Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Greece: The Great Plutocracy Experiment

Athena weeps.
The Greek economy is what happens when plutocrats gain total control over government. The Greek debt crisis was created by Goldman Sachs and while Greece fell into depression, Goldman profited. The Greek bailout was designed to put the entire weight of austerity on the Greek people while leaving the big investment banks not only untouched but profiting from the austerity.

Goldman executive, and plutocrat toady, Lucas Papademos, was installed without elections as the Prime Minister of Greece with instructions to implement a bloodthirsty economic regime upon Greece. His successor, Antonis Samaras, is himself a plutocrat and has served plutocrat interested to the exclusion of everyone else.

Now that Greek election near, plutocrats are crashing the Greek stock market in the hope of terrifying the Greek people to abandon popular government and allow Greece to be continue to be a government of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for the wealthy.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Prince of Peace

Know as Yeshua to friends and family but Jesus in a Latin translation of the Greek translation of the name, that is just the start of Christianity as a profoundly confusing religion.

Jesus and War
It is a religion that calls its savior "the Prince of Peace" yet has a profound love of war. Christians join the military is hordes. The United States Air Force appears to have become a Jesus cult. Throughout the Bible Belt, Jesus and guns are worshiped with equal passion.

Jesus and Torture
Waterboarding is how we’d baptize terrorists. ~ Sarah Palin

Christians think that torturing Jesus at his crucifixion was horrible yet they loved watching Mel Gibson's Jesus snuff film. They quote the Sermon on the Mount repeatedly ("If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.") while believing that torturing prisoners is an appropriate reaction to 9-11.

Jesus and Gays
The Good Samaritan is the most famous of Jesus' parables yet most Christians stubbornly miss the point. In Jesus' day, Samaritans were thought of as contemptible idolators by the Jews. They were to first century Jews what gays are to modern Christians. When He said "love your neighbor as yourself" He did not mean only those within your social or sexual tribe, but all humans. Christians are obstinately tribal and freely broadcast their contempt for outsiders in opposition to Jesus' teaching.

Weird Beliefs
Tradition has Mary a child bride as young as 12 years old when she was impregnated by God with Jesus. Catholics believe that transubstantiation of the Eucharist turns bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ, meaning that communion is not just ritual cannibalism but actual cannibalism.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Foreign Affairs: Cuba Division

The last in our trilogy is the possibility that the United States will be the last nation of the face of the earth to normalize relations with Cuba. Perhaps, some day, we will have someone like Alec Guinness looking after our interests on the island.
The Cuba Libre Affair
Ah, Cuba Libre. Besides being a good use of rum was the 19th century slogan for the liberation of Cuba from Spanish colonialism. It was resurrected in the 1950's by rebels fighting to free Cuba from the brutally corrupt dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. It was used, briefly, when the CIA and Mafia collaborated on a military invasion of the island known to history as the Bay of Pigs.  Since then it has been the faint hope of Cuban exiles in Florida who expect the rest of us to believe that they want to give up their lucrative businesses in Miami and return to their grandfather's tobacco plantation in Pinar del Rio.

Opponents of normalizing relations claim that, first, Cuba has to pay US companies for all the property they lost when Cuba nationalized foreign interests, plus a half century of interest. Which means the Cuban government will have to find the heirs of mobster Meyer Lansky and compensate them for the hotel, casino, and brothels they took.
Crime, vice, and fascist dictatorship - Cuba's glory days.
Opponents claim that if the United States continues its embargo for just a few more decades then the Cuban government will change. A half century of isolation just isn't long enough. Except Cuba isn't isolated. You can fly into Cuba from Canada, Europe, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, and pretty much anywhere in the world except the US. You want to smoke Cuban cigars? Just cross into Canada or Mexico where you can buy them legally. You can probably carry them back into the US too.

The embargo is a vestige of the Cold War. It may have made sense for the twenty or thirty years following the Cuban Missile Crisis but now it is just silly. If we can have normal relations with Vietnam after a war that killed over a million Vietnamese and 60,000 Americans we can have relations with Cuba for disposing a friendly murderous dictator and replacing him with an unfriendly murderous dictator.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Foreign Affairs: Russian Division

More foreign comedy is happening in Russia where their ruble has become like Tolstoy's play The Living Corpse - dead money walking.

The Russian Affair
Russia is the most perfect example of a kleptocracy in human history. The Sochi Winter Olympics cost a staggering $51 billion, five times the cost of the 2012 London Summer games. The cost was so high because much of the money was diverted by bribes, kickbacks, and other corrupt practices.

The ruble has lost half its value in less than four months. Imagine having $10,000 on Sept. 1 and have it worth a little more than $5,000 by Christmas. This has caused, not just a run on banks, but a run on the entire currency and Putin's beloved oligarchs have been the first out the door. 

The cause is the massive drop in oil prices, Russia's economy is oil and pretty much nothing else, but the oligarch's currency manipulations, designed to profit from disaster, has accelerated the ruble's collapse. Western sanctions, targeted against Russia's elite, have had a tangential effect - by squeezing the oligarchs it has made them more willing to bleed the ruble.
The $1.2 billion yacht of Russia oligarch Roman Abramovich.
That's not the funny part. What's funny is how American plutocrats are rushing to defend their brother billionaires in Russia. Morgan Stanley wants to sell its oil unit to the Russian government owned oil company Rosneft. BP isn't just in bed with Rosneft, it is having rough Russian sex with it. Exxon is losing its joint venture with Rosneft to pollute the Arctic Ocean. So the plutocrats have gone to financial press to beg the West to bail out Russia.

We are being told that Germany and the United States have to prop up Russian billionaires or else face our own economic ruin, perhaps even nuclear war. The first will not happen because the oligarchs are insignificant to the Western economies. And if the second happens it will be because Putin is insane not because his billionaire buddies can't have Ritz crackers with their caviar.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Foreign Affairs: Movie Division

There is a lot of foreign news that, like the 1948 movie A Foreign Affair, is kinda funny.

The Sony Affair
Sony made this comedy about Seth Rogan trying to assassinate Kim Jong Un. It was one of several recent movies where North Korea is one of the few safe enemies left. For example, there was Die Another Day (2002), Red Dawn (2012), and Pyongyang, a Steve Carell drama that was killed due to the Sony affair.

