Tuesday, December 22, 2009

HCR. xi. A shit sandwich is still a sandwich.

I toyed with the idea of joining the progressive backlash against the serious disappointment that is the health care reform legislation. However, the dead left center's reasoning prevails in my mind.

Though a shit sandwich, it's still a sandwich. We need to deliver a sandwich, or we lose all political momentum. Later, we can clear out the shit and put real meat in it. It's way easier to do that than to provide a sandwich from scratch later. That is the nature of politics.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Which is the true face of the police?

OC Weekly: Illegally Park-ed.

So if you live in Washington State, you've probably had the names of Mark Renninger, Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold, Greg Richards, and Timothy Brenton etched in your mind. Well, if not, these are the names of five policemen recently assassinated in the Seattle area. The first four were gunned down in a coffee shop in Lakewood, WA on November 29 by a felon who decided he wanted to go out in a blaze of...something. The fifth was executed by a deranged former security guard with delusions of persecution.

I've had a hard time with the media saturation of these two events. Yes, sure, we are shocked by any murder in the Seattle area, as we have a low murder rate. Losing a parent, spouse, and friend so suddenly is, of course, awful when it happens to anyone. But, really, why is a death of a cop any more traumatic than the death of anyone else? I am sure these five were good cops and decent people--at least, if the truth were different, we'd never discover it now.

But given the generally poor behavior of police these days, it amazes me more that before Timothy Brenton, it had been thirty years since a cop was assassinated in this state. For example, take the case of this douchebag in Irvine, CA--David Park. He got caught stalking strippers and exchanging sexual favors in exchange for not citing them for speeding.

Given the cop's inevitable acquittal (because we are conditioned to adore cops and loathe strippers, apparently), I'm given to believe that this is far, far more commonplace than you hear about. Because what stripper is going to press charges against a cop and draw the rage of all of his buddies in blue if this is the kind of shit that happens?

What I want to know--and will never be allowed to find out: what is the ratio between the five cops murdered (ostensibly) and cops like David Park?

Also, young women, take note: This is yet another reason why it's not a very good idea to go into sex work. Cops pretty much have free reign to abuse you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

ED. xviii./WTFF. xii. The true, true facts about Chuck Norris--

--he is fucking insane.

Chuck Norris: What if Mother Mary Had Obamacare?
Lastly, as we near the eve of another Christmas, I wonder: What would have happened if Mother Mary had been covered by Obamacare? What if that young, poor and uninsured teenage woman had been provided the federal funds (via Obamacare) and facilities (via Planned Parenthood, etc.) to avoid the ridicule, ostracizing, persecution and possible stoning because of her out-of-wedlock pregnancy? Imagine all the great souls who could have been erased from history and the influence of mankind if their parents had been as progressive as Washington's wise men and women! Will Obamacare morph into Herodcare for the unborn?
Seriously, what the fucking fucking fuck?

The woman who reacted to news of her unbelievable pregnancy with "My soul doth magnify the Lord" probably isn't going to follow up with "by the way, where's the nearest abortion clinic."

Your fists may violate the laws of physics, Chuck: But you're still an Elephantine Douchebag.

Can't cut the minimum wage.

Paul Krugman: Would cutting the minimum wage raise employment?

Krugman ably demonstrates the strange calculus that governs large, complex economies. The basic argument goes like this:

1. If you cut minimum wage, the cost of offering goods and services will decrease, and prices will go down.

2. Employers will use the cost savings to hire more workers, lowering unemployment.

(This will happen even in above-minimum wage jobs, as many jobs are indexed to minimum wage in some fashion.)

Seems sensible, but the problem is:

1. Employers, being in a bad mood and scared, will probably not hire anyone anyway.

2. Because so many people are in debt, falling wages will make their debt burdens more painful.

3. Because most of their income will go to debt service, people will actually spend LESS.

4. It will increase the amount of labor available, reducing in even further depression of wages, leading to 1-3.

5. The local decline in prices will strengthen the dollar. This seems like a good thing because it will reduce energy prices, but it's actually bad as it makes debt burdens heavier.

Nope, apparently what you need to do instead is....RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE.

Economics is hard. But that's only because it is the study of a large group of people, each with their own contradictory desires.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Understanding what wealth, money, debt, and property really are, and why Austrian economists end up being nearly entirely wrong about everything.

Economics is difficult to understand because it's simply another area of human behavior. And human behavior is almost entirely impossible to understand, both in the individual and in the group. Patterns emerge, of course, but the patterns can lead you to horrifically wrong conclusions, both about what is really going wrong and what to do about it.

So, to the point:

What is wealth?
What is money?
What is debt?
What is property?

It turns out that all four are instances of the same type of thing: Social contracts. They are all social contracts. There is no "objective" standard for any of these things--they all depend on mutual understanding of social conventions. They do not, in fact, exist in the "real world". They exist only in the minds of people.

You might object, "but when I own a house, the house exists." And this is true--the house, as an object, exists. But your ownership exists only in your mind and the minds of others. It's a contract between you and other people. It's not really just one contract--it comprises a group of hundreds of other contracts, written and unwritten, some of them actually contradictory.

There is no first principle that looks at any model of social contract and proves "this is always right" and "this is always wrong", because the proof itself depends on yet more social contracts. The first principles of Austrian economics (or any Enlightenment discipline, in fact) are not first principles at all, but observations built upon other social contracts that people don't dare recognize as equivalent in type to all the others.

So now that I unloaded that on you, here is what I might suggest: What if what you learned about the nature of the these four expressions of social contracts is, in fact, a lie? What if the rules you had to live by concerning these things were different than they were for a chosen elite?

Wouldn't you be more than a little pissed off? Of course you would. And why do you think you can solve these things by saving and buying gold?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Paul Volcker agrees: Financial sector gigantic parasite.

This is not just me talking out of my muck-raking ass. Paul freaking Volcker agrees.

An interesting trend.

Wikipedia: National debt by US Presidential terms.

When you hear the rightsphere complaining about Obama's "spend our way out" proposals, remember this chart.

When Republicans are President:

Debt levels (relative to GDP) INCREASE.
Income earned by the bottom 20% (relative to inflation) STAYS FLAT OR DECREASES.
Income earned by the top 1% MASSIVELY INCREASES.
Social spending DECREASES.

