Seen on the street in Kyiv.

Words of Advice:

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

“The Mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” -- The TOFF *

"Foreign Relations Boil Down to Two Things: Talking With People or Killing Them." -- Unknown

“Speed is a poor substitute for accuracy.” -- Real, no-shit, fortune from a fortune cookie

"If you believe that you are talking to G-d, you can justify anything.” — my Dad

"Colt .45s; putting bad guys in the ground since 1873." -- Unknown

"Stay Strapped or Get Clapped." -- probably not Mr. Rogers

"The Dildo of Karma rarely comes lubed." -- Unknown

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

* "TOFF" = Treasonous Orange Fat Fuck, A/K/A Dolt-45,
A/K/A Commandante (or Cadet) Bone Spurs,
A/K/A El Caudillo de Mar-a-Lago, A/K/A the Asset,
A/K/A P01135809, A/K/A Dementia Donnie

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


The NASA MESSENGER probe to Mercury is making its last fly-by of the planet today. It will go into orbit around Mercury in 2011, taking over seven years to make the trip. MESSENGER is only the second space probe to Mercury.

Orbiters have now been sent to every planet from Saturn on in. Pluto is the only planet that has not been visited by a fly-by mission, the New Horizons mission will do that in 2015.

Within the span of a single human lifetime, we will have gone from being able to briefly touch space with sounding rockets to sending robotic probes to all nine planets, into the Kuiper Belt and into interstellar space. If you're not awed by that, then maybe you ought to take a deep breath and look up to the night sky.

We may be looking at the end of the deep space missions, though, because there is little plutonium-238 left for the powr supplies of future probes. That would be a damned shame.

(Yes, I know that Pluto has been "demoted" to a "dwarf planet" by a bunch of humorless bastards. On this blog, Pluto is a planet. Suck it up and drive on if you don't like it.)

Uproar Amongst the Bubbleheads

I don't have to go surfing any of the navy blogs to know that the bubbleheads have all got their skivvies bunched up in a wad:
Women should be allowed to serve aboard submarines, and the Navy is “moving out aggressively” to make it happen, according to the service’s top civilian.

“I believe women should have every opportunity to serve at sea, and that includes aboard submarines,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Thursday in a statement to Navy Times.

His comment comes one week after Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen told congressional lawmakers that he thought it was time to end the ban against women on submarines.

Mullen’s successor, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, also said he is “very comfortable” addressing the crewing policy.

“There are some particular issues with integrating women into the submarine force; issues we must work through in order to achieve what is best for the Navy and our submarine force,” Roughead said in a statement. “Accommodations are a factor, but not insurmountable.”
Yup, the bubbleheads will be all a-twitter over this at the idea that their ancient boys-only club is about to have its walls breached.

Their wives will be even more upset because, after all, no man can be trusted to keep his dick in his pants. They're more than likely to be ranting about "only a slut would want to serve on a submarine."

Same old shit, different naval warfare community. All of the same tired old excuses as to "why women can't serve on our submarines" will be trotted out and they will be identical to the old excuses that were raised when women became aviators and ship-drivers. There won't be any real difference to the arguments that the submariners will make now.

Which is why they will lose and women will serve on submarines.


In following up on yesterday's story about a certain seditious Wingnut, it seems that the Wingnuts have been praying for a military coup for some time, as

No Misconduct Here, No Sirree! Move Along.

Nope, no misconduct whatsoever!
As the corruption case against former Rep. William Jefferson was about to go to trial in June, prosecutors learned from their star witness that she had had a sexual relationship with the undercover FBI agent who drove her to all the meetings where she secretly taped and delivered cash to the New Orleans Democrat.

What Does Mars Have in Common With Motel 6?

Lots of ice and hardly any atmosphere.

(Yes, I know. It's an old joke. Sue me.)

One Senator Admits It

Pat Roberts (R-KS) has admitted it: His vote has been purchased by the lobbyists. Stephen Colbert wants the rest of them to "come out of the closet":

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Out of the Closet
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore


Jon Stewart takes a look at some of the manufactured outrage, the history-blind protesters, and phony "citizen" groups:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Where the Riled Things Are
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Treason Speaks

This column, a disguised call for a military coup, is nothing short of treason and/or sedition.

The writer should be thoroughly ashamed of himself. And he should be tarred, feathered, and ridden out of town on a sharp wooden rail.

Assholes on the Right, such as that clown, lost an election. They lost an election because they backed an administration that ran this nation into a ditch and then they backed a ticket that appeared to be comprised of the political analogues of Grandpa Munster and Anna Nicole Smith. And because they lost a free and fair presidential election (arguably the first free presidential election in 12 years), they are now acting like a bunch of deposed thugs, trying to scheme their way back into power.

They lost a presidential election and two congressional elections. That's called "democracy," folks. If you lose, you bide your time, you learn from your defeats, you recast yourselves and you go out and persuade the people to give you another chance.

What you do not do is try to arrange a military coup (not the first time the Right has had such dreams, by the way). You do not engage in mob rule (an old fascist trick).

Anyone who calls for the overthrow of our duly elected by military force is not a patriot. Anyone who even thinks of that is a seditious bastard.

And anyone who thinks that such a thing would be a "bloodless coup" is one seriously delusional sick fuck. A lot of us who believe in democracy also have guns and a lot of us will stand up for our liberty our country and our Constitution.

Count on it.


Postscript: Anyone who also believes that the military is some unthinking monolith that will unquestioningly follow the orders of a handful of generals who decide to overthrow the government is both inexperienced in military service and seriously unhinged from reality. The coup plotters, and those who encourage them, could very well wind up on the wrong end of a series of firing squads.

Postscript II: ThinkProgress is reporting this morning that the website which posted the vile spewing of that seditious bastard has taken the column down. But since nothing ever truly vanishes from the Internet, it still can be found. If you look at Newsmax's list of seditious bastards columnists, the author of that vile piece, John L. Perry, is nowhere to be found.

P.S. III: TPM has the full text of the rantings of the seditious bastard.

Is Our Military Learning?

