Friday, July 24, 2009

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) This whole Henry Louis Gates thing up in Massachussetts is arguably the single biggest misdirection this year. Here you have a private citizen in the sanctity of his home, walking around with a cane, being arrested on suspicion of being a burglar...IN HIS OWN HOME!

Look, I like cops. I think they have the toughest job in the world, keeping assholes safe from being assholes and other assholes. But in this instance, they acted precipitously and yes, "stupidly," as our black President, who you know is probably the first in our nation's history to actually suffer police harassments, put it.

Forget the race. A 60-something man walking around a house with a cane is not a robber and the frikkin' cops simply blew the call. Period. End of story. That's the way I'd be reporting it if I was a journalist, and any news organization that is reporting it any differently "the man wasn't acting professional," "police departments nationwide are angry with Obama," is not doing their job.


2) If these guys were Islamic, how much of a hue and cry would be made? This would have moved from a crime story to a national security "crisis" in seconds.

3) I feel good about this. We need all the friends we can get.

4) I'd be happy if we can get out without embarrassing ourselves. The war we should have been fighting since September 11 seems to be slipping away from us.

5) For the first time in its history, Windows sales declined last quarter.

6) Lance Mannion has posted a very interesting comparison of the Harry Potter novels/movies to Star Wars.

7) "I feel the earth move under my butt." I'm a big fan of outdoor sex, but this would probably put the fear of Thor in me...

8) The inventor of WD-40 has died. World's smoothest burial follows.

9) Revenge....

10) ...Ironic blowback!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Maybe We Ought To Do Away With Marriage?

This is a bit of a woolgathering post, so if it comes off disjointed and rambling, please forgive me.
I mean, more than usual, of course.
Fort Myers Beach town council voted 5-0 to fire Scott Janke "without cause" after Mayor Larry Kiker called an emergency meeting Tuesday night.
Kiker said he learned that afternoon that Janke's wife is an adult film star, and word quickly spread. The elected officials took the action a few hours later.
"At no time did we make a judgment call on the activities of Mr. Janke or his wife," Kiker told The Associated Press. "It's a matter of how effective he becomes after this situation. How much disruption there is."
Janke's wife is an actress in adult films who goes under the nym Jazella Moore, and who has starred in the MILF Hunter videos.
 Not my cup of tea, but not hideous or even that obvious a porn actress. This, by the way, was one of the cleaner images I could find of her.
So first it was gay marriage that would scare the living crap out of the community, and now it's marrying a porn actor(tress)? Here you have a town manager who was hired to fix problems in the town itself, being fired...for what? His choice of companionship?
By the mayor's own admission, Janke "violated no rules or laws and added that he had done a good job for the island town."
A man who was brought in to reunite a town that had been divided over some issues related to its beach...its finds himself being assumed to be an object of division himself.
Look, if he had somehow leaked a videotape of he and his wife (or other person) in the act, and you want to fire him for that, at least that's a construct I can understand. He'd be humiliated and the butt (sorry) of jokes for the rest of his tenure, making his job a little harder to perform to his standards.
But to say that his wife is going to somehow affect his ability to negotiate with people or to enforce codes or whatever it is the manager does seems ludicrous. To say that marrying a porn star somehow tarnishes the image of a bikini-clad beach community runs close to the line of silliness.
If that's the case, then why not go house by house and look at the folks who live there. Got any porn stars living on the beach? Get rid of them. And the drug dealers. And the guy who's cat meows too loudly when it's in heat.
If, as Councilman Tom Babcock of the town states, you are held to a higher standard as a public official, can we assume then there is absolutely zero corruption in the town? Or is Mr Babcock receiving a few bucks under the table because he's looking the other way about underage drinking or perhaps a zoning variance? Maybe he needs to be vetted again, along with every other member of the Ft Myers Beach government.
Why is it that marriage to anyone is anyone else's business? If a marriage makes a man or woman happy and helps them to perform their jobs more effectively and makes them better citizens in the community, then by God, why not let the man (or woman) marry whomever the hell they want to and just shut up about it!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Sign of Sanity

