Monday, October 31, 2011

Herm Cain's Halloween From Hell

I'm not so much interested in the cascade of bad stories that have fallen on Cain - the sexual harassment and illegal campaign funding stories. What I'm interested in is where they came from and why now.

The Source
The Romney campaign. Just like the Perry niggerhead story before it. The Romney campaign is loaded with money for opposition research, they have dossiers on each of his opponents that would choke an elephant. Romney has a stable of old school political consultants who believe in the power of the well timed leaked smear.

The order the stories broke is also old school. Start with the big hit, sex if possible. Then, just as they are starting to respond to the first attack hit them with a second smaller strike. It's called piling on.

Why Now?
Cain and Gingrich have a one-on-one debate scheduled for this coming Friday. If it comes off well (and it probably will look a lot better than the cattle call debates) it could mark a seismic shift in the campaign dynamics, a shift that in no way would be good for Romney. Breaking the news now gives it enough time to sink in without allowing time for the stories to be vetted. If the Friday debate doesn't mention sexual harassment (and it won't) then Romney friendly reporters will dismiss the debate as a non-event and that will become the zeitgeist of the week.

I won't call Romney's campaign brilliant for this move because it is just Smear Tactics 101. I can understand why Romney is so terrified of the Cain-Gingrich debate that he would waste both of his best weapons against Cain so soon. While Cain won't take the nomination if he beats Romney early Cain can kill off the Romney campaign.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sports Sunday

Jamming all my sports subjects together to get rid of them.

Sam Jones, 1960
 I hear there is a labor dispute between 1 percenters (the players) and 0.1 percenters (the owners). Don't care, they can both lose and the world will be better for it. Professional basketball has been unwatchable since Michael Jordan retired (and was mostly unwatchable even then).

Cy Young, 1901
Game Six of the World Series was fun. The first half was a comedy of errors (literally) that had to leave the Yankees and Phillies wondering how they could have lost to idiots like this.The second half was as exciting as baseball can get. It was proof that sports don't need clocks or high tech gadgetry.

Football (NFL)
Lance Alworth, 1963
The San Diego Chargers are an interesting exercise in sports psychology. As a team the Chargers are dedicated to expending the least amount of energy necessary to win. They always start slowly, lethargically. If they are losing at halftime they step it up a notch; second halves can be exciting. If they lead at halftime the Chargers start planning their afternoon naps early; at best the second half is a snoozefest. The Chargers have all the killer instinct of Ferdinand the Bull.
Football (College)
All one needs to know about college football is that the Big Ten Conference has 12 teams in it. College football can't even do simple math.  College football is a big money sport using slave labor. The "student athletes" on BCS teams have professional work schedules, some of the smarter ones even make time to attend a few classes. Yet any compensation except free tuition is strictly forbidden.
Nebraska Cornhuskers, 1903

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wisdom Nuggets

Police Riots
The excuse usually given by the police for attacking the Occupy protesters with tear gas and billy clubs is "sanitation." Like nobody in the city knows where to hire a few port-a-potties.

Constitutional Reminder
the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. ~ the First Amendment

Damn Good Gun Idea
Everybody who owns a car is required to buy liability insurance. It makes sense that owners of a weapon which, when used as directed, kills things ought to be required to purchase insurance. Let the free market decide on the risk. Also, I need a operator's license to drive a car, shouldn't I need one to carry a gun?

Constitutional Reminder
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, ~ the Second Amendment

What Is an Libertarian?
A libertarian is simply a rich anarchist.

The Loooooong Graph
The graph in the link is just too long to embed but it explains the effect of Herm Cain's 999 plan better than 10,000 words.

Constitutional Reminder
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated ~ the Fourth Amendment

The TSA and You
As far as I can tell (and believe me the logic is as twisted as a corkscrew in a tornado), federal courts have ruled that the Fourth Amendment applies at all times except whenever the government wishes to ignore it. Exceptions include any form of transportation (cars, planes, trains, and buses), schools, unusual conduct, usual conduct if police say the word "drugs" afterwards, or if an individual is black, brown, or suspected of being Muslim-like.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Oakland Police Riot

I really have nothing to add but the images of when the Oakland police rioted against the peaceful citizens of their city.

