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

Sunday, February 28, 2010


My laptop came with XP Pro installed and the disk for W-7 Pro, which I installed straight away. One of the things that didn't work on it was the web cam. Which I didn't think was any great loss.

One of my relatives wants to do video calls, so I tracked down the driver for the web cam and installed it. I turned it on. I saw what I look like, sitting here in a bathrobe with my hair still damp from the shower.

I turned it off. It's going to stay off. Crimus, why would anyone in their right mind ever want to use such a gadget? At least with the telephone, nobody gives a crap what you're wearing or any of that foolishness.

The Price Paid by Our Snipers

Apparently it includes concussions, retinal damage and a risk of blindness.

That's the first I've heard of this, though I gather there has been some chatter about this in various gun forums. I didn't see any articles about it via Google News's archives.

"We Were Young Enough That We Didn’t Know We Couldn’t Do It.”

William E. Gordon was an electrical engineer and radio-astronomer. He conceived of, designed, built and first operated the Arecibo radio telescope and observatory, the largest radio telescope ever built.

He died on February 16th at age 92.

Seen In the Wild

A couple young specimens of the species Asshatus Americanus.

Because parking one space over would be so inconvenient for the two slackers in that SUV. (I checked, they did not display a handicap placard.)

They actually hit a double score for being inconsiderate jerks. For not only was their car in a handicap space, it was mostly in a handicap space and partially in the space next to it. So they took up two parking spaces.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Few Bricks Short of a Hod

The Wingnuts have got their panties all bunched up over the new logo from the Pentagon's Missile Defense folks:

It seems they think it looks like a mashup of the Obama Campaign logo and the Islamic crescent.

Apparently the design work was done in 2007 and 2008, under the last president. But the facts of a matter have not stopped the Wingnut Noise Machine before, and it won't this time.

Engage Brain Before Posting

That's a good rule, one I've broken from time to time.

But this one, from Oddly Specific, is a prime example of why it is a good idea to think for a few seconds.

Read the signs and note the days of the week. The MTA apparently shutting down half of the tracks on the A line from midnight until 5 AM for maintenance. Saturdays through Mondays, the uptown trains are using the downtown tracks. Tuesdays through Fridays, the downtown trains are using the uptown tracks.

I haven't been on a NYC subway since they shifted from using tokens to farecards, but this is not that hard to figure out, people.

Which is why it's a good idea to clutch in the brain before posting something.

Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the M/V California

California faces some huge problems. The state budget process is a trainwreck. State services are being cut. State bonds are about two or three steps above junk status.

But that doesn't stop the lunatics in Sacramento from tackling one of the really serious issues of the day: Too much swearing.

I've got a better idea: Why doesn't the California Legislature pass a bill permitting all California legislators to wear bags over their heads, so they don't have to show their faces in public? You'd expect some chowderheaded pious chickenshit such as this from al-Abama or Texas, but California?


But, seeing as it's Saturday..

The Soviet Robotics Project

The title of the piece seems to be "I am very glad, finally, to return home." It could easily be called "we are very proud to make T-34 tanks for the motherland" or anything else, for that matter.

There was a missed opportunity for a bit of cultural exchange with the USSR: We could have send them Lawrence Welk and the Soviets could have sent us this guy, Edward Anatolevich Hill, who looks disturbingly related to Dennis Kucinich.

UPDATE: Despite his name, Hill isn't a Brit. He's Russian, born in Leningrad.


Gracie is enjoying a little bit of Jon Stewart:

Friday, February 26, 2010

Why Folks Think That "State Official" is Another Way of Saying "As Dumb As a Bag of Hammers"

[Norfolk District Attorney William R.] Keating said that he believed serious mistakes were made in the initial investigation of Seth Bishop’s death, and that he could not help but wonder whether the deaths in Alabama could have been prevented if the original investigation had been more thorough.
No fucking shit. If they had done a better job of investigating the `86 shooting, it is pretty damn nuts certain that the shootings in Alabama would not have occurred. It's pretty hard to shoot someone in Alabama from a cell inside MCI Framingham. Even if she had done a short stretch, it's highly unlikely that she would have been hired to teach as a professor in any university with a homicide conviction.

Yank the Broomstick Outta Yer Ass and Lighten Up

So the Canadian Women's Hockey Team got a little carried away with their celebrating after they won the gold medal?

Big fucking deal. They are the champions of the world right now.

Let them celebrate and fuck everyone who can't take a joke.

Spending Other People's Money

Marco Rubio's routine use of a Republican Party of Florida credit card for personal expenses while speaker of the Florida House brought renewed calls Thursday for the party to disclose charges racked up by former and current elected officials. ... Records show the personal expenses included a $134 trip to an upscale Miami barber.
Care to bet that the same folks who were so, so outraged at John Edwards's haircuts will be mum on this one?

I didn't think so.

When Powerful Men Beat the Shit Out of Their Girlfriends

Yesterday, we learned that NY Governor David Paterson and the State Police intervened to quash a domestic violence case against one of his top lackeys.

Following that story breaking, Denise E. O’Donnell, a former federal prosecutor who is/was the criminal justice aide to the governor, quit her job in protest, as she apparently knew nothing about what was going on and was suitably pissed off.

It has also come out that the statie who pressured the victim to drop her complaint was the commander of the governor's protective detail:
Two people briefed on the matter said that Maj. Charles Day, the head of the governor’s security detail, personally contacted her. Such a step is unusual, former and current state officials said, given Major Day’s high position within the department and the fact that the State Police had no jurisdiction in the matter.
Fucking lovely. There is still no indication that the alleged perpetrator, Paterson aide David Johnson, has been suspended, asked to resign or been fired.

Beyond that, this whole scandal is one more example of a New York governor allegedly using the state cops as a personal political goon squad. I'm not a big fan of political independent police brass; J. Edgar Hoover was a prime example of how that can go wrong. But something needs to be done to provide/impose/inflict independent oversight on the New York State Police security detail to the governor.

UPDATE: MSNBC reports that Paterson is dropping his election bid.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

We Haz Entry!

In the "Design the U.S. Embassy in London" contest, from Bob Page:

Movies and TV

I saw "From Paris With Love." The story is pretty weak, but Travolta gives a great performance and with all the action, you might not give a crap about the story or wonder how Travolta can go around shooting up so many people without attracting the attention of at least one cop.

I managed to avoid "Shutter Island." A friend did not and said that it was one of the worst movies that she has seen since "Burn After Reading." She said it was a terrible story. I didn't ask if it met my criteria for a good Leonardo diCaprio movie (which is if his character gets whacked). She and I both hated "the English Patient", if that's of any help.

