mooney Aircraft made very fast airplanes. They also had a willingness to push the envelope on design and performance, even if they failed (the Mustang and the PFM).

The Mooney Acclaim, a/k/a the Mooney 20TN, will outrun any other production single piston-engined civilian aircraft there is and is one of the few singles that will comfortably cruise at over 200kts. The original Mooney 20 had a 150HP engine and wooden wings. The wooden wings went away with the M20C and the M20TN has a 280HP engine.

It's a damnable shame that the airplane is going out of production.

______________________
* My sense of it was that Mooneys were more like sports cars and Bonanzas were more like Crown Vics.

Black Friday

If you would desire that I go to the stores today, you had best show up at my home with a gun. Bring several of your friends, all of whom have guns.

That is all.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Shut Up, or Else

If you protest something, anything, you can wind up on a terror watch list.
Actor Mark Ruffalo has been placed on a terror advisory list by U.S. officials after organizing screenings for a new documentary about natural gas drilling.
If you exercise your First Amendment rights, that makes you a terrorist. No, that is not a question, anymore, it is a frakking statement of fact.

No doubt that soon it will be considered to be a terrorist act to own a gun (2nd Amendment), keep soldiers from living in your house (3rd Amendment), tell the cops they have to show you a search warrant (4th Amendment), exercise your right to remain silent (5th Amendment), have the right to cross-examine witnesses against you (6th Amendment) or not be tortured (8th Amendment).

So it has come to this: Protesting peacefully is an act of terrorism. Hunter S. Thompson was right when he wrote this 38 years ago:
"This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it — that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable."*
We have become a nation of fearful pantswetters when all it takes is organizing screenings of a movie to get one labeled as a terrorist.

40 or so years ago, my youngest brother asked my (now deceased) father why Republican politicians were so against funding education. Dad (who had voted for Tricky Dick) said that people who have not been well educated, who have not been taught how to think critically, were more easily led and were more susceptible to propaganda.

So here we are now, with a population that is falling behind other nations on virtually every educational metric that there is. We have large segments of this population that will go around screaming "Obama is a communist" without any conceivable idea what communism was. We have a political party that has national candidates which are aggressively ignorant and proud of the fact that they don't know a damned thing. Understanding and conclusions based on facts are deemed by them to be "elitist". As my father foresaw, we have a country where tens of millions of people swallow political propaganda whole, without applying any critical thought to it.

And if you challenge their views, some of them indeed will be roused to violence.

I weep for this country.

(H/T)
____________________________________
* My apologies to used car salesmen on this one.

Was "Opt-Out Day" a Bust?

Apparently not, for the TSA opted not to use the nudie-scopes for most people:
Lines at DIA's checkpoints typically were short and most travelers were clearing security by passing through metal detectors. The airport was busy, but security lines moved swiftly throughout the day.

Compared with the high volume of travelers moving through the checkpoints, relatively few passengers were being singled out for screening by advanced-imaging scanners...
Note that the two reporters who wrote the story were unable to understand that the "opt out" protests were based on the use of the full-body scanners and if the scanners weren't used, there was nothing to opt out of.

Because It is Thanksgiving Day



The turkey is out of the oven!


That's a 12lb bird, the smallest they had in the store. At 47 cents/lb, it's cheaper than most chickens. Yeah, I know that there are "heritage turkeys" that supposedly taste better, but at ten times the cost, that makes them food for "employed well-off yuppies", of which I am zero for three this time.

I pulled the foil off it a little too late, so it's not terribly browned, but ecch, so what. I now just have to keep an eye on it so George doesn't get up and taste it. I'm doing baked potatoes, veggies and bread and that is it. Probably 80% of the meat will become baggied-up for sandwiches and whatnot.

Enjoy your meal!

Update:

Ready to go to the table:

And it was good. The cats that wanted some turkey got some.

I may not have a job this Thanksgiving, and maybe the prospects aren't so hot. It is what it is. I have my health, a roof over my head and my cats. I'm not destitute. My immediate family and my friends are in good health. So there is much to be thankful for this year.

I hope your Thanksgiving has been a good one.

Thanksgiving

For some obscure reason, my father's favorite holiday was Thanksgiving. One year, he invited all of both his and my mother's relatives who lived within a two hour's drive. That was a shitload of people, maybe 40 or so.

Mom, of course, was less than amused at having to ramrod the feeding of the extended tribe. Mom's stove was the traditional electric 1960s one with four burners and an oven. She didn't have a "radarange," as microwave ovens were called, back then. I wasn't exactly a lot of help, since my cooking talents stubbornly remained about at the level of being able to set fire to anything I tried to cook, including hardboiled eggs.

It was a madhouse. There was a fireplace in the dining room and the living room, for it was an old house. The chandelier in the dining room was a wrought-iron affair with a dozen candles. Dad built roaring fires in both fireplaces and, of course, the candles were lit. There were two tables in the living room, a "kiddie table," with both the children and their parents, and a "teen table."

One of my cousins, who was about four, was running around the house, raising Cain. The cousin who was his mother was oblivious. My mom finally yelled out "will someone do something about [name deleted]?" I grabbed him as he ran by me and hoisted him up by the front of his shirt so he was level with me. I snarled in his face "siddown and shaddup or die!" He was pretty quiet after that. When he started to act up, all I had to do was glare at him and he quieted right back down. My grandmother was her usual cheery self, sighing and saying "I wish I was dead," which was her typical proclamation at any sort of festivities.