Then Sony got successfully hacked by North Korea because movie industry cyber-security is notoriously lax. They had several movies pirated, but movies are being constantly pirated by Asian hackers. Most damaging was the release of embarrassingly catty emails Sony executives wrote about their actors.

Sony's reaction was swift. They and all Hollywood kowtowed.
Sony Exec.
Sony pulled the Rogan movie, losing the $40 million production costs plus over $20 million in marketing. New Regency cancelled the Carell movie. Paramount refused to allow theaters to replace the Rogan film with Team America: World Police (2004) because of its Korean storyline. Meanwhile, Hollywood plutocrats are suggesting that hacking Sony was an act of war deserving a military response.

A better response would be for Sony to invest a little money in securing their valuable property and teaching their executives this simple rule:
Never put in an email anything you wouldn't want to see on the lunch room bulletin board.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The United States Plutocracy - A History

This is not the first time that the United States has descended into plutocracy - government of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for the wealthy.

18th Century - Rise of Aristocracy
At its founding the United States was a democratic aristocracy, voting rights were restricted to property owners but within that elite class the greater good of the nation at large predominated.  The election of Andrew Jackson marked the growth of people power where aristocratic standing no longer guaranteed political power and rugged Americanism was more valued than genteel breeding.

19th Century - First Plutocracy
It was in the decades after the Civil War that things shifted again, this time to a pure Plutocracy. The rise of robber barons like Jay Gould, John Rockefeller, and J. P. Morgan saw a breed of Americans who didn't give a shit about the welfare of the nation and sought only personal wealth.

They manipulated markets, bribed politicians, and developed monopolies that allowed them to exploit workers with starvation wages and bleed small businesses by fixing prices. They owned the media and so could censor most of their corrupt practices. They considered legislatures, judges, and even presidents as investment property to be used to expand their wealth.

The years between 1870 and 1900 was known both as the Gilded Age, for the gaudy wealth of this handful of highly successful thieves, and the Long Depression because the rest of the nation suffered 23 years of deprivation unmatched until the 1930's.

Trust Buster Teddy Roosevelt dealt a severe blow to the plutocrats during his presidency although subsequent presidents Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge tried to restore the plutocrats to their former power. What finally crushed the American Plutocracy was the Great Depression.
The business of America is business. ~ Calvin Coolidge, 1925

20th Century - Democracy's Golden Age
The Great Depression saw banks go bust, losing depositors money in the process, business shut their doors throwing millions out of work that had paid less than 25 cents an hour. The myth that American plutocrats kept the country strong was broken. What followed under Franklin Roosevelt were minimum wage laws, child labor laws, bank regulations, and Social Security. Each of these was fruitless opposed by the plutocrats.

By the 1950's the tax on plutocrats had reached 90% and the United States economy was prospering like it had never before. The Middle Class thrived and America became the envy of the world. While American prosperity waxed and waned throughout the rest of the century the seeds of its demise was the election of Ronald Reagan. The marginal tax rate had been cut to 70% in the 1960's and that had led to the recession of the 1970's. Reagan slashed taxes on plutocrats allowing for the growth of multibillionaires. This trend accelerated under the Bushes, Clinton, and Obama.

21st Century - Plutocracy Triumphant
Today, legislatures, judges, even presidents are wholly owned subsidiaries of American plutocrats. Plutocrats write legislation.  Plutocrats openly buy judges. Presidential candidates make pilgrimages to individual plutocrats like they were holy sites. Plutocrats don't give a shit about the country, they are only interested in what will give them more power and make them more money.

The next time someone tells you that the United States of America is a democracy, feel free to spit in their face. The American democratic experiment is dead, killed by the plutocrats who rule the rest of us as serfs.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

USA Torture, What's New

I already knew that the CIA, with the active knowledge and consent of President Bush and Vice-President Cheney, committed numerous acts of torture throughout the Bush presidency. What I didn't know...
  • When torture defender claimed that waterboarding isn't so bad they were telling the truth. The depth and depravity of CIA torture was so severe that repeatedly nearly drowning people was, by comparison, relatively gentle.
  • The CIA put a unqualified rookie in charge of the Afghan torture camp. In hindsight, that makes sense. If the program went south they didn't want any skilled agent to take the fall. They also probably picked him because he was a psychopath who would enjoy the assignment.
  • The CIA hired outside contractors with no experience in interrogations to design the program. They were quite incompetent but also really got off on developing new torture techniques. We American taxpayers made these junior grade Doctors Mengele into multimillionaires.
  • The claim that "enhanced interrogations" isn't torture wasn't just sophistry. It was an outright lie. The CIA in its internal memos described the program using the word "torture."
There are a few things I can deduce.
  • Abu Ghraib was probably an official approved program. The only apparent difference between the Afghan program and Abu Ghraib was that someone took pictures. The goals were similar. The techniques were similar. The use of untrained psychopaths was similar.
  • There is more, even worse, still secret. The effort by President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry to delay (quash) the Senate report and Attorney General Holder to stonewall it was revealing. Their reasons were ludicrous, like ISIS is going to be even more violent now than a month ago. They are afraid that the Senate report might trigger additional revaluations. Perhaps the drone killing program is as badly run as the torture program or perhaps something even worse. Whatever, it is a secret that President Obama is terrified might get out.
And one outstanding question. What did Hillery Clinton know and when did she know it? I don't care what her opinion on torture is now. I want to know what she knew while Secretary of State.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

On Racism and Police Violence

I have to believe there are good people in the police profession. I have to believe that the profession does not deliberately weed out good people who actually believe the job is to Protect and Serve. I have to believe this because the alternative is a terrifying police state.
One could successfully argue that a great majority of police officer are themselves good people. That said, the profession is attractive to psychopaths. You get to bully people, abuse them, even kill people, secure in the knowledge that district attorneys, juries, and your brother officers will defend you even if they secretly know you are a sick SOB who shouldn't be anywhere near a gun let alone a badge.