As much as I like the show "Burn Notice" (as if you cannot tell from one of the blog quotes under the photo of those two Stinson Gullwings), the car that the main character, Michael Westen, tools around in drives me batshit. Here is a guy who is trying to live below everyone's radar and he drives a 35 year old Dodge Charger in cherry condition with a white leather interior and a hood scoop. You'd think he would drive a silver four-door compact sedan, a car of which there are about fifty million variants on the road today. Telling the cops you saw a silver-colored sedan would be like telling the cops at a NASCAR race that the guy who threw a beer can was an overweight white dude wearing a ballcap.

16%, or How Medical Insurance Companies and Doctors Fuck Over the Poor

There is a certain screening test that is highly recommended for people of certain age. I had it done not very long ago.

With the co-pay, medical insurance paid 16% of the bill amount as a full settlement of the bill.

Think about that for a minute. If you were self-insured and wanted that test, you would have paid over six times what I paid. The reality is that if you didn't have insurance, you might have been able to afford the test if you got to pay what my insurance company paid. But you could not get that price and you'd probably be shit out of luck.

This health-care system is basically corrupt. It should be fixed.

Wife-Beating Among the Rich

A husband beating his wife so badly that he is in jail on charges of aggravated assault and attempted murder happens in the richest of towns, not just in the working poor trailer parks shown on Cops.

(Yes, I know the political ties of the abuser in this case. They are irrelevant.)

One Reason Why Afghanistan Is So Hard.

They have little reason to trust us. This is from an e-mail which I received this morning:
We have a problem with our government that arose from the GOP and is now structural within the Federal government: There is always money for killing people and for buying the gear with which to wage war. There is very little money for helping people.

A lot of people complained with Bush41 turned his back on Afghanistan after the Soviets left. (Still more complained when Bush41 and Clinton approached Eastern Europe with an attitude of "we won, you lost", forgetting that most cultures in the world have memories longer than the mayfly-length memory of Americans.)

Much of the shit in Afghanistan now flows from Bush41's refusal to help. In spite of whatever we promise to do in Afghanistan, our enemies can point to our actions following the withdrawal of the Red Army and say: "The Americans promised to help you then and they left. Why trust them now?"

And they are right about that. If the Taliban were to magically disappear from the face of the Earth, we would leave and let Afghanistan descend, once more, into Warlordistan. The GOP and the nativist wing of the Democratic Party would scuttle any attempts for meaningful long-term aid to Afghanistan, absent an existing security threat.

Until we deal with our own problem, we stand little chance of ever prevailing.

Does the Silicon From Their Boob Jobs Migrate Into Their Brains?

Shorter version of a California beauty queen's views on gay people: "I have many gay friends and they all should be put to death."

Care to bet that she has fewer gay friends now than she did last week?

When a 6'7" Man Beats Up a Woman....

He should be staked out for the fire ants. He should not be able to enlist the governor of his state to help him quash the ensuing court case.

But that's just what allegedly recently happened in New York, where Governor Paterson allegedly called the victim and where the state police allegedly pressured the victim to drop the case. This went on even though, when a state senator beat up his girlfriend, the governor outraged that the senator's aides tried to pressure the victim in that case to drop the matter.

Part of this is an old game in New York. If you're a powerful politician and you have a brush with the law that doesn't result in an excessive number of corpses, the cops will help make it go all away for you.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Grinding Veeerrry Slowly

The Federal wheels of justice are about to grind their way through the New Orleans Police Department on various Federal charges associated with the alleged murderous acts allegedly committed by police officers after Hurricane Katrina.
A retired police lieutenant was charged Wednesday with obstruction of justice, the first charge in a wide-ranging federal inquiry into whether police misconduct led to civilian deaths in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina.
Next up for a slow grinding will be the New York Federal Reserve and Goldman Sachs, for it is becoming clearer and clearer that Goldman Sachs's bloody fingeprints are all over the collapse of AIG and Societe Generale.
When a congressional panel convened a hearing on the government rescue of American International Group Inc. in January, the public scolding of Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner got the most attention. ...

A potentially more important development slipped by with less notice, Bloomberg Markets reports in its April issue. Representative Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, placed into the hearing record a five-page document itemizing the mortgage securities on which banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Societe Generale SA had bought $62.1 billion in credit-default swaps from AIG.
Goldman Sachs, among others, allegedly created a class of extremely toxic securities and then, allegedly knowing full well that the securities were garbage, insured them with AIG.

Ron Beasley is right: This would be just like taking out an insurance policy on someone, then having them whacked and collecting on the insurance policy. Only instead of killing one person, these bespoke-suit-wearing grifters threw millions of people out of work and were instrumental in shuttering thousands of businesses.

And they continue to live their lives, unmolested in any way. This is indeed a curious world we live in.

Call For Photoshoppers!

Take any of these images of the proposed US Embassy and put in your suggested plan.

Castles, Borg or Rubic's Cubes, what have you. Either post them on your blog or something like Flickr and then drop a link into the comments section. I might even offer a prize for the best one.

Go Away, Or I Shall Taunt You a Second Time

This is the design for the new American embassy in London:

A wet moat on one side, a dry moat on the other side. It appears that it almost has castellations along the roof. Will they run gas lines up to the roof for boiling the oil to be poured onto besiegers?

Welcome to the American Embassy. Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here.

UPDATE: Kenneth is right: The damn thing looks like a miniature Borg Cube.

UPDATE II: The Armchair Generalist has some thoughts. The links at the bottom of his post are worth clicking through.


And the Bubbleheads Will Go Nuts

The Pentagon on Monday notified Congress that women will be able to join submarine crews within 30 legislative working days, making good on the wishes of top Navy commanders announced last fall.
I would expect that the bulk of outrage will come primarily from the wives of the submariners, who will imply that their husbands are irrepressible hose-monsters who would all fuck an alligator if someone else held it down for them. The retired submariners will have something to say, too. The ones on active duty will largely have the good sense to shut up, salute and make it work.

Note, though, that from one side of the planet to the other, restrictions on women are always justified because men cannot control themselves. Men must really be such morally weak and pathetic creatures that women have to circumscribe their behavior and careers to avoid men going all caveman on women.

Better Than a Poke In the Eye With a Sharp Stick

But only just.
The Senate today easily approved a $15 billion Democratic plan to try to spur job creation, as lawmakers hastened to demonstrate that they were taking steps to improve the nation’s employment picture.

The vote was 70 to 28. Thirteen Republicans joined 55 Democrats and two independents voting in favor.
Unemployment is in the 10%. As of January, 2010, there were 20 million people unemployed. This job creation bill seeks to remedy that by spending an average of $750 per person unemployed. Contrast that, if you wish, by the tax breaks that states give to new factories for foreign auto companies, one town offered over $400,000,000 in tax breaks for a Kia plant that might directly create 2,500 jobs.

If you apply the Kia math, the Senate jobs bill will create maybe 94,000 jobs. That's better than nothing, but it is putting back to work less than one-half percent of those who are unemployed.

Second, note that at least eight Republicans, who voted to block this bill, ultimately voted for it. That took real political courage to come out and vote for a bill that they tried to kill procedurally, of the "Brave Sir Robin" variety [sarcasm OFF].