If you're in the middle of an economic crisis and your own people are hurting and there's no one on the horizon who has anything close to the military hardware you have, then you can afford to let upgrades die:

The Senate voted Tuesday to kill the nation's premier fighter jet program, embracing by a 58-40 margin the argument of President Obama and his top military advisers that the F-22 is no longer needed for the nation's defense and a costly drag on the Pentagon's budget in an era of small wars and growing counterinsurgency efforts.

[...] (Defense Secretary Robert) Gates had depicted the F-22, which was conceived in the 1980s, as a "silver bullet solution" to a high-technology aerial warfare threat that has not materialized. He said other warplanes will adequately defend the country for decades to come, and won support from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Air Force's two senior leaders. But his view was strongly opposed by others in the Air Force and by military contractors and unions that have benefited from the $65 billion program.

A hearty "Amen" to this!
Defense spending as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product is roughly 20% of the United States budgets in a typical year. I say "typical," because of the outlying domestic stimulus spending this year, which will dwarf defense spending (and watch the right-wing whackjobs now claim "it's such a small number!").
We nearly spend more each year on defense than every other nation on the planet. Combined. Re-read that and think about the implications.
Military power is closely aligned with spending, so that means that if we had to defend our soil against every other country on the planet, right down to Lichtenstein, San Marino and Palau, it would be a fair fight!
The war of the future as it stands right now will be fought using mobile and surgical tactics, smaller forces deployed in smaller areas targeting smaller objectives. That may change, but right now, there is no one on the horizon who can create such a widespread war as to justify the waste of money on a fighter of this caliber.
Except maybe, um, us. And we nearly did cause a war of that magnitude. The lessons of history will probably be written that America came closer to the brink of starting World War III in this generation than any nation ever did. if the start of World War I is any indication, it would not take much of a spark to light the powder keg that Bush in concert with Al Qaeda compiled.
And if history's course is any determinant, aggressors get theirs in the end, usually in swift and painful fashion. It would not have been pretty.
We should applaud Secretary Gates as well as the Senate for having the courage to not take us one step closer to annihilation, militarily as well as economically.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Matt Drudge: Fucking Moron

It's easy to see how Matt Drudge can be taken seriously as a "journalist," what with the cool fedora he's usually portrayed with. After all, clothes make the man, right? Things like integrity, hard work, fact checking, none of those have anything to do with reporting the news. It's all about the hat.
 Like, say, talking about how the government spent almost $2 million dollars to buy a couple of pounds of ham. Try to find the original article, and it's gone, but here's the precis:

The purchases for sliced ham and other contracts - including mozzarella and other cheeses - were to provide soup kitchens and homeless shelters with food for the needy.

And governmentese references to 2 pounds of frozen ham and other sizes was to the products' packaging, not the overall amount of food purchased.

In fact, the Agriculture Department purchased some 760,000 pounds of ham with that $1.19 million - a cost of about $1.50 a pound, Vilsack said.

Now, a real reporter would have picked up the phone, and called the USDA and asked, "Hey, you know, there's this line item in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that says you folks spent over a million bucks on two pounds of ham. Care to comment?"
A cursory look at Drudge's website on any random minute, like, say, now, reveals these headlines:
- CLAIM: Fish are shrinking in response to global warming...  (well, at least he acknowledges global warming is real)
Now, I'd bet that of these four stories, one is flat out true (the claim about the fish actually having been made), one is an exaggeration of circumstances (the town hall eruption), one is a joke reported as straight fact (the pot app...altho it's going to be fun downloading that one!), and the last one is a flat out distortion of what is likely a true-but-mundane story, so badly distorted now that the memory of a tragic death will be tarnished forever by a bunch of know-nothing bloggers who believe that Drudge only ever tells the truth.
After all, he wouldn't print it if it wasn't true, to quote the Joe Jackson song.
To his credit, he not only published the refutation by the USDA, specifically by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, but highlighted it on his home page.
To his dishonor, he mocked it, acting as a child who points to a load of shit he's just taken under the stairs and saying "See? See, Mommy? Look what I made!"
This reprehensible piece of human filth, this scum who dares call himself a newsman, is a disgrace to anything that walks the face of the earth and calls itself a human being. His job, his life, is to destroy anyone who is better than him and that means everyone. And one day, he'll turn his guns on anyone, including those who suck at his teat now and feed him his dredge information.
And I'll applaud. They deserve each other.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Space: The Liberal Frontier

