Words of Advice:

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

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

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

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

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

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fascist Michigan

I'm just not terribly excited about what is going on in Michigan.

First, legally: There are two bedrock levels of government in this country: The Federal government and state governments. State governments then delegate a lot of their power to counties, cities and towns. Those entities derive their power from the state. Without a provision in a state's constitution or laws to the contrary, the state government is free to restructure local governments as the state sees fit.[1]

States can abolish towns or merge them. Hell, some states should aggressively be doing this anyway.[2] For example, there could be a considerable benefit to many areas if town school districts were merged.

So while the way that Gov. Snyder is doing it is probably outrageous as all hell, I don't see restructuring local government as necessarily evil.[3]

The second reason is this: The voters in Michigan elected a far-right Teabagger. And part of the responsibility for that rests on those Michiganders who couldn't drag their dead asses to the polling station. You fuckers elected this turd. Now he's yours. As the line from the movie "Airplane" put it: "They bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say: 'Let them crash'."

Did you really believe that these guys were bullshitting you? Did you really believe that they wouldn't do everything they could to fuck over the working people and the poor people so that the rich, the corporations and the Koch Brothers would reap the benefits?

If you did, then you in Michigan and Wisconsin were morons. And now it sucks to be you.
______________________________________
[1] It was done in Connecticut at one time, which abolished county government.
[2] New Jersey is a prime example of a small state that has way too much local government.
[3] The point that "small government is good" Teabaggers are now abolishing small government in favor of larger state government is a bit ironic, though.

Feds to Have Gov. Christie's Legs Broken?

Vinnie the Hammer probably would be happy to take on the collection job for a piece of the action:
The next stop for New Jersey in its debt collection fight with the federal government may be federal court.

On Friday, the Transportation Department flatly rejected the state’s arguments for refusing to repay $271 million that was spent on a project, canceled last year, to build a pair of rail tunnels under the Hudson River. The message to Gov. Chris Christie was blunt: Repay now or we will collect the debt the hard way. Plus interest.
I love how NJ, a state that is supposedly so strapped for cash, was able to find a spare 800Gs to spend on lawyers just to argue that NJ shouldn't have to pay the money back. And this is, mind you, before there has been a single bit of litigation filed.

You gotta love teabagging politicians like Christie: They are so big on "we have to pay our debts", unless it is money that they owe to the Feds. Then they want to weasel out of it. If it is money that they owe to the banksters, then they'll happily sell poor people to the Soylent Corporation, but they have no problems with ratcheting up the Federal debt by stiffing the Treasury.

Ray LaHood ought to send Vinnie to see Christie with a stark, simple message: "Pay up, Fatso, or else."

Caturday

When I was traveling last week, my cats stayed at a friend's house. This is feeding time, with, from left to right, Rocky, Bella and Gracie.


George is giving me plenty of attitude. He's very good at it.


Jake is sleeping. He's good at that, as well.


Gracie the queen. I took one of the heated cat beds along for her.

Friday, April 29, 2011

120 Years Ago

The Mosin-Nagant M91 3-line rifle was adopted by the Russian Army. The rifle itself is obsolete (though it still is found in combat use). The 7.62x54R cartridge is still in use today.

As a sniper rifle, the M-N was arguably the best sniper rifle of the war, as some rather surprised writers from Guns magazine found out.

Will a Tweet Make You Crap Your Pants?

That seems to be the idea from DHS. Stephen Colbert has his take on it.

Scout Rifle

There has been a lot of ink spilled since Jeff Cooper began advocating for a modern scout rifle. But one sort of existed 100 years ago.

This is a 1899 Krag carbine that has been lightly sporterized.


As you can see, the front handguard has been removed. If you look closely at the rear of the receiver, you will see that a peep sight has been added.


All you would need to turn it into a scout rifle is to take off the tangent rear sight and put on a scope mount. The .30-40 Krag round is maybe not a .308, but with modern cartridges, it is pretty damn close.

Of course, you're not going to see a modern Krag. The loading gate is a marvel of pre-Great War forging and machining that likely cannot be duplicated today at a reasonable cost.

Still, fun to think about.

They're Looking For You!

License plate cameras.

I've seen them drive through the "park & ride", scanning to see who is there. Besides looking for vehicles that have expired plates, no insurance on record, expired inspection stickers or known drivers who have warrants, you can be pretty sure that they have a database of who parks where and at what times. I'll bet they do the same thing in train station and airport parking lots.

Good for NASA

It takes some integrity to scrub a launch when the President's coming to watch.

Oh, and I heard that those two Brit kids had a nice wedding.

Overseas

A young Russian nationalist and his common-law wife were convicted Thursday in the particularly brazen murders of a prominent human rights lawyer and a journalist two years ago, as the jury sided with prosecutors who argued that the ideologically driven defendants considered their victims enemies of Russia.
Color me somewhat unconvinced. There has been no shortage of coverage of the Russian legal system, which has shown that the Russian courts run about the same way that they did in the Soviet era: The courts reach the verdicts that the state wants. In this particular instance, it suits Russia to solve a couple of these murders of dissident lawyers and journalists. For all I know, there is a message being sent to the nationalists of 'no freelancing allowed." So they may have been convicted for killing without a permit.

Next:
Former President Jimmy Carter, after a 48-hour visit to North Korea, sharply criticized the United States and South Korea on Thursday for their refusal to send humanitarian assistance to the impoverished North, saying their deliberate withholding of food aid amounted to “a human rights violation.”
Jeez, will somebody please up this man's meds? He's embarrassing himself.

North Korea, in case you've forgotten, last year shelled a South Korean town. That was after a NK submarine torpedoes a ROK warship, sinking it and killing 46 sailors. So we're now, according to Saint Jimmy, just supposed to suck it up and play nice with them? Fuck that noise.

Carter must be off his meds. He should go back to swinging hammers for Habitat for Humanity; at least there,he was doing some good.

Sinking to a New Low; American Taliban Edition

I am referring to those hate-filled lunatics of the Westboro Baptist Church. They have gone from picketing at gay-themed events and soldiers' funerals to picketing at the funerals of accident victims.

Presumably, their next step will be to picket at the funerals of people who died from strokes.

One of them got manhandled recently just before a soldier's protest. Sooner or later, somebody is going to take a shot at these fuckers.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Do You Have a Passport?

If not, you had better think strongly about applying for it now. For the Department of State is thinking about requiring you to tell them every place you have ever lived since the moment you were born.

They also want to know everyone you ever worked for, including your boss's names and their phone numbers. What happens if the factory was ton down decades ago and there are now condos or an office complex on the site?

