Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Not a Happy Camper

Rob Payne, that is. You'd think he'd be much more grateful to be living in the Greatest Most Wonderfullest Biggest Baddest Country There's Ever Been or Ever Could Be:
This is where the cultural aspects of American stupidity come into play. The military since WWII has become the sacred cow of American life. Even anti-war activists cannot help but tag “and our brave troops fighting in service to America” onto every anti-war piece that they write. Whatever the troops may be they are not in anyone’s service except perhaps that of Wall Street and the oil industries. The true nature of the troops is that they are parasites, very expensive parasites that produce nothing except misery at home and abroad costing the American tax payers dearly in billions every year that could have been put to much better use back in the States. Yet because of the intractable culture of all things military that lives on in the hearts and minds of most Americans very few can see much less admit to such a simple and obvious truth regarding “the troops.” The “liberal” news media of course do their best to keep such noxious beliefs alive and well with their embedded reporters and absurdly sentimental reporting on “the troops” ever portraying them as heroes and brave lads and lasses fighting for their country.
Hmmmmm, he's not a supporter of The Troops. Doubleplusungood. But maybe he'll say a good word for our historic first sort-of beige president?
American culture has become militarized to the point where people are mostly blind to the awful fact that congress has just passed legislation that gives our government the right to assassinate American citizens or imprison them for the rest of their lives on the say-so and whims of a bloody handed tyrant who goes by the name of Barack Obama. This legislation is so vague that it can be construed by the American government to the broadest interpretations possible and is in fact a loaded gun in the hands of the unscrupulous such as Barack Obama our Peace Laureate president. US citizens have just been stripped of their most basic and important rights, the right to trial by jury, and the very right to life itself, the ultimate and most important of all rights. Yet Americans continue on as if in a daze more enthralled with the latest telephone gadgets with large screens then they are with important legislation that shall soon impact them in a most destructive manner. If you ponder this as you might well it is no accident that this legislation that smacks of the Nazi movement comes on the heels of the recent OWS movement where some Americans are on the brink of realizing that the government is not what they thought it was. What better way to keep the great unwashed in line than this draconian legislation that Obama once said he would veto but now shall not – now that it is more in line with his own wishes for more power.
This illustrates how far from being "colorblind" we really are. The current insane, malicious, murderous policies, implemented by a decrepit mouth-foaming Caucasian such as McCain, might shock or alarm us. But recruit instead a younger, nominally-black smoothie like the dead-eyed psycho who now infests the office as the corporate cat's-paw for those same policies, and there's no problem. Day by day, "Idiocracy" becomes, more and more, prophecy.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Everyone's "the Enemy"

At Bradley Manning's court-martial hearing, his lawyer said something pretty naive:
Aiding the enemy is an offense that could bring the death penalty but the prosecution has said it intends to seek life in prison for Manning. Coombs said the prosecution needed a "reality check" and focused his closing remarks on urging them to seek no more than 30 years in prison.

Coombs asked the court to throw out charges of aiding the enemy and giving intelligence to the enemy, saying the audience for the information was the American people.
Why does Lawyer Coombs try to draw an artificial distinction between "the enemy" and "the American people," especially given the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012, which certainly makes it clear that there's no such distinction? Prexy can toss anybody he wants, explicitly including American citizens grabbed right here in America, into the clink forever -- no trial needed.

These goons aren't hanging out in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Pakistan ... they're right in your back yard, and they're just itching to deal with you. So do what the nice officer tells you, and if he's not screaming at you yet, just dummy up until he orders you to speak -- if you know what's good for you, that is.

O Free-est Country Anywhere!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Still Waiting, Not Seeing

At the day job, I work with a man who, I think, would agree with me if I characterized him as a partisan of the Democratic Party. I'm not using his real name anyway, so maybe that doesn't matter. In any case, I was talking with "Bill" some months ago, and he was telling me how it was that President Obama (Bill always includes the title -- told you he's a partisan) would be withdrawing all The Troops from Iraq before year's end. I was skeptical. I asked if he was sure it wasn't just "combat" Troops that would be leaving, as there seem to be other sorts of Troop; how many American mercenaries (Blackwater Xe employees and the like) would be staying, and so on. Bill's an honest man; he admitted that there could be some definitional weaseling going on, and that some careful parsing might be in order. At conversation's end, we agreed to disagree, as we usually do; I said I'd have to wait and see what the situation would be at year's end.

Well, here we are. It's 20 December, and you've all seen the news, replete with reports of the very last Troop crossing over into Kuwait, keys to various reinforced-concrete fortresses being handed over to our gallant allies, the Cuddly Iraqis™ (those being our direct-report employees among the wog population). So, a few days ago, Bill naturally had to tease me a little, reminding me that I was supposed to be waiting and seeing, and asking me whether I was ready to credit the O-bomber -- excuse me, The President -- with ending Iraq War II. Now, Bill's a friend, and I certainly don't begrudge him his fun. But I had to say that no, my waiting-and-seeing was still incomplete. Plenty of waiting, but not so much seeing. I mean, presumably we're leaving an ambassador, right? In fact, we're leaving this "embassy" that's really a downsized city, sitting in a Green Zone that had better be hermetically sealed within some very thick walls; who's manning the walls? ("You want me on that wall; you need me on that wall ...") So, it's fair to assume that there'll be at least a smallish army providing embassy security ... but they're not combat Troops. Then, in the dutifully-transcribed Pentagon news releases that pass for reportage from our lapdog press, I've seen some vague references to military "trainers" who're supposed to be getting the Cuddly Iraqis up to speed as Modern Warriors, but those references have been notably shy about numbers. And, in any case, I'm sure that a trainer is also not a combat Troop.

How large a garrison will be left in the wholly-owned American subsidiary called Kuwait? Surely a withdrawal across that oh-so-formidable international border has to be regarded as purely administrative, doesn't it?

Now, I'm not saying I don't trust our government. I'm not saying our government would lie to us. I'm just saying ... well, all right, I'm busted -- I'm saying exactly those things. I'm saying I trust "our" government just as far as I could (over)throw it: a microscopic distance, indeed. I'm saying that "our" government can be relied on absolutely to lie to us, again and again, in multiple and conflicting versions. I'm further saying that to read or view the "news" supplied by the corporate press is exactly the same thing as consuming the info-waste products excreted by our secretive, lying, murderous government. I'm saying that to really know what the American military presence remaining in Iraq is, I'd have to go there and search the place, which I'm obviously not going to do. Thus, I go on about my mundane affairs, while waiting ... and not seeing.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Ugly Stupid Ugly and Stupid American

Please file this away somewhere in your memory, where it'll be easy to find when considering the profound question: Why do they hate us? It's how overcredentialed, underbrained, sawed-off twits get to talk when seeking the presidential nomination of Caucus A of the War Party:
Taking a hard line on a U.S. foe in the Middle East, Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich indicated Wednesday that he would unilaterally "replace" Syrian President Bashar al-Assad because he is running a "bad dictatorship."

The former House speaker was asked on a morning radio show in Chicago to offer a "30-second" answer to what he would do about Syria, where anti-government protests have led to a violent crackdown. Gingrich said, "I can give you a three-second answer. Replace Assad. I mean Assad is our enemy. He is an ally of Iran. It is a bad dictatorship. It is to our interest to get rid of dictators of this kind."

Gingrich did not say how he would remove Assad, and acknowledged there would be "consequences" to such an overt U.S. action. He said that as president, it would be his job to manage them. "Now that means you have consequences and have to be much better at managing the consequences than this administration has been," he said on the Don Wade & Roma radio show. "But I think none the less getting rid of Assad will lead to a better future than keeping him there."
Faced with a tossoff performance like that one from the Newtster, I don't even know where to start. His is the hyper-banal voice of unreflective -- no, antireflective -- entitlement. The good news: he won't be elected president. The bad news: someone smoother and more plausible, but fundamentally no better, will be elected president ... I suppose either Killer Romney or Killer Obama, not that it matters which. The best news, however: given that famous Mayan-calendar thing, someone will be elected president, but no one will be inaugurated in January 2013, because the world will have ended and there won't be any January 2013. Obama's the last prexy, and he's a one-termer (slightly less than one full term, even). To those who are about to tell me that the whole Mayan-calendar business is a gross misunderstanding, I say: please be quiet -- I'm having such a nice dream. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Okay, Just Call Me Pollyanna, Then

Doesn't it seem to you that the office, the institution, of the American presidency is shrinking like a wool sweater in a red-hot dryer? That's how it feels to me, contemplating the political "news" concerning the troop of clowns pursuing the GOP nomination to oppose the tiny little corporate puppet now inhabiting 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. I mean -- the latest up-and-coming Republican dwarf is Newtie? It's hard to describe the little toad as "evil," because to be evil should surely require some substance. Mr. Gingrich fails to rise to the threshold level of evil. If he grew up, maybe he'd be evil. Then there's the Obummer: Bush Part Three, without the pseudoTexan pseudotwang ... and certainly without anything that could possibly be mistaken for integrity, or even a coherent political philosophy.