As the meal progressed, having two fires burning and 40 people eating turned out to not be the wisest idea, as the temperature of the rooms began approaching that of a sauna. It was a cold afternoon, snow was lightly falling, and we had to open the windows to cool the place down.

It was a delightful meal. There wasn't much fighting. One cousin kvetched that, because she had had another baby, that she was going to be sitting at the kiddie table for another six years. There was more than enough food to go around, and everyone had a pretty good time. After dinner, we (the older kids) cleared the table of the dinner dishes and then served coffee and dessert, which was three kinds of pie. A few of the adults were smoking cigarettes.

And then the chandelier fell down.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Airline Security Thought Experiment

TSA bashing is all the rage and, in large measure, for good reason. TSA provides good security theater at a high cost.

Some of it, unfortunately, is just the way things have to be. The world has changed since the days when you could board an airliner with the same aplomb as getting on a commuter train.

Assume, for the sake of argument, that a terrorist does manage to bring down an airliner. Al Qaeda has tried as far back as fifteen years ago to blow up airliners. They have not succeeded in bringing one down with explosives, but some day they might.

What will the reaction from the politicians now demanding that the TSA be dismantled? Will Ron Paul say "that's the price of freedom"? Will John Mica say "there is only so much that can be done"?

Sure they will, and goats will write novels.

When al Qaeda tries to bring down another passenger airliner, whether or not they succeed, the politicians will rush to the television cameras to demand that the Federal government do "something" to prevent another attack. The very same politicians now who are calling for the TSA to be torn to bits will want heads to roll for whatever security failure, whether real or perceived, was exploited by the terrorists. And they will bleat and whine about that without one twinge of self-consciousness over their blatant hypocrisy.

I'd love to see a reporter ask them what will they tell the American people if the TSA stops screening folks and then a bomb does go off, but that's a question that a local reporter will have to ask. None of the national reporters have the guts.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oh-Dark-Thirty

Last night, in the middle of the night, I woke up to the sound of a Bell helicopter approaching from off in the distance. The sound of a Bell "Huey" type helicopter, with the "whapping" sound made by its two long rotor blades, is very distinctive.



It was loud enough to rattle my bedroom windows and given the lateness of the hour, it probably seemed a lot louder than it would have during the day. I got up and went to the bathroom, I could hear the sound of the rotor blades getting louder. Then the helicopter passed overhead and there was hardly a sound of it to be heard from it. What I heard, then, was the sound of the wind, as it was blowing hard and probably gusting at 30MPH or so.

A helo flying by in the middle of the night, fairly low and in conditions that would have made for a pretty nasty ride. That sounds like a medevac. I hope the patient made it.

Dancing With the Stars; Prison Edition

Tom Delay can add a new title to his resume: Convicted felon.
Tom DeLay, one of the most powerful and divisive Republican lawmakers to ever come out of Texas, was convicted Wednesday of money laundering charges in a state trial, five years after his indictment here forced him to resign as majority leader in the House of Representatives.

After 19 hours of deliberation, a jury of six men and six women decided that Mr. Delay was guilty of one charge of money laundering and one charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

As the verdict was read, Mr. DeLay, who is 63, sat stone-faced at the defense table. Then he rose, turned, smiled and hugged his wife and then his weeping daughter in the first row of spectators. He faces between five and 99 years in prison, though the judge may choose probation.
Of course, DeLay says it was a "political persecution" (though I don't remember him speaking up about the Don Siegelman case and condemning that verdict). He'd be better advised to keep his mouth shut on that before the sentencing, unless he wants to talk his way into the prison system.

TSA-- Continuing to Smoke That Crack

DBP Secretary Napolitano thinks that it will be a fine idea to deploy scanners at train stations, cruise ship embarkation points and subway lines.

(Those gunshots? A bunch of executives at Carnival Cruises just offed themselves.)

The NYC subway system alone has 468 stations and carries about five million people a day. The entire NYC transit system carries over 7 million riders a day, 8 million if you add in the commuter lines. Total of subway and rail stations? 734, and that doesn't count bus stations (the buses carry 400,000 people a day over 80 routes and who knows how many bus stops).

The airlines, by comparison, carry (on average) 2 million passengers a day from less than 600 airports, and that number includes airports that have a few 19-seat puddlejumpers stopping by. The TSA would have to grow exponentially in order to cover the NYC mass transit system alone, let alone those in any other American city.

The TSA cannot scan and search everyone boarding the NC subway. It is the height of folly to even contemplate such.

Napolitano had better put down the crack pipe.

Send in the Littoral Combat Ships!

Whenever there is a crisis in the world, the carriers get sent:
President Obama and South Korea’s president agreed Tuesday night to hold joint military exercises as a first response to North Korea’s deadly shelling of a South Korean military installation, as both countries struggled for the second time this year to keep a North Korean provocation from escalating into war.

