Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Definition of 'Puppet'

How many times has it been now that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has told NATO forces to stop bombing people's homes and to stop killing children? And How many times has NATO ignored him like he were made out of wood?

The Afghan conflict is really just a drug war nowadays with NATO fighting for CIA opium producers against the Taliban and their opium producers. Neither side care how many children die as long as the drugs flow.
What the war is about.

Monday, May 30, 2011

What's the World Coming To...

When bankers are no longer allowed to rape maids? What's next? Will they no longer be able to defraud governments and steal from their customers?

Sorry For All the Gory Deaths

It happens every couple of weeks or so. NATO troops kill innocent Afghans. After a several days "investigating the incident" (like we don't know where we are throwing our munitions) some officer issues a "heartfelt" (always they include that word), proforma apology.

Then the matter is handed over to the bookkeepers who issue the compensation.
~ $1,000 for a daughter
~ $5,000 for a mother
~ $8,000 maximum for a male relative
Usually there is some niggardly back and forth over exactly how many people were killed as the bookkeepers try to save a little money.

It's all very commercial and so very, very American.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Talking Baseball

The Posey Injury
Maybe it comes from watching the Stanley Cup playoffs, but the movement by some to ban runners making contact with catchers is just silly. It's the way the game has been played for 150 years. The catcher is wearing armor, it's his responsibility to brace his body for an impact he knows is coming. This was a clean, shoulder first, home plate collision.

It Could Have Been Worse
Unlike what Ty Cobb routinely did. Cobb would sharpen his spikes and then go into a base using his feet as a weapon, trying to carve chunks of flesh out of his opponent. Then there was the time Cobb charged the stands to beat the shit out of a heckler who had lost both arms during World War I.

Padre Bats
The San Diego Padres are on a pace to have the lowest team batting average (.226) in over 40 years. Although the Washington Nationals (.227) are challenging them. Their home batting average (.199) is below the Mendoza Line. And it is not Petco Park, opponents are hitting a respectable .243 there.
Even Mario Mendoza (.215) didn't hit below the Mendoza Line.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tex. Gov. Rick Perry as President

Three generations of imbeciles are enough. ~ Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
First Lyndon Johnson (Vietnam War), then George Bush the elder and George Bush the child. When will we learn that Texans, each and every one without exception, make absolutely horrible presidents?
Just two years ago Rick Perry was chatting up seceding from the Union because we had a black president. Now he wants to inflict on the nation that special kind of stupid that can only come from Texas.

The Wisdom of Texas
Stupid Laws - Criminals must give their victims 24 hours notice, either orally or in writing, and explain the nature of the crime to be committed.
Evolution - Schools are required to teach myth on an equal footing with science.
History - Schools are also required to teach that Jefferson Davis was the equal of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr was a Black Panther, and McCarthyism was fact.
Flirting - In San Antonio it is illegal to flirt with eyes or hands.
Support for Murder - The Texas legislature once unanimously passed a resolution in support of the Boston Strangler for his "unconventional techniques involving population control."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Whenever Anyone Says

There’s nothing racist about this. ~ Cong. Joe Walsh (R-IL)
It's completely meant to be racist.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Capitalist Depressions

The boom and bust cycles of capitalism and the predatory nature of wealth have been a terrible burden on the average American.

The Long Depression (1873-1896)
The most important event of President Grant's second term in office was the severe financial depression by which it was marked. (Source
The 1873 Panic marked the beginning of the Long Depression which lasted 23 years. Like now, it was a time of extreme excess by the extremely wealthy, the Gilded Age, and a time of high unemployment and outright warfare against working Americans. As in the current depression, the richest of the rich found they could profit from depression by corrupting government.

The Great Depression (1929-1940)
Three or four million heads of households don't turn into tramps and cheats overnight, nor do they lose the habits and standards of a lifetime.... An eighth or a tenth of the earning population does not change its character which has been generations in the molding, or, if such a change actually occurs, we can scarcely charge it up to personal sin.  ~ FDR adviser Harry Hopkins
The stock market bubble of the late 1920's burst with great effect when the market crashed in October 1929. As in the current depression, a major cause was the rapid collapse of a debt bubble exacerbated by Republican demands that the burden of recover be carried entirely by the unemployed. The Great Depression was short, only eleven years, because of World War II.

