Monday, November 30, 2009

Three Truisms

  1. There is a big difference between being smart and being wise. Larry Summers, Director of the National Economic Council, former Secretary of the Treasury, former President of Harvard, is smart. As they say, he is crazy smart. When it comes to being wise, however, Summers is amazingly stupid. I could fill a book with all of the stupid that is Larry Summers.
  2. To Christians nothing matters but faith. Take, for example, a vicious man like Maurice Clemmons methodically working his way up the criminal ladder when he is waylaid by a shitload of prison time (95 years) in Arkansas. While Maurice might have been savage in his chosen profession he was also a devout Christian. That Christian stuff was all Mike Huckabee needed to know to free Maurice.
  3. Lawyers advise never lie to the police. I don't know, nor do I care, what Tiger Woods has been up to. But when he continually refuses to talk to the police you can be certain there is a huge gap between what actually happened and what he says happened.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thoughts on Buying an Election

Michael Bloomberg spent $183 per vote to win reelection as mayor of New York. That's $102 million to win the 2009 election and a total of over a quarter of a billion dollars for all three of his elections, most if not all his own money.
  • The question nobody has asked him is Why??? What return is this businessman getting on his investment? Actually, he has been asked and can't come up with a reasonable answer.
  • The citizens of New York would have been far better off if he had just given $150 to everybody voting for him. The people would have had some spending money and Bloomberg would have saved some cash.
  • Bloomberg proved the basic flaw in the American electoral system. It is rare that the best person for the job gets elected. Nine times out of ten the winner is the one spending the most money. Imbecile or genius? Doesn't matter. The only qualification that matters is the size of a politician's wallet.

Would be Mayor of New York
today if only he had enough money.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sarah the Fool, Again

One of the most frightening things about Sister Sarah is how easily she gets punked.
  • There was the time a couple of French comedians conned Palin into believing she was talking to Nicolas Sarkozy.
  • Then there was that Saturday Night Live appearance where she be-bopped along while being ridiculed in rap.
  • And now Canadian comic Mary Walsh got Palin to advocate dismantling Canada's highly popular health care system.
One wonders what a real confidence man, like Silvio Berlusconi, could get Palin to do.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kentucky Census Worker

Not buying the official story. A federal worker is lynched in rural Kentucky. The local police have a vested interest in not disrupting the local economic base (meth labs) nor local politics. Remember, eastern Kentucky is where candidates for sheriff have a habit of getting gunned down. From a law enforcement perspective, eastern Kentucky is little better than Juarez, Mexico.

So, for all concerned, it is better to call the lynching a suicide, sweep it under the carpet, and tell everyone involved to keep quiet.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What is Health Care

The difference between Republicans and Democrats on health care can be boiled down to a single point.
  • Republicans believe health care is a product to be marketed for profit, like a PlayStation. Those who want it and can afford it get it. Those who can't afford it have to make do with a bandage (or Etch-a-Sketch).
  • Democrats believe health care is a public resource, like water or trash disposal. Everybody benefits if it is universally available. Everybody suffers, for example, if trash piles up because only the rich can afford to dispose of their garbage.
Pictured: Republican image of ideal health care

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Goldman Sachs Christmas

It seems that Goldmans Sachs is having "secret Christmas parties" this year. Their PR is that these "parties" are just morale boosters for employees who might be a tad misunderstood what with people believing that baby eating and widow torturing is somehow evil.

Those of us in the know understand that Christmas is an important time for celebrating Black Masses. We can all be certain that the sacrifices made to Beelzebub this holiday season will insure another banner year of profits for the Goldman Sachs family.
Pictured: The Goldman Sachs Family

Standard Disclaimer to Goldman Sachs lawyers: I love Goldman Sachs and worship nightly at an altar to its malefic. Please don't sue me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Prisoner

AMC is producing a re-imagining of the classic 1960's British television series, The Prisoner. I gave it a try on the theory that even if it was only half as good as the original it would still be great. I was wrong.
This reimagined version, which feels a bit old hat in a post-Matrix fantasy landscape, is more leaden, pretentious and solemn, a tone embodied by Caviezel’s brooding Six, who’s more dour than dashing. ~ Matt Roush at TVGuide
The remake is a pale, mono-chromatic ghost of the vibrant original. This new Six doesn't know he is a prisoner, he just sort of maybe thinks he might be. There is no rage against his captors, just a confused peevishness. The original was surreal (fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtapositions) while this remake is pedestrian (lacking wit or imagination). I wasn't alone in hating the remake. The ratings tanked by two-thirds from the first episode to the second.