Sometimes, I have to wonder. This is from Newsweek's current story on Gen. McChrystal:
McChrystal immediately decreed that the [International Security Assistance Force] troops were going to learn how to get along with the local population. It took less than a week for him to start to make his point. He was part of a convoy blasting through city streets at 60mph when the speed limit was 20mph. The soldiers were driving heavily armored vehicles right down the middle of the road, pointing their weapons at civilian vehicles, forcing them to the side. When the convoy stopped, McChrystal took aside the commander and dressed him down. "This is exactly the way you create the ugly ISAF," he said in a low but cold tone. He issued a directive: from then on, all ISAF forces would obey local driving laws.
If that sounds familiar to you, it should, for the very same point was made in an opinion piece by a Marine captain two years ago:
On a highway north of Kabul last month, an American soldier aimed a machine gun at my car from the turret of his armored Humvee. In the split second for which our eyes locked, I had a revelation: To a man with a weapon, everything looks like a threat.

I had served as an infantry officer in Afghanistan in 2001-02 and in Iraq in 2003, but this was my first time on the other end of an American machine gun. It's not something I'll forget. It's not the sort of thing ordinary Afghans forget, either, and it reminded me that heavy-handed military tactics can alienate the people we're trying to help while playing into the hands of the people we're trying to defeat.

Welcome to the paradoxical world of counterinsurgency warfare -- the kind of war you win by not shooting.
We keep having to learn the same frelling lessons, over and over and over again.

Some people do seem to understand, but not enough. We will never have enough troops in Afghanistan to crush the Taliban. Trying to kill off a guerrilla movement is like trying to swat smoke with a hammer. Those who complain about the use of guerrilla tactics by the enemy with lines such as "they won't face us straight on" only betray their own ignorance about the matter at hand.

When you are fighting an insurgency, the "battlespace" (a word I personally despise, by the way) is not any given stretch of territory. You do not measure success in a counterinsurgency by how many people you kill or how many bombs you drop or how many rounds of ammunition you expend. It is very rarely that any conventional force has managed to simply kill its way out of an insurgency.

Does anybody still not get this?

The battlefield is the people in an insurgency. When your forces are foreign to the country, you are already starting from behind the power curve. If you act brutally towards the people, you will only drive them into the arms of the insurgency and you will seal your defeat. The actions of Lieutenant-Colonel Banastre Tarleton and his British Legion won no support for the British cause during the American War of Independence; the actions of Tareton's Raiders did more to win Southerners to the side of the rebels than did any number of fine speeches and leaflets.

I am solidly pessimistic on Afghanistan. We have had nearly eight years, now, to get this right and the enemy grows stronger and stronger. The "host nation government" is thoroughly corrupt, of the brothers of the president, one is allegedly a major drug trafficker, the other is allegedly a corrupt tycoon. The very recent presidential election was so riddled with vote fraud that a Chicago machine politician would have been embarrassed. The Afghan Army is largely ineffectual. The Taliban is making considerable hay out of all of this.

You have a shot at winning a counterinsurgency by making lives better for the people. You have a chance at winning by persuading them that they will be better off if they cast their lot with the government, not through speeches or propaganda, but by deeds. Good roads. Clean water. Schools. Medical aid. Economic development. Jobs. You win through all the stuff that the bombastic thugs in the party of Hoover deride as "nation building".

Yes, military force is part of it, security has to be provided. While that grabs the headlines, it is not the most important piece in the game. We cannot simply kill our way to victory, for if that was all it took, the Soviets would have won their Afghan War in the 1980s (and we would have won in Vietnam). It is very disquieting that there seem to be a lot of self-styled experts, both in and out of the military, who have not grasped the task at hand.

Gen. McChrystal gets it. I am not sure how many others do.

That Twit Who Has Nearly Run Out of 24 Hour News Networks to Appear On

Both him and the "zOMG, Obama is a Nazi" Network:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
America: Target America
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

We probably should pass a law that gives free sedatives to Fox News viewers.

Monday, September 28, 2009

When the Republicans Bleat About "Appeasement" and How We "Have to Confront Evil Regimes"

When they do that, it is worth keeping in mind that the political party that was most adamant about *not* confronting Nazi Germany as World War II got underway was the Republican party.

It is worthwhile to remember that well into the onset of American participation in the Second World War, the Republican stalwarts were calling it "Mr. Roosevelt's War." A majority of Republicans in the House and the Senate opposed the Selective Service Act of 1940. The Lend-Lease Act of 1941 was enacted largely along party lines, with most Republicans voting against it. If I recall correctly, President Roosevelt structured the "Destroyers for bases" deal specifically to avoid having to put the issue before Congress and incur the wrath of the GOP.

That GOP attitude against the Second World War carried into the 1970s, until Bob Dole was slapped down hard by public opinion for referring to the Second World War as one of the "Democrat wars" during the vice-presidential debate with Walter Mondale in 1976. By then, WWII had become "the good war", in contrast to the fucked-up war (Vietnam) and it became political folly to criticize American involvement.

Republicans would just love it if everyone conveniently forgot that their attitude towards Nazi Germany was to turn their backs on the war as not their problem. If there was a party of appeasement in the 1930s and up until Germany declared war on December 11th, 1941, it was the Grand Old Party.

The Torturer's Daughter

Liz Cheney is laying the groundwork for a run for office.

It could be that she wants to be in a position to prevent Dick Cheney from being tried for his crimes. Maybe she is being a good daughter, like Gudrun Himmler Burwitz.

Or maybe she really does believe that torturing people makes this country safer.

"Please Don't Regulate Us, We Promise Not to Destroy the World's Economy a Second Time"

That seems to be the mantra of the banks, as they spend and lobby and connive and bribe make huge campaign contributions on order to stave off any new regulations.

Fuck them. Everything which was in place which enabled the greedy fucks from the brokers filling out the "liar loans" paperwork to the financiers who packaged the worthless loans into AAA-grade securities is still in place. In not very many years from now, when greed overruns institutional memory, we will be right back where we were when things started to fall apart in `07 and really went over the edge in `08.

(And let us not forget that if the ideological idiots of the GOP had been in control of Congress a year ago, we'd now be enjoying a repeat of the Great Depression.)

We simply cannot trust those greedy fuckers to not be greedy. If it is not clear to you why, when it becomes available in a few days, listen to "the Return to the Giant Pool of Money" from "This American Life".