The exercise will include sending the aircraft carrier George Washington and a number of accompanying ships into the region, both to deter further attacks by the North and to signal to China that unless it reins in its unruly ally it will see an even larger American presence in the vicinity.
A carrier is the "big stick". A LCS is comparatively a small twig, somewhere between a FFG and a PG, especially since the FFG-7s were pretty much neutered to being even less capable than the 1052s that were retired 15 years ago.

The problem, of course, is that the carrier force is slowly diminishing over time. They are hellaciously expensive to build and operate, especially when one factors in the costs of the aircraft. The first models of F-4s probably cost less than two million dollars a copy in 1960. That would be roughly $15 million today. In comparison, a F/A-18F Super Hornet costs $60 million and a F-35C will cost somewhere between $100 million and $200 million a copy, depending on which source you believe.*

Then again, the Navy had well over 20 carriers in 1960, most of which were left over from the Second World War. Now, the Navy has 11 with at least one in a multi-year refueling and overhaul at any one time. 10 available carriers means that there is, at most, five deployed at any one time, as the others are just returning from deployment, getting ready to deploy or undergoing intermediate maintenance. A "port and starboard" operating schedule is incredibly hard on the crews. 10 carriers properly means only three or four are deployed, so there is at least a smidgen of reserve capability.

The big ship-small ship debate has been going on since the dawn of our Republic. Small ships have their uses. But there are times when sending a flotilla of small ships is like bringing a BB gun to a real gunfight. Small ships don't send much of a message, which is why when there is trouble in the world, one of the first question that gets asked in Fort Fumble and in the West Wing is: "Where are the carriers now?"

______________________________
* It is worth remembering that the F-22, at $200 million a copy (or less) was canceled in favor of the "cheaper" F-35.

Zombie Treats?

Zombie Mints:


Resident Evil Outbreak Mints:


From ThinkGeek, of course.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NK: "Talk to Us or We'll Kill You!"

The Asia Times seems to think that is the reason why North Korea shelled South Korean territory today.

Of course, China refuses to recognize the reality that its sometime client state is being run by lunatics. It takes some pretty twisted logic to see being punched in the face as prelude to negotiations, but that apparently is the mindset of the sickos who run the northern half of the old Hermit Kingdom.

It's hard to think of what to do about North Korea that won't make life even harder for the people living there. I suspect that is what North Korea is counting on.

New York Times- Carrying the TSA's Water

I don't know what it is about the New York Times. For a paper that is so hated by the conservatives, it seems to spend a lot of its space functioning as a PR conduit for the security agencies.

Exhibit A: This piece in today's paper, which puts forth the TSA's party line of "we're only trying to keep you safe," says that the only problem with what the TSA refers to as "enhanced pat-downs" (what the rest of us refer to as "groping") is that the TSA didn't handle the PR aspect of it with any skill.

So here is the New York Times, shilling for the TSA to persuade the sheeple to shut up and suck up.

First off, whenever a government agency refers to something as "enhanced", that is a euphemism for something very bad. "Enhanced interrogation" is a euphemism for torture, "enhanced pat-down" is a euphemism for a sexual assault.

Second, as Jill Tubman noted, much of what is going on at the airports is white people finding themselves being treated like Black men. In much of New York City, to be an African-American male and to walk down the street is to invite being frisked by the cops. The same thing happens in other cities.

Third, the TSA's quest for the utmost in security is at odds with the rest of the nation's conduct. The TSA will leave no testicle unfelt to "keep you safe", but we willingly accept risk for almost everything else. Speed-limit cameras unquestionably reduce speeding, but they are widely despised. Nobody seriously questions that helmet laws save lives, but then you see these birds:



The TSA's quest for total security on airliners is futile. They certainly aren't going to get there by paying a skosh over burger-flipping wages (they start at $12.85) and employing tactics that border on voodoo, since the TSA seems to think that a terrorist will have shifty eyes.

Of course, the TSA likes to gloss over one of the commonalities of both the Shoe Bomber and the Underwear Bomber: Both attacks originated overseas.

It is time to rethink how we do things for airline security. But the one suggestion of Congressman Mica, to turn it over to even lower-paid people, won't cut it.

If You Really Want to Be Subjected to X-Rays, Go See Your Dentist

Many of them are using outmoded X-ray film that takes a lot more radiation to make an exposure, or they are using 3-D machines that use a lot more radiation.

Of course, this is an area where the state governments are letting the "free market" between the dentists and the X-ray machine makers determine things. That means what matters is how many machines the makers can sell and how many patients the dentists can con into having X-rays.

Nobody seems to care whether or not being subjected to more and more X-rays into your mouth is good for you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Don't Forget to Thank Your Molester for Molesting You

That would seem to be the masochistic attitude of one of the former "loyal Bushies," who was an appointee to the DBP, who wants travelers to thank the TSA gropers for frisking them:
“Instead of making this Wednesday National Opt-Out Day in which a bunch of self-appointed guardians of liberty slow down the line for everyone by asking for pat-downs,” said [Stewart] Baker, “maybe what we need is a day when everyone who goes through the line says, ‘Thanks for what you do.’ ”
Geese will sing the National Anthem before that happens.

JFK. Blown Away.

47 years ago today. I'll just go with what I wrote and what DCap wrote two years ago.