Most white Americans believe that young black men are animalistic thugs. You can easily find articles offering "scientific" proof of that belief (I refuse to link to them, look for yourself). This is an old belief deeply ingrained in white American culture.
This fear of black thuggery has spawned two centuries of abuse, suppression, and murder by white Americans. White police officers are a product of their culture. That is why when a Cleveland police officer pulled up to a black preteen sitting alone in a park the officer stepped out of his car imagining he was facing a gang of deadly thugs and fired his weapon at the first movement. Or, when another officer stopped a black man with a pill bottle the officer imagined he saw a gun.

The election of Barack Obama once seemed like the beginning of a new era in America's race culture. Sadly, it probably marked the high water mark of race relations. Conservatives across the country are seeking, and often succeeding, in turning back two generations of advances in racial equality. In many states poll taxes, in the form of Voter ID laws, have been enacted. These laws require proof of citizenship documents that can be expensive and difficult to acquire.
Voting line in a majority black Detroit location.
Another tactic in voting is restricting polling access in minority areas while there are a surfeit of voting opportunities in white suburban areas. You will never see lines like this in rich Bloomfield Hills, MI.

Conservatives have begun to long for a return to other elements of Jim Crow. Recently, a Florida Republican urged turning fire hoses on black demonstrators as did a CNN anchor.
This was a common tactic used by white police forces to breakup peaceful civil rights demonstrations in the 1960's. FOX News commentators have urged literacy tests to weed out undesirable voters. The 1965 Voting Rights Act specifically outlaws such tests but with the Supreme Court's gutting of that act in 2014 it is only a matter of time before some southern state reinstitutes such tests. School segregation is rapidly returning.

I'd like to believe there are good police officers. But as long as the good officers defend and protect the "bad apples" who do the majority of the harassing, bullying, and shooting of African Americans then the entire profession of American policing must be considered rotten to its core.

I'd like to believe that America is not a racist society. But I'd have to be blind, deaf, and stupid to believe that. I also believe that with Republicans in control of Congress things will get a lot worse in the next two years. And if Republicans gain the White House and a stranglehold on the judiciary in the future (more judges like Scalia and Alito) then America's future is bleak.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

How to Avoid Getting Shot By a Cop

Pasty white conservatives whose only experience with the police is leadfooting it down the highway are giving tons of advice to real Americans on how to not get shot. Their advice is seldom useful. If you don't want to become a victim (you will not become a statistic because the United States deliberately refuses to keep statistics on police shootings of civilians) here is a little real world advice.

Don't Be a Minority
Your odds of getting shot by a cop go up dramatically if you are Black, Hispanic, or Native American. In Oakland, for example, none of the 45 civilians shot by police between 2004 and 2008 were white. You may say you don't have a choice and that is certainly true, But as may conservative commentators have pointed out recently, when a minority is shot by a cop it's his own fault. Plastic surgery can help.

Don't Be Young
(see picture above)
Police are terrified of young people. If Tamir Rice had been 82 instead of 12 he'd be alive today. Cops think of it as preventive policing, getting them off the streets before they become threats.

Be a Woman
Virtually everybody shot by police are men. There are exceptions. Do not drive a car. Police can develop road rage against women drivers and take pot shots at them. Also, don't be a pretty woman. Cara Knott (above) made the mistake of driving while pretty. She was pulled over by CHP officer Craig Peyer, raped, and murdered. Then there are the cases when police shoot women thinking they are men. On second thought, you don't want to be a woman around cops either.

Don't Be Naked
Police seem to shoot naked men a lot. Police always claim they felt threatened by the naked men, although in this case the cop didn't even bother getting out of his car and just shot the naked man through his car window. I suspect the cops shoot because they are afraid of touching naked penis.

Be Rich
Cops don't shoot the wealthy. The exception is that cops will shoot rich, black dudes. Hell, if you're a millionaire you can literally get away with murder.

Don't Have a Weapon, Also Don't Not Have a Weapon
In that Oakland study mentioned above, 40% of the civilians shot by police were unarmed. It really doesn't make a difference to police whether or not someone has a gun, a toy gun, or is stark naked. Whether or not you get shot by a cop is more dependent on race than whether or not you are carrying a weapon.

Don't Drive a Car, or Walk, or Stay Home, or in Bed 
I've searched the internet for places where an innocent or unarmed person has not been shot by police. I can't find a safe place. Hell, police have accidentally shot and killed themselves on the gun range.

The best advice I can give you is to treat police officers the same way you would treat a rabid pit bull. Avoid them whenever possible. If you can't avoid them don't do anything to anger or frighten them. Remember they may have had a fight with their wives or a bad case of hemorrhoids and should not be allowed anywhere near a deadly weapon. Yet they do have weapons and a license to kill with near impunity.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Bleak House (of Representatives) Finally Sues the President

This scarecrow of a suit has, in course of time, become so complicated that no man alive knows what it means. The parties to it understand it least, but it has been observed that no two Chancery lawyers can talk about it for five minutes without coming to a total disagreement as to all the premises. ~ Charles Dickens, Bleak House
There are reasons for the legislature to sue the president rather than using its legislative powers, but they are entirely to provide perpetual employment to D.C. lawyers. This lawsuit will drone on in judicial purgatory and never decide anything. It will, however, consume entire forests to print the incomprehensible legal briefs.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

California Needs It's Slave Labor

At least that's what state lawyers are saying in federal court. My state, my liberal Democratic state, is telling the court that California cannot release non-violent offenders who should be eligible for early release because they are needed as cheap ($2 a day) firefighters.
The extension of 2-for-1 credits to all MSF inmates would likely make fire camp beds even more difficult to fill, as low-level, non-violent inmates would choose to participate in the MSF program rather than endure strenuous physical activities and risk injury in fire camps. ~ Nov. 17 court filing
Some definitions. MSF is "minimum support facility," they are work camps that have few guards and no walls or barbed wire. They are for prisoners who are no risk to the public. "2-for-1 credits" are a program to grants prisoners two days of time served for every actual day served. Usually these credits are only granted as payment to prison labor but the federal court wants all non-violent offenders to be eligible.