I didn't watch the whole thing but I did skip to the ending (I hunted down a spoiler on the Internet) where I could find the premise. It wasn't worth the hunt. Basically, everyone is stuck in the dreams of some woman named Mrs. Curtis. Oh, and there is a Fortune 500 company involved.

What's strange is that the premise of the original is just as current as it was 40 years ago. Extraordinary rendition to an island paradise where your identity is taken away, you are occasionally tortured, and you can never, ever escape. Sounds a hell of a lot like Gitmo, doesn't it?

The original series made the Hotel Portmeirion in Wales a destination vacation site even now. I doubt the remake will make the Namibian resort of Swakopmund any money at all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Three Questions

Q - What's the difference between Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan and Jennifer San Marco?

A - Nothing. Both went postal at their place of work and killed several people. Jennifer was a real postal worker.

Q - What's the difference between Maj. Hasen and James Edward Pough?

A - Nothing. Both were spree killers who wanted to send a message using innocent blood.

Q - Were any of these killing "terrorist attacks?"

A - Depends. To conservative nuts everything is a terrorist attack. If a Muslim gets into an fender bender on the freeway? Terrorist! If Charles Krauthammer gets a nasty paper cut? Terrorism!! Hold a jury trial in New York City? We are all going to die horrible, violent, fiery deaths!!!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'm Just a Bill

David Waldman on DailyKos has an excellent lesson on how a bill is made in his discussion on how Republicans can try to force a reading of the entire voluminous Health Care Reform bill. Put briefly:
  • Republicans CANNOT force a reading of the bill if the Senate takes up the bill passed by the House of Representatives. If the Senate takes up the House bill only the titles need be read.
  • The Republican ploy only works if the Senate gets all egotistical and tries to pass its own, wholly different bill. This is because by the Constitution the Senate does not get first shot at revenue bills and the Health Care Reform bill is, in part, a revenue bill. Hence, the Senate must do its separate bill by amending an existing House bill. Amendments must be read in full.
I'm not in love with the Health Care Reform bill as passed by the House (Stupak Amendment). Still, remove that amendment and the House bill is a marginal improvement. The Senate can take up the House bill and leave Tom Coburn holding his flaccid dick.

Unfortunately, at least half of the Democrats in the United States Senate are megalomaniacs who would rather see the nation's population dying in the streets that have any major piece of legislation pass that they did not have a personal hand in writing.

Rather than just leaving Tom Coburn looking like a fool, the Senate Democrats (Harry Reid) prefer making the entire body look like clowns.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Four Things That Will Never Happen

  1. Health Care Reform - Something with that title might, or might not, pass through Congress but whatever it is called it will not even remotely resemble reform.
  2. KSM Faces a Jury in New York - The trial will be delayed for years with various motions. Eventually either Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will die in custody or a Republican will be elected and KSM will be returned to some ungodly hellhole.
  3. Sarah Palin Elected President - In fact, she will never again be elected to anything, ever. She will likely end up the Zsa Zsa Gabor of politics - famous for being famous but never actually accomplishing anything.
  4. The Apocalypse - No spectacular 2012 end-of-the-world event. No messiah. Global climate change won't cause the extinction of mankind but it will probably slowly shove us back into a Dark Age. Whatever, a million years from now the Earth shall abide and there will be precious little evidence of man's short sojourn here as the dominate species.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Conservative Terrorist Trial Options

Conservatives are wetting their pants over the concept of trials for the terrorists responsible for 9-11. They are coming up with several alternatives to due process.
  • Summary Execution - Several want to skip the whole "finding out if they are guilty" phase and jump right to the killing 'em part. Some don't even want a quick bullet to the head. No, they want the United States to kill its prisoners slowly, by torture.
  • Indefinite Detention - More liberal conservatives get kind of queasy over summary executions and prefer the concept of indefinite detention. I'm not quite certain if they imagine a Louis XV-style Bastille prison or an open-air Joe Stalin-style gulag system. Will it be a place of permanent torture or one where the prisoners are just slowly driven insane?
  • Military Tribunals - This concept is popular whether they would be secret (Star Chamber) proceedings where little more than the verdict is made public or show trials where the verdict is decided first and the trial is just theater. Some conservatives are obsessed with secrecy lest terrorists learn what we are up to but I believe most conservatives want showy show trials with the emphasis on show. All conservatives agree that military tribunals are vital to keep hidden all of the torture and maltreatment our prisoners suffered.
The basis for all of these options is the conservative philosophy that the Constitution only applies to citizens. Their support for torture is rooted in the belief that "cruel and unusual punishment" is only prohibited for US citizens. Habeas Corpus is a right denied non-citizens. Carrying this logic forward, conservatives must certainly believe that the 14th Amendment only applies to citizens and, therefore, slavery is legal if the slaves are non-citizens.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Nobody Likes Frivolous Lawsuits

More Than Conservatives who hate frivolous lawsuits.

