Words of Advice:

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

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

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

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

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

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Wheels of Justice Grind Ever So Slowly

But grind they do.
Two former New Orleans police officers were sentenced on Thursday in the killing of an unarmed civilian and the burning of his body in the week after Hurricane Katrina in a case that exposed the city’s troubled Police Department.

One of the former officers, David Warren, was sentenced by a federal judge here to 25 years and 9 months in prison on a federal civil rights charge of using a firearm to commit manslaughter.

The other, Greg McRae, was sentenced to 17 years and 3 months in prison and three years of supervised release on two civil rights charges, including obstruction of justice.
Warren shot Henry Glover in the back, firing from the second floor of a cop shop as Glover was running away. Warren claimed self-defense, evidently believing that Glover would circle the globe and come up behind him. When some bystanders took Glover, who was dying, to another cop shop, the cops handcuffed the lot of them. They placed Glover in a car and McRae drove Glover away. McRae then burned the car with Glover's body inside.

About frigging time.

"Don't Cry For Me, Wisconsin"

"Even though I simply cannot make ends meet on a salary of $174,000 a year!"

That's the whine of a Teabagger/GOP congressman from Wisconsin, who is a clown named Sean Duffy. Duffy also supports cutting the pay of public employees, even though he can't live on only $174,000.

The median household income in Wisconsin is $64,609. So he's bringing in 2.7 times the average household income in his home state and he's crying that he doesn't make much money?

It's As If Bernie Madoff Invested In a Ponzi Scheme!

Microsoft is whining that Google is engaging in monopolistic practices.


Microsoft, for many years, has been acting like the Standard Oil of computers. At one point, Microsoft allegedly was extorting fees from PC makers for every unit produced, even if it shipped without a copy of Windows (Standard Oil got a kickback from railroads for shipments of oil by its competitors).

In this case, Microsoft may even be correct. But it's somewhat like a serial rapist complaining about having to undergo non-consensual sex.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

If You Bought a Samsung Computer

Then you should be aware that Samsung is spying on you.

May a veritable plague of lawyers descend upon Samsung and eat out their sustenance.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

You May Fire When You Are Ready, Gridley

This was the display at one of the baggage claim carousels at the Providence, RI airport. Look at the status for the first flight listed:


What the hell did they mean?

Happy Birthday to You,
Happy Birthday to You.
Happy Birthday, Dear M1911,
Happy Birthday to Youuuuu

The United States Army officially adopted the John Browning designed Colt Automatic Pistol on this day in 1911.[1] The handgun was thus designated as "Pistol; U.S.; Caliber .45; M1911".

________________
[1]Most sources seem to agree on March 29, 1911. I have seen references to May 5th.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Glocks-- Toljaso!

I suspect that this particular accidental discharge would have been less likely with a handgun with either a traditional double-action trigger pull or a thumb safety.

Note the weapon involved. Toljaso, I did.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bangity

I went shooting with a friend today at her father-in-law's farm. None of the weapons were mine. We shot, among other things, a Springfield M1911A1 and a XM-something, a Colt Python (6" stainless) and a Kel-Tec SU-16.

The Springfield 1911 was very nice. I've probably mentioned a few times on this blog that I think that 1911s are the standard for autopistols. The XM or XD (whatever) was fun to shoot, it is what a Glock should have been. It has a grip safety at least. (Fucking Glocks.)

The Python, ah, I was right. Serious drool-inducing want. What a sweet trigger. My friend doesn't like revolvers (it belongs to her husband) and even she admitted that it was a sweet shooter.

As for the Kel-Tec SU-16, she shot it far, far better from a standing position than I could shoot it from the "rice-paddy prone" (squatting) position. I personally thought that the trigger was probably the worst trigger on a rifle that I have ever fired. I shot better with a handgun. Hell, for me, I'd be better off throwing rocks at a target rather than try to shoot it with that carbine.

It was a good day, with good food, and good people.

One of the Major Tenets of War

"No plan survives contact with the enemy."-- Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke (the Elder), 1800-1891
I am keeping that maxim in mind when I read the statements being put out by the Administration, such as this from President Obama's Saturday address:
As I pledged at the outset, the role of American forces has been limited. We are not putting any ground forces into Libya. Our military has provided unique capabilities at the beginning, but this is now a broad, international effort. Our allies and partners are enforcing the no fly zone over Libya and the arms embargo at sea. Key Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have committed aircraft. And as agreed this week, responsibility for this operation is being transferred from the United States to our NATO allies and partners.
Yeah. Sure. Assuming the Libyan rebels manage to topple the current regime, which as far as I can tell, will have to involve doing a Ceaușescu-type maneuver on Gaddafi, the Libyan Army will have to be completely rebuilt, which is going to require money, equipment and trainers. There may have to be stabilization troops on the ground for years (hello, KFOR).

Make no mistake about this, either: The crap about "we had to intervene to prevent a humanitarian crisis" is bullshit. We chose sides in an insurrection that has morphed into a civil war. In revolts, insurrections and civil wars, the losing sides generally get treated very harshly. There have been civil wars going on in sub-Saharan Africa for decades with millions of people getting killed. Those wars have included the use of rape and amputations as tools of terror. But other than some pissant interventions by the French in their former colonial regions, most of the world has only tut-tutted at it and confined its disapproval to trying the few warlords that have been arrested.

To quote a man I met this weekend: "If sand were a valuable commodity, we'd have intervened in Darfur years ago."

I don't object to the notion of Gaddafi (and his sons) being deposed. I imagine that the world will improve slightly when their oxygen-use permits are revoked. And I understand that much of this has to fall to us, because we are the only nation (for now) with the military and sensor capability to get this intervention started.

But it bothers me. In almost every state in this country, times are pretty grim. I don't know how we can ever to hope to remain a First World nation with deteriorating roads and shitty public schools. We have 1.5 political parties that regard education as maybe being a barely necessary evil.

In a world where it is becoming increasingly apparent that a basic business tool is the ability to access broadband Internet services, there are rural regions which don't have that and won't have that without government investment to at least help build the system. I don't understand why that is so hard to get going; the same exact point was true for rural electrification and telephone service in the last century.

