Friday, September 23, 2011

Ohboy, Here It Comes

Abbas bid the UN for membership

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) So what did we learn last night? Republicans don't like people who have a heart... This is on top of cheering mass killings and death by lack of insurance. And these people stand a credible chance of winning next year's election?
2) Yes, but what's in the bill, Weaker Boener and WHERE ARE THE MOTHERFUCKING JOBS?!?!?!?!?!
3) Here's the question I have for Mark Zuckerberg and the other idiots at Facebook: you beat MySpace to a pulp. Why are you trying to copy them?
4) So it looks like the US is safe from falling satellites*
            * Offer not good in sectors R or N
5) And it seems that scientists have finally gotten a glimpse of neutrinos. Now, this does actually matter, pardon the pun. First, according to Einstein's theory of relativity, nothing can exceed the speed of light. Practically, this is because as you speed up, you gain mass on an asymptotic basis (the faster you go, the faster your mass increases). Neutrinos have no mass, which is why they've never been seen before. Indeed, they've rarely been detected over the past forty years, usually in retrospect (finding a trail of a particle after its passed.) Now, you may have heard of tachyons, faster-than-light particles, and it's true, there are such theories about, but evidence and refinement suggests they might be nothing more than outliers of the uncertainty principle, thus merely mathematical constructs.
Put that another way: they don't exist except in computer models. But if neutrinos have no mass, then it's possible they could travel faster than light. Possible. It would take enormous amounts of energy to drive even one to that speed.
If it's true (and the scientists at CERN have held back saying anything about it for three years as they've gone over and over the experiments again and again), then it's still not likely we'll see time travel. But we could conceivably see breakthroughs in communications and computing the likes of which we've never imagined before.
6) It's a bad law, always has been, and Republicans will never repeal it. I think Obama is spot on here, and watch the flailing of the states' rights crowd.
7) The Santorum problem is a conundrum. On the one hand, he's a public official and so his right to privacy is somewhat constrained. On the other, this could happen to anyone. Is Google a private company any longer? Is it a public utility? And if Santorum manages to force Google to somehow cleanse its results, what does that say for the rest of the Internet?
8) I started to watch a fascinating program this morning on FreeSpeech TV (by the way, give. Now.) The Codes of Gender is a program that follows the work of the late Erving Goffman on how men and women are portrayed in the popular culture. If you want to understand why little girls dress like hookers and why Abercrombie and Fitch ads aren't as gay as you they could be, this is a must-see.
9) Obvious headline writer is obvious
10) Finally, talk to dolphins? Maybe. But why would they want to talk to us?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Goes Through The Minds Of People?

Stories like this make me wonder about the future of humanity.

I Bet Vince Foster's Killer Put It There

A missing moon rock has been found in Bill Clinton's files.

Oh Yeah! We're Fucked!

Carbon dioxide emissions leaped 45% in the decades between 1990 and 2010.
Mind you, that's while climate change and greenhouse gases were at the top of everyone's list.

Hard Rain A-Coming Down

NASA refines the crash window for the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite to sometime between "whenever" and "later, possibly Sunday."
Odds of a human life being squashed? 1 in 3,200.
Odds of right-wing outrage over Obama allowing this to happen? 2 to 5.

Yea, This'll Pass Here

World leaders vow to cut deaths from chronic illness at UN meeting
Lemme see...

World leaders have pledged to take wide-ranging action to prevent millions of deaths from cancer, diabetes, and heart and lung disease by tackling the key causes -- smoking, excessive drinking, lack of exercise and unhealthy diets dominated by fast food.

Holy shit! This means Alabama can apply for UN assistance!


Paging Ponce de Leon!


Soccer In The Maw

Football, or as Americans call it, soccer....presumably to distinguish it from the All-American game of Gay Tag....has some weird rules.
And that's before you even get on the field.
Which is what triggers today's post: on-field behavior by fans.
What? They shouldn't be on the field? Precisely!
Usually a team is sanctioned by beign forced to play "X" number of home games in an empty stadium. The Turkish football federation did it a little bit better.
They declared Tuesday's game between Fenerbahce and Manisaspor "Ladies night"
No. Men. Allowed.
Beautifully done.

