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

Monday, October 31, 2011

"Patrolman, Go Beat That Defenseless Old Woman to Death!"

Apparently, a NYPD cop would, if given such an order, do just that.

For that is one of their arguments for why they should not be prosecuted for fixing tickets: Einen befehl ist ein befehl.

Zendo Deb has the right of it: Do the cops really want to go down the "we've always done it that way" road? Cops used to do a lot of things that were long-standing traditions: Frame bad guys if they couldn't honestly prove a case (only nowadays, it's called "testilying"). It used to be accepted practice to extract confessions by torture. It was once accepted practice to shoot at fleeing suspects. And the NYPD had a long tradition of rousting gay bars.

Other things that once were common practice: Chattel slavery. Fouling the air and the water. Execution by torture. Child labor. Wives as the chattel of their husbands. Debtors' prisons. Adulterated food and medicine.

The phrase "but we've always done it that way" is one uttered by those with lazy and weak minds. Yes, ticket-fixing has gone on forever. Subtle ticket-fixing will still go on. But the blatant fixing, the obvious ones where a politician or a wealthy contributor can park his car on top of a homeless person and in front of a fire hydrant, can be squished.

I Had to Use a Hammer


I feel fortunate as all get out today. The temps were in the low 20s this morning. In my county, close to three-quarters of the electric company's customers still don't have electricity. My power came on at sunset yesterday. I wasn't looking forward to a second night trying to read by lamplight.

And for no reason whatsoever:


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Occupy Your College Campus

Also, the Governor of Tennessee decreed a curfew for the statehouse grounds. Seems that he had no authority to do that, so everyone who was arrested for violating the governor's curfew was freed. Now should come the lawsuits against the governor, as an individual, for illegal arrests.


Snowpocalypse; or
You Guys On the TeeVee Are All Imbeciles

Point of fact: In the northern parts of this country, it can snow for seven months of the year. Yes, it may be rare to have measurable snow accumulation in New York City in October, but it has happened before.

It snows in the northern part of the country. Get over it.

(Yes, it's snowing here. Mother Nature is giving an early gift to the body shops.)

No Braaiiiins; Walking Dead Edition

I have had it with "the Walking Dead."

Two weeks ago, they were all in the woods searching for a lost little girl. The hero, Rick Grimes, Shane, his cop partner (who was boning Rick's wife when they both thought that Rick was dead) and Rick's kid Carl had split off from the main group to double the chances of finding the girl. But the three of them saw a large buck in the woods. They stopped and Carl tried to sneak up on the buck, which is pretty stupid in and of itself as deers' hooves are sharp and bucks have horns.

While they're wasting time trying to fuck around with a deer instead of, you know, looking for the lost kid (which is what they're supposed to be doing), a hunter on the far side of the deer shot the deer. The bullet went through the deer and hit Carl.

So last week, the hunter, a somewhat fat good-ole-boy named Otis, told Rick and Shane that Otis is staying at a doctor's farm. (The doc is really a large-animal vet, but you can't be too choosey during a Zombie Apocalypse.) Rick ran ahead, carrying Carl, with Otis and Shane bringing up the rear. The doc told them that he needs to operate to get out all of the fragments (he can tell that there are six fragments without taking a X-ray) and that he needs advanced respiratory support stuff to do that. Otis, who is a paramedic and who knows what they need, and Shane went to a school that was a FEMA relief site to get the stuff. Rick stayed behind to give blood to his son.

Shane and Otis got to the school, where they saw the FEMA supply trailers, but there are a shitload of zombies milling around. There were some cop cars there, so Shane snuck out a bunch of flares. Otis and Shane lit the flares and threw them across the parking lot to divert the attention of the zombies. (I'm passing over the fact that the flares they were throwing were the 15-minute burn time flares that you can buy in a hardware store, not the 30-minute flares that every cop car carries in its trunk.)

While the zombies were gawking at the pretty burning flares, Otis and Shane snuck into the supply trailer to get what they need. They found what they needed.

Now comes the point that one might think a rational person might have considered beforehand: Once you gather up the stuff that you need, how the fuck are you going to get out of the trailers with all of those zombies milling around?

Evidently Shane and Otis aren't that smart. So as the episode ends, they are fleeing with a shitload of hungry zombies after them. As well they should, the morons.

I've written before about the stench of paternalism that envelops the show. That grates on me, especially since in the pilot episode, there was no hint of condemnation towards a guy whose wife became a zombie and he can't bring himself to shoot her. But one of the women, who can't be trusted by the menfolk with a gun, was strong enough to cap her sister when she reanimated as a zombie.

I'm done with the show. They can all be eaten by zombies as far as I'm concerned.

Caturday; Solar Power Edition

Gracie is warming herself in the morning sun.

As is George.

There was one comfy chair with the sun shining on it, so they shared the seat.

Jake opted to warm his belly on a heated cat bed.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bombs Away, Las Vegas Edition

I'll bet that this makes the ghouls at Fox News smile:
LAS VEGAS - A group of several dozen “Occupy Las Vegas” protesters camping on Clark County land located under the final approach to Runway 19 at McCarran International Airport today narrowly missed being injured when a 50 lb. slab of “blue ice” reportedly landed within feet of their tents.

According to witnesses, the slab fell to earth seconds after Air Force One passed overhead while landing.

"We Can Win This War If We Invade Cambodia and Take Away Their Safe Havens!"

The parallels just keep on coming!
CBS News correspondent David Martin reports that American outposts on the Afghan side of the border have experienced a dramatic increase in mortar and rocket attacks launched from inside Pakistan.

"The cross border fires this year...are over four times higher than they had been in the past years, so considerably higher," said Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparotti, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Paying Taxes to Your Boss

If you work for some large companies in Illinois, the state is letting some large companies keep the taxes that the employees think that they are paying to the state.

So the taxes that you think are going to fund things like police and roads and libraries and so on are being pocketed by your employer. Which means that everyone else is carrying the burden of those costs.

The only possible way that I know of to get around this would be to submit a W-4 form to your employer with enough deductions that you would have no income tax withheld. Then you're going to have to pay all of your estimated income taxes to the state and to the Feds at lest every three months. If the state then wants to pay the employer that money itself, they can, but at least you won't be paying taxes to your boss to employ you.

Whether that is even legal, well, I don't do tax law.

If the state is going to bribe companies to not relocate, they can at least have the balls to do it outright. Forcing the employees to be unwitting bagmen is fucking evil.

But hey, that's Illinois for you.