They attacked with chemical weapons,
rubber bullets
and truncheons.
They used mass assault tactics in the dead of night
with brutal efficiency.
Yes, I know this last one is of Cairo police attacking citizens in Tahrir Square last spring. I thought I'd add a little perspective.
Occupy Oakland.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Two Cases of Fear Over Principle

NPR and Rick Perry have something in common. Both have acted out of abject fear.

National Public Radio severed ties with World of Opera because the host, Lisa Simeone, participated in an Occupy march. They didn't fire her directly because she didn't work for NPR and her employer, WDAV, to their credit refused to fire her on NPR orders. Simeone broke no laws. She did not violate the NPR Code of Ethics because it doesn't apply to her. She was acting in the great tradition of America - the free right to assemble and speak.

NPR is terrified of congressional Republicans. NPR got heat for firing conservation newscaster Juan Williams for his inane comments and didn't want to get more heat for not acting similarly with a liberal opera host. Simeone got thrown under the bus not for what she did or said but because NPR CEO Gary Knell is a sniveling little coward.

Rick Perry
Perry this week was asked about the Confederate battle flag and came out against it. Before running for President, Perry was a strong advocate for all things Dixie, so what changed?

There was that Niggerhead incident, which was a little to Old South for comfort. And, then, Perry's pro-secessionist positions from a couple years ago. So far during his presidential run that embarrassment has been forgotten. Sounding like a true son of the Confederacy would bring all that back.

So Rick Perry said what he doesn't believe. Not because he has changed his mind or has become a Unionist but because he was afraid of the consequences of honesty. Perry is an idiot, dishonest, and timorous. That's a Republican trifecta.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mandatory Vaccination - HPV, Anthrax, etc

I'm not one of those guy who opposes all forms of vaccinations. Some vaccinations are prudent. Global vaccinations eliminated the smallpox plague and that can only be an unqualified human success.
I was going to post a photo of a smallpox victim but they are just too gruesome so...puppies!
Polio, measles, and flu vaccinations are all examples where the slim risks of the vaccine far outweigh the greater risk of the infection. Each has recorded devastating epidemics.
In the 1940's entire hospital wards were dedicated to iron lungs for polio victims.
But just because many vaccines are important does not mean that all vaccines are.

As noted yesterday, US government scientists want to experiment with an anthrax vaccine on children. Since 2002, not a single American has died from anthrax however the FDA reports that at least 44 American servicemembers died from the anthrax vaccine. There is no evidence that anthrax vaccinations have prevented a single case of the disease. By the by, according to Johns Hopkins, the vaccinations cost $90 per dose.

There is a movement for the mandatory vaccination of all children, age 12 and up, for the Human Papilloma Virus. The virus itself is not dangerous, it causes warts. Some 80% of adults, at one time or another, have caught HPV. But as a venereal disease in women the warts, over the course of many years, can develop into cervical cancer. Over 4,000 women in the US die of cervical cancer annually.

On the one hand, saving 4,000 lives is a good thing. On the other hand, the vaccine cost $375 for the three shot series; that's billions of dollars a year. It only works on the four most common of the 200 strains of HPV. It is probable that, deprived of competition, other strains will replace the targeted strains. And it is not completely successful with the targeted strains which suggests the virus might, in time, adapt.

Mandatory vaccination is a boon for GlaxoSmithKline and Merck (manufacturers of the vaccines). As a voluntary vaccine Merck makes some $200 million a year from its HPV product. Made mandatory that should rise to well over $1 billion annually. GSK would see a similar increase.

One wonders how much the mandatory vaccination movement is driven by real health concerns and how much is a BigPharma PR campaign.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Anthrax and Children

Granted that anthrax is a nasty disease and weaponized anthrax even nastier.
Almost as nasty as the band.
But in the last decade there has been a grand total of zero (0) terrorist attacks anywhere in the world using anthrax. The last use of anthrax as a weapon occurred in September, 2001. There are a lot of problems with ill equipped amateurs mixing up a batch of anthrax, the principle one being not accidentally killing yourself and all your buddies.