A curious nexus of events is occuring right now, coincidences abound.
Today marks, as you undoubtedly know, the 40th anniversary of the first moonwalk by Neil Armstrong.
It's hard to believe that it's been forty years. It's harder still to believe that the promise of those early space explorations has been strangled in the cradle by bureaucrats and people without dreams, pragmatists.
Less hard to believe is that Walter Cronkite, one of the voices of the American space program, has been stilled on the very threshold of this anniversary.
Cronkite reported on many tragic events in a turbulent American landscape at a time when change was something real, not a campaign slogan. Through it all, from assassinations to war to student unrest to politics, Cronkite kept his composure, at times when a lesser man would have broken down (and indeed, many did).
If you look closely at the time he reported on the death of John F. Kennedy, you can see him fight his tears back, because he knew his job was to tell us what happened, not to feel it.
In fact, the only time I can recall Cronkite being so overwhelmed by the news was on this date, 40 years ago, as man stepped out onto the surface of another celestial body for the first time.
Part of that, no doubt, was the monumental task involved and the effort America dedicated to it. Three astronauts died testing Apollo 1. Millions and millions of dollars were spent honing and refining technology. A nation that had come of age with the death of its youngest President, his brother and a man of peace, all at the hands of gun violence, was in desperate need of a spark and the shiny metal boxes of the space program provided welcome relief.
A nation cheered Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins, less for their achievement than for the relief from our losses.
But I think a larger part is unspoken often when discussing what the moon landing meant to us. We were set upon the task by that youngest President, who saw the competition that the Soviet Union had laid down upon his table and rose to the challenge. We were scared not only of the world around us, but of ourselves. America revealed an uglier side with the use of the atomic bomb, no matter whether such use was justified or not and continuing right into a war of aggression that was probably pointless.
Cronkite's brain cramp, his "wow" moment, was undoubtedly largely influenced by all this: the tears he had been unwilling to shed that November day were exhaled on this July day.
There was a sense of completion that day, to be sure. The entire nation had been ramped up for the exploration of space for so long and as 1968 closed and we saw images of our earth from Apollo 8, at the end of a year of violence and unrest, it was almost as if the entire country stood still and clasped hands. We really were all in this together on this little blue marble.
 That image marked the pursuit of the moon in earnest. Hell, even SNOOPY was an astronaut!
The decade closed much as it had opened: with promise and hope and new beginnings. Sadly that promise was broken, the hope quashed and the new beginnings became "nothing in the street looks any different to me." History didn't change, at least not for the better. We ended up in the morass of self-righteousness and moral lecturing that we've seen these past forty years grown and morph this country from one that looked forward to one yearning to move backwards, past the moonwalk, past the assassinations, back to a time when men were men, women were silent, and minorities were at best ignored.
The promise of space is a promise of progressivism. The promise of space is liberalism writ large, on a cosmic scale. What we learned going to the moon, indeed the benefits we've always makes me laugh to read a criticism about space exploration written on a computer using the very microchips that grew out of Apollo...have been massive, and I think we've only just begun to understand technology's promise from space.
We really have no choice, we humans. We must move forward. We must move outward. We must seek space.