When Democrats are President:

Debt levels (relative to GDP) DECREASE.
Income earned by the bottom 20% generally INCREASES.
Income earned by the top 1% INCREASES to a lesser extent.
Social spending INCREASES.

The ONLY President to buck this trend is Eisenhower, who would probably be far too liberal to run as a Republican these days.

Obama will probably buck this trend because he was set up badly by his predecessor, but I guarantee that things will come close to matching if he is elected for a second term.

Invite your Republican acquaintances to explain this trend. If they can't, invite them to shut the fuck up and get out of the way.

GateGate. ii. Fox News: Fair. Balanced. Innumerate.

ThinkProgress caught Fox News claiming that 120% of people think scientists are lying about global warming.

Talk about irony.

Fuck yeah: Bankers' bonuses hit with gigantic tax surcharge in Great Britain.

Guardian: Bankers' bonuses hit with 50% super-tax in PBR

This post is going to make my friends who work in the financial sector sad, but I agree with Paul Krugman: The financial sector has proven to be nothing but a life-draining economic parasite.

Time to set tax policy accordingly. Of course, since even the Democratic Party is in the pocket of the bankers, this will never, ever happen in the USA. But, way to go Right Honourable Alistair Darling!

ED. xvii. This is the rightsphere.

Little Green Footballs: Hot Air Comments of the Day

Even though millions read his blog and almost no one reads mine, I feel kind of a kinship with Charles Johnson. It's getting silly--the last few days I've just been reblogging a lot of his stuff.

I wanted to cut down on that, but this is just too good to pass up.

Hot Air is a project started primarily by hate blogger Michelle Malkin, who is most infamous for her suggestions that the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent during the Second World War was just peachy. She's also lately said that people who can't find jobs in the worst job market in 25 years are just lazy and looking for "government cheese." Given her campaigning against anything that looks like health-care reform, she also probably thinks the same thing of the sick.

In other words, she is a paragon of Elephantine Douchebaggery and currently the reigning Queen of the Rightsphere.

Both on her site and on her project Hot Air, the comments left by her fans are just fucking ridiculous, and Charles catalogs them in the previously referenced post. Read it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

WTFF. xi. Who are going to buy these, exactly?

Apparently Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson has come up with the good idea of selling war bonds to finance our misadventures in southwest Asia.

Everything old is new again, it seems.

Or something.

What the fucking fuck?


Sixteenth in the "Elephantine Douchebaggery" series that explores the rightsphere* at its most pathetic and obnoxious.

Talking Points Memo: My God, I Love This Story

Where to start?

Some NASA employee must've read too much John Ringo and then claimed to the rightsphere* that he single-handedly stopped a Muslim hijacking. I mean, this is multiple lolwut per minute hijinx here. Of course, the rightsphere ate this up with a spoon.

Only one problem--the airline he flew on (AirTran) denies that the event took place. In fact, they can prove that Petruna wasn't even on the fucking plane. So, of course, the rightsphere now is wailing about the MASSIVE CONSPIRACY to cover up Petruna's "heroic" deeds.

You just can't make this stuff up. I'm sure the Democrats will find some way to lose seats in 2010, but stuff like this is generally encouraging.


*rightsphere = Neologism I just coined to capture the wingnut blogs, talk radio shows, RNC figureheads, and other collected morans.

Monday, December 7, 2009

GateGate. i. Peter Sinclair speaks out about the latest non-scandal scandal.

First in a series called "GateGate," an exploration of the non-scandal scandals stirred up by the right wing concerning things they don't like.

Here's Peter Sinclair breaking down the unbelievably stupid ClimateGate non-scandal scandal.

Hat tip: LGF

ED. xv. Their biggest friend turns his back.

Little Green Footballs: Why I Left the Right, Exhibit A

Charles Foster Johnson is the proprietor of Little Green Footballs, a site that was primarily a "rah-rah" blog for the War on Terror pretty much since September 12, 2001. Not being one of the "rah-rah" types myself, I followed the blog anyway because it was one of the better such warblogs, and I thought it would be interesting to see if any of the warbloggers could come up with something even resembling a decent argument. None of them did, of course, but if any of them came close, it was Johnson.

Of course, when he was in full rah-rah mode, the right wing loved him to death. He was frequently a guest of the right-wing talk set, and he was the 800-pound gorilla when it came to journalistic integrity concerning the War on Terror. Most famously, he uncovered the "Memogate" scandal that ruined the career of Dan Rather.

Since Obama got elected, and since he realized that nobody really likes "rah-rah" on the War on Terror anymore, he's gotten his head pretty much completely out of his ass. As a result, the right has totally turned on him. And he's returned the favor.

You should read most of what he's written lately. It's pretty reasonable. Of course, he can be occasionally obnoxious. Well, so can I.

However, whatever you do, don't read the comments. They will just piss you off.

Decoding my politics.

If you want to know what my politics really are without me saying words that scare you, here's a handy guide.

If it makes a member of the elite sad, I'm for it. A member of the elite could be a prominent businessman. Or a church leader. Or a powerful politician. A military contractor. Or a general. Entertainment celebrity. Professional sportsman. Investment banker. Doesn't matter--if it makes a member of this class of people upset, it's probably a great idea.

If it makes someone who is not part of the elite feel a little better, and the elite bear most of the cost, then I'm for it. These are things like universal health insurance, workers' rights, gay marriage, legalizing marijuana, approving stem-cell research, and junk like that.

Anything that undermines the ability of the "global economy" to stick it to the rest of us (that is, the non-elites) is awesome. Developments to make offshoring jobs untenable are great. Making it too expensive to set up sweatshops in the third world is great. Carbon taxes are awesome. And so forth.

And, of course, for completeness: anything that runs counter to the above sucks.

So, really, if you wonder where I'm coming from on these issues, this guide should help.

And, by the way, this is why I never vote for a Republican. This doesn't make me a Democrat--Democrats also run counter to these ideals more often than not. But Republicans run counter to them nearly 100% of the time (or even when they accidentally support one plank they obnoxiously undermine the other two). This is why I focus on them at this time. It's just a matter of damage control, really.