Mature Tech Evolves

Consider this, there was about as much time between the introduction of the Boeing 40 and the Boeing 737 as there has been since the introduction of the 737 and today.

The 737 is still in production. More 737s have been made than any other commercial airliner in history,* other than the DC-3 (and that was due to wartime production).

The 737 has a lengthy book of orders, it continues to evolve, and it may indeed eventually surpass the DC-3 in numbers made.
____________________
*Yes, I know there were more An-2s made, but they were not exactly made under a commercial sales regime.

Only a Few Innocent People Are Gunned Down by Police Officers,
Only a Few People Die in Medical Mistakes

Those would seem to be the analogies to TSA Administrator Pistole, who argued that only a few people end up being molested by TSA agents. Which is pretty cold comfort to those who end up being groped by a squad of TSA agents.

Al Qaeda has shown that they do not have to cause any physical damage or hurt a soul in order to provoke the Federal government into costly countermeasures. All they have to do is sneak a guy onto an airplane with some PETN; he doesn't have to blow it up, just get caught. The DBP will do the rest.

(TSA cartoons)

A PSA from the TSA

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Boeing Aircraft

Boeing lined up its jet aircraft models from the 707 to the 777, from right to left:


The second aircraft from the right is a 717. If that "717" is a Boeing aircraft, then I'm the illegitimate daughter of the Queen of England. That "717" is as much a Boeing aircraft as is a DC-3:


The "717" is an updated Douglas DC-9:


The DC-9 begat the MD-80 (as by then McDonnell Aircraft had merged with Douglas Aircraft), which begat the MD-90, which begat the MD-95. The MD-95 was redesignated the Boeing 717. It wasn't as offensive when McDonnell-Douglas redesignated the DC-9 as one of their models, as McDonnell had not been making airliners.

Since Boeing numbered their series sequentially, there was a real 717. That was the airframe which was used for the KC-135 Stratotanker:


The 717 has the same cabin width as Boeing's first prototype, the 367-80:


The "Dash 80" had room for five seats abreast, but most airlines wanted six and six-abreast seating was what they got. Howard Hughes, who owned TWA, thought five-abreast seating was preferable and one airliner manufacturer, Convair, made what Hughes wanted.


The Convair 880 was faster than either the DC-8 or the 707, but it was not as profitable for the airlines. The 880 and its even faster derivative, the 990 went out of production in very short order with possibly 100 or so of both types produced. Convair lost a shitload of money on its 880 and 990 models, which killed off Convair as a manufacturer of civilian aircraft. In comparison, Boeing made over 1,000 707 variants and Douglas made over 500 DC-8s.

One airplane is missing from the Boeing photo lineup: the 720:


The 720 was a shorter and lighter version of the 707 with a slightly redesigned wing for better short-field performance. Boeing probably made about as many 720s as Convair made 880/990s, but since Boeing didn't have to make a lot of changes to the 707 design to produce the 720, they likely didn't lose their shirt over it. The 720s pretty much disappeared from major airline service once the 727s began to appear.

Must. Drink. Brain. Bleach.



(The original song and a safe-for work version.)

Brother and Sister; a Caturday Extra

Gracie is in the foreground, Rocky is behind her. They had the same mother and they were born about 16 months apart.


Which means that they don't recognize each other as siblings. It is unusual for them to be this close to one another without growling and hissing. Rocky had jumped up into the chair about three minutes before I had taken the photo. Grace jumped down about three minutes after I took the shot.

Yip, Yip, You're Under Arrest

A chihuahua has been certified as a police dog in Japan.

Carry On

I have a few handguns which are suitable for concealed carry, but I always seem to default to one of two:

A Taurus 85 .357:


Or a Series 80 Colt Government Model:


Both mostly ride in inside-the-waistband holsters. To get an idea of how much of the weapon comes above the waistband, draw a line that bisects the weapon just behind the trigger guard. The Taurus shows very little and it disappears under a slightly oversized t-shirt. While it is a .357, I load it with .38+P semi-wadcutters, which was the old FBI load before they shifted to automatics in the 1980s. I've not customized it in any way.

For the Colt, I replaced the factory wrap-around neoprene grips with the more traditional (and thinner) wood grips from another Colt. I switched the sights with slightly larger and more usable Wilson fixed sights, which had some sharp edges and which I had to "de-horn". I also installed a Commander-style hammer and a beavertail grip safety to make it more friendly to my hand. The only ammo I've found it doesn't like is Winchester "white box".

When You Get Groped in Order to Board AF1, Come Talk To Me.

President Obama said today he sympathizes with passenger complaints about aggressive body pat-downs at airports, but his counter-terrorism aides say they are necessary to guard against hidden explosives.

Balancing privacy and security is a "tough situation," Obama told reporters at a news conference following the NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal.
That's it? "It's necessary for thee but not for me (or John Boehner), so suck it up" is the best you can do, Barry? Mindless intrusion of personal liberties is what we expected from the last president. I had hoped that this president would be slightly different. (It is somewhat amusing to see Republican outrage on TSA groping, considering that they supported every security measure proposed by the Bush Administration and that "zOMG, the terrerists is gonna kill us" has been at the core of their political strategy for years.)