Why those fuckers at Foggy Bottom need to know where you were living when you were four years old or who you worked for when you were 16 is beyond me. Shitfire, when I had a SBI-grade clearance back in the day, even they didn't go that far back in doing the background check.

Do those assholes at the Department of State really want to deal with the crap-storm that will come their way if they try to do this? For I guarantee that if they are retarded enough to try and require their information, the congresscritters will get a boatload of angry telephone calls from their constituents. And when people get mad and they start bending the ears of congressmen, then stuff starts to flow downhill.

(H/T)

Two Weeks Late on BAG Day

I guess you could say that I'm a bit nuts, for this is what I picked up:



Springfield Model 1898 Krag-Jorgensen carbine. It's not a genuine carbine; the stock was cut back with not a terrible amount of skill and the barrel was shortened. The rifling is in good shape and the internals look fine. The outside finish is kind of crappy, but hey, how good are you going to look when you're 112 years old?

OK, I'll admit it, I'm not a fan of EBRs. They have their uses, true, but I like the older military rifles with wooden stocks. Not doing any research, the carbine I bought was probably sold off in the early part of the last century for $5 or less. Somebody then decided that a rifle with an 18" barrel was a lot easier to handle in the woods than one with a 30" barrel and had it cut down. I'd guess that it was someone's deer rifle back in the day.

Too bad, though. If the rifle hadn't been cut down, it would possibly have been worth several times what I paid for it.

The Bottom Line on Unemployment

This is as I see it: 10% unemployment and 20% underemployment is acceptable to most of our government.


Most of them don't care. The Federal Reserve is worried more about inflation going above 2% than they are worried about 10% unemployment and the horrific housing market. You don't have to be Paul Krugman to know that the reason that the unemployment rate isn't higher is because a hell of a lot of people have simply given up.

If you send out resume after resume and do networking and work the phones and go to job fairs, at some point it is going to catch up to you and you may think that sitting in the park with a plastic flask of cheap vodka is a better alternative. Moreso if you're the second earner in a two-income household; you may be able to strip your expenses back and live cheaply and meanly on one income. If you are in your early 60s, you might say "fuck it" and apply for Social Security. Any of those things will take you out of the labor pool.

The fact that your removal from the labor pool was involuntary matters not a whit to most anybody in charge. It sure as fuck doesn't matter to the corporate interests, as they love nothing more than a ready pool of people who will work for dogshit wages under bad conditions. The companies don't mind that they are fobbing part of their employment costs onto the rest of us.

Things are not improving anytime soon.

As a species, we kind of have it coming. It's not as though anyone didn't understand that the easily-extractable oil was going to be exhausted some day. Our government has been more than happy to hand over resources to corporate interests, which is why the days of helium balloons will soon be over. That's just one example, the whole "natural gas fracking" business is another. Extraction industries are, to some degree, legalized piracy, for what they take out is gone forever.

We've had plenty of warning. We've had plenty of time to develop technology and energy sources that depended less on extraction. But hey, that sort of thinking and preparation requires long-term planning. That isn't going to happen when politicians only care about the next election and corporations only care about quarterly profits.

It's not just extraction industries, of course. The fact that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas has been known for over a century. What would happen when trillions of tons of carbon dioxide were pumped into the atmosphere was foreseeable back when Henry Ford was tinkering with cars.

But nobody paid much attention. Just like they didn't pay attention to what would happen when millions of tons of soot were pushed out of smokestacks, or what would happen when tetraethyl lead was added to gasoline or when industrial chemicals and raw sewage were dumped into rivers and lakes. We've had example after example of people throwing shit into the air and water and believing in the "big sky/water, little pollution" theory.

We'll also exterminate more and more plant and animal species, but few people will care. When the last one of any particular species is gone, the predictable hand-wringing will begin.

We never learn, do we?

I imagine that as humanity gets further and further into this century, that life for most people on this planet will suck more and more. If you have grandchildren who are being born now, you can probably rest assured that by the time they reach your age, they will be cursing your memory and those of your generation for not being ahead of the problem.

$4 a gallon gasoline is just the harbinger of things to come. Or, if you like, the Cassandra.

Have a nice day.

The Big News Story for Tomorrow

Space Shuttle Endeavour is making its final flight, if the weather cooperates.

I Just Can't Be Outraged By The Supreme Court Anymore

The Roberts Court is a reliable defender of the interests of business and corporations against consumers and people. This decision, where the pro-business justices permitted corporations to nickel-and-dime consumers with stupid fees, is no real surprise.

No rational person is going to sue over thirty bucks. The only way to get redress against this sort of deep-paragraph boilerplate bullshit was through class-actions. The Supremes just told businesses to go ahead and go crazy with adding such "death by a thousand cuts" fees.

It's what the Robert Court does. If there is an individual on one side and a corporation on the other, it's not even a close call: Corporations win.

Corporations own the Supreme Court, in the same way that they own the GOP, the Klan Tea party and at least 7/8th of the Democratic party. If you lined up every politician in Washington who cares about the interests of those who are neither rich nor incorporated, you could seat them all in a school bus and have more than enough seats left over for the non-corporate justices.

Cable News Is Populated By Imbeciles; Birther Edition

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Believe It or Believe It - Obama Releases Long-Form Birth Certificate
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Believe It or Believe It - Birther Bullsh*t
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Donald Trump is a moron. So now we're going to go from the "birthers" to the "graders"? They'll be the same people, by the way, who did not give a frak that George Bush was a shitty student who got barely through Andover Prep, who was a legacy admission to Yale University and was also a legacy admission to Harvard Business School.[1],[2]

This is the truth of the matter: When people start ranting about "where was President Obama born" and "what where his grades", they are speaking in code. Decoded, it means this: "zOMG! The President is a ni----!"

Update: When the only guy they can find to defend Birther Donald is Pat Buchanan, then the Donald might as well send his white sheets out for tailoring.

______________________________________
[1] "Legacy admissions" can be thought as affirmative action for the stupid offspring of rich people. The parents donate lots of money and then the fact that their spawn had a 2.03 GPA and a 625 SAT score won't be a factor in the little retard's admission.
[2] They also didn't care that Bush had skipped out on the last two years of his cushy service in the Air Force Reserve (which, for non rich people), would have been viewed as "desertion".

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Republican Congressmen are Douchebags

At least one of them, with the help of co-douchebag Democrats.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Friends Without Benefits
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

And, of course, Fox News approves:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Friends Without Benefits - 9/11 Responders
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

I know, I blogged about this last weekend. But piling on is part of being a blogger.

Why Now?

I am puzzled at the timing of the release of President Obama's birth certificate.

The birthers were making utter fools of both themselves and the Republican party. Why not continue to let them act like a pack of racist clowns?