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Sky Calls to Us.
If We Do Not Destroy Ourselves, We Will, One Day, Venture to the Stars.


Yesterday morning, with rain in the forecast for today, I went flying. It was a fairly routine local flight, made more to warm up the engine, boil off any condensation and to keep rust at bay (for me and the engine) than for any other reason. It also gave me a chance to fill up the tanks; I had not done that after my last flight as the line at the gas pumps was too long. Besides that, long experience has shown me that the bugaboo of atmospheric water condensing on the walls of a partially-filled fuel tank and contaminating the fuel really doesn't happen over much less a period of time than months, so if I've taken off with fuel tanks and finish the flight within 1.5 hours, I often won't bother refueling after such a flight.

So, as the first decade of the 21st Century shambles towards its close, I went flying in an aircraft made 60 years previously. As I said, it was a routine flight. But for how many thousands of years had people dreamed of flying and yet, there I was, flying. Those dreamers, spread over all those millennia, would have been astonished and probably delighted to have sat in my airplane, seeing the landscape laid out from over half-a-mile up in the sky, as we flew through the sky at a speed that would have been beyond their comprehension (120mph). It was impossible to do, in their day, but there I was, flying through the sky in an airplane that is now considered to be ancient, outmoded and slow.

And so we progress. Within less than two centuries, we have gone from being able to travel maybe fifteen miles a day across land (if the roads were tolerable and there was an inn to stop at) to being able to journey from a home in Boston to a relative's home in California in less than a day. We seem stalled at that speed for the last fifty years, but that will eventually change, as it always does. After all, took nearly two thousand years to get to the point where overland travel was appreciably faster than it was in the height of the Roman Empire.

If we can keep our civilization intact over the following centuries, I do believe that humans will venture to the stars. The technology to do so will be as unimaginable to us today as the inner workings of an aircraft engine would have been to a Sumerian, but provided that we do not destroy ourselves or our habitat on this big blue marble of a planet, the technology will come and we will go to the stars.

A still more glorious dawn awaits.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

You Can Sum Up Why the World is Slow to Confront Iran in Four Letters

There are many people, both in the current Administration and in the last one, who have been frustrated in trying to get the rest of the world to confront Iran on their alleged nuclear weapons program. One word sums up why: Iraq.

Even as it was revealed earlier this week by the Iranians that they have been constructing another nuclear facility, which apparently is in a tunnel and has been known to the intel community for years (and which explains the Bush Administration's interest in deep-penetration weapons), the Iraq debacle continues to poison attempts to deal with Iran. You may recall that over six years ago, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell made a presentation to the UN Security Council on the case that Iraq was developing nuclear and biological weapons.

Except, of course, Iraq wasn't doing any such thing. The purported "mobile biological weapons lab" was a hydrogen-generating truck for launching weather balloons. The "centrifuge tubes" were casings for short-range rockets (that the casings were not suitable for centrifuges was known at the time). Colin Powell's presentation, and probably through little fault of his own, was a mixture of misreadings of data, disinformation and outright lies, all of which ultimately traced back to Dick Cheney and his minions.

The rest of the world is operating on the basis of "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." Thanks to Chimpy and Darth Cheney for that. That is why, no matter how good our information is on Iran, the rest of the world will be slow to believe us.


Detente. Normally, Gracie and Jake eating next to each other is a formula for a bapping contest.

The medium sized (smaller than a SLR, larger than a credit card) digital cameras are useful, but they have their limitations. These next two photos were taken with a Canon A95 Powershot, vintage 2004.

The top film speed of the camera is ASA 400. That means sometimes you have to use flash if you have no decent way of steadying the camera. Here, with a black cat like Teddy and a dark-green cat bed, there was no choice, which results in "laser eyes".

The next area that can screw you up is the autofocus. It is faster in many situations than using the focusing window on the LCD screen to try and focus manually, but notice where the camera focused the shot. It wasn't focused on the exterior of the cat condo, nor on Gracie, but on the back inside wall of the cat condo. If what I wanted was to see the striations of the inside of a corrugated paper box, it worked fine.

I presume a decent SLR would have done better, but SLRs are not good for "wow, I ought to grab that shot."

Friday, September 25, 2009

He Sez: "Open, Honest and By-the-Books", I Say "Smells Like a Payoff"

It sure smells like a bribe:
Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross -- a Blue Dog Democrat playing a key role in the health care debate -- sold a piece of commercial property in 2007 for substantially more than a county assessment (PDF) and an independent appraisal (PDF) say it was worth.

The buyer: an Arkansas-based pharmacy chain with a keen interest in how the debate plays out.

Ross sold the real estate in Prescott, Ark., to USA Drug for $420,000 -- an eye-popping number for real estate in the tiny train and lumber town about 100 miles southwest of Little Rock.

"You can buy half the town for $420,000," said Adam Guthrie, chairman of the county Board of Equalization and the only licensed real estate appraiser in Prescott.

Now it turns out that the total price of the property and its business, including some intangibles, was about $1.25 million. Prescott, Arkansas has a population of 3,686 in the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Nevada County (pop. 9,955).

One might wonder if it was reasonable to pay $1.25 million for a property worth less than a sixth as much in order to take over a drugstore in a small town that has at least one other pharmacy. The drug store does about $1 million in sales a year. One might think that for an ongoing business of that volume, $500,000 would probably be on the high end of a sales price.

There used to be a trick some of the Chicago cops used to have when they pulled you over: They'd offer to sell you the pen that they would otherwise use for writing the ticket for what they thought was a fair bribe ($20-$100 back then).

This has the same odor.

This Is a Bad Idea

A really bad idea:
The world took its first concerted step towards getting rid of nuclear weapons today when the UN security council voted unanimously for a resolution on disarmament and non-proliferation.

The summit in New York represented the first time the security council had met to focus on the elimination of nuclear weapons. Barack Obama, who at the same time became the first US president to chair a council session, described the resolution as "historic", saying it "enshrines our shared commitment to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons".
It may be counterintuitive to argue that nuclear weapons actually make the world safer, but I maintain that they do. Twice in the last century, the largest powers in the world went to war to settle their differences. In both wars, the initiating parties thought that they could win a fast victory at little cost. They were wrong, both times, and in each war, tens of millions of people were killed.