Y'know, Damned If You Do...

...and damned if you don't.
The GOP leadership warned the Fed about encouraging economic growth (obviously, this would affect their electability next year).
The Fed moves to stimulate growth.
And yet, banks continue to sit on their money like it was, well, gold.

They Make Fun Of What They Don't Understand

President Obama tries to highlight unemployment.
I see a long Democratic future ahead.

Dismantling Of A Nation

I want to discuss something that's been nagging at me, that this story only begins to highlight:

The GOP-controlled House remains on track to pass $3.7 billion in disaster relief as part of a bill to avert a government shutdown at the end of the month, the No. 2 House Republican said Wednesday. But first the party must overcome opposition from Democrats and some tea party Republicans.

Democratic leaders, including some who said last week they would back the stopgap measure, came out solidly against it Wednesday morning because it contains $1.5 billion in cuts from a government loan program to help car companies build more fuel-efficient vehicles.

That money would pay for the most urgently needed portion of the disaster aid that's required to avoid a cutoff next week of Federal Emergency Management Agency relief to victims of Hurricane Irene, recent Texas wildfires and Tropical Storm Lee.

Now, no one denies the need for America to wean itself off oil. Even oilman George W. Bush confessed in a State of the Union address that America is addicted to oil.

We don't cotton to addictions in this nation, no sir. So you'd think fuel efficiency would be something everyone would get behind. It helps our national security, it helps our environment, it helps our citizens keep more money in their pockets to spend on housing, food, and clothing. And other stuff.

I mean, slam dunk, right? (The Teabaggers oppose it because it raises spending above limits the GOP agreed to last spring.)

So why would the GOP leadership stand in opposition to the wishes of nearly everyone in America? Why would they send a letter to the Fed all but demanding the Fed abrogate its statutory responsibility to the country, and commit treason? Why would Congress deliberately sabotage the authority of the legislative branch of government?

I mean, sure, we can all list the obvious reasons: economic royalists, corporate stooges, etc, etc.

But here's the thing: history, indeed American history alone, dictates that pendulums swing, parties switch positions, and power is both temporary and fleeting. And karma is a real bitch.

Then I started to think about recent history. I started to think about the evolution of the Presidency, from a chief executive officer to what some called during the Bush years an imperium.

Note this does not abrogate the responsibilities of the Democrats like Clinton and even Obama in this evolution. Clinton was foursquare for dismantling the Fourth Amendment for drug busts, and Obama still hasn't moved that far away from the odious provisions of the PATRIOT Act, both of which invest enormous and dangerous powers to the Executive Branch.

The behavior of Congress started to take shape, and it's not pretty.

Congressional approval ratings stand at around 20%. Congressional Republicans fare a little worse, Democrats a little better.

But did you notice something? Let me highlight this next question.

Which party claims to be anti-government?

Cui bono? Who benefits more from making government seem out of touch, ineffectual and driven by an agenda that has little to do with the average American?

The question has to be asked, then: why? What's in it for Republicans to simultaneously dismantle one of the three branches of government, the one most directly responsible to the population of the nation?

Take a look at the legislative agenda of the first Bush term. The clues are there: imperium.

Bush proposed. Congress disposed. Like clockwork. The legislative branch became nothing more than a rubber stamp for legislation proposed by the executor, and written by the crony capitalists from the lobbying industry.

Karl Rove spoke of creating a permanent Republican majority in this nation. Fortunately, they've fumbled that in the populace, but watch out. They're trying to do it by fiat in Congress and the Presidency.

And the judiciary. We cannot forget that third body politic, that entity that has so odiously sold off the rights of Americans for a bowl of porridge. From the 1886 decision acknowledging limited corporate personhood (Santa Clara) to the recent Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court of the United States has decided that humanity is just a drone, that there is nothing special about having a physical body that distinguishes us from a faceless, nameless, soulless corporation.