We can't find money for better schools. We can't find money to improve our roads. We can't find money to use for developing businesses and industries. But we can always find money to go out and kill people around the world.

And that bothers me.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Lost Country

Bob Herbert, in his last column for the New York Times, argues that this country has lost its way.
Limitless greed, unrestrained corporate power and a ferocious addiction to foreign oil have led us to an era of perpetual war and economic decline. Young people today are staring at a future in which they will be less well off than their elders, a reversal of fortune that should send a shudder through everyone.

The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.
You ought to read the entire thing. Keep in mind that what Herbert is talking about is the de facto platform of the GOP: Impoverishing the middle class, perpetual war, government by and for the rich and the corporations. Elections that are almost a sham in that no matter who wins, nothing ever changes.

That is a recipe for long-term disaster. Yet nobody, outside of a handful of bloggers and columnists, seems to give a frak.

We are so screwed.

Caturday; Travel Edition

George on a fainting couch. Unlike at home, my cats here seem to have no interest in the heated cat bed to George's left.


Jake tries to disappear into the floral pattern.


Gracie was on my bed. It is a single bed and she was both in the middle and lying across it. She was less than pleased when I climbed in and pushed her to the side of the bed.

Friday, March 25, 2011

100 Years Ago

146 garment workers died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

The company's owners, like Wal-Mart managers, locked the employees into the factory. Fire truck ladders could not reach the factory, which was on the 8th through 10th floors. Workers had the Hobson's choice of stay in the building and die in the fire or jump to their deaths.

The company's owners survived the fire. Two years later, one of the owners was fined for again locking his workers into a factory.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire resulted in worker safety laws in New York and the rise of the Ladies' Garment Workers Union. But since the party of the Confederacy is hostile to both worker safety laws and unions, look for another such disaster in this century.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Light

I'm traveling for a few days, so don't expect much until well into next week. I did set a caturday post in the queue for Saturday, as well as a couple of others to mark significant days this month.

Making my flight out this morning called for a 0315 wakeup time for a 0500 arrival at the airport to check in for a 0700 flight out on SWA. I haven't gotten up that damn early since I stopped going to sea. I sure don't miss those kind of hours.

Da svedanya.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Depraved-Heart Murder in Space

Cosmonaut Vladimir Kamarov was sent into space in 1967 in Soyuz-1. The spacecraft was shoddily built; both Kamarov and his fellow cosmonauts knew that whoever flew it would likely die.

Kamarov would not step aside and let the backup cosmonaut fly the mission. The mission was flown because Brezhnev wanted it flown and nobody dared to object.

Kamarov died cursing the engineers who had designed and built that piece of shit. The backup cosmonaut was his friend, Yuri Gagarin.

Gagarin died the following year in a plane crash.

My Heart Can't Take Much More of This

The Supreme Court today held that a worker who verbally complains about illegal conditions at the work place is protected by laws prohibiting retaliation.

The shocker: Johnny Roberts and Sammy Alito agreed with that. Only Scalia-Plus (Scalia and Thomas) dissented.

Roberts and Alito standing up to protect workers? No wonder there have been earthquakes, wars and nuclear melt-downs!

Screwing the Consumers-- the Goal of Every Large Company

The first thought I had when I heard about the proposed merger of T-Mobile and AT&T was that the end-result will be that the consumers will be screwed. So I didn't any stinking NY Times or CNN analysis to confirm that. For one thing, all of the T-Mobile customers with 3G phones will find themselves owning useless hunks of tech.

T-Mobile was small, but they pushed the envelope on technology. When there are fewer companies in any market, innovation suffers 9because they institutionally become lazy) and the prices go up. The merger effectively leaves two giants controlling most of the cell phone market and, if history is any judge, the smaller cell phone companies will be squeezed out.

Business always tries to squish out competition and to monopolize a market. That's the way it has always been and when they succeed, prices skyrocket.

Monday, March 21, 2011

If Child Pornography Was Hugely Profitable..

..then Republicans would be lining up to defend the kiddie porn industry. They would be blaming child exploitation on "excessive government regulation." And they would be engaging in sustained attacks on those whose sought to combat child pornography.

How else, then, does one explain the sustained attacks by the GOP on Elizbeth Warren?

This recession[1] and the housing bubble were not caused by "excessive government regulation." If anything, the cause was government regulators, predominantly Alan Greenspan, who looked the other way.[2] The Republicans and yes, a fair number of Democrats, methodically stripped away the regulations imposed after the Crash of 1929 worsened into the Great Depression.[3]

If it wasn't for President Bush and Vice President Cheney, who bucked the ideologues of their party. the banking system would have melted down and we would be in another depression. We came goddamn close to it anyway. Recovery has been painfully slow because Republicans have obstructed and delayed and diffused actions to turn the economy around.

But facts mean nothing to Republicans. All they have to cling to is their ideology that says, in spite of the mountains of evidence to the contrary, that the bankers and the corporations will do whatever maximizes short term profits with no regard to the long-term ramifications. The banksters, in particular, will do whatever it takes to maximize their bonus for any given year and if the economy is wrecked and their clients are ruined, hell, even if their own bank goes under, they won't care. They got theirs.

Much of that is human nature. Avarice and greed run deep. And it's not only naked greed, it is pride, for the accumulation of wealth is also how they keep score.

Government regulation can keep those greedy fuckers from doing extremely serious damage. There was nothing about the recession that was unforeseeable to those who should have been watching the financial thieves.

But they weren't watching. The politicians and the ideologues made it a decades' long project to neuter meaningful regulation. The politicians took bank regulation from the states and gave the job of regulating banks to an agency that could not have been more ineffective if they were staffed entirely with toddlers.[4]

All of this is now pretty obvious history. The desire of the banksters to escape regulation and the consequences of them doing so were behind the Crash of 1929, the S&L Crisis of the 1980s and this recession. But Republicans are immune to learning from history. All they have is their ideology, which they stubbornly cling to like a bunch of ivory-towered Marxists.