These are "palliative" ideas--that is, these guidelines are meant to contain the damage caused by our toxic culture. The "transformative" ideas I have are far too scary, so let's stick to these for now.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

ED: xiv. Maurice Clemmons, Huckabee's Willie Horton

The Background

A deranged ex-con named Maurice Clemmons (aka Clemens or Clements) walked into a Lakewood, WA coffee shop one fine Sunday morning and shot four cops to death. During the assassination, one of the cops got off a shot and hit him in the chest.

Clemmons' friends and family helped him evade the cops for nearly two days and tried to tend to his wound. While it was clear Clemmons was facing imminent death from his wound, the cops finally tracked him down to the corner of Kenyon Street and 44th Avenue in Seattle's Beacon Hill neighborhood. When dealing with cop-killers, the policy is generally shoot-first and ask questions later, and that's exactly what happened.

Clemmons is dead, and about eight of his closest friends are going before The Man to answer for their aid of him.

The Twist

Clemmons is not from here, but from the land of my ancestors: Arkansas. He was a very bad man, committing several violent felonies and eventually finding himself in prison facing what effectively was a 108-year sentence.

Enter theocrat and douchebag-supreme Mike Huckabee, who was governor at the time. For some inexplicable reason, Huckabee went through the dregs of the criminal justice system and cut their sentences down dramatically. In the case of Clemmons, Huckabee reduced his sentence to approximately 46 years. Huckabee cited the fact that Clemmons was only 17 when he was sentenced and decided to give him one more chance. Since Clemmons had served 10 years at that point, he was eligible for what used to be called "parole," but is now called "community supervision."

Clemmons got his CS case transferred to Washington, and he moved to Tacoma a few years ago. He was supposed to be on CS until 2015. However, he kept screwing up, and eventually he was arrested on other charges. They offered him bail pending his revocation hearing, which he posted. Then he went out and shot four cops.

The Scurry

Huckabee, knowing he'd probably be held to account for his strange choice of clemency, fired a pre-emptive shot. He blames it on everyone he can blame it on--Arkansas prosecutors, Arkansas courts, Washington prosecutors and law-enforcement, Washington DOC, etc., etc. Everyone but himself.

One little problem--Larry Jegley, the Pulaski County, AR prosecutor who saw Clemmons locked up in the first place--was constantly on record objecting to Huckabee's decision. Oops.

Second little problem--Pierce County, WA sheriffs had done due diligence in locking him up.

Third little problem--DOC had, in fact, followed their due diligence in requesting a revocation hearing. The rules that applied to Clemmons (because of the date of his original crime) guaranteed him bail pending this hearing.

So, sorry Mike, the fingers all point back at you. He dug deeper anyway, releasing this little tantrum.

Not willing to give up the shovel, last night he went on Fox News to whine some more.

Nixon's Law

I call this little problem "Nixon's Law", which is:
Coverups and buck-passing always cost far more than apologies.
This is a reference to Watergate, of course. Had Nixon said, "Whoops, that was bad, and I've punished/fired the men responsible," he probably would've served two terms. Or at least finished his first one. But the heel-dragging and coverups and blame-passing ruined his Presidency.

So goes Huckabee's Presidential aspirations, we can hope.

Willie Horton

In case you don't know who Willie Horton is and why he was significant: Wikipedia.

We must not let Huckabee get out from under this. These four slayings should dog him for the rest of his political career and drown out his voice.

Gosh, that sounds kind of tacky. Unfortunately, this is what full-contact politics lead to. I didn't ask for this world, but if that's the way the right wants to play ball, then that's what they're going to get from me--a gigantic shit sandwich.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

ED: xiii. And yet more...

Take a look, Glenn Beck tells soldiers not to reƫnlist because the government might label them "baby killers."

So, apparently, "support our troops" is only necessary when your guy is in power.

Do we really have to take the right seriously anymore? And show them the respect that one would show the "loyal opposition?" I say no. I say jump on the right while it is down and rhetorically pummel it to death.

As most people my age learned from the classic video game Mortal Kombat:


Hat tip: Charles at Little Green Footballs. I'm utterly amazed at how useful his blog is these days.

Apropos of the last.

In a Facebook comment concerning the last post, my friend Thomas points out that certain stolen emails from places like BP or Exxon ought to be extremely enlightening.....

I mean, seriously, do Republicans even think anymore?

ED: xii. The Republican Party: For entertainment purposes only.

Twelfth in a series on "Elephantine Douchebaggery," an ongoing investigation into the most obnoxious of right-wing obnoxiousness. And, boy, it's getting weird.


is such bullshit I don't even know where to begin. But, seriously, I welcome it. As long as the right is stuck on this kind of shit, they have no chance to increase their influence.

No chance.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The skies will soon be unsafe.

Background: Boeing just announced that they are building their second 787 production line in North Charleston, South Carolina instead of Everett, Washington.

Now, watch this video.

And you thought the people in Everett were backwards. Think about this when you board a plane to Europe or Asia 10 years from now....

Victory! R-71 wins, I-1033 loses.

Also known as: Ken Hutcherson: Go fuck yourself
or: Tim Eyman: Go fuck yourself
or: Eastern Washington: Go fuck yourself

This is pretty self-explanatory, but one thing bears further examination. Look at this map. Right-wingers will whine about the tyranny of the coastal population, but I will say yet again: Go fuck yourselves.

While we're on this subject, let's take a look the typical Eastern Washington county budget, say Douglas County. Here is an admittedly highly simplified view of the situation:

When you can pay the cost of running your own county, you can begin complaining about the tyranny of the coast. As long as we're helping you pay your bills, though, shut the fuck up.

Republican spin on election results: Hilarious

Jake Sherman @ Politico: Steele declares 'Republican renaissance'

OMG, this is too funny. Oh, sure, they picked up a couple of seats, but the fact that they torpedoed moderate Dede Scozzafava for ideological purity and lost a sure Republican seat shows that nothing but disaster is looming for the GOP in the future.

Steele is a zombie captain--the inmates are surely running the GOP asylum.

It would be like Charlie Manuel saying that the World Series was an amazing success for the Phillies because they won 2 games!