On another note, the TSA has spent 40 billion dollars so far as they have ramped up from stealing stuff from passengers' luggage to a national program of sexual assaults. There is probably a good reason why the enemy is referring to their attempts to penetrate aircraft security as "Operation Hemorrhage". And supposedly the TSA gropers, at least those who aren't training to be level III sex offenders, are not overly thrilled at groping being part of their duties.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

TSA's New Warning Sign


I don't know who created it, though. From here, and read the first comment under the sign. It's brilliant.

Just remember, congressmen are exempt from being groped by the TSA.

Saudi Nukes-- the Story that Sank Like a Rock

A June WaPo mention of an allegation that China sold a turn-key nuclear ballistic missile system to Saudi Arabia apparently didn't even leave a ripple in the political waters.

Or was it just disinformation, to see if anyone would bite?

I'll leave speculation as to why the story never got any traction to others.

A Forgotten Airplane

The Optica:

The Optica was designed to be an observation aircraft. The prototype first flew in 1979. Powered first by an O-360 Lycoming engine and later by an O-540, which drove a ducted fan, the Optica was touted as having the observational visibility of helicopter with the lower operating costs, lower noise and longer flight duration of an airplane.

One of the early models stalled and crashed in the early 1980s. The company formed to produce it in the UK first went bankrupt, then there was a suspicious fire at the factory which destroyed a number of airplanes in varying stages of completion along with the production tooling. The designer has never given up trying to bring it back and apparently came close two years ago, before the Goldman Sachs recession took hold.

The idea of an airplane with a helicopter noise has not disappeared, though, as an Australian company has produced an airplane that resembles a land-based Seabee.

OK, So Maybe Texas Isn't a Complete Bastion of Bigoted Assholiness

Not when stuff like this can happen:
Trans Pioneer Phyllis Frye Becomes Texas' First Trans Judge
Phyllis Randolph Frye, longtime legal advocate for the transgender community, was sworn in this morning as the state's first transgender judge. Frye was appointed by Houston Mayor Annise Parker as an Associate Municipal Judge. The city council unanimously approved her appointment, along with a couple dozen other appointments, with little fanfare and no dissent.
By two weeks, she missed being the first in the nation, as Victoria Kolakowski won an election to the bench in Alameda County, CA.

Nothing like this has happened in New York, which has its own collection of bigoted assholes, as you can see by perusing the comment thread on the Daily News article. After all, New York elected former terrorist symp Peter King as a congressman.

If You Have a Prosthetic, Prepare For a TSA-Mandated Humiliation

The TSA forced a flight attendant, who survived breast cancer, to remove her prosthetic breast and show it to the screener. A man with a urine-collection bag following bladder cancer left a TSA enhanced pat-down soaked in urine.

Breda has been all over the issue of how the TSA handles travelers with prostheses.

The TSA's problem with amputees and people with medical devices is grounded in two of the TSA's operating assumptions: 1) All passengers are terrorists until proven otherwise; and 2) all TSA screeners are imbeciles with non-functioning cerebellums. If you take those two assumptions into account, then everything that the TSA does will make sense. That is why, when some discretion and/or common sense would seem to be required, the TSA is utterly lacking.

But if you are a powerful member of Congress, like John Boehner, you don't have to bother with being screened.

Banksters Want to Fuck the Homeowners;
They Want Congress to Supply the K-Y

Their solution is to retroactively legalize the clusterfuck that is the banksters' Mortgage Electronic Recording System and to eviscerate states' laws on recording title documents.

Funny how the Confederate party drops its dedication to states' rights when the banksters tell them to. The banksters deliberately ignored state statutes on recording mortgages, now they want Congress to make their shoddy practices, if not outright fraudulent conveyances legal.

Congress should tell them to go fuck themselves. But they won't, for between the Confederate party's fealty to the banksters as well as enough Democrats who are more than willing to do the dirty work for those unindicted felons, this end-run around state recording statutes will probably work.

If there is any example more illustrative of the fact that our government is for sale, I don't, offhand, recall what it could be.

When a Former Government Official Pushes Something, Look to See how He Benefits

The former government official is Michael Chertoff, former head of the DBP. The technology he has been pushing has been the full body scanners:
Michael Chertoff, who was homeland security secretary from 2005 to 2009, said terrorists appear to have exploited the natural inhibition of screeners to conduct overly intrusive searches, and he renewed calls for widespread expansion of whole-body imaging scanners that use radio waves or X-rays to reveal objects beneath a person's clothes.
What he is more reluctant to talk about, of course, is that Rapi-scan, one of the makers of those scanners, is one of his clients.

Chertoff isn't appearing as an expert on airport security when he discusses full body scanners; he is appearing as a paid pitchman. When you see Chertoff talking about body scanners, think of what the infomercial would look like (starring the late Billy Mays, of course) and you will have the full flavor of what is going on.

Separate Photo ID for Pilots?

Congressmean Mica, a man who thinks that government intrusion is bad (unless he wants the government to intrude, that is), wants all pilots to carry an FAA-issued photo ID in addition to the other forms of government issued photo ID that pilots carry.

Yes, all pilots are required to carry government-issued photo ID already, per FAR 61.3. But that makes no nevermind to Rep. Mica. One therefore has to wonder what company is ready to make the IDs and whether they gave him a hefty bribe campaign contribution.