The first vaccine was a vial of shit that caused way more damage than any possible anthrax attack mostly because President Bush panicked and ordered it administered to the entire US military. There is a newer vaccine that seems to work on adults but the government wants to know if it also works on children.

Anthrax and Children
The process is simple: Collect a bunch of healthy children, give them the vaccine, wait to see if the vaccine kills any of them, then expose the survivors to anthrax and see if the disease kills any more.

In the old days the government could just target poor minority children in an orphanage, no questions asked. But now you have a whole lot of bleeding heart liberals complaining about using children like guinea pigs.

The other option is to wait around for a real terrorist anthrax attack and test it then. The problem there is that whole generations of scientists might pass away without ever getting a chance to experiment on children.

Volunteers Needed
If you are a patriot with enough children you don't mind losing one or two, then contact the National Biodefense Science Board today.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Plight of the 99% and the Plague of Reaganism

Every once and a while I come across a chart or graph that screams a guttural anguished cry that strikes my very soul. The above graphic comes from a Business Insider article.

It makes a simple point. Between 1997 and 2008 (basically the Bush Years) average income in the US grew by $2,683. All of that went to the richest 10% and two-thirds went to the richest 1%. The bottom 90% lost income.
If we start with 1981 (Reagan's inauguration) the average income has risen by $12,189; 96% of that went to the richest 10% and well over half went to the richest 1%.
Let's compare that to before the plague of modern Reaganism. From World War I to Reagan the average income of the United States rose $26,027. The richest 10% got less than one-third of the increased income while the richest 1% corralled less than 5%. The bottom 90% got the rest.

This is not some Leninist redistribution but simply a reasonable balance that allows for the development of a viable middle-class. It allows for people to have some dreams of upward mobility, that hard work actually means something.

Our modern America is a place where the American Dream has come to die. The richest and the richest of the rich are parasites who suck up whatever growth the economy can generate and bleed the middle-class for more.

We have one political party that is dedicated with its every fiber to facilitate this sucking and bleeding. The other party helps the sucking and bleeding too, but at least they occasionally feel bad about it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pentagon Buys from Crooks

I have a simple rule of thumb, if someone tries to rip me off I never do business with them again. I'd rather starve than shop at Walmart; I'd rather use a crystal set than buy another modem from Best Buy.
My internet connection is a little slow.
The Pentagon isn't so picky. In the past decade the Defense Department has thrown over $1 trillion at companies that have a proven history of defrauding them. There are lots of reasons for this.
  • Some of the fraud profit works its way back to the DoD in the form of bribes for future contracts.
  • Some of the fraud profit go to buying congressmen who insure there are no laws to prevent corrupt businesses from contracting with the US government.
  • Some of the fraud profit goes to providing tchotchkes to procurement officers. It's amazing how far a few worthless trinkets go to buying the undying loyalty of DoD employees.
  • Some of the fraud profit go to hiring former DoD employees at fat salaries mostly to party with current DoD employees. (An "Ethics Opinion" is a meaningless gesture. The point of hiring former DoD procurement officers is not to gain some kind of special access or knowledge but to convince current DoD procurement officers that rich rewards await in the future for anyone who cooperates now.)
  • Some of the fraud profit goes to paying inadequate fines and penalties for getting caught.
Of course most of the fraud profit goes to top executives in the form of bonuses.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Communists Under the Bed

They are so retro I expect to see Republicans wearing fedoras and poodle skirts soon. Everywhere conservatives talk about Occupy Wall Street or President Obama or teachers or liberals or, hell, anyone, they accuse them of being communists. I haven't heard this level of Red Scare since the 1950's.

With OSW and Obama Republicans merge all their boogiemen into a single mish-mash. Both, they claim, and communists and Nazis at the same time. That is like being a member of both the Black Panthers and KKK. It's absurd.

Teachers, Republicans argue, are communists indoctrinating children into being loyal Stalinists. Liberals? Communist. All Democrats? Communist! To Some Republicans even Mitt Romney is a communist (maybe a commie robot).

It's not like there are communists everywhere nowadays. Russia is less communist than Las Vegas. China may say it's communist but its economic policies are straight up capitalism at its most aggressive. North Korea has forsaken communism for old-fashioned 12th century feudalism.