Jon Stewart sends up Glen Beck

No, really, Glenn Beck really is this absurd.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The 11/3 Project
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Hat tip: Paul

Monday, November 2, 2009

OK, one more on R-71.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Don't Ask Don't Tell
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorReligion

Hat tip: Wendy

Final thoughts on Initiative 1033

Seriously, do I even have to talk about this anymore? I have two things to say:

1.Tim Eyman is so 1999. Your 15 minutes of fame are way, way overdue, Timmy baby. It's time for you to fuck off now. That should be a good enough reason to reject 1033.

2.Eyman is a disciple of Grover Norquist. This is Norquist's mantra: “I want to make government small enough to drown it in a bathtub.” Well, Eyman has been busy with the first part of this mission, and he has been mostly successful. His initiatives have created a structural deficit in this state so obnoxious that the only escape is massive budget cuts in a time of growing need for government services.

So, what's left? Well, it's time to drown it, of course. If you pass 1033, you will help Eyman fill the bathtub.

That's pretty much all you need to know. The merits of 1033 are irrelevant. If you think the government has any role at all for anything, regardless of what, you should reject it. It's pretty much that simple.

Approve Referendum 71, or you suck.

Tomorrow the election is over. I just want to make one final statement on this issue for this cycle.

The people who put R-71 on the ballot to begin with are wrong. The people who want you to reject it are wrong. Their arguments are specious, their fears are misplaced and irrelevant, and yes, they are bad people.

That is a simple fact. I'm tired of being nice about this. People have the right to band together for survival. They do not have to do this in a way conforming to the desire of religious fundamentalists. Yes, fundamentalists. Being polite and conciliatory to our opponents gets us nowhere. It's time for us to stop fucking around and call them out for what they are.

R-71 hurts no one. The fiscal nightmare cited by the “reject” camp is utterly specious. In ten years this so-called impact might add up to 20 million. This is a drop in the bucket in the state budget. In fact, balloting on this goddamned initiative will likely cost the state more money than the first year's implementation of SB 8053. I mean, seriously, people.

R-71 does not undermine marriage. People who want traditional marriages will still be able to have them. They will not lose any benefits. They won't even have to share the term for their relationship pattern with anyone else.

I mean, seriously, the arguments for rejecting R-71 are so thin they deserve nothing but contempt and little serious consideration for rebuttal. Frankly, it comes down to one issue: If you hate gay people or anyone else who wants to take responsibility for their chosen families, go ahead and reject it. But we're going to call you out for what you are. I'm tired of “reasonable people will disagree.” All that type of thinking does is get us punched in the nose.

One more time: If you reject this measure, you are a small, jealous, evil person.

Everyone else? Well, vote to approve it already, and get that ballot in the mail!

Friday, October 30, 2009


Been kinda busy, but I have a new laptop, so hopefully I'll find more time to update. I have a huge backlog, and so there will be a flurry of activity soon.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Torture is ubiquitous.

Atul Gawande in the New Yorker: Hellhole.

While some still argue over whether waterboarding is torture, I serendipitously found this article concerning long-term solitary confinement. It's bad enough that we treated POWs that way, but we are torturing thousands of American citizens every hour of every day, as we speak.

Now throw prison rape into the mix along with the morans who say "tee hee wait until J. Random Sex Offender shares a cell with 'Bubba'", and I think you have to conclude that our culture is celebrating torture instead of rejecting it.

So, then, why are we especially shocked and outraged when our enemies torture and kill American citizens in especially obnoxious ways? Because we assign nearly infinite value to some lives and nearly zero to others. That's why.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

ED. xi. Great article on The Family.

Dave Burns and Jeff Sharlet: Behind the closed doors on C Street

The Family is a dominionist political organization combining what is most obnoxious and destructive about Christian fundamentalism and conservative politics into one big special ball of fail. Jeff Sharlet is a disaffected member of this group and wrote a tell-all called The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.

Here's an example of the grotesque nature of this group:
I was invited into The Family by a man who had dropped everything and moved to Washington to work with them. While he was there, his fiancee was raped. He wanted to jump on the next airplane to be with her, and his brothers in Christ decided to exercise their veto power. They said, “What was your fiancee doing in a bar without you? Perhaps this was God’s way of telling you that you are not supposed to be with this woman.”

They called her a Jezebel. They told him, “You are not to go and see your fiancee.”

Thank God this man did not listen, broke with The Family and went to his fiancee.
But wait, there's way more.
Absolutely. Everyone is entitled to the freedom of religion. I am a fanatic about freedom of religion. Ensign is free to believe these things, but if he’s going to this place for spiritual authority, he is turning to a group that regularly invokes as leadership models Hitler, Stalin and Mao, whom Doug Coe said are three men who understood the New Testament best in the 20th century.

He means that they are evil men, but what they understood is that the New Testament is not about love, mercy, justice, forgiveness. It’s about power.

I’m saying this not just to the voters of Nevada, but to all the Christian conservatives in Nevada who voted for Ensign because he presented himself as a Christian. Perhaps they would like to know what he means by Christian.

Does he read the New Testament and think it is only about power, and then does he apply that in the world?
I recommend reading all of it.

Hat tip: Paul, my "godfather"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

HCR x.: Public option whipping.

First of all, let me give props to my own Congressman, Adam Smith, for getting on board with the public option when it matters. I know he's got a difficult district to represent, so this courage is difficult and it's important to me that he goes along.

Open Left shows that we have 210 of the 218 needed on board for the public option. If we can get this through the house, this would be a huge help.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

ED: x. "Send a message" about R-71? WTF?

Tenth in a series called "Elephantine Douchebaggery," an exploration of the most harmful obnoxiousness of the right wing. This post concerns Washington Referendum 71, an attempt to repeal a bill passed by the legislature granting expansive domestic partnership rights to same-sex couples.

So, I have heard an ad on the radio repeatedly by some organization opposed to same-sex partnership rights. The ad is something like, "Let's send a message to the Legislature that there are more important problems than this by rejecting R-71."

I'm flabbergasted. It doesn't make any goddamned sense whatsoever. The legislature has already acted. It's done. What is distracting us from the necessary business of taking care of our state is YOU DOUCHEBAGS PUTTING THIS GODDAMNED REFERENDUM ON THE BALLOT.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WSJ op-ed page: Smug is all we have left.

Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal: A Perfect Nobel Pick

This is why I haven't taken the WSJ editorial page seriously since...well...ever. Of course, going all-in on obnoxious militarism is out of vogue now, so the pro-eternal-war folks are now reduced to this smug, passive-aggressive sniping. (While we're talking about stereotypes of Scandinavians, being passive-aggressive is another one, Mr. Stephens.)

Hilarious. Nope, pretty much still can't take the WSJ editorial board seriously. The deserve it less now more than ever, in fact.

Hat tip: My friend Gregg. Sorry, man. I hope our diverging political views don't jeopardize our friendship. I tried to be gentle on your Facebook page, at least.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

ED: ix. Why we can't ignore Michelle Malkin.

Ninth in a series called "Elephantine Douchebaggery," dedicated to pointing out the most outrageous of right-wing outrages.

Charles Johnson: Anatomy of an Outrageous Outrage

If Michelle Malkin weren't reliably the #1 right-wing blogger, I would just simply ignore her. But we can't. Just about everything she does is massively harmful, and therefore we have to take the time to call her out on it. Every single time.

And this right here might be the most outrageously outrageous outrage ever, er, outraged.

Friday, October 9, 2009

DNC pulls alongside RNC and delivers a broadside with full cannon.

Greg Sargent: DNC: Steele And GOP Have Thrown In Their Lot With The Terrorists By Criticizing Obama’s Nobel

The most fucking awesome thing I've ever seen the DNC write:
The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists — the Taliban and Hamas this morning — in criticizing the President for receiving the Nobel Peace prize. Republicans cheered when America failed to land the Olympics and now they are criticizing the President of the United States for receiving the Nobel Peace prize — an award he did not seek but that is nonetheless an honor in which every American can take great pride — unless of course you are the Republican Party. The 2009 version of the Republican Party has no boundaries, has no shame and has proved that they will put politics above patriotism at every turn. It’s no wonder only 20 percent of Americans admit to being Republicans anymore – it’s an embarrassing label to claim.

The DNC doesn't need to say anything at all, really, because it's obvious. But I'm glad they're finally going for the kill on stuff like this.

R-71: What's at stake.

If you are planning vote to reject Referendum 71, you are denying the partners of gay people the following:

* Victims' rights, including the right to receive notifications and benefits allowances.
* Business succession rights.
* Legal process rights, such as the ability to sign certain documents, the requirement to join in certain petitions, rights to cause of action, and ability to transfer licenses without charge.
* The right to use sick leave to care for a partner.
* The right to wages and benefits when a partner is injured, and to unpaid wages upon death of spouse.
* The right to unemployment and disability insurance benefits issued to a partner.
* Workers' compensation coverage.

(Taken from a post on Strange Bedfellows, the P-I political blog.)

If you are going to deny people these things because your obnoxious, inhumane, life-destroying religious preferences are offended, well FUCK YOU. You are what we call a "bad human being" if you oppose R-71 or even if you signed anything to put that shit on the ballot to begin with.

I'm tired of falling back on the thought-terminating cliche of "reasonable people can disagree." That is true when discussing whether the Angels will sweep the Red Sox. It is NOT TRUE on issues like this.

Seriously, fuck you, and get the hell out of my state. Move to some place where the culture supports fucking over gay people, like Utah or Oklahoma. And take Ken Hutcherson, Mark Driscoll, Tim Eyman, and Susan Hutchinson with you.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

ED. viii. So that's what Ken has been doing.

Opponents of Referendum 71 (expanded domestic partnership rights) have offered up an ad already. And it's a doozy:

I would, you know, address the issues raised by this nonsense, but shit like this is beneath contempt and beneath the dignity of a response.

I think I hear Ken Hutcherson's voice in the background, too. Fucking douchebag.

Steve and Jeff: Suck my balls.

I am going to laugh in the FACE of any IT exec (such as Steve Ballmer or Jeff Bezos) who complains about the labor market conditions for senior software developers. First they created the market condition that drove potential geeks out of the field, then they complain that nobody is graduating in this country with computer science degrees. Now they want even more H1-Bs to compensate, threatening to move yet more jobs to India if they don't get their way.

Yeah, seriously, tell me how that's working for you!

I mean, assume you are a bright young 18-year-old geek in 2001 or 2002. You look around and hear about coding jobs being either sent offshore or given to non-immigrant guest workers. Now, what degree are you going to get? Are you going to get a BS in computer science and be the guy who gets laid off all the time? Or are you going to get a BBA in MIS and an MBA and be the stuffed-shirt asshole who decides to send everything offshore?

I mean, this choice is obvious, right?

Except now we have too many MBAs and we still can't find enough people to write code.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mankiw: Sack up and just say it.

Greg Mankiw: (1) Unemployment Update (2) Accountability?

The question I have for douchenozzles like Mankiw is "what is your freaking point?" The financial crisis we faced last year is pretty much the worst thing that we faced since World War II. Trying to figure out what the fallout from that would be was not really possible.

He's trying to place the Obama Administration in a double bind: Either the stimulus "made things worse" or "you are constantly moving the goalposts to avoid accountability."

I now suggest the most likely scenario: Douchenozzles like Mankiw and the people they serve deliberately obfuscate things in order to make any government intervention hazardous. On the one hand, they say 'oh, it CAN'T POSSIBLY' get that bad. And then when it does, they can say, 'see your programs MADE IT WORSE.' This way they can discredit any government attempt to alleviate suffering, so they can stuff their pockets full of loot while the average American faces financial ruin.

Yes, I think that sounds about right.

Krugman answers all your questions.

Krugman: Answering Your Questions on the Economy

I don't agree with all of it, but it's good stuff, and I suggest reading it. It might also fuel some posts of my own.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"The End" of Faith

I just now got around to reading The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris.

I will post a more complete critique and rebuttal later (though I will not be rebutting the things you think I'm rebutting). However, a few thoughts:

1. Harris is not anything close to a critical thinker. He is a reflexive rationalist--he has patterns of thought that he recognizes as rational, and anything deviating from those patterns is "irrational" and therefore bad.

2. Like most modernist materialist atheist positivists, he is still way too wrapped up in "correct" or "incorrect", thereby replacing one harmful orthodoxy with another.