Why end the farce now?

Well, This Makes About As Much Sense As the Other Stuff the President's Been Doing.

Leon Panetta is moving from director of the CIA to Secretary of Defense and Gen. Petraeus is going to be DCIA.

I suppose that makes some sense in the World Inside the Capitol Beltway. Doesn't make much to me. I don't know what Panetta has managed to accomplish at the CIA, but the point that he hasn't been involved in any serious CIA screwups is probably worth a mention. Petraeus has a record that includes cleaning up other people's fuckups, which may mean something.

The more troubling thing for me is that the DCIA before and after Panetta will now have been military officers. My feeling is that this is an indication that the CIA is probably putting more of a emphasis on doing shit than learning about shit. I don't think that is necessarily a good thing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

President Obama Does Not Endorse This Blog

But since the Obama Administration thinks that posting the Presidential Seal means something or other, well then:


As time goes on, I see this Administration falling more and more in love with the power of the office of the presidency. Maybe they didn't glom onto it as fast that the reckless asses in the previous administration, but still, it seems to me that President Obama has eagerly thrown away everything that he supposedly knew back when he was teaching constitutional law. His recent defense of the psychological torturing of Bradley Manning, that Manning "broke the law", was a spectacular fuckup for a former conlaw professor, for anyone who has ever seen a single episode of "Law and Order" knows that the determination of whether someone broke a law is for the judge or jury to decide, not for the executive branch. That would be the sort of arrogant statement that I would have expected to have been spewed forth by Chimpy or Vlad the Face-Shooter, not by this president.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to consider voting for any of the douchenozzles who are ginning up for a run against Obama, though I was kind of disappointed to see that Boss Hogg Haley Barbour dropped out of the race, if only for comic relief. On second thought, Barbour also was good at spotlighting the GOP's amnesia on civil rights, though I'm pretty certain that's not what Barbour had in mind every time he reminisced about the good old days when certain people weren't allowed to vote.

It's hard for me to work up any serious enthusiasm for a president (and a party) that operates politically like the French in 1940: "Merde, you flanked our obvious defenses, we surrender!" (Even when the leading Republican candidate right now is a fucking lunatic.)

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Networks Are Going Nuts

All because some goddamn pilot who is a junior officer in the British Royal Air Force, some kid who will eventually inherit the family business, is getting married.

It's a fantastic thing that the economy is booming, and that there are no wars, border conflicts, rebellions or strife anywhere in the world. Because the TV networks are going nuts.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

ANZAC Day

The battle of Gallipoli began 96 years ago today. For the Allied Powers, the fighting was done primarily by soldiers from Australia and New Zealand.

After the Royal Navy tried to force its way through the Dardanelles, the British waited six weeks before launching an invasion. The delay allowed the forces of the Ottoman Empire time to prepare to resist the forthcoming invasion. The Allied forces were never able to push the Ottoman soldiers from the high ground and the British eventually evacuated the beaches.

Gallipoli arguably began the final separation of the colonies of Australia and New Zealand from Great Britain. At the end of the Great War, the former colonies began to conduct their own foreign policy and formed separate armed forces. Part of that seemed to be a political souring at home towards allowing the Pommies to control the use of Australian and New Zealand troops, as the battle gave rise to the view that the English were all too cavalier about the lives of soldiers from other nations of the Commonwealth.

Winston Churchill, who had advocated fighting the battle, lost his position of First Lord of the Admiralty. Despite the slaughter of Gallipoli, Churchill continued to regard the Balkans as "the soft underbelly of Europe", though in the next war, the Allied commanders didn't listen to him.

On the other side of the line, the battle began the rise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who during the battle, issued an order that included the line: "I do not command you to fight, I command you to die."

ANZAC Day is equivalent with our Veterans' Day.

And so, in honour of the Aussies and the Kiwis:



Update: By Eric Bogle, the writer of the song.

I Don't Care for Cities

But Denver seemed fairly nice. I had a conference there last week, which was in one of the downtown hotels by the 16th Street Mall.

It seemed as though the city has a somewhat laid-back almost stoner vibe. Walking around, I relapsed into my NYC walking mode: Avoid eye contact, walk like I own the damn place and project an attitude of "if you bother me, I will cut you."

Damn, though, that airport is huge and on the corner of No and Where. It felt as though it was halfway to Omaha by the time the shuttle had reached the city. People in Concourse C were walking around with coffee in cups from a Russian coffee joint, which seemed appropriate since the airport was about in northern Siberia.

There was decent and cheap Japanese food at some place on the corner of Colfax and Logan. Hell if I remember the name.

For the New Graduates


Supposedly this year is better for new graduates than last year, but if the Teahadists in the GOP force a government default, all bets are off.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

zOMG!!!1!! What if 9-11 Was an Al-Qaeda Plot to Get Government Benefits?

That seems to have been the thinking of Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida*, who inserted a requirement into the Zadroga 9-11 First Responders Compensation Bill that any claim for benefits be cross-checked against the Terror Watch List.

First, the offensiveness of that provision is clearly self-evident: "Yes, you responded to help after 9-11 and yes, you got incurable health damage and we belatedly thank you for your patriotism, but first, we have to check to see if you're a terrorist."

Second, given that the Terror Watch List has resulted in such outrages as disabled Army veterans and small children being roughly manhandled at airports, does anyone have any confidence in that list at all?

__________________________
* No points for guessing to which party he belongs.

"Voting is a Privilege, Not a Right"

That would seem to be the mindset of the Confederacy party. That's the rationale behind their push to prevent students and minorities from voting: That the ability to vote should be limited to older white folk.

The Speaker of the House in Minnesota, some sheet-wearer named Kurt Zellers, has that view of voting. By "privilege", that means that the state can deny you the chance to vote if they feel like it, just like they can take away you driver's license.

Or course, now having shared with the public what he really thinks about voting, Zellers is trying to walk it back. Because that pesky document, the United States Constitution, in Article I, Section 2, as well as Amendments 14, 17, 20 and 27, would tend to hold otherwise.

But that's the thing about the Confederacy party, as well as the Teabaggers: They love them the Constitution, until it tells them something that they don't like. The older Confederates wrote the book on denying people the right to vote, which they enforced with both the mechanism of the state and with night-riders. Both the cops and the Klan killed dark-skinned people who tried to vote and they did that for many decades.

The modern Confederates are just trying to be more subtle about it. Their aims, however, are the same as they always have been.

Friday, April 22, 2011

But Won't Your Couch Be Jealous?

GE Makes More Money, Pays More Dividends

GE's quarterly profits are up. GE Capital, which had been dragging the company down, is doing better.