The Third Depression (2000-?)
The current depression has been marked by a series of bubbles being inflated and bursting. I believe that the Third Depression began with the Don-Com bubble bursting in 2000 although most peg the starting date in 2007 with the collapse of the housing bubble.

The years between, the Bush Years, were marked by a frantic attempt to maintain stock prices and employment by engineering a massive debt bubble. The effect is similar to keeping a cancer patient looking healthy by pumping him full of meth.
Debt Index
If you accept my start date, then this depression has been going on for 11 years. There have been ups and downs (mostly downs) and it wasn't until the later date when unemployment statistics spiked to confirm a real depression.

Choose your starting date, it doesn't matter. We are still years away from the end of this depression.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Eric Cantor's Heart of Stone

Eric Cantor R-VA
You've got to hand it to Eric Cantor (R-VA). This is a man whose hatred of his fellow Americans knows no bounds and he is not afraid to tell disaster victims to fuck off.  He has announced that any attempt to assist the victims of the Joplin tornado will have to be negotiated.

Joplin's congressman, Republican Billy Long, had previously tried to sell off the frequencies used to broadcast tornado warnings. If he had his way many more people in Joplin would have died.
Oh, please don’t ask why, 
no one quite knows the reason. 
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. 
Or maybe his head wasn’t screwed on just right. 
But I think that the best reason of all may have been 
that his heart was two sizes too small.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Various Short Takes

More on the Rapture
Beloved of God.
If the Rapture happened, the only American called up was professional wrestler Randy "Macho Man" Savage. The only section of America to suffer the Tribulation is the Bible Belt. They are getting tornadoes, historic flooding, and Newt Gingrich. On the other hand, it's sunny in San Francisco.

Prison Nation
California has a prison population of about 156,000 (about the size of the city of Salinas). In 1980 the state had 28,000 prisoners. The prisoners are crowded into facilities built to house 80,000. In his dissent, Justice Scalia denounced the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution as a "travesty of justice" while the inhuman crowding is justified because some of the prisoners are "fine physical specimens who have developed intimidating muscles pumping iron in the prison gym."

Prison Nation Perspective
When you add in parolees, the California Department of Corrections supervises nearly 300,000 Californians, the population of Stockton. California's prison budget is $9.8 billion, more than the entire state budget in 1973. Then there is the county jail system. Los Angeles County alone holds some 20,000 prisoners and some months average a suicide a day.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Feet Back on the Ground

Libya and the War Powers Act
The War Powers Act does so apply to the Libyan action. First, obviously, it's a freaking civil war we've taken sides in. Second, the wisdom of the Act is that, as this is a democracy, the government ought to articulate to the people the reasons it is investing the public treasury in bombing the shit out of people. Third, in any war it is good to have a plan and not just sling bombs around willy-nilly. "Gaddafi inevitably leaves" is not a plan.

Israel's Borders
I admit it would be hard to describe Israel's pre-1967 borders as "defensible" and even less so her border under the original UN partition plan. Even though, they did mange to defend those borders quite effectively.

Even less defensible are the borders created by the cancer-like growth of West Bank settlements. These borders look more like a metastatic tumor than a national frontier.

Thinking With His Small Head
From what I can tell, IMF head Strauss-Kahn had a pretty successful career as a serial rapist as long has he confined his victims to women whose lives he could destroy if they objected. His problem came when he attacked a maid who, worst case, would lose a job she hated anyway.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Notes From the Rapture

Well, here's a shocker. I made the cut; I got raptured. Camping got the timing wrong, it was 6 am. I am reporting to you live from Heaven.