Only unlike the Marxists, who are now consigned to the shitcan of history, the Republicans are still with us, spouting the same failed mantra over and over again.

We are so screwed.
_______________________
[1] Which would have become a depression if ideological conservatives had had their way about it.
[2] Because that was what Randisim Theory demanded.
[3] The Depression took hold because, rather than try to do anything for the legions of unemployed, the Hoover Administration slashed Federal spending to balance the budget. About the only meaningful thing they did was to send troops against protesting veterans.
[4] The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which seemed to only concern itself with the location of bank branches.

zOMG!!!1!!! There is a Nukular Reactor Near Where We Live!!!1!!

That would seem to be the impulse behind NBC News for this little gem:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't have given a flying fuck about it if the reactor was on the New Madrid fault line.

"What a Fucking Ride!"

A writer for "Air & Space" takes a ride in a B-25.


$500 and you can have the same fun. If you want more, you can get a second-in-command rating for a B-25 for $5,000. And if you are really flush with cash, you can get a full type-rating.

"But, But, We Didn't Think That You Would Actually Bomb Anyone!!"

That is the whine of the Arab League, which asked the Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. Now they are having buyer's remorse.

Idiots. Have they forgotten what happened in 1991? Imposing a no-fly zone and only attacking Gaddafi's air force would have not stopped his forces from what they were doing. The Libyan army still has armor and artillery, though less of it now.

I was surprised that the Arab League asked for a no-fly zone. I expected them to be more in tune with what has happened in Bahrain and Syria, rather than support a rebellion.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cassini

Not a smidgen of CGI, either!

5.6k Saturn Cassini Photographic Animation from stephen v2 on Vimeo.

Abby Sciuto Wasn't Working for the Army's CID

Not hardly. A lab technician there screwed up at least a quarter of all of the cases he was working on.


He resigned before he could be fired. That was in 2005. But what he did was so egregious that the Army did what it always does in a situation which could prove embarrassing to the Army: They covered it up.

Which meant that men who may have been innocent of the charges continued to sit in prison and men who may have truly been guilty continue to walk among us. But hey, the Army was able to cover it up for a few years, which probably allowed a few colonels to move on and away from the problem.

83 Million Dollars

U.S. and British warships and submarines launched 110 Tomahawk missiles overnight against air defences around the capital Tripoli and the western city of Misrata, which has been besieged by Gadhafi's forces, U.S. military officials said.
That's about what it costs for the missiles alone. And that was on the first strike.

Bet that the only Tea-partier who will scream about the cost is Ron Paul, for Republicans are all for government spending if the end result is killing people. They'll cheer this on (they love seeing footage of explosions on Fixed News), but they'll squeal like raped pigs if there are any plans for post-conflict economic aid to the people of Libya.

Heil the Riding Fuhrer!

Well, not quite a swastika, but a few more aisles to those horse barns and they will be there.


My guess would be that nobody made a site plan when they added onto the barns. Otherwise, they might have had an idea what it might look like.

In some parts, especially Westchester County, NY, if it wasn't for horse farms, there's be no agricultural uses of land whatever. It is not for nothing that it has been said that some of the towns' leading agricultural product is horse shit.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Fifty Year Old Comment On These Wars

War Number Three

I am not going to express an opinion on whether getting into the Libyan War was the right thing to do or not.

But I fervently hope that, this time around, somebody with some competence is planning what will happen after Gaddafi is removed from power.

(Unlike, say, the last two wars which were begun by Chimpy and his crack team of fools, chickenhawks and career war criminals.)

Gullible Much?

There is a bunch of stuff going around the Intertubes about a "Geometric Simplification Act, H.R. 205." As the story goes, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) is proposing that, as a matter of law, the value of Pi would be defined as 3.0.

Funny story and frankly, it's about what a lot of folks would believe of the Boehner House.

But it's not true. All it takes is for one to go to Thomas.gov and look up the frakking bill. It's not hard to do.

And if you were to do that, you'd learn that H.R. 205 has nothing to do with re-defining the value of Pi. You'd also learn, if you did a search for all Congresses from 1990 on, that there was no bill with the phrase "geometric simplification" in it.

But hey, why let the facts ruin a good story? After all, Republicans never bother with keeping to the facts.

Caturday- the Morning Cats

George is napping in the last bit of morning sunshine. In a little bit, there won't be a sunbeam to be had.


Jake was asleep, but he raised his head when he heard the camera focusing. But as you can see from his eyes, he wasn't full awake. He had his annual "poke and prod" at the vet's yesterday. They took blood to check his liver and kidney functions, but I haven't heard back.


Gracie was inside one of the cat condos, but when she saw me crouch down to take a photo, she came outside.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hey, What About This, Rep. King?

In California, three Right-Wing clowns in San Francisco beat up two Mexicans while the attackers yelled "white power". And some other clown in Madera, CA was arrested for firebombing a Planned parenthood clinic and for vandalizing a mosque.

You can bet your ass that if three Muslim men beat up a couple of guys while yelling "Allahu Akbar", that you would have heard about it on every news outlet. And if the firebomber was Muslim, the press would be asking the President and Reichfuhrer Secretary Napolitano about it.

But since in neither event the perps were Muslim, it all disappears under the radar.

Messenger Is in Orbit!

Around Mercury.

All of the planets that you can see without magnification now have had probes sent from Earth that orbited around them.

STOL!

Footage from last year's STOL competition in Valdez, AK.



Some of those guys are landing and taking off in 100 feet or less of ground roll. Sure, those are "race planes", but they still have to be super pilots to do that.

This year's competition is on May 6-8th.

Don't You Love the Smell of Corruption In the Morning?

No surprise here.
A Pentagon audit has found that the federal government overpaid a billionaire oilman by as much as $200 million on several military contracts worth nearly $2.7 billion.
Harry Sargeant III gave a boatload of money to Republicans. The Pentagon gave him the contracts by effectively rigging the bidding process to make them single-source no-bid contracts.