As to the question as to whether or not GE is going to pay any Federal income tax, I'm guessing that the ecomagination accountants at GE have, one again, finagled things so that the company will not pay any taxes.

Having sent off my tax returns two weeks ago and knowing that I'm paying Federal income tax, this is what I have to say to GE: You fuckers.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Apple Spy

Apple makes it easier for people to find out where you have been, provided they can get access to your iPhone for a few minutes.

Why Apple does this is anyone's guess. The publicity of this "feature" won't change Apple's practices; they wrote the book on corporate arrogance.

Who the Hell Makes Sausage and Eggs With Sugar?

McDonald's, that's who.

I'm at a two-day conference. Yesterday, the conference started early, so I ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant. It was a breakfast buffet and it wasn't terribly cheap. So this morning, I walked down the street to McDonald's and ordered a sausage-egg muffin.

The fucking thing was loaded with sugar. Or high-fructose corn syrup. What moron came up with the idea of pouring sugar into sausage patties and eggs? It was bloody awful.

I haven't had breakfast in a McDonald's in many years. It's going to be a shitload of years longer before I repeat that experience.

We've Seen This Movie Before

France and Italy said Wednesday that they would join Britain in sending liaison officers to support the rebel army in Libya, in what military analysts said was a sign that there would be no quick and easy end to the war in Libya. ... The Obama administration, which has ruled out deploying American troops in Libya, announced Wednesday that it would authorize as much as $25 million in military surplus supplies, though not weapons, to the Libyan opposition forces.
This is how it goes: Outside powers first send aid of some kind. The rebels don't prevail, they hang on. The outside forces send more aid; weapons, supplies, goods. The rebels hang on, but so does the regime. More money, more supplies. Liaison officers and trainers are sent. Then troops.

Of course, it doesn't always proceed along those steps, some come earlier, some later. But the progression goes on because as the war progresses, the outside power has more and more time, money and, most importantly, prestige in its efforts. Its reputation as a military power of consequence is on the line. And so, the outside power steps deeper and deeper into the conflict.

Even if the outcome is to the power's preference, the costs can be staggering. For our own nation, we have the Iraq and Vietnam wars within our living memory. Iraq, especially, has been a massive budget drain because the Bush Administration refused to do anything to pay for the war (a position fully supported by his party).

In our past, one of the United States is independent is because the French intervened. The Battle of Yorktown was won because the French Navy defeated the Royal Navy in the Battle of the Virginia Capes, which prevented the relief by the Royal Navy of General Cornwallis's forces. Yet the French paid a heavy price. Their support of the Revolutionary War was a factor in the effective bankruptcy of the French government, which was in itself one of the causes of the French Revolution.

We have to be careful that we don't "mission creep" ourselves into another ground war. But given how history has played out before, I am pessimistic that it can be avoided.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The World's Longest Musical Instrument?

When It Comes to Aviation, "Reporter" Is a Synonym for "Moron".

This one was just too much:
An Air Force passenger jet carrying Michelle Obama to Andrews Air Force Base early Monday evening had to abort its landing and circle the field because it was following too closely on the tail of a giant military cargo plane arriving ahead of it, the Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday.
The FAA has to be run by morons, clowns and cowards if they regard this as anything other than routine.

Shit like this happens all the time. A given airplane may take longer to clear the runway than the controller anticipated. The following airplane may be a few knots faster or might have shaved the corner of a turn. S-turns and going around are routine maneuvers. But no, some goddamn pressmonkey who knows jack shit about flying an airplane freaked out and now this is some big-ass story that the FAA is going into full-blown "cover our asses" mode, rather than push back and tell the truth that go-arounds are not unusual (which at least the NY Times acknowledged, but MSNBC didn't).

Back before 9-11, when I had to pick someone up at an airport, I would take a portable aircraft radio with me. I'd listen in to approach and the tower; when the flight I was waiting for was cleared to land, I'd mosey out of the coffee shop, through security and go meet my party.

So one day, I was listening to the tower at Cleveland and a Continental 737 was told to go around. It did, it was sequenced back into the approach stream and, once more, it had to go around. The pilot said: "CO XXX, ya gotta be kidding me, going around."

Going around is not an emergency. It is not a safety concern. This is a motherfucking non-story.

The reporter who first wrote the story and the editor who approved it (if any) should be taken to an airport, where pilots should be permitted to throw cups of coffee and Jepp books at them. FAA management should be flogged with microphone cables.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"The Fall of Sam Axe": One of the Worst TV Movies Ever Made?

I watched thirty minutes of "The Fall of Sam Axe" on the USA Network and that's a half hour that I'll never get back.

First off, they couldn't even get the fucking uniforms right. Axe walks in at the beginning of this turd-show "wearing" the summer white uniform of a Navy commander. I put that in quotes, because he has the shoulder boards of a full commander, but he is wearing the cover ("hat") of a junior officer. Axe is supposed to be a Navy Seal, but he is wearing the warfare pin of a Surface Warfare Officer. Axe is wearing black shoes with a summer white uniform; officers and chiefs wear white shoes with summer whites.

There are two officers sitting on a board of inquiry interrogating Axe; they are wearing service khaki. They also mixed up Seal insignia with SWO insignia. They are also not wearing any rank insignia on their collars, though they are wearing chest-fulls of ribbons that probably don't mean anything and are probably in the wrong order.

Jeez, USA, you guys were too cheap to spring for a movie military adviser to even give you two hours of show & tell on how to wear uniforms?

The rest of the half-hour that I watched came across as the kind of cheesy, dumb-ass, thoroughly implausible, made-for-basic-cable movie that I would have expected to see Bruce Campbell starring in during the 1990s.

Ray LaHood Is a Moron

LaHood Vows to Stop Air Traffic Controller Napping.

Good luck with that.

There is nothing more mind-numbingly boring than sitting in a dark room in the middle of the night, looking out the windows and not having anything to do. Saying "we'll increase the time between shifts from eight hours to nine" is just eyewash. There was a damned good reason why the Navy required everyone standing a bridge watch to actually stand up. The only chairs on the bridges were for the CO and the XO.* I can tell you, from personal experience, that if you are really tired enough, you can fall asleep standing up as long as you have something to lean against.

If things are so slow at those towers, the FAA should close them overnight. For one or two flights an hour, the jet pilots can land and take off without any hand-holding from the controllers.

Anyway, I'm traveling this week, so I won't be posting very often.
_______________________________
* I took a tour of a FFG-7 in the `90s; the ship had chairs for the bridgewatch. Life is tough for those gas-turbine pansies.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

It's Not Enough That the Oil Companies Are Poisoning the Air, the River and the Seas

They are also poisoning the water table.