NY Times is Wrong on Gun Laws

The Times published a piece today that said that the push among states to loosen gun laws was a reaction to the election of President Obama.

There may be a small smidgen of truth to that, but only a smidgen. This has been going on at least since the passage of the Brady Bill in 1993. Gun rights advocates concluded that there was no point in playing defense and trying to beat back or water down gun control legislation; the better course was to go on the offensive and roll back the gains made by the gun-banning folk.

This was a direct outgrowth of the Right to Carry bills. Each time one was enacted, beginning in Florida in the late 1980s, the gun control advocates promised that "the streets would run red with blood" as people carrying concealed weapons got into gunfights. It didn't happen. What the gun control freaks keep forgetting is that it is law-abiding people who obtain gun permits. Criminals, the people who are already disposed to things such as drive-by shootings and mass murder, don't bother with gun permits.

Lessening gun restrictions is a long-term strategy of the pro-2nd Amendment forces. It has had very little to do with the election of the current president.

The "zOMG!!!1! Obama's Gonna Take My Gunz" sales rush of the last fifteen months is another story. Fools. Money. Parted. You know how it goes.

Evangelical Christian Tax Fraud

All the cool kids are doing it, at least when they are not out hiking the ol' Appalachian Trail:
A group of ministers has sent a complaint to the Internal Revenue Service saying that a town house on Capitol Hill that provides inexpensive lodging and meals for conservative Christian members of Congress is not a church and should no longer be granted the tax-exempt status afforded a house of worship.
By the logic of the C Street bunch, if you go down into a room in your basement and pray there, that room is a "church" for tax purposes.

The group involved in sponsoring the C Steet GOP frat house is one of the groups which fall under the umbrella designation of "the Christian Taliban".

Somewhere, a Surprise Awaits

When I woke up this morning, I could detect the subtle wafting of the cat barf.

But I can't find it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Government Spending Does Not Create a Single Job"

That is the mantra of the GOP. Which does not explain why governors from both parties are pushing for Boeing to get the new Air Force tanker contract and why Sen. Shelby is pressing to have the tanker contract awarded to Airbus (which promised to build the final assembly plant in al-Abama).

Since government spending creates no jobs, a point which Shelby has stated, one has to wonder why he is so interested in seeing a foreign corporation get a huge defense contract.

One For Cranky

You have been warned.

Do Not Be Pregnant in Utah

For if you have a miscarriage, you could end up going to prison.

I wish this was just a huge joke. But it is not. If you live in Utah and you learn that you are pregnant, you would be well advised to leave the state until your pregnancy is very far along.


"We Want the Right to Continue to Fuck Over Our Customers"

Which is why the broadband providers are doing their utmost to fight regulation, so they can continue to provide shitty service at very high prices.

But, But, the Conservatives Say You Can't Prosecute Terrorists in Civilian Courts

Except, of course, when they can:
The Afghan immigrant at the center of what the authorities described as one of the most serious threats to the United States since 9/11 pleaded guilty Monday to terrorism charges in what he said was a Qaeda plot to detonate a bomb in the New York subway.
As for the argument that you can't get good information from cases in criminal cases where torture is not permitted:
In recent weeks, Mr. Zazi — who was born in Afghanistan, raised in Pakistan and later attended high school in Queens — had begun providing information to prosecutors as part of the initial stages of an agreement that led to his guilty plea on Monday, according to two people with knowledge of the case.
Yep. That's how it works in the real world, not in the "zOMG, 24hours, ticking time bomb" fantasy world of the torture apologists.

So, If Torture Is a War Crime

Then, arguably, the cover-up of the commission of war crimes is a war crime.
At a closed briefing in 2003, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee raised no objection to a C.I.A. plan to destroy videotapes of brutal interrogations, according to secret documents released Monday.

The senator, Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, also rejected a proposal to have his committee conduct its own assessment of the agency’s harsh interrogation methods, which included wall-slamming and waterboarding, the documents say.
Of course he denies it. His defense is along the lines of "they told me that they were going to destroy the tapes and I was in `receive mode'."

So if a mob boss is in "receive mode" when his subordinates discuss whacking someone, then he is off the hook for any charges? I don't think so.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I Need Confirmation On This

According to MPS, Orly Taitz is seeking protection from the United Nations.

Gee, and here I thought Wingnuts despised the UN.

I need some confirmation on this. This seems a bit waay too loony-tunes, even for Taitz. This is nice, and maybe this, but I'd sure like to see a story about this from the dead-tree boyos.

Profiles in Political Cowardice

It takes a real lack of guts to flip around and vote for a bill only because you know it will pass without your jumping into the parade.
In a rare bipartisan breakthrough, the Senate pushed a $15 billion measure intended to spur job creation over a crucial preliminary obstacle Monday night after five Senate Republicans broke ranks to back consideration of the Democratic leadership initiative. ... Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, the newly elected Republican, was the first to join Democrats in backing the measure. He was then joined by Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, George Voinovich of Ohio and Christopher Bond of Missouri, who voted after it became obvious Democrats would prevail.
Brown probably knows that if he is portrayed in the next election as a lock-step Wingnut, that his tenure on Capitol Hill will be a short one. What he did here was give cover to other Republicans who don't have the guts to be the first to cross the Club for Oligarchy Growth and their useful idiots. Brown is also useful to the rest of the GOP, who might otherwise run the risk of being hammered in the upcoming campaign as a bunch of hive-minded drones.

The Torturer's Assistant Lawyer

Has been identified. No real shocker that she was later a law clerk for Clarence Thomas, the only one of the Supremes who did not have a problem with prison guards beating the shit out of shacked prisoners.

I guess they teach that torture is permissible at Yale Law, since Thomas, John Yoo and Jennifer Hardy all went there.

UP Big Boy

It has been nearly fifty years since they were last under steam.

One Thing is Certain: Somebody Is Getting Stabbed in the Back

Sen. Joe Lieberman is sponsoring the repeat of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":
"I will be proud to be a sponsor of the important effort to enable patriotic gay Americans to defend our national security and our founding values of freedom and opportunity."
If someone, somewhere, is not now sporting a large dagger sticking out of their back, they soon will. I wouldn't put it past the Trollop of Trumbull to flip on this issue and later say that he is against it, just as he did on health care.

We Don't Need This Kind of Hero

The daughter of a man who crashed his small plane into a building housing offices of the Internal Revenue Service called her father a hero for his anti-government views but said his actions, which killed an IRS employee, were "inappropriate."
Don't forget that the Austin Asswipe also burnt his own house down, instantly rendering his wife and young daughter homeless and without any prospect of getting a new one, since insurance companies don't pay off for arson.

If Asswipe wanted to make a public statement as he departed this world, self-immolation is a traditional way to do it. Killing people is very rarely an act of heroism, especially when the victims have no warning nor any way to fight back. As much as most people don't exactly love tax collectors, they are not on the same plane as SS/Gestapo men or concentration camp guards.