Bigoted and Brutal With a Badge and a Gun

That's pretty much a shorthand description of the New Orleans Police Department. Along with excessive use of force against citizens, discriminating against minorities, extorting cash from gays and lesbians and willfully ignoring the problems of non-English speakers, the main task of the sex crimes unit was covering up sex crimes. There was an organized system of bribes under the cover of "paid details".

Very little of this likely comes as a surprise to most of the residents of New Orleans.

You can download and read the entire report here. The executive summary is worth at least a quick read.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Two Scoops of Chocolate In a Waffle Cone and Ten Pills of Oxycodone

Oxycodone was allegedly being sold out of an ice cream truck in Staten Island, NY.

They're Giving Out Body Counts at the Five O' Clock Follies

Same shit, different war.
The U.S.-led coalition says more than 40 insurgents have been killed in fighting over the past two days in southwestern and eastern Afghanistan.
For decades after the Vietnam War, the prevailing military thinking was that focusing on body counts had been a bad thing, that it was a false metric. As it was pointed out by the dissenters then, the U.S. had a huge firepower advantage and the fact that there were more enemy dead also indicated that there were more enemy soldiers to kill.

And so it is here. The Taliban has small arms and IEDs. The NATO Coalition has artillery, attack aircraft, helicopters and armed drones.

Is "Old Sparky" Coming Back?

Might happen, as one of the execution drugs, sodium thiopental is now unavailable in the United States. Georgia directly imported some from a garage lab in the UK, which resulted in a raid by the DEA.

So the states are switching to pentobarbital, which is mainly used to euthanize animals. There is one company that makes it in the U.S., and the company is not happy with the drug being used in executions, especially since they are a subsidiary of a Danish company, so look for them to eventually stop production once the pressure on them builds.

Which may end up making it more difficult for your vet to put down your ailing pet. But hey, a price must be paid for Texas and the other states to continue executing people.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Earthquake Stereo Photos

Not from Japan or Chile, but from San Francisco.


They were made by Frederick Ives, who first invented his system for color photography over 120 years ago.

Cross Your Fingers for MESSENGER

The MESSENGER space probe will do its braking burn tomorrow night in order to enter into orbit around Mercury.

Sharia Law At Work?

It seems that if a person accused of homicide pays weregild to the heirs of the victim, the case goes away.
An American CIA contractor facing murder charges in Pakistan has been released after the payment of "blood money" to the relatives of the victims, local officials said Wednesday.

Raymond Allen Davis has been in jail since Jan. 27, seriously straining ties between Pakistan and the United States.

“The family members of the slain men appeared in the court and independently verified they had pardoned him,” provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah told private Geo television, the Dawn newspaper reported.
Whether you agree with the concept of paying blood money or not, the payment ended a situation that had become a bone of contention between the U.S. and Pakistan.

Only Terrorists Want To Protect Their Constitutional Rights

That would seem to be the mindset of the TSA, which detained a young man who had the temerity to write the text of the 4th Amendment on his chest. He alleges that the TSA goons then threatened to contact his university with the goal of getting him thrown out of school.

The TSA cannot tell the difference between terrorism and dissent. That's pretty damning, but as we've seen over the last ten years, neither can the Department of Defense or the cops..

(H/T)

It's Not Just Blue Collar Jobs Going Overseas

The New London Day is reporting this morning that Pfizer is moving its antibacterial research unit from Groton, Connecticut to Shanghai, China.

So much for the crap that when American companies make money, they hire more people, which result in good jobs for Americans.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Huffington Post-- Now Right-Wing Troll Site

Since HuffPo hired notorious Wingnut Troll Andrew Breitbart after Adrianna Huffington sold out to AOL, I see no reason to bother going over there.

AOL has been known as "Assholes On Line" for almost a generation.

Time to delete some bookmarks!

(H/T)

GOP- the Anti-Science Party

In which they are trying to legislatively rescind a scientific finding.

Rep. Markey brings the smackdown:



(H/T)

Verizon Service Calls-- And I Thought Comcast Was Bad!

I have a problem on my home phone. So I called the lovable people at Verizon to get a repairman to come out. When I made the appointment, they told me that the tech would be here later this week "sometime between 8AM and 6PM."

That's right, a ten hour window.

Today, I got a robocall from Verizon on my cell phone. The tech will be here "sometime between 8AM and 10PM."

Shit fire, why don't they just tell me "the tech will be there sometime in April. Is April good for you?"

What is it with Verizon? There are three other cell phone companies working this area and if I wanted to switch, I could get craptastic cable telephone service from ComBastards.

The fucking power company, which truly has a distribution monopoly, is more customer-friendly than either Verizon or Comcast.

30 minutes on hold to those bastards at Verizon to try and find out what the story is. Fuck this. Asshole telephone company, they're worse than AT&T used to be.

King's Hearings

Because white folks simply cannot be terrorists!

Matt Bors

The Japanese Chernobyl?

It is starting to appear more and more like it. Three reactors have suffered at least partial meltdowns. The water in a pool holding spent fuel rods is boiling off. Other reactors were shut down following cooling failures. Because of the loss of generating capacity, there are now rolling blackouts in Tokyo which may continue for quite some time.

These are boiling water reactors, which means that the steam that turns the power turbines is directly produced by the nuclear fuel. If you have ever used an immersion element to boil water in a cup, that's kind of the idea. Except that unlike that immersion element, a reactor can't be fully shut off. When a reactor is shut down, it still generates a level of heat that has to be moved out of the reactor.

Radiation levels in the vicinity of the generating plant are at 400 millisieverts per hour. If you were raised during the Cold War, that's roughly equivalent to 40 rads/hr. That's about a fifteenth of the dose that will likely kill someone with medical care. There's also evidence that a person will survive a large dose of radiation (like 1,000 rads) if it is broken down into smaller dosages over time, with rest periods. Not that you'd want to try that.

Should radiation levels begin to rise, then the remaining workers may have to be removed, or they will be working with the real possibility that they are giving their lives for their country. There may be no choice other than to ask engineers to keep working, for what would happen otherwise would not be very good, especially if the wind shifts to the northeast and radiation is carried to Tokyo and Korea.