What the state is saying in the above quote is that it can't release non-violent offenders early because they need to keep them prisoners so they can work the fire lines.
the extension of enhanced credit-earning to these inmates would result in higher turnover and an even greater demand for minimum custody inmates. ~ ibid
Apparently there is a high demand for prisoner slave labor and early release threatens that supply of slaves.

Of course, the state could actually hire firefighters at a living wage and eschew using prison slaves as fodder for the flames but even in progressive California that is a step too close to democracy.

California currently holds 136,000 prisoners (equal to the population of Pasadena).

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Business of Immigrant Smuggling

I recently finished serving on a Federal jury. The defendant was accused of being part of an immigrant smuggling ring and I learned several things from the immigrants called as witnesses.

Immigrant Smuggling Is a Billion Dollar Business
In my case the rate to be guided across the US-Mexico border on a night-long hike to be picked up at the other end is between $3,000 and $6,000 (it really pays to negotiate the fee), payment due upon delivery. In 2012, about 270,000 Mexicans were estimated to have crossed the border illegally, which means payments were about one billion dollars. If you consider the rest of Latin America that amount more than doubles. The average income for a worker in Mexico is 280 peso a day. That's about $20US. These immigrant smugglers charge up to a year's income to bring one person into the United States.

Mother Jones reported in 2010 that immigrants from Thailand paid between $11,000 and $23,000 to be smuggled into the US. Unskilled workers in Thailand get paid about $120 per month in Thailand. These smugglers charge upwards of eight years of income for their services.

The Smuggling Chain Is Complex
Recruiters wait outside the Casa del Migrante in Tijuana seeking customers. Casa del Migrante is a Catholic charity that helps care for people who have been caught by the US Border Patrol and dumped back at the border with few if any resources. The recruiters negotiate a price for transit. The immigrants then take a taxi to a remote stretch of road in the desert where they are gathered into small groups. Guides lead them on an all night hike through rugged terrain. En route the guides will abandon them with instructions to seek a predominate landmark (in my case well lit wind turbines) where they will be met by vehicles (in my case two pick up trucks). The immigrants were not told what would happen next, what was the next link in the chain.

Sometimes the Next Link Is Servitude
After the case was decided, when I felt free to speculate, I began wondering what the next link is. How do the smugglers insure payment? That same Mother Jones article noted that the occasional answer is indentured servitude. Immigrants might be forced to work at farms the smugglers supply workers for until their debts are paid.

The Immigrants Are Sympathetic People
One immigrant witness was trying to be reunited with his wife living in San Diego. Another, Francisco Beltran, had spent 22 of his 28 years living in the United States. He had been deported a couple years ago and was simply trying to return to the only home he had ever known. None of the immigrants were on trial, had they been I would probably have voted acquittal.

The Defendant Was Not So Sympathetic
The defendant was charged with driving one of the transport trucks and being part of an organized smuggling operation. He did not testify, which is his right. His lawyer offered no witnesses, also his right. His lawyer confined his case to a closing argument where he urged the jury to imagine some alternative reason why his client had stopped to pick up five people who had been hiding in the underbrush and told them to hide on the floor of the truck as he drove off. The defendant never asked them where they wanted to go, he knew where to take them.

Had the defendant been engaged in civil disobedience and altruistically trying to help immigrants build better lives I might have gotten all nullification in the court's face. But he didn't and the evidence clearly shown the defendant was part of a commercial operation exploiting the immigrants for personal financial gain.

I joined the other jurors in finding the defendant guilty on all counts.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Anti-War Music in History

As we enter the "Nobody Knows What the Fuck We're Doing" phase of the third Iraq Was I thought it might be fun to look at some old-timey war songs.

All Quiet Along the Potomac Tonight - Civil War
All quiet along the Potomac," they say,
Except now and then a stray picket
Is shot, as he walks on his beat, to and fro,
By a rifleman hid in the thicket.
'Tis nothing—a private or two, now and then,
Will not count in the news of the battle;
Not an officer lost—only one of the men,
Moaning out, all alone, the death rattle.
Written as a poem by Ethel Beers in 1861 and set to music by the prolific John Hill Hewlett in 1863. As the lyrics state, to generals the death of a common foot soldier is hardly worth mentioning.

I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier - World War I
I didn't raise my boy to be a soldier,
I brought him up to be my pride and joy.
Who dares to place a musket on his shoulder,
To shoot some other mother's darling boy?
Written in 1915 by Alfred Bryan and Al Piantadosi, a couple of Tin Pan Alley professionals. It was popular in pacifist circles and reviled by war mongers like Teddy Roosevelt and so was banned from music halls across the United States. The song quickly became popular in England and Australia where the Great War was killing off the cream of their youth. It became the subject of numerous parodies. A joke told by Groucho Marx regards a card playing mother who says, "I didn' raise my boy, he had a joker."

And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda - World War I
They collected the wounded, the crippled, the maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia
The armless, the legless, the blind and the insane
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla
And when the ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where me legs used to be
And thank Christ there was no one there waiting for me
To grieve and to mourn and to pity 
This is not contemporary with the war, it was written by Eric Boyle in 1971, but no one can write about war songs without mentioning this as it is one of the most haunting songs I have ever heard. The story of the song is a hobo who joyfully traveled the outback with his swag. He was caught up in war mania, enlisted, and was shipped off to fight in the Battle of Gallipoli. Struck by a Turkish artillery shell and "when I awoke in me hospital bed and saw what it had done, I wished I was dead. I never knew there was worse things than dying." The photo is of the hospital for the wounded soldier of Gallipoli.

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition - World War II
Down went the gunner, a bullet was his fate
Down went the gunner, then the gunners mate
Up jumped the sky pilot, gave the boys a look
And manned the gun himself as he laid aside The Book, shouting
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!
During the Great Patriotic War none of the waring nations would permit anything like an anti-war song. The closest anyone got was Nazi Germany with the original lyrics to Lili Marlene.  The above ditty was written by famed songster Frank Loesser while serving in the U.S. Army as a propagandist.

I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag - Vietnam War
Come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
Come on fathers, and don't hesitate
To send your sons off before it's too late.
And you can be the first ones in your block
To have your boy come home in a box. 
The Vietnam War era was the golden age of war songs. There were pro-war songs (Ballad of the Green Berets) and a plethora of anti-war recordings. Country Joe McDonald wrote this song in 1967, copying the music from a 1927 rag.