You can read the rule here. You can comment on the inanity of the rule here.

If you do leave a comment, keep it clean and non-Tea-partyish, please.

Caturday

The guest cats are still here.

Rocky is in one of his favorite spots.


Bella is resting after being combed.


Jake demands his turn of attention.


As does Gracie.


George, the old man of the house, is sleeping.


It is appearing that, thanks to contractor delays, the guest cats will be here until at least after Thanksgiving. Fortunately, the drama has subsided; the guest cats and the resident cats are doing a world-class job of ignoring each others' existence.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Let's Help Out the TSA!

Here's how to do it:

Wear a loose top, like an oversized t-shirt. Women should wear a loose skirt with an elastic waist. Guys can wear loose pants or kilts (they were good enough for Mel Gibson, at least before he became a drunken, foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Semite).

Then, if you are selected for a TSA groping, just whip those suckers off. Undergarments would be a good idea to avoid a charge of indecent exposure.


By the way, if you are a drooling-on-yourself level imbecile, like Rep. John Mica, you might think that the solution is turning over the TSA security function to a bunch of private companies*, which will happily employ even lower-paid people to grope you.

The problem there, of course, is that the rent-a-cops will have to grope you to TSA standards and given that they will be making minimum wage to feel you up, the job will attract a whole host of Level III sex offenders. Because nobody who has the smarts to figure out how to run a french-fryer at McDonalds will want to grope people for a living.

(H/T for the flag)
____________________________
* Many of which gave large bribes campaign contributions to Mica.

OK, So I Am Not the Sharpest Knife in the Drawer.

All of a sudden, I've been getting emails that ask for reciprocal blog links. I've been blogging about this and that for a few years now and never got much in the was of requests. But now they're coming in a steady stream and they all tend to look like this:
Hello friend,

Your Site is very much interesting.

I am your regular reader of your blog. I follow your blog. I am able to get all the information from links in your blog as well as by following external links from your blog.

I like your way of posting. I Have added http://eb-misfit.blogspot.com/ in my blog http://xxxxxxxxxxxxx.blogspot.com/ . I am honored to add it to My Friend's Blogroll section.

So if you could provide me a link to my blog, it will be much more useful for users.

Hope you would add my blog in your blog. I would certainly appreciate a link from your blog.

My URL: http://xxxxxxxxxxxxx.blogspot.com/

Thanks for visiting my blog as well! Please reply friend

Regards
Does anybody know what the hell is going on? They aren't lying about this; when I check, my blog is listed. But this all seems kinda creepy. Besides, being addressed as "friend" by someone I don't know makes me think of that sleazy trader on "the Trouble with Tribbles," and I have impulses to both verify that I still have my wallet and draw heat.

What is their angle? If you are an active blogger, are you seeing the same crap?

Only in the Army, is Blowing Up a Man's Home Viewed as a P.R. Success

One has to wonder if our Army is being led by sociopaths:
In another recent operation in the Zhari district, U.S. soldiers fired more than a dozen mine-clearing line charges in a day. Each one creates a clear path that is 100 yards long and wide enough for a truck. Anything that is in the way - trees, crops, huts - is demolished.

"Why do you have to blow up so many of our fields and homes?" a farmer from the Arghandab district asked a top NATO general at a recent community meeting.

Although military officials are apologetic in public, they maintain privately that the tactic has a benefit beyond the elimination of insurgent bombs. By making people travel to the district governor's office to submit a claim for damaged property, "in effect, you're connecting the government to the people," the senior officer said.
So, by Army logic, if they destroy the homes of ten thousand Afghan families, that will bring them all closer to our side because they will all file for compensation.

That's bullshit, of course. What it does is swell the ranks of Taliban sympathizers. Every one of those families whose homes and fields are blown up the by Army will become a family with people who will cheer when they hear of an American soldier dying.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Here's Your Summons for Playing Chess in a Playground

About what one would expect from the NYPD:
Police demonstrated their staunch commitment to enforcing the law when they arrested seven men in an Inwood Hill playground — for playing chess.

A swarm of bulletproof vest-clad police descended on the group of men last month and issued them tickets for playing chess in an area reserved for adults who have children with them.
In a rational city, one cop would have strolled over and said: "Guys, you can't be here, move your chess games over there."

But that's not how the NYPD does things, not when they can hand out tickets to all concerned and make their quotas.

The Wheels of Justice and the Banksters

The FDIC has about fifty criminal investigations underway on failed banks. The bad thing is that criminal investigations of the banking collapse that do not lock up a goodly number of people from both the big banks and that nest of vipers known as Goldman Sachs will be rather incomplete. But you bet they'll find a few people who worked for some small-time banks in Georgia to throw into prison.

Two more of Bernie Madoff's associates have been arrested.

GOP to the Unemployed: "Go Fuck Yourselves"

The representatives from the party of Hoover blocked extending unemployment benefits.

Doesn't matter a fuck that for the last sixty years, it has been the practice in hard times to extend unemployment benefits. Doesn't matter a shit that unemployment benefits are stimulative, since damn few unemployed people can afford o save anything.

