Monday, October 31, 2011

The Ineptitude Bowl

I gave up trying to decide whether the Chiefs or the Chargers were the most inept, bumbling idiots on the field, and decided it was the referees. That has nothing to do with partisanship, because most of the really ridiculous calls were in favor of my team. Neither of the two Chiefs' first half turnovers, for instance, both of them challenged by Kansas City, was a turnover; the runner was lying flat on his back on the ground when the ball came loose, and if the quarterback's hand was not moving forward, why did the ball fly fifteen yards toward the San Diego goal line?

San Diego was, of course, unable to score off of either of those two bogus "turnovers," so Kansas City should not be terribly upset. The real classic is that with 48 seconds left, at the Kansas City fifteen yard line and needing only to kick a field goal for the win, the Chargers fumbled the snap from center and lost in overtime. Awesome.

Green Bay next weekend, and I shudder to think about that. If we cannot beat a team that racks up 44 total yards of offense in more than two quarters, what are we going to look like against Aaron Rodgers? Yikes.

Curing The Symptom

Education is not the solution. Technology is not the solution. Green jobs are not the solution. Getting money from the rich is not the solution. There is no one solution. We are looking at far too many things from the wrong direction, trying to fix the symptom rather than the disease.

Take the case of money in politics. We study a million methods of how we can run elections so that legislators can run their reelection campaigns without being corrupted by accepting money for that purpose. We calmly accept that a legislator, once elected, has reelection as his primary purpose and never question the value of a government with lifetime legislators who submit to a mere formality of periodic reelection.

When a legislator is in permanent reelection campaign mode, far more damaging to proper governance than the money issue is his constant pandering to public emotion and courting votes for reelection. It is that aspect of the lifetime legislator which has led to the legislator’s allegiance being to his locality rather than to the nation as a whole, and thus to a nation where each state, each legislative district is in a greedy contest for the biggest piece of the pie. We are proving the validity of the truism that
“A nation divided against itself cannot stand.”

We promote the idea that every child should be able to have a college education so that child can “get a good job.” The problem is not that the good jobs require a college education, the problem is that the jobs which do not require a college education are not good jobs, and they should be. They used to be good jobs. They used to be jobs on which a person could support a family. Someone needs to dig the potatoes out of the ground; someone needs to drive the truck that brings those potatoes to the market. Why are these jobs that “Americans don’t want to do” today?

Instead of addressing that question, restructuring those jobs and bringing back the factory jobs that our young people once aspired to, we prattle on about college degrees and “creating a new technology.” America cannot eat a new technology, or be housed by it or clothed by it. We are solving the wrong problem, and in the process leaving problems unsolved and creating new ones added on top. In this case bad jobs that “Americans don’t want” and unemployed people burdened with college debt. Stupid.

Faced with an energy crisis of catastrophic, global proportions we tinker around with electric cars and windmills, when we should be making a quantum change in the way that we as a society, we as a race, interact with our planet. We should not be worrying about how much energy our cars use, we should be working toward a way to live on this planet without using cars at all, and we are not even considering that.

Small thinking yields small results. We need to start thinking bigger.

Quote Of The Day

The quote of the year, really, is brought to you from a Detriot Lions player after the team thrashed Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos yesterday,

Come on – that’s embarrassing. I mean, it’s a joke. We knew all week that if we brought any kind of defensive pressure, he couldn’t do anything. In the second half it got boring out there. We were like, "Come on – that’s your quarterback? Seriously?”

There's more here, and it's good reading for a Chargers' fan.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Are We Poland Yet?

Occupy Oakland was shut down by the police in action involving smoke, tear gas, flash grenades, handcuffs and arrests. Their response was to issue a call for a General Strike on November 2nd to “shut down the 1%.”

Now we are talking. Is there a Lech Walesa in the house?

For the first time, I am beginning to think that this “Occupy” thing might actually work. “Hey, we tried talking nice, now we’re going to make it hurt.” And that is what it will take. You think the rich care about a bunch of people camping in their public or private parks making some noise? Do they even care if those people are, as Oakland claimed, pooping and procreating in that public park? They do not.

When the communist government of Poland fell, the Iron Curtain countries came down like dominos. And what brought down Poland’s government? Lech Walesa’s general strike. We don’t have any factories left for workers to shut down, but we can prevent trucks from leaving the shipyard, and bookkeepers can shut down the computers.

Man the ramparts, people. Don’t tax the 1%, bring them down.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Usurpation of Occupation

Our local news last night featured a group calling themselves “Occupy Oceanside,” which is a suburban community north of San Diego, noted primarily for Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base. This group marched through “downtown Oceanside,” which didn’t take long, and finished up by picketing a Bank of America. The really pathetic part is that as soon as the news cameras left they went home, and they are scheduling another meeting for next Friday.

Now I don’t agree with some aspects of “Occupy Wall Street,” but these people are dedicated to something bigger than themselves and are making a very real and significant sacrifice to express that dedication. I have profound respect for that and for them. When I have stated disagreement with them I have been very careful not to mock or belittle them.

But this “Occupy Oceanside” group is a collection of dilettantes and idiots, and their usurpation of the name used by the people in New York City, downtown San Diego and other cities who are putting themselves to serious inconvenience and risk is utterly disgraceful. Coming out on a sunny warm afternoon to carry a sign for a few hours is a far cry from the formidable exercise of free speech that the true “occupiers” are undertaking, and these Oceanside jerkoffs should be ashamed of themselves for their pretense.

Did He Pull A "Fast One"?

I read a rumor the other day, which I now cannot locate, that Obama pulled a “fast one” on us, and if it’s true I’m going to say “good for him.”

This “slick trick” has to do with the troop withdrawal schedule from Iraq and negotiations with Maliki about what kind of approval Obama would accept. The supposition is that Maliki would have granted the necessary immunity to obtain an extension, but Obama said that Maliki’s approval was insufficient and that he would only accept a deal which was approved by the entire Iraqi Parliment.

The reason that was important is that supposedly Obama never actually wanted the extension, and knew that Maliki would approve it but the Iraqi Parliment would not. By doing what he did he could appear to be trying to get the extension, thereby placating the Neocons at home and immunizing himself, as much as possible anyway, from charges that he “bailed out on Iraq” while still getting what he actually wanted, which was to get our troops the hell out of Dodge.

I’m not as good at reading Obama’s mind as some other people seem to think they are, so I have no idea as to the validity of this theory, but I rather hope it’s true. If so, it would make Obama smart in more ways than one, in that he wanted the right thing, keeping the Bush timetable, and he was extraordinarily clever in his manner of going about doing it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

So That You Don't Have To

CBS Evening News was honking horns about the economy last night, with the Dow up 300+ points and the announcement of 3rd Qtr GDP growth at a 2.5% annual rate, saying that it appears we are finally on our way to prosperity. Growth of 2.5% actually sucks, of course, and the Dow was reacting to a European plan that is barely more than throwing your morning coffee on a house fire, but CBS is not going to let that worry them.

Today we have headlines like “Stocks Slip as Traders Weigh Euro Uncertainty, Data” and “Euro Pauses After Surge” along with Reuters saying that, “Sluggish income growth led US households to cut back on saving in September to increase their spending, casting doubt on the durability of the economy's growth spurt in the third quarter.”