Except that corporations have no responsibility for their actions, and no criminal recourse is permitted. As the latest internet meme goes, "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one."

You can start with Enron.

If you want to understand the path to power of corporate America, the rape of our natural and human resources, you have only to take this to its extreme. Adam Smith must be rolling in his grave, because he mistrusted corporations and believed the government had a duty to regulate them closely. And yet, as even Grover Cleveland observed, "Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people's masters."

He was not the first. From day one, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were raising alerts.

This goes beyond partisan politics, and careers close to a conspiracy of satanic forces. This nation was founded on a shared belief, that you and I matter. That Teabaggers matter. That the people down the block and the people across town and the people in red states and the people in blue states, matter.
And if the Republicans are doing what I suspect they may be doing, and if they succeed, then we are heading for a  Dark Ages in this nation that will make the post-Roman world look like an enlightened, spohisticated era. No longer will you or I have a voice. No longer will you or I have choices. No longer will dissent of any kind be tolerated. No longer will we live in freedom.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Am I Wrong?

Didn't internal policy debates stop at the water's edge?

Shorter Entire GOP Leadership

We're desperate! We can't beat the nig*BONNNNNNNNNNNG* in the White House on our own!

Oh man! TMI!

Mike Tyson had some comments about the Glen Rice/Sarah Palin hookup...
I'm surprised she went back.

What A Set Of Tentacles On That Guy!

And here I thought it was just a roll of quarters for laundry in his pocket.

The Frightening Bit Is...

There are precious few Democrats with state-wide name recognition who could go toe-to-toe with the McMahon millions. Perhaps Ned Lamont could be coaxed into it, I'm not sure, but it seems unlikely.

You Keep Pedalling That Tricycle, Sally!

One day, you'll be a shoo-in for the big girl X-Games....

If True, Time To Reload

And I don't mean on bullets, Sarah. I mean on facts.

Imagine All The People, Living Life In Peace

Happy Peace Day, everyone!

John Stossel Calls Himself Names


What Is The Point Of Guaranteeing A Lawyer...

We've been saved the shame of at least one more execution. For now.
What's disturbing about this case can be summed up as follows: the guy had shitty legal representation, at least at his appeal but possibly at his criminal trial as well.
State-provided legal representation, I should add. I'm sure there are safeguards for ensuring that the assignment is basically random (subject to whatever personal conflicts might arise,) so I'm sure that this lawyer was probably not chosen specifically so the DA could bump his conviction and execution rates up.
It's one thing if I go out and hire a bad lawyer. Caveat emptor demands that I check out his or her references, background and record.
It's another thing to have the lawyer forced upon you by the same entity that's trying to kill you.
The evidence presented at trial is insufficient, in my opinion, to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Foster was involved in the killing. Largely, it rests on inconsistencies in his story. There is no physical evidence of his involvement beyond "Well, he *had* to have been involved for the crime to have taken place!"
The argument that a 140 lb man couldn't move a 130 lb woman is idiotic at best and morally corrupt at worst. We're talking about an event that involved enormous stress on a system, one that's tailor-made for an adrenaline rush, which throws into question any claim that someone is physically incapable of doing something that someone else is capable of.
People have moved pianos in less stressful situations, is my point. 
Indeed, his "accomplice" admits to having committed the murder alone. His accomplice is dead of natural causes now. One could speculate that he confessed knowing he was dying anyway, but that's inadmissible evidence. 
The last bit of "evidence" to form conviction is that Foster was involved in another murder with this same partner just two months prior. Granted, it's circumstantially relevant to his ability to kill someone but it, either alone or in conjunction with the rest of the evidence at trial, should not be enough to convict for this murder.
Indeed, the evidence as summarized at this trial calls that conviction into question (for example, that was a rape-murder, this by all accounts was consensual sex,) but I think we can all grasp there's a distinct element of "he musta kilt someone" going on here.
 Beyond the evidence, though, it seems that if we want a Constitutional right to an attorney to have any effective meaning, it must mean competent representation, if only to avoid the appearance that the state is a murder mill.
OK, it's Texas, so it's hard to avoid that anyway, but you get my drift. As I noted earlier, by setting the bar on the ground, the state effectively can hire the dregs of the legal community and claim that it is providing what the law requires. This absolutely guarantees the conviction and in many cases the execution of innocent people. People without the means of obtaining competent legal representation themselves.
Think about it: it means that this Constitutional right, unlike nearly any other, relies on the income and wealth of the citizen.
Which is diametrically opposed to the foundation of this nation as one of equality and justice. For that alone, Foster's execution ought to be stayed.
As repulsive a thought as even I find that to be.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