For all of the bashing that nuclear power has taken, I do not know of an alternative that would work for Japan. Building more plants that run on geologically compacted biowaste is not an answer, not as oil is over $100/bbl. Burning coal is incredibly bad for the environment, even if you don't believe that releasing more carbon into the atmosphere is a problem. Wind and solar have reliability problems and I've not seen where solar power has shown that it can scale up. Geothermal might be a possibility, but my understanding is that the hot water/steam that comes up from the Earth then has to be replaced, which would be a form of hydraulic fracking,* and that might not be good in an earthquake-prone region.

As for fusion power plants, well, fusion power has been "twenty-five years away" for the last forty years. And if you think that fusion won't have its own unique set of serious radioactive waste problems, then I have a bridge to sell to you.
________________________________
* Which is considerably different from "frakking".

Monday, March 14, 2011

There Must Be No Orthodox Jews in Alaska

For if there were, the cabin and flight crew of an Alaska Airlines flight wouldn't have flipped out at the sight of three Orthodox Jewish men praying.
Pilots on an Alaska Airlines flight from Mexico City to Los Angeles locked down the cockpit and alerted authorities Sunday when a flight crew grew alarmed at the behavior of three men who turned out to be conducting an elaborate orthodox Jewish prayer ritual, officials said.
zOMG!!! Jews!!!!

This is beyond stupid. At least the FBI agents in Los Angeles apparently could tell the difference between an Orthodox Jew and Osama bin Ladin. For it's for damn sure that nobody at Alaska Airlines can.

GOP- "We Don't Need to Monitor No Stinkin' Tsunamis!"

That's what the Anti-Science Party maintains, as t-he Confederates are trying to shut down the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Because nobody dies from tsunamis or, for that matter, volcanoes.

What's next for those short-sighted, ignorant fools, are they going to ground the fleet of hurricane hunting aircraft? Oh, sorry, that was meant to be hyperbole. It isn't.

(H/T)

Alpha! Beta! Cosine! Sine!

Three point one four one five nine!

Happy Pi Day!

Walker the Liar

Wisconsin is not broke.

In short, Walker ginned up the so-called crisis in order to break the unions, give more tax beaks to the rich and to corporations and to hand as much of the state's infrastructure as he can over to the Koch brothers.

Walker is using the "shock doctrine" and most of the mainstream press is either too much in bed with Corporate America, to lazy or just too unwilling to pay attention to the details.

Blue on Blue

A Nassau county police officer was shot and killed by a railroad cop. Nassau county cops had responded to the emergency, which was a crazy man armed with hunting knives. for some reason, two MTA cops also showed up. One of the MTA cops then shot a plainclothes Nassau county cop, who was armed with a rifle.

The main difference between this and the standard "blue-on-blue" police shootings in the NYC metro area is that the cop who was shot wasn't a Black guy.

Of course, if you mistakenly shoot a cop, you're going to the Crossbar Hotel for a few decades. They'll probably offer free mental health counseling to the MTA cop.

Boomity

I bought a Mosin-Nagant two years ago. It was a de-snipered PEM. I finally got around to taking it a range last fall, it shot OK, but well high and to the right.

The windage was easily brought back into the ballpark by drifting the sight a tad to the right. Fixing the elevation would require a higher front sight and then filing it down to regulate the elevation.

Screw that noise, that sounded too much like work. I bought a Mojo rear sight and installed it. That was fun, as I had to use a c-clamp to push the sight down against the rear sight retaining spring. My hope was that I would be able to lower the sight enough to not have to muck with the front sight.

Hope springing eternal, I also bought some Wolf Gold 180 grain hunting ammunition.

I took the rifle to a range yesterday and first used some Czech light ball to do the gross sighting in for a 25 yard zero. I would get two holes touching and a third that was an inch away. Part of that may have been my technique, as the benches there are a little low and when I use my sandbag rest, I have to kneel on the concrete floor (not fun with the ground barely unfrozen).

I saw that the rangemaster had a much higher rest, so I borrowed it. I also switched over to the civilian ammunition. And that made all of the difference; the rifle shot right to point of aim with tight groups.

Works for me.

But damn, I am getting to the point that I hate black rifles. Damn near every rifle on the range was black, even the bolt-actions. What is so wrong with a nice hardwood stock? The only rifles I saw at the range with wooden stocks was an elderly .30-30 and some Mosins. There were at least four other Mosins at the range.

So there were guys rapidly popping off rounds from ARs and AKs. And then you'd hear the much louder report from one of the Mosins, grandpaw coming to life.

I saw one guy with a detachable magazine-fed shotgun. He was firing slugs at a Dirty Bird silhouette target 25 yards away, shooting rapid fire. I was waiting for a firing point to open up; I was standing behind the covered area and two guys were by me. We all watched the shotgun shooter. When the shooter emptied his magazine, one of the guys said: "Wow." I shrugged and said: "Yeah, but he didn't hit anything."

And he didn't. Most of the slugs he fired missed the silhouette completely and blew holes in the cardboard backing. He hit the target on the right side once and grazed it a second time. All of the other rounds were Maggie's drawers.

I saw and heard a lot of that yesterday. Lots of guys were popping off full magazines as fast as they could work the triggers.* Seems to me like a huge waste of ammunition, but I am of the older school that "the idea is to hit the frakking target, not to make a bunch of noise." They might as well have been playing with firecrackers.

As Wyatt Earp supposedly said: "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything."

A very long time ago, I read a book that had first-hand stories from the Old West. One of the stories was told by a man who was an itinerant tailor. He was waiting for a train at a station in a town. The station was nothing more than a tin roof on poles, shelter from the sun and rain was all. There were two other men there, both armed. They saw a deputy sheriff come out of a building and look at them. The deputy was maybe 75 yards away. One of the two men drew fast and shot at the deputy. The deputy drew his sidearm, took a two-handed grip and calmly returned fire.

The outlaw emptied his revolver. One shot grazed the deputy's leg, one shot killed a draft horse and one shot hit the tailor's suitcase, which was filled with his trade goods.