And, on the whole, that's good news. As the United States weakens, the national figurehead's identity becomes less important; and, as the United States weakens, its ability to destroy other people's lives, families, and homes on a worldwide basis also diminishes, and that's a diminution that's plainly required, in the interest of elementary decency.

So count me among the smiling, as 2012 arrives in a few weeks. It's an election year, and the cracks, rust, dangling wires, and loose fittings on the machinery of tyranny show up best at such times. I may not (will not) be voting, but that doesn't prevent me from being a campaign worker. I believe I'll go and volunteer for Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, the logical president for Amur'ka 2012!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Somebody Else Can't Stand the Smell

No, I'm not going to vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primary. There are several good reasons for that. One is that the Indiana primary happens in May, by which time Rep. Paul probably won't still be campaigning; another is that I don't vote any more, and all of my reasons for that still apply. Having said that, I'll go on to say that you've still got to love you some Ron Paul from time to time, especially when you juxtapose this:

Gingrich: “How Could You Turn Down the Donald?”

with this:

Paul Says No to Trump Debate

'Nuf said.

Friday, November 11, 2011

One Good Thing About Military Conscription

Back around 1970, American college campuses saw substantial unrest over the Vietnam war. Today, there's zero campus unrest over our current sand wars, probably because no one's being drafted -- not directly, anyway, although our crap economy could be regarded as a kind of not-quite-official near-draft. But, if students don't get upset about wars that they don't have to go and fight, at least they do get upset about something:
Chanting "We want Joe" and damaging lampposts and parked vehicles, Penn State students flooded into downtown State College late Wednesday to protest the university board of trustees' decision to fire football coach Joe Paterno.

At least two young women were hospitalized, one who got gasoline in her eyes after a TV van was pushed over, and another who was hit by an object thrown from a balcony.

Police would not confirm making arrests, but at least one person was seen being taken into custody.

Students crowded by the hundreds into the area of the borough known as Beaver Canyon, where students in 2008 rioted after a victory over Ohio State. In addition to their cheers for Paterno, they shouted "We are Penn State" and "One more game."

"The board of trustees has no loyalty," read sign held by one student. "We will not be quiet." Police were out in riot gear.

A lamppost was ripped down about 11:30 p.m. Police later reported two others were pushed down. Officers attempted to guide students back onto the sidewalks, but then a TV van from Altoona station WTAJ was tipped over. A car also was overturned. Students rushed the CNN van, but police turned them away.
Well, that's America, the 2011 edition: we don't sweat the small stuff -- the wars abroad, the police-state stuff at home, the absolute corporate ownership of government. Maybe if there was an active draft, middle-class people's priorities would be different. But instead, we save our outrage for the truly vital things, like a college football coach getting fired.

For me, it's another Murray Sperber moment. I'd love to see big-time intercollegiate athletics disappear. I'd love to see the end of the "athletic scholarship." I'd like to see the pursuit of research grants end. In short, I'd love to see the American university dedicate itself to undergraduate education, first and foremost. I'm sure it's not going to happen. I certainly wish it would, though.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

And Your Point Is ... ?

Shock! Surprise! Embarrassment! Sarkozy tells Obama that Netanyahu's a liar!
"I cannot bear Netanyahu, he's a liar," Sarkozy told Obama, unaware that the microphones in their meeting room had been switched on, enabling reporters in a separate location to listen in to a simultaneous translation.

"You're fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you," Obama replied, according to the French interpreter.

The technical gaffe is likely to cause great embarrassment to all three leaders as they look to work together to intensify international pressure on Iran over its nuclear ambitions.
In other late-breaking news, film-based cameras caught Vito Corleone in a gaffe, telling his key assistant Tom Hagen:
"Tattaglia is a pimp. He could never have outfought Santino. But I didn't know until this day that it was Barzini all along."
It was not known if this gaffe will cause great embarrassment to these three leaders as they work together to squeeze out the rest of New York's Five Families, or not.

Monday, October 31, 2011

What Kind of Bird is That?

Hey, we thought those drone birds were just indigenous to the Ay-rab lands! We thought they was just gonna be used for taking out turr'sts!

Boy, I've heard of chickens coming home to roost ... but chickens are a little different from flying imperial deathbots, aren't they? Yeah, but weren't our supervisors supposed to reserve those Flying Fists-O-Fury for the camel jockeys? Weren't we just supposed to amuse ourselves on YouTube, watching drone snuff-porn clips? Why, having fought the terrorists there, are they getting ready to fight us here? Check it out:
CONROE, Texas -- A Houston area law enforcement agency is prepared to launch an unmanned drone that could someday carry weapons, Local 2 Investigates reported Friday.

The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office in Conroe paid $300,000 in federal homeland security grant money and Friday it received the ShadowHawk unmanned helicopter made by Vanguard Defense Industries of Spring.

A laptop computer is used to control the 50-pound unmanned chopper, and a game-like console is used to aim and zoom a powerful camera and infrared heat-seeking device mounted on the front.

"To be in on the ground floor of this is pretty exciting for us here in Montgomery County," Sheriff Tommy Gage said.
So, this high-ranking clown in the Army of Domestic Occupation is "pretty excited." I don't know about you, but when these overupholstered militarized skinheads start getting excited, I start getting more worried than usual. Wonder what the Shur'f finds so exciting?
Michael Buscher, chief executive officer of manufacturer Vanguard Defense Industries, said this is the first local law enforcement agency to buy one of his units.

He said they are designed to carry weapons for local law enforcement.

"The aircraft has the capability to have a number of different systems on board. Mostly, for law enforcement, we focus on what we call less lethal systems," he said, including Tazers that can send a jolt to a criminal on the ground or a gun that fires bean bags known as a "stun baton."

"You have a stun baton where you can actually engage somebody at altitude with the aircraft. A stun baton would essentially disable a suspect," he said.

Gage said he has no immediate plans to outfit his drone with weapons, and he also ruled out using the chopper for catching speeders.

"We're not going to use it for that," he said.
Now, there's an impressive collection of weasel words. Mostly, for law enforcement, they focus on what they call less lethal systems. And Shur'f Tommy has no immediate plans to weaponize his deathbot. But think of the possibilities ... some anonymous porker having the ability to tase you, bro, from the air, with no peasant having the slightest ability to individually identify the LEO who's serving and protecting him. But at least the Shur'f firmly denies any intention of using his remote warrior to catch speeders. I feel better already!

But, well, uh ... I mean, could anything ... you know ... go wrong?
In September 2008, the Government Accountability Office issued a 73-page report that raised issues about police drones endangering airspace for small planes or even commercial airliners.

The report's author, Gerald Dillingham, told Local 2 Investigates that 65 percent of the crashes of military drones on the battlefield were caused by mechanical failures.

He said a police UAV could lose its link to the ground controllers if wind knocks the aircraft out of range or the radio frequencies are disrupted.

"If you lose that communication link as the result of that turbulence or for any other reason, then you have an aircraft that is not in control and can in fact crash into something on the ground or another aircraft," said Dillingham.

Pilots of small planes expressed those concerns in the original 2007 Local 2 Investigates reporting on police drones, and the FAA reported then that police departments across the country were lining up to apply for their own drones.

At Montgomery County, Franklin said an onboard GPS system is designed to keep the UAV on target and connected with the ground controllers. He said coordinates are plotted in advance and a command is given for the UAV to fly directly to that spot, adjusting to turbulence and other factors. He said he and the other controller can alter "waypoints" quickly on the laptop to move the chopper to areas that had not previously been mapped out. He said the aircraft moves at a speed of 30 knots, which he said makes it unsuitable for police pursuits.

Small aircraft pilots have expressed concerns that drones cannot practice the "see and avoid" rule that keeps aircraft from colliding in mid-air. Since the camera may be aimed somewhere else, pilots said police controllers may not be able to see and avoid other aircraft in the area during a sudden police emergency.