This kind of hero we don't need.

UPDATE: Rep. Steven King (Terrorist, Iowa) is advocating more terrorist attacks on IRS offices. Does anyone know why Mr. King is not wearing an orange jumptsuit and in chains aboard a C-130 headed to Gitmo?


Anybody who has been flying for any length of time (and who is diligent enough to read some pilots' magazines occasionally) knows this: Mountains are killers.

Winds can be very tricky around mountain ranges. When the winds aloft are strong, weird things happen around mountains. There can be updrafts that can throw a sailplane up towards altitudes normally flown by U-2s. There can be pockets of turbulence that will damage an airplane so badly that it can either be destroyed or it will have to be written off.

Navigation is critical in mountain flying. If you fly down the wrong valley, you can wind up flying into a valley were the floor of the valley climbs faster than your airplane can climb. Then you have a very stark choice: You can either try to turn around and do so without either hitting the walls of the canyon or stalling the airplane, or you can continue on and crash. The same option is there for a box canyon, where the only way out is the way you came.

Sometimes, a glancing at an aerial navigational chart will show a way around the highest elevations. The safer route may involve a bit of detour. But it is almost always better to spend a little more time in the air and burn a little more gas than it is to go play with high peaks.

Back in the day, mountain flying, even in the best of airplanes, could kill. One of the most famous cases was BSAA Flight CS59, which smacked into the Andes Mountains and was not found for half a century. In bad weather, the old four-course ranges could give strange indications, the Banning Pass was infamous in this regard. Even in good weather, flying over mountainous terrain at night called for precise navigation, as there would be nothing to see and the mountains were higher than the airplanes flew.

It is a truism that some pilots have huge egos and overinflated opinions of their skills. But those egos will not cushion a sudden meeting of stone and metal. And that may be the real cause of the crash of Blackwater 61.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


That is the percentage that the top-earning households paid in taxes in 2007. Their incomes have quintupled in fifteen years.

I don't know anyone who is working for a paycheck who pays only 16.6% of their income in taxes.

If you want to know why the Republican party is so unconcerned about the recession, consider this: Those whose incomes were over $150,000 a year have an unemployment rate of 3%.

At the other end of the scale, the unemployment rate is over 30%. At the bottom of the economic scale, this recession is a depression. At the top, this recession is indistinguishable from full employment. This recession is a textbook case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

As we should all know by now, the Republicans and the Blue Dog Democrats don't give a flying fuck about anyone who does not make at least a six figure income. So don't expect the government to do anything to try and help you.

Blackwater 61

A Blackwater flight slammed into a mountain in Afghanistan in 2004, killing all aboard.

60 Minutes is running a story about it. Blackwater tried to blame one of the passengers, an Army lieutenant colonel, whose widow sued them.

Blackwater settled the case after CBS News filmed their interviews (but not with Blackwater, who refused).

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Caturday Extra

Jake is sunning himself this morning..

He must want to warm the right side of his body. Or he is in an "I'm ignoring you" mood.

An Exercise in Ass-Covering

Short version of the DoJ ethics report: "Yes, our lawyers wrote some sloppy memos, but they really did nothing terribly wrong. There is nothing to see here. Go away."

Note that John Yoo said that the president could legally order a massacre of civilians if he felt like it. So I guess if a SEAL team showed up at Prof. Yoo's home in the middle of the night and put a bullet into his head, Yoo would not have a problem with that at all, other than possibly the "getting shot to death" part.

Edging Closer to the Cliff?

Paul Krugman suspects that the economy is on the verge of entering into deflation.

If he is right, that is a very bad place to be. Our economy does not work if people are not willing to spend money. Simply put, people go out and buy goods. The more that people buy, the more demand there is. More demand, more goods are made, which means more jobs are created up and down the supply chain. If there is inflation, the subtle pressure is to spend now, as saved cash will not buy later what it will today.

In a deflationary economy, the pressure is to save, not spend, as saved cash will buy more later. People buy less, jobs are lost. Stores and factories close, nobody leases the spaces, landlords go bust, property values fall and if you think that a U-3 unemployment rate of 10% is bad, you ain't seen nothing yet.

But you will, if the party of Hoover has anything to say about it.


George is on the bed, trying to catch a few winks after his first breakfast.

The white throw on the bed is to keep cat hair and other drippings from messing up the sheets, blankets and the comforter. If I don't pull the throw all the way up, George will find a way not to lie on it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

FBI on the Anthrax Attacks: "It Were the Dead Guy What Done It"

The FBI has closed the anthrax case, saying they are satisfied that the late Dr. Bruce Ivins did it.

Keep in mind, however, that the FBI was so convinced that Dr. Steven Hatfill did it that the FBI agents stalked Hatfill. Just as the FBI did when they were trying to frame Richard Jewell, the FBI invited reporters to witness the execution of search warrants. It was all extreme bullshit, carried out to try and force a false confession. The government had to pay him several million dollars to settle his lawsuit against the FBI.

A dead guy did it.

How convenient for the FBI.

Oh, the Outrage: Spook Edition

The British are just outraged as all hell that the Mossad allegedly used fake British passports in order to carry out a hit on a Hamas leader in Dubai.

Right. As if the agents for MI-6, now the Secret Intelligence Service, have never ever used a fake passport.

And if you believe that, then you probably believe that you can find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

We All Know that Republicans Lie

It's what they do. Whether it is about Obama's use of a teleprompter or the existence of WMDs in Iraq, they are just shameless liars.

You might as well yell at a cow for belching as yell at Tim Pawlenty for lying.

Why Folks Think That "Federal Official" is Another Way of Saying "As Dumb As a Bag of Hammers"

Stupid comments such at this will do it:
The pilot of a small plane that slammed into a building Thursday morning in Austin, Texas, set his house on fire beforehand and then intentionally crashed the aircraft, a federal official told CNN.
No fucking shit, Inspector Closeau, what was your first clue? The multi-page screed/manifesto that the pilot posted on the Internet before he first torched his own home and then flew his airplane into the IRS's offices? Or was it the fact that, by all accounts, the airplane was on a controlled and deliberate track when it slammed into that office building at full throttle?

By the Jeebus, does that unnamed "Federal official" require help in order to feed himself? Can he wipe his (or her) own ass without a ten-page instruction manual? Does each morning's sunrise come as a complete surprise to Mr. or Ms. Fed?

I once had the "pleasure" of taking a class from a college professor who would ask students who didn't want to speak in class if they preferred to keep silent and be surmised a fool or speak and remove all doubt about the question.

The "unnamed Federal officials" who always talk after such incidents ought to keep that in mind.

Austin Kamikaze Attack

Conservatives seem to think that a kamikaze attack into an IRS building is funny.