I’m not sure why I watch CBS Evening News, actually.

Fairness Requires...

I am not particularly excited about "Occupy Wall Street" since I think they should be targeting Washington and protesting far greater injustices than the accumulation of wealth which this nation, in better times, used to praise rather than condemn, but in reading the comments at a conservative site I repeatedly saw a comment which is comically wide of the mark, "They think that punishing the rich is going to create jobs."

It is clear to me that the intent of OWS is that the rich should pay higher taxes in order that government can "afford" to maintain necessary services to those who are not rich. That is neither stupid or unreasonable, and I do believe it is well intentioned.

I'm not particularly in sympathy with that aim, as I think the nation as a whole is unreasonably prone to demanding services from government that it is not willing to pay for in the form of taxes, and that this whole "tax the rich" thing is just another way of saying "let somebody else pay for it," but
I don't at all get the impression that the OWS movement is quite as silly as being about "punishing the rich."

They do seem to have some idea that they are going to create jobs, although that is not very clearly stated, and it certainly not clear to me how anybody thinks that Wall Street, the seat of our financial sector, and job creation are even remotely connected.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Strange "Concerns"

Much hyperventilating is being done about Libya becoming an “Islamic nation” after we busted our humps to help liberate them from their brutal dictator. Two small problems with that, one being that we claimed we were not doing that until after that brutal dictator was already dead. The bigger conflict, though, is that the people who are so aghast at this prospect are for the most part the same people who most vociferously prate about the United States being a “Christian nation,” argue most loudly for our support of the “Jewish state” of Israel, and use Bible quotations to urge passage of legislation banning abortion and gay marriage.

Much concern is being expressed over the method of death of Muammar Qaddafi, and concern that he suffered unjust summary execution at the hands of the rebels whom we supported. The same people who are expressing this concern not only do not worry much about the summary executions conducted every week by American drones using Hellfire missiles, they actually celebrate those summary executions and refer to the victims of them as having been “brought to justice.”

Marco Rubio, it seems, is not eligible to serve as President of The United States, even though he was born on American soil, because "his parents held allegiance to a foreign nation" at the time he was born. (They were Cuban immigrants.) When faced with the 14th Amendment, detractors will admit that he is a citizen, but not a "natural born citizen." Sort of reminds me of Obama's birth certificate, "That's not a birth certificate, see, it's a certificate of live birth." Sheesh.

Why We Fight

Attywood, at has a post today entitled Why we fight regarding the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. He begins with the simple statement, “This is what the Oakland cops are fighting to protect,” and links to a New York Times article which itself begins, “The top 1 percent of earners more than doubled their share of the nation’s income over the last three decades…” and goes on to discuss income and wealth inequality.

This illustrates the problem I have with “Occupy Wall Street.” There is much that is going badly in this nation, and what we choose to protest is about money. We're fighting for our fair share of the money. The money inequality is unjust, and how it came about is even more unjust. It certainly merits protest, but Wall Street is the beneficiary of that injustice, and not the perpetrator of it. We should protest those who perpetrate injustice.

The perpetrators of that injustice are the legislators we elected and who betrayed a duty they owed to us, and the financial injustice they created is not the greatest damage they have done to this nation. We ignore the other damage at our peril, because these traitors are destroying the moral fiber of this nation in many ways. The entire social fabric of our nation is at stake, and we pick the fight over our fair share of the money.

*We're not fighting for rights of privacy guaranteed under the constitution.
*We're not fighting to put an end to the lives of our young people being
 thrown away on the ash heap of empire.
*We're not fighting for equality of health care.
*We’re not fighting for a righteous immigration and naturalization policy.
*We're not fighting for equal justice in the courts regardless of race or
 financial status.
*We’re not fighting to close Guantanamo and end military tribunals.
*We’re not fighting to end fraud and waste in nation building overseas.
*We’re not fighting to break up “too big to fail” and restore real financial
 regulation that protects small investors and retirement funds.
*We’re not fighting for an end to cronyism and nepotism in government.
*We’re not fighting for an end to the assassination of our citizens without
 due process of law.

If we were fighting for any of these things the battle would be in Washington and the movement would be to “Occupy Washington,” not Wall Street, but we’re not fighting for these things. We're fighting for our fair share of the money. Of course we are. Money is what America is all about.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blind Adherence

John Cole at is the leader at one of the most vociferous Republican bashing blogs on the Internet at Balloon Juice. It used to be a fun place, but any more I just skim the posts on there and, when I see terms like "Galtian overlords” and “east coast elites” I recognize another piece of anti-conservative froth and move on. John Cole works himself to a frenzy in one such rant, leading to, “THE OTHER FUCKING PARTY IS CRAZY. And I’m not saying that just to be hyperbolic. They are nucking futs. Lunatics. Insane.” He finishes with the reason he supports Democrats,

So until we exist in a system other than a two party system, I’m with the imperfect losers, happily. At least many of them have their hearts and heads in the right place, and when your choice is them of the frothing nutters, it isn’t even a choice.

I would question that “many of them have their hearts and heads in the right place,” perhaps a few of them do, but I do question his basic premise. He admits that his party is the “imperfect losers” but thinks that the way to deal with the situation is to support them and to focus on being radically critical of the other party. It is best to be non-critical of the “imperfect losers,” to say nothing which might be construed negatively about them, and urge their election because it is important to “defeat the lunatics.”

It never occurs to him that blind acceptance of the policies and politics of his own “imperfect losers” he is perpetuating the imperfections. As long as he and his fellow cheerleaders keep waving their pompoms for them they will keep doing what they are doing.

It never occurs to John Cole that by being critical of his own “imperfect losers” he might contribute to making them better.

I don’t criticize conservatism very much here, because I don’t much care about those guys, and when they say stupid things it neither surprises or concerns me. It’s what I expect from them. I expect more from liberals, or as they call themselves today, progressives. We are supposed to hold ourselves to a standard that involves actual thinking, not the mere parroting of ideology.

I criticize my side because I expect my side to be better.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Empty Threats

When I was a kid, threats were often met with the counter of, “Oh yeah? You and what army is going to make me do that?” I would typically hold up my fist and say, “Me and this army right here,” but that’s beside the point.

“Occupy Wall Street” is a case in point. They have published a long list of demands but, as Ian Welsh points out, they don’t say what they are going to do if their demands are not met. Presumably they are just going to continue their occupation, but that doesn’t seem to be bothering the “powers that be” very much, so their demands are likely to be essentially ignored. OWS is not an empty threat, it is not a threat at all.

Similarly with our current foreign policy of saying that a certain leader “must step down.” We don’t say what we will do if he doesn’t step down, and in reality it is absolutely obvious that there is nothing we can do about such an eventuality, and that we are making a totally empty statement.

I know, Libya. Except that, until he was actually dead, we proclaimed loudly that we were not trying to depose him. We maintained that if his ouster happened at all it would merely be a byproduct of us protecting the people he was threatening to kill. Our statements about him “stepping down” were never accompanied with threats to actually take him down.