No, now, after eight years of going along with the Bush deficits, now Republicans feel a need to do something about the deficit. And when Republicans want to "do something" about Federal deficits, their targets are always the programs who help people who have fallen on hard times. But whisper the magic words "tax breaks for the rich", and you will see those same deficit hawks stumbling over themselves to vote "yea", no matter how much those tax breaks increase the deficit.

So if you are unemployed in this holiday season, go and properly thank a Republican politician or pundit for their concern and caring. (Do try not to injure them too badly, though.)

Here's the Alaska Question

Now that she has won re-election by a write-in campaign and defeated the darling of Palin and the Teabaggers, will Lisa Murkowski be less willing to toe the Confederate party line than she has been in the past?

Bayonne, a Reality Show

The satire of the extended Palin campaign commercials starts at 5:00 into this, but it's worth watching the entire thing.

Update: Odd, it was there earlier this morning. You can still see the clip at the Daily Show's website, but the link and embedded code now goes to South Park. I took down the video until whatever is wrong at Comedy Central is fixed.

Now the embed code goes to the Colbert Report. Weird. I'm guessing that one of the web weenies at CC is from Bayonne and didn't find it to be very funny.

Finally!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Jason Jones' Bayonne
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Dear Uncle Warren: Fuck You Very Much.

Warren Buffett had a thank-you Op-Ed in the Times yesterday to thank the Federal government from saving the economy from total collapse.

This is my response:

Dear Mr. Buffett:

I read your thank-you note in the New York Times.

Fuck you very much for sending it now, rather than a month ago, when it might have done some good for the senators and congressmen who cast the hard votes to save this country and who were punished by a horde of ignorant yahoos for doing that.

Fuck you very much for sending it, now rather than in the summer of 2009, when it might have made a difference in tamping down the yelling and screaming of those spoiled brats in the Tea party.

But no, you had to send your thank-you note when it would have no practical effect whatsoever.

Thank you not having the courage to stick your neck out.

Fondly,
Comrade Misfit

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cry Me a River, Employment Edition

New York State Appellate Court Judge James McGuire said he will soon quit working as a judge so he can find a job that pays more than the $144,000 he now earns.

Oooh, he can't make it on $144K/year? Poor bay-bee. How my heart bleeds for him.

Cry me a motherfucking river of tears.

A Reply to DHS Secretary Napolitano

I know, I know, "surrendering your civil liberties will keep you safe". We've been hearing that shit for nine years, now.

Tell you what: How about if TSA and DHS put an airline-type screening area in their headquarters. Every political appointee and SES-level employee at TSA and DHS would get the full enhanced screening every time they went into the headquarters building. The TSA scanners would be rotated in and out weekly from airports around the country. There would be video cameras set up, open to all on the Internet, so everyone could see that the screenings were truly being done.

TSA and DHS officials would also be forbidden from flying on government aircraft. If they need to go somewhere, they fly commercial with the dreaded SSSS code automatically printed on their boarding passes.

If this security regimen is so good for us, let us see the DHS and TSA brass live with it as well.

Update: The TSA officals are oh, so angry because the traveling public is not happy about being irradiated and/or sexually assaulted in the name of security. And at least one DA has detected which way the wind is blowing.

British Petroleum to Control House Energy Committee?

Rep. Joe Barton, the one who apologized to BP for American reaction to BP's poisoning of the Gulf of Mexico, is fighting to be the chairman of the House Energy Committee, presumably to he can do a better job of looking out for British Petroleum.

No additional snark is required, I think.

One Woman's Letter to Her Senator

Regarding Republican obstructionism when it comes to helping people on the edge.

Spare a couple of minutes and read it.

Some Brit Prince Is Getting Married,
After the Break, Republicans Spike the "New Start" Arms Control Treaty

If you have the news on this morning, you've probably been bombarded with stories of the announcement of the engagement of Kate Middleton and Prince William (who will become King of the Britons around 2040 or so, at this rate).

But you probably won't see that the Republicans are refusing to ratify the New Start arms control treaty with Russia. The GOP wants to make sure that there is plenty of cash in the defense budget for their corrupt asshole supporters. That, and they are still fighting the Cold War against the Soviet Union, a struggle that ended two decades ago. Why is that, class?

Let's not always see the same hands.

Yes, because it makes lots of money for the companies who give bribes campaign contributions to the GOP.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Dirty Rats Report

The long knives are coming out in the party of the Confederacy for Michael Steele. The whining of "how broke we are" from the resigning member of the RNC is curious, given how much money was funneled into the 2010 races by the Chamber of Commerce and other pro-raping-the-world-and-fucking-the-poor-and-middle-classes advocacy groups.

Rep. Pete Sessions confirmed that his and his fellow Republicans are also going to hold unemployment benefits hostage to giving the super-rich continued tax cuts.

Over in the party of the Spineless, Rep. Charlie Rangel was found guilty of 11 of 13 ethical violations.

And since spinelessness is a virtue among Democrats, especially Senate Democrats, Harry Reid, a man whose picture can be found in the zoological guides under "Weasel; gutless", was re-elected as majority leader.

I Simply Deplore Such Vandalism

But Karma can be a real bitch at times:
McALESTER, OK — Members of a Kansas church who protest at military funerals may have found themselves in the wrong town Saturday.