Gage said he would take every concern into account as his UAV is deployed.

The only routine law enforcement flights inside the United States over the past four years have been the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Their border flights over Texas and Arizona have included one crash, where the drone lost its link to the ground controller.
Oh, well, then ... nothing can go wrong! (Even though it sometimes does, but ... never mind.) Franklin says so, and the Shur'f is taking every concern into account! It's kind of like those no-knock, dynamic entry SWAT raids, where the chair-moisteners with any sort of warrant to serve dress up in all-black costumes and throw some flash-bangs and shoot any dog within sight and bust in and ... I mean, they never do that at the wrong address, do they? It's not like anybody ever gets hurt or killed, do they? Well, in any case, don't worry about it ... if anything does go wrong with the deathbot, the Shur'f will do a rigorous five-minute investigation of himself, and will conclude: unfortunate isolated incident, department procedures followed throughout, officers not at fault, nothing to see here, move along, move along.

Folks, you wanted a military empire, and you got one, and now you're its subjects. For my part, I reserve the right to complain bitterly, because I didn't want one, but I got the one you ordered, and I'm its subject, too. The chickens, and other -- more exotic -- flying creatures, are coming home to roost. Snarling kickers of swarthy butts overseas, and respectful public servants in a constitutionally-limited republic at home? You might want that arrangement, but it can't be had. So enjoy what can be had.

(Thanks, Agitator, for the link.)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Defies Credulity"

Well, credulity might not have been exactly the word that the distinguished "Iran specialist" was looking for. I won't quibble, though; I get the idea. No one with an IQ north of room temperature could swallow this fable, even if it hadn't been mouthed by that Father of Lies, Preznit Corporate Barry Peace Laureate:
The United States will apply the "toughest sanctions" to further isolate Iran over the alleged plan to murder the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Barack Obama said on Thursday, despite growing scepticism over the amateurish nature of the plot and the apparently shambolic background of the main suspect.

Obama insisted that the US had evidence to back up the allegations, as he said he would not take any options off the table in dealing with Iran - diplomatic code for the possibility of military action. Tehran has vehemently denied any involvement in the plot.

US authorities said on Tuesday they had evidence of a plot by two men linked to Iran's revolutionary guard to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, by setting off a bomb in a Washington restaurant.

Speaking at a joint press conference with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Obama said: "Now those facts are there for all to see. We would not be bringing forward a case unless we knew exactly how to support all the allegations that are contained in the indictment."

In addition to prosecutions, Obama said he would continue "to apply the sort of pressure that will have a direct impact on the Iranian government until it makes a better choice in how it interacts with the rest of the international community".

The State Department revealed on Thursday that the US had been in direct contact with Iran over the allegations. "We are not prepared at the moment to go any further on the question of who spoke to whom, and where, but just to confirm that we have had direct contact with Iran,'' said spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
Go ahead; click through and read the whole thing. It would be hilarious, except for all the murder and material destruction that Da Prez is lusting after, egged on by the brutal mouthbreathers that constitute a majority of my countrymen. I keep playing letter games with the names; surely "Manssor Arbabsiar" must be an anagram for "maximize GE profits" or something similar, no? Well, how about "Gholam Shakuri," then? Or "Victoria Nuland?"

Then there's Barry, with his Progressive Parent talk: those naughty Eye-ranians are going to be in the Big Timeout until they learn to make better choices. And never mind questioning whether there's any backup for all this crapola: "We would not be bringing forward a case unless we knew exactly how to support all the allegations ..." and blah blah blah. No, fellow Americans, "our" government is just a murderous gang of multiply-proven liars. And we must like it -- else, they wouldn't still be in place. The wind has long since been sown, and it's fall -- time to reap the whirlwind. No one deserves it more than we do.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Wicked Sensitive

Check out the latest scandal:
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain waded into a new controversy involving rival Rick Perry, saying it was “very insensitive” to have a racially offensive term painted in stone at the entrance to a hunting camp the Texas governor and his family had leased in West Texas.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that the word “Niggerhead” had been painted in block letters on a rock at the gated entrance to the ranch, but that the word was now painted over and the rock was lying flat.

Cain, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” told moderator Chris Wallace that “that’s just very insensitive.”

There “isn’t a more vile, negative word than the ‘N word’ and for him to leave it there as long as he did, before I hear that they finally painted over it, it’s just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country,” he said.
Okay, sure, nigger's an ugly word, unless the speaker's a negro or an African-American or a person of color or black or whatever, and the context is cinematic, in which case it becomes both Authentic and really funny. I guess. Whatever. I suppose I must be developing some semi-Marxist leanings, because when I read that Rick Perry "and his family" lease a hunting camp in west Texas, that tells me what class the Guv is a member of, whether the camp's entrance is decorated by a rock with "niggerhead" painted on it, or "tax serf," or "taser target," or "Walmart peon," or whatever. People who lease hunting camps are members of the ruling class. I'm guessing the same is true of Herman Cain, the godfather of Godfather's Pizza (hmmmm, speaking of ethnic "insensitivity" ... Mr. Pot, may I introduce Mr. Kettle?). If Mr. Cain doesn't lease hunting property somewhere, it must be that he doesn't enjoy hunting, or boozing in a "hunting" milieu, or whatever. I bet I'm not welcome wherever it is he plays his golf, anyway.

The whole thing is grotesque beyond all possibility of parody. Here we are, in a country in which we're boasting about the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, who happens to be an American citizen of whom our wonderful somewhat-black president disapproves, which is enough to have him killed. I'm sure there's nothing new about that; I'm sure that, for most of American history, presidents have been able to have inconvenient people murdered. What's new is that all pretense of legal due process has been dropped; no one's bothering to pretend any more, and that complete lack of pretense really is pretty alarming. So, as I say, here we are, happy little consumer-subjects in the United States of Murder, Inc., and all the "realistic" candidates for Godfather (oh, man, now I'm insensitive, too!) are tossing feather pillows at each other over who's being more sensitive than whom.

Check out Candidate Cain's Official Website. O-bomb-a, early on, thought it necessary to lie to us about being a warhead, much as his predecessor, George the Stupid, did before achieving the office. But anyone who votes for or otherwise "supports" Cain won't even be able to claim to have been lied to: the Godfather's nothing if not up-front about "National Security" (the turr'rsts hate us 'cause we're so good, and want only to kill us all ... and, actually, he may have a point there -- if I pay much attention to contemporary American electoral politics, and what succeeds in that arena, I pretty much want to kill us all, too).

So, we can all be happy remote-control drone murderers together, but you don't want to say "nigger," because some things are just beyond the pale. They affront our exquisitely-refined sensibilities. Perhaps whoever the pathetic redneck was who just had to paint "niggerhead" on a rock out in west Texas should have polished up his act a little. He could've painted "sand-niggerhead," and that might have been perfectly okay. After all, they're THE ENEMY.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Cost of (My) Education

I have an online friend -- actually, I have a gratifying and inexplicable number of online friends, but I'm thinking of one in particular today. She's a lady-type friend, in her early fifties. Let's call her "A," in the interest of her privacy. She lives far from where I do. A makes her living as a therapist; actually, I think both she and her husband do that.

A couple of weeks ago, after an extended period of time experiencing the sorts of trouble that women often experience, A underwent the "instant menopause" surgery. I am supposing that a routine part of such procedures is to send samples of the tissues removed to the lab for analysis. Last week, A told me that she'd been informed of the result: cancer. Not just any cancer, either, but something quite rare and very aggressive. What she was told is that everyone who gets this sort of cancer dies from it, because it's so rare, and so few patients have been treated for it, the medical community doesn't know what works to treat it. She subsequently had some further testing done that established that her cancer's in stage one -- quite early -- and that this means that it's expected to return, probably in six months to a year. She'll be treated using chemotherapy and radiation. She's probably still going to die from the disease, but now it seems that she'll have a little more time. This seemed to gratify her pretty substantially; more time was what she felt the need for.

I've been in frequent correspondence with A since she shared this news with me. Some of what she writes is funny, in a sad way, as when she says she's not seeing much point in dieting, or spending time on anti-wrinkle skin care, or getting long-term dental work done. Some is just heartbreaking. And some makes you think about what's important. One thing she told me that particularly stands out is that she and her husband have become aware of just how deeply they love each other ... what a great thing to learn! But why does the lesson have so dear a price? Can't we learn it without paying so heavily? Maybe we can't -- not completely, at least. But it does seem to me that each of us can spend some time thinking about the people we love, and what they (and love) mean to us. I know I have been. I certainly don't know of anything else I have to think about that's even remotely as important.