The deputy fired three shots, all of which hit the outlaw in the torso. The outlaw fell down on the third impact and died. The outlaw was fast, all right, and it didn't do him a damn bit of good.
_________________________________________________
* There was one guy there who was wearing a t-shirt that said "chicks dig guys with big guns." I took that to mean that he probably hasn't had sex with another person for the last decade.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What Do the State of New York and the Catholic Church Have in Common?

It is this: Physical and sexual abuse of the powerless became an institutional norm. You all know, by now, the Church's sordid history in this country and that abuses continue to come to light around the world.

In New York State, the abuse of disabled people in state-run group homes was routinely covered up. State law requires reporting cases of abuse to law enforcement; the administrators of the group homes flouted that law. The managers ordered employees at the group homes not to document cases of abuse or neglect, telling them, in writing, that if there was nothing written down, the incident never happened.

One would hope that the end result of this will be both lengthy prison terms for the perpetrators and the bosses who covered it up, along with meaningful oversight.

But knowing something about how New York state government operates, I predict this: The odds of some underlings going to prison is pretty high. The odds of any of the bosses going to prison are only slightly better than the chance that Rumsfeld will see the inside of a jail cell. And the odds of any meaningful oversight or changes to the way New York State deals with the residents of group homes is nonexistent.

Dumb and Getting Dumber

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota stood before New Hampshire Republicans with a tea bag clutched in her hand Saturday, but her grasp on Revolutionary War geography wasn't quite as tight.

Before headlining a GOP fundraiser, the possible presidential hopeful told a group of students and conservative activists in Manchester, "You're the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord," according to video posted online by WMUR-TV.
I'll bet that she also thinks that George Washington crossed the Ohio River on his way to attack Canton.

What a moron. But the sadder thing is that the comment would seem to accurately reflect Bachmann's tenuous grasp on reality.

The First Rule of Government Bureaucracy: "If You Tell the Truth, You Will Be Fired."

Because the truth is going to hurt somebody powerful.
Chief State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley resigned Sunday after angering the White House by calling the treatment of WikiLeaks suspect Bradley E. Manning “counterproductive and stupid.”
In this case, the truth is hurting President George W. Obama, who thinks that the Marine Corp's shameful psychological torturing of Private Manning is just peachy.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

TSA Claims It Has the Unrestricted Power to Do Cavity Searches of All Air Travelers

So, you think that the Rape-o-Scanners are bad? You don't care for the TSA groping you?

Suck it up, Bucko. It could be worse, for the TSA's lawyers maintain that the TSA has the power to do a full strip-search. And, in case you are not aware of what it means to be so searched, cavity searches are part of being strip-searched.

So one of the TSA's blue-gloved goons could stick his fingers in your mouth, up your rectum and in your vagina. If they wanted to do that.

Don't forget that Reichfuhrer Napolitano is advocating having TSA screeners at cruise ship terminals, train stations, subway stations and bus stations.

Bend over and spread those cheeks, Bubba.

Oh, and remember how TSA promised that the Rape-o-Scanners were completely safe and that it was absolutely inconceivable that the scanners could ever emit more radiation than they were designed to emit? Seems as though they were lying about that, as well.

Guess What Else the Republicans Did in Wisconsin?

They turned the animal shelters into warehouses for medical experimentation. Medical experimental uses would get priority over placing animals for adoption.

Smooth move, guys.

Caturday

Rocky is a gorgeous cat, even if he dislikes all humans but his one-woman staff (not me).


George is warming only his upper body on a heating pad.

Teabaggers Are Not Terrorists, Nosiree!

None of this wil bother Peter King a bit because, as he believes, only Muslims can be terrorists.
Five Fairbanks-area residents involved in a loose-knit militia group have been arrested in connection with a plot to kidnap or kill Alaska state troopers and a local judge, federal and state authorities said on Friday.

The group includes Francis "Schaeffer" Cox, the 26-year-old leader of the so-called "citizen sovereignty" movement, which considers individuals to be sovereign nations not subject to any state or federal laws.

...

[Cox] ran for the state legislature in 2008, has identified himself as a good friend and associate of unsuccessful Tea Party-supported U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller and has tangled with law enforcement officers over domestic-violence charges and weapons charges.
They are some serious whackjobs. They were conducting surveillance of police officers and judges.

Fortunately, they were not exactly rocket scientists. The more people involved in any group like that and it's a certainty that somebody is passing intel to the cops or the Feds.

Chernobyl-2?

This is not good:
An explosion at a nuclear power plant in northern Japan on Saturday blew the roof off one building, brought down walls and caused a radiation leak of unspecified proportions, Japanese officials said, after Friday’s huge earthquake caused critical failures in the plant’s cooling system.



The evacuation zone is now twelve miles around the power plant. The Japanese government is saying that while the containment building blew up, the reactor vessel is intact.

Friday, March 11, 2011

There Is No Nazi Like an Old Nazi

A state representative* in New Hampshire had advocated rounding up "defective" people and sending them to Siberia to die. And it gets better:
[Kathy} Omand said Harty appeared to be serious. After Omand responded that his idea sounded like what Adolf Hitler did in World War II, Omand said Harty responded, "Hitler did something right, and I agree with (it)."
What makes this especially evil is that Omand manages a community mental health program.

Harty is a WWII vet and I think it is open to question for which side did he serve, though it seems that he was an Army supply puke. If he had been one of the soldiers who had liberation any one of the concentration camps, I doubt if that evil old fuck would have said what he did.

(H/T)
________________________________
* Were you surprised to learn that he is a Republican? Me neither.

Pour Yourself That Cup of Coffee You Want!

Navy chiefs should live forever!
Coffee, it seems, has gotten a bad rap -- blamed for heart problems, higher cholesterol, and hyperactivity. Now many researchers believe that not only is coffee not harmful, but it should be put in the category of health food. A study published Thursday in the journal Stroke finds that drinking coffee lowers stroke risk in women by 22 to 25 percent over a decade.

Perhaps it's time for coffee to push aside green tea. "I think it's actually more healthful than tea," contends Dr. Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. As an investigator on the Harvard Nurses' Health Study, Hu should know. He's identified a connection between coffee consumption and lower diabetes risk.