Yes, I know that this is not a new story. It's been going on for many years. I don't know why the oil and gas folks seem to think that injecting toxins and carcinogens into the water table is a good idea. (We could ask the Oil Slut, who will be happy to tell us so.)

They'll say that it is harmless. Fine, let's serve up glasses of that hydrofracking compound and see if they'll drink it.

Wednesday will be the first anniversary of British Petroleum's little misadventure in the Gulf of Mexico. In case you've forgotten.

Drool.... But I Can Resist

I swung by my local gunshop the other day. The owner was in and he handed me one of these:


A Wilson Combat CQB. They start at $2,575. The one I held was nearly $3,000. It looked kind of like it had a Commander-length slide on an Officer's Model frame. The owner told me that Bill Wilson thinks that the only proper barrel length on a 1911 is 5", but customer demand persuaded him to put a 4" barrel on this weapon. It was kind of weird to hold a carry pistol that makes a H&K 45C look cheap by comparison. This particular weapon had a steel frame, it was not appreciably lighter than a government model. The trigger was nice, maybe 3lbs or so.

But... is it worth that kind of money? The customer who ordered it apparently thought so. It is a concealed carry piece, make no mistake about that, and one thing that you want if you are carrying a self-defense weapon is the absolute assurance that it will work. 1911s are very much a "buyer beware" gun.

Update: The S&W Compact ES looks nice, too, but I dislike silver guns for concealed carry. I prefer black or blue guns, they aren't as noticeable.

Musical Interlude

"Beneath the Southern Cross" by Richard Rogers.

If you can click on the start button without glancing at the title and you know where the music came from, you are officially old.



Answer after the jump.

Privatizing Medicare, or
"You Seniors, Go Ahead and Die Soon Now, Ya Hear?"

As you should know by now, the GOP wants to "privatize" Medicare by handing it over to private insurance companies. They think it will be more efficient.

Of course, that disregards the fact that the administrative cost of Medicare is somewhere between 2% and 5% of the program,[1] while health insurance companies run somewhere between 15% and 30%.[2] But that's not my point.

My point is that go walk into the waiting room of an average family medical practice. Do that over several days.[3] Make a note of the population in the waiting room. Who will you see, on a disproportionate basis, in those waiting rooms?

You'll see seniors. Sure, it's true that there are seniors who don't consume much in the way of medical care, until they are very old and they contract a case of pneumonia or have a heart attack and die fast. But as a population, seniors are consumers of medical care. Which means that it will not be profitable for health insurance companies to insure seniors.

Not unless health insurance companies do one of two things: They will either drastically raise the insurance rates for seniors, forcing most of them to opt for "hit by a bus" level coverage, or they will increase premiums for everyone.[4]

The second option is interesting for another level, for that is what insurance companies do: Spread the risk across the entirety of the premium-payers. That is also the basis for the "individual mandate" part of President Obama's health insurance reform, the thing that Republicans proposed in the 1990s, that is part of the Massachusetts medical insurance system (a/k/a Romneycare) and so despise today.

Which means that the GOP has just tried to enact a form of Obamacare for seniors.

Pass the popcorn, this should be fun to watch.
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[1] One could argue that a couple more percentage points, dedicated to fraud investigations, could reduce overall costs.
[2] Part of that is profit, which is why they can pay their CEOs seven and eight-figure salaries.
[3] Disregard pediatricians and, to a lesser extent, OB/GYNs.
[4] Let's not kid anyone, they'll do both.

Caturday

Gracie and George are enjoying the last sunbeam of the day. Gracie seems to prefer being warmed from above than from her heated cat bed.



Jake chose privacy over a sunbeam. He is alone in the bedroom.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Oh, This Has Been Fun to Watch

#NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement

It's all Stephen Colbert's doing.

TSA Peeps

From the WaPo's 2011 Peep Show contest:


(There was another one about TSA checkpoints.)

Arizona Keeps Leading the Racist Crazy Train

The Arizona Legislature gave final approval late Thursday night to a proposal that would require President Obama and other presidential candidates to prove they are U.S. citizens before their names can appear on the state’s ballot.
The "birtherism" movement is nothing more than racism with a different title. They'd be bleating about the same questions if the President was Latino or Asian.[1]

The funny part about Arizona is that they will accept a "circumcision" or baptismal certificate, even though those two events could happen years later.[1]

The birthers are nuts. Even Bill O'Reilly has said as much. O'Reilly is also right in that the birther asswipes make the GOP look like a pack of lunatics.

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[1]It didn't bother the birthers that McCain was born in Panama, now did it?
[2] Can anyone tell me just why they'd do business with a state that is being run by crazy folk?

What Were They Thinking; Police Edition, or
"If He Had Shot an Entire Family, He'd Be Cop of the Decade!"

This story ran in yesterday's Times[1]:
A police union has given the officer who shot and killed a Pace University football player during a disturbance in Westchester County last year its Officer of the Year award.
There was a huge stink over that shooting. The cop claimed that the football player, Danroy Henry, Jr., hit him with his car. There were more than a few witnesses who said the cop was lying, though the officer had (or claimed to have) injured his knee.

Maybe the cop's story was true. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that it is.

There is a grieving family that is contemplating suing.[2] The Feds have opened a civil rights investigation. If the local chapter of the PBA[3] wanted to pour gasoline on this matter, they probably could not have come up with a better way to do it.
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[1] Page A22, right above a "notice of public hearing."
[2] Which would probably be filed in the Bronx, where juries are known to be far more sympathetic to victims in such cases.
[3] One of those hated "public sector unions". The PBA, statewide, is known for having one of those bogus charity fundraisers that call you during dinnertime and which allegedly take on the order of 95% of the donation for "administrative costs". The fundraisers fail to mention the point that the police pensions in NY are rather generous.

Do You Put Any Trust In the Ratings Given By Moody's Investor Srvice?

If so, then here is your sign:
The reason is that Moody's is every much as in thrall to the banksters now as they were before the economy collapsed.

Nothing is going to change until these clowns start populating the penal system.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Orbital Tunes



There is more:



Sleeping ATC: Yeah, That'll Fix the Problem!

First comes the ritual firing "resignation to spend more time with the family:
The official in charge of air traffic controllers for the Federal Aviation Administration resigned Thursday after a series of episodes in which controllers across the country slept as airplanes landed.

Henry P. Krakowski, the chief operating officer of the F.A.A.’s Air Traffic Organization, tendered his resignation one day after the agency changed its policy of having a single air traffic controller on duty at each of 27 airports across the country overnight. Each of those will now have at least two controllers at night.
If you have read any of the ATC blogs over the last few years, two things will come as no surprise to you.