Light Up Ya' Lighter - Iraq War

So come on come on, sign up, come on 
This ones nothing like Vietnam 
Except for the bullets, except for the bombs 
Except for the youth thats gone
Michael Franti continued the tradition of thoughtful war songs in 2005 with this cut from his album Yell Fire.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Post Election: Now What?

The election is over but what will be the result?

1. There Will Be No Attorney General
The longest the United States has gone without an Attorney General was ten weeks during the Nixon Watergate scandal. I expect there is no human being currently living on Earth that a Republican Senate will vote to confirm as President Obama's Attorney General. President Obama will have to appoint an acting Attorney General which the Senate will refuse to confirm. The Senate will then claim that all actions of the Justice Department under its acting AG are illegal.

2. Voter ID Laws Will Get Worse
With almost two-thirds of governorships held by Republicans we can expect a major expansion of efforts to disenfranchise students, minorities, and the poor.  Voter ID laws will become more restrictive. More states will limit voting access. In 2016 we can expect hours long waits to vote in heavily Democratic cities in states like Texas and Ohio. Southern states will reimpose Jim Crow voting laws.

3.  Investigations But No Impeachment
I may be wrong here, the crazy may infest Republicans, but I expect that a united Republican Congress will choose to give President Obama death by a thousand cuts than try for a doomed to fail impeachment.

4. President Obama Will Do ... ?
This is the big question. Will the President get angry and fight or will he give up and lay low for the final years of his term? Will his last two years more resemble Harry Truman or James Buchanan? Whatever, expect the next two years to be extremely ugly.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Wither the Mid-Terms

Not whither, this election isn't so much a choosing as a dried up mess of compost. In this shit, Republicans will likely prevail.

There Is No Momentum
Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine;
Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!
Lo! thy dread empire, Chaos! is restored
~ Alexander Pope
The "movement" pollsters are claiming to see is an illusion caused by pollsters shifting their screens to reflect what they think the final electorate will be. I'm not saying they are wrong, most will be accurate within the margin of error plus or minus an addition few percent. It's just not electorate shifts but calculation shifts. These screen shifts reflect the perceived...

Enthusiasm Gap
I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat. ~ Will Rogers
Remember "Hope and Change?" Remember when Democratic candidates could articulate some positive reason for electing them? In the one local competitive race (CA, 52nd CD), Democrat Scott Peters' campaign platform is mostly "don't elect the other guy who is a Tea Party follower and may be a gay sexual predator." Democrats across the country are pretty much saying that this is as good as it gets but Republicans will just make things worse. It's a depressing theme that isn't going to engender much enthusiasm.

October Surprises
If you can keep your head when all about you   
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too ~ Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you   
Are losing theirs,
You clearly don't understand the situation. ~ Murphy's Corollary

The big election surprises this year, ISIS and Ebola, both played badly for President Obama. They made him look indecisive and ineffective. In both cases he did the right thing in keeping calm and not panicking. But most Americans prefer decisive panic to calm response. And what plays badly for the President is bad for all Democrats because...

Midterm Traditions
The United States brags about its political system, but the President says one thing during the election, something else when he takes office, something else at midterm and something else when he leaves. ~ Deng Xiaoping
Midterm elections tend to go badly for the party in the White House. This is because presidents are never as good in office as we hoped they would be. People are disappointed and have only one way to show their dissatisfaction, voting for the opposition.

I'd like to see a November miracle and have Democrats hold the Senate. I just don't think it will happen. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Three Frighteningly Popular Reality TV Shows

In today's modern multichannel universe there is a television program for just about every bizarre taste.

Monsters Inside Me
You're a hypochondriac and you just can't decide what new symptoms to confound your doctor with next. This is the Animal Plant program for you. They have everything - flukes in your brain, worms in your eye, tiny mites crawling under your skin (scabies, above) - you could possibly believe is inhabiting you. All described in clinical yet gross, and engrossing, detail. The program started specializing on parasites but in recent years have branched out to viruses because they have actually run out of interesting parasites.

Deadly Women
The entire Investigation Discovery channel is dependent on the United States being the most murderous civilization in human history. If the National Rifle Association did not exist the ID channel would have had to create it to keep the kill rate up to network demands. Fortunately, for them, the list of American serial killers is so extensive even a 24-hour a day death channel is not  in danger of running out of subjects. Deadly Women concentrates on murderesses. Angry teens, black widows, old ladies with arsenic are all recreated by actresses in vignettes. Terrifyingly, the show is very popular with women viewers. The show features former FBI profiler Candice DeLong, a real life Clarice Starling. Each vignette ends with the female killer staring, unblinkingly, into the camera. Just like Hannibal Lecter.

Ancient Aliens
Remember the 1994 James Spader, Kurt Russell movie Stargate. It's premise was that the Pyramids were built for a space alien pretending to be the Egyptian god Ra. The movie was followed by successful TV spinoffs. Ancient Aliens contents that every jot and tittle of the Stargate multiverse was absolutely real. This History Channel series posits that everything that has ever happened on Earth is the result of alien intervention.
  • Life appears on Earth? The planet was seeded by aliens.
  • Dinosaur extinction? Aliens killed them off just a few thousand years ago to protect the humans that lived with them.
  • Every god ever? Aliens.
  • Noah's flood? Really happened, aliens.
  • Moses at Mount Sinai? He was talking to an alien.
  • Jesus virgin birth? Aliens inseminated Mary with an alien-human hybrid. (Actually, the series has never touched this because so many of the show's fans are fundamentalist Christians.)
  • Da Vinci, Einstein, Tesla? They were only geniuses because aliens talked to them.
  • Aliens helped Hitler build a flying saucer and America build its atomic bomb.
I could go on, they sure as hell do. Ancient Aliens is creationism for nerds.  Nothing happens due to physics or chemistry or biology. Everything is the result of space aliens playing with Earth. If you believe this you have to accept that these aliens, who once strode the Earth as gods have been reduced to drawing designs in corn fields, anally probing hicks, and butchering cows.