In recent years, coffee drinkers have been found to have a reduced risk of gallstones, colon cancer, liver disease, and Parkinson's. Long-distance athletes also have increased endurance if they drink coffee before a race.

Did You Know That John Edwards and Bill Clinton Were Patriots?

If you buy the Newt Gingrich definition, that is:

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Also, look at this one about Pawlenty:

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Would someone explain to me why any Republican politician would want to take credit for the Apollo program? The Republicans were against the Moon program. Eisenhower thought that it was a waste of money to send men into space.

Nixon killed the last three Apollo moon missions (Apollo 18-20). Because the Apollo program was advocated by, and subsequently became identified with, a Democratic president.



In my view, it is particularly shameful of Pawlenty to try and tie Republicans to the space program. Because they were against it before they were for it.

Peter King-- "It's Not Terrorism If Only British Subjects Are Killed."

Jon Stewart weighs in, in two parts:

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Stephen Colbert also chimed in:

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Earthquake!

An 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan a little over six hours ago. A tsunami is expected to hit all around the Pacific rim. It was the largest known earthquake to hit Japan and one of the largest in history.

As I write this, Hawaii issued a tsunami warning four hours ago and is evacuating its tsunami warning zone. Similar steps are being taken elsewhere.

No doubt that between the earthquake and the tsunami along the coast in Japan, the damage is extensive. Good Morning America reports that power is out in Tokyo.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lindsey Graham Has the Vapours

Because an honest evaluation of the situation in Libya upset him so.

This is what happened:
One week after President Obama demanded that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi cede power in Libya, the president’s top intelligence official predicted on Thursday, “over the longer term, that the regime will prevail” in Libya’s civil war, an assessment that cast significant doubt on efforts so far by the NATO allies to drive him from power.

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that Colonel Qaddafi has a potentially decisive advantage in arms and equipment that would make itself felt as the conflict wore on.
That makes sense. Gaddafi has a shitload of money squirreled away. He has an air force, helicopters, armor and artillery. His army may not be worth beans if, say, the Egyptian army invaded, but it is probably capable of dealing with a bunch of rebels. Particularly since Gaddafi probably doesn't give a rat's ass about civilian casualties and if his army has to kill a goodly number of Libyan civilians in the process, it won't disturb his slumber in the least.

As I said, that evaluation makes sense. It's the sort of thing that one would expect an intelligence guy to say, when asked about how the Libyan civil war may end.

But no, ol' Miss Lindsey positively had an attack of the vapours, because he can't handle an honest assessment. Graham wants to hear things that comport with Wingnut ideology, not the facts on the ground. So Sen. Graham wants Gen. Clapper fired.

If the Obama Administration had any balls, the response to Graham would have three words in it; the first word would be "go" and the last word would be "yourself".

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

I'm not commenting on the venality of the Republicans in Wisconsin or the fact that the GOP nationwide is ginning up fiscal crises in order to break labor unions. That's about what I expect from those modern-day Pinkertons. It is all about empowering the corporations and crushing down the middle and working classes and it has been that way for the last thirty years. And in some ways, I kind of feel, if ever so slightly, that if the people of Wisconsin were stupid enough to hand their state over to them, it sucks to be them.

No, what I want to mention is that just over 30 years ago, in September of 1980, a bunch of Polish shipyard workers formed a union. And the Republicans tripped over themselves at the time to cheer and support the Solidarność trade union. Oh, it was a great thing, said Republicans, for workers to unionize.

But not in this country. Because in this country, unions get in the way of providing huge tax cuts to the rich and the corporations. Unions stand in the way of slashing the wages for working men and women. Unions get in the way of full-blown exploitation. And our corporate overlords can't have that.

Fascist Michigan

I am not using the work "fascist" lightly. I am using it in the sense that the governor of the state of Michigan is seeking the power to disenfranchise local voters, dismiss elected officials, dissolve local government and turn over operation of cities, towns, and school districts to people who are accountable only to him.

And while the governor of Michigan is abolishing local democracy, he will give more tax breaks to corporations.

Wisconsin was only the beginning.


Heil GOP!

(H/T)

Wake Up and Smell the Gunsmoke, NPR!

For the love of Your Dear and Fluffy Lord, you clowns at National Public Radio had better get a fucking clue: The Republicans hate your asses. The GOP has been on a decades' long quest to defund you guys.

You can fire all of the people you want who dare to speak the truth, but it will not appease them one bit. You can have on conservative commentators, but that has not ever appeased the Right and it will not ever make them happy.

The Right wants NPR to shut the fuck up and go away. Because to conservatives, only their point of views should be aired on the nation's airwaves. In that regard, they are little different from the Soviets, the Chinese, the Cubans or any other authoritarian nation. And the conservatives have billions from the Chamber of Commerce, the Koch brothers, Fox and corporations to support their stations.

NPR is acting about like a heard of antelopes trying to appease a pack of jackals.

Update: Jon Stewart weighed in.

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"We'll Go All Out to Commemorate Our Brave Boys in Gray, But Not Those Treacherous Darkies!"

That seems to be the attitude in Virginia, which shows zero official interest in remembering the Nat Turner Slave Revolt.

I can see why, for slave revolts go against the neo-Southern narrative that they were "only fighting for states' rights" and that the abolition of slavery was merely a by-product of the Civil War.

Which is complete bullshit, but you already know that.

But, But, White People Simply Cannot Be Terrorists!

Federal agents [yesterday] arrested an ex-soldier with ties to the white supremacist movement and charged him with planting the backpack bomb along the planned route of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march in downtown Spokane.

Kevin William Harpham, 36, of Colville, could face life imprisonment on charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and possession of an unregistered explosive device, according to documents on file in U.S. District Court.
The second charge boggles my mind. It is just peachy to own an IED if you register it with the ATF?

Anyway, this clown got pretty damn close to killing a lot of people. But some city workers (the same people that Republicans hate so much) discovered the bomb first.

Of course, this guy is a white dude, given that he has ties to neo-Nazis. Which means that Congressman Peter "I was For Terrorism Before I Was Against It" King won't be at all interested. It is also why you won't find many conservatives screeching to send this clown to Gitmo.