Nuclear weapons remove the fantasy of a cheap and easy war. Nuclear weapons make it clear to both sides of a potential conflict that there will be a hideous cost to starting a war. There always was that cost, of course, but the concept that a salvo of missiles will quickly obliterate a nation's major cities is a far easier concept to grasp than the idea that the other side will build a massive fleet of bombers and then firebomb your cities to ashes. For generations, weapons designers rationalized their inventions by saying that they would make war too terrible to fight. The invention of high explosives, long-range artillery, aerial bombardment, machine guns and chemical agents did not make war too horrible to consider. Only nuclear weapons have achieved that.

Nuclear weapons kept the United States and the Soviet Union from going to war over a series of crises. Nuclear weapons forced India and Pakistan to back down from the brink of war in 2002. For the last 35 years, nuclear weapons have kept the Arab states bordering Israel from trying to wipe it out.

Nuclear weapons keep us safe. Removing nuclear weapons from the world will destabilize the world. It is a really bad idea to try and do so.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

30 Years Ago in Aviation

In 1979, the general aviation companies shipped over 17,000 new aircraft. Things then fell off a cliff and within five years, Cessna had stopped making single-engined airplanes. Beech, Piper and Mooney made very few. Mooney went through a series of bankruptcies.

There were several factors.

First off, between 1973 and 1979, the price of gasoline nearly quadrupled.

Second, in 1979, the depreciation rules changed. Before then, people who had enough money that they needed tax shelters bought airplanes and leased them to Fixed-Base Operators (the outfits at airports who sold, rented and fixed airplanes and sold fuel). In the 1970s, a four year-old airplane on a rental flight line was considered to be ancient. The airplanes over three years-old were sold on the used market, which kept the cost of used airplanes fairly reasonable. Now, it is not unusual to find airplanes approaching 40 years-old for rent.

Third, there were some pretty hefty wins for the plaintiffs in lawsuits. Some were insane, alleging that airplanes 30 and 40 years-old were unsafe. Cessna refused to make new single-engined airplanes, stating that the liability insurance premium was at least one third of the cost of a new aircraft. (Federal law was changed in the mid 1990s to limit liability to 18 years and Cessna went back into production on three models of piston airplane, the 172, the 182 and the 206.)

Fourth, and often most ignored, the young boys who had been around to see the Golden Age of aviation, to read the pulp magazines about the Thompson Trophy races, who were agog at the tales of the aces of the Great War, who read the news coverage of Charles Lindbergh's flight to Paris and who saw Lindbergh on his flights around the U.S. in the Spirit of St. Louis after his historic flight, those fellows began to age out of flying. Their younger brothers, who had been in the war, were not as enamored of flying. Their children were even less so, especially as flying had begun to lose its romance and travel by airline became more and more like riding a livestock car. The youngest of the "boomers", "generation x" and the "echo-boomers", if they were at all interested in flying, discovered flight simulation.

If you go to a general aviation airport now and observe the pilots, it looks like an AARP festival. There are still people in their 40s or younger who are flying, but not in the numbers it would take to replace the active pilots over time.

Go to Google Earth sometime and, in the "fly to" box, enter "KBED". 20 years ago, there were many more tiedowns and many more airplanes there. 30 years ago, there was a waiting list to tie down at many airports where now there are empty places. At KCGF, on the west (left) side of the airport, you can see a black asphalt tiedown area with maybe eight airplanes in an area that could once hold fifty or more.

General aviation may not be dead, but it is a pale shadow of what it once was, and it all began to fall apart thirty years ago.

Ah, the Waft of Sleazy Politics in the Air.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick named Paul G. Kirk as the interim U.S. senator from Massachusetts on Thursday.

Kirk will fill the U.S. Senate seat left empty by the death of former Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Patrick said Kirk will begin serving immediately.
Time was that the governor in Massachusetts appointed interim Senators and that was it (sort of the way that ex-governor of Illinois Blagojevich did). In `04, with the chance that John Kerry would resign his Senate seat, the Democrats in the Massachusetts legislature rammed through a bill to require a special election in order to deprive then-governor Willard M. "Flip-Flop" Romney of the power to appoint a replacement.

That was fine, the idea that a governor gets to appoint a political crony to the job for a year or is kind of grating. But this new power of the Massachusetts governor to appoint a short-term interim Senator is just offensive. After all, Minnesota got along just fine with only one senator for half-a-year while Norm Coleman was throwing his hissy fits. Normally nobody would give a fuck, but this change in the law in Massachusetts for a placeholder Senator was done solely to give the Democrats a shot at 60 votes in the Senate.

I'll bet that as soon as the special election is held and a new Senator is on the job, that the Massachusetts legislature will repeal the "special appointment" law. That will be close to the penultimate in cynical politics.

A Mouldering Corpse to Lay At the Feet of Glenn Beck and His Ilk

From TPM:
When Bill Sparkman told retired trooper Gilbert Acciardo that he was going door-to-door collecting census data in rural Kentucky, the former cop drew on years of experience for a warning: "Be careful."

The 51-year-old Sparkman was found this month hanged from a tree near a Kentucky cemetery with the word "fed" scrawled on his chest, a law enforcement official said Wednesday, and the FBI is investigating whether he was a victim of anti-government sentiment.
Is there anybody who is surprised that this has begun to happen?


And In 2037, You Can Fly From Germany to New Jersey in an Airship!

I agree with Jill, this is probably the worst concept for a vacation since the Donner Party Memorial Hike and Barbecue:
British travel firm Miles Morgan Travel are taking reservations for this unique cruise that will commemorate the Titanic's tragic voyage in April 1912.

Our voyage of a lifetime will sail from Southampton on 8th April 2012 the twelve night cruise on board the MS Balmoral and will follow the RMS Titanic's original itinerary, passing by Cherbourg on the French coast before calling into the Irish port of Cobh.

From here the ship will sail across the Atlantic, arriving at the Titanic site on April 14th/15th exactly 100 years on from this tragic voyage, where a memorial service will be held to pay tribute to the brave passengers and crew who perished on that fateful night.
If they agree to have a firing party ready to shoot every idiot who tries to stand at the bow and yell "I'm King udda Woild", then it could be interesting.