A tells me that printed on the back of her business cards is "Love matters." As true as that may be, I'd take it a little further: love is the only thing that, ultimately, matters ... because people matter so very much. Love is the basis of how people are supposed to relate to each other, if we perceive each other properly for what we are. C.S. Lewis summed it up in "The Weight of Glory:"
It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another; all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations -- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit -- immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously -- no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner -- no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.
I am very prone to lose my perspective and my sense of relative scale. My occasional minor health problem, my dissatisfaction with the day job, seeing my native country descend into authoritarianism: these can quickly seem very important to me. They are not. Each person reading this is important. A is important. My wife is important. My children are important. Even I am important. Let us treat each other well. As A says, "love matters."

Monday, September 05, 2011

How Many Shopping Days Left?

Before the biggest holy-day in America -- bigger even than Black-Friday-After-Turkey-Day. I refer, of course, to the national orgy of spurious self-pity to which we're all invited: the Tenth Anniversary of the Holy Nine-Eleven.

Perhaps those who live in Manhattan have an excuse for this nonsense. Maybe those who collect paychecks for hanging out in the Pentagram, down in DC -- no, wait, they definitely don't have an excuse. But look at this. The denizens of Green Bay, Wisconsin are apparently all ripped up and traumatized and inconsolable about the Great Disaster. You know, the one where more civilians were killed by hostile action than at any previous time in human history. (At least, more than at any previous time since August 6, 1945 ... but hey, let's get back on the proper subject here, shall we?)

Even today, almost a week ahead of time, we're being prepped. This morning, I was taking my exercise at the local YMCA when the telescreen directly in front of the elliptical trainer I was using -- tuned to ESPN, no less -- began showing us all about the impact of der Tag on somebody-or-other. I'm not sure exactly what the details were, since I was blessedly free of the audio, but there was a neat little "America Remembers" logo. Oh, yes, America remembers. We remember some things. We remember what our corporatist-governmental supervisors find it useful for us to remember; the telescreen sees to that. We remember, but we do not think. We remember, but we learn nothing. We deserve all that we get: all that we have gotten, all that we are getting, and all that is on its way to us. Willful stupidity is a violation of natural law, and punishment is ongoing. My unhappy intuition is that a rapid intensification of our punishment is not far away.

Meanwhile, let's remember, America. Here's a picture of someone devastated by the Great Nine-Eleven. Of course, he's an Eye-rackie. So, even though he's small, I'm sure he had it comin' to him. No need to drag out the bagpipes to play "Amazing Grace" for this one.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Mouths of Madness

It's an interesting sort of a Monday, here at the day job. To begin with, my day-job physical location is different today. To avoid a truly nauseating level of detail, suffice it to say that the alignment and testing of a large-aperture optic is going to require a fixture that can position a small concave spherical surface at a predetermined location, within a few microns, and also to move it by measured amounts and return it to the predetermined "home" position to within that same few microns' uncertainty. This fixture must be characterized, meaning that we know the translator coordinates that produce the "home" position, and also the (reasonably) exact directions of the three translational and two rotational axes of motion. This characterization requires the use of a CMM (Coordinate Measuring Machine). My employer is borrowing the use of such a CMM, and also its operator and the temperature-controlled inspection room in which it resides, from a local tool-and-engineering shop with which it does a lot of other business, and so that's where I'm sitting today, mostly because I'm the one who knows how to run the five positioning axes. I have a computer here (the one that runs the positioners), but no internet connection. I run the positioners; I assist in the interpretation of the data; and I have stretches of time in which there's really nothing for me to do, but not enough time to go back to the usual location and do my usual work. So, I have Notepad open, and my idea is to semi-live-blog my day, publishing the results on a delayed basis after my internet connectivity is restored.

The CMM guy likes to listen to the radio. He likes the talk radio, to be a little more specific. His choices in talk radio here in the Fort are rather limited. Those choices begin and end with the local Clear Channel outlet, call letters WOWO. And, since I'm sitting in the inspection room, listening to right-wing talk radio must be what I like to do, too. In any case, it's what I'm going to do.

We started out at this morning 6:30. The CMM guy works early hours, as everyone else here seems to do, also. (My normal day job starts at 7:30, which probably still seems pretty early to most people.) At 6:30, WOWO's local drive-time host, a [sarcasm]certified genius[/sarcasm] called "Charlie Butcher" (yeah, sure), was holding forth. He seemed to think that the big news this morning was the US having lost its "AAA" credit rating. About which, he's sure that: it's undeserved, since we are, after all, the You Ess Ay (number one!) and the strong center of Freedom and All That's Right in the world; it doesn't matter, since foreigners will be happy to lend us whatever we want, at whatever rates of interest it pleases us to pay; and it's very bad, because it makes us look bad; and it's all Obama's fault.

In due course, Charlie Butcher goes away, and on comes a national act: Glenn Beck. The Weepy Mormon is also preoccupied with what he's calling "the downgrade" -- which is all Obama's fault, of course. This probably makes it the official Topic of the Day, and relieves me from wondering what Mr. Limbaugh's chief concern will be, later on. Mr. Beck differs from the local guy in that he seems to think that some vague bad stuff might be on the way as a result of "the unthinkable" having happened; however, he has no particular advice for his listeners as to how they should prepare for this bad stuff because "we don't know what it will look like." He implies that the general advice he's been giving his listeners applies, of course -- stuff like get out of debt and have supplies of basic necessities stored away. Of course.

Later: I've had lunch, and the airwaves are Rush-infested. He's mad (true dat!) ... or perhaps I should say, he's simulating anger. For the first time since there have been credit ratings, the US has lost its credit rating. Through the Great Depression, through the First World War, through the Second World War, we had a wonderful credit rating, but now ... no more. Now, France ... the voice is nearly choked with rage ... has a better credit rating than we do! And they make ... perfume ... and cheese!

Gee, Rush ... at least they make something that someone would voluntarily buy. What do we make? War? About the only other country that wants war -- Israel -- doesn't pay for it. Not a good business model, I think.

In any event, all of this is the Peace Laureate's fault. Barackalypse Now! Obamageddon! Oooooh, are the Amur'kan people ever going to get even with him! He's Debt Man Walking! He's landslide-able!

Apparently, the Wicked Negro is supposed to be talking live (it's 1:19 pm, EDT), but he's not doing so yet. He's not fooling Rush a bit, though. Rush knows there's some less-than-honorable reason why the current Supremo isn't out there on time to face the nation, and face the music. Rush isn't telling us why, exactly, but the contemptuous tones of his voice leave no doubt that it's truly vile. Oh, well.

2:35 pm, EDT: I gather that Prexy has spoken. Based on what Mr. Limbaugh has to say, I can't tell what the content of the Peace Laureate's remarks may have been. I can tell that it's completely unsatisfactory to our pillhead host, but there's no surprise there, and no information, either. I daresay it would have been quite unsatisfactory to me, too, if I'd heard it -- but undoubtedly for different reasons. I don't suppose it matters much anyway, in the big picture. The American Empire is passing away; the only real question is, how graceful (or graceless) will the process be? I think the American concept is that no matter whether any merchant really wants to accept fishy IOUs from the gangster who has the biggest guns, they'll have to accept them anyway, out of simple fear. But the gangster usually overestimates his guns; he imagines that because they're astronomically expensive, they must be astronomically good, which doesn't necessarily follow. In any case, things should be interesting. Meanwhile, my Day of Talk Radio is over. My eardrums have been turned to leather, and I'm certainly looking forward to a more-normal day tomorrow.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Live by the Sword, Die by ...

... the helicopter crash, I guess.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, and they could hardly have found a more valuable target: American officials said that 22 of the dead were Navy Seal commandos, including members of Seal Team 6. Other commandos from that team conducted the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Bin Laden in May. The officials said that those who were killed Saturday were not involved in the Pakistan mission.
As a notorious non-supporter of The Troops™, all I can say is, there's thirty folks who'll never become thug cops back home, at least.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Increasing the Stupidity Ceiling

Our former Supremo, El Grande Generalissimo Dumbasso Jorge W. Bush, is famously alleged to have scorned Our Wonderful Constitution as a "goddam piece of paper," although it appears that he never actually said that. If he had, though, I'd have to agree with him: that's exactly what it is, as I've observed here before. It's something that came to my mind on Friday, as I was talking with a friend at the day job -- a man whose love of authoritarianism teamed up with his Donkey partisanship and spilled over in the form of his fervent hope that "President Obama would put the GOP on notice that they either put a debt-ceiling increase that worthy of his signature on his desk by noon on Monday, or he'd invoke the Fourteenth Amendment and do it himself." This was an aspect of the debt-ceiling farce that I'd been blissfully unaware of until then. I've since looked into it a little:
As lawmakers struggle to resolve the debt crisis, a growing number of observers wonder whether President Obama has one last trump card at his disposal: ignoring the debt ceiling altogether.