I'll bet that if the pilot had keyed his mike and yelled "Allahu Akbar" over the tower frequency at KAUS as he began his suicide run, they wouldn't think that it was so funny.

The Mind Boggles: School Edition

So the Lower Merion School District, outside of Philadelphia, issued laptops to their students. The laptops came, as most do, with webcams and microphones.

So what did the school district do? They (allegedly) used the webcams to spy on the students in their homes. We are at the point, I fear, where the title "school administrator" is becoming synonymous with "imbecile."

Feel safer yet? And if anyone has issued you a laptop, buy some electrical tape and cover up the bloody web cam. And the microphone.


Thanks For Nothing, Asswipe

So you were mad at the IRS? I get that. You said that the government is only interested in helping the big player and is letting the people rot during this recession and the last one? A lot of people feel that way. You were angry because after 9-11, the Feds made life very difficult for a while for general aviation while doing everything they could to help out the airlines? I understand.

You undoubtedly knew that it took a lot of political pressure, exerted by tens of thousands of pilots and businesses to get the Feds to back off from crushing the life out of general aviation after 9-11. You certainly understood that it would only take a few incidents for the Feds to start re-torquing the screws to make it harder and harder to fly small planes the way your fellow pilots have for almost a century. No doubt you watched in horror as that arrogant scum-sucking mayor in Chicago used the chimera of aerial terrorism as an excuse to bulldoze Meigs Field.

But knowing all of that, you still chose to crash your airplane into an IRS office building. You chose to go out in a highly newsworthy way, you arrogant little fuck, and in so doing, you will end up triggering even more restrictions on the rest of us who fly. You couldn't go rent a Ryder truck and stuff it full of fertilizer soaked in diesel fuel, for that's been done before. You couldn't just shoot the folks you were angry at; that would rate 30 seconds on the national news, at best. You couldn't just torch the building, that's old news.

No, you had to off yourself in the most newsworthy way you could think of. And in so doing, you set the rest of the general aviation community up for more restrictions on our freedom to fly.

Thanks for nothing, asswipe.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Justice is a Foreign Concept

At least to the bureaucrats of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as "ICE", which is also an indication of the temperature of their blood and of their souls.
The judge and the juvenile had grown up on the same mean streets, 40 years apart. And in fall 1996, they faced each other in a New York court where children are prosecuted as adults, but sentenced like candidates for redemption.

The teenager, a gifted student, was pleading guilty to a string of muggings committed at 15 with an eclectic crew in Manhattan’s Chinatown. The judge, who remembered the pitfalls of Little Italy in the 1950s, urged him to use his sentence — three to nine years in a reformatory — as a chance to turn his life around.

“If you do that, I am here to stand behind you,” the judge, Michael A. Corriero, promised. The youth, Qing Hong Wu, vowed to change.

Mr. Wu kept his word. He was a model inmate, earning release after three years. He became the main support of his immigrant mother, studying and working his way up from data entry clerk to vice president for Internet technology at a national company.

But almost 15 years after his crimes, by applying for citizenship, Mr. Wu, 29, came to the attention of immigration authorities in a parallel law enforcement system that makes no allowances for rehabilitation. He was abruptly locked up in November as a “criminal alien,” subject to mandatory deportation to China — the nation he left at 5, when his family immigrated legally to the United States.
This makes absolutely no sense at all. Sometimes the law is an ass. And so are the people who hide behind the shield of the law to perpetrate an unjust act. The people at ICE who are involved in this should be drinking themselves into a stupor each night so that they don't have to contemplate the evil that they are doing.

But they probably aren't. They are not among the righteous in this world. They are merely the cogs in an apparatus of evil. They are the ones who are doing nothing and letting evil prevail. Worst of all are the cadre of people known as "immigration judges", for they apparently judge nothing, only punch papers. They should be renamed as "immigration administrators", for "justice" is not part of their toolkit.

Mall Ninjas, Warm Up Your Credit Cards!

And call now to order a bayonet for your pistol!

This was tried back in the pre-Civil War era.

The feeling then seemed to be that a cutlass-pistol was both an unwieldy handgun and a poor knife. That no reasonable military or police force has since felt a need to affix an edged blade to a handgun is not because they were unfamiliar with the idea, but because the concept is, well, retarded.

As are the mall-ninjas who are buying them.

Keep Them Dumb, Stupid, Frightened and Compliant

At least one legislator in the State of Utah thinks it is a good idea to abolish the 12th grade. Some schools are implementing a plan to allow students to "test out" of 11th and 12th grade. And the Texas School Board is doing its utmost to ram conservative dogma down the throats of students, and if science or the facts at hand differ from conservative dogma, don't count on any kid using Texas-approved textbooks to learn about it.

I suspect that the 10th grade graduation exams will be made easy enough that the kids who take them and then quit school will be little more than dropouts with a frameable piece of paper. Which leads to this question: Why the push to get teenagers out of school and to work early? As a nation, are we really that concerned about churning out more fast-food workers and Wal-Mart shelve-restockers? Are we going to give up on the idea that it is best to have a well-educated population? Or have the people behind it (who I suspect are mainly of the conservative persuasion) concluded that they are better with a population of undereducated drones who can be more easily cowed?

(On the other end of the age scale, tens of thousands of retirees are bartering labor for free rent at campgrounds and parks.)

Newsweek: Surrender Your Freedom

Newsweek, in publishing an article which suggests that Tibet is better off for being under the boot of the Chinese, is suggesting that freedom is not all it is cracked up to be.

So the editors of Newsweek would agree that the main mistake made by the British in the American colonies was that they did not do their utmost to make life comfy for the Colonists? No doubt the editors of Newsweek would concur that the slaves in the Old South would have not yearned for freedom if they were treated better. Oh, if only the Germans had been kind to the people of France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc., etc.!!

The Newsweek article reads like it was a propaganda piece paid for by the Chinese government. The editors should be ashamed of themselves.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Color Me Unimpressed; Constitutional Edition

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A group of conservatives is unveiling a statement of principles called Constitutional Conservatism on Wednesday that reaffirms their belief in limited government and a strong national defense _ but also chides members of their own coalition for straying from their beliefs. ...

Many conservatives balked at the rapid rise in non-defense spending under Bush, and at the expansion of unchecked government power in the name of fighting terrorism after the 2001 attacks.
Yeah, right.

Give me the names of a dozen conservative politicians who spoke out when the Patriot Act was proposed. Show me the list of well-known conservatives who spoke out against the warrantless interception of all Americans's electronic communications by the NSA. Tell me the roster of prominent conservatives who had anything to say about the use of torture and the Bush Administration's claim to the power to arrest and hold anyone they wanted for any reason as long as they mouthed the magic word "terrorism". Enumerate those principled conservative intellectuals who objected, in public, to the deficit-ballooning spending and tax reductions of the Bush Administration. Provide citations to those public objections, if you please.