(I threw in the Donner Party reference as a bit of pure snark, but after I wrote it, I googled it and sure enough, there really is such a thing.)

News of the Weird

A retired police captain in Connecticut was arrested for biting the arm of a co-worker when she responded to his comments by saying "bite me". Both the biter and the victim were employed by the Connecticut Police Academy.

If you get pulled over by a cop in Connecticut, it would be a good idea not to say "bite me" to the officer.

When Will We Get a Clue?

A story in today's NY Times about the resurgence of the Taliban contained this nugget, which makes me wonder if there is anybody in our government who gets it:
American officials grudgingly acknowledge the Taliban’s skill at using guerrilla-style attacks to manipulate public impressions of the insurgency. “We assess that the primary focus of attacks in northern provinces such as Kunduz is to create a perception that the insurgency is spreading like wildfire,” the American official in Afghanistan said. “But I think it’s more of an ‘information operations’ success than a substantive one of holding any territory.”
Well, no fucking shit. Part of what a successful insurgency will do is convince the people that the government cannot do anything for them, that the government cannot provide a measure of security. (I've written a bit about this before.) When government officials, military officers and politicians from the party of Clowns blather on about "we haven't been defeated on the battlefield", all that they are doing is betraying their own ignorance.

The history of both conventional and irregular warfare is full of examples of combatants that lost battles and yet won their wars and vice versa. Even one battle can be a military victory when one looks at the butcher's bill and yet a loss when one looks at the objectives of the combatants. The Japanese Navy technically won the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, fought during the Guadalcanal Campaign, but as the objective of the Japanese Navy was to support their forces ashore and the objective of the U.S. Navy was to prevent that, the Japanese lost the battle. It is worth keeping in mind that George Washington lost almost every battle he fought with the British Army. [1]

Military power is used to further a national objective. Military power is not the end-all and be-all. Any fool can count forces and the dead on either side, but that is not the measure of who the victor is in a battle or a war. If the people running our government in the agencies involved with the fight in Afghanistan do not understand that, then they are fools, we are truly screwed and we are tromping down the path towards another defeat.

[1] Old story: A Marine officer was a guest at a formal dinner thrown by the officers of a British
Army regiment at their headquarters. Before the dinner, the Marine was given a tour of the regimental museum, which included a display of enemy flags captured on the field of battle. One of the flags was an American Colonial flag, which was taken at the Battle of Bunker Hill. One of the British officers observed: "As you can see, we still have the flag."
The Marine grunted and then replied: "We still have the hill."

Tom Ridge on the Daily Show

Jon Stewart did get in a sly dig at Fox News's favorite crybaby:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Tom Ridge
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Tom Ridge: "We can never be failsafe.... we cannot create a perfect failsafe system....we cannot be breathless about it." He made the case that the U.S. needs to fund foreign aid in order to put a better face on the U.S., other than the image that has been projected to the world over the last eight years (that of a nation which uses torture, murder and aggression to deal with the world).

Jon Stewart also got in a nice smack at Dick Cheney, too.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How Will They Fund Cheney's Retirement?

It appears that the "defund ACORN Bill" will also strip funding from most of the large defense contractors, including Halliburton:
The congressional legislation intended to defund ACORN, passed with broad bipartisan support, is written so broadly that it applies to "any organization" that has been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws, campaign finance laws or filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency. It also applies to any of the employees, contractors or other folks affiliated with a group charged with any of those things.
Aww. Wouldn't that be a damned shame? Boeing would be out because of the little brouhaha over the tanker contract. Because of other fraud charges, basically nobody could sell military airplanes to the Feds anymore. Blackwater, of course, would be barred. So would General Dynamics and smaller outfits such as IIF Data Solutions and Dynamics Research Corp.

This could be a lot of fun.

Remember How Gullible the Party of Hoover Was?

In you've forgotten, here's a reminder:


Still Tons of Toadies at the Department of Justice

Like the flunky who was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee and became flustered when Sen. Franken read aloud the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and then proceeded to quiz said flunky about it.

Meanwhile, over in the House Judiciary Committee, it turns out that the rat bastards in the party of Hoover did an ol' switcheroo on the original draft of the Patriot Act back in 2001.

Smackdown of Ignorance

A young woman in Romania executes a brutal smackdown of former actor and current evangelist Kirk Cameron:


Another smackdown of the "creationists", though with less passion:


On evolution:

When Contemplating the Afghan War, The Number to Keep In Mind is "Seven"

Seven, as in "Seven Years". The number of years that we were at war in Afghanistan while George W. Bush was president. Keep that number in mind as you read stories about the decision that President Obama has to make or the rumors floating around that Gen. McChrystal will resign (and run for president, just like McClellan did) if he doesn't get his way.

The party of Hoover will, of course, try to blame the entire mess in Afghanistan on Obama. That is sort of like having a baseball game where the starting pitcher throws for eight innings, leaves with a seven-run deficit and then blaming the relief pitcher for the loss. Bush had seven years to do something about Afghanistan and he did nothing. It is beyond the point of dispute that Bush neglected the Afghan War.

If Bush's intention was to set the stage for a Taliban victory, he could hardly have done a better job of it. What we now have is a counter-insurgency war to fight to prop up a government that (a) is largely despised by the locals, (b) controls little more than the capital city, (c) has hardly anything in the way of an effective army (after seven years), and (d) blatantly stole an election in order to remain in power. Add to that mix the fact that the counterinsurgency war has to be fought largely with foreign troops in a land that has a centuries-old tradition of armed hostility towards foreigner armies. If there is a more potent recipe for disaster, I do not know what it is.

One other thing to keep in mind, especially when evaluating rumors that this general or that general is threatening to resign: Where were all those generals who threatened to quit when Bush and Rumsfeld under-resourced the Afghan War for seven years? Where all those high-profile generals were who resigned because Bush and Rumsfeld sent a small fraction of the forces needed to establish security in Iraq after Baghdad fell? Where were those generals who publicly quit because Rumsfeld refused to do any post-war planning for Iraq?