Top Democrats are reviving an argument — one that has arisen several times — that the White House could invoke the 14th Amendment of the Constitution to raise the debt ceiling without congressional approval.

“Is there anything that prohibits him from doing that?” Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) told the newspaper The Hill. “The answer is no.”

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) has described it as the least bad
option if Congress doesn’t act.

The White House, for its part, continues to resist the speculation.

“Only Congress can increase the statutory debt ceiling,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Friday. “That’s just a reality.”

But many legal scholars are suggesting that Obama could do it.

Jack Balkin, a law professor at Yale, has laid out how this would work. At some point after Tuesday’s deadline, Obama would face the demands of multiple contradicting laws. On the one hand, the government is required to pay out money that has
already been appropriated. On the other, it would not be allowed to float new debt to cover its obligations.

So, Balkin notes, Obama “has a constitutional duty to treat at least one of the laws as unconstitutional as applied to the current circumstances.” And the wording of Section 4 of the 14th Amendment suggests that the debt ceiling would have to give way: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law ... shall not be questioned.”

If Obama interpreted that clause to mean that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional and authorized the Treasury Department to begin issuing new debt, it’s not clear that anyone could stop him. As Jeffrey Rosen writes in the New Republic, individual memb
ers of Congress would not have standing to sue — Congress would need to pass a joint resolution, which is unlikely given Democratic control of the Senate.

t is also unlikely that individual taxpayers or bondholders would have standing.

“The most likely outcome is that the Supreme Court would refuse to hear the case,” Rosen argues. And if a suit did make it through, Rosen adds, even the conservative justices would probably rule in Obama’s favor — at least if they held to their judicial philosophies.

But Obama would still face political blow-back. The decision would probably set off an extensive legal and public-relations battle over the scope of the president’s powers
. Democrats and Republicans alike were upset about Obama’s decision to intervene in the armed conflict in Libya without Congress’s consent. An unprecedented constitutional maneuver would allow the opposition to paint a portrait of a president who thinks his authority has no bounds.
In case anyone's interested, here's the text of Amendment 14, Section 4:
Section 4.

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
In context, the meaning of the text is very clear: Union debt is good and must be paid; Confederate debt is no good and cannot be paid. Just an accountant's orders for a mopping-up operation for the post-Civil War era. (I do like that Lincolnesque tyrant's formulation: not "must be paid," or "must be honored," but "shall not be questioned." No questions, dammit, no questions! Just pay!)

What does this have to do with limits placed on the further acquisition of government debt? Obviously, not a thing. I suppose, though, that it should be faintly encouraging that our supervisors are bothering to cast about for any sort of fig leaf at all. Maybe it's just a bit of wry irony on their part. Of course they can do anything they want, anything at all: who's going to stop them? They're doing anything they want to right now, and have been for a long time. Who's stopping them now? How? The whole thing is quite funny, really.

Another bit of humor can be seen in the Post's concern that the Peace Laureate might be painted by his "opposition" as a president who thinks his authority has no bounds. Folks, we have a president who already openly asserts his authority to have American citizens assassinated, anywhere in the world, without the smallest trace of due process apart from President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho's say-so ... and so godlike a figure as that is supposed to be concerned about public perception? Don't make me laugh -- at least, don't make me laugh any more than our Idiocracy-esque public life is already making me laugh. It's such a good show. I do declare that, if I laugh any harder, I'll start crying instead.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

So What Is it This Time?

They say that when a street fighter's doing some showy stuff with his right hand, it means he's about to kick you in the knee. So now that America's unified in irrelevant outrage, I have to wonder: what are our supervisors doing right at this moment? Arranging yet another sand war? Or maybe jacking around with the money debt again?

Friday, July 01, 2011

Paging Lee Greenwood

Via this morning, Anthony Gregory gives a succinct summary of the New Paradigm:
We are not really surrendering our gels, forgoing our bottled water, or taking off our shoes for our own good. That’s all a ruse. The TSA is an agency whose function, if not intended purpose, is to condition obedience and subservience into the population. It is an arm of the federal police state and cannot be reformed into anything else. It must be abolished totally and nothing short of that will bring liberty back to air travel.

Even more fundamentally, the media and talking heads — certainly the conservative opponents of TSA — forget why we have a terrorist threat, such as it is, in the first place: Because the U.S. government is waging imperial wars abroad, slaughtering children, propping up corrupt regimes, overthrowing governments, playing geopolitical favorites, cutting people off of international trade, and generally behaving as the biggest bully in the world. The blowback terrorism that results can never be stamped out so long as the wars continue. Those who criticize the TSA but defend the wars, and those who defend the TSA but question the wars, should recognize they are two sides of the same imperial coin. The same statism behind the degradation of domestic passengers is in play in the dehumanization of foreign civilians bombed from the sky. Washington, D.C., sees itself as master of our lives and ruler of the world. So long as we accept its pretensions to control the planet, we will be treated as imperial subjects are always treated: as mere cogs in the machine, disposable and malleable human livestock, at the very best.
As I've said over and over again in this space, Americans who imagine themselves enjoying freedom while sending their armies everywhere else to plant the boot on brown foreigners' necks are dreaming a fool's dream ... and a wicked fool at that. Hire a psycho to go out every morning and collect your "protection" money, and he'll do so ... but at the end of his shift, he'll want to come home and relax, and you'll find that he hasn't turned miraculously into good company. He's still a psycho, and he's got your house keys.

Get out there this weekend and enjoy your Fourth-O-July. Just make very sure you enjoy it in Officially Approved™ ways, O marvelously free American. Otherwise, you'll have these clowns to deal with.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Watchdogs of the Press

Concerning the latest distraction (the one involving Representative Wiener), Glenn Greenwald hits it squarely on the nose:
There are few things more sickening -- or revealing -- to behold than a D.C. sex scandal. Huge numbers of people prance around flamboyantly condemning behavior in which they themselves routinely engage. Media stars contrive all sorts of high-minded justifications for luxuriating in every last dirty detail, when nothing is more obvious than that their only real interest is vicarious titillation. Reporters who would never dare challenge powerful political figures who torture, illegally eavesdrop, wage illegal wars or feed at the trough of sleazy legalized bribery suddenly walk upright -- like proud peacocks with their feathers extended -- pretending to be hard-core adversarial journalists as they collectively kick a sexually humiliated figure stripped of all importance. The ritual is as nauseating as it is predictable.
[Emphasis added by me.]
Truly, today's press is a fourth branch of government ... dutifully carrying water for the other three.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Getting Our Minds Right

I was driving with my wife and daughter yesterday on Interstate 465 around the southwest corner of Indianapolis, and we were going past the airport. Since I was driving, my wife was sightseeing out her window, and she asked, "Is that a prison?"

I glanced over to the right. In the far distance, the terminal buildings could be seen, but the airport's eastern border was dominated by the endless fence ... with what seemed like several miles of razor wire coiled on top of it. I could see how, if you didn't happen to know that was the airport, you could easily mistake it for a prison.

"No," I said, "that's the airport." Then, after a moment, it occurred to me: "Not that there's much difference."

In the Land of the Free™ today, the similarities are real and numerous. You sure don't want to give the bosses any backsass. Everything goes so much smoother if you just get your mind right.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

And Do What?

I just looked in on the Lew Rockwell site, and I saw a piece there by John Whitehead. For the most part, it's kind of the same-old-same-old: the PATRIOT Act is going to get itself renewed, and augmented, yet again; it's the end of the Constitution, and so on. All true, just not new. Mr. Whitehead, after opening with a Thomas Paine quote ("It is the responsibility of the patriot to protect his country from its government"), closes his essay in the way that most such essays close, with a nonspecific call to action:
Patriots, wake up! It’s time to protect our country and our rights against a government of wolves that grows more power-hungry with every passing day.
Well, OK, I thought, but what does an "awake" patriot look like in these days? What does a patriot do, after having awakened?