The truth is the only thing keeping the notion of communism alive these days are Republicans who insist on labeling anyone they disagree with a pinko, commie, atheist, anarchist, hippie.

Wait a minute. Didn't hippies disappear 40 years ago?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's the End of the World, Again

Why does the sun go on shining?
Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don't they know it's the end of the world
~ song lyrics
I almost forgot that tomorrow is the end of the world. After Harold Camping's "the Bible guarantees it" doomsday of May 21 passed without so much as a plague of locust,
We know the world didn't end 'cause (looks around), check it out. ~ Oz, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Camping revised his biblical calculation and came up with October 21 as his drop dead date (literally). So be prepared.

Put on a clean pair of underwear and brush your teeth because cleanliness is next to godliness and God won't let you into heaven if you have bad breath. Set up with some left-behind heathen to care for your dog after you've got yourself Raptured.

But most of all remember to give all your money to Harold Camping's ministry because you're not going to be here and Camping has bills to pay.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Republican Pissing Contests

More than anything else, the Republican debates remind me of pissing contests between people with extremely tiny wangs. There is a lot of macho posturing but all that is really accomplished is they are getting their own shoes wet.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Great Wall of America

Every election cycle Republicans want to erect a taller, more formidable wall around America. Herm Cain has "joked" about a 20-foot wall with an alligator filled moat and topped with electrified barbed wire. He has additionally "joked" that he expects a death toll well under three million people. (Herm Cain has a strange sense of humor.)

Mitt Romney is, as usual, vaguer than Cain although he has urged a "high-tech" border fence around the entire 6,000 miles of the United States. Developed during the Bush Administration the SBInet program took five years to install 50 miles and has already been dismissed as an expensive failure.

Rick Perry got in trouble with Republicans when he mentioned out loud that trying to fence off the Rio Grande River is kinda stupid.
Rio Grande at Big Bend National Park
 All the Great Walls of history were built out of fear. Hadrian built his wall because he feared the Scots. The Great Wall of China was built to keep out the Mongols. The Maginot Line was the embodiment of French fear of Les Boches. The West Bank Wall exists because Israelis are afraid of Palestinians. So too do Republicans fear Mexicans. In each case the goal is to keep "barbarians" from contaminating civilization.

A Border Fence History
In 1974, First Lady Pat Nixon dedicated the bi-national, trans-border Friendship Park near San Diego.
In 1994, the park was bisected by a massive border security fence.
But that didn't stop people from fraternizing across the border. So in 2009 the Border Patrol closed off all US access to Friendship Park. Access is strictly controlled and no cross-border touching is allowed. (Similar to visitation at a maximum security prison.)
A Catholic priest was arrested for passing communion wafers through the fence.
And the irony is that if you really want to illegally cross the border at Friendship Park all you have to do is grab a boogie board and paddle west beyond the surf line.

Additional Links
The Great Wall of America - Time, 2008
Friends of Friendship Park
Friendship Park Celebration - Visual Peacemakers

Monday, October 17, 2011

Handicapping the Republican Field

I haven't looked at the horse race for a while. The odds are from Intrade.

Mitt Romney (1 to 2)
The only thing keeping Romney from having a lock on the race is the fact he is universally loathed by Republicans. Even with the race filled with buffoons and idiots Romney still can't pull above 25% of likely voters. Imagine how demoralizing it must be for Romney (assuming he is capable of feeling anything like human emotions) to realize that a majority of voters would prefer any random blue-nosed hyena to him.

Rick Perry (8 to 1)
A random blue-nosed hyena.
Perry is only polling in third place mostly because Republicans realized that calling Perry dumber than dirt was an insult to the intellect of top soil.  Perry still has three advantages: 1) He's not Mitt; 2) He's got money; 3) He's Texan. The last is important because, while Southerners may agree he's dumb as a post it is at least a good old boy Southern post.

Herman Cain (11 to 1)
As CEO, Cain used the same high-tech resources to create the Godfather Pizza business plan as he did developing his tax plan.
Polling in first place but nobody, including Cain's family, thinks he has a snowballs chance in Hell. Cain himself is spending most of his time pitching a book and not campaigning. Cain has no campaign funds and being the front runner hasn't seen any inflow of cash.