Good luck finding any. When Gen Shinseki said in 2003 that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to secure Iraq, not a single general stood up for him, (and come to think of it, even Shinseki didn't step down in protest). Whatever their misgivings, they all fell right into line behind Chimpy and Darth Cheney. But now that the president is a Democrat, the generals have found their balls?

I don't buy it, not for a picosecond.

Load Your Guns, Sharpen Your Machetes, the Zombie Apocalypse is Coming

Or something else really bad is about to happen, since Bill O'Reilly has apparently endorsed the public option for health care:

Think Progress's transcript:
NINA OWCHARENKO: Well, it has massive new federal regulation. So you don’t necessarily need a public option if the federal government is going to control and regulate the type of health insurance that Americans can buy.

O’REILLY: But you know, I want that, Ms. Owcharenko. I want that. I want, not for personally for me, but for working Americans, to have a option, that if they don’t like their health insurance, if it’s too expensive, they can’t afford it, if the government can cobble together a cheaper insurance policy that gives the same benefits, I see that as a plus for the folks.
Either Bill O'Reilly really does care about average people or the zombies are about to rise.

My money is on the zombies.

Could the Television Journalists Be Any Shallower?

Jon Stewart:

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I can think of two reasons why the President did not appear on Fox News's Sunday blabfest. First off, it is apparent to a casual observer that Fox News is largely a propaganda outlet for the Republican Party. Second, when you are trying to persuade people, there is little point in talking to people who have made their minds up.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How'd That "Rapture" Thing Work Out for You?

Over the weekend, I saw a link on a blog somewhere to a site that proclaimed that the Rapture would be on Monday, September 21st.

I wonder if anybody has bothered to track down that guy and ask him how it worked for him.

My take on it is that if a person really believes that he or she is going to be wafted up to Heaven, and they are so sure of it that they have one of those "in case of Rapture, this vehicle will be unmanned" bumperstickers on their car, then they are probably going to a special spot in Hell. My suspicion is that if there really is a Heaven and Hell and all of the rest of that noise, that those in charge are not going to be too enamored of those folks who ran around proclaiming their piety.

(Those folks who use their self-styled piety as a club against other people are probably going to be standing in line for their Daily Pineapple.)

Scumbag Credit Card Companies

They're probably all scum, but for today, I am pinging on Bank of America. I received my latest statement from them and it said something along the lines of "to give you more time to pay, we are now sending out our statements 21 days before the due date."

Right. Like that's a great idea that the wizards of BofA thought of. Except, of course, it isn't, Federal law now requires that. The credit card companies all fought that, but they lost, and now they are taking credit for it.

Scum-sucking weasels, all of them.

It's sort of like the auto companies, which spent years and years trying to fight off a requirement that new cars come equipped with air bags. Once they lost and the cars were coming off the assembly lines with air bags, the car companies touted them as a great safety feature and gave every hit that they were installing air bags because the auto companies really gave a frell about their customers.

Bunch of lying fucks.

Behind Every Successful Deep Space Mission....

...there is a scientist with one hell of a vision. In the case of the Cassini mission, it is Carolyn Porco, Ph.D., who is the head of the camera team.

Deep space probes have a lot of different sensors, but the public reputation of any one probe lives and dies by its cameras.

You can see more images from Cassini here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bring Me My M41A Pulse Rifle

Find out Which Movie Hero Are You at!


And these could be fun at the range: Zombie targets.


Back to the Sky

This past summer has been one of the worst for weekend flying around these parts in memory. The weather was often marginal VFR or the forecast was so iffy that few recreational pilots dared go anywhere for fear of being weathered in away from home.

September has been a welcome change and this past weekend was simply gorgeous, with skies so blue that it could hurt your eyes. My home airport has a restaurant on it that is open four days a week for breakfast and lunch. Last weekend's traffic was insane.

This is a Cessna P337, also known as a pressurized Skymaster. The Air Force bought Skymasters (not the pressurized models) during the Vietnam War, probably the last piston-powered combat aircraft the U.S. purchased. They were used for observation, spotting and forward air controlling duties. They were the "slow FACs" (fast FACs, F-100s and F-4s, were used in high AAW threat areas).

This photo was taken the weekend before, when the skies were gray and threatening to rain.

This is an old tall building that is located many, many miles from a city or any similar building. I have no idea why it was built or by whom.

I did check FlightAware on Sunday morning, as I was doing my flight planning. There were over a hundred single-engine Cessnas on IFR flight plans, with Skylanes being the most numerous of the bunch.

Thanks for Nothing, Chimpy

From an article in the New York Review of Books:
US officials told me in April 2008 that President Bush had been warned by his military commanders that Afghanistan was going from bad to worse. More troops and money were needed; reconstruction was at a standstill; pressure had to be put on Pakistan; the elections in April 2009 should be indefinitely postponed. Bush ignored all the advice except for asking the Afghans to postpone the elections until August.

He left everything else to his successor to sort out. When Obama took over in January, the crisis was much worse and Pakistan and Afghanistan immediately became his highest foreign policy priorities.
Widdle Georgie Bush had a bad case of Short-Timer's Disease. He was on his way out and he couldn't be bothered to pay any attention to what he could kick down the road. The thing that ought to gall Republicans is that if their guy had won last year, he would have been fucked just as badly by Bush.

Tasering the Crippled

That would seem to be the police policy in Merced, CA. Ready my previous post and you then may understand why the attorneys for the city may be advising the city council to "warm up your checkbook."


Why We Must Investigate and Prosecute

Two days ago, I wrote about why we have to see the investigation through on the use of torture by the CIA and prosecute those responsible, all the way up to the top of the Bush Administration. Yesterday, I followed up on a civil rights case against the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department.

Those two stores have a connection.

When the state and its employees violate your civil rights, you can sue both the government body and the individuals who violated your rights. The individuals, be they cops, drug agents or school administrators, are partially protected by a doctrine known as "qualified immunity". To boil that down (and probably oversimplify it), that means that individuals, who are acting for the state, are immune from civil liability so long as a reasonable person in their position would not have understood that their actions were not legal. Put it another way, if they reasonably believed that what they were doing was legal, they don't have to pay you.[1]

Police have been operating under the civil doctrine of qualified immunity for a long time. If what they do is wrong, they can be sued. That is what the Mayor of Berwyn Heights, MD is doing. That's why the City of Los Angeles had to cough up over $100 million after the Rampart Scandal broke.

