Monday, February 23, 2015

The Unreal American

Pundit Glenn Harlen Reynolds loves this country or, more accurately, loves to fuck with this country. He love this country so much he wants to scrap the constitution and write a new one. He believes the biggest problem facing the United States is that the majority of Americans don't think exactly like him.
Glenn Reynolds manifesto.

He's come up with a solution which I'm certain he will write into his new, improved constitution. Require people pass a Patriotism Test before they are allowed to vote. He contends that Obama was elected president by unpatriotic citizens. His solution to prevent such a horror from ever reoccurring is to prevent unpatriotic Americans from voting at all.

He references a work of fiction where "the right to vote came only after some kind of dangerous public service." Oddly, by this rule Reynold himself would be disenfranchised as in his life he has never served the public in any way, dangerous or passive. So, I suspect when Reynolds writes that constitutional clause he will use the 1918 Soviet Union constitution as a template. In that constitution, only members of the Communist Party were allowed to vote, thereby excluding unpatriotic democrats. 

At the risk of giving Reynolds ideas, he might find subsequent versions of the Soviet constitution more to his liking. They granted universal suffrage but all candidates had to be nominated from patriotic branches of the Communist Party. This insured that no matter how unpatriotic the electorate was they were required to elect only Communist patriots.  I'm sure Reynolds could draft a text that requires all nominees be approved by the Tea Party.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sign of Spring

I don't care if the snow is piled higher than an elephant's eye in Boston. Spring has sprung in drought torn California.
Just load it on a train and send it west, California will take all the snow you have.

Really, we'll take every flake.
The Sierra Nevada snowpack is so thick you can shovel it with a teaspoon.
There is another traditional sign of Spring, too.

The first Republican urging dropping nuclear bombs on someone.  Just like the swallows returning to Capistrano, you know its Spring when Republicans emerge from their Winter homes to declare the desperate need to nuke somebody. From Douglas MacArthur in Korea to Curtis LeMay in Vietnam, Republicans have always seen Spring as the season to allow a hundred mushroom clouds to bloom. Last year, the goal was nuking Iran. This year, the call is to nuke Iraq (like we haven't done enough to that country). Next year, who knows? It is one of the mysteries of the season.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Looking Into a Republican Soul

Republicans have a clear moral compass when choosing their political heroes. They love...

Candidates dumber than a kumquat as long as they act on their hatred of higher education.
Higher IQ and more Vitamin C than Scott Walker
 Judges with total contempt for courts, other judges, and the law particularly when that contempt is used to attack people they hate.

Politicians who believe it is better to die quickly in abject poverty than to live with disabilities.

Candidates incapable of hire a competent campaign staff because than means they will be great presidents.
There's a reason all the "smart money" is going to Jeb.

Judges who believe that innocence is no defense and that there is nothing unconstitutional about executing an innocent man.

Politicians who believe the earth is 6000 years old because that means they are gullible enough to swallow anything lobbyists tell them.

Candidates who believe that people would rather have no health insurance at all than have the chance to buy affordable health care.
Rotting, diseased flesh is the smell of freedom.
Anyone who shoots an unarmed black youth.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Congressional Medal of Honor: Movie Division

One of the funniest things this month is the movement to award the nation's highest award for valor to Chris Kyle because his "life" was the subject of a movie. The medal criteria, "distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty," is extreme and there is no evidence that Kyle ever met any of those criteria.

Snipers are not conspicuous. They hunt their prey steathfully from great distances and the only ones who have even put their lives at risk did so because they are bad at their job. All accounts are that Kyle was a very good sniper, meaning he was not a gallant risk-taker.

However, if we are going to start awarding medals to characters in movies, there are several who should be in line ahead of Kyle.

Capt. Nathan Brittles - She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)
At great personal risk he entered the enemy camp to negotiate peace. When that failed he personally lead a raid to scatter the enemy's horses thereby preventing further hostilities and lose of life.

Capt. Webb Sloane - Prisoner of War (1954)
Finally giving Ronald Reagan the Medal of Honor conservatives believe he so richly deserves. At great personal risk, Capt. Sloane goes undercover as a POW during the Korean War to uncover harsh treatment given prisoners like waterboarding, mock executions, and other tortures. One of the worst movies of the 1950's.

Captain John H. Miller - Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Gallantly risk the lives of an entire squad of soldiers in an insane search for one soldier missing in action among the 1.3 million Allied soldiers involved in the Normandy invasion. Most of the squad dies heroically.