P.S. I admit I've watched all of these occasionally because I am severely disturbed.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ted Cruz's Kinky Love Life

I’ll tell you I love my iPhone. ~ Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
I want to be tolerant of alternative lifestyles, I really do. But while Cruz was struggling to sound both sympathetic and hate-filled on the topic of Apple's CEO being gay, he revealed more about his personal sexual identity than I wanted to know.

I don't want to know where Cruz stores his iPhone when it's set on vibrate or whatever else he might use his iPhone for. I mean, what he does with his iPhone in private is his own business and in no way affects my opinion of his qualifications as a presidential candidate.

I'd still sooner vote for an intolerant baboon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What Real Pandemic Panics Look Like

The Ebola panic in the United States is pathetic in large part because there are many more deadly infectious diseases in this country. Real pandemic panics are much different.

Yellow Fever Epidemic - 1878
Yellow Fever outbreaks occurred periodically throughout the 19th century in cities like New York, Boston, and New Orleans. The 1978 fever probably arrived in New Orleans with war refugees from Cuba. As it spread along the Mississippi Valley, Memphis tried to protect itself by banning travelers from the south entering the town. That didn't stop it. As deaths in Memphis started, the white population (some 25,000 people) of the city evacuated leaving behind less than 20,000 mostly poor or black people behind. The evacuees were frequently turned away by other towns by armed men and barricades. The death rate in Memphis reached 200 per day. The fever burned through the Mississippi Valley for three months killing 20,000 people. Over 5,000 died in Memphis alone.

There is an effective vaccine for Yellow Fever yet is is still endemic in tropical Africa and South America and kills 30,000 people annually world wide.

Spanish Flu Pandemic - 1918
In raw numbers, the deadliest pandemic in human history. In three years, the Spanish Flu killed as many people as died during the six years of  World War Two.

The current best guess is this strain of flu began on a pig farm in Kansas, spread to the Fort Riley army base in March, 1918 where 100 men reported sick the first day. It killed 48 men in Fort Riley is just two weeks. Soldiers carried the disease to East Coast ports and across the ocean into Europe. From there it spread across the globe. Wartime censorship compounded the disease. It was called "Spanish" flu because Spain was not involved in WWI and its appearance in Spain was the first time the pandemic was reported in the public press.

In the second half of 1918, this disease exploded across the world. The death rates were horrifying. One one day (Oct. 10, 1918) in one city (Philadelphia) 759 were killed by the virus. People would become sick and be abandoned to die by their own family. Entire families would get sick and starve in their homes as friends were afraid to help them. Police would enter the homes later to clear out the dead bodies. In Philly that year, priests would actually bring horse drawn carts through neighborhoods calling for people to "bring out your dead."

Over a half million died in the United States in September and October, 1918. Twenty percent of the population of Samoa died in two months. Seventeen million died in India. Entire Alaskan villages were wiped out by the disease. Globally, 25 million people died in just 25 weeks and an estimated 80 million people died during the two year run of the pandemic. To this day, saying the words "swine" and "flu" in the same sentence will send government officials into a panic.

Flu vaccines are developed annually. The flu still kills 30,000 people a year in the United States alone.

Polio - 1952
In 1952, a polio epidemic saw 57,000 cases leading to 3,145 deaths. Many others suffered paralysis, occasionally requiring encasement in iron lungs just to breath. The fear of polio was wide spread because it mostly infected children. Public swimming pools were closed and sporting events were cancelled. Parents were warned to not let their children play with strange children, get tired or cold. Every time a child came down with a sore throat or fever parents were terrified it was polio.

First Jonas Salk then Albert Sabin developed polio vaccines. I remember getting both because my parents wanted to be doubly sure I didn't get polio. Polio has been eradicated in most of the world, the last US case was in 1979. There were only 416 cases globally in 2013, mostly in Somalia and Pakistan.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Ebola Panic of 2014

In these days of indigestion it is oftentimes a question
As to what to eat and what to leave alone.
Every microbe and bacillus has a different way to kill us
And in time they all will claim us for their own.
There are germs of every kind in every food that you can find
In the market or upon the bill of fare.
Drinking water's just as risky as the so-called "deadly" whiskey
And it's often a mistake to breathe the air. ~ Some Little Bug Is Going to Find You Someday (song lyrics from 1916)
Illuminati Plot
According to this theory, the Illuminati created Ebola so they can impose mass quarantines, "FEMA camps, and global depopulation. The proof is imbedded in the popular cartoons South Park and The Simpsons. A variant of this thesis is the False Flag theory that President Obama is deliberately creating an Ebola pandemic so he can institute martial law.

It's Fake
Another variant concludes there is no such thing a Ebola and that the Red Cross is poisoning people. The reason given range from a depopulation plot, a plot to steal Sierra Leone diamonds, or a takeover of Nigerian oil.

The Ebola outbreak is the result of a US government weapons test that got away from them. If that sounds familiar, it is the plot of the 1995 movie Outbreak. Russia's Pravda and a Delaware State University professor promote this theory.

Redneck Cure
Apparently, beer and tobacco are the cure for Ebola. Which means Rush Limbaugh is perfectly safe and can stop panicking.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The Home of the 'Fraid

There may be nations more pathologically afraid of just about everything than the United States, I just can't think of one. And, as a group, no Americans are more terrified than conservatives.

ISIS Will Kill Us All
This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home. ~ Sen. Lindsey Graham
HotAir breathlessly declares that almost every American is terrified of ISIS even though only 14% in the poll they reference see ISIS as the most important problem facing the country.

Breitbart is pissing its pants over the thought that "homegrown ISIS sympathizers" will turn their guns on Americans. Unstated is that their guns will have been legally acquired because the Second Amendment is holy script.

Over at National Interest, Stuart Gottlieb lists four reasons that ISIS is a "clear and present threat to the U.S. homeland." Among those reasons is their asymmetric advantage; he claims because ISIS is so small and weak they have an overwhelming advantage over large and powerful nations.

Young Conservatives is convinced that ISIS will murder the families of American service members. They fail to notice that this has not happened anywhere in the world.

The Truth Is I have a much greater chance of being gunning down on the street by a trigger happy cop or shot by a pissed off friend or relative. In the last few years, more people in the US have been killed during illegal cockfights that murdered by ISIS.