If what they do is really wrong, they also have criminal liability and they can go to jail.

Last year, there were just over one million police officers in this country. Every one of them can be held liable for their actions. Every one of them should know that, yet they go out and do their jobs. The vast majority of them do fine work. Some of them bring dishonor to their badge.[2]

So why does the CIA get to operate in a realm of "we can break the law, we can torture and murder you if we want to and there is nothing you can do about it, neener, neener, neener"?[3] I find it very hard to believe that any reasonable person would have understood that beating someone to a pulp was a legal method of interrogation. I find it impossible to believe that any reasonable person would have understood that it is permissible to use such brutal methods of interrogation that the prisoner died.

What happened, of course, is that we had an administration which had no clue as to how to interrogate people, other than that which they gleaned from bad spy thrillers. We had an administration which believed, as did Richard Nixon, that whatever they did was legal and that attitude percolated down to the interrogators in the CIA.[4] We had an administration which employed lawyers who knew or had reason to know that torture was illegal and they smarmed and weaseled and connived to produce legal opinions that "black" was "white", "up" was "down", "2+2=5" and "torture" was "enhanced interrogation".

The CIA appeared to not have the institutional memory of the FBI. The FBI knew full well that stepping outside of the bounds of the law, now, even if the politicians now seemed to support it, would come back to haunt them, and they largely refused to do it.[5] The CIA was not that smart and that is a piss-poor reason to not hold them accountable, even though seven former CIA directors would have you believe that the CIA should not be held accountable for acts of torture and murder.

Attorney General Holder is doing the right thing in dragging this whole sorry mess out into the open for a proper investigation. The President did the right thing in not trying to stop him.

The Rule of Law must prevail if our status as a free nation is to mean anything at all.

[1] That doesn't mean the state is off the hook, the actions of the state's agents may still be found to have been outside the law and then the state has to pay you.
[2] Unfortunately, most of them are protected by their fellow cops. Perjury and evidence-planting are not unheard of in order to accomplish this.
[3] Whatever happened to "if you are caught, we will deny any knowledge of your actions"?
[4] The FBI knew better, which is why their agents refused to participate in Dick Cheney's Wide World of Torture.
[5] The FBI's abuse of Natural Security Letters as a substitute for search warrants is a topic for another time.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Only the Weak-Minded Ever Believed

Only those who had rather feeble minds ever believed that Pakistani nuclear physicist Abdul Qadeer Khan was some rouge scientist who was engaged in nuclear proliferation to enrich himself.

Of course, those feeble-minded folks include the editors of the New York Times. But what the hell, they also bought into the "we have to go to war now" lies of the Bush Administration during the run-up to the Iraq War, so we all already knew that they are a pack of retards.

Jack Booted Thugs in Soviet America, Maryland Update

You might recall this story, about a mayor in a suburban DC town whose house was raided by the county goon squad and they killed his dogs in the process.

Well, it seems that the cops involved and the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department is doing the usual things that cops do when they fuck up: Circling the wagons. The cops's excuse is "our guys did what they are supposed to do", which means that they are supposed to invade the houses of people they know are innocent, kill their dogs and terrorize the residents.

The house was owned and occupied by a married couple. The husband is the mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland. He is still pissed off.

Way to go, guys. You've now convinced a whole lot of white folks that the cops will search the wrong house, lie to cover up their mistake and, if they can get away with it, try to press charges to cover up what they did.

Smooth move.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Why We Must Do This

Seven past directors of the Central Intelligence Agency have signed a letter to the President to ask that he overrule the Attorney General and stop the probe of the use of torture by the CIA and other agencies.

First the minor reason as to why they are wrong: The Department of Justice under the Bush Administration was a badge-toting goon squad which functioned at the behest of the Republican party. That is a point which is beyond debate. That prosecutors in Bush's DoJ declined to pursue an investigation is meaningless. Nobody with an IQ above room temperature should be shocked at the idea that the Bush DoJ was not going to pursue an investigation that could end with the then-current vice-president being indicted.

Second, and more importantly: The underlying criticism of war crimes tribunals ever since the Nuremberg Tribunals has been that war crimes trials are "victor's justice", in that you have to be defeated in order to be tried for war crimes. If you win the war, you stay in power and nobody touches you. As the argument goes, nobody sought to try Stalin for invading Poland, Finland or the Baltic nations. Admiral Donitz was sent to prison for ten years because on his orders, U-boats sank merchant ships without warning, yet the exact same practice was carried out by American submarines against Japanese shipping and no American naval commander was ever tried for ordering that practice.[1]

If holding people accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity is to ever mean anything, it has to be more than a legal way to hang defeated enemy leaders. It has to be more than a punishment levied against lesser-rank nations, whose leaders manage to get themselves arrested. Beyond that, the Bush Administration's Justice Department tried and convicted Chuckie Taylor for the use of torture against his own people in his own country. If we are not going to hold our own people accountable for the use of torture, than the Federal anti-torture is a fucking joke.

We have to do this, we have to investigate our own use of torture and, where appropriate, bring the miscreants to trial. If we do not, then we betray our own principles as a nation.

[1]One submarine captain torpedoed and sank a Japanese hospital ship. His boat was ordered to terminate its patrol and return to base. Upon arrival, he was immediately relieved of his command, court-martialed, convicted of negligence and received a letter of admonition, which had no effect on his career whatsoever, as he was a lieutenant commander at the time and retired as a flag officer.

Resistance is Futile

It was my intention this morning to write a post about how hateful the modern GOP was. I was going to rant along these lines:
What is it with those chowderheads? They cheered on starting a war that has destabilized the Persian Gulf area, will end up costing two trillion dollars or more and cost five thousand Americans their lives. In the midst of greatly increased military spending, they also rammed through huge tax cuts for the wealthy and they enacted an even nicer program of socialized medicine for senior citizens. But talk about helping all Americans and trying to do something about both the burgeoning costs and the structural unfairness of health care as it exists in this country and they just go into batshit unhinged hateful racial-tinged bigotry and craziness.
Then I saw this article about the GOP Hate Machine, which is enough to chill your blood.