Shortly after finishing their protest at the funeral of Army Sgt. Jason James McCluskey of McAlester, a half-dozen protesters from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., headed to their minivan, only to discover that its front and rear passenger-side tires had been slashed.
I'm not advocating that the tires on their minivan be slashed wherever they go.

So please, please don't slash the tires on a dark-blue or black Honda Odyssey minivan with Kansas tags 550 CUV.

The TSA Groping Demo

On the Conan O'Brien Show:

Crap, I Need More Gun Gear

I bought a $100 Mosin a couple of years ago. I had two already, but as I went through the rack in the gunshop, I could see that it was a former sniper rifle. The bore was nice and the trigger felt fine, so I bought it.

Turns out that it is an ex-PEM model.


I took it to the county range over the weekend. Bad mistake, the 100 yard benches were full up. 200 yard spots were open, so I took one. Second mistake: All I had for spotting was a pair of 10x binoculars and they were not up to the task of spotting .3" holes in paper at 200 yards.

The good news is that a nice gent let me look into his spotting scope and the rifle shot about a 4" group, which is pretty sweet for open sights at that distance. The bad news is that it shot way high and way to the right, about 1/2 of the way between the outer edge of the black bull and the top right corner of the target.

Re-snipering it is not in the cards these days. Reproductions of the scope itself are over $300. Reproduction mounts, when I have seen them offered, are also over $300. And then it all has to be put together by someone who knows what they are doing, and by then the cost is over an AMU ("aircraft maintenance unit", aka a grand).

That's not going to happen anytime soon. Pushing the sight over and installing a higher post, that's doable.

The PSA McCain Should See

It begins about 3:53 into this clip:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
It Gets Worse PSA
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

They are spot on for this. It will be McCain's legacy, right up there with impulsively choosing the Caribou Bimbo for being his running mate.

Building Your Own Airplane

Some simple tips:

TSA- "If You Protest, We Will Fuck You Up."

Marko is right, that is the only reason why the TSA will go after the guy who would not let the TSA gropers feel him up. Note that the TSA removed him from the secured area, he got his ticket refunded, and then the TSA insisted that he return to the security area to be groped. He refused.

It has nothing to do with security. It has everything to do with keeping the sheeple in line. Which is one reason why the bozo in charge of the TSA at the San Diego airport is questioning the patriotism of anyone who does not want their bodies X-rayed. It is why the Chief Thug of the TSA is reaching out to reporters to spread the message that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear and that everything will go smoother if everyone shuts up and does whatever the TSA demands.

On another email list, one of the members said that while they would like to speak out against the outrages being perpetrated by the TSA, to do so meant running the risk of being flagged for fucking with at any TSA checkpoint or being put on a no-fly list.

Not speaking out for fear that the organs of state security are going to fuck with you is a hallmark of an authoritarian state, not a free nation.

What Took the Tea Party So Long?

An very lengthy list of governmental outrages during the Bush Administration, none of which provoked the outrage of the Tea party, compared to the two things that did.

Go read it.

W(h)ither NATO?

NATO is an organization that, as far as I can see, has largely outlived its usefulness.

NATO, when it was formed, had one clear objective: To unite the nations of western Europe militarily in order to prepare for and deter an attack by the Soviet Union. It also had one unstated objective, which was to ensure that Germany did not become militarily dominant.

The prime reason for NATO's existence became obsolete two decades ago, when the Soviet Union crumbled and the Cold War ended. Nations of both the old Warsaw Pact and some of the new nations that were formerly Soviet republics have joined NATO. At the same time, the Russian defense establishment fell apart under its own weight.

Most of the old Soviet navy has rusted away at anchorage. What warships remain in service are largely ships build in Soviet times. Russian shipyards cannot build a reliable nuclear submarine, as the fiasco of the construction of the K-152/INS Chakra has shown. Russian shipyards cannot build a serviceable amphibious landing ship, which is why the Russian navy is buying them from the French.

The Russian army is not much better. The Russian army reportedly has both poorly-aid and barely trained draftees (draft-dodging is a large-scale sport in Russia) and better trained volunteers, who are in different units. Supposedly it was the volunteer units which rather effortlessly rolled up the Georgians two years ago. Their equipment is largely Soviet-era design.

More to the point, the Russian army (except for the forces in Kaliningrad), is 800 miles further to the east than it was two decades ago. The Russian army does not have the capability to roll across the Northern European Plain. Still, the old "Cold Warriors", largely conservative men who cannot accept the reality that the Soviet Union had collapsed, have hung on ever since, hyping the so-called Russian threat.

The so-called Russian threat, at least to the core nations of NATO, has not existed for two decades.

So why does NATO survive? What is its reason for being?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Israel's Price is 33 Million Dollars a Day

That is the proposal: Israel will freeze settlement construction for 90 days if the United States gives it a bribe, er, gift of $3 billion in additional military aid.

You might recall that the Turks recoiled from a similar "gift" proposal from the Bush Administration, which the Bush Administration proffered to get Turkey to let the U.S. Army stage part of the Iraq War from Turkish soil. Many Turks rightly considered the offer of additional aid to be a bribe and it wasn't accepted.

It would appear that the Israeli government has no such scruples.