First, the FAA has relationships with its controllers that are about as friendly as those between the Germans and the French Resistance in 1943.

Second, the FAA has cut every position that it can. So in places where they have a 24/7 control tower and yet very little traffic overnight, they put one controller on duty. I'm pretty certain that they don't allow that controller to read novels, surf the Internet or watch TV.

So assume, for the sake of argument, that you have the 11PM to 7AM shift in a tower that, between midnight and 5AM, may see three or four airplanes come in. When nothing is going on, you can't do anything beyond look out the windows.

What do you think is going to happen? The controller is going to fall asleep.

By the way, let's get the "zOMG!!!1!!!!, the controller was asleep!!!1!" bullshit. Most airports in this country don't even have towers and, given the low amount of traffic where the controller was snoozing, I wonder if the better choice would be to just shut down the tower for the overnight shift.

That's done at a lot of smaller airports with towers. The tower frequency becomes the local "common traffic advisory frequency". Pilots would just say something like "Reno Traffic, Citation ten miles east, landing Reno" and then, at each step in the approach and landing, they'd announce their position. The runway lights would be tied into the radio; seven quick clicks of the microphone key would turn them on for fifteen minutes.

Adding a controller may be an answer. So is shutting down the tower overnight.

Did Someone Put Red Bull In the New York Times' Water Cooler?

It is a question asked repeatedly across America: why, in the aftermath of a financial mess that generated hundreds of billions in losses, have no high-profile participants in the disaster been prosecuted?
No fucking shit.
But several years after the financial crisis, which was caused in large part by reckless lending and excessive risk taking by major financial institutions, no senior executives have been charged or imprisoned, and a collective government effort has not emerged. This stands in stark contrast to the failure of many savings and loan institutions in the late 1980s. In the wake of that debacle, special government task forces referred 1,100 cases to prosecutors, resulting in more than 800 bank officials going to jail. Among the best-known: Charles H. Keating Jr., of Lincoln Savings and Loan in Arizona, and David Paul, of Centrust Bank in Florida.
No motherfucking shit.

The reason is the Stockholm Syndrome (or "regulatory capture"). The regulators have identified with the clowns that they are supposed to be watching.
“When regulators don’t believe in regulation and don’t get what is going on at the companies they oversee, there can be no major white-collar crime prosecutions,” said Henry N. Pontell, professor of criminology, law and society in the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine. “If they don’t understand what we call collective embezzlement, where people are literally looting their own firms, then it’s impossible to bring cases.”
Which would be like the cops identifying with the bank robbers because, when they retire from the force, they can get a consulting job with the firm of Dillinger, Karpis and Barker. That's not far-fetched, the regulators were pals with the people running the banks. The boss of the Office of Thrift Supervision, a loyal Bushie named John Reich, ordered that Countrywide S&L, one of the banks that was cheerfully making sub-prime loans, not be investigated. The reason was that Reich and Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide, were friends.

It was more than that. Bush's DOJ told the FBI that the FBI should stop investigating financial crimes committed by the banks, because the DOJ was too involved in ginning up terrorist cases.

The banksters bought out the Republican party. Bush's neutering of the regulators and politicization of the Department of Justice ensured that nothing was done. Obama came in, but nothing changed and likely, nothing could be changed.

So the banksters looted the American (and global) economy, enriched themselves, crashed our economy and walked away scot free.

We should have set up our own guillotines and taken their fucking heads.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Plain Truth About Deficits

The largest contributor to the deficit has been the Bush tax cuts.

But Republicans refuse to even acknowledge that plain truth.

Which means that everything they are talking about regarding the deficit is just bullshit.

How Many Mllions of Taxpayer Dollars Went Down That Rathole?

After many years and many millions of dollars of dollars spent across two presidential administrations, the mighty Department of Justice managed to convict Barry Bonds.

On one count: Obstruction of justice.

I reiterate: Bullshit.

Legislating Science

The Republicans, with the help of a cowardly Democrat, snuck a rider into the budget bill, directing that wolves be removed from the endangered species list.

Next up: Republicans will decree by legislative fiat that the Earth is the center of the Universe. And that douchebag Democrat from Montana, John Tester, will go along with it.

Sucks to Be You; Gasoline Edition

Lots of people are complaining about the price of gasoline. Many people have tried to cut back on driving by asking the old question from World War II: "Is this trip really necessary?"

But this whine in the WaPo is getting a lot of mocking, and deservedly so:
“We have an au pair from France, and she recently filled up our minivan and gave me a bill for $70,” said Melanie Janin, a mother of three from Bethesda. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ ”
My heart bleeds for her, truly, it does.

Almost Luna, West Virginia

As the coal companies buy up the towns and blast the tops from the mountains around them.

Not exactly what I'd call a prime pitch for the tourism industry. The Mountaineers will have to change their name someday. Maybe the "Desolate Wastelanders"?

Feel free to suggest other names.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Not Much Has Changed

About the only real change between the Civil War then and today is that the political parties have switched sides, which they did around the 100th anniversary of the war's end.

42% of Americans are pretty ignorant, since they don't think the Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery. The problem is, of course, that such a view is not supported by the historical record.

150 years after the war began, nearly 50 years after the 1960s civil rights acts, over 40 years after the Supreme Court said that anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional, 46% of white Republicans in Mississippi believe that interracial marriage ought to be as illegal as gay marriage (or marrying barnyard animals, the favorite bugaboo of the American Taliban). That was a plurality, since 40% agreed with the legality of interracial marriage (and 15% were either too embarrassed to say or too brain-dead to respond).

If you were to go back and look at the history of prosecutions for interracial wedlock, I'll bet you'll find that they didn't give a damn about Blacks marrying Asians or Indians. No, it was only when the interracial marriage was a black & white one that the authorities freaked out. And, as shown from Thomas Jefferson to Strom Thurmond, powerful white men screwing around with and fathering children by Black women was tolerated, as long as nobody said "I do" and the resulting children were born out of wedlock.

One wold have to wonder how many of that 46% think that slavery should be legal I'm guessing a fair number.

AOPA: Such a Deal We Have for You

The AOPA Airport Guide for $19.95. The list price was $39.95.

This is the same guide that, until just recently, that the AOPA gave away to its members for free. Before that, it was an annual publication, then AOPA went to publishing the guide every two years.

Hey, they paid Phil Boyer close to two million bucks in `09. No wonder they couldn't afford to give the guides away anymore.

Wasted Childhood

I really thought that I had seen all of the Bugs Bunny cartoons when I was a kid. Apparently, I missed this one.