Similarly with our penchant for dictating instructions to other nations on any matter. I think we just look silly telling other nations, or national leaders, what they “must do” when we have neither the will or the means to back that up with an “or else.”

Monday, October 24, 2011

Foreign Policy Successes

I won’t bother to link to them, because it isn’t hard to find articles referring to Obama’s “four foreign policy successes in the past six months.” And what are these successes? They are the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the death of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, Moammar Gadhafi’s ouster and death, and ending this nation’s involvement in Iraq on schedule. Three deaths and the failure to break a previous administration’s treaty.

I’m not saying that the end of Osama Bin Laden is not a good thing, but is it really a “foreign policy success” for Obama? How does a military incursion into another nation without its permission to assassinate a terrorist have anything to do with foreign policy? Unless it is a statement that our foreign policy is that we have no foreign policy; that we go anywhere we want to go and do anything we want to do.

In Libya we set out to do something while vigorously denying that we were trying to do it, even though we were so transparently trying to do it that the entire world knew we were lying about it. Then when it happened we claimed we not only intended to do it but led the way on doing it, thereby making our foreign policy look dishonest as well as idiotic. And we pissed off our allies who actually did do it, all of which is hardly my definition of a “foreign policy success.”

Democrats are bemoaning that his “recent foreign policy successes won’t help him in the election.” I think that’s probably true. As a campaign slogan, “I can kill more people than my opponent can” (or “I have killed…”) is a bit lacking in empathy. It will probably not help him much to talk about how hard he tried to keep troops in Iraq past the 2011 deadline set by Bush, either, and how he finally decided to give up and keep to the Bush/Maliki timetable for withdrawal. Exactly how Democrats are painting that as an Obama success sort of escapes me.

I would be delighted if supporters touted "foreign policy successes" which actually were foreign policy and which actually were successes, and I understand the concept of political spin and have no real problem with it. But when spin devolves into the realm of the Rovian “we create our own reality” it’s no longer merely spin, it’s just plain old fashioned bullshit. I’m going to call out that bullshit whether it comes from those whose principles
I basically oppose or when, as with these “foreign policy successes,” it comes from those whose policies I more generally support.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chargers Sunday

The Chargers are reliable, anyway. They will play one half of outstanding football and play the other half looking like the Three Stooges, or Pop Warner on a bad day. I believe they set a new NFL record today for jumping offsides on defense.

The Chargers were in total command at halftime, and the game was nowhere near as close as the 21-10 Charger lead would seem to imply. The second half was even worse for the Chargers than being on the short end of a 17-0 scoring margin would seem to indicate.

The last 1:36 was the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen, containing only five plays in total, no fewer than four completed passes in bounds, the last three for a total of seven yards, resulting with eleven seconds left and Philip Rivers throwing the ball out of bounds on fourth and three. Who in the sam hell does that?

Sunday Football

Well, the Tigers won, resoundingly. Oh, right, my Tigers, not the other Tigers. It looked for thirty minutes like Tennessee was going to make a game out of it, but then Alabama woke up and turned it into a blowout. Oklahoma lost to Texas Tech in a really good game; I wonder how many picked that one. So numbers one and two are well separated from number three, both had blowouts this week at home, both are off next week, and they play each other in two weeks. Oh boy. Geaux Tigers.

At one point the announcer said something about "Louisiana State" and I thought, "who the hell is that?" Then I realized that he meant LSU. Duh.

Utah is now 0-4 in the Pac 12, 3-0 in non-conference play. Maybe they should have stayed in the Mountain West? Inside shot.

Also upcoming is that two college teams will play an NCAA basketball game on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson, aircraft carrier, in San Diego Bay on Nov 11th, Veterans' Day. I'm actually pretty pumped about that, and that President Obama will be attending. Rumor has it, I believe, that he likes basketball. I think everything about that event has a nice flavor to it except that, unfortunately, the media will be reminding us endlessly that Carl Vinson is the ship that buried Osama Bin Laden.

The Chargers play at the Jets today and the New York Times is saying... Well never mind what the damned Times is saying. We all know that paper is full of crap.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Oh, Good To Know

The San Diego Union-Tribune sports section had a preview of the college football "Games To Watch" today, among them LSU-Auburn. It talked about Auburn being the third consecutive team LSU will face to be starting a new quarterback, and then said that, "The Tigers will be short handed since three players were suspended." That's not quite as informative as one might wish, given that both teams are "the Tigers."

Oh well, Geaux Tigers, beat the Tigers. (The other Tigers.)

A Promise Kept?

Most politicians lie, while trying to sound like they are not lying. That includes Obama, of course, although he’s not really as bad as some that I have experienced, but in this announcement of the total withdrawal of troops from Iraq he went out of his way to sound like he was lying without actually doing so. He really wanted to say, “I pulled all of the troops out of Iraq,” but he knew that he just could not get away with it.

First of all, if he said that, Republicans would attack him for leaving America weakened and Iraq wide open to being reconquered by al Queda. That really should not have been a concern, because Republicans were going to do that regardless of how he phrased it and, sure enough, they were making precisely those charges within hours, if not minutes, of his announcement. Big surprise there.

There are also far too many people who know that the 2011 timetable was set by George W. Bush in 2008 before leaving office, and that making direct claims for the withdrawal date might be a little too obvious. Not only that, but too many people knew that he has been negotiating feverishly with Maliki to extend that date. So a direct “Look at the wonderful decision I have come to” statement would not fly, and he knew it.

So he starts his speech with, “As a candidate for President I pledged to end the war in Iraq responsibly,” and follows that up with, “Today, I can report that as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year.”

Each statement is true, because in the second one he doesn’t say whose promise he’s talking about, but together they sound like a lie without actually, technically, being one. Taken together they sound like he is saying that he is keeping the promise he made as a candidate. Pretty clever, actually, to so specifically imply that without actually saying it.

In actuality, of course, he's just giving up his efforts to break that promise.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Unseemly Victory Dance

Gaddafi's death has evoked some of the most breathless silliness on both sides of the political aisle I have heard in quite some time. It is being, for one thing, hailed as a “huge foreign policy success” for Obama, despite the small issue that Obama has claimed all along that we were not trying to do it. Having tried valiantly for months to disclaim any part of the effort to oust Gaddafi, the minute the guy is dead Obama is saying that, “We did precisely what we set out to do.”

Then there’s the little issue of who fired on Gaddafi's motor convoy. First we are told that it was an American Predator drone. Then we hear that an American drone and French fighters were flying together and that “it’s unclear” who fired the missile. Then the French say, “what American drone?” and claim that they fired the missile. The French sound, in fact, just a little bit miffed after Obama’s comments last night regarding “American leadership” in the Libyan operation.

I confess that I don’t know much about air combat operations since my experience was about as far from that as one can get, being several hundred feet under water, but the idea of unmanned drones from one nation flying in a furball with manned fighters from a different nation strikes me as just a little bit unlikely.

I also have to admit that Obama’s remarks about “our leadership at NATO” and “we achieved our objectives” struck me as a bit jarring when I heard them last night, after several months of hearing him assure Congress that we were only marginally involved in the Libyan operation and that we had only done the kickoff and retired to the sidelines, so they did not need to worry about the expenses we might incur or any losses that we might have in either lives or equipment.