Stay Classy, Oakland

So the cops in Oakland apparently shot former Marine Scott Olsen in the head with a tear gas canister, fracturing his skull, and then they tossed a tear gas canister at the people who were aiding him.

Because the cops were content to leave him lying in the street to see whether or not he would die.
Oakland’s police chief says officials are investigating to see whether officers used excessive force.
For "investigation", read "cover-up", for almost all of those things seem to end with a verdict of "use of force was justified." The cops were fifty or seventy-five feet away from Lance Corporal Olsen. Tear gas guns are grenade launchers, they are fired from the shoulder, like a rifle or shotgun. I find it very hard to believe that Olsen was shot "accidentally".

Some cop aimed that grenade at him. If Olsen dies, it's murder by cop. Which means that unless somebody took video of the slaying and posts it on YouTube, nothing will happen.

Wørd; Income Inequality Edition

(From Pearls Before Swine)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jewish Taliban, Cont.

The cops picked up the little thug who is charged with allegedly trying to burn down the house of a guy who didn't go to the local synagogue. Seems that the baby thug was walking around outside of the house that he allegedly tried to torch, which was in violation of a restraining order.

There is a reason why I have this button prominently displayed on my blog:

Of all the evil that people do, the evil that is committed in the name of the Almighty is the most pernicious. If this kid is convicted of the arson and attempted murder charges, may he not see daylight for a very long time.

Yes, Virginia, Republicans Are Idiots

The Republican party is full of ignorant boobs. Is there any question of that?

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This country is so screwed.

Climategate; Cable News Idiots Edition

The study that showed that global warming is real got zero coverage on cable news.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It Might Improve the Field of GOP Presidential Candidates

If Michele Bachmann became a zombie

More here.

Grinding Slowly and Finely; Bankster Edition

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta was indicted on insider trading charges Wednesday, U.S. prosecutors say.

According to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Gupta was charged with six counts of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
Care to bet that Gupta's attorneys will be discussing a deal? Since the same prosecutors convicted a hedge fund billionaire and are seeking to throw him in the Graybar Hilton until 2030, Gupta has to know that those guys aren't just blustering.

So I expect that Gupta is going to be rolling over on other people at the Giant Global Vampire Squid. Ol' "God's Work" Blankfein might have some cause to start taking Ambien at night, for even the cushiest place at Club Fed is no match for a Manhattan penthouse and a home in the Hamptons.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

OWS- Coast to Coast

In Oakland, California, the cops brought the hammer down on the Occupy protests. Given the Oakland police reputation for being trigger-happy, the protestors are probably lucky that they were not shot.

On the other hand, in Albany, NY, despite the bleating of Gov. "One Percent" Cuomo, the D.A. in Albany County has stated that his office isn't going to prosecute people arrested for peaceful protests because the cops have better things to do.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wørd; OWS Edition

demotivational posters - WELL THERE'S YOUR PROBLEM
see more Very Demotivational

Be Careful With Your Debit Card

The crooks are now mounting skimmers on the doors to the ATM kiosks. Then all they have to do is place a micro-camera where it can see the keypad and they can vacuum your bank accounts.
For the time being cops said your best defense is to shield your pin number from view every time you use your debit card.
Ah, no. You'd be better off going to the bank when it is open and withdrawing some walking-around money. Use a credit card or write a check for larger purchases.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

In This Country, the Catholic Church Was Abusing Children.
In Spain, They Were Stealing Children.

The Catholic Church in Spain was actively engaged in stealing babies from mothers that they deemed to be unfit. They started by taking babies from the families of liberals and placing them with fascists. Then they widened that to anyone the Church disapproved of. They told those mothers that their babies had died and they even staged mock funerals and burials.

This went on for over fifty years and over 300,000 babies were stolen away from their mothers. And it should come as no surprise that the Catholic Church made money from the theft of those children.

My father was right when he said, decades ago: "When you believe that G-d is talking to you, you can justify anything you want."

At what point will the world start to realize that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is a criminal enterprise?


Apocalypse Not

Harold Camping's latest once again revised forecast day for the start of the Apocalypse turned out to be wrong.

Can we all agree, now, that all of these self-styled religious prophets are just as bugshit crazy as the guys who walk around cities and babble such nonsense (or those who have shows on Fox News)?

Not With a Bang, But With a Whimper

The Iraq War effectively will be over in two months. Nearly 4,500 American servicemen and women were killed. When you consider closed-brain injuries, possibly well over a hundred thousand were wounded. $800 billion spent so far and the when long-term costs are factored in, this little war will have cost three trillion dollars.

That enumeration, of course, does not count the thousand-plus Americans who were killed while working as everything from trigger-happy mercs to truck drivers. It doesn't include the well over one hundred thousand Iraqis who were killed or the millions who were turned into refugees. For none of that ever mattered a whit to the neo-con chickenhawks.

The whimpering, of course, is coming from Republicans, who wanted President Obama to abrogate Status of Forces Agreement that President Bush signed, which set the withdrawal date. They apparently and oh-so-conveniently forgot that Bush tried to get the Iraqis agree to an open-ended agreement and the Iraqis balked.

Only now has it begun to sink into those addlepated fools that this war removed a regional counterweight to Iran. At a time when American officials flew into Iraq in total secrecy and moved about the country by helicopter, the president of Iran made a well publicized state visit and was driven by motorcade down the "highway of death" to the Green Zone in perfect safety. Even if the Iran-supported Shi'as running the Iraqi government disagreed with Iran, Iraq does not have the military force to counter an invasion force that is much stronger than a battalion of NYPD cops.

Let's sum up what was accomplished by Bush's war: The United States spent (or is on the hook for) three trillion dollars. The U.S. acquired a global reputation as a practitioner of torture, sham trials, long detentions without any sort of due process, and a willingness to throw away its core principles without shame or any sense of hypocrisy. Iran is now the regional heavyweight in the Persian Gulf region.

Mission accomplished, Chimpy.

Caturday, the Movie

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

If You Call Into Talk Radio, Remember to Say Something Nasty About the FBI

Because they will be listening to you.

I know, it's legal. But it is still rather ooky that the Fibbies are listening in.


Ghaddafi is Dead

That is all.

Cain's 9-9-9 Plan; No Wonder the Koch Brothers Love It

Taxes rise for almost everybody, except the ultra-rich, who already are not paying much (on a percentage basis). The graph pretty much speaks for itself, so go look.

(I couldn't get the graph to show properly on my blog, so you'll have to click on the above link. Suffer.)