First the good news:
-> Heaven has wi-fi so I can continue blogging. As the Archangel Gabriel said during orientation, "We're as modern as Hell up here."
-> We also have access to satellite TV so I can watch the end of the Stanley Cup.
-> That movie got it right, dogs made it too. In fact, there are more dogs up here than people. No cats, though. God is a dog person.
-> The eating is pretty good. Mana tastes a little like strawberries.
-> Lots of trees and flowers but more insects than you'd think. It seems God is an entomologist.

Now the Bad News:
(Or more good news, it depends on your perspective.)
<- Camping and his crowd aren't invited. It seems God is really pissed at all these preachers who claim they've been talking to Him. Says it's a straight up violation of the Third Commandment. Besides, all those holier-than-thou types would be really annoying trying to be holier than Him.
<- Also not invited are soldiers, hunters, and anyone who has killed a spider in the bathroom. God said He really meant that Sixth Commandment, no exceptions.
<- Not a lot of rich folk, either. Says He gave them fair warning.

Well, gotta go. Gandhi is hosting a mandatory seminar on veganism then Jesus himself is playing in a test match against several of the newcomers. Who knew, God is a big cricket fan.
Jesus is quite the all-rounder

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Republican Presidential Field

In no particular order. With the odds.

Mitt Romney (3.5 to 1)
Most likely to be the nominee not because he's popular, he's not, but because Republicans traditionally choose the Next Person In Line (think Bob Dole and John McCain). He lacks the charisma of a damp dishrag, his signature act was the precursor of ObamaCare, and most evangelicals think he belongs to a cult (Mormonism). Still, he is next in line.

Newt Gingrich (15 to 1)
Not nearly as smart as he pretends. Can't think on his feet, or sitting down on Meet the Press for the 35th time. Rudy Giuliani says, "He comes up with, you know, two ideas every minute." Bet you can't think of two ideas Newt's come up with in the past decade.

Sarah Palin (13 to 1)
She's dumb, but not that dumb. Caribou Barbie is making a fortune doing something she can't fail at (talking incoherently). Run and lose and she will kiss all that free money goodbye.

Michelle Bachmann (15 to 1)
She is that dumb. She'll run as the Tea Party standard bearer and may end up as Romney's running mate.

Ron Paul (34 to 1)
Really believes that the only thing wrong with the Gilded Age is that Southern slave owners where not properly compensated for the property they lost with emancipation.

Herman Cain (not listed, figure 20 to 1)
The candidate for people who don't want to be seen supporting Ron Paul. A carbon copy of Paul, he holds exactly the same beliefs down to waxing nostalgic over the Jim Crow laws that oppressed his family.

Jon Huntsman (9 to 1)
Who? Too unknown and too liberal. His best hope is to be the Veep for a radical conservative like, say, Bachmann.

Gary Johnson (51 to 1)
Who? I mean it. Who???

Rick Santorum (34 to 1)
The perfect 14th century candidate. Thinks torture is useful and has spoken out in favor of the Crusades.

Tim Pawlenty (5 to 1)
The best campaigner of the bunch. His problem is nobody knows, or cares, what he thinks. He is also burdened by being the less interesting Minnesotan after Bachmann. If anyone can dethrone the Mittster it will be Timmy.

Mitch Daniels (7 to 1)
Pawlenty's doppelganger. You could stand them side-by-side with their political positions and nobody could tell one from the other.

John Bolton (not listed)
A one-trick pony (Bomb Iran!). Only campaigning in New Hampshire because they have the better B&Bs.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I'm Not Paying My Bills Until Next Week

I hear tell that the world is going to end on Saturday, at 6pm EDT.
If true it would be a bummer as it would cancel game four of the Canucks-Sharks series. It means I'd miss the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie because I refuse to brave opening night crowds.

I understand that Saturday is only Judgement Day when those annoying Bible-thumpers get spirited up to Heaven leaving the rest of us behind to divvy up their belongings and party without guilt. The real end of the world is due for October 21 which means that God hates baseball because, hello, World Series. Besides, it will still effect the Stanley Cup playoffs because the Sedin twins are clearly God's anointed and the Canucks can't win without them.