3. He does not understand the main criticism of rationalism and secularism with respect to the horrors of Nazism, Stalinism, and Maoism. Yes, it is indeed true that Christianity played its roles in the first two. However, he doesn't even come close to understanding why his materialist philosophy was absolutely necessary to perpetuate these horrors and perpetuates them even now. He claims the problem is that those regimes "abandoned reason", but his lack of critical approach to the process of reason makes his arguments completely incoherent.

4. He rightfully criticizes the violent history of Islam but doesn't stop to think about why someone in Saudi Arabia or Egypt would be motivated to attack Americans without the constant humiliation of Arabs by the American government and corporate elite. He simply declares that jihad against America was an inevitability, even though the expansion of Islam through violent conquest had not been of serious concern to the West for hundreds of years.

5. He totally overlooks the very real and pervasive lack of ethics by his fellow "co-religionists": scientists. He utterly fails to see that even "rationalism", materialism, atheism, and positivism cannot protect one from utter irrationality and even horrid abuse.

Anyway, that's a start. In a later post we'll look at specific examples from the text. All I can say now, though, is that if you think for a minute he totally obliterated the notions of religion, faith, and theism with that piece of shit, you are sorely mistaken.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hi, Dave. Hint: Don't poop where you eat.

New York Times: Letterman Reveals Extortion Attempt

I didn't think Dave had it in him to make that sort of thing work, but I guess he likes to get it on with the ladies. Who work for him. Not the smartest idea you ever had, Dave.

Rats, one fewer red herring to keep Republicans occupied

New York Times: Chicago Loses Bid for 2016 Olympic Games

Well, looks like Michelle Malkin will have to find something else to write about. This is bad--she might stumble on a substantive issue.


ED: vii. Glenn Beck, paragon douchebag.

Alexander Zaitchik at Salon: The Making of Glenn Beck

Yeah, that is awesome. This guy got his start by pulling stunts like calling a crosstown rival and taunting him about his wife's miscarriage. Great guy, this Glenn Beck. He represents the kind of decency and humanity that Republicans are well-known for, so good luck with your partnership, there, guys.

(There's three parts to this damned thing, and I think you should read them all, so you get an idea of what this guy is about.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

ED. vi. Grayson, schmayson.

Yahoo News: Is Alan Grayson the Democrats' Joe Wilson?

Shortest answer: No.

Slightly longer answer: Are you out of your fucking mind?

Yes, Alan Grayson is dangerously insane. So what? HE IS AWESOME ANYWAY.

Listen up, douchebags: He didn't compare it to "The Holocaust". He called it "a holocaust." Yes, he intentionally used the h-word to drive up the rhetorical stakes. So what? Republicans do that sort of shit all the time.

And, furthermore, what do you call 44,000 eminently preventable deaths every year other than a "thorough destruction involving extensive loss of life" as Webster's second definition suggests?

Republicans didn't appreciate being called out on this very real statement of the Republican attitude towards health care for people who can't afford it. Let's review:

1. Don't get sick.

2. And if you do...

3. Die quickly.

This very accurately captures the Republican attitude, and this is what you morans out there are upset about. The "holocaust" hoo hah is just a douchebaggy tantrum in reaction to a very accurate and hard-hitting criticism of the Republican platform.

Yeah, boo hoo, Grayson told it like it is. DEAL WITH IT. The more you do this shit, the dumber you look.

By the way, REPRESENTATIVE SMITH OF THE WASHINGTON 9TH DISTRICT, this is what HAVING BALLS looks like. (Or if you hate the sexist overtones of such a statement, we can simply use the word guts.)

ELCA's position on same-sex marriage.

A friend, Heidi, who is a Lutheran in an ELCA church, asked me to write about the recent policy document passed by the ECLA membership on same-sex relationships. The short version: Life-long, monogamous same-sex relationships are compatible with Christian sexual ethics, but we should probably call them something other than marriages.

Of course, a lot of people are freaking out about this. Heidi asked me to address this. How can we justify this policy decision from a standpoint of Christian tradition and scriptural justification and all that good stuff?

Short answer: Well, we can't.

That's not going to make anyone very happy, least of all Heidi. But hear me out. Well, it's a really long argument, but I hope it makes sense.

ELCA stands for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The "Lutheran" church is the American name for the "Evangelische Kirche," or "evangelical church", a Christian tradition started by Martin Luther in the early 16th Century. Martin Luther was a monk who was upset about a lot of practices in the Catholic Church, but the main thing he was upset about is that the Church was strongarming people to cough up money they didn't have to purchase something called indulgences. Receiving an indulgence was a way of reducing one's time in Purgatory being cleansed of one's sins. Usually you got them by performing some impressive act of piety, but the Church was short on cash and had taken to selling them. Of course, the entire doctrine of Purgatory also got on Luther's nerves, because it seemed to him like it was a thought experiment gone awry.

Sound familiar? Of course, to a Christian, it sounds quite a bit like the situation Jesus addressed in the story of the money-changers. Here we have representatives of the church encouraging people to starve their families so they can receive something they shouldn't have to pay for. We all know what Jesus did in response to nonsense like this--he flipped all the tables upside down and started beating the money-changers.

Luther knew that using that tactic would probably get him killed, so instead he wrote a document called The Ninety-five Theses, which he published in 1517. He wanted to engage his superiors in the church and ask them certain questions about their practices, and he encouraged others to do the same.

The Church didn't take too kindly to this, and tried instead to have Luther murdered. Fortunately for Luther, the ruler of his principality (Frederick III) agreed with Luther and had already forbidden the sale of indulgences in his lands and was annoyed that his subjects were traveling to other realms to buy indulgences. Frederick and his allies shielded Luther, and the next thing you know we have the Reformation and Protestantism and bloody wars and all kinds of nonsense.

I give you this seemingly irrelevant lecture in history to get you to think of what Luther did in these terms: Luther saw something he thought was unfair, wrong, and oppressive and challenged it. He asked questions. Of course, he only asked a few questions and didn't ask others. He definitely convinced a lot of people that the Magesterium didn't have the final say on everything. He established a tradition of asking questions. This was a great development in Christianity, in fact.

Unfortuantely, Luther messed it all up. He did realize that if everything was up for grabs, the essence of Christianity might be lost. So, he established new boundaries for the asking of questions--Scripture. You could ask all the questions you wanted and could argue however you wanted, but you'd better make sure your arguments lined up with what was in Scripture, or you were out of line. In so doing, he created a new line of boundaries for people to be oppressive with. But no one noticed the danger of this in 1517, and despite the occasional bloody war sweeping all of Europe, many Protestant traditions arose in this framework.