Ebola Apocalypse
Reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning. ~ Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA)
As I write this there is a community of survivalists diligently preparing for an Ebola apocalypse. Their rules include:
  • More guns. Be prepared to shoot anyone approaching your home.
  • Never leave your shelter. Anyone stepping outside is lost to you. It goes without saying that they will have to be shot if they try to return.
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas (1 Ebola case) has formed a task force to deal with the pandemic. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida (zero cases) has ordered stockpiling of supplies to deal with the outbreak. The City of New York has a website providing Ebola information. Their FAQ effectively says that if you think you have Ebola you should face reality, you don't.

The Truth Is, to date, 0.0000009% of the population of the United States has the disease, and they caught it in Africa.  It's a nasty and deadly disease. Contracting it requires contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person shedding the virus. That's why friends, relatives, and health care workers are vulnerable - they clean up all the infected blood, diarrhea, and vomit of victims.  I am much more likely to die from heart disease, the flu, even malaria (five deaths in 2011).

The Ghey
I honestly think [the homosexual agenda is] the biggest threat that our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam. ~ State Rep. Sally Kern (R-OK)
Gays are bullying Christians (even when Christians were trying to be bullies) and stealing children (echoing the anti-Semitic blood libel). They are plotting to destroy marriage and family by (gasp) marrying and having families. Gays caused 9/11 to happen. Eventually, God will destroy America and it will all be the fault of gays.

The Truth Is simply xenophobia, an irrational fear of strangers which Bible Belt conservatives have in spades.

Pretty Much Everything Else
People do weird things when they're hungry. You might run into cannibals at that point. ~ Doug, Doomsday Preppers
The National Geographic Channel's Doomsday Preppers show a sampling of the many Americans who are so terrified of everyday life they must be constantly prepared for any number of totally improbably disasters. The list of things they fear include:
  • Yellowstone erupting (Likely to happen any time in the next 500,000 years.)
  • Asteroid or comet impact (Tunguska in 1908 did localized damage in Siberia. The last major impact in the United States was 35 million years ago.)
  • Earthquakes in New Madrid, MS (a 10% chance sometime in the next 50 years) but, oddly, not Los Angeles or San Francisco (25% chance in the next 30 years).
  • World War III (Less likely now than in 1962.)
The Truth Is these Preppers are much more likely to be struck by lighting than inconvenienced by any of the disasters they fear. 

Friday, October 03, 2014

Nate Silver's Hissy Fit

Pythia was prettier and more famous.
A follow up to my previous post. I'm been quite amused by Nate Silver's obsession with Sam Wang from the Princeton Election Consortium over their competing predictions of the Senate election outcome. It's as if Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi, got her panties in a twist because the Cumaean Sibyl had disagreed with her prediction of a wet fall on the Attic peninsula.

It doesn't matter. One will end up closer to the mark than the other but neither will be flawless. Both will claim their technique was perfect; it was their data that was imprecise. The one who gets closer to the actual election result will claim it proof of his infallibility. And it's all a bunch of pseudo-scientific hooey.
The Sibyl of Cumae is on the Sistine Chapel.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Political Polling - Season of the Witch

It's a desire as old as humanity, the wish to know the future. That's why palmistry and tarot card reading are still things even though the only thing palm readers can tell is whether I work with my hands and and tarot decks can only reveal how well I shuffle. Modern, scientific polling is more accurate than reading goat entrails but that is not saying much.

Pollsters will acknowledge that their polls are accurate, within a margin of error, except for those times they aren't. Pollsters like to claim to be masters of an arcane craft or, like Nat Silver, genius statisticians. What they are is educated guessers. Out of over 1,000 polls in the last week before the 2012 election, some pollsters were supernaturally accurate while others missed by a country mile. But, hitting your number in roulette does not make you prescient, just lucky.

When you look inside the magic box of pollsters you find a rather clumsy set of gears.
  • Margin of Error -  Assuming all other factors are equal, this is the range that a poll encompasses. A standard 1,000 person survey has a MoE of ±3%, meaning that 19 times out of 20 the actual result will be within that range. So, a poll claiming a 52% win could really be showing a 49% loss. Most of the time the "momentum" polls reveal is nothing more than MoE noise. But, this all assumes all other factors are equal and they never are.
  • Survey Structure - I once had a pollster explain to me how he could manipulate the results of a survey just by the order he asked the questions. Professional pollsters are aware of this but not even the best of them can catch all the subtle biases created by survey structure.
  • Response Rate - Pollsters are annoying and in this era of cell phones and call screening they are an avoidable annoyance. To get 1,000 responses requires over 20,000 attempts. This lead to....
  • Sampling Bias - Polls tend to under sample younger, poorer, and minority people. This means the results are not random. This leads to....
  • Weighting - When I was in high school my science teacher had what he call "Stowell's Constant," which was the number you added or subtracted from the result you got to get the correct answer. Pollsters do the same thing. They adjust the raw results they get to mirror what they believe is the electorate. Rasmussen Reports notoriously believes there are more Republicans that actually exist and their results tend to skew Republican.
  • Weighting Small Samples -  A problem with weighing is when you start parsing polls you get some really small sample sizes. A standard 1,000 person survey would expect 70 African-American males. If the poll only actually reached 30 black men then the MoE is approaching 18%, an error that is magnified by applying weighting adjustments. Pollsters hope the accumulations of these small sample errors will cancel each other out but there is no science to that, it is just hope.
  • In Hindsight - Pollsters always come up with explanations for when they screw the pooch but whenever they get close to the mark it is because of their mastery of the art of polling.
I'm not saying that political polls are worthless. They are amusing and, if taken with an appropriate number of grains of salt, mildly illuminating. They can tell you if an election will be close, but so can common sense. Polls are most useful for people who lack any common sense which is why politicians cling to them so desperately.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mercs R Us

Conservatives have a new (old) idea, hire mercenaries to do America's fighting in Iraq and Syria. Bill O'Reilly and Cal Thomas have both opined on what a really fun idea that is, just like in the movies.