Maybe Not So Much a Slap on the Wrist

I wrote here that I thought that the NYPD had given Deputy Inspector "Tony Baloney" Bologna a slap on the wrist.

At Why Now, the argument is put forth that Tony Baloney was not just given a slap under the wrist, that he was thrown under the bus:
The NYPD threw him under the bus because the City doesn’t want to be on the hook for the massive civil damages that will follow. The problem for the investigation is that the [official] policy [on the use of force] is actually written down and publicly available, and the other officers present are not going to put their jobs on the line trying to spin what happened when they know that nearly the entire world has seen one or all of the many videos of the incident.
So Tony is now going to be subjected to a plague of lawyers. Seems fitting.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

9-11 and Jet Fuel


(Comments are closed.)

Barely a Slap on the Wrist

Tony Baloney, the Brave Pepper-Sprayer of Defenseless Women, got his punishment: A loss of ten vacation days.

Oooh, that'll learn him, no doubt.

Class Massacre

That has what has been going on for the last forty years: The rich have been pummeling the rest of us. As Dan O'Shea put it:
Yes, there’s been some class warfare going on all right, if you want to call it that. It looks a little bit more like the Mai Lai massacre – the rich machine gunning the poor in the ditches and then whining about how it’s the poor’s fault.
A CEO makes about 475 times as much as his or her workers. In 1970, it was 25 times.

1973 comes across as the Year of the Great Disconnect, the year when workers' pay was decoupled from workers' productivity. Before then, when workers produced more, they were paid more. But since then. the productivity of American workers has nearly tripled, but pay has barely kept pace with the rise in the cost of living. Since 1970, worker's pay has risen 26%

So where has the additional wealth created by workers gone? Into the pockets of CEOs, for one, as executive compensation has more than quadrupled. Into increased corporate profits, for another, which have more than doubled.

But the real story is the point that it is the top-level executives who have robbed the workers and, to some degree, even robbed their own corporations. Oh, they say that the workers also benefit because of their pension plans being tied to corporate profits, but we know that is really a bald-faced lie.

What is the response of the rich and the CEOs? They whine about banking regulations which are preventing them from harvesting even more money from American consumers. They yearn for the day when they could loot a bank, have it fail and it was the workers and middle-class depositors who took the fall by losing their life-savings.

They complain about regulations, which are hindering their efforts to sell untested drugs and dump toxins into the land, the air and the water. They want to go back to the day when they were free to dump their wastes into the lakes and rivers and if your town's drinking water came from those lakes and rivers, well, it sucked to be you. They want to go back to the day when being downwind of a coal-fired power plant meant that if you were close, mercury and other heavy metals rained down on you and if you were further, sulfur dioxide killed the land and lakes.

Shit has to change in this country. It will change. The question is whether the politicians are going to help change things, peacefully, or whether they become some of the first to dangle from the lamp posts.

And if you think I'm cheering on the idea of settling accounts with the banksters and the politicians and yes, their butt-monkeys in the media, maybe just a smidgen. But only a smidgen. For there have been damn few revolutions in human history that didn't end up with things being even worse than they were before the barricades were stormed.

We were lucky in the 18th Century. I doubt that we'd be so lucky the next time around.

The Choices on Greek Debt

This came in a solicitation email from Stratfor.

I'd bet on the "severe" outcome, if I knew anyone who would have two nickels left after this depression subsequently intensifies.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Word, Mein Herr?

The TSA now wants to have a friendly chat with you before you clear interrogation security. And if you don't want to have that friendly chat with the TSA busybody, they'll strip-search your ass subject you to "enhanced security."

Sort of like the way "enhanced interrogation" meant "torture", I gather.

If I owned stock in an airline, any airline, I'd sell it.

How Companies (Like GE and Verizon) Have Raided Their Employees' Pension Funds

Companies have been raiding their pension funds to fund their mergers and to pay for the huge packages for their executives.

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Guillotines, people, guillotines.

"Frothy" Santorum Calls for the Waaaahbulance

Frothy thinks that this comedy sketch constitutes "bullying".

Call 911!

Why the Politicians Work For Those Guys, and Not You.

Any questions?

You Can't Trust Them Jewish Scientists

The government of Texas has removed references to climate change, rising sea levels and loss of wetlands from an environmental report because those references are not politically correct from the GOP point of view.
The scientists who wrote the report are demanding that their names be stricken from the report.

Politics may squash science, but only temporarily. Truth does win. In the meantime, Pick Perry is doing damage to any reputation Texas may have had for being a state where good science is done. Why would any scientist want to work in a state, and especially in a state university system, where the work done by scientists is squeezed through a political filter?

This has been done elsewhere, of course. Which is why when the Soviet Union was making great strides in rocketry, the one thing you never heard of was cutting edge Soviet biological research. There was a reason for that.
In 1940 [Trofin Lysenko] became director of the Institute of Genetics within the USSR's Academy of Sciences, and Lysenko's anti-Mendelian doctrines were further secured in Soviet science and education by the exercise of political influence and power. Scientific dissent from Lysenko's theories of environmentally acquired inheritance was formally outlawed in 1948, and for the next several years opponents were purged from held positions, and many imprisoned.
Lysenkoism spread throughout most of the Soviet scientific community, except for the rocket and nuclear areas. those whose research led them away from the approved thoughts of Lysenko either quit or were arrested. The Soviet scientific community was eviscerated.

Science is fact based. Facts are observed, hypotheses and theories are developed and subjected to continuing factual analysis. If the hypotheses and the theories don't fit the facts, the hypotheses and theories are modified or discarded.

But what politicians do is take their pet theories and discard the facts that are not convenient. When politicians reach into science and apply their "we don't need no stinking facts", the effects can be very damaging.

Texas might be a nice state to live in. But it is becoming clear that only blind adherents of the Christian Taliban will be welcome.

A Soap Opera, Only With Zombies

I watched the second season premiere of the Walking Dead.

Color me: Meh!

The pace of the show is excruciatingly slow. At one point, they are searching for a child who is lost in the woods and the search party spends about a half-hour screwing around in a churchyard. Then a part of the search party sees a deer and they spend time watching it, instead of trying to find the frelling kid who is missing.

The paternalism is a bit much, including a scene that might has well have had the menfolk saying: "You little ladies don't want to be dirtying yourself with guns, so we're not going to give them to you. Even if they were yours."

I might watch one or two more episodes, but to my mind, there are clear indications that the Tentacles of Suck are wrapping themselves around this show and dragging it down.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Some Things Never Change

Bloom County, from a quarter-century ago:

Who Do You Serve, Senators Gillibrand and Schumer?