Query: What is it about movies that most of the heroic soldiers are captains?

Monday, February 02, 2015

Groundhog Day - a History

This February celebration began as a pagan holiday when people ran around naked to urge an early end to winter. It's got more boring with time.

Lupercalia
The earliest celebrations were called Februa and later Lupercalia.  Februa was when the shepherds would give themselves their first real baths of the year. Getting naked for washing in a purification ritual just sort of naturally evolved into a randy party in honor of that randy god, Pan. The Romans added a reference to the cave Lupercal where a wolf had raised Romulus and Remus but kept the party atmosphere dressed only in a goatskin loincloth.

Candlemas
As always, when Christians came to power they saw a popular holiday where everybody had fun and they hated it. But, Romans were used to a purification celebration in early February so early Christians simply rebranded it. They chose an obscure biblical event when a priest and a prophetess spotted the baby Jesus and recognized him as the Messiah and applied it to February 2. They kept the purification theme but replaced the loinclothes with candles (not like that, you pervert). Dancing about nearly naked was replaced with slowly walking around, fully clothed, holding candles in solemn reverence.

Groundhog Day
In the cold of Northern Europe, February 2 was also the traditional day when bears and other hibernating mammals, like groundhogs, would rouse themselves from their winter's sleep to take a look around. If it was bright and sunny (and cold) they'd conclude that winter wasn't through and go back to bed for a brief, six week, nap. If, however, it was miserable and raining they knew that the snow was done for the season and it was time to get up. When Christianity came to Germany they never could reconcile parading around with candles and the cold, furry animal tradition. Candlemas became a forgotten holy day in the Protestant calendar while the Germanic tradition lived on as Groundhog Day.

Then Bill Murray made the perfect movie and time stopped.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Indiana Creates Propaganda Ministry

State run media is the hallmark of an unfree state. In Iran the state run new outlet is called IRIB. In China, the People's Daily tells the people what the government wants them to know. The old Soviet Union had Pravda while Nazi Germany had Der Stürmer.
Now, the Great State of Indiana has joined these illustrious news organizations with Just IN.
Just IN will use taxpayers money to build a propaganda machine to compete with legitimate news outlets. Just IN promises "exclusive" content unavailable from regular news outlets, meaning they will be withholding information and only offer officially filtered versions of news. State officials will no longer have to submit to interviews with journalists. All "interviews" can now be done by the state news agency asking only those questions the state wants asked and never embarrassing state officials with pesky facts.

In the future, Indiana will be a state where the "nattering nebobs of negativism" will be silenced and only the "good news" of the glorious state will be heard.  Republican Governor Mike Pence is proud of his creation designed to control the flow of information for the betterment of the Party.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Most Expensive Weapons Ever

We've already seen that cheap weapons can be effective. But the United States doesn't believe in that. The US military, seduced as they are by defense contractors prostitutes, believes that no weapon is too expensive - the costlier the better.
Zumwalt destroyer, more modern art than warship
 1. Joint Strike Fighter (F-35)
As mentioned, the R&D alone exceeds the GNP of Colombia, over $400 billion. That's enough money to run the entire New York City education system for sixteen years. What do we get for all this money? The range is 30% less that the F-18 it replaces. It is more dangerous to land on carriers. It is faster than the F-18 -- nine MPH faster which for a supersonic aircraft is a very tiny drop in a very big bucket. And its fancy and expensive stealth technology and computer systems are totally useless against low-tech opponents like ISIS and al-Qaeda.

2. Virginia Class Submarine
Each one of these boats costs $2.4 billion, that enough to fund two months of the Federal School Lunch Program. These are anti-submarine attack subs. The last time the US has fought a war where it used attack subs was the Korean War. The last time anywhere in the world submarines were used in combat was the Falklands War of 1982. Which is more important, feeding children or building boats that serve absolutely no useful function?

3. Ford Class Supercarrier
The most expensive single weapon in the US arsenal. Each one costs $13 billion plus another $100 million a year just to keep these boats afloat. Each one costs the entire budget for the state of Utah. These mobile landing strips have been used a lot as America fights its colonial wars far from its own shores.

4. Zumwalt-class destroyer
Cheap, by US standards at only $3.4 billion each, enough to pay for the entire education system in the state of Idaho. The Zumwalt is a strange looking stealth boat that is significant for being totally useless. It is designed for shore bombardment but, unlike the battleships of bygone years, the Zumwalt is a delicate butterfly of a ship unsuited for combat conditions.