I love this. Teabaggers are all over who owns what in their tiny little revolution and are suing each other's asses off over it.

Did Patrick Henry sue Thomas Jefferson for stealing some of his lines? Did Jefferson sue Thomas Paine for doing the same thing? And Sam Adams could have sued all of them for taking his ideas, but did he? No. The Founding Fathers cowboyed up and concentrated on the job of revolting.

These modern freedom fighters are all "It's my idea." "No! It's my idea!" "See you in court, Bitch!!!" Pathetic.

You'd think, at least, they would grab their Second Amendment rights and meet on the field of honor like Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. They could sell tickets.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Contractors Bribe Taliban

Consider the scandal if the United States Army paid bribes to their enemy for safe passage of military convoys. In effect, that is what is happening now in Afghanistan. It probably happened in Iraq, too.

The United States sub-contracts out much of the logistical aspects of war to private corporations nowadays. Privatizing war has many advantages as long as you don't care who wins. It makes war good business and popular among the chamber-of-commerce types; instead of being taxed to pay the salaries of grunts driving trucks now the grunts are being taxed to pay executives. It removes the boring parts of warfare so the generals can concentrate on fun stuff like killing folk and blowing shit up.

Soldiers want a war to end quickly, contractors want the war to go on forever because once it ends they are no longer getting paid. The contractors, being mercenary, don't care who wins. Paying bribes to the enemy is a more profitable alternative to providing armed escorts. That the Taliban uses US Government money laundered through contractors to buy weapons and explosives that kill US soldiers is simply the cost of doing business.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Hey baby they're playin' our song
The one we used to hear when we used to get along ~ The Buckinghams
I'm operating with only about 20% of my brain. All of my higher functions and much of my lower functions are handicapped by the same 40 year old lyrics swimming in my head in a continuous loop. Why couldn't it at least by a good song?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Banks Killing Their Golden Goose

Back when I was in college banks hired beautiful girls to hawk credit cards to every passing student. The goal was to get all Americans so deeply in debt that by graduation they would have to work the next thirty years just to dig themselves out (Assuming they never got sick and/or fired). For bankers the ideal situation was some poor slob who used one credit card to pay off the other and did the reverse the next month. The banks found a way to sidestep state usury laws and make Americans credit card slaves.

In 2005, anticipating that Bush's policies and their own greed would inevitably lead to a depression, the banks pushed through new laws restricting bankruptcy. Their plan was to keep people in permanent debt even after going bankrupt. It backfired. The depression has been so severe that people are eschewing the ridiculous hurdles to bankruptcy and simply chucking it all, walking away from their debts and leaving the banks holding great big bags of nothing.

Banks are now scared of debt while at the same time they need debt to make profits. Their solution is to avoid the marginal debtor and really stick it to their better customers. Credit card rates have skyrocketed to the point that only a real idiot would use a credit card nowadays. Rates that used to be 8% are doubling. Interest rates for many have passed 20% and zipped beyond 30%. Hell, you can even find a credit card with an APR of 79.9% and with a $75 annual fee to boot.

My point is that I know people that used to live from credit card payment to credit card payment who are cutting up their cards and giving up credit cards entirely. Banks are killing the credit card goose trying to get at the last few flecks of gold.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Blame It On Texas

Everyone has their own theory about the Fort Hood attack - some focus on religion, some politics, some on the torment of army life after so many years of wars. I thought I'd add my own theory - It's a Texas Thing.

Just a cursory Google search found twenty mass murder/serial killers in Texas. With just a little effort I'm sure I'd find many scores more. California might have more showy killers (Zodiac) but that's just a Hollywood thing. When it comes to pure blood and guts multiple homicides, nobody beats Texas. A few examples:

Charles Whitman
Charles Whitman was a picture perfect Texas college boy in the 1960's. Clean cut, former Marine, married to a pretty little wife. One day, in 1966 in Austin, Charles killed his mother, killed his wife, wrote a note to insure his dog went to a good home, assembled an arsenal, went to the 28th floor observation deck of the University of Texas Tower, and started shooting. With Marine training Whitman killed 14 people and injured 32 others before police were finally able to storm his sniper nest and shoot Whitman.