The End of the World (TEOTW) History
Religious scholars have been predicting TEOTW for two millennia now.
  • If you really think the Bible is infallible, then the world ended in the First century CE. Jesus said, "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (Matt 24:34) 
  • Pope Clement I predicted TEOTW would occur in his lifetime (ca. 90 CE).
  • Hilary of Poitiers and his disciples spend the latter part of the Forth Century predicting TEOTW was nigh.
  • The end of the first millennium was a hotbed of end time predictions. The Catholic Church collected a shitload of indulgence payments to get tickets for rich sinners. When nothing happened the Church killed as heretics the people who demanded refunds.
  • Pope Innocent III predicted the world ending in the year 1284 by adding 666 to the date of the founding of Islam.
  • Around the year 1500 there was another spat of predictions from people who didn't want to wait until the second millennium.
  • In the latter half of the 17th century, some 20,000 Russian believers burned themselves to death to avoid the anti-Christ (aka Peter the Great).
  • American TEOTW predictions began with the Shakers (1792) and Charles Wesley, the founder of Methodism (1794).
  • William Miller predicted the EOTW for March 21, 1843. When that failed he revised it to October 22, 1844. Following that was known as the Great Disappointment

  • In the 1850's Seventh Day Adventist founder Ellen White predicted TEOTW within the lifetime of her followers.
  • The Jehovah's Witnesses predicted TEOTW throughout the First World War, at the start of the Second World War, and trice more (1925, 1975, 1984).
  • Hal Lindsey predicted TEOTW several times in the late 20th century before giving up and writing them as fiction.
  • 1988 was a big year for TEOTW predictions probably having to do with the end of the Reagan Administration.
  • The years around the Second Millennium have been a time of endless TEOTW predictions. My favorite is the numerology claim that if you divide 2000 by 3 you get the number of the beast, 666 rounded down. 
Then there is always 2012. Buy your End of the World gear now, remember to use credit.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Politician Joke

I was going to write about the IMF President who was arrested for raping a hotel maid but I got bored. This instead. 
A boy asks his father to explain politics to him for a class civics assignment.

"Son, the best way I can describe politics is with an analogy. Let's say that I'm a capitalist because I'm the breadwinner. Your mother will be the government because she controls everything, our maid will be the working class because she works for us, you will be the people because you answer to us, and your baby brother will be the future. Do you understand?"

The boy looked at his father quizzically and replied, "I don't know, let me sleep on it."

During the night the boy was awaken by his baby brother's crying. He went into the baby's room and found his brother's diaper was full. He then went into his parents room. His father wasn't there and, try as he might, he couldn't awaken his mother. The boy then went into the maid's room where he found his father having sex with the maid. They boy then just gave up and went back to bed.

Next morning at breakfast the boy told his father that he understood politics now. 

"I learned that capitalism is screwing the working class, government is sound asleep ignoring the people, and the future's full of crap."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Shocking News! Trump Not Running!!

This is by far the most shocking news of the year. Donald Trump announced today he is not running for President. I'm flabbergasted because there is one more episode left of The Apprentice and I was certain he would hold off the announcement until next Monday.

How does this affect the Republican field? Trump's loyalists will probably divide between Michelle Bachmann (for her insane ego) and John Bolton (weird mustache replacing weird hair).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Justifying Crooked Behavior

CNN had a mini-debate between Matt Taibbi, our generation's greatest journalist, and Megan McArdle (watch it here).

McArdle was recently hired as Atlantic's business and economics editor, meaning she is a former C-list journalist who considers her job to be getting invited to B-list cocktail parties. Which means her journalistic activities consists mostly of trying to ass kiss the people who make out the guest lists. (She will never be A-list, but she's trying.)
In that mini-debate McArdle makes the most coherent, although not at all cogent, defense of Goldman Sachs' crooked behavior. Her argument is that Goldman had every right to misrepresent the fact they were betting against products they were selling because Goldman is not in business to make money for anyone else, just for themselves.