The banksters believe that you serve them.
[An unnamed bankster said] that he was disappointed that members of Congress from New York, especially Senator Charles E. Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, had not come out swinging for an industry that donates heavily to their campaigns. “They need to understand who their constituency is,” he said.
So if Chuckie does anything of benefit for the other three million New Yorkers who voted for him or if Kirstin does any good for the other 2.8 million who voted for her, that's what, just an accident? A lagniappe? It's just a bonus bit of work that they did as a by-product of serving their true masters, the Banksters of Wall Street?

Charles Schumer and Kirstin Gillibrand: Who do you serve?

(Yes, I know that this post and the previous one were based on items from yesterday's paper.)

Would You Vote For a Catholic Bishop for President?

I bet a lot of people wouldn't. There would be concerns about whether a bishop would be serving the interests of the American people or serving the interests of his church. If a tenet of the Constitution conflicted with a tenet of church doctrine, it would be a concern which he would follow.

So why is it that the GOP is so eager to line up behind a bishop of a different church?
First as bishop of his own congregation, and later as Boston "stake president," overseeing a region akin to a Roman Catholic diocese, [Mitt Romney] operated as clergyman, organization man and defender of the faith, guiding the church through a period of rapid growth.
There is more here. Romney wasn't just your average Mormon, he was what is known as a "Big Mo", a heavy-duty leader in the church. So besides the point that Romney will change his beliefs to whatever it takes to prevail in an election, it is worth asking to whom does he owe his loyalty.

Quote of the Day

Which this time is really from QOTD:
A good prince will tax as lightly as possible those commodities which are used by the poorest members of society: grain, bread, beer, wine, clothing, and all other staples without which human life could not exist. - Desiderius Erasmus, 1466- 1536
By that analysis, the people pushing the UnFairTax, a 30% Federal sales tax on everything (other than shit bought from second-hand stores) and the Koch Brothers latest puppet, Herman Cain, with his 9% Federal sales tax (ditto on what gets taxed), are some of the evilest asshats walking around.

Hours and Types And Stuff Like That There

Ole Phat Stu has suggested that I write a blog post discussing the type ratings that I have and the kinds of airplanes that I've flow.

This is going to be a short post.

I have between 1,000 and 1,500 hours of flying time.* I am rated for single-engine landplanes with a complex/high-performance endorsement in my logs. When the FAA began to require a tailwheel endorsement, I was grandfathered, since I already had time logged. I have never gone for an instrument rating, what with owning an airplane that isn't equipped for it.

I haven't flown a lot of different airplanes. The primary reason is that I have my own aircraft, so I have no need or urge to rent someone else's airplane. The only time I do is when I have a biennial flight review, as finding an instructor who is comfortable flying in a Stinson 108 is a tall order.

So in rough order of time in type (highest to lowest):

Stinson 108-2 (vast majority of my time)
Cessna 150/152
PA-28-151 (Piper Warrior)
Cessna 172
Bellanca Citabria 7ECA
Piper L-4 (militarized Cub)
American Aviation AA-1A
North American Navion

All of my flying time is in airplanes with "steam-gauge" instruments (and, in some cases, damn few of those). I have never flown an airplane with a glass panel.
* No, I am not going to be more specific. Sue me.
** Dual instruction only. I tagged along on a chartered parts flight for a GM plant. The pilot was a CFI; he let me hand-fly most of the trip and he entered the time in my logbook.
*** Dual instruction, I couldn't afford to keep flying it. It was probably the most fun I've had in an airplane.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cain = Moron?

MR. CAIN: I don't think the war in Iraq was a mistake because there were a lot of other reasons we needed to go to Iraq, and there have been a lot of benefits that have come out of Iraq. Now, that being said, I don't agree with the president's approach to drawdown 40,000 troops and basically leave that, leave that country open to attacks by Iran. Iran has already said that they want to wait till America leaves...

MR. GREGORY: So President Cain would want, even beyond the deadline, leave American troops there?

MR. CAIN: I would want to leave American troops there if that was what the commanders on the ground suggested. And I believe that that's what they are saying.
I suppose that nobody bothered to brief the Pizza Guy that the December 31, 2011 deadline for withdrawal from Iraq was a date agreed to between the two countries in 2008 in a written agreement signed by President George W. Bush.

George W. Bush gave this country's word that we would leave Iraq by the end of this year. So either Cain is ignorant of the facts or he believes that this country can abrogate any agreement that if feels like breaking.

Which means that he is a fool and/or his word is worthless.

The Zombies Are Back!

The Walking Dead begins its second season tonight on AMC.

There was a fair amount of turmoil reported among the writing and production staffs, so we'll see how this season will hold up. To my mind, ten months is a hell of long time between seasons, but I'm not in charge of that rodeo, so what the hell do I know.

Real Steampunk

The "Steam Man" from 1868.
Mr. Zadock Deddrick1, a Newark machinist, has invented a man; one that, moved by steam, will perform some of the most important functions of humanity; that will, standing upright, walk or run as he is bid, in any direction, and at almost any rate of speed, drawing after him a load whose weight would tax the strength of three draught horses.
The idea seems that by making a roadable steam engine in the appearance of a man, that horses would not be unduly frightened.

Another inventor tried thirty years later, with no success.

An 1865 novel about a steam man is available at Project Gutenberg.

Ya, Sure, You're Not Cross-Dressing, Guys.
Good Luck With That Line.

Men who go out clubbing wearing heels.

Look, guys, unless you're dressed like one of the Three Musketeers and you're also wearing a rapier, then you might as well wear a tutu and a tiara: If you're wearing heels, you're cross-dressing.

Criminey, It's Two O'Clock in the Frelling Morning!

Ack! Ack! Ack! BLAAAAARRGH!--{Splat!}
I need coffee....

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Yet Still Another War?

President Barack Obama is sending about 100 U.S. troops to Africa to help hunt down the leaders of the notoriously violent Lord's Resistance Army in and around Uganda.
The LRA is probably, man for man, one of the most brutal group of armed thugs in the world. They use rape (including raping very young girls) and maiming as terror tools. The world will be a better place if the LRA were all slain.

But one has to wonder what the plan is. George W. Bush tried this with fewer people and failed. If 100 advisers are not enough to make a dent in the LRA, then what? Are we going to deploy armed drones to central Africa?


Jay and Jennifer want to know, what's your first car?
So here's the meme. Long answers or short.

1. What was your first car? Model, year, color, condition?
2. What adventures did you have in it, good or bad?
3. What happened to it, what's the end of the story?