But fuck it. I saw this video at BadTux's blog yesterday and I'm just going to cave in and post it.

Gentle Reader, try to have an enjoyable weekend.


So you think you're going to get back into bed, do you?

Silly human.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Rocket Motor Test

This is a static test of the Ares I rocket motor:

As the Bad Astronomer noted, it is unclear if there will be a program to fly it.

I suspect that when historians look back on the 20th Century from a vantage point of a few hundred years, the cancellation of the Apollo program and the termination of the production of the Saturn V rockets will be among the greatest errors of the century.

A Little Bit of Corruption Goes a Long Way

Little boo-boos such as giving benefits to the company that is going to hire you, which is why former Secretary of the Interior and Dick Cheney acolyte Gale A. Norton is the subject of a criminal investigation.

The understated bit of news is that the investigation began while Bush was still in office, though after Alberto the Toady was gone.

Professional-Level Quagmire

I loved the line: "Its chief exports are heroin and vengeance."

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Anyway, the other night, my VCR decided that it didn't want to tape the Daily Show, so I watched it on line. At the end of the show, the web site flipped over to a Patton Oswald clip:
Patton Oswalt - I Hate
Read Patton Oswalt's biographyWatch Patton Live at the New York Comedy FestivalFind more from this comedian in the Shop.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Up in the Air

FlightAware is:
Tracking 4,717 airborne aircraft (193 VFR)
So that is 4,524 flights on IFR routing.

This NASA video is timed to GMT, so it starts out at 8PM Eastern time.

How to Stalk Your Children

Facebook, Twitter Revolutionizing How Parents Stalk Their College-Aged Kids

No, Our Children Is Not Learning

Ignorance is a growing industry.

What kind of drooling-level stupid does one have to be to have guessed that Barack Obama wrote the Declaration of Independence?

You can read more here.


I Guess That I was Wrong

When I said that 39% of Americans are certified imbeciles.

I was wrong and I am sorry for that.

The percentage of imbeciles is closer to 61%.

The End of Yet Another Reaganite Fantasy

The Times of London is reporting this morning that the United States has scrapped Bush's plan to build a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.

It is about time that some degree of realism has taken hold. Nobody has ever put forth a single rationale as to why Iran would want to fire nuclear missiles at Europe. Given that there are two nuclear-armed European states in NATO, both of whom have SSBNs, firing a nuclear weapon at Europe would be akin to national suicide.

The main effect of Little Georgie Bush's plans for an ABM system is Europe has been to piss off the Russians for no goddamn good reason, other than to give joy to the aging and decrepit Cold Warriors in the party of Clowns. No sanctions against Iran would be possible, let alone effective, without Russian cooperation. Russian cooperation will be needed in the event that the Balkan Wars unfreeze. One might even argue that the Russian smashing of the Georgian military last year was a big "oh yeah, well, fuck you" right back to George Bush.

Putting in a missile defense system in Europe and then negotiating a further reduction in nuclear weapons between Russia and the U.S. were obviously conflicting plans. President Obama chose the smart route.

Nice Job, Baucus

Sen Max Baucus (D-Insurance Cos.) has spent a lot of his time, at least the time that he isn't shilling for donations, crafting a "bipartisan compromise" health insurance bill. Problem is, though, that his "compromise bill" did not win the support of a single Republican.

Time to stop with this nonsense and just ram it to the party of Clowns.

A Year Later, Where is the Reform?

Jon Stewart wants to know. He also slams the arrogant putzim on Wall Street who don't think that any reform is necessary.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Classic

(I've probably posted it before. Deal.)

This one, on the other hand, I saw at MPS and it is a hoot:

There are a bunch more of them, too. This one is not safe for work:

And The "No Shit, Sherlock, What Was Your First Clue" Award Goes to

Rod Dreher:
[Rush] Limbaugh is up to something wicked. He's plainly trying to rally white conservatives into thinking that now that we have a black president, blacks are rising up to attack white kids! Christ have mercy, what is wrong with these people?
Jesus motherfucking Christ on a lame mule, you're only now just figuring this out? Conservatives have been playing the "nigger, nigger, nigger" card for longer than any of us have been alive. What the hell did you think the "Willie Horton" ad by the George H.W. Bush campaign in 1988 was all about? What did you think was the foundation of the presidential campaigns of George Wallace in 1968 and 1972? What did you think Jesse Helms ran on for every one of his campaigns for the U.S. Senate?

Dreher continues on:
But as far as I'm concerned, if the Limbaughs of the world are going to be doing this kind of thing, and trying to blame, with no logical grounds whatsoever, a black president for black-on-white violence, and if they're going to do this in an increasingly hysterical atmosphere of protest against that black president, I don't want to talk about these things at all. Now is not the time. With this kind of inflammatory rhetoric, they are quite simply tearing the country apart.

Where do they think this is going to go?
That is exactly what they want. Pay attention, Rod. What the hell do you think all the rhetoric about "take back our country" is all about? The Right didn't suffer a coup, they lost a series of elections! What the Right is upset about, most of all, and what they are protesting, is that a majority of American voters took power away from them. They simply cannot countenance the idea that they lost, and worst of all, they lost to a Black man. Hell, I doubt if they'd have been any more upset if Hillary Clinton had declared that she was a dyke and then won the presidency.

I am glad that there are conservative thinkers who are finally waking up. The shame of it is that it has taken them so goddamned long.

Sully is right, this naked race-baiting by Limbaugh, Beck and others is evil. But he shouldn't hold his breath waiting for large numbers conservatives to denounce the race-baiters. It's never going to happen.

UPDATE: Don't hold your breath waiting for Beck and Limbaugh to condemn shit such at this beating. (H/T)

Federal Cops

There is a shitload of Federal police agencies. There are Stamp Cops, Coin Cops, Railroad Bulls, Space Cops[1] and even Book Cops, though they are being phased out. Even the FBI has its own cops to make certain that all of those gun-toting agents don't swipe the cash from the coffee messes, I guess.

It seems insane that there are so many different uniformed forces tramping around DC.

[1]"Pigs in Space" is too obvious. Sorry