I also have been hearing reports for months that both the French and the British have been bitching rather strenuously about us failing to do our share of the combat missions, so I can sort of understand them being a little peeved at us stepping up and crowing about it as an American foreign policy success at this point. For those of you who remember the Lone Ranger, the French are sort of taking a “What’s this ‘we’ shit, Tonto?” approach to Obama’s remarks about Gaddafi's death.

Counters, Not Thinkers

Steve Kornacki at Salon starts an article today by saying that “The most recent data shows that 75 percent of voters say they want the federal government to send money to the states…” for hiring teachers, policemen and such, and goes on to imply that that statistic is sufficient to prove that the bill in question is a valuable bill that should be passed by Congress.

I’m inclined to doubt his assertion since there is ample evidence to the effect that voters don’t always pick the best solution. They approved, by an 80% margin, of going to war in Iraq, for instance. They did not elect George Bush the first time, but they did the second time, after he started a disastrous war in Iraq.

Are we seriously going to turn for decision on governmental policy to a mass of people, of which only 39% believe in the theory of evolution? A group of people of which a significant percentage believe that man and dinosaurs coexisted and that God faked all those fossils in order just to fuck with us?

Of course the voters want the federal government to send money to the states. They live in the states. When have the voters ever said to the federal government, “No, don’t send us any money.” Voters have always wanted the federal government to send money to the states.

I don’t know about you, but I know for sure that I don’t want those idiots deciding how my tax money gets spent. Congress isn’t much better, I mean, look at who elected them, but there is at least a chance that somebody might talk some sense into them.

It won’t be Steve Kornacki, or Barack Obama for that matter, both of whom think that we elect representation to do nothing but read polls. If all that our representatives are going to do is vote in accordance with polls, why do we bother with all of these stupid debates and speeches? Why do we care what Candidate Fuddpucker’s opinion on abortion is when all he’s going to do is read a poll to determine how to vote on the subject?

It does take a lot of pressure off in November of next year. We don’t need to listen to debates on philosophies or theories of government, we just need to give everybody a reading test. They don’t even need to understand really big numbers, they just need to be able to count up to one hundred.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Oh Yeah? Show Me

It is common knowledge that, “Republicans want the economy to remain bad so that they can win the election next year.” Lawrence O’Donnell does not present this as any kind of supposition or theory, he states it as a fact, as do most of his guest commenters and most of the rest of the punditry at MSNBC and the liberal blogosphere.

Can they show a YouTube film clip of any Republican saying, “I want the economy to stay bad because that will destroy Obama,” or giving any other reason why they specifically want the economy to stay bad? Can they show a film clip of any Republican saying that they are specifically trying to keep unemployment high? Of course not.

O’Donnell and company do, of course, roundly condemn Republicans for making claims which they cannot substantiate, and for making false accusations against Barack Obama, and yet in virtually every “news” show they state categorically that Republicans are deliberately sabotaging the economy for selfish political purposes, a claim for which they can never in a million years provide definitive proof.

Are Republicans deliberately sabotaging the economy? Hell, I don’t know; maybe they are. But I’m from Missouri, metaphorically speaking. Show me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Ready, Sneer, Aim"  (oops)

The liberal blogs which I read are all sneering at the Republican debates and heaping scorn upon the various exchanges between candidates this morning. Deserved or not, I can’t really say, but probably deserved since conservative blogs are all trying to pretend the debates didn’t happen.

The lofty and superior sniping of the liberal crowd is beginning to wear on my nerves though. (Okay, nephew, maybe “beginning” is not the right word.) Before picking up mud and slinging it at others, it is sometimes a good idea to make sure you don’t have a handful of one’s one skirt which is dragging in the same mud.

In yammering about some exchange having to do with immigration, one liberal blogger commented on “…antagonizing the twelve Latinos who were still going to vote for a Republican.” Oh, how very scathing. He thinks, apparently, that Latinos are planning to vote overwhelmingly to reelect a Democrat whose administration has set two annual records for deporting them from this country; deporting them at almost twice the rate that the previous Republican President did.

I love the part about if the person being deported has a baby who was born in this country and is therefor a citizen, the baby is allowed to leave the country with its mother. What largesse! What humanity! Makes me proud to be an Amurricun and a Democrat.

Well, blush, okay I’m registered as a Republican, but I have an unbroken record of voting Democrat that goes back many years. That is going to change next year.

Update, 12 noon: After removing a comment which said that I was stupid and that Republicans are racists, I will add that I continue to be struck by the liberals' lack of positive commentary regarding their own party and ideas. Republicans do bash their opponents to a degree, of course, but the debates have a great deal to say about what they propose to do and what they stand for. Liberals seem to have nothing to say other than gleeful commentary about how stupid the Republicans are and how Democrats will win because the Republicans have such a lousy field of candidates. They also hate Wall Street, etc.

Obama is, of course, demanding that Congress pass his "jobs bill," but that is not getting much traction with the liberal commentariat. They are having too much making snide remarks about Republicans.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jimmie Johnson is an Idiot

Jimmie Johnson, five time NASCAR champion, should keep his mouth shut when he doesn't know what the hell he is talking about. His reaction to the Indy car crash was to say that they should race only on road courses and not do so on oval tracks. That is an idiotic over-simplification which, if followed, would eliminate the Indianapolis 500 for instance, the oldest and most prestigious motor car race in America.

The cause of the crash involved many factors, among them the greater than usual number of cars, that Las Vegas has a higher than usual degree of banking, and the fact that it is progressive banking which allows the cars to run four and five wide. Johnson has never driven an Indy car and knows little or nothing about what is involved in racing them.

Misdirected Anger

I am not the only one thinking that “Occupy Wall Street” is picking the wrong target. Matthew Good at The Guardian suggests that they should Surround the Pentagon instead, pointing out that Wall Street got $700 billion of taxpayer money one time, while the Pentagon gets $1 trillion of taxpayer funding every single year.

He points out that the barons of New York have been in place for decades, and that the purpose of capitalism is to enrich the capitalists. We have been perfectly happy with that for so long as the nation enjoyed relative prosperity, and only now that financial hard times have fallen do we see the situation as some great evil. He points out that “when the empire knew better days we did not question our princes, but exalted them.” Nicely said and absolutely correct.

Reality is that it is the role of government to impose upon capitalists the restraint which they will not impose upon themselves, and government has failed to do so. The imbalance which we see today is not a failure of capitalism, which has enrichment of capitalists as its sole purpose, but of government, which is supposed to protect and serve the people which comprise society which it governs.

He points out, and I think rightly so, that what we are witnessing is the collapse of empire, the creation of which has been the activity of our government instead of the protection of its own people as is its proper role. The driver of empire is the military-industrial complex against which Eisenhower warned us six decades ago, and it is centered not at Wall Street, but at the Pentagon in Washington DC.

Quiet Mood

No post yesterday after watching the Indy car race Sunday. The foibles of various football teams and the meaningless rantings of political idiots simply don't mean much at some points in time. Peace.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Priorities Part Three

I’m seeing a great deal of excitement about “Occupy Wall Street” these days and, while I am “on board” with that protest, I go back to the days when the protests were about our young men dying in Vietnam. I have to say, that I take that kind of protest a little more seriously than the ones about, “we aren’t getting our fair share of the money.”