It was a 1972 Mazda RX-2, blue, 4-door though not as nice looking as this one:

My parents bought the car because with young drivers in the family, they were tired of replacing clutches. They gave it to me in `78. By then it had 76,000 miles on it and the seals on the Wankel engine were beginning to fail. It would often take a solid minute of cranking the starter to get the engine to fire and the resultant flames out of the exhaust pipe were impressive. I soon coughed up $600 for a replacement engine. The air conditioning switch failed, but I pulled out the wires and soldered in a toggle switch. Looked ugly as hell.

I once beat a kid who had a 327 Chevy in a drag race at a stoplight in South Carolina. He was probably joking when he challenged me. I did know that the car started to feel unstable above 105mph, but I still beat him to the next light.

The real drawback of the car was that it was a subcompact which barely got 17mpg. Between `72, when my parents purchased the car and `81, the price of gas nearly quadrupled and there had been two oil shortages where having to fill up regularly was more than a matter of how much gasoline cost. In 1981, my Mazda had about 100,000 miles on it, body rust was apparent and the transmission was making unhappy sounds. I traded it in on a `81 GLC which got nearly twice the gas mileage but was nowhere near as much fun to drive.

(My GLC was a bit of a lemon, enough so that just under five years later, it was history.)

Seal Beach Asswipe

As you no doubt know by now, the Asswipe of Seal Beach was in a child custody battle with his ex-wife. So, doing what enraged men occasionally do to try to resolve such a situation, he drove to her place of employment and shot her to death, along with seven other people. Then he surrendered peacefully, rather than doing the right thing and putting a round into his worthless brain.

The defense is going to argue that he was insane. As I understand it, California follows the M'Naughten Rule, which holds that a person is insane if he cannot distinguish between right and wrong or that he didn't understand the nature of his act. Good luck with that one. Asswipe wrapped himself in body armor, so it's going to be hard, in my view, to argue that he didn't know the nature of his act. And good luck arguing that he didn't understand it was wrong to walk into a beauty salon and gun down eight people. They'd have to dig up the mouldering corpse of Johnnie Motherfucking Cochran to argue that one and I don't know if even he could do it.

Second, Asswipe was under a restraining order barring him from possessing firearms. By holding onto those guns, Asswipe violated Federal and state law. They might be able to send him away for a long time based on that, alone. But that's the thing about laws, the cops can't be everywhere and if someone wants to break the law, mostly the cops are cleaning-up after the fact.

Third, the ex-wife, Michelle Fornier, expected Asswipe to try to kill her. It is impossible to say whether she would have chosen to arm herself, but the truth of the matter is that in California, that option is generally not legally available.

California has issued 33,000 concealed carry permits. Ohio has issued over a quarter-million since 2004 and has just over a third of the population of California. Connecticut, a tiny state, has issued concealed carry permits long before the modern movement to liberalize concealed carry; they number them sequentially, and they've issued close to a million of them. It'd be a fair bet that at least 100,000 or 200,000 of them are active in a state of just over two million adults. The state isn't exactly awash with rivers of blood.*

Finally, now to a point that I've seen made elsewhere and it is, to my mind, irrelevant: The political leanings of Asswipe.

In this photo, the police are searching Asswipe's truck:

This is an enlargement of the license plate frame on the truck:

It would be easy to argue that this guy exemplified the stereotypical image of a Tea partier as "an angry white male with guns", but that would be an oversimplification. When it comes to rhetoric about guns, the vast majority of the Teabaggers are blowhards. Those angry white guys are about as likely to go shoot someone as they would be to go suck off George Clooney. The Tea party has not descended into egging on murder, at least, not yet.** So, in my opinion, trying to link the Tea party to this Asswipe is a low blow.***
* That doesn't stop the chiefs of police or the gun control advocates from issuing their dire predictions every time the issue comes up in a state that is contemplating liberalizing their gun laws.
** The difference between the Tea party and the anti-choice people is that the Tea party isn't winking at acts of violence. The anti-abortion fanatics do, by contrast, encourage their less-than-stable supporters to go commit acts of murder.
*** If the situation was reversed, you can bet good money that the Wingnuts would be trying to link Asswipe to Occupy Wall Street.


Rocky is taking his ease on a couch. He is Gracie's younger half-brother.

Bella is on duty monitoring those evil chipmunks.

Grace is on a heated cat bed. She won't use it in the Summer, but once Fall sets in, she can often be found on one.

Friday, October 14, 2011

About Time!

Catholic Bishop Robert W. Finn and the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph have been indicted by a grand jury on a charge of failure to report suspected child abuse by a priest, prosecutors said Friday in Missouri.

The class A misdemeanor carries a potential sentence of up to a year in jail and a fine up to $1,000 for Finn, 58, and a fine for the diocese, said Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker. Both pleaded not guilty Friday
As long as all it cost them was some cash, they had very little reason not to do what they had been doing for decades: Cover this shit up, move the pedophiles around and hope that they wouldn't get caught. And if it came to light, the lawyers could drag it out for years before they'd have to cut a check.

Maybe a few perp-walks will catch their attention. Maybe the sight of a few bishops having their mug shots taken will shake them a little.

Pity the Poor Traders on Wall Street

They're whining about only making $500,000 a year.

Look at this graph:

The average pay on Wall Street is over $360,000 a year. The average private sector job in New York City pays $66,000. That's averaging in everyone from a janitor to the corporate executives headquartered in NYC, so it's a safe bet that the majority of the private sector workers aren't pulling in $66K a year.

(We really do need to start up the guillotine factory.)

In a Just World, These People Would Be Hunted Down and Shot Like the Rats That They Are

"Medical supply" companies that buy up stocks of scarce drugs and then resell them for hundreds of times of what the list price was for the drug.

Those speculators are simply evil.


From Abstruse Goose:

You should see the original here to read the mouse-over text.*
* The original saying has been attributed to Henry Ford, but no direct evidence of that apparently exists.

Now It's "Grenade Walker"

The Justice Department knew that a man was smuggling grenade parts into Mexico, but they let him go, twice, because "grenades are novelty items".

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Forget About Steve Jobs

Dennis Richie has died. He created the C programming language and he was a co-creator of Unix.


That's what detectives in the NYPD have been doing: Grabbing people, planting drugs on them and then framing them on drug charges.

The Iranian Assassination Plot

I've read some of the coverage on the plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador and it does not pass the smell test for me.