Meanwhile, in North Carolina, the state is considering paying children to study hard. Think about that for a second or two. If you have forty kids in a classroom, that kind of money could pay for enough extra teachers to reduce the class size by thirty or forty percent. Or it might provide money for some basic health care for the poorer kids.

But no, the best idea that the clowns in the state legislature can come up with is to bribe the kids? Hell, why not have the state send money to every driver that doesn't get a traffic ticket for the year, or, for that matter, every state citizen that goes through the year without committing a felony?

Part of living in a society is that you're supposed to do the right thing. Not because you'll get credit for it or because someone is paying you. You're supposed to do what is right, period. Of course, that doesn't work out so well, which is why religions try to bribe their adherents into doing the right thing by promising them rewards in the afterlife.

This program sends the wrong message to children. How about this: "Kids, if you graduate high school with good grades an a reasonable SAT/ACT score, you'll get a tuition-free ride at a state college." If the NC legislators are all fired up to bribe the kids to shut up, sit down and pay attention in school, then do it in a way that can change their lives for the better.

Barry Bonds, Martha Stewart and the Banksters

William Rhoden's column in the sports section of the Sunday's New York Times talked about the Barry Bonds case and the multi-years' long efforts of the Federal prosecutors to put Bonds away for being an arrogant dickhead.

Maybe Rhoden is right and maybe he isn't. The Feds also went after Martha Stewart for some of the same reasons, both the legal reasons and the unofficial ones.

But I can't help think this: The Feds have, to all appearances, not put forth any effort to go after any of the banksters, other than the schmucks who were running obvious pyramid schemes. There has not been, as far as I know, any sustained series of perp-walks for the banksters who violated their fiduciary duties to their clients.

They've not hauled in the big boys who structured the "collateralized debt obligations" that bundled millions of sub-prime mortgages, wrapped them up in pretty paper and sold them as Triple-A rated securities. They've not paraded any of the clowns from Moody's, Standard & Poor's or Fitch Ratings, who closed their eyes to the odious stink of those CDOs and stamped them "AAA", which would be like the USDA stamping putrid maggoty meat as "prime beef".*

The reasons are probably two-fold. First, those cases may be hard to prove to a jury. Second, those banksters can afford to hire the very best in legal talent. And since they can, the prosecutors aren't going to go after them without the banking equivalent of a fresh corpse. Federal prosecutors, at least the appointed U.S. attorneys, are politicians to the core, most of whom have political ambitions beyond being a U.S. attorney. It doesn't hurt them to gin up some bullshit terrorism case, but they are not going to go after the rich and powerful without overwhelming evidence.

So Martha Stewart did time and Barry Bonds might. But the banksters will walk away scot-free.

Or, if you like pictures, this is how justice is supposed to work:


But in reality, this is how it works with it comes to the banksters and the DOJ:


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*Not that this was their first walk down Swindlers' Row. The ratings clowns awarded Enron AAA status until just days before Enron imploded.

Fifty Years Ago

Yuri Gagarin became the first man to fly in space.

Or at least the first to survive the trip.

Update: today only, look at the Google doodle and then mouse-over it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Memo to All You Republicans Who Are Thinking About Voting For Donald Trump

The Donald once tried to use eminent domain to take an old lady's house so he could have a parking lot for limos at his casino.

Since most rank-and-file Republicans* seemed to have been aghast at the outcome of Kelo v. New London, they might want to know that.

By the way, the Donald's casino operation has been so sound that it has gone bankrupt three times.
__________________________
*As opposed to the business elite Republicans, which probably include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Koch Brothers, who presumably are just fine forcibly with taking a person's home so they can make more money.

The Killing (AMC series)

I like it so far. It's not a "we gotta wrap up this serial killing/bombing in 43 minutes" thing. It's about one single crime, the investigation of the crime, and the effect the crime has on people, all over thirteen episodes.

You can catch the first two episodes here. The third episode, which ran last night, will be rebroadcast Thursday at 10:30 ET, twice more over that night and then at 8:50 on Sunday, just before episode #4.

Republicans and the Debt

First, a cartoon.

I begin with the cartoon because it nails the truth of the Republican zeal to reduce the debt. Their ideas are all based on cutting the social safety net that protects Americans in hard times. Republicans are more than eager to go back to times when senors ate pet food and died of untreated diseases.

I don't think I'm overstating the case.

If Republicans were all that fired-up about balancing the budget, then they would have to admit that they have to look at the revenue side of the federal budget. They'd have to acknowledge that the reason why the annual budgets balanced during the last years of the Clinton Administration was, in part, because George H.W. Bush raised taxes.

It is not an understatement to say that the tax cuts pushed through by Bush the Lesser added trillions to the federal deficit, for while cutting taxes, Chimpy and his band of merry torturers raised Federal spending. Chimpy entered into two wars without any increased tax revenue to support them; no special "war taxes" of any kind. He put two wars entirely on the national credit card.

And this is what it got us:


Yet all the lackeys of the Koch Brothers in the GOP now can do is scream about Medicaid and Social Security. Not a peep about asking the wealthy to cough up a few bucks more. Even though they are the ones who have mostly made out during the thirty year war on the middle class that the GOP has been waging.

For income for the wealthiest has been largely going up for the last thirty years:

While tax rates for the wealthiest have been coming down like a Bonanaza full of doctors.


And CEO pay continues to go up, even as those same CEOs lay off employees by the stadium-full.

If we are going to make seniors, the schools do with less, if we are going to cut back on FAA safety inspectors and slash infrastructure repairs and improvements, if we are going down the road where life gets meaner and harder for average Americans because the streets become pot-holed tracks worthy of a Third World nation, fire trucks are slow to show up and there are fewer cops on patrol, then the least we can do is tell the rich that they also have to cough up a little.

But making the rich pay taxes is heresy to the GOP. Since the national press now serves corporate interests, you'll see very little coverage of this (other than maybe an opinion column by Paul Krugman}. And there is not a single Democrat of national note who is willing to stand up to the fiscal rapists in the party of Hoover and call them out on this. No, they are all to happy to just go along, which is why in the last clusterfuck of what passes for negotiations with hostage-takers, the Hooverites got about 80% of what they wanted.

We are so screwed.

So What Else is New; Banksters Are Thieves With Computers Edition

JP MorganChase threw its clients under the bus so the bank itself could profit from the collapse of one of its investment vehicles.* The banksters running JP Morgan Chase knew that their clients, mainly pension funds, would lose hundreds of millions of dollars. But the only thing the banksters did was set up a team to take advantage of the fire-sale prices when those investment vehicles broke down.

The bank's "chief risk officer" said, in essence, "fuck our clients, as long as we make money from this,it's all good."