Michele Bachmann (76 to 1)
No further comment.

Republicans have a history of nominating candidates they despise, Mitt will likely just be another in that long line. However, there is still time. All it takes to shoot into the lead in polls is the willingness to declare, the ability to hate unreservedly, and to appear semi-lucid for at least 30 consecutive seconds.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Cain Border Fence

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage ~ Richard Lovelace
But with enough juice 
you can kill a whole bunch of Spics. ~ Herm Cain (paraphrase)
Herm Cain is desperate to keep those imaginative ideas coming. Now that he has solved the nation's economy by cribbing off a video game he is taking on immigration with his trademark simplicity. He wants to string an electrified prison fence the length of the 2,000 mile US-Mexico border.
'America the Beautiful' will need new lyrics
What Cain hasn't thought of is that electric fences are easy to beat, just go under them. Mexican smugglers have been using cross border tunnels for years. Cain's electric fence will solve the biggest problem smugglers have building them by providing an unlimited, reliable power source for tools, lighting, air conditioning, and even elevators.

Cain's electric fence could power a new, 21st century underground transportation system.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Is Fort Knox Empty?

I love a good conspiracy theory and this one has it all.
It has pedigree, the rumor has been circulating for over 50 years. Ron Paul, Fox News, neo-Nazis, and fiction writer Brad Meltzer all subscribe to the theory. Russia's spy agency, the FSB, claims the vault is empty and the International Monetary Fund knows it.

It has real world consequences far more serious than whether an alien spacecraft crash landed in Roswell. The US and global financial systems would collapse overnight if it became known that the US gold reserves were figments. Welcome to the Dark Ages.

What happened to it? Many say it was stolen by Nelson Rockefeller, the Jews, Bill Clinton, or space aliens. Others claim it was pissed away over the years to cover the federal debt and balance of trade.

Some claim the vault is empty, that only dust and spider webs remains. Others say the gold was replaced with fake bars made of either lead or tungsten and painted gold.

Where's the Proof?
Some say that the over-the-top security around Fort Knox is proof the vault is empty. That the goal isn't to secure gold but secure the secret. Another proof, they claim, is that the book value of the gold hasn't changed over the years. The first is a classic logical fallacy. The latter ignores the standard accounting practice of listing book value as the original value on acquisition and not adjusting it for the whims of the market. Value is only established when something is bought or sold.

Actually the best argument the theorists have is that nobody has been inside the vault in 37 years. Fort Knox would make one hell of a tourist attraction. People would pay a lot for an admission ticket to view the gold stockpile. It would go a long way to balancing the budget.

What's the Truth?
The government (yeah, like they wouldn't lie) says that Fort Knox holds less than half the federal gold reserves. Some 147 million troy ounces of gold rests in Fort Knox while over 220 million troy ounces is stored in the basement of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

The Fort Knox repository is holding far less gold than it did at its peak (650 million troy ounces during WWII). But some of that extra gold was being held in safe keeping for US allies (like the UK). The rest is either in New York or was used in not at all secret transactions.

What's the Reality?
Who knows? But as I always say, never let the truth in the way of a good story.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Between Stupid and Vile

The distance between stupid and vile can be remarkable tiny.

Topeka, KS - Vile with a touch of stupid
The Topeka City Council wanted to cut unnecessary programs so they voted (7 to 3) to legalize domestic violence within city limits. However, it is still illegal to throw snowballs (Topeka criminal code section 54-123). In Topeka it is just fine to beat your wife with a belt but if you toss a slush ball at her you're in big trouble.

Canadian Border Fence - Stupid with a hint of vile
The US-Canadian border is 5,500 miles long. There are thousands of miles of wilderness, glaciers, and a tiny bit of water known as the Great Lakes. The US government wants to fence much of that border. Where it gets weird is in Vermont. Many small towns sit right on top of the Vermont/Quebec border. The border runs down the center of some streets and even through the middle of some homes. And the Border Patrol is getting badass about enforcing the border. Residents have been arrested for crossing the street, they feel the need to carry a passport every time they leave the house yet they are still harassed.