Except, of course, that this mixed with colonialism and the technology of violence in superlatively ugly ways and led to either the annihilation or enslavement of indigenous people throughout the world. But, hey, that's OK, the Bible tells us it's OK for us to do this, so you can't ask any questions of us. But, no, you can't have this kind of sex, because the Bible tells us that such a thing is condemnable.

I mean, does anyone but me notice how absurd this is? Well, of course it's absurd. And, no, I wasn't the only one who noticed this. Lots of people throughout the Enlightenment, Modernist, and Postmodernist eras thought the whole thing was profoundly absurd. Unfortunately, their solutions were just as absurd and just as easily twisted as Scripture-locked Christianity was, so did that stop the ruin to the world caused by Christian-influenced peoples? Not in the slightest. In many ways, it made it worse.

So, what do we do now? Well, a few of us recognize there is value and beauty to Christianity, and we also don't know how to relate to any other sort of religious tradition. Yet, reactive atheism appalls us in other ways (which are irrelevant to this post, but I can go into it at a future date). So, we try to look at ways to make Christianity at least less harmful. Maybe someday we'll figure out how to make it good.

So, now, I pose this to the ELCA people who are freaking out: You call yourself Lutherans. You follow in the tradition of a man who saw the Church hurting people and spoke out on their behalf. He challenged the traditions of his day, risking everything he had--even his life--in a very real way.

Look around. Your tradition is harming people. And it's not really helping people from the harm our civilization causes them, either. Are you going to sit there like a coward in your nice little suburban church and hide behind the Bible? Or are you going to be bold, like your founder Martin Luther, and start asking questions again?

Here's some questions for you to think about:

* The Bible says a lot of harmful things. Yes, there is no doubt that they are harmful. If you disagree, then I cannot reach you no matter what I say. But those of who you nod that embarrassed nod of the typical liberal Protestant, I challenge you to ask this question: Are we going to persist in declaring it sacrosanct--something that cannot be questioned?

* Martin Luther became the father of Protestantism for standing up for people he saw being abused by the Church. But he also said some harmful things. For instance, about Jews. Let's not get too deeply into that, but all Lutherans (all Christians, actually) bear some of the shame for the Holocaust, because if it were not for the antisemitism strongly laid down by Luther, Hitler would not have so-easily convinced Germans to kill all the Jews they could find. So, in light of this, are you going to declare what Martin Luther said sacrosanct--something that cannot be questioned?

* We let women be pastors, something Scripture specifically prohibits (1 Timothy 2:12, among others). Why was it OK for us to question the Bible here and not on other issues?

* What does sexual ethics mean to someone living in 2009 that someone in 1517 (or AD 35) had no way to imagine?

* Why was Paul so adamant about sexual purity? What was his motivation?

Answer these questions honestly. Decide after you answer them whether you can even be a Christian anymore. If you decide that you can, then write your own theses. Maybe you should actually nail them to the door of your church. Convince your brothers and sisters to change doctrine to reflect the answers to these questions.

Remember, as Paul himself wrote:
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways. For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. --1 Corinthians 13:11-13 (New English Translation)

Time to set aside the childish ways and react to the issue of same-sex marriage like an adult.

And, BY THE WAY, this is not just aimed at the ELCA, but at my own denomination, the Episcopal Church USA, and the Anglican Communion, and pretty much anyone else who calls themselves a Christian.

Polanski, ii.

If you want to see what kind of man Polanski really is, don't watch The Pianist. Don't listen to these douchebags circulating petitions. Read Samantha Gailey's grand jury testimony, to which Polanski was willing to accede in order to receive a grotesquely reduced charge.

ED. v./WTFF x. John Derbyshire is the new Great White Hope for the right-wing? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

I couldn't figure out whether this belonged more in the "Elephantine Douchebaggery" series or the "What the Fucking Fuck" series, so eventually I just said, "why decide?"

This is so hilarious. The only thing that bothers me is that I wonder how many people agree with Derbyshire. Hopefully few enough so they can be contemptuously marginalized.

DERBYSHIRE: Among the hopes that I do not realistically nurse is the hope that female suffrage will be repealed. But I’ll say this – if it were to be, I wouldn’t lose a minute’s sleep.

COLMES: We’d be a better country if women didn’t vote?

DERBYSHIRE: Probably. Don’t you think so?

COLMES: No, I do not think so whatsoever.

DERBYSHIRE: Come on Alan. Come clean here [laughing].

COLMES: We would be a better country? John Derbyshire making the statement, we would be a better country if women did not vote.

DERBYSHIRE: Yeah, probably.

But that's not the best part of it. The best part of it is that this comes from Derbyshire's new book, We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism. The best part: The glowing reviews of this book. It's an all-star right-wing fuckwit cast!

Where will a more intelligent, hence pessimistic, yet sprightly conservatism come from? You are holding in your hands part of the answer. --George Will

George Will?! He's supposed to be one of the moderate voices on the right. Someone to whom Dick Cheney might say, "Gosh, Will, grow a pair, already." And he's in love with Derbyshire.

This is fucking awesome. This is fucking scary. It's probably both: scary awesome.

Yes, John, "we" are doomed. But the "we" is variable. If people agree with me that you and your right-wing ilk have descended into irretrievable madness and should be permanently shunned, then I do agree--you are doomed. But if you actually convince people of your madness, then I would have to agree with it in the sense that we all are doomed.

And since, you are a subset of we all, you are fucked either way, buddy.

Hat tip: Wendy

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

So, so, so, so awesome.

Robert T. Balder at Partially Clips: Faceless Suit

See, I'm tired of being nice. We need to start using analogies for these things in the most outrageous terms possible, because that's what you have to do to get people's attention these days.

Hat tip: Joe


Christian Toto at Big Hollywood: HuffPo Goes All In to Defend Polanski, Readers Revolt

Yep, suck it up elite glitterati types: Your hero Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl and then fled justice. You condoned this at the time and defended him in the name of art, probably because you couldn't care less about American girls being raped by European directors. Now that the chips are down and Polanski might get his ass dragged back here, you are panicking, because you realize people will again start wondering about your defense of the indefensible.