Forgive me for being naive, but I thought an investment banker's job was to help his clients to avoid unsound investments, not deliberately selling shit on the theory that if the client is too stupid to recognize shit he deserves to be taken. Morally and ethically (and legally), bankers have a responsibility to act in good faith in the best interests of their clients and not act as high priced Thimblerigs.

 Still, the fact that businesses, hedge funds, and governments still hire Goldman Sachs even knowing who they are is proof that P. T. Barnum was right and the nation is adding a half-million new suckers every year.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Damning Mitt With Praise

Blogger (read Google) bollixed things this week and ate my profound post in the Arizona Slave Fence. You get what you pay for and Blogger is free. I'll try to rewrite it but my genius may have been lost forever.

In other news, President Obama has come up with a brilliant way to attack Mitt Romney, he is praising him. He has cornered Mitt into a position where the only way he can defend himself against the charge of once having a good idea is attacking his own policies.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Arizona Slave Fence

The Arizona Wall will make them forget the Berlin Wall
The wide world is all about you; you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out. ~ J. R. R. Tolkien
Arizona Republicans are continuing their hatred of brown skinned/brown eyed Americans with a plan to raise private funds to build their own border fence.
Fear is the highest fence. ~ Dudley Nichols
They proudly plan to save money by using chain gangs (prison labor) at 50 cents an hour ignoring the fact that slaves need plenty of overseers with dogs and shotguns (running up the cost considerably) or your labor force will skedaddle at the first chance.
There's only one thing I never did and wish I had done: climbed over a fence. ~ Mary, Queen Consort to George V
Then there is the question of a quality fence. You can't just string up a chain link fence and expect to keep out much of anything. They will need the skilled labor they can only find cheaply outside to Home Depot parking lot.
Do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather by your friends. ~ Czech proverb
Which means, if they want to build that fence right they should hire the same brown skinned/brown eyed workers that they are trying to keep out. Of course, that means growing up and not acting like petulant children trying to keep the neighbors from playing in your sand box.
The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it. ~ John Locke

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Truest Test

They say that if you ever meet anyone who brags about being a Navy SEAL you can be absolutely certain he never was one.
Pastor lying about being a SEAL
So not a SEAL.
Neither was Jesse (the Body) Ventura, if you couldn't tell just from the feather boa.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Random Thoughts, Not All on Bin Laden

The open secret of bin Laden's address
A NATO official leaked it back in October. Christiane Amanpour knew it back in 2008. The only ones who didn't know were the people who cashed his property tax checks all these years.

'Let Him Live!' Republicans are still trying to declare the death of bin Laden a failure for the President. They have become maniacal that is was wrong, even evil, to kill bin Laden.

Anchor Baby Governor.
Louisiana Republican Bobby Jindal has dreams of becoming President (probably using poisoned jambalaya at a state dinner). To further that goal Jindal has released his long-form birth certificate. For Birthers, this will disqualify him as both his parents were not American citizens. He wasn't even conceived in the US, his mother was pregnant when she arrived with her green card.

Goat Rapist
Florida has made it illegal to rape a goat. To compensate, the Florida legislature is making it tougher on human rape victims.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Torture Boy

John Yoo, a man who regrets being born to late to serve on Dr. Mengele's staff, has piped in on the Osama bin Laden killing. Of course, Yoo has his panties in a twist because he wanted bin Laden capture and tortured.

Yoo has actually done society a service by speaking up. He has been forgotten the last couple of years. Now, perhaps, we can recall why John Yoo should be put on trial for war crimes.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Games Petitioners Play

California is Ground Zero for creative petition gathering techniques. Reading about Wisconsin Republicans petition fraud attempts fills me with a perverse regional pride.

At least half of all California petition initiatives are funded by industries seeking special interest legislation they couldn't get through the legitimate bribing of politicians. A classic example of this is 1994 when the tobacco industry qualified a petition for the ballot to regulate smoking by eliminating existing regulations.  It only qualified because the paid signature gatherers told voters the petitions would "regulate" smoking rather than deregulate smoking (they lied). The initiative lost in the election because the lie could only last so long.