George Jo Hennard
In 1991 35-year old George Jo Hennard, ex-Navy, drove his pickup truck through the front window of the Luby's Restaurant in Killeen (just a few miles from Fort Hood). With a couple of pistols Hennard got out of his truck and started shooting people, killing 23 in all. He was stone cold sober during the shootings and left no notes behind. The only reason he gave was that he repeatedly shouted, "This is what Bell County did to me!" during his killing spree.

Dean Corll
Working out of Houston, Corll paid his accomplices $200 each for delivering teenage boys to his rape and torture chamber. Corll killed at least 27 people, probably many more.

Henry Lee Lucas

Killed his mother in Michigan and, after his release, went traveling finally settling down in a Stoneburg, Texas Pentecostal commune called the House of Prayer. While living there Lucas took his teenage girlfriend on a trip during which he killed her. He found another girl, killed her, and disposed of the remains in the House of Prayer stove. After being arrested Lucas confessed to over 600 murders. Texas investigators only believed he killed some 350.

One of the most accomplished serial killers in United States history was the only person whose death sentence was commuted by Governor George W. Bush. Envious, perhaps? This leads us to two additional Texas serial killers.

George Bush and Rick Perry
George Bush set a record for executions (154) that was broken by his successor Rick Perry whose total now exceeds 200. The definition of a serial killer is someone who murders three or more people over a span exceeding 30 days for reasons of personal gratification not profit. Even if we only count the innocent people put to death by Bush and Perry both qualify, by definition, as serial killers.

When I heard about the Fort Hood killings my first reactions was, "of course, it's Texas." Having had several days to think about it I have adjusted my opinion. Now I believe, "What else can you expect from Texas?"

Friday, November 06, 2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Adventures In Fratricide

One thing I love about conservatives is that when the going gets tough nobody is better at whining like a six-month old.

Take the case of Doug Hoffman in New York's 23rd congressional district. Just last week conservatives like Sarah Palin and Dick Armey were fratriciding the Republican candidate in the district and promoting Conservative Party Hoffman as the best thing for the Republic since Aaron Burr. Conservatives did national fund-raising and phone banking for Hoffman.

The Democrat won and Armey is blaming Hoffman, describing him as incompetent. Hoffman was incompetent but those national conservatives knew that going in, all except Palin who thought Hoffman her equal. They didn't care because it was all about killing an impure Republican.

The next adventures in fratricide will be in Florida where the impure, and possibly gay, Republican Governor Charlie Crist is being crucified by conservatives in favor of an impossibly handsome, and possibly gay, empty shirt puppet of Jim DeMint named Marco Rubio.

In the California Senate race, millionaire Carly Fiorina (famous for destroying Hewlett-Packard while its CEO) is being targeted by conservatives who have noticed she is not a religious fanatic and are terrified by her post-chemo hair. The DeMint puppet in this race is totally unknown assemblyman Chuck DeVore. DeVore is a full on godly-to-the-max traditional family values guy who claimed Fiorina was faking her breast cancer. Stay classy, Chuck.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Reading Too Much Into an Election

All politics is local. ~ Tip O'Neill
Everyone is all atwitter (you know, new technology has really changed this word) over the macro-implications of yesterday's election. The funny thing is there is really nothing to see.
  • Virginia's Creigh Deeds ran a piss poor election. He came off as significantly incompetent. Here is a tip - people will always vote for the guy who knows how to tie his shoes even if they disagree with his politics. (George W. Bush is an exception to this rule; the only things that explain his elections is vote fraud or mass insanity.)
  • John Corzine was too corrupt even by New Jersey's lax standards. It would have taken a Republican version of Creigh Deeds to lose there although I grant that Chris Christie's own brand of stupid came close to losing a winning hand.
  • The NY-23 victory for a Democrat was actually a defeat for national Democrats. Had Hoffman won the conservative mob would have set off purging the Republican Party down to single digits. Now, maybe they won't, but I hold out hope they will try kicking Olympia Snowe out of the party. That would be fun.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Liars and Thieves

The drug lords had successfully stolen the Afghan government for their stooge, Hamid Karzai. That the United States government is totally behind Karzai in this theft is the work of CIA drug traffickers.

The US military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is, straight up, a liar.

Any military adventure with this pedigree is doomed to fail. Victory will be sold for profit; defeat will be covered up so lessons are never learned.