Glenn Beck - Equal parts vile and stupid
Okay, I know that Glenn Beck is pretty much terrified of everything so it is no surprise he is afraid of the American people. Of course Beck is horror-struck by the Occupy Wall Street movement. How dare people gather together to petition their government for the redress of grievances without prior approval of Fox News. But Beck doesn't just piss his panties in fear, he squeals in panic like a stuck piglet. He has convinced himself we want to execute every man, woman and child in the country. Not true, we have no desire to end Beck's suffering quickly.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Lord Is My Shepard

I can't seem to get away from religion this week. Maybe it's because the news isn't making sense to me. Or, perhaps it's because Michele Bachmann, with hundreds of legitimate reasons to oppose Herm Cain's inane 9-9-9 Plan, could only think that it reminded her of the number of the Beast.
Anyhow, let's think about the whole God As Shepard metaphor. It makes us the sheep destined to follow meekly, sheepishly, to get sheared on a regular basis, and when it suits His fancy be led to the slaughter. Or as George Orwell put it:
Thou art the giver of
All that thy creatures love,
Full belly twice a day, clean straw to roll upon;
Every beast big and small
Sleeps at peace in his stall,
Thou watchest over all, 

Comrade Napoleon. ~ Animal Farm

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

God's Wife

I happened on biblical scholar Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou on the BBC today as she was discussing the notion that God had a wife who has been scrubbed from the Bible.

In ancient Hebrew God was the original "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named." You could call him "Lord" or by his initials (YHWH). Of his various pseudonyms one, curiously, is plural.

Elohim, meaning multiple "gods," is one of the earliest titles given the Hebrew God. Psalm 82 shows Him as the chairman of the board on a committee of gods. Later monotheistic preachers have had to twist the bible into knots explaining how the word "gods" does not, in fact, refer to gods.

Hidden away in the dark recesses of the Old Testament is the name Asherah. A fertility goddess, she shows up occasionally as an object of worship in the Hebrew temple.

One school of thought is that in early Old Testament times there was a struggle between Elohim priests who worshiped a god family and Yahweh priests who insisted on a single, masculine patriarch god. The Genesis creation story, for example, is told twice. Once from an all powerful single god perspective and again from a collective polytheistic, "in our image" perspective.

Eventually, the monotheists won. God got a divorce and has been an bachelor deity ever since.
Ironically, when gentiles got a hold of the religion they restored polytheism with an urban jungle of angels and devils, saints and demons.  While God had sex with a farm girl and made the Virgin Mary a goddess he didn't do the right thing by her and so Christians are forced to venerate her as an unwed mother.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Republicans and Children

It has been observed that Republicans believe in the sanctity of life from conception to birth. From the attacks on public schools to efforts to block children's access to health services and nutrition to allowing pollution of children's air and water in pursuit of profits to urging the return of child labor, Republicans are at war with the youngest in our nation.
Happy shall he be, that takes and dashes your little ones against the stones. ~ Psalm 137:9
Harming children is an Old Testament, fundamentalist thing. They believe it is just and holy to injure the children of their enemies and since Republicans consider liberals, Hispanics, and the adopted children of gay parents their enemies in a culture war they have no qualms about seeking to do them harm.

Alabama (like Arizona last year) is targeting the children of immigrants. Then there was this attack on a lesbian couple and their small children where the courts appear to be siding with the attackers.

A couple more biblical verses. The first is God's instructions for dealing with enemies, specifically Midianites (Arabs).
Kill all the boys and all the women who have had intercourse with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves. ~ Numbers 31:17-18
According to the Bible, 32,000 young women were forced into sexual slavery on orders from God. There is no mention of how many boys were murdered but thirty thousand is a sound estimate.

Then there are God's threats against people who do not worship him.
If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over. You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters. ~ Leviticus 26:27-29
Nothing encourages fidelity like forced cannibalism.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Con Games and Scams

Just a Two-bit Grifter

Before dropping out of the presidential race Attention Whore Sarah Palin did one last scam. She appealed to her benighted followers through her money machine, SarahPAC, to giver her cash and convince her that they love her so so much. She took the money and dropped out. I wish I had a sucker list to tap for free money that is as gullible as hers. Caribou Barbie may be the most successful con artist in history because she never even been arrested.