Did anyone notice that our drones are killing people in Yemen almost every day in numbers that make it very difficult to believe the deaths are solely armed soldiers? Did anyone notice the deaths by US drones in Somalia?

Supposedly these drones are so precise and efficient that they never kill anyone who is not armed to the teeth and positively identified as a convicted terrorist, but did anyone notice that a US drone killed two of our own soldiers because the drone operator thought they were “the enemy” and fired a Hellfire missile at them?

How many people are marching in the streets to protest this nation killing women and children and calling it “collateral damage?” How many people are marching in the streets to protest a full decade of our young men and women dying in a transparently senseless war in Afghanistan? No, we are marching in the streets to demand a greater share of the nation’s cash.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Here Comes "The Person"

I was watching CBS News last night and at one point after they introduced the new topic and a new on-location reporter, as he spoke the introductory line of the story I said to myself, "Here comes the person." I was right, after a single line telling us the story was about drug shortages, he immediately said, "Jane Doe has been taking freeblesmitz for six years, and her hospital ran out today."

Every story on the national news is done in the same manner. We are told that an entire nation is being subjected to some issue, and then the story is about one person. If nothing else, it is lazy, sloppy journalism revealing that news stories are written by hacks who have no imagination or depth, and who do not research to find out how the issue is affecting the society as a whole but settle for the pictorial satisfaction of how it affects one person.

Similarly, instead of wide sweeping camera camera shots which show us the scope of the devastation of a flooded city, we get arsty closeup shots of a bottle floating downstream and, of course, the anguished face of, "Ellen Smith has lived in her home for..."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Priorities, Part Deux

My point on Steve Jobs was not he was a bad person, nor that the toys he made were bad, but that so much idolization was heaped on him at the same time that other wealthy capitalists were being so roundly condemned. My criticism was directed not at Steve Jobs or his corporation, but rather at the people who were idolizing him.

Jobs' corporation was exporting production jobs to horrible working conditions overseas, selling products using predatory pricing, monopolizing ideas, destroying anyone who threatened his monopolies, etc. And yet he was revered and worshipped even as thousands were marching and screaming in protest of others who are using that exact same business model, purely because they are using that exact same business model.

Why did we revere Steve Jobs and condemn the others, when all of them were doing the same thing? Because Jobs strutted his products on a stage and showed us, “Isn’t this exciting, isn’t this fun.” The other predatory corporations are merely providing us with things that we need, like food and fuel, and health insurance. They are taking advantage of us. Steve Jobs was providing us with excitement and fun.

Priorities, Priorities

The San Diego Union-Tribune had a couple of headlines on the front page yesterday, pretty much side-by-side, that caught my eye. The first had to do with the city school system facing drastic cutbacks due to falling tax revenues and the loss of state funding, and the other had to do with the Mayor going forward with a $800 million plan to build a football stadium for the Chargers, which would cost the city taxpayers $38 million per year. I’m pretty sure the management of the San Diego Chargers was not too thrilled by the juxtaposition of those two headlines.

Do We Want Direct Democracy?

The founding fathers shunned “direct democracy” because they feared that decisions regarding governance would be made by emotions rather than sound judgement and, as much as I like the fact that the “silent majority” is becoming no longer silent, I think that the tenor of Occupy Wall Street is a case in point proving the pitfall of direct democracy.

Suppose the protestors succeed in their goal of “taxing the rich” which seems to be the predominant issue, what is actually gained by that? How many jobs are created for those who are presently unemployed? How many wage increases are given to those who presently have jobs? How many student loans or past due home mortgages are paid off?

Sure, the protestors are complaining about these other issues, but the only solution they are proposing is to tax the rich.

President Obama is making the case for his “jobs bill” and pursuing a course whereby direct democracy would override the normal representative governmental process to get it passed, but how many people who favor it actually understand the implications of it?

The beneficial aspects of the bill are “paid for” by a tax on the rich, for instance, but those benefits only last one year and the tax lasts ten years. What are we going to do next year when we need to renew the benefits of the bill, but the taxes which might pay for it are already running and will continue to do so for nine more years? President Obama doesn’t have to worry about that, he will have been reelected as a result of the popular support for his “jobs bill” and its renewal will be somebody else’s problem.

To repeat, one year of benefit is offset by ten years of taxation. How many times can we do that? Especially when we don’t tell anyone we are doing it, in order to get them to agree to doing it. That’s why the founding fathers said it was a bad idea to let 300 million people decide what should be done. They didn’t know it would be 300 million, but they knew it would be too many to make a valid decision, and so does Barack Obama.

When President Obama tells you to “call your legislator and tell them to pass this bill” he is subverting the constitution, bypassing the representative form of government which is defined in that document. You object when lobbyists tell your legislators how to vote on legislation, why are you okay with fellow citizens who may or may not agree with your position being able to tell them how to vote?

Our government is unquestionably broken, but mob rule is not the solution.

Dennis Ritchie, RIP

I initially learned to program computers in Pascal, then was forced to do so in several other languages for reasons that don’t matter here. The day I first started programming in C language I knew that I was in love with that language. C is elegant, powerful and an absolute delight to work in. Today what little programming I still do is done for website “data back end” work in PHP, which is derived from C. Why do I bring this up? I’m glad you asked.

Previously I denigrated the passing of what I regarded as a phoney iCon when Steve Jobs died. (Do you like the little pun there? It’s at several levels, you have to think about it.) My nephew was a little peeved, but he’s returned to my comments, so I think I’m back in his good graces again.

This past weekend we lost someone who truly changed the technology world in major ways when Dennis Ritchie died at the age of 70. This was the man who invented the C language and drove the development of the Unix operating system, and I will always claim that the unsung hero is the best kind of hero. The men I most admire are the ones who do stunningly important things and do not feel the need to dress it up in bells and whistles and strut on a stage to show it off.

Steve Jobs gave us glitz and glamour; Dennis Ritchie gave us the Internet.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Warm Day

I just got back from having lunch with a friend. The temperature was 105 degrees at my neighborhood bank, and it will have been significantly higher further inland. Not Santa Ana, though, winds are calm.

And The Comedy Widens

Here’s how our FBI works. The guy who masterminded the Iranian Terror Comedy was apparently a real winner, who “was pretty disorganized, always losing things like keys, titles, probably a thousand cell phones” according to a friend. This is the guy that Eric Holder plans to parade in front of the United Nations to condemn Iran.

As a further display of FBI expertise, when neighbors would turn on their computers and look at wifi networks, names like “FBI Van 1” would show up. Is that a clever disguise, or what? Why didn’t they just paint that name on the side of the van? Did it not occur to the FBI that people in the neighborhood might be using computers which had wireless networks?

And we wonder why our government can’t balance its budget.