Nobody will go to jail, of course, because as long as crimes are confined to minor details like financial misdealing, political trickery and, of course, torture, the Obama Justice Department "looks forward".
_____________________
*An "investment vehicle" is far more costly than a car and far less useful.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bombers

And don't they look pretty!

Go full-screen for this one.


H5 – WWII Bombers over Arizona Landscape from H5 Productions on Vimeo.

I have a soft spot for B-17s.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Going to the Charlie Sheen Show?

If you bought tickets to the Charlie Sheen "Violent Torpedo of Truth" show, given the reaction of the people who already have seen the show, you should know that they are now handing out signs to those who buy tickets.

Abortion and the Near Shut-Down of the Federal Government

As you may know by now, the elements of the Christian Taliban within the GOP almost succeeded in shutting down the Federal government over the issue of abortion.

I believe that the issue of abortion has very little to do with the unborn child and has everything to do with sin.

But now, it should be plain to everyone that the self-identified "social conservatives," the people I refer to as the Christian Taliban, really do not believe that "all life is sacred". The Christian Taliban's adherents overwhelmingly support execution. Not only do they support it, they would like to see capital offenses broadened. For example, I have no doubt that they regard blasphemy as a capital crime, but they keep their mouths shut about it. Not so much about gays, it's not hard to find public statements by the Christian Taliban calling for gays to be executed.

The Christian Taliban's indifference to life goes far beyond that, of course. If they truly cared about the lives of others, you might assume that they would be all in favor of making health care affordable to all. You might assume that they would be in favor of early education programs, such as Head Start. You might assume that they would want to make education as rich and as vibrant an experience for children as possible.

You might assume all that. You would be wrong to do so.

If the Christian Taliban cared about the unborn, you might assume that they would push to make prenatal care available to all mothers. You might assume that they would work to establish programs for prenatal nutrition. You might assume that they would lobby for courses for new mothers on how to care for their children.

You might assume all that. You would be wrong to do so.

The fight over abortion has nothing to do with the babies being aborted, although that is how it has been sold to the sheeple who comprise the grunts of the Christian Taliban. It has everything to do with sin, more specifically, the punishment of sin. The Christian Taliban regards having sexual intercourse for any reason other than baby-making to be a major sin. (For that matter, the Christian Taliban regards having fun as a sin.) If a woman has sex for fun and ends up getting pregnant, than as far as the Christian Taliban is concerned, both the ensuing pregnancy and the years of caring for the child to follow are the Lord's punishment for her immorality.

You might have noticed that the man gets off scot-free, for he just skates away and does not have to participate in the child-rearing. There is a tendency in religions to regard men as weak-minded, emotionally-retarded individuals who cannot be blamed if they act on their baser impulses. That is why the push for modesty in clothing, from attempts to legislate skirt length or prohibitions against married women showing their hair to the hajib and the burka are found across religions.

But I digress.

The concept that "sex for fun is punishable by death" was also seen in the Christian Taliban's active opposition to any spending for AIDS research and prevention, at least until the disease crossed over into the general population. Only then was there interest on their part in funding research. Until then, they were just fine with the idea of a "gay plague".

It goes beyond sex, of course. There have been studies done which show that needle exchange programs do not increase the number of drug users, but they do reduce the transmission of diseases between drug users. The Christian Taliban adamantly opposes needle exchange programs, for they want drug users to die from diseases as punishment for their sins.

The anti-choice crowd doesn't give a damn about the children. What they do want to see is the mothers punished by having to bear, give birth to, and care for those children. Whether or not those children are born into lives of poverty and crime is not their concern. Their only concern for poor children is ensuring that fewer and fewer social services are available and that they have fewer and fewer opportunities to escape lives of poverty. For the Christian Taliban is all about ensuring that the children pay for the sins of the parents.

All this is why I maintain that the fight over abortion has nothing at all to do with the lives of the fetuses.

Caturday Update

I slept in. The cats, especially Jake and George, worked to get me up and moving. I finally did, just before 8AM. I put dry food in one bowl for Gracie and divided up a can of Friskie's for all three. George and Jake did not seem impressed, most of the wet food is still there.

So I put all fo the wet food into one bowl and left it. Jake was sitting by the food, giving me the "bring me another can, waitress" look.


I long ago developed an immunity to the plea for a different flavor of food. If they don't want to eat it, too bad for them.

Caturday

Gracie is lying on one of the cat beds.


I've been telling everyone that George has not been thrilled with the heated cat beds and hasn't used them. This week, he made a liar out of me.


Jake has had enough of George's shit.


Interloper alert!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Good Job, Barney!

An Officer Fife in Texas used pepper spray to try to subdue a baby squirrel.

That's not a joke. There were a bunch of middle-school kids watching and shrieking at the cop. Of course, the video is up on YouTube.

John Boehner Can Kiss My Ancient White Ass Cheeks

Seriously. Those asswipes in the GOP are going to force a shutdown of the Federal government. Not because of money, but because the "we don't want government telling us what to do" are willing to use the power of the purse in order to tell women what to do with their bodies.

These are the same people that required the Post Exchanges and Base Exchanges (the armed forces' on-base stores) to remove all soft porn because it offended their morals. Gawd forbid that some nineteen year old sojer could pick up a copy of Playboy or Penthouse, no, we don't want to corrupt his moral fiber as we teach him fifty ways to kill people, nosiree.

No, I don't think that the Democrats should buckle on this one. The Republicans are "negotiating" like a pack of spoiled children-- "If you don't do it my way, I'll take my ball and go home, so there!" Fuck them. They are so eager to shut down the government, fine, shut it down. It'll be on them.

It'll be on them when Medicaid reimbursements aren't paid, when Social Security checks don't go out, when the Department of Defense has to issue script so that military families can buy groceries at the commissary and gasoline at the base gas stations. It'll be on the Republicans when the servicemen's families or seniors can't pay their rent or make the next mortgage payment or pay the electric bill.

If you filed your taxes in the last week or two and if you haven't received your refund check, you aren't going to get it.

If you planned on traveling this summer and if you've sent a passport application in (or tried to renew it), too bad for you. That's not an essential service. On the other side of the border, if you need a visa to come here, you're shit out of luck.

Oh, and if you wanted to use your tax refund to buy a gun (always a good idea, in my opinion), forget it. The national instant records check is not an "essential service".

Personally, I haven't received my refund yet. Being laid off last summer dropped me down a tax bracket or two from what my withholding was based on so I have a decent amount coming back to me. Which I could use. Except for the fact that the social conservatives and the Tea partiers are more interested in adhering to their ideology than they are towards making the government function at governing.

They can all kiss my motherfucking ass.