SASQ, Redux

These people are not Americans, they're fucking FERENGI!

How Much Of An Attention Whore Is Ralph Nader?


As Always, Krugman Gets it Right


When You're A Jet, You're A Jet All The Way

West Side Story, Jurassic Park edition


One of you was supposed to nominate me!

Hey! Have You Noticed?

Oil prices dipped this summer.
Gas prices remain around $3.50-$4 a gallon.
Why are we supplying gasoline abroad, but paying enormous prices here?
And how come Teabaggers aren't furious about that?

I'm Not A Doctor, I Just Play One On The TeeVee


Rita Will No Longer Be Glimpsed


Double Beheader

Does this make the United States officially a serial killer?

I Hope They Say "No, Thanks."

If it was me, I'd take the Murdoch crew to the cleaners. Accepting blood money is not going to bring their daughter back, but taking Murdoch down would stop it from ever happening again.

Karma Chameleon

Remember the bozos who crashed a White House do back in 2009?
Fuck 'em.

Lysistrata Lives!

Sex strike brings an end to violence. And drug trafficking.
God, I love women! They're so smart.

Smoked Turkey

OK, that headline is inappropriately facetious.
Yet it is accurate. A liquid propane bomb...basically, your barbecue tank...was exploded in Ankara today, killing three people.
The suspicions are that the Kurds are involved, mostly due to the decades-long conflict Turks and Kurds have had. See, the Kurds want a homeland, but their home would straddle the Turkish-Iraq border (I think it hits Syria, too, but I'm not sure.)
Turks, oddly, have a problem with this.
But...remember the recent flotilla that was blockaded by Israel? That originated in Turkey.

As Libya Burned....

Unlike Libya, our hands are dirty here. We've propped up the Saleh regime for decades.
In exchange for oil, of course.

So Was It A Bluff?

If it was, Netanyahu blinked.
Israel called on the Palestinians to abandon their drive for United Nations recognition and restart peace talks as the U.S. and other countries try to work out a compromise aimed at avoiding a Security Council showdown.

Israel is ready to “negotiate at the highest level,” Mark Regev, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman, said today, hours after the premier urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to return to talks this week in New York.

Meeting with Netanyahu in New York is not on Abbas’s agenda, Husam Zomlot, a spokesman for the Palestinian delegation said late yesterday. “This is part of Netanyahu’s routine of playing games,” he said.

Suddenly, Israel is "ready to talk." Nevermind that they've done plenty of talking in the past, and still allowed West bank settlements to go on, and nevermind that Gaza is continually under assault by Israeli forces. Now, they're ready to discuss this, last minute, at the highest levels.

Curious. I wonder how much of this is pressure from President Obama? Especially in light of the Saudi threat to cut off oil exports to the US if they veto the bid, full stop.

The national security of four nations is at stake today: Israel, the US, the Palestinian homeland, and the Saudis. By extension, every nation in the Middle East is threatened here.

And here's a thought to chew over: if we fought a Cold War with the Soviets in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, we're heading into a Glacial War with China now.

My reasoning? The Saudi threat.

Clearly, the royal family has sussed out what our own Teabaggers refuse to acknowledge: the declining influence of the United States in world affairs, partly because of the current economic woes but mostly the loss of prestige and authority by spending global political capital in a war that was an act of aggression on our part. If there was ever a signal to nations like Iran, Egypt, Jordan and the Sauds to run to the arms of the Chinese, that was it.