A "Chain of Plots"

In addition to bemoaning the nation’s failure to train skilled workers for its private industry, CBS News is still hyping the Iranian Terror Comedy, reporting today that our government says that the plot may have been part of a “chain of such plots” and quoting no less of an illuminary than Senator Dianne Feinstein. She chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is an oxymoron of the highest order imaginable. While I thought this might be her last term in office, it seems I am going to have the great pleasure of voting against her next year. No, it does not matter who runs against her; I would vote for my cat against her.

It also quotes quite a few other people without naming them because, “All of the officials requested anonymity in order to provide details from classified analyses and an active criminal case,” whatever that means. I'm pretty sure it means that they did not want the whole world pointing fingers at them and laughing their asses off.

It just blows my mind that our government is going to take this case, revolving around an alcoholic used car salesman who kept losing his glasses and cell phone, and who is naming nonexistent coconspirators, to the United Nations as a basis for requesting additional harsh sanctions against Iran.

Management Fail

On CBS News last night they did a segment showing a young man wielding a MIG welder and referred to him as a “skilled worker” who had received three job offers when he graduated from the school which taught him how to do that. They then said that federal funding for that type of school is being cut, and interviewed the welder’s boss who expressed concern about where he was going to be able to hire “skilled workers” if the funding for these training schools continued to be cut.

My wife finally did the “Shut your mouth dear, you look like a goldfish” thing, because I was too stunned to react by screaming at the television as I might otherwise have done. Something to the general effect of, “Train them yourself, you blithering moron.”

I can’t tell you how many “skilled workers,” pipefitters, welders, millwrights, electricians and the like I have hired. Many of them had the skills I needed because they had been working in the trade for some time, others did not, so I trained them myself. Not once did it ever occur to me that it was the responsibility of my government to provide me with skilled workers.

No wonder business in this nation is falling flat on its damned face. It’s being managed by idiots.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pushing Us, Pushing Us

It should be noted that Israel is no longer the only "ally" pressuring us to attack Iran, Saudi Arabia is now on that bandwagon as well. We may no longer be able to resist the pressure to launch an attack, once we have "united the world against Iran" in the face of this latest heinous plot.

Terror Foiled Again

As Glenn Greenwald says, responding to this latest terror plot is made difficult by the necessity of restraining all of the giggling that is invoked by the government’s announcement of it. Glenn dismantles the plot better than I can, so go read his piece, but…

Our government is just appalled at the idea that Iran would commit the heinous act of entering another nation for the purpose of committing assasination, especially in a manner that might take a number of innocent lives in the process. Oh my, does anyone know how to spell “drones” and know where Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Iraq and Somalia are?
I mean, really, we not only do that on an almost daily basis, we even brag about it, and then we make up what we admit “reads like the pages of a Hollywood script” and recoil in horror at the idea of Iran doing almost exactly the same thing in our country.

One also has to wonder how many FBI agents we have hanging around pretending to be explosives brokers, because every time some feckless idiot wants to become a terrorist and tries to hook up with another terrorist to buy explosives, he hooks up with an FBI guy instead, who then spends six months or more selling him silly putty before finally arresting him and creating one of these grand scenarios. Sort of like a cat toying with a mouse before finally killing it and then proudly bringing it home to it’s owner with a, “Look what I did.”

And then, sort of like icing on the cake, the government issues an alert both abroad and here in "the homeland” for a “heightened risk of terrorist attack” because Iran might retaliate against us for having broken up their plot. They seem to think Iran is like a two-year-old who throws temper tantrums when its plans are foiled. (Assuming that it really was Iran's plot.) Or maybe they are just thinking in terms of what they would do if someone shot down one of our drones.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"A couple of little things"

Norv Turner, coach of the San Diego Chargers, met the media yesterday and admitted that their level of play has not been entirely flawless. He stayed with the team's official line, though, to the effect that the only thing that matters is that they have won four games, and went on to say that all they have to do is "fix a couple of little things."

Um, Norv, dropping the fucking ball is not a "little thing."

I am married to a therapist (note to young bachelors, don't do that) and she keeps mentioning that the first step in dealing with a problem is to admit that you have one. (Which is a sample of why not to marry a therapist.)

Clarification: (otherwise known as scrambling for the lifeboat) No, I have no regrets, I would do it again. I would just urge her to become something other than a damn therapist.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Oh boy, oh boy

New BookWhen the newest Jack Reacher novel is released, I do not wait for the paperback, and I do not wait for Amazon to ship it to me. I want that book in my hot, sweaty little hands right now.

I will return to blogging when I damn well get around to it. Fortunately, we have leftovers in the fridge, otherwise my wife might not get dinner tonight.

Oh yes, LSU did fine, and the Chargers should have lost but managed not to. They are, of course, saying that the quality of their performance doesn't matter, that they will fix it when they need to. They say that every year, and they never do it.

The Latest From Princeton

Paul Krugman writes a remarkably shrill NYT piece, even for him, about the “Occupy Wall Street” movement today, claiming that,

… the protests have already elicited a remarkably hysterical reaction from Wall Street, the super-rich in general, and politicians and pundits who reliably serve the interests of the wealthiest hundredth of a percent.

Oh, really? And what form does that “remarkably hysterical reaction” seem to have taken? Well, he goes on to describe various Republicans calling them names, like “mobs” for instance, and accusing them of threatening to steal iPads. They sound pretty stupid, but Republicans sort of thrive on stupid. They hardly sound hysterical.

Paul Krugman sounds hysterical, but then he usually does.

He goes on at great length about how “financial-industry barons went wild over very mild criticism from President Obama” and a “campaign of character assassination against Elizabeth Warren” which would cause you to “think that Ms. Warren was the second coming of Leon Trotsky.”

It was a bit more than mere "very mild criticism," and the "barons" hardly "went wild" while continuing to contribute heavily to his reelection campaign, but let's not pick nits. Well, yes, let's.

Go ahead and read it. It is far more entertaining than it is informative.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

What Is A "Fair Share"?

President Obama has stirred up a resounding chorus demanding that “the rich” should “pay their fair share,” which sounds really good, but is certainly not well defined. Who are “the rich,” what is their “fair share” and what is it that they are paying a fair share for?

I am a proponent of a progressive income tax, and I believe our tax structure should be more progressive than it is. It should also be one whole hell of a lot less complex, but that is a different argument. A discussion about reforming our tax code and restoring it to a more progressive nature would be sensible but the mantras of “tax the rich” and “pay their fair share” are, like most political sloganeering, misleading and unhealthy.

At various times “the rich” have been defined as anyone making over $250,000, or anyone making over $500,000, or the latest Congressional definition of “millionaires,” which would be anyone with a net worth over $1 million regardless of their income. It’s hard, they say, to hit a moving target, but it’s really hard to hit a target when you don’t know what the target is.

Not to mention that our constitution prohibits passing a “bill of attainder” anyway, which this could probably be found to consist of. For those who don’t know, that is a bill which singles out an individual or group for punishment without a trial. We do it all the time, with moves like the defunding of Planned Parenthood, which is another example of how Congress tramples on the constitution as vigorously as the executive does.

“What they are paying for” is the operation of the federal government, which means that we need to look only at federal income tax. “Other taxes” such as payroll and local taxes don’t count toward the “fair share” calculation, because they have nothing to do with running the federal government or the degree to which the federal government operates in a deficit condition.