Does he try to build a revolution, and overthrow our criminal supervisors? A one-person revolution is simply suicide on very unfavorable terms, even assuming that the lone revolutionary manages to get noticed by his rulers. Join a militia? Trouble is, one could be reasonably assured that half of those involved would be paid agents provocateur or some other form of police spy, and the other half would be people who are convinced that we're not killing Mooslims, or Metsicans, or both, fast enough or in great enough numbers; or who have unreasonable problems with black folks or Jewish folks or Catholic folks or whomever. In other words, people whose company I don't care to keep.

Does he get out and vote? Been there, done that ... no change.

Does he ... write a blog? Yeah, sure. Am there, doing that. A certain amount of fun, but no change.

Really, Mr. Whitehead, I am awake ... I think. Just clueless about what to do about it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Obligatory bin Laden Post

Better late than never, I hope. The assassins have done their work, wet though it was; as wet as OBL's putative oceanic grave. My countrymen have rejoiced with barbaric ardor over the murder, as if the Five Minutes' Hate had ended climactically with the slaughter of Goldstein. You Ess Ay! You Ess Ay! Exactly.

Do you suppose it's too late for me to be a real, patriotic American by getting myself some commemoratives?
Thousands of items of memorabilia celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden are being sold on the internet.

Examples include a key ring bearing the face of the al-Qaeda leader, framed in the cross-hairs of a gun, with the words "Osama Bin Killed".

There are mugs plastered with Bin Laden's face and the word "Dead" across it.

There is even an item of baby's clothing sporting the sentence: "I
killed Osama."

California-based Zazzle says it has sold "tens of thousands" of these types of products online, for between $15 (£10) and $40, since Sunday.
Zazzle Nation: that's us. Outstanding.

Well, there's plenty of time for me to consider the acquisition of some cheap OBL merchandise. After all, here it is, almost ten years after The Holy Nine-Eleven, and I have yet to get so much as a radio-antenna flag, or a yellow magnetic Support the Troops ribbon. There's no need to rush into these things. Prices are bound to fall with time. As the old folks used to say, everything comes to the man who can wait.

Besides, there's something else on my mind. It seems that one Rashard Mendenhall, a gladiator for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football Lockout League, became a surrogate for the unlamented Goldstein by performing some Non-Steelers-Approved Tweeting. Here are some of his more-outrageous and unAmerican tweets:
"What kind of person celebrates death? It's amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We've only heard one side...

"@dkeller23 We'll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style

"I believe in God. I believe we're ALL his children. And I believe HE is the ONE and ONLY judge.

"Those who judge others, will also be judged themselves.

"For those of you who said you want to see Bin Laden burn in hell and piss on his ashes, I ask how would God feel about your heart?

"There is not an ignorant bone in my body. I just encourage you to #think"
You know, I am such a lowlife, low-rent, commie terrorist scum ... I scanned Mr. Mendenhall's CriminalTweets again and again, and couldn't find a single thing to get outraged about. I mean, I can quibble about the details: I'm not especially skeptical about the plausibility of a skyscraper's fall being precipitated by the impact of a large aircraft, and the subsequent fire; and I'm in no position to pretend to know whether Mr. Mendenhall's body contains an ignorant bone, or not. But on the whole, the man was writing things that are so obviously true that I could criticize them only on the basis that they're platitudinous. I guess if I were a better American-style Christian, I too could wax ecstatic over the murder of a stranger, and could ardently hope to see that stranger burn in Hell, and lust to micturate upon his ashes. But as it is ... I am but scum.

Rashard, from one scum to another: well said, brother!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

In Which I Shake My Head ...

... and wonder how many more miseries and disasters can be visited upon the people of Japan:
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is in Japan to show American solidarity with the Japanese people as they recover from a devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.


She's making the trip to give the country a morale boost as it rebuilds from the March 11 quake and tsunami while enduring strong daily aftershocks.


Clinton will return home later Sunday.
So, earthquake, tsunami, and their consequences aren't enough? The Japanese must also be visited by America's Number One War Harpy? Lord, have mercy.

The smell of blood must have proven irresistible to Herself, I suppose.

Monday, March 21, 2011


There hasn't been much here lately, and I can't say with any confidence that there's likely to be much here in the near future either. It's not a matter of my having been busy; I'm neither more nor less busy than usual. It's more a matter of not having anything to say that I haven't already said over and over again for the past, what, six or seven years. I think I'm pretty much burned out.

The country in which I live has launched yet another war against Muslims, motivated by more or less equal parts oil lust, fealty to the Israel lobby, fealty to the "defense" contracting lobby (lots of overlap with these last two), and the bloodlust of our current Nobel peace laureate president. Clinton is the last president of whom I said "it can't get any worse." What a stupid thing for me to have said. Dubya emphatically demonstrated that yes, it can get worse, and O'Bomber has certainly shown that it can get a lot worse yet ... and who knows what's next? Chucklebee? The Mittster? Barack 2.0? The one thing I'm fairly confident about is that it will indeed get worse.

Yeah, well, anyway ... I've toyed with the notion of dumping the blog, but that's silly, too ... in a week or two I'd just experience a resurgence of "piss and vinegar," as my old father used to say, and I'd have to start another one. And if there's anything the world doesn't need, it's a new blog. So I'll stand by and wait for the return of inspiration. Or whatever it is that makes me write posts; "inspiration" sounds a little grand. "Motivation" is probably more like it.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me!

Heads are rolling at "National Public Radio" (more aptly, Nationalist Corporatist Radio) because some of the Best & Brightest got caught on sting-camera, suggesting that the Tea Party does not lack representation from the racist and know-nothing communities:
The resignation comes at a dicey time for NPR. On Tuesday, a video featuring former NPR executive Ron Schiller (no relation) came to light. In the video, the work of conservative activist James O'Keefe, Schiller is heard demeaning tea party supporters as racists and "gun-toting" Christian fundamentalists who had "hijacked" the Republican Party. Schiller also said that NPR would be "better off in the long run" without federal support.

Vivian Schiller had already taken significant heat for NPR's dismissal of commentator Juan Williams last fall, after Williams confessed to apprehension when seeing Muslims on airplanes. Williams' ouster became a cause célèbre for conservatives — and helped spark the O'Keefe project. NPR's top news executive, Ellen Weiss, resigned in January as a result.
Well, this seems to call for fair, one-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand sort of commentary, so here goes. On the one hand, whoever says the Tea Party includes among its supporters a fair number of racists, toters of guns, and fundamentalists (suitably defined, I suppose) is speaking the truth. Such a statement has all the usual shortcomings of any generalization, and certainly does not apply to every individual Partier, but there it is.

On the other hand, it is delicious to see a few high-ranking smugistas at NPR fall afoul of the unanimously-accepted American Law of the Gaffe: some things simply cannot be said, and truth is no defense. Live by the sword of prissiness, die by the same. Gotcha!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Rule of Law, and Other Fables

I draw your attention to Mr. William Grigg's latest:
What would happen if tax victims, rather than tax-feeders, were to go on strike?
If Madison -- or the capital city of any of Leviathan's other 49 regional administrative units -- were over-run by thousands of productive people who decided that they would no longer consent to be plundered on behalf of unionized government employees, would their revolt be promoted by sympathetic media outlets, and supported by the president and his political machine?

Would self-described populist cable pundit Ed Schultz be there in person to confer an on-camera benediction to the rebels, describing them as people standing in "solidarity to fight for the middle class"? Would the state governor display restraint and forebearance in dealing with a malodorous mob that laid siege to the capitol for a week, if the throng were composed of people who withheld their taxes, rather government employees withholding their tax-subsidized services (such as they are)?

If this were to happen anywhere in the soyuz, every element of the Regime's punitive apparatus would be mobilized to put down the rebellion, hard and fast. Riot police and National Guard units would be deployed to beat and round up the rebels. I suspect that serious consideration would be made to the use of Predator drones to target those identified as "ringleaders" of the uprising.
You say that would never happen here? Hearken to the writings of that star-spangled, red-white-and-blue military hero, General George S. Patton, at the time a mere major, concerned with dealing with the "Bonus Army" in Washington between the world wars:
Patton was enthusiastic about the domestic applications of chemical warfare: "The use of gas is paramount…. While tear gas is effective, it should be backed up with vomiting gas.... Although white phosphorous is incendiary, it is useful in forming a screen for the attack of barricades and defended houses."