It's very possible that the biggest blunder of the Bush aggressive neo-conservative stance on the world stage will be ironically the elimination of the state of Israel in the coming decades. After all, Israel's existence is massively dependent on being the proxy of the most powerful nation supporting the region (this is partly why I never took the Cold War seriously after the Cuban Missile Crisis). With one sweep of its influential claw, the Chinese dragon can clear Israel off the map, or at the very least force it to exhaust its resources battling for its very existence. Its back is to the sea. You never want to be strategically trapped against water, either militarily or politically.

So is the Palestinian bid a bluff to force Israel back to the table? Hard to say. It could be, and one would hope it is, but the lack of good faith Israel has shown in recent years towards negotiated settlements leads me to suspect people have just had enough.


An Amazing Sports Achievement

No, not Mariano Rivera beating a shitty little statistic that in the grand scheme of baseball is nearly meaningless, thus proving that corporations can manipulate the feeble minded into believing in superheroes.

Two Sides Of A Story


Monday, September 19, 2011

You Know All Those Video Games You've Been Playing?

You might have helped save someone's life.

The (Media) Empire Strikes Back

It's about time reporters stuck up for the President, instead of sticking it to him.
Maybe it's because it's about beer.

Now This Is A Pickle

You're a surrogate mom. You contract with a couple to carry their baby to term.
You're in your last trimester, when you get a text from the couple: they're divorcing.
A text.
Guess what? There's no legal remedy.

Hardly Surprising

When the world is bullying you, you bully someone weaker.

So, To Sum Up Evanglicism....

....divorcing because your husband beats you is a sin, but divorcing because you forget you're married?

The Pampered Senator

David Vitter called the renewable energy grants the Obama administration set up "reckless."
This, after he'd already applied for one. Seven times.

What If They Gave A Protest...

That's not entirely true. Many people who came were turned away, but in point of fact, this protest was one of the worst advertised protests I've ever heard of.
Or rather...NOT heard of.
Running a protest entirely off Twitter is suboptimal. Some of us old farts, the folks who would stand up and be counted, didn't know.

Why This Will Pass

For once, someone actually spoke the right word: millionaire.
It's a matter of perception. Say to someone, "I'm going to raise taxes on the top 1% of earners," or "People who make $250,000 or more should pay more in taxes," and no matter how correct that policy may be, it's a percentage that's too nebulous and an income that's too low. People will assume they are part of either group (people are disnumerative) and rebel.
Ahhhhhhh, but call them millionaires, and you've finally raised the right image in their heads: Rich Uncle Pennybags, the Monopoly character, right down the monocle and striped pants.
It's about fucking time someone got the NLP right.