The Iranians are no strangers at carrying out assassinations, with or without explosives. They are not amateurs. This plot, though, on the other hand, has all of the hallmarks of a bunch of al Qaeda wannabees who couldn't wipe their asses without technical help from the FBI.

The bit about hiring a killer from a Mexican drug cartel makes zero sense. The cartels know full well what can happen when they attract undue attention from the Americans, which was demonstrated after the murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena. They don't want that sort of attention.

Further, the idea that the Iranians are going to trust a bunch of criminals is the stuff of fiction. The Iranians know that a band of criminals cannot be trusted, for they are in it for the money alone and in any sizable group of organized criminals, there are going to be informants. The Feds would pay a very large amount of money to an informant who ratted out such a plot.

It is more likely, to my mind, that this so-called Iranian plot is a "false flag" operation.

I'm not saying that there is nothing there. But there needs to be some serious substantiation before I'll buy the story that AG Holder is peddling. For right now, if this plot were the premise of a movie, I'd not watch it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Spike in the Polls for the President?

President's Approval Rating Soars After Punching Wall Street Banker in Face

WSJ- A Once Decent Newspaper

Now a Murdoch-owned piece of shit, they've been caught rigging their circulation figures and running favorable stories about one of the companies that was helping the WSJ to artificially inflate its circulation numbers.

Apparently somebody in the WSJ found out about it and alerted upper management and was almost immediately fired.

Career Limiting Move

A really good career-limiting move, especially in the military, is for your command to have a problem and your bass has to read about it in the press (dead-tree or on-line).

Which is how the Air Force brass found out about a keylogger virus that has infected their drone control systems.

Somebody's head's gonna roll for that alone.

Bank Transfer Day

November 5th. There is a Facebook page. The idea is to take your money out of Bank of America, Chase Bank, Citibank, Wells Fargo (among others) and deposit it in credit unions (or local banks). The Fifth of November was chosen to match up with Guy Fawkes's Day, but hell, there is no reason to wait.

Vote with your feet and your wallets. Fuck those guys, move your money!

There is the funny thing: One of the big winners in this will probably be USAA, for they offer free checking, free debit cards and free use of any ATM, up to ten times a month.

What's funny is that USAA started out as the United Services Automobile Association, an auto insurance company for military officers, retirees and their families. (I've been a member for decades.) USAA then expanded into financial services and for that, they'll serve anyone. For car insurance, you still have had to have some tie to the armed forces, though it's no longer limited to offices.

So it's pretty safe to assume that finding a Democrat in the upper management of USAA would be a rare event. And it's not exactly conservatives that are going to push the "Fuck the Banks" movement.


Hell, I'd Vote For Her


UPDATE: From the comments, what she really said:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Reason #17,357 Why We Should Guillotine All of the Banksters

Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) will pay $11 million to ousted executives Joe Price and Sallie Krawcheck, a large payout at a time when banks face protests over pay but smaller than the eight-figure packages some executives received before the financial crisis.

Krawcheck -- a former Citigroup Inc (C.N) executive who came to Bank of America in 2009 and was one of the top-ranking women on Wall Street -- will receive a one-time payment of $5.15 million, according to separation agreements filed by the bank on Friday.

Price, a Bank of America veteran, gets $4.15 million. Each will also receive $850,000 over a one-year period.
And that is why we hate your guts, as was so eloquently explained here. One clown comes to work for BofA, stays there for two years and walks away with severance pay of over five million clams? Shit fire, even at a generous company, the severance for two years of service might have been four weeks of pay.

This is what the plutocrats have yet to understand: People are becoming fed up. People are realizing that the game is rigged. The Federal government stepped in to bail out the banks, who have, in turn, done nothing other than turn the screws down tighter on Americans. The banks have done little to remedy their fuckery during the mortgage mess, other than trying to back-date and forge documents.

The banks got bailed out. They repaid the bail-out money with other money that they borrowed from the Federal government-- money to help homeowners and businesses. The banks have done nothing to help anyone, only themselves.

Wall Street is, itself, rigged by large institutions, including the banks, trading by computer. They have orchestrated massive swings of the market by sending in huge trade orders and then canceling them. The banks and the big brokerages make a shitload of money, but any schlub trying to trade for himself is hopelessly behind the times. Not that any of this is really new, that's pretty much was Enron did to screw all of the utility customers out west ten years ago.

It is starting to sink in, slowly, that the plutocracy has enriched itself at the expense of the poor and the middle class. It is starting to sink in that is why the middle class has pretty much been going in slow reverse for the last forty years.

Slowly, people are starting to call "bullshit" on the rich. When someone like Mitt Romney sets up a group that takes over companies, runs them into the ground, strips the assets, fires the workers and then sets up factories in China, they are not "job-creators". They are pirates.

Their role in the American economy is not defensible. That's why they have stooges like Eric Cantor, who loved the Tea Party demonstrations, calling the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations as "mobs". They have to throw words around like "communist" and "socialist", because they cannot honestly and morally defend what they have done to this country.

But Michael Bloomberg has finally wised up and he has come to realize that trying to put down the Occupy Wall Street demonstration won't work. (By the way, don't be fooled by what Bloomberg says about tolerating protests, for he was the mayor when the NYPD was conducting mass arrests of innocent pedestrians during the 2004 GOP convention.)

Here is your choice, pirates/plutocrats: You can use the protests as a reason to enter into a discussion, now, and talk about giving back some of what you have looted. You can admit that it really isn't fair that hedge fund bosses get taxed at 15%. You can come to the realization that maybe Muffy and Biff and Paris and the other trust fund babies also should pay more in taxes.

You can stop treating your fellow citizens as if they were cattle to be slaughtered for your table. You can stop shuttering American factories and stop throwing hundreds of thousands of good people out of work, only so you can increase your profit from 12% to 18%. You can stop giving the CEOs who fire thousands of people huge bonuses. Crimus, how much more money do you need?

Or you can do what you have been doing: Get your butt-monkeys on Capitol Hill and on Fox News and on Meet the Press to continue to vilify the poor and the middle class and the rest of the 99% in this country. You can try to do that and the anger will continue to build. It will get to the point that the pirates/plutocrats who enrichen themselves by slashing the jobs and pay of thousands of Americans and who have hollowed out American industry in the race for even more wealth will come to be seen as being merely selfishly greedy and treacherously unpatriotic.

And then we shall see.

Wrong Again, Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown announced early Monday that he had outlawed the open carrying of handguns in public in California, a controversial practice that top law enforcement officials had denounced as dangerous.
"I listened to the California police chiefs," Brown said in a statement.
Bad move, Jerry, you gutless weasel.

