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.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Fussing Over the Details

Oh, that naughty, naughty Navy:
Washington (CNN) -- As the Navy investigates how a series of raunchy videos, full of sexual innuendo and anti-gay remarks, were produced and shown to a crew while on deployment, some are at odds about whether the high-ranking Navy officer in question should keep his position.

Excerpts from the videos and descriptions of their content were first published Saturday by The Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Norfolk, Virginia.

The videos on the paper's website, reviewed by CNN, feature a man identified by two Navy officials and The Virginian-Pilot as Capt. Owen Honors, who at the time was the executive officer, or second-in-command, of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. He recently took command of the carrier, winning one of the most coveted assignments in the U.S. Navy, which has only 11 aircraft carriers.

[ ... ]

Navy spokesman Cmdr. Chris Sims said the videos, which were shown to the crew of the Enterprise while on deployment supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, are "inappropriate."

Honors is shown cursing along with other members of his staff in an attempt to demonstrate humor, according to videos.

There are also anti-gay slurs, simulated sex acts, and what appear to be two female sailors in a shower together.

[ ... ]

But the Saturday statement was an about-face from the initial military statement to the newspaper. In that statement, the Navy said the videos were "not created with the intent to offend anyone. The videos were intended to be humorous skits focusing the crew's attention on specific issues such as port visits, traffic safety, water conservation, ship cleanliness, etc."
Up to now, I haven't commented in this space concerning the current imperial distraction about whether homosexuals should be openly participating in the empire's death rituals. I've neglected this because, as with so many other pseudo-issues of our day, I've felt paralyzed by the basic initial question of: where to start? I still don't know, but maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe the thing to do is just pick a place, arbitrarily. Why not? What's the worst that can happen? Maybe I'll be forced to fire myself off this blog. Big deal -- the pay's not that good, anyway. So here goes.

I think that many of my former colleagues in "conservatism" -- whatever that may be -- consider that having Gaze In The Military™ is bad, because that will detract from the glorious, manly virtue and dignity of that military. To which I say: nonsense. Such virtue and dignity do not exist. They are illusory. The US military is a machine, having the following major functions:

(1) Providing profit to a number of large, politically-connected contracting corporations;

(2) Providing profit to strip bars, massage parlors, and other forms of the commercial sex industry wherever base facilities are to be found, in the US and overseas;

(3) Providing distractions and other political benefits to the parasite class in the District of Columbia;

(4) Providing protection to imperially-friendly foreign despots who otherwise would likely be overthrown by the people on whose necks they stand;

(5) Providing death and destruction to those foreigners who are recalcitrant and un-cooperative with the purposes of the DC parasites and despots who stand on American necks and drink American blood;

(6) Providing employment-of-last-resort to the domestic underclass, as well as futile death or severe maiming to an acceptable fraction of that underclass;

(7) Providing occupational training and indoctrination to future soldiers in the Army of Domestic Occupation (that is, "law enforcement"); and

(8) Vaporizing vast oceans of (borrowed) wealth.

None of this has anything, really, to do with virtue or dignity. It has a great deal to do with mass murder, tyranny, and ruinous waste. And so, I would argue, it makes very little sense to object to either the military's exclusion of homosexuals, or its inclusion of homosexuals; to its production of "appropriate" videos or its production of inappropriate ones. Those are the small details, lacking all significance. The real and reasonable objections to the military concern its essential nature, and its use.

Homosexuals should not be in the US military. Heterosexuals should not be in the US military. Women should not be in the US military, and men should not be in the US military. I hope I haven't left anyone out in.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

English Is a Dead Language: New Year's Day Edition

Okay, it's no one's fault but mine, but I looked in on the Rose Bowl Presented by Vizio™ a few minutes ago, and I saw a commercial for Taco Hell. The commercial extolled the virtues of the Five Buck Box, which appears to be a cardboard container of corn chips and grease, but is, we're told, the answer to Everyman's nutritional dreams. What caught my eye, though, was how the printing on said box read:


which I would have read as "five dollar buck box." And thus is yet another shovelful of dirt tossed into the fast-filling grave of the English language.

Happy New Year!

A Seamless Transition

Brand-new year, same old story:
The U.S. Capitol complex was temporarily evacuated Saturday afteroon when an aircraft entered restricted airspace, prompting a 30-minute shutdown of the Senate and House buildings.

Capitol police were able to make contact with the pilot of the errant aircraft, and the pilot landed safely at Reagan National Airport. The U.S. Capitol Police is investigating the incident in conjunction with the Transportation Security Administration.
Or, as the Bible says more succinctly in the first verse of Proverbs 28:
The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.