I'll wait. But I suspect that I'll be waiting for a very, very, long time. Conservatives kept their mouths mainly shut as the Bush Administration trampled on the rule of law. Conservatives had nothing to say when Dick Cheney and his minions wiped their asses with the Constitution.

But now that a Democrat is in the Oval Office and the conservatives are concerned. I am shocked, shocked.

We told you so, conservatives. We told you, when all this was going on, that the GOP would not hold the presidency forever. We told you conservatives that the powers that you were so willing to grant to Bush and Cheney would some day be in the hands of a Democrat. You didn't listen, then.

Only now you're concerned? OK, prove it. I dare you to do these things: Work to eliminate the provisions of the Patriot Act. Make it the law that there will be no interception of electronic communication without a warrant. Abolish "national security letters". Outlaw "sneak and peek" searches. Ban the use of "material witness" holds, absent immediate judicial review. Prohibit civil forfeiture of property based on anything other than a criminal conviction for illegal possession of such property.

I won't hold my breath waiting for those things to come about.

Foley Foolishness

Of all the things done in movies and TV shows that make me want to throw my heavy WE 500[1] into the TV set are the sound effects added to firearms. The old annoyance is that every time a character pulls out a Sig or a Glock, the sound effects people, known as "Foley artists", add in all of the metallic clicks of a Single-Action Army Colt being cocked.

The new annoyance is the addition of spring sounds when a handgun is fired.

I am not really that experienced, I've maybe put a few thousand rounds each through 1911s, the Taurus clones of Beretta M9s and several hundred through Glocks. I've shot Sigs and HKs. I can't say that I have ever heard the sound of the recoil spring working. I've stood near people on firing ranges who were shooting all manner of handguns and all I've heard is the blast of the shots.

It is different with rifles, such as the AR platform and Garands. There, one's cheek is up against the buttstock and, provided that good hearing protection is worn, the shooter can hear the recoil spring working through bone conduction.

But not with handguns.

[1] About a year ago, my phone line got screwed up by Verizon. The repair tech came to check it out. When he got done with what he had to do elsewhere, he came back to check it out. I offered him the cordless phone, but he declined and used my old WE 500.

TSA- Tools Stupidly Acting?

The tools who "work" for the TSA managed to score another triumph. The TSA screeners at the Philadelphia Airport made the parents of a disabled four year old boy remove the child's leg braces and then required that the boy walk through the metal detector.

TSA, of course, blamed the parents for not immediately complaining to a supervisor so the officer in question could be "retrained".[1]

Feel safer yet?

[1] What should really bother cops is that the TSA calls its goons "officers".

Pragmatism versus Principle

There has been quite a lot of criticism levied against Virginia Governor McDonnell, South Carolina Governor Sanford and a number of Republican congressvermin for first complaining and campaigning against the stimulus bill and now lobbying to get more money for their respective states.

I think the criticism is fair against the Senators and Congressmen who publicly voted against the stimulus package while working to get money for their districts. That was sheer rank hypocrisy of the highest order. They should not only be called out for it, but the money should have been allocated in a way that there would have been consequences for their hypocrisy.

It is another thing when one is a chief executive of a government. Those people are supposed to be leaders and they are charged with doing what is best for the people who live in their area. The governors may not like having to take Federal money to prop up their school systems or for construction projects, but they have to do what it takes to put people to work.

This was in full display nearly 18 months ago, when George Bush had to swallow hard and propose a bill to keep the nation's (and the global) financial system from melting down. the real shame was that there were so many in his paty who were willing to see the global economy collapse rather than stain their conservative principles with a vote for what needed to be done. Those bastards need to be shamed and, if they were ones who voted against the stimulus but had their hands out privately for stimulus money for their districts, they need to be hammered hard for their hypocrisy.

The governors, though, didn't get to vote on the matter. Sure, they ran their mouths, that's what politicians do. Their actions are what truly matter and there, they are doing what is in the best interests of their states. Which is what a responsible adult would do.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jeb Bush for President?

Jeb Bush probably thinks he can become president because some watery tart threw a sword at him.

So this is what the GOP has come to: Choosing a candidate between one of the offspring of an inbred wealthy Connecticut family and some know-nothing from Alaska who quit her job the governor of one of the least-populated states in the nation because it was too difficult for her?

Oh yes, I forgot about Multiple Choice Mitt, a politician who makes Harold "I Can See Staten Island From My Helicopter" Ford look like a man of principle. My mistake.

(H/T for the helicopter snark)

Ninety Years and One Month Ago

The manufacture, transportation and sale of alcohol for consumption was outlawed in the United States. The pro-nanny state types refer to it as "the Noble Experiment."

It was an experiment, all right, an experiment in forcing an entire country to adopt the moral standards of a vocal minority. It was an experiment to outlaw a particular vice.

It was a miserable failure. While Prohibition did effect a lasting reduction in the amount of alcohol consumed, it created at least two generations of Americans who came to view the law as something to be flouted. The attitude developed by people during Prohibition was one of "there is no duty to obey a stupid law."

Prohibition gave a huge boost to organized crime, which in turn brought about the nation's first set of gun control laws.

The utter and abject failure of Prohibition did not result in lawmakers learning a fucking thing. Every time they find something that outrages them morally, they try to outlaw it. The so-called "War on Drugs" has done immense damage to our national freedoms and it is also an abject failure. Prior to the War on Drugs, the sight of heavily-armed cops in black uniforms and coal-scuttle helmets carrying out raids in the middle of the night would have resulted in a national uproar. Now, it is pretty much accepted.

Lawmakers keep trying to outlaw vices and they keep failing miserably. One would think that they would learn something, but politicians in need of pandering to the moralistic groups keep at it.

Our country is poorer for their efforts.

UPDATE: Thanks to Pat, Cops against the War on Drugs. One of them won a hefty settlement when his department fired him for speaking out.

The Newest Marriage Ban

Banning marriages between people who are not in love with each other.

New Law Would Ban Marriages Between People Who Don't Love Each Other

(Yes, it's the Onion.)

Evan Bayh to Democrats: "Fuck You"

There's been a lot written about Bayh's pulling out of the Senate race in Indiana, ever so conveniently timed to make picking a Democratic candidate by a primary impossible. I'll let that alone.

Two notes, though: First, somebody who had a modicum of common courtesy would have let the national party leaders find out about this by a medium other than CNN. Bayh apparently lacked that amount of courtesy.

Second, I have to laugh about the crap I've read in the press about how if the GOP takes his Senate seat, that will "lessen" the Democrats' control of the Senate. I don't know how one could measure a reduction from "nonexistent".

The Senate Democrats are, for want of a better phrase, a pack of political retards. I have yet to hear them start demanding "up or down votes" on things, a phrase the GOP used for years whenever the then-minority Democrats dared to use the same obstructionist tactics that the Republicans now employ on everything. As far as the Senate goes, and at least for the Democrats, there is no difference between having 51 Senators and 59. (The only good thing about not having 60 votes is that nobody seems to give a fuck anymore what that little sniveling backstabbing cocksucker Joe Lieberman has to say about anything.)