My Rowdy Friends
Zygi Wilf has a net worth of $1.3 billion; he owns the Minnesota Vikings football team. Alex Spanos has a net worth of $1.1 billion; he owns the San Diego Chargers. Both men want brand new pleasure palaces for their teams and both want taxpayers to carry a heavy part of the bill.

The Chargers are looking for an $800 million dollar monument with a retractable roof (because, heaven know, the weather in San Diego is so iffy). They expect local government to carry the bulk of the expense, some $500 million.

The Vikings plan on spending up to $1.2 billion for a place to play their eight home games per year. They want taxpayers to carry $600 million, or more, in the cost of the building.

The arguments are always the same:
  • Appeal to Penury. They need a new stadium "to stay financially competitive." (It ought to be funny watching billionaires plead poverty. It's not.)
  • Appeal to Passion. The community has to show its love for the team or we'll leave. (The traditional gold-digger's song; see Sarah Palin above.)
  • Appeal to Fairness. The Dallas Cowboys got a new publicly financed stadium, I deserve one too. (Two wrongs don't make a right.)
Free Money
The Federal Reserve Bank is run by bankers for bankers. One of their many, many (many, many) tricks is loaning money to big Wall Street banks for virtually nothing which the banks turn around and loan to the Federal Government for a fat profit. If the Federal Reserve loaned these trillions of dollars directly to the government it would take a serious bite out of the federal deficit.

But, the Federal Reserve Board is in on this scam to feed free money to their buds.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

That Old Time Religion

Pastor Jerry Pittman Sr. saw he gay son pull into the parking lot of his Grace Fellowship Church in Fruitland, TN. Pastor Jerry told his congregation to "sick'em." Church deacons led by Pastor Jerry's brother went out to the parking lot and beat the shit out of Jerry Pittman Jr. and his boyfriend.

In West Hollywood, the United Methodists closed a church because there were too many homosexuals attending.

Marrying Ku Klux Klan and Inquisition traditions, a mob of Georgia Christians set fire to the home of a disabled gay man. They did it on a Sunday morning before going to church.

In North Carolina, a religious leader shot his four year-old step son to death because he thought the child was gay. He also killed a 28 year-old woman but that appears to have been strictly recreational.

Here in California a fundamentalist couple beat an adopted child to death, and another into a coma. The adopted children are black, from Africa. The parents natural, white, children are treated much less violently.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

What Do We Want?

The One Percenters are complaining that they don't know what the Occupy Wall Street people want. The short answer is a complete change is the depraved, oligarchical system that American democracy and capitalism has been corrupted into. But if you want some specifics, here are a few:
  • All senior executive compensation packages must be made public and approved in an open vote by the share holders. Without such a vote, no individual may receive compensation in excess of ten times the median average compensation of all corporate employees nor receive any benefits not equally available to all corporate employees.
  • The CEO is responsible for maintaining a corporate climate free of criminal activity. The CEO is deemed complicit in corporate criminal activity such as fraud, forgery, or involuntary manslaughter unless he can prove that he took all reasonable steps to prevent such crimes.
  • Any corporation requiring a government bailout will be deemed entering into bankruptcy; all stock equity is eliminated. New stock will be issued for the purpose of paying back the government with interest.
  • No corporation receiving one or more government contracts may spend any money whatsoever to lobby that government. Any corporation which signs a contract with the government must pay ten times the total amount spent on lobbying during the previous decade into the US Treasury before that contract will be deemed valid. This rule applies to all subsidiaries, sister subsidiaries, and spun off businesses. Any effort to circumvent this rule is felony fraud. 
  • All political contributions are to be taxed by the following formula:
    • Under $10,000 - no tax
    • Between $10,000 and $100,000 - 10%
    • Between $100,000 and $1 million - 25%
    • Over $1 million - 50%
    • Over $10 million - 90%
  • All contributions to all candidates, PACs, political parties, or independent expenditures in a calendar year are totaled to calculate this tax. 
  • Citizens volunteering to political campaigns will not be taxed for their volunteer efforts.
  • Any corporation making political contributions must receive prior approval of the share holders for both the dollar amount and recipients.
  • No corporation making over $100,000 in political contributions in any single year may receive any government contracts for the following decade.
  • No Supreme Court justice or member of Congress may receive speaker fees, teaching fees, or any other compensation for appearing nor may tickets be sold or the people in any way charged for attending such an event.
  • A one percent annual Wealth Tax will be imposed on all assets (foreign and domestic) in excess of $50 million and a ten percent tax on all assets over $1 billion.
I could go on. Hell, I could spend the next two weeks writing this list and still leave stuff out. 