The Anti-Democracy Party

The Republicans have established themselves as a party that hates democracy. For if there is nothing that is not more statist than using the naked power of government to punish people who didn't vote for you, I'm not aware of what it is.

For they have admitted that is exactly what they did in Wisconsin. It is no accident that Republican union-busting did not break the police unions, for they endorsed Governor Hosni Walker.

Our President--

George W. Obama.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Welcome to the Party, Gray Lady!

The New York Times has finally picked up on the fact that Rep. Peter King was for terrorism a long time before he was against it.

King unwittingly proves the truth to the old saying that "one man's terroist is another man's freedom fighter." King was a supporter of the IRA for many years and he mouthed lots of excuses for the IRA's use of bombs against civilians. Pub-bombings, knee-cappings, assassinations of opposing political figures, none of that disturbed a hair on the head of King when it was the IRA doing it.

But now, King sees political hay to be made by switching from supporting terrorism to opposing it.

Buh-Bye, Asswipe

I hope you enjoy the next 23 years-to-life in a nice comfy maximum security prison.
Erie County [NY] Court Judge Thomas Franczyk sentenced Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan this morning to the maximum sentence of 25 years to life for the brutal murder of his wife, Aasiya, in the couple's Orchard Park television studio two years ago.
...
Hassan, 46, was convicted of luring his wife to the couple's Orchard Park television studio on Feb. 12, 2009, then coming upon her from behind in a darkened hallway, stabbing her more than 40 times with two hunting knives, then cutting her head off.
He gets credit for the two years he's been in confinement in the county jail. Which leaves him with a minimum of 23 years of hard time.
Both District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III and criminal defense lawyers say the chances that Hassan would be released on parole after that time are remote and many such convicts die in prison.
Works for me.

Asswipe was so arrogant that he acted as his own attorney. His witnesses bolstered the state's case. The final result: After a two week trial, the jury was out less than an hour.

A Bit of a Disaster For a Lot of People

That funky gray color to all of the trees is from a layer of ice.


Tens of thousands of people in upstate NY lost power from the ice storm on Monday and not all of them have it back. Vermont had two feet of snow in spots.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Somewhere, Dick Cheney Is Laughing

Someone want to remind me that Dick Cheney isn't still running things? For it sure seems that way at times:
President Obama on Monday reversed his two-year-old order halting new military charges against detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, permitting military trials to resume with revamped procedures but implicitly admitting the failure of his pledge to close the prison camp.
If we are not going to do the hard work to live up to our national claim to be "a nation of laws," then that has to apply for the most despicable and hateful of defendants. Right now, we have a system where some faceless fascist in the Administration can claim that someone is a terrorist and they can be thrown into prison in Guantanamo Bay for a decade or longer without any meaningful judicial review.

Doesn't matter if you're an American citizen. They will hold you in a military brig, without charges, access to counsel or visitors, for years.

If you only have rights when it is convenient for the government to let you exercise them, then you have no rights.

Steve Doocy Is Still an Idiot

Still an idiot, all right. The bind moggles.

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The Latest From the "Five O' Clock Follies"

U.S.-led military forces have captured or killed more than 900 Taliban leaders in the past 10 months, making it harder for the insurgency to maintain its offensive capabilities, according to the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

"We are getting indications that the (insurgency) is struggling to find replacements for leaders," said Maj. Sunset Belinsky of the International Security Assistance Force, which oversees coalition military operations in Afghanistan.
And yet, the Taliban keep on coming.

In the story, they point that they had seized "20,000 pounds of bombmaking fertilizer". I call bullshit on that one. True, ammonium nitrate fertilizer could have been used to make bombs. It also could have been used as fertilizer.

Military spokesmen and public affairs officers are professional liars. That is their sole job, to put a positive spin on everything. Here is a prime example from an earlier war:
"In an action today, Americal Division forces killed 128 enemy near Quang Ngai City. Helicopter gunships and artillery missions supported the ground elements throughout the day."
That "action" is now known as the My Lai Massacre.

We have a free press for a reason. Government officials of whatever party and in whatever function will spin the facts, if not outright lie about them or refuse to disclose anything if they are not being watched. The designated watchers are the press, though in some instances, bloggers are stepping in. For example, the fuckery of "Project Gunwalker" would not have come to light without bloggers, only CBS News and the LA Times have since run with the story.*

So when the Afghan version of the Five O' Clock Follies issues a statement about anything, you would be well advised to reach for this:


Apply liberally.
_________________________
* The only thing you will find about Project Gunrunner on the NY Times' website is a link to a press release from the American embassy in Mexico.

Monday, March 7, 2011

And Things Haven't Changed Very Much

Another Teabagger Terrorist

Apparently, one of them tried to bomb a Democratic polling place last year.

I don't recall ever hearing about this, which is no shock, as it is not terrorism if white Christians do it. But since the whole case so far relies on FBI affidavits, and since I personally trust the FBI as far as I could throw Jedgar's coffin*, I'd like to read more on this.

________________________
* Why Jedgar.

How to Keep a Republican Majority

The idea: Deny the right to vote to anyone who might disagree with you.

"Democracy" to Republicans means "voting for Republicans." Which doesn't make them much different than Saddam Hussein in that regard.

Life in Teabag America

Under Gov. Christie, New Jersey is leading the way. And life in the city of Camden is becoming more sketchy.

If you live in a state that allows concealed carry, you'd better get a permit (if one is required). Unfortunately, that doesn't include New Jersey or Wisconsin.

Wal-Mart is Hiring. Only Cowards Need Apply.

Because if you are anything other than a craven, lily-livered, pants-shitting coward, Wal-Mart will fire you if you try to do anything about a dangerous situation (other than fleeing or curling up behind a desk).

Idiot Democrats

I am certainly no expert in conducting negotiations, but I do know this: You don't get anything by signaling that you are eventually going to surrender,

Which is just what at least one moron of a senator in Wisconsin is doing.

What a gutless, spineless fucking weasel. He needs to be sent the fully Harry Reid Gift Pack.