Police chiefs are the wrong people to listen to on almost any subject that I can think of. Police chiefs, especially large city chiefs, are about as solid an anti-freedom, anti-liberty and pro-statist group that exists.

Police chiefs have fought every concealed-carry bill that I know of. Police chiefs would happily see a law passed that would nullify the Fourth Amendment.

Piles and Piles and Piles of Cash; Why Things Won't Get Any Better

The banksters are sitting on huge piles of cash. Over a trillion dollars worth.

That's cash that could be used to grow the economy by financing industrial expansion. That's cash that they got from us for economic development and they are not lending it out. They are just sitting on it. Because at nearly 0.00% interest, it costs them nothing to hold it.

The economy is stalled and the banksters are a significant reason why it is stalled.


Speaking of trillions of dollars pounded down rat holes, one of the results of Bush's "Remake Iraq Project" has been to create a state that is cozying up with brutal dictators who have a penchant for slaughtering their own people.
More than six months after the start of the Syrian uprising, Iraq is offering key moral and financial support to the country’s embattled president, undermining a central U.S. policy objective and raising fresh concerns that Iraq is drifting further into the orbit of an American arch rival — Iran.
Mission accomplished, O Dorquemada!

OWS: Better Reporting Than You'll See in the NYT

There is a bit of self-congratulation in this piece, but it's merited, as the writer did far better work on the OWS protests than any of the newspaper stories that I've seen.

Elsewhere, Robert Samuelson has a "pity the poor rich" piece in the Washington Post, which is worth reading for laughs. It's a fine example of how to fudge with statistics, for he parrots the line that "the rich pay a lot of taxes." Yeah, so what? Let's look at that, shall we?

A hedge fund operator who takes home a billion a year is taxed at fifteen percent, because they construe it as "income on long-term investments", not pay. Yes, 15% of a billion is a lot of money, $150 million. But if that were taxed as wages, even at the current low tax rate for the rich, he'd have to pay $350 million. At fifteen percent, he's paying less taxes, as a percentage of income, than somebody who makes $36,000.

It's not the amount that's important, it's the percentage. Say Mr. Hedge Fund buys a sports car and goes speeding down the highway, and does 90mph in a 65mph zone. Between the fine and court costs, that'll run him maybe $350, plus his insurance will go up because he'll lose his "safe driver" discount.

$350 is probably a lot of money for you. It is for me. But for Mr. Hedge Fund, hell, $350 probably doesn't cover his wine bill for dinner. His bookkeeper will probably write the check after Hedgy throws the ticket at her and tells her to pay it.

Now say that the speeding fines were based on income, and say that you made $35,000 last year. Let's set the fine for driving at 25mph over the limit at 1% of income. You get dinged for going 90 in a 65 zone, you'll pay $350. Still hurts, right? That ticket would cost ol' Hedgy ten million bucks.

Care to bet that now he'll pay close attention to his speed?

This is why the apologists for the wealthy, like Samuelson, are so wrong. It's not the amount that matters, it's the percentage. And when the rich are paying less, as a percentage of their income, than secretaries and truck drivers, something is seriously wrong with the tax code.

Update: Got a mention in memorandum. I think that's a first for this blog.

Learn How to Shoot a Rifle in NYC!

The Appleseed Project is conducting two rifle training sessions, right in Manhattan, on Nov. 11-12 and Dec 9-10. If you live in NYC and you've never ever even touched a gun in your life, you might want to check it out. You could have a lot of fun.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Another Sign for Occupy Wall Street

Barry's Unique Re-Election Strategy: Piss Off Everybody!

This is a fine example of that at work:
Declaring that California's medical marijuana law "has been hijacked by profiteers," U.S. prosecutors announced charges Friday against dispensaries, growers and financial speculators throughout the state's medicinal pot market.
I doubt that if you took all of the people in California who were both eager to see a crackdown on the medical marijuana trade and who were political supporters of the President, you couldn't find enough people to fill out a decent poker game.

This whole mess is a prime example of a lesson that should have been learned in this country eighty fucking years ago: Prohibition does not work. You cannot legislate morality, you cannot pass a law to make people better.

But this isn't going to change. The cops are addicted to drug money. The private prison industry cannot survive without the convicts generated by the illicit drug trade.

Yet, 40 years after Felonious Dick declared his "War on Drugs", pot is available everywhere. We have proven that we are far more blind to reality than the wets ever were and far stupider than we were in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

UPDATE: He could also cut all of this shit and not lose a single vote.

Occupy Wall Street; The Sign I'd Like to See Edition

The Guillotines of Liberty Must Be Lubricated With the Blood of the Plutocracy!

Any questions?

This Has Been a Gorgeous Weekend

The weather has been as perfect as it can be. Nice cool nights, bright sun, not a cloud in the sky.

And, [sob} my airplane is sitting on the ground at Ye Olde Aerodrome, awaiting parts.

Yes, I know: Read the top quote below the blog photo.

Still sucks. Big time.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

It's Not Just a Bunch of Hipsters

Just 26 percent of Americans in an April 2011 Harris poll thought the people working on Wall Street were "as honest and moral as other people" (for a point of comparison, the percentage was 51 in 1997). In that same poll, 67 percent of Americans agreed that "most people on Wall Street would be willing to break the law if they believed they could make a lot of money and get away with it.
And the "no confidence" numbers for the banksters are now over 40%. About as many people have a lot of confidence in the banksters as have confidence in Congress.

Right now, I would be willing to bet that more people trusted the Syndicate than they now do Wall Street. For one thing, you knew, going in, that mobsters were crooks.



Gracie is lying inside a paper grocery bag.

Jake opted for a heated cat bed. You can see the white power cord going over the chair behind his back.

George is imitating a furry pillow. He's recovering from a urinary tract infection, so his perkiness quotient is down a little.

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's Not So Much Fun When the Shoe Is On the Other Foot, Eric, Me Boy?

Eric Cantor is denouncing the "Occupy Wall Street" protests.

I don't remember him denouncing the Tea Party protests. Do you?

Do you remember Cantor any expressing alarm at the Teabaggers who were prattling on about "ballot box today, cartridge box tomorrow"? Me, neither.

But when the protests are aimed at the people who have been free-riding on the tax code, boy, Cantor gets all kinds of upset.

And Flip-Flop Mitt, fresh off approving construction plans for his new 11,000 square foot oceanfront mansion in California, threw out the old "class warfare" canard.