So what is a “fair share” of the cost of government? Well, how about the people who have income and pay no income tax at all? They benefit from the function of the federal government and pay not one dime toward its operation. Remember we cannot argue that, “Well, they pay taxes, because they have payroll and local taxes,” because we are speaking specifically about paying the cost of operating the federal government, and those other taxes do not contribute toward that cost.

So, people who pay 23% of their income toward the operation of the government are not paying their “fair share,” but people who pay nothing apparently are paying their “fair share” because we are not asking them to pay more than they are presently paying.

I’m not suggesting that low income people should pay higher taxes, or that rich people should not pay higher taxes, I’m just pointing out that the term “fair share” is a pretty slippery term. Basing an act of Congress on such an intangible concept is nonsensical.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Where's Your Head?

There has been a great deal of commentary on two things in football lately, poor tackling and concussions, but nobody seems able to put those two subjects together. Apparently all football coaches today are also golfers, and subscribe to the “keep your head down” theory, which may work in golf but is exactly wrong in football. My coach, back in the dark ages when the face mask on a helmet was a single bar and I was allowed to not use it because my opponents kept using the damn thing as a handle, kept drumming into me that “you cannot hit what you cannot see,” which meant keeping your head UP when you were making a tackle.

Defenders seem to think they are pilotless drones firing Hellfire missiles these days. Tackling does not mean that you “light him up” or knock the ball carrier to the ground with some sort of massive hit. It means that you put your chest on him, wrap your arms around him and take him to the ground in his tracks. In a proper tackle, your chest hits the ball carrier above the knees and below his chest. When you do that he cannot stiff arm you, and if your head is up watching him, he cannot sidestep you. It works equally well when you are taking him down from the front, side, or catching up with him from behind.

A tackle made in that manner will never, ever result in a concussion. How often do you see such a tackle in professional football, or even in college?

The NFL creates a rule outlawing contact in practice sessions, which worsens the problem. How does a player learn to tackle when he is not allowed to practice doing it? The result is more of the “flying missiles,” more yards gained after missed tackles, and more concussions rather than fewer. Stupid.

Not Just Three Women

In my reading yesterday I came across an article regarding the latest award of the Nobel Peace Prize and skipped it entirely, uninterested. The Nobel Peace Committee lost any trace of credibility with me when it awarded its prize to a one-term U.S.Senator who had just been elected as President and who had made a single speech.

That is not hindsight, I was appalled by the selection at the time, and was patriotically embarrassed by his acceptance speech. History has proven how singularly inappropriate that selection was.

I did notice that the award was to three women, and went back to see what that was about. I’m all for the advancement of women’s equality and for greater recognition of their accomplishments, and to make such prestigious award “in an attempt to bolster the role of women in struggles to bring democracy to nations suffering from autocratic rule and civil strife,” is an interesting one.

I found myself regaining respect for the committee, as this award rose above the individuals and acknowledged something greater than personal effort and achievement. Nobel’s legacy was more than reward, he espoused the promotion of world peace, and in making this award the committee may have done more toward that end than it has done in many years.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Conversation at "Occupy Wall Street"

 #1: "I'm fed up and I'm not going to take this shit any more!"
#2: "What are you fed up with?"
#1: "..."
#2: "What aren't you going to take any more?"
#1: "..."
#2: "I understand, and I agree completely."

Absolutely right, me too. I'm with both of them.

Wave The Flag

I’m not stupid, I know that this country has always used torture to obtain information from captives. It was, however, illegal, surreptitious, and performed by agents who at least pretended to be “rogues” who were doing it against policy. And that is the point; it has never been the policy of this nation to use torture.

The administration of George W. Bush changed that. He made the use of torture, later revised to be called “harsh interrogation techniques,” the official policy of this nation. Whether it was done on a large scale or not is irrelevant, it was officially sanctioned as an official act of our government, and that bell cannot be “unrung.”

Similarly, we have always used assassination as a tool to promote our agenda and to assure our safety, but we have done so secretly and never admitted that we were doing it. Such measures were specifically prohibited to the CIA by Congress. Barack Obama has changed that and made assassination the official policy of this nation, even making flamboyant announcements after assassinations are carried out, and trumpeting them as great successes.

Killing on the battlefield is one thing, and we do too much of that as well, but turning us into a nation of assassins is quite another. We are, today, a nation which revels in our fleet of drones with their “Hellfire” missiles which roam the world, carrying out our secret “kill list” to put to death anyone whom we deem worthy of death, for any reason we decide is sufficient, at any time or place that we choose, along with anyone else nearby.

That, to me, is not a pretty picture.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Well, That's Okay Then

It seems I was off base in asserting that our beloved Democratic President does anything so horrible as order the execution of American citizens without due process of law. What a relief to read in Reuters this morning that he does nothing of the sort, that it is actually a secret panel of unknown persons meeting within the White House who puts people on a “kill list” based on secret information which they never reveal outside of the room in which they meet to write their “death list.”

They then present their list to President Obama and, if he disagrees with it, he can take names off of the list. The report does not say whether or not he looks at any of the evidence.

Does that remind you of anything in the Bible? Someone washing his hands before ordering an execution? "Hey, don't look at me, they insisted on it."

Edit: Omigod, it just hit me, "Death Panel." Sarah Palin was right!

Hero Worship

It sort of amuses me that MSNBC, the one and only network which is highly supportive of "Occupy Wall Street," spent hours, entire programs, last night swooning over the wonderfulness of the founder of the largest corporation in this nation, which sells overpriced toys manufactured in overseas sweat shops at an obscene profit in monopolistic collaboration with AT&T.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Failure of "The Grand Experiment"

Whatever else he has done, President Obama has done two things which prevent me from being able to vote for his reelection. I am utterly inflexible on this. I cannot vote for a man who repeatedly violates his oath of office.

First is his engagement in a war with Libya without authorization from Congress, and the subsequent obfuscation and bogus rationalization which he used to “justify” that action. When American military aircraft are dropping bombs on and firing rockets at the sovereign territory of another nation, that is an act of war, whether our President chooses to use the word or not. The United Nations does not determine the foreign policy of this nation; when it passes a resolution calling for action on the part of its members and that action requires Congressional approval in accordance with the constitution, then the President must obtain Congressional approval. No treaty of any sort replaces the constitution of this nation.

Second is his assassination of two American citizens far from any battlefield without due process of law. The only thing that either of these men had provably done was exercise their right to free speech, and justification of their killing is being based on unproven and unwitnessed allegations made by the President who ordered their execution. That is the act of a tyrant and a dictator, and a direct and flagrant violation of the constitution which he swore an oath to uphold.

I think that Paul Craig Roberts has it exactly right in his analysis of the assassination of Anwar Awlaki and it’s implications and I do not think that the title of his piece, “The Day America Died,” is hyperbole. In claiming executive powers beyond the extreme created by George W. Bush, Obama has erased the imperial claims of executive powers from the realm of partisanship and has made them the national norm. I think, further, that Roberts is correct when he says that we have gone beyond the tipping point and that it no longer matters who we vote for.