The Gates Of Hell

I've been contemplating the problems that face America: the economy, the insecurity, the unemployment, the classist state of our society, the (marginal, admittedly) rise in civil unrest.
I've been coming to grip with, as David Byrne would sing, "Well, how did I get here?" What systemic problems does America have that put us in the position of practically being at each other's throats when we should, in point of fact, be all over the powers that be, both actual and implied?
I came up with one I hadn't given much thought to before: Gated communities.
It never really occured to me how deeply this facet of America affects the people who live within and without, and more, how culture reinforces this paranoid creation.
You can go all the way back to colonial America to find a form of isolated community in this nation. Indeed, the moment people started looking for more room and leaving the harbor cities and towns, people have effectively gated themselves off from other people. When you have to ride a day on horseback to get to the city, you've become out of touch with social interactions of a diverse sort. People who move out and are closer to you share at least one attribute, the need to be out of the city.
Western expansion, with all the room to the left of the coast, made this phenomenon part of the American experience. Indeed, the customs and mores of that era-- personal responsibility, multiple gun ownership, a rugged individualism, paranoia about strangers-- echo to this day amongst people who ought to know better. The distances involved in moving through Montana or Colorado, the rugged terrain, and the natural dangers abounding, these all made for a healthy distrust of people who just showed up at the end of Main Street. How did they get there, and what did they want?
Natural questions. The very topography and isolation formed what would be in effect gated communities, with their own security forces as well as their own media, their own medical care, commerce, and justice.
Slide forward to the 20th century. While out west, these isolated communities were slowly, glacially, becoming less and less isolated, back east, people were being thrust together in larger and larger cities and megalopolises.
See, until the rise of the automobile and public transportation, a city dweller with a lot of extra cash could buy a "country" home just a few miles away fro the squalor of the inner city. Believe it or not, for example, in New York, Coney Island was once the reserve of the well-to-do like the Astors and Vanderbilts. If you went there now, you'd be hard pressed to find remnants of those families. Indeed, you'd find an inner city environment, squatting right by the shore. Affordable housing, paved streets, infrastructure...and a gated community.
At least the denizens of this gated community have to leave to shop for food.
In a nutshell, we start to see where the problem lies. When a community stops being part of the community, then it is no longer a community. At least in those old west towns, a body could walk in and have a drink at the saloon and talk to people, however uncomfortably. In today's modern gated communities, you can't even make it past the security booth, and woe betide you if you do have a reason to be there: you're under constant surveillance, marked and tagged as an outsider from the second you walk in to the second you leave the compound.
One can understand how these compounds could have arisen in the redder parts of the country, but why have these "reservations" sprouted up in some of the most diverse and integrated parts of the nation?
Fear. Nothing more, nothing less. And it's a manufactured fear, if you ask me.
Fear of crime. Fear of terror. Fear of them. Fear of information. I'll get to that last in a moment.
And the media feed these fears, despite the fact that there's more important news to be covered.
If five years ago, you had led a newscast with the fact that the American debt is skyrocketing through the roof because of spending on two wars and the Bush tax cuts, you'd have been fired from any local newscast, much less a network cast. "If it bleeds, it leads," is a truth, not a truism, in journalism. And if you watch the news closely, despite the fact that most violent crime is committed by the majority race of white people, inevitably and disproportionately one of the lead stories is about a minority criminal.
Why? What is the point and/or purpose of fomenting that aspect of American society? To foment fear. And fear drives like-minded people closer together.
The dynamic of huddling together for protection is nothing new to the American experience. Indeed, the very cliche "circle the wagons" was in response to an attack on the (mostly) white folks heading through (mostly) Native American territories.
And probably acting like jerks as they did, but I digress.
Gated compounds are just circled wagons with lawns and hot tubs.
But look. A gated compound also gives the illusion of being responsible to a community without the mess of actually having dissenters and outsiders to inject an opposing viewpoint. It encourages "samethink" and punishes, through ostracism and shunning, people with minority views.
Or worse, views that would be majority in the larger world. It allows for a purification of the belief system that reinforces whatever squeaky wheel is the loudest. This is where things get interesting.
We've all seen the dissonant memes coming from the far right: there is no poverty in America, blacks are doing much better than ever, but committing crimes at an alarming rate.
Not that middle class or even wealthy people don't commit violent crimes, but huh? How is that even a possible line of logic? Why would any people who as a whole are "doing better" commit crimes at an increasing rate?
It's the perception of crime. It's the fact that the media hump this shit until they're blue in the face, and these memes get made up by the opinion makers who feed into these pockets of purity. And those pockets echo these inconsistent and mistaken (to be kind) memes until they are conventional wisdom, common knowledge and accepted as fact.
Which they aren't. By any means.
But worse than this it gets. See, it's one thing to reinforce a wrong-headed belief amongst a group, that's wrong, but when confronted outside the group, say at work, with conflicting information, and suddenly the violent reactions range from utter close-mindedness to rage at the person trying to ptu a new perspective on things.
This gets carried back to the community as "you know what this idiot at work told me?" There's no reasoning with fear, you see. It's not a logical construct. It is, in fact, a deeply emotional reverberation because it fits that most basic of human emotions, terror.
Fear is hell.