Whinging Corporation Threatens Lawsuit If They Are Not Allowed to Frell Up Tens of Millions of GPS Receivers

That's the basic threat of a legalistic extortion letter that LightSquared sent to the FCC. Because how can it possible that the users of a few billions of dollars of GPS receivers would not mind their navigation units being crippled so that some greedy corporation can make boatloads of money? Wouldn't all those pilots, motorists, farmers, surveyors, mariners, hikers, cops, firemen, EMS workers be grateful to have to go buy new GPS devices so a company can make more money? How dare the FCC look out for the public interest over a corporation?

(This is what is going on.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dear Bank of America: No, You Do Not "Have a Right to Make a Profit."

Bank of America's CEO defended his bank's new $5 fee on debit cards on Wednesday, saying that customers and shareholders understand the bank has a "right to make a profit."
There is no "right" to make a profit for any business, large or small. Just like there is no "right to happiness".

What there is, however, is a right to try and make a profit. There is no guarantee and that is why businesses, large and small, come and go.

This is no small distinction. But it is symptomatic of the sheer arrogance of the banksters, that they presume that they have a right to make money.

The government made money available to banks for the purpose of making loans to small businesses. The banksters took that money and, instead of making those loans, used taxpayer money to pay off the TARP loans. Yes, that's correct, those greasy fuckers used taxpayer money to repay the Treasury.

But Our Esteemed President says that the banksters have not done anything wrong. Really. They set up an entire cottage industry to produce "NINA loans" and "liar loans", with the full connivance of the banksters, and they did nothing wrong? They bundled those crappy loans into "securities", sold those trash securities with a AAA rating and, at the same time that they were telling their investors what a safe investment they were, they shorted them, which is betting that they'd fail, and they did nothing wrong?

What the unholy fuck is wrong with you, Barry? Does Brian Moynihan (CEO of Bank of America) have to strangle his mistress in the Oval Office in order for you to believe that maybe, just maybe, a bankster has committed a crime or two?

One Republican's Idea For Creating Jobs

It is, and I shit you not: Bring back dwarf-tossing.

Indeed. The Leave No Dwarf Untossed Act. That'll cure the nation's unemployment problem, all right.

In other news, comedians across the country are mourning that Sarah Palin has decided to quit early and not to run for the Presidency. Probably because it would take too much of her time to read all of the newspapers every day.

Bus for Sale:
No reasonable offer refused.
Contact BibleSpicePac for details

The Greek Economy Is Going Down the Drain, No?

So why is the Greek Army buying 400 Abrams tanks?

Will the Pentagon also sell tanks to the NYPD?

When It Comes to Shirts, "White" Is the New "Brown" in New York City

Pegging the Irony Meter; Steve Jobs Edition


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

This Is Indeed What the GOP Wants To See

A 96 year old woman being turned away from the polling place because she doesn't have a driver's license.

This is exactly what the GOP wants to see happen. They want to see voters being turned away from the polls. Stories like this just cheer the withered hearts and blasted souls of GOP political operatives.

The Republican party is about as despicable as they come.

(H/T from somewhere)

No Fucking Shit, Sherlock; Economics Edition

The medicine being used to cure the financial contagion spreading throughout Europe is killing the patient.

For nearly two years, the richer countries of the region have pressed harder for spending cuts and tax hikes from poorer countries like Greece, already struggling under a crushing debt accumulated when the global economy was booming.

Those measures have sent the entire euro zone sliding into recession, pushing Greece’s neighbors closer to default and European banks that are holding that shaky debt closer to insolvency.
Government austerity when the economy is spiraling down is like trying to stave off starvation by going on a strict diet. It's sort of like the old joke that "our congregation is so poor that our rabbi would starve to death if he didn't fast every third day."

Elsewhere in the world, Russia and China stood up for the right of a brutal dictator to use his army to massacre his own people. Because they may feel the need to do the same thing.

The Over-Reach of the Moral Absolutists

I have been watching Ken Burns's new documentary on Prohibition. One lesson that struck me was that Prohibition was a classic case of over-reaching by moralists.

Alcohol consumption was a serious problem in this country. But the moralists took the position that they could just ban alcohol and everyone would fall into line. They were so wrong.

But what if they had not been so absolute. The 18th Amendment prohibited the manufacture and sale of intoxicating beverages. The Volstead Act wrote that into law as anything over 0.5% alcohol. But what if they had written the Volstead Act, from the start, to only outlaw hard liquor? What if they had continued to make the sale of beer and wine legal?

I imagine if they had, that Prohibition would still be with us, in some form or another. The 18th Amendment might have hung on, at least for many more years.

But there is still the point of Prohibition, which was that the 18th Amendment was the only amendment to the Constitution that limited freedom. It was a flat-out failure. But that doesn't stop the moralists from proposing other amendments to force people to live the way that the moralists demand. A wise man said it far better (paraphrasing slightly):
They keep swinging back to the belief that they can make people... better. And I do not hold to that.
But they keep trying. Whether it is the tighty-righty's moves to make sure that nobody in the military has access to porn or the PTC's campaign to make sure nobody says anything remotely foul on television, or trying to force people to attend church, they keep trying to make people "better", as if that'll ever work.

They need to be fought, at every turn. Who the hell do they think they are to tell me what to do? Who the hell do they think they are to tell me who I can marry and who I cannot? Why the hell do they say that it is OK to ruin my body with alcohol, but not with marijuana?

The moralists raised the age of eligibility to buy and consume alcohol in the 1990s, after the "old enough to get drafted, old enough to drink" sentiment wore off. They made having a trace of alcohol in one's blood a crime. But did that slow down drinking by 18-21 year olds? Not in the least and, because drinking is illegal, it encouraged binge drinking. Hell, if you're going to drink and break the law, why not just go get hammered? And kids do.

Let's look at marijuana: Where, in this country, can you not find a place to buy reefer? You can probably find a seller in the Capitol building. For certain, you can buy it on every damn college and high school campus in this country. The only thing that the War on Drugs has done is to make selling weed profitable for organized crime. I submit, Gentle Reader, that if marijuana was made legal that there likely would be fewer users than there are today. Because then, the allure, mystique and romance of doing something that is illegal would be lifted.

The moralists, by using the law to try to force people to conform to their beliefs of how people should conduct their lives, undercut respect for the rule of law. The kids who were drinking and smoking weed, in contravention of the law, grow up to become hedge-fund traders and banksters who are not going to obey the law about ethics or insider trading or such. They learned, early on, that the law is can be stupid and they see nothing wrong with breaking the law.

We've reaping the result.