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Jerusalem 1913

Jaffa Gate to the Old City during
the last decade of Ottoman rule.
I have just finished a fascinating book that looks at the Middle East problems by examining Palestine during the final years of the Ottoman Empire.

Jews and Arabs have shared Palestine for generations with Muslims in control (excluding a few years of Crusader rule) from the seventh century. In the middle of the 19th century old Jerusalem was about 45% Muslim, 25% Jewish, and 30% Christian. Jews were less than five percent of all of Palestine.

The rise of Zionism in Europe changed that. By 1881 Jews were a majority in Jerusalem. Jewish settlements were springing up and blooming on land sold by Arabs who thought it worthless desert. As Zionists in Vienna began talking about building a Jewish homeland, Turks and Arabs grew concerned.
Early (1880's) settlers.
The Turks were concerned because the immigrants were not interested becoming Ottoman citizens. The Arabs foresaw a time when they would be driven out of a Palestine they considered their own.
We did not conquer this land from you (Jews). We conquered it from the Byzantines who ruled it then. We do not owe anything to the Jews. ~ Arab leader Ruli Khalidi, 1908
Exacerbating the problem was the Zionists tendency to isolate themselves. In a land where the official language was Turkish and the common tongue was Arabic, the Zionists taught themselves Hebrew. They refused to hire Arab farmhands or integrate themselves with surrounding villages. Many Zionists felt Arabs were a "cancer" on Palestine. Arabs, in turn, called these Jewish immigrants "dogs."
As petty violence between Arabs and Jews grew the Zionist settlements organized self-defense militia. The HaShomer (above) were mercenaries who hired themselves out to settlements that feared nearby Arab villagers.
It began as a simple brawl over the theft of a bunch of grapes. ~ Albert Antebi, Ottoman (non-Zionist) Jewish leader
In 1913, a Jewish settlement guard (probably HaShomer) caught an Arab teamster of eating grapes. Whether the grapes were stolen or from the Arab's own vines is a question that was quickly lost. The incident ended with one Arab dead and several villagers and settlers injured. As news spread conflicts broke out between Arabs and Jews throughout Palestine. 1913 saw the beginning of the Palestine Wars that are still being fought.
Five Arab hung outside the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem.
But Turks still ruled Palestine and with the outbreak of World War I the Jews and Arabs had a common enemy in Pasha Ahmed Djemal, the governor of Syria and Palestine. Djemal was one of the leaders behind the Armenian Genocide. He was responsible for the deportation of tens of thousands of Jews from Palestine. As for the Arabs, those he would just murder. Any Arab suspected of disloyalty would be hung with the bodies left hanging to rot in the sun. Djemal was assassinated in 1922 in Soviet Georgia, revenge for his crimes against Armenians.

Only now do we get to the era most people know. The Balfour Declaration, the British Mandate, partition, and the State of Israel. But all of that history was defined by the history that occurred in the obscured last decades of Ottoman Palestine.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

Congress shall make no law respecting...the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. ~ US Constitution
The similarities between Occupy Wall Street and Egypt's Tahrir Square revolution go beyond them both being spontaneous, popular uprising against oligarchical rule, although that in and of itself would be sufficient.
  • There is police violence against peaceful protesters. NYPD didn't use thugs on camels, they employed thugs with pepper spray.
  • The police are trying mass arrests but there are simply too many people in the streets. (I should note here that the NYPD is spitting on the Constitution.)
  • The official media are doing their best to censor, ignore, and ridicule the movement yet it continues to grow.
  •  The contagion is spreading to other cities.
I'm not deluded enough to believe this will have any lasting effect. The American oligarchy is far more deeply entrenched than Hosni Mubarak's regime was. Mayor Billionaire (Bloomberg) may have to fill Citi Field with political prisoners but he will restore absolute rule by money.