Voting has no effect. President “Change” is worse than Bush/Cheney. As Jonathan Turley suggests, Obama is “the most disastrous president in our history.” Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who stands up for the Constitution, but the majority of Americans are too unconcerned with the Constitution to appreciate him.

To expect salvation from an election is delusional. All you can do, if you are young enough, is to leave the country. The only future for Americans is a nightmare.

I am glad that my father, who served his country for 47 years in uniform, did not live to see this, and I am glad that I am old enough that I will die slightly before my nation finishes its descent into nightmare.

Change You Can...

I am so glad that we elected a Democrat to the White House, so that we no longer have an Attorney General sitting at a desk in front of Congress lying his ass off with a straight face and a somber expression.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

That Sounded Familiar

When I read the name of Perry’s ranch I thought the term sounded familiar in a nautical sense, but I had to look it up. In fact it has no fewer than three such uses, all of which are pretty much as unpleasant as the Texas usage.

The first is something along the line of a bollard, a post used for tying a ship to a pier. It was originally applied to a worn out cannon which was buried muzzle down. Another is a coral head which can rip the bottom out of a boat, and the third is a term used for a small capstan or winch.

I think it is probably the third application in which I at one time heard it used. We had several winches and capstans on board, big and small, and I spent a while on the forward line handling party.

WhooHoo! Car Sales

If there was ever any doubt that America is populated entirely by idiots, it is resolved by the news regarding car sales last month. The way I read it is that with unemployment still high and employment prospects still very dim, Americans took on increased retail debt last month, and with global warming becoming so severe that we now have a hole in the ozone layer at the North Pole for the first time ever, Americans went on a major spree of buying SUV's and pickup trucks. Sheesh.

It's a Beginning

I am certainly not opposed to the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. I am, in fact, encouraged that people in this nation are finally beginning to object to the way they are being treated and are speaking out together against it. It is to be expected, I think, that some of the message will be silliness when anger begins to boil over. I do hope they get this sorted out, because mere undirected expression of anger leads nowhere but to more anger.

One of the first tasks in resolving a fight is to find out what the parties are fighting about, and, in viewing this movement, it seems to me that we have not yet done that. That can be seen in the “grievances” of the movement as expressed in their “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City,” all of which are against major corporations and not against the government.

Some of the grievances have a legitimate point to make, certainly, such as, “They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.” But others are, in my opinion, either misdirected or just silly.

“They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.” They are not suggesting that the foreclosure is illegal because the homeowner has made all of the payments faithfully and on time. They are not suggesting that the foreclosure is illegal because the foreclosing agency did not pay out the money of which the loan consists. They are saying that because of an error in the way that paperwork was transmitted, the lender should lose the money that he paid out in good faith, and the homeowner should be able to keep the home without having to pay for it. Where are the American values in that?

“They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.” Corporations do not harm us when they offer money to politicians, politicians harm us when they accept that money.

This protest is a beginning, but until it is directed at the legislators in Washington, it will change nothing. Right now it is actually comforting those legislators, because it is keeping the anger directed away from them and providing them with a false sense of security that allows them to continue to pursue the same course, because it shows them that the American people blame the “rich and corporation” rather than government.

If it continues long enough and becomes big enough, it will spill over into Washington, though, so… Onward.

Monday, October 03, 2011

You Now Have To

I am no longer watching Chris Matthews to prevent you from having to do so, by the way. If you want to know what he is up to, you will have to watch him yourself. I gave up on him when he and two visiting "experts" spent a full fifteen minutes in a serious discussion about the political implications of Chris Christie's body weight.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Misdirected Anger

I have been involved in a discussion in a comment thread at Ian Welsh’s place regarding the Wall Street occupation. I like that blog because the discussions become quite animated but always remain very civil, without devolving into flame wars and mud slinging. Anyway, I suggested that the protest was misplaced because the change we seek must come from government, and that the protesters would be better served occupying Washington, and I was met with universal resistance. At best the feeling was that Wall Street and government are one and the same, but agreement was universal that Wall Street was by far the better place to protest.

I am unmoved by any argument offered. If the only objective is to express anger and resentment, then perhaps Wall Street is the proper venue, but such an objective hardly seems to me to be worth the energy and expense. How does that benefit anyone?

The protestors want “the rich” to pay higher taxes, but taxes are not set on Wall Street, they are determined in Washington by Congress. Do they think that their protest is going to persuade rich people to voluntarily pay higher taxes? I wonder how many of the protestors have ever filed a tax return and decided not to take any of the deductions to which they were entitled? If they want “the rich” to pay higher taxes, they need to persuade Congress to make that happen.

I’m not sure these protesters even understand what “government by the people” even means, or if they realize that they actually live in a nation whose government is a form of democracy. The protesters are proudly comparing themselves to Tahrir Square, but that uprising occurred because Egypt did not have free elections which allowed them to change their government. We have had free elections all along and have been too lazy or too ignorant to participate in them.

I wonder how many of those protesters voted against the incumbent in the last primary election. I wonder how many of them either voted for the incumbent or did not vote in the last general election.

We elect our legislators, and when they act against our interest we direct our anger at anyone other than ourselves, or at the legislators whom we have the power to change. It’s all the fault of the powerful two party system. It’s all the fault of the powerful corporations and their money.

I’m not buying the argument that the two party system paralyzes the choices, because if the electorate participated fully in primary elections the parties would not have nearly the control over candidates that they do. I’m not buying the money argument, because it is we who allow the thirty-second sound-bite advertisement to determine who we will vote for instead of paying attention to what our legislators are actually doing and voting them out of office when they take bribes or otherwise act against our interests. I’m not buying the defective media argument, because the media gives us what we ask them to give us.

Democracy only works when it is a functioning democracy. Democracy is not an angry mob in a public square. Democracy is an informed public in a voting booth.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Head of the Snake

Can anyone count how many terrorist leaders we have killed? Is anyone in government leadership talking about how much safer we are today as a result? On the contrary; when announcing the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, supposed "leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” the announcement was quick to add that the organization “remains very dangerous today.” Then what was the benefit of spending two full years and devoting enormous resources to the task of killing him?

One of the axioms used in our military is that we always begin fighting today’s war using the last war’s strategy, and we remain on our back foot until we change gear and adapt our strategy to the current war. “Cutting off the head of the snake” may very well be a case in point.

In World War Two we expended considerable effort toward a goal of killing German generals, with the idea that doing so would tend to reduce the efficacy of their military campaigns against us. I’m not sure how valid that ever proved to be, and I don’t know how much in the way of resources we devoted to it, but the theory strikes me as fairly sound. Planning military campaigns and strategy requires a certain mind and, more importantly, a great deal of training and experience. Replacing someone with long experience and great ability at planning complex and massive military operations is not easily done.

Fast forward to today, and we seem to think that if we can kill enough terrorist leaders we can render the organization impotent, and so we are expending a vast amount of resources to that purpose, enormously more than we did in WW2, and have been doing so for some ten years now. But a terrorist leader is not a military general, and when we kill one he seems to be pretty easily replaced. We are still taking off our shoes and having our underwear searched, and we are still seeking out and killing more terrorist leaders in an ever increasing number of places worldwide.

At what point have we chopped off enough heads that the snake is dead?