Friday, August 30, 2013

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) So the UK turned down quasi-unilateral action in Syria with the US. Surprisingly, France is on board.

2) CIA is the largest spy agency in the United States, says Edward Snowden. In a related story, he tells us Alaska is the biggest state, NY the largest city, and Snowden, the largest front-running has-been idiot.

3) At the risk of pissing someone off, PUSSY RIOT!

4) Muslim country determines Al-Jazeera is the enemy. Wait, what???

5)       The door was open and the house was dark
Wherefore I called his name, although I knew
The answer this time would be silence

6) I would do a summary of this article, but I couldn’t finish it.

7) The IRS: “I now pronounce you ‘ball and chain’.”

8) I was proud to see young people stand up for themselves. I hope it makes a difference.

9) Not news, according to the US media. His estranged wife? News.

10) Finally, you know how ice is melting a little faster than anticipated? I bet it’s worse than even we’ve seen so far, and worse

than we can even fear (read the articles through, in order, to understand my point.)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Lest You Think NYC Is Immune to the Derp...

Here’s an excerpt from last night’s Republican primary debate for the candidates seeking to be the next mayor (because, THANK GOD!, Bloomberg has to leave.) [video at the link]

Asked at the start how they'd react to one of their children getting questioned by police, none of the candidates -- whose families are white -- said they'd necessarily have a problem with it.

A federal judge ruled this summer that New York's stop-and-frisk policy was unconstitutional.

"I'd say to him, 'What did you do to provoke it?'" billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis said of his son, John Jr.

Joseph Lhota, the former MTA chairman and Giuliani administration official, said he'd remind his daughter, Kathryn, of the legal history that allowed police to interrogate suspects, and try to determine whether the officers crossed the line.

Doe Fund founder George McDonald stumbled over the question, but gathered his thoughts and said his child didn't live in a high-crime neighborhood. "My son, John, isn't going to get stopped — and that's the whole point."

I do want to point out that McDonald’s answer, while superficially smacking of elitism, is actually on point (the video cuts off the last part of his statement, so it sounds even worse than it reads). McDonald is the founder of the Doe Fund, a charity that gets jobs for the homeless. His answer actually starts along the lines of “My son isn’t going to be stopped because I live in an affluent neighborhood.”

Yea. As I said, it sounded much worse than it reads.

The other two make McDonald’s answer sound practically progressive and in a city where Republicans almost always have to run as moderates to win (Giuliani, believe it or not, ran as a moderate, and Bloomberg switched from Democrat to Republican to run the first time), it’s actually skin-crawly to hear a couple of actual candidates lecture from a position of patriarchical demeanor.

Lhota’s answer gets downright creepy, something the quote I pulled doesn’t do justice to (again, watch the vid.) Here’s what he actually said:

Front-runner Joe Lhota said one of his first moves would be to read his daughter the Supreme Court decision that legalizes the practice.

"I (would) give her Terry v. Ohio which was given by Chief Justice (Earl) Warren in 1968 that gives officers the opportunity, based on certain levels of suspicion, to stop someone," Lhota said. He added that he would become upset only if the officer did not follow procedure.

Hey, um, Joe? I know a judge in Montana with whom you should get acquainted.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Dream Is Dying

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. August 28, 1963

"But one hundred [ed.note: and fifty] years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition."


(NB: Dr. King had the full text copyrighted, so I can’t use much more, but in truth, I really don’t have to.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Syria's Moonlight

One kind of wonders why both China and Russia are making trouble with the world on Syria:

Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich has called on the international community to show "prudence" over the crisis and observe international law.

"Attempts to bypass the Security Council, once again to create artificial groundless excuses for a military intervention in the region are fraught with new suffering in Syria and catastrophic consequences for other countries of the Middle East and North Africa," he said in a statement.

The official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, said Western powers were rushing to conclusions about who may have used chemical weapons in Syria before UN inspectors had completed their investigation.

Now, given our rather spotty track record when it comes to the possession of weapons of mass destruction, we might pay a little heed to the warnings both China and Russia have given. Prudence is clearly warranted and, besides, I really can’t stand being the police department to the world.

On the flip side, there’s no Scott Ritter or Hans Blik flapping their arms, trying to point out that, no, Syria does not have WMDs, and my mind wanders back to the 1990s, when we had a chance to prevent the death of 750,000 Rwandans at the hands of their own countrymen, and did nothing.

Syria as a strategic issue is a conundrum. Yes, they are a threat to Israel, particularly through their Lebanese surrogates, but it’s not like Israel hasn’t had bigger threats that they’ve faced down by themselves, with us standing behind them.

That Assad would use (assuming he has) chemical weapons against his own people means the likelihood of using them against Israel is even greater and while Israel has long expected this kind of attack, she’s never been tested the way she’d be tested by short-range missiles tipped with bioweaponry. By treaty, we’d be forced to retaliate, and by extension, so would NATO.

Sort of makes a case for Russia joining NATO but they seem content with offering some low-level assistance to that organization and nothing else.  

One would hope for a better solution to be found in Syria, and that Kerry’s speechifying and Obama’s public pondering are merely a little sabre-rattling. Another war is the last thing this nation needs, and as tired as we all are right now, a major mistake is just a button-push away.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Short-Fingered Vulgarian Reach Much Longer Than Thought

Apparently, Donald Trump’s fortunes have sunk to new lows. Rather than scam tens of millions from institutional investors and banks who lined up to fund his Atlantic City casinos…and let’s face facts: if you can’t make it in the casino industry, you’re a failure. It’s like failing in the illegal drug trade, it’s unpossible…and then file bankruptcy, Trump has been forced to resort to selling to us peons.

You know, things like his ill-fated airline, and his noxious cologne, and his line of “premium” chocolates.

I’m told they make terrific emetics, but I digress…

It seems that Trump was not content with the nickel-and-dime grifting he was engaged in and has allegedly decided to go with the long con, if you believe New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

New York's attorney general sued Donald Trump for $40 million Saturday, saying the real estate mogul helped run a phony "Trump University" that promised to make students rich but instead steered them into expensive and mostly useless seminars, and even failed to deliver promised apprenticeships.

Trump shot back that the Democrat's lawsuit is false and politically motivated.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says many of the 5,000 students who paid up to $35,000 thought they would at least meet Trump but instead all they got was their picture taken in front of a life-size picture of "The Apprentice" TV star.

"Trump University engaged in deception at every stage of consumers' advancement through costly programs and caused real financial harm," Schneiderman said. "Trump University, with Donald Trump's knowledge and participation, relied on Trump's name recognition and celebrity status to take advantage of consumers who believed in the Trump brand."

A bit of prima facie evidence that there may be more to this charge than – oh, hell, who am I kidding? We all know it’s true! – but one sign that Trump is worried is the reaction he had, both in real life and on the web and on Twitter.

“98% approval rating” – another tactic of the fraudulent, so maybe Trump ought to back away from it, is to make up shit wholesale – is probably based on surveys by people who completed the “University” and hadn’t realized yet how badly they had been ripped off: e.g. the really dumb and ignorant, otherwise known as Teabaggers.

I presume the next step for Trump is to roll drunks for their wallets, and mug kids for their milk money.