“Warn newspapers, theaters, and churches that if they encourage the mob, they are guilty of aiding them and that their leaders will be held personally accountable," Patton continued. "Freedom of the press cannot be construed as `license to encourage’ the armed enemies of the United States of America. An armed mob resisting federal troops is an armed enemy. To aid an enemy is TREASON. This may not be the `law,’ but it is fact. When blood starts running, the law stops.”
Yes, constitutions are all well and good, but it's vital to remember that, when push comes to shove, the people with the guns do what the hell they want to the people without them. Keep that in mind, next time you're watching the History Channel show us all the amazing new weapons that The Troops™ have. You may have your chance to see them -- from the business end -- all too soon.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Roofing Project

So, the mutant leftover chicken pox virus from my youth has staged an insurrection, and I have the shingles. And man, do I look gross ... more so than usual, even. Right-side forehead's all uglied up, and my right eye is about half closed.

Shouldn't complain, I know, because I've had no severe pain or other big side problems with it, so far at least. Sure looking forward to it resolving itself, though. Probably in three to four weeks. We shall see.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It Doesn't Do to Get All Excited

Remember week-before-last, when we were breathlessly informed that some new "tea party" members of the US House had overturned the current order of things by blocking one version of the extension of the so-called "PATRIOT Act?"

As you can see, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Your supervisors are not going to remove the boot from your neck. Nothing of any real significance is ever going to change at the mythical "ballot box." Your supervisors occasionally use the ballot box as a form for something they want to change; it is sometimes useful in tightening our handcuffs. Forget, though, about votin' the cuffs off. Not happening.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Harry What?

I live in Allen County, Indiana, which is dominated by the city of Fort Wayne. In this county, there aren't many growth industries these days. After beef 'n' tallow chain restaurants, payday lenders, pawn shops, military recruiting offices, and deserted strip malls, there isn't much jumpin' ... except -- how could I forget? -- government. Oh yes, there's always a need for more government, and more government needs more space. And the City-County building downtown isn't nearly large or grand enough any more, and besides, somebody well-connected just happened to own another vacant white-elephant building downtown. So, of course, the city paid top dollar, plated the place with gold and encrusted it with gems, and now ... it needs a name.

So they went to The People, and did a little internet give-us-your-input deal. And I appreciate their doing so; I had about ten solid minutes of Friday-night hilarity a few weeks ago, that being how long it took "Big Dick Black" to get himself blocked by our high-minded supervisors. (Yes, I'm completely irresponsible, but I gots to have me a little fun somehow.) And the runaway winner, according to the Voice of the People, was "Harry Baals Government Center."

(For my non-local readers, Fort Wayne once had a mayor named Harry Baals. No, really, it's true.)

Well, needless to say, our supervisors aren't about to name the new gummint sandbox after Harry Baals. The People have spoken, but now The People can just dummy up and listen while their supervisors 'splain how it's gonna be.

I don't know what name the recently-acquired hog trough will sport. Actually, it would be most appropriate to sell the naming rights to the highest acceptable bidder. I'm thinking Citibank would be a natural. Then we could have a Citibank Citihall. Nice and corporate, don't you think?

Not Very Republican of Him

That New York Congresscritter, that is ... trolling the internet for women. Aren't men the usual target for classic family-values GOPpers?

By the way, I'm not going to copy and paste the photo -- you can see it here with no trouble. I wonder, though ... you can see his smartphone in his left hand. What's he doing with the other hand?

Yeah, well, some things it's better not to know, as my old father used to say.

Monday, February 07, 2011


How is Egypt like the United State? Embedded unobtrusively in this NYT story is a similarity:
The crowds demanding the immediate departure of Mr. Mubarak were smaller. But there were enough to form a human chain blocking the entrance to the Mugamma, a huge edifice on Cairo’s central square built in the 1950s to house the city’s labyrinthine bureaucracy — a central part of everyday life.

International financial markets were viewing the country as an increased risk. The Egyptian pound fell 1.6 percent (from 5.84 to 5.95 to the dollar) in global currency trading. The Central Bank, in its first auction of Treasury bills after a weeklong closure because of the revolt, sharply reduced the size of the sale, suggesting that demand by investors for Egyptian government debt was subdued.
Don't you just love the Times's tactful way with words? The demand is "subdued." Come to think of it, though, we're not similar to Egypt in this regard. The demand for Uncle's debt won't ever be subdued, since the Bernanke Reserve is buying it all up in Quantitative Easings #1, 2, 3, and so on, using "dollars" freshly electronically created by ... yes, the Bernanke Reserve! And that can go on forever, or at least until Microsoft's Excel runs out of numbers, which is hard to imagine. Or until people wake up and realize that the Bernanke just isn't worth the paper it's printed on the ones and zeroes it's made of.

Good thing that will never happen, eh?

Friday, February 04, 2011

Divine Omniscience: a Mixed Blessing?

Laurence Vance asked an interesting question yesterday:
I wonder if God even noticed the National Prayer Breakfast today?
I'm sure He did. To me, the more significant question is: Was He amused? Did He enjoy hearing from the Peace Laureate and a gaggle of his thieving, mass-murdering associates? I'm guessing not.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

"The National Interest" and Other Myths

At today, Kevin Carson addresses something that I've often thought about:
Yesterday, while channel-surfing, I saw a pundit on one of the news channels’ talking head shows pontificating on the internal contradictions inherent in U.S. government policy toward the new "Twitter Revolutions" in Tunisia and Egypt.

He said that, no matter how unpopular and authoritarian autocratic regimes like Mubarak’s are at home, the United States unfortunately has an interest in preserving their stability because such regimes "support our interests" in the Middle East.

Note the unintended irony there. When I hear a reference to "our interests," or what "we" are doing in Iraq or Afghanistan, my automatic response is "Are you carrying a friend in your pocket?"

The clear assumption is that there is some commonality of interest between the American people and the state that claims to represent them. But in reality, we’ve got about as many interests in common with "our" government as the Egyptian people have in common with Hosni Mubarak.

The U.S. government may pursue "interests" in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world, but they’re the interests of the coalition of class forces that controls the American state. The interests promoted by the U.S. government are those at the commanding heights of the corporate economy.

U.S. copyright policy is written by the RIAA, MPAA, and Microsoft – Joe Biden’s "IP task force" actually operated out of Disney headquarters. Agricultural policy is made by ADM, Cargill, and Monsanto, as indicated by the revolving door through which vice presidents and CEOs of those companies walk to become deputy and assistant secretaries at USDA or vice versa.

If the U.S. government is an executive committee of the corporate ruling class when it comes to domestic affairs, and policy reflects the interests of the corporations that control the state, why would we expect it to be any different when it comes to foreign policy? What — because "politics stops at the water’s edge?" Come on, pull the other one! Show me the special race of angels — so different from the regular mortal ward-heeling hacks who make domestic policy — from which the foreign policy establishment is recruited.
My late mother, a woman given to the use of colorful phrases, would have said of the "our interests" formulation: What, are you pregnant? Got a tapeworm? Got a turd in your pocket? The United States, a welded-together golem encompassing the width of the continent, as well as a decent fraction of its north-to-south size, is supposed to have a common set of interests vis-a-vis the rest of the world? Seems pretty unlikely, even setting aside the obvious class interests that Mr. Carson cites. Like the former USSR, the US is certainly no organic whole; it's a collection of parts held together by fear and force, and those parts don't necessarily like each other all that well.

We're told that America is a great melting pot unified by ideas, represented by the Constitution. Well, the Constitution's long dead; and as for "ideas," well ... how can we even talk about ideas, in a country of "Dancing With the Stars" and "Hoarders" watchers?

The US is many times too large to be a "community," in any meaningful sense. Whoever talks about US interests is selling something -- something that most of us wouldn't buy, if not for deception and raw force.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Blizzard Blogging

Had the tee 'n' vee on a few minutes ago, and the crawler at screen's bottom informed me of a delicious fact: among the things closed tomorrow is the "No Excuses Personal Motivation Center."

Can't make this stuff up!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Why Bother?

I saw this the other day:
A controversial bill handing President Obama power over privately owned computer systems during a "national cyberemergency," and prohibiting any review by the court system, will return this year.

Internet companies should not be alarmed by the legislation, first introduced last summer by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), a Senate aide said last week. Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"We're not trying to mandate any requirements for the entire Internet, the entire Internet backbone," said Brandon Milhorn, Republican staff director and counsel for the committee.