Why Can The Israelis Make This Work?

And yet we cannot? Catharine Ross asks the question in a web-only commentary at the NY Times' site.

I do have a dog in this fight, so you can take my opinions for what they are worth. I agree with Ms. Ross, the physical test standards for everyone should be the same. The IDF is a no-nonsense force that seems to be very good at keeping non-military chickenshit to a minimum. If the IDF can make it work to have women (and yes, gays) in most combat jobs, why is our own military so inept?

Or maybe this is the reason: The IDF has a separate battalion for those whose intolerance is based on religion.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Much, Much Better

After about an hour and a half in the air, with three landings. It was just above freezing, so I pre-heated the engine for 20 minutes while I scraped the remnants of the plow-drift from the entrance to my tie-down. The engine started right up and ran well.

Weekend flying weather around these parts has been piss-poor for the last several months. Today was tolerable, though there was a significant crosswind at my home `drome. I had some serious rust to knock off my flying skills, so I flew around for awhile and then shot some landings at a different airport which had a runway that was closer to the wind.

I saw some neat sights, including a tug pushing a fuel barge that was trying to back out of an ice-clogged channel, but it was a bit cold to think about opening the window and shooting a photo. Twenty miles east-west was enough to go from complete snow cover to mostly bare ground, which probably had something to do with the grazing hit from last Wednesday's snowstorm.

Killing Marines

Some of the well water at Camp Lejune, over a thirty year period (at least) was contaminated by hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel from a fuel farm next to the wells.

Of course, by the time that the Marine Corps and the Departments of the Navy and Defense are willing to accept that there was a provable problem, everyone who drank the well water will be dead.

I gather that Marine loyalty only goes so far.

But Can They Sing "Louie, Louie"?

There are a number of other variations that Russia 24 aired and were posted to YouTube, from the Altai Mountains and the Yamal Peninsula.


The One Rule of War:
If You Are Going To Call the Tune, You Had Better Be Prepared to Dance to It.

The New York Times had a blog post today about the "Dresden Debate", which is whether or not the British were justified to attack and burn the city of Dresden.

There is one overriding justification in war between nation-states and that is if one side does X, the other side is free to do X and if the second party is able to do X with a vengeance, then the first doer of X has little grounds to complain. The Germans bombed British cities from the air in both World Wars.

That is all the justification that the British needed to bomb German cities. That the Lancaster and Halifax heavy bombers carried a far larger bomb load than the German medium bombers (Ju-88, He-111 and Do-17) of the Second World War and the dirigibles of the First World War was of no consequence.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Bind Moggles

Go look. Trust me on this one.

Not keyboard safe, though.

Free Legal Tip

If you are in Haitian jail for suspicion of child trafficking, it is a really good idea if your legal team does not include some clown who is wanted in two countries as a suspect in a sex trafficking ring.

What I Did for Valentine's Day

I went to the pistol range with a .45 and a box of mil-spec ammunition.

Romance Я Us!

The Major Caudill Rant

I'm just a hobby blogger. I don't do this to promote myself (personally or professionally). I blog because I have something to say. At times it's just snark, sometimes the posts are full of outrage, sometimes its just about the topics listed in the first few words of the blog header, and sometimes it's just stuff that caught my fancy. I'm not making any money from it. It's a hobby.

But it does gripe my ass when, from time to time, I've poured a nice chunk of time into a post and then I find out that all, or substantially all, of it appears on another blog or a discussion list without attribution. That's just wrong and, as another blogger once noted, there is a term for that: Plagiarism.

Plagiarism is wrong.

It is one thing to read another blogger's essay and then use that as the launching pad for one's own thoughts. It would be courteous to at least give a mention to the post that got you thinking, but what you've written is still your thoughts.

It is entirely another thin to take a post from one blogger and pass it off as your own work. If you don't understand that is wrong, then I will be very much surprised if you made it though school without somebody administering a richly deserved ass-kicking to you.

Whenever There is Global Financial Skullduggery Afoot... seems that if one digs deeply enough, one will find the vampiric tentacles of Goldman Sachs wrapped around the deal.

It should, therefore, come as no surprise that the current financial collapse of the Greek government, which is in turn dragging down the Euro, has Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street players all wrapped up in it (and profiting handsomely from the deal). Goldman and the rest have essentially done over there what they did to the housing market here: Figure out a way to pump it up and then make money from both the inflation and the crash.

"Little People Pay Taxes"

But not high-flying political celebrities like Harold Ford, who has had a residence in New York City for nearly three years and has held a "job" as a Merrill Lynch vice-chairman for all of that time. He has not filed a New York State or New York City tax return for all of that time, even though both the City and the State impose income taxes on non-residents.

Harold Ford is just another rich tax cheat. Maybe it's about time that he have a conversation with Cyrus Vance, Jr. Preferably before a judge.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Some serious white-on-white action is going on with Gracie in this shot.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nothing Right Now

Jake is lying next to me. He wants a belly rub. He is getting it, and I suck at 1-hand typing.

It's a big Internet. Go exploring. Surf the blogrolls.


And When He Grew Up, He Went to Work for Fox News

Move over, Steve Doocy:

Replacing any one of the Fox News jerkoffs with Calvin would be an improvement. At age six, Calvin was far smarter and savvier than any of those asswipes.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Running of the Rat(s)?

NEW ORLEANS -- A lawyer for one of the four conservative activists [Robert Flanagan] charged with trying to tamper with Sen. Mary Landrieu's office phones says he has met with federal prosecutors in an effort to resolve the case.

Attorney J. Garrison Jordan wouldn't discuss any details of his meeting Wednesday with prosecutors. Jordan said he was trying to quickly resolve his client's case, but he wouldn't say whether the talks involve a possible plea agreement.
Normally, I would assume that meant that Flanagan is preparing to roll over on the other three, but these guys are first-timers. No doubt that there are powerful folk on the Right who, are exercising some very private leverage to get a deal cut for them.

I'd look for them to all cop a plea to misdemeanor trespass.

Remember, Please, the Law By Which We Live

From Kipling's "The Secret of the Machines":
But remember, please, the Law by which we live,
We are not built to comprehend a lie,
We can neither love nor pity nor forgive.
If you make a slip in handling us you die!
The Four Laws of Safe Firearm Handling:
1. All guns are always loaded.
2. Never point a firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you have made the decision to shoot.
4. Always be sure of your target and what lies beyond it.
Those safety rules were written in blood. This is what happens when someone fucks up. It only takes a split-second's worth of carelessness.

Over in the Nation Formerly Known as "Great Britain"

Two clowns who were hopped up on drugs invaded a home. One of the thugs was armed with a set of brass knuckles and a spade. At home were the male and female and the man's sons. The goons threatened to rape the woman and kill the man and his sons. The man picked up a samurai sword and whacked off the ear of one of the goons.