Paid signature gatherers are decidedly amoral. A common practice is for one side to try to out bid the other. If they are paying $1 a signature I'll pay $2 a signature for another measure. The price has gotten as high as $20 per name. They will just a readily carry a petition against hate crimes or one requiring interment of Jews.

Forgery and other fraud isn't common because it is too easy to get legitimate signatures. But, at these prices it does happen and is almost never caught.

The paid gatherers can be aggressive and will often intimidate volunteer gatherers to leave prime spots. Think of paid signature gathering as legalized panhandling.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

More Random Thoughts on Osama's Death

Deathers are demanding the President release photos of bin Laden's corpse. As if they wouldn't immediately denounce them as Photoshopped fakes.

Best reason to withhold the photos is, "We are not ghouls, we are better than that."

Say you are a jihadist true believer who has been living a brutal life hiding out in caves comforted only by the knowledge that your leader was living the same martyr's life. How would you feel finding out your hero was the sleeping on a soft mattress in a suburban mansion? Would that knowledge make your rocky bed a little more uncomfortable?
At least Osama didn't have cable.
Torture defenders are claiming it was torture that found bin Laden using the following twisted logic. The US already knew about bin Laden's courier. When al Qaeda leaders were questioned under torture they denied the courier was important which just confirmed that the courier was as important as the US already knew he was.

Everyone knew that bin Laden was hiding out in Pakistan (although none of us guessed he was living the high life there). It sort of fell into the category of "where the fuck else could he be." So there is really no surprise he was found there.

Everyone also knew that high ranking elements of the Pakistani government were protecting him. The only thing that has changed is the gullibility necessary to believe otherwise.

That the US knew exactly where bin Laden was hiding was not a well kept secret. A NATO official leaked it seven months ago.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

How Do Conservatives Think?

Driving back from yoga this morning I'm listening to Glenn Beck because I want to know what the other half (the insane half) is thinking.

While I was listening he was engaged in a rambling monologue about how terrible it was to kill Osama bin Laden. He opined that killing bin Laden put our ally(?), Pakistan, in a bad light and that it would just encourage al Qaeda to attack the US (like they need a reason?).

Checking out Media Matters I find that earlier, Beck speculated that bin Laden had been "ghosted." I'm not sure what Beck means by that word since, in slang terms, "ghosted" generally means quietly killed (although it can also mean "swallowed a joint.").
From Glenn Beck can't spell.
The answer to the question, "How do conservatives think" is, not at all.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Random Thought on bin Laden's Death

Surprising only because I thought Osama bin Laden had died of natural causes years ago.

From a strategic point of view it accomplishes nothing, the various wars will continue unabated. But it sure is a satisfying bit of catharsis.

Apparently, it was common knowledge in Pakistan that Abbottabad was a safe place to live, that terror attacks typical elsewhere in Pakistan were not happening there. No one knew why until now.

Bin Laden was not living in some cold, drafty cave but in a posh mansion.
Bin Laden was hiding out in a huge, secured compound in a military town. Either that was really ballsy or he had lots of friends in very high places. Bet on the latter.

President Obama's announcement last night pre-empted the final 10 minutes of Donald Trump's TV show. Punked!

Burying bin Laden at sea was a wise and deliberate act - no shrine, no pilgrims, no place to venerate.

The Birthers are quickly becoming Deathers. There is a rapidly growing meme that it's all fake.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

May Day

International Workers' Day
Throughout most of the world May Day is Labour Day. Not in the United States and that is strange because the event being remembered happened in Chicago. In Haymarket Square, 1886, a bomb was thrown at a labor rally resulting in a police riot. While the rest of the world sees the date as a key moment for worker's rights, the United States was afraid of the connection and set its labor day at the end of summer.

Yet another example of Christianity absorbing a pagan holiday. May Day is a traditional spring festival with bonfires and young girls dancing around poles.

Mayday! Mayday!
As one word, mayday is a distress code from the French venez m'aider, meaning "come help me!"