Instead, Milhorn said at a conference in Washington, D.C., the point of the proposal is to assert governmental control only over those "crucial components that form our nation's critical infrastructure."
I have to wonder: why are they messing around with a "controversial bill" awarding the Peace Laureate the power to blow up the internet? Did El Supremo Jorge Bush II require such a bill when he decided that the telcos needed to provide the contents of any and all electronic telecommunications to any gummint functionaries who wanted them? No, he did not. And his successor -- his blood enemy, dont'cha know, from the "other party" -- fell all over himself in his haste to ensure that nothing untoward should befall El Supremo or any of the least of his minions. Does anyone seriously expect the next Emperor to show any less concern for continuity?

Actually, they're depriving the Obummer of part of the rightful pleasures of his office. I'm sure killing the internet would be at least a little more exciting and fun without "protection." C'mon, guys, let Barack go bareback! He'll be OK, really ... and it'll feel so much better.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Swaggering Staggering Debtors

I've heard that if you owe a thousand dollars, the bank owns you; if you owe a hundred million dollars, you own the bank. I'm not sure how true that is. It appears, though, that our supervisors are convinced:
WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--A group of U.S. senators sought to increase pressure on Chinese President Hu Jintao ahead of his summit with President Barack Obama this week, predicting U.S. lawmakers will pass legislation this year to crack down on Beijing's exchange rate policy.

"The time for talk is over. We've had enough of China's empty verbiage," Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), a longtime critic of China's currency policy, said during a Monday conference call with reporters.
We interrupt the story at this point to note that the salary of Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y., and a qualified expert on "empty verbiage") is being paid through borrowing from the Chinese. Now, to continue:
Schumer was joined by fellow Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) and Bob Casey (D., Pa.) on the call to back legislation targeting countries that artificially value their currencies.
We interrupt once again to ask fellow Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) and Bob Casey (D., Pa.) what the "natural" way is for countries to value their currencies, and whether they are quite sure that the United State has fully avoided artificiality in this respect. Hearing no answer, we again continue:
The measure would increase pressure on the Treasury Department to cite countries with artificial exchange rate policies, as well as make changes to U.S. trade law targeting such currency issues.

"Our message to President Hu is 'Welcome to the United States, but we want to make sure we have a fair trading system,'" Stabenow said.
Yes, whenever I want advice on living a sober and productive life, I always seek out the town drunk. Speaking of whom: wasn't that Uncle Sam I just saw, staggering to the curb outside the local gin mill?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pastor Obama Inspires Us

Whatever I might say about the Peace Laureate's Thursday speech has already been said much better by Chris Floyd:
As President Barack Obama consoled the nation Wednesday with talk of "rain puddles in heaven," his agents were murdering four more people in his illegal war in Pakistan. The incongruity was excruciating; you could almost feel your neck snapping from the moral whiplash induced by the contrast between word and deed.

But of course this contrast remained totally obscured. Instead, the media was saturated with bipartisan praise for Obama's heavenly puddles and "transcendent" rhetoric about "aligning our actions with our values" and measuring our lives by "how well we have loved and what small part we have played in making the lives of others better." Naturally, in the midst of so much self-congratulatory afflatus, there was not much room for a short story from the Associated Press noting that Wednesday saw yet another attack by American drone missiles on a remote village in Pakistan.

Yet even this report was itself drenched in the mindset of righteous murder that lurked behind the treacly tropes that Obama was delivering to a rapturous crowd. You can see it in the language of the very first paragraph:
Suspected U.S. unmanned aircraft fired four missiles at a house in a militant-infested area of northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing at least four people, Pakistani intelligence officials said.
An "infested" area -- the language used for vermin, for insects, for filthy creatures fit only for extermination. These insects are what is being killed in the wilds of Pakistan: not human beings, not sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters. Just strange, worthless little creepy-crawlies called "militants." And if you think this is too extreme an extrapolation, not truly representative of the imperial mindset, recall the words of Admiral William Fallon.

Surely you remember the good Admiral -- former head of U.S. Central Command, the military cockpit of the Terror War. For a brief moment back in 2008, this imperial proconsul was the darling of the progressosphere. Why? Because in a fawning article in Esquire, he made a few noises indicating his lack of enthusiasm for an immediate extension of the Terror War into Iran. Yet even this tepid demurral (which he quickly and cravenly denied making) was couched in the exterminationist language that now imbues both the civilian and military wings of the imperial establishment. As I noted at the time:
Fallon himself has long denied the hearsay evidence that he had declared, upon taking over Central Command, that a war on Iran "isn't going to happen on my watch." And in fact, the article itself depicts Fallon's true attitude toward the idea of an attack on Iran right up front, in his own words. After noting Fallon's concerns about focusing too much on Iran to the exclusion of the other "pots boiling over" in the region, [author Thomas Barnett] presses the point and asks: And if it comes to war? Fallon replies with stark, brutal clarity:

"'Get serious,' the admiral says. 'These guys are ants. When the time comes, you crush them.'"
And whatever Mr. Floyd left out was also said, much better than I could have, by Arthur Silber:
Thus does the murdering leader of the Death State use a dead child to burnish the image of the State itself and, which is undoubtedly more critical from Obama's perspective, to burnish the image of those who direct the Death State's operations. If you dare to think that those who lead the Death State and implement its policies engage in murder, conquest, plunder, and brutalization without end, that is only because you are "cynical" and engaging in "vitriol." Our leaders are "good and important": do you want to disagree with a murdered child?
Chris Floyd's piece can, and should, be read in full here; Arthur Silber's, here.

Yes, the Barackster is said to be quite a good speaker. Maybe so, but I couldn't tell you. His words are drowned out by his murderous actions.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Chestnut Tree Cafe Answers Your Questions

Mr. Patrick J. Buchanan, who sometimes talks a good game but is a warmongering GOP elephant at heart, is perplexed. He has questions:
As for cutting defense, if House Republicans have the kidney for that, they will have to overcome resistance from their own neocons, hawks and lobbyists for the military-industrial complex who are former Republican members of Congress.

Will farm-belt Republicans go along with cuts in agricultural subsidies? Will bricks-and-mortar boys go along with cuts in a federal highway program that is the legacy of GOP Rep. Bud Shuster of Pennsylvania?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, who help finance the party, have programs inside that $3.5 trillion federal budget they wish to see protected. Will a Republican House, most of whose senior members have supped at their tables, bite the hand that holds the big envelopes?
Fortunately, we can answer his questions.

Dear Mr. Buchanan,


Best regards,

--- The Chestnut Tree Cafe editorial staff

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Voting Changes Things: Jan. 6 Edition

O triumphant Republicans:
Republicans acknowledged on Thursday they will have to sign off on more deficit spending to avoid a debt default that would roil financial markets and bring the government to a grinding halt.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner pressed lawmakers to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt limit to allow the United States to borrow more and avert a crisis in the coming months.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Republican, said he recognized the need to allow the government to go deeper in debt.

"Will the debt ceiling ... have to be raised? Yes," said Ryan, who leads Republican efforts to slash deficit spending.
What's that you say, O Tea Partier? There's more than one party? To borrow the title of an excellent (but currently inactive, hence no link) blog: yeah, right.

Don't forget to vote, now. Voting changes things!

Harmless Fun

Last fall, the voters spoke, and their voices were heard! Contrary to what some jerks say, democracy really does work, and voting really does change things.

And so what, one might ask, has changed?

Much. The House of Representatives now has a GOP majority, and that means new leadership. Yes, that's actually the word used by the Washington Post to describe Weepy John Boehner and his jowly confreres -- I'm not making this up. But everything's going to be very different now, as can plainly be seen:
The new House Republican leadership is getting ready for its much-anticipated reading of the Constitution as the House begins its workday Thursday.

The basic document, 4,500 or so words, which lays out the three-branch structure and the roles of each branch, would take about 30 minutes to read aloud. The amendments, about 3,300 words, would take an additional 20 to 25 minutes. If most all members take part, that would be about 18 words each. That's maybe 10 to 15 seconds per member live on C-SPAN.
Yes, our crazy old grandpa's dessicated bones will be honored ceremonially by our supervisors. Have no fear, though; it's obviously not going to interfere with business as usual. Has it ever, in your lifetime or mine? Didn't think so.

Really, I welcome their constitution-reading ritual. It offers a chance of some low fun: will one or two of our dullest lawfakers stumble comically over a few a them-there fifty-cent words? And, in my diseased after-the-Revo daydreams, when they're all facing People's Reactionary Utopian Justice, they won't be able to plead ignorance of the poor inert document to which they all pledge a solemn oath, just before they apply themselves anew to savagely raping and dismembering it.