Middle East Mercenaries
Professional warriors have been called the Second Oldest Profession. The most famous mercs in the Middle East were the Khwarezmiyya who were hired by Genghis Khan after he had destroyed the Persian Empire. They were also hired by the Kurdish Ayyubid Empire to drive the Crusaders out of Jerusalem in 1244. Wait. That's not at all what Cal and Bill want.

Post-Colonial Mercenaries
What Bill and Cal want are white, Christian mercenaries. Men like 'Mad Mike' Hoare. Hoare hired himself out to quell bush rebellions in the Congo during the 1960's. Later in life he and a troop of South African soldiers of fortune were hired (through a variety of shell organizations) by the CIA in 1981 to overthrow the government of the Seychelles. Their war never got any farther than the airport tarmac and they had to hijack a plane to escape.

Commercial Mercenaries
Of course, modern mercs are big business. G4S Solutions has the seventh largest army in the world with over 650,000 employees. Blackwater (they change their name every few years) along with her many sister forces within Constellis Holdings boast a fighting force in excess of 30,000 mercs who are not afraid to murder, rape, and maim.

I suspect O'Reilly and Thomas are examples of pundit payola. They were probably paid to promote the business of corporate mercenaries.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stop and Frisk Explained in Pictures

The detention of Daniela Watts on suspicion of kissing her boyfriend in public and her arrest for refusing a police command to "show me your papers," has led to yet another edition of "The American Police State."
In Nazi occupied Europe a Gestapo command of "Papers, please" was a common street encounter. The Gestapo had a simple philosophy that everyone they encountered is a potential enemy.
These teens were walking to school when spotted by cops.
American police have a very similar philosophy. Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg defended that city's Stop and Frisk policy by declaring that police and the general public are in constant danger from people walking on the street, anyone of which could be a potential threat.

There are several similarities between the Gestapo and the US police street interviews.
  • Both stops are random with nothing resembling cause (probable or improbable).
  • Both require the victims to raise their hands in humiliating submission.
  • Both demand ID papers.
  • Both include the clear threat to ruin or even take your life if you do not meekly comply.
  • Both pretend politeness, the Gestapo famously said "please," to mask the clear menace. 
  • Both frequently execute their victims on the street for the slightest sign of resistance.
  • Both target minorities. 
There are also differences.
I'm not saying that US police are as bad as the Gestapo. They are not, at least not yet. As US police become more paramilitary and less citizens battling crime, the differences are narrowing. "Land of the Free" is becoming less a rousing national anthem and more a cruel joke.
St. Louis SWAT.
"Home of the Brave" is farce too.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A World Full of Duh

So much of the news this past week has bounced between transparent lies, through merely naive, to downright stupid.

NFL Sees No Evil. Really, Justice Is Blind and So Are We.
When the video of Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancee out of an elevator became public the NFL was all "naughty, naughty," boys will be boys, take a couple games off and be nicer. The NFL used its prodigious legal resources to get charges dropped and waited for it to be forgotten.
Pudge Heffelfinger may have beat his wife, too. Or not.
This week, when elevator security footage became public and showed Rice brutally cold cocking the girl, the NFL panicked. They made the ludicrous claim that  no one in the NFL has seen the tape. They saw it. They just didn't want to have seen them. They now have hired a career sycophant, Robert Mueller, to apply a thick coat of whitewash.

Bombing ISIS Will Only Get So Much
Berlin, 1945. All this bombing destruction yet Germany only surrendered after Russian ground forces captured Berlin.
I don't know how much of President Obama's speech last night was empty rhetoric and how much was naivety. I support the details of his plan (provide logistical and aerial support to local forces fighting ISIS) because ISIS is, on the scale of genocidal evil, between the Rwanda Hutu and Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge. The rhetorical goal, "degrade, and ultimately destroy," cannot be achieved with air power alone. At best, bombing can force ISIS to scatter their assets making it easier for opposing forces to chip away at  ISIS occupied land. That paragraph about industrial might is right out of the 1940's and sounds like this ISIS fight is, foremost, about growing US armaments companies.

Insult the Shit Out of Them, Why Don't Ya
Ted Cruz had a slam dunk speaking appearance at an "In Defense of Christians" banquet composed mostly of Arab Christians whose brethren are being butchered by ISIS. It was a perfect setting where he could support persecuted Christians who are being murdered by Muslim extremists. But no, that would have required someone with the IQ of a goat. Cruz is far dumber than that. Cruz started attacking all Arabs as terrorists and belittled the plight of Arab Christians by instructing them to stop being haters and start supporting Israel. Arabs in the room were strangely insulted by his hostility towards them and began booing. Cruz then doubled down and implied that if they didn't support Israel they deserved their fate with ISIS.

It was the kind of diplomatic sensitivity that will make Ted Cruz such a totally terrifying president.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Send Duck Dynasty to War

Here's a plan. It's a good plan that will kill two birds, so to speak, with one stone. Send the Duck Dynasty Klan to fight ISIS.
They have a plan (convert a few, kill everybody else). Republicans are always complaining that President Obama doesn't have a plan. They already have guns so it won't cost taxpayers anything to arm them.

But, don't just send those four wackadoddles, that wouldn't be fair. Recruit an entire army of the "convert them or kill them" crowd. Yes, including Anne Coulter. We could call it the Jesus Brigade. Who wouldn't want to see Sen. Lindsey Graham in combat fatigues backing up his words.
Sen. Graham used to claim to being a Desert Storm veteran until somebody pointed out that he spent the war hiding under a National Guard desk in South Carolina. Still, he did get a shitload of medals for heroic filing and stapling. 
There are problems. People like Ted Nugent, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney (why not send him, too?) are notorious cowards who love seeing other people do the fighting and dying as long as they can stay thousands of miles from the bloodshed. A call for volunteers to fight, without pay, for Jesus and America would go completely unanswered. Their confessed love of God and Country only goes as far as Sunday football services. President Obama should his executive powers as Commander-in-Chief to draft all the warmongers into the Jesus Brigade and send them to the front.
Of course, we know what will happen. The Duck Dynasty troop is only brave when killing unarmed water fowl. Faced with an actual ISIS soldier shooting back they will shit themselves, drop their guns, and quickly convert to Islam.