The Crown Prosecutor charged the man. The jury acquitted him

Of interest was one of the commenters, who noted that in France, the courts viewed being killed or wounded by homeowners as an occupational hazard for burglars. Which is as it should be.


I've Been Accused of Being "Unromantic"

That came after I gave my sweetie one of these for Valentine's Day:

Wingnut Welfare Fraud

Wingnut Corporate Welfare Queens are defrauding the government:
Two former employees of Blackwater Worldwide have accused the private security contractor of defrauding the government for years with phony billing, including charging for a prostitute, alcohol and spa trips.

In newly unsealed court records, a husband and wife who once worked for Blackwater said they had personal knowledge of the company falsifying invoices, double-billing federal agencies and charging the government for personal and inappropriate items whose real purpose was hidden. They said they witnessed "systematic" fraud on the company's security contracts with the State Department in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.
Only these Wingnut Welfare Queens ride around in Gulfstreams. They'd regard riding in a Caddy as slumming.

The Idiocy of the Climate Change Deniers

Jon Stewart took them on last night:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Unusually Large Snowstorm
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

So did Stephen Colbert:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
We're Off to See the Blizzard
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorEconomy

No surprise that two of the biggest idiots on this issue were Steve Doocy and Sean Hannity.

Russo-French Naval Exercise

The Russian Navy Blog has run a five-part series about an exercise between the Russian and French Navies, as written up by the liaison officers from each navy. It is a five-part series; if you are interested in naval matters, it is worth your time.

Parts I, II, III, IV and V.

I haven't done much blog-surfing about the sale by the French to the Russians of at least one Mistral-class landing ship. I expect that they have their collective panties petty well bunched up by it. But I am not as concerned.

First off, the Russian Navy is a mere shadow of the Soviet Navy. The Russians have done very little in the way of constructing replacement ships since the collapse of the USSR. They have had at least one submarine which has been under construction since the mid-1990s. The Russian Navy has maybe 140 ships, down from over 700 in 1985 (the US Navy has about 280 ships, as opposed to the mid to upper 500s during the period from after Vietnam to the end of the Cold War). The Russians do not have the force structure, nor the at-sea experience, to project power over any great distances.

Second, even when the Soviet Navy was at its Cold War peak, their surface ships spent very little time at sea. Most of their at-sea time was spent in anchorages (Socotra was one of the better known) where their ships anchored to permanent buoys. The "far abroad" component of the Soviet surface fleet probably was, in a war, a one-off deal, in that they best that they could hope for was to fire off their anti-ship missiles before they were all sunk. The best, if not the only, way to become competent in dealing with weather and operating at sea is to send the ships out to sea. Running drills pierside or at anchor just isn't the same.

Third, even if the U.S. was firmly opposed to the Mistral sale, there is very little that can be done to stop it. In case anyone is unclear on the concept here, there is a rather serious economic downturn going on. The Russians are paying cash for one ship, which is already built, and the French will build three more for the Russians. That's good work for the French shipyards (and no doubt that there are Russians who are not happy at that).

The categorization of the Mistral class in the press as an "amphibious landing ship" is a bit off. Yes, it can carry and launch some landing craft, but the main focus of the ship is to function as a helicopter carrier. It could, therefore, easily become an ASW helicopter carrier, which may mean that the Russians might have one or more of them stationed in their Pacific fleet as a counter to the Chinese submarine construction program.

The Mistral deal might not make those in the former Soviet Republics feel comfortable. There is little that can be done about it, unless those nations are willing to play a part in a new arms race with the Russians.[1] Given that none of the Baltic nations spend more than 2% of their GDP on their respective militaries, they are not very likely to be interested in starting an arms race with the Russians.[2] So expect a lot of private outrage from the Baltics and the Black Sea nations, a hell of a lot of squawking from the far-right blogs and nothing else.

[1]Bringing the three Baltic states into NATO was a conservative red-meat move by the Bush Administration, which was riddled with people who were stuck in a Cold War mindset. It, moreover, was a foolish move. It angered the Russians, whose fears of invasion from the West needed little rekindling after the Kosovo air campaign and the admission of Poland into NATO in 1999. And I very much doubt, if push comes to shove, that most NATO nations will not want to fight a war with the Russians over the Baltic states.

[2]Russia spends roughly 2.5% of their GDP on their military, the US spends 4.8% of its GDP on the military.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Now Prohibited By the TSA

Studying while flying.
A Pennsylvania man sued the federal government Wednesday, alleging that he was abusively interrogated, handcuffed and detained for five hours at Philadelphia's airport in August because he carried a set of English-Arabic flashcards as part of his college language studies.
Feel safer now?

Wal-Mart Layoffs

As reported by the Onion:
BENTONVILLE, AR—Retail giant Wal-Mart has announced in recent weeks that, effective immediately, it is cutting as many as 13,000 of what it somehow has the audacity to refer to as "jobs" from its corporate payroll. ...

"Obviously, it is a sad day whenever we have to let go of any of the people we have dehumanized so thoroughly that we can barely muster the will to describe them as employees," Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke told reporters. "However, this is a business, and we must do what we can to stay competitive while still paying our existing workforce what we actually refer to with a straight face as wages." ...

"There's no way I can actually say what I am about to say without literally inducing deep, hearty peals of unbelieving laughter from anyone within earshot," he added. "But all those laid off should still hold their heads up high."

Prediction: If We Lose Our Freedoms....

... it will be due to the actions of the Republican party. This article in Slate argues that the GOP is engaging in a deliberate campaign to desensitize Americans to the loss of our civil liberties.

The unasked (and unanswered) question is: Why?

Why do today's Republicans hate the idea of civil liberties and freedoms? Why is it that the Republicans today denounce the strategy of Ronald Reagan, to use our civil liberties and the rule of law against those who would harm us, now is a sign of weakness. This was Reagan's policy (page 3 of the document):
Another important measure we have developed in our overall strategy is applying the rule of law to terrorists. Terrorists are criminals. They commit criminal actions like murder, kidnapping, and arson, and countries have laws to punish criminals. So a major element of our strategy has been to delegitimize terrorists, to get society to see them for what they are -- criminals -- and to use democracy’s most potent tool, the rule of law against them.
But if President Obama's administration were to offer the same words, everyone from the Saudi mouthpieces on Fox News to the GOP blowhards in the Congress, would be aghast and outraged.

Why is the GOP working so hard to dismantle the rule of law? Why are they so intent on transforming this nation into the world's most powerful rogue nation?

What is their goal? Why are they doing this?


I Do Not Get The Music Choice

The commercial for the video game "Dante's Inferno" and the song "Ain't No Sunshine".

The commercial:

Bill Withers:

Does anyone have an idea why that song was chosen? Right off the top of my head, "Paint it Black" or "Welcome to the Jungle" would seem to be more appropriate.