However, lamentably, they are accidentally right. I am furious about this, by the way. But let's examine the reasons why.

In 1977, Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13 year-old girl named Samantha Gailey (who has since gotten married and changed her last name to Geimer). The fact he did this is not disputable--he signed a confession in order to accept a plea deal. The deal (hat tip to my friend Kat for pointing this out) was that he pled to a reduced charge and check himself in to the psychiatric facility in Chino, and then the judge determines the sentence based upon the recommendations of the medical staff there.

Unfortunately for him (and for the aims of justice), the judge said "fuck you, I'm not taking the plea deal", and in response, Polanski fled the country, where he has been on the lam ever since. So, while the root cause of this issue is Polanski raping a young girl, a judge's attempt to railroad him caused him to flee. And furthermore, the most he ever could've gotten under the statute at the time was 2 years in prison, anyway. That's it.

So, that's the first problem. The legal system has only itself to blame for this mess.

The second thing is that the only reason the LA prosecutors are suddenly getting motivated is that Polanski embarrassed them in a court filing. They've had 30 years to nab this guy, and they're just now interested because his lawyers insulted them?

No wonder Samantha Geimer has started saying things like this:

I think he's sorry, I think he knows it was wrong. I don't think he's a danger to society. I don't think he needs to be locked up forever and no one has ever come out ever — besides me — and accused him of anything. It was 30 years ago now. It's an unpleasant memory ... (but) I can live with it.

This is from the Wikipedia article on Polanski, by the way, but I'm reasonably sure it's legit.

So, we have two choices:

1. Spend millions of dollars trying to "bring Polanski to justice."

2. Let him get away with it.

As with everything, I think we should ask, "what is the benefit and who is harmed?"

Behind door #1 we have two very real harms. The first is that Geimer just wants to get on with her life. This has now gone on for 30 years, and she's just sick of it. Who can blame her? The window for justice has closed.

The second is that this is likely to cost the taxpayers of California millions of dollars. This is not in itself a problem--the most annoying thing about rich people who break the law is that their ability to hire not one but dozens of lawyers makes prosecuting them hideously expensive. Fortunately there aren't many rich people, and rich people often get a free pass on things anyway, so this isn't usually a problem.

But now, California is dead-ass broke. Prosecuting Polanski is now a zero-sum game. The money that goes for this will have to come from somewhere else. I don't know if I want to risk taking that money from a schoolteacher's salary or the prosecution of 100 other rapists.

What's the benefit? Well, Polanski goes to jail. I'm not sure for how long--the "man" is 76 years old and it's unlikely he'd live more than a few years in prison. Also, if he were locked up, he couldn't do it to anyone else. But, I also don't think that's a serious risk at this point. It's hard to say.

And we help the LA prosecutors out with their careers. Yay, or something.

An acquaintance of mine thinks that option #2 is horrid because it, in his words, "directly condones the culture of rape." Well, I can't argue with that. But is that seriously worse than the harms given above? I can't see how it is.

If what happened on Huffington Post was any indication, though, people will be fucking pissed. But I think this outrage is actually good, and maybe it would lead to more good than locking up Polanski.

For example, it's giving the Huffington Post a major black eye.

But get this through your thick skulls, you Eurotrash assholes: Yes, Polanski is a great director. So, what? Hitler built the Autobahn. What Polanski did to Samantha Gailey destroys human dignity just as much as Hitler's attempt to murder Polanski and everyone else who is Jewish.

I am not above burning everything Polanski has ever done and never mentioning his name again. Or, at minimum, the rightsholders to his works should recredit them to "Alan Smithee" and erase Polanski's name from history. Because we have to remember Hitler's name.

But Polanski? Fuck him, we can do without his memory.

Well, despite being a Democrat, Greg Nickels is a douchebag, too.

Sabra Gertsch @ KOMO: Upset homeless set up camp outside Nickels' home

Argue about the homeless all you want--seriously, if you are behind the policy of making it difficult for them to get to shelters, you are a douchebag. No, you are fucking douchebag. No, you are a fucking waste of air.

How hard is it for Nickels to pick up the goddamn phone and ask Metro to give these guys $50k worth of bus tickets? Account for it any way you have to. I mean, the King County government is so full of corruption and graft as it is, who the hell is going to notice $50k missing for humanitarian purposes?

Yeah, yeah, I know, what seems obvious and humane to me seems outrageous and career-threatening to you and other pseudo-liberals like Adam Smith. Well...oh...yeah...you just got voted out of office because you're an idiot when it comes to campaign strategy. Well, never mind, then.

This is also why I'm sad that the Very Rev. Robert Taylor (former dean at St. Mark's Cathedral and a local mega-advocate for the homeless) screwed up the Cathedral and lost the basis for his ability to be a useful activist. Robert was the kind of guy who could've picked up the phone and made a couple of calls and taken care of this, and you wouldn't have to bother with politicians who couldn't care less, because Robert had them all in his pocket. I mean, seriously, despite the horrid mistake he made by firing two of the clergy on Holy Week without asking too many people about it, losing him is a greater loss than most people can imagine.

The other other blog: Party like it's 1999.

What do I do for a living? Well, this summer, I hadn't been doing much of anything. But I've recently gotten a job as a software engineer, and I go back to work next Monday.

I'd like to blog about my geekery, but I'd like to do it in a politically-neutral realm so I could maybe use it in a professional context without upsetting people with my combative and divisive political stances. I mean, sometimes I like upsetting people, but it's not a good idea to upset the people you work with.

So, I announce: Party Like It's 1999!

I started this blog last year when I began work for a Web 2.0 startup, but my blogging career didn't get anywhere. Neither did the startup, unfortunately.

ED. iv. The HORROR of kids getting involved to bring...the Olympics...to...America...wait.

Part four in a series called "Elephantine Douchebaggery", and the second of such posts showing that although the term "douchebag" is almost never applied to women (as many people seem to prefer even more degrading and dehumanizing terms in such cases, and I'll let you guess [it starts with a "c"]), this does not mean women in the service of the most obnoxious forms of conservatism cannot engage in douchebaggery.

Michelle Malkin: Obamas using schoolkids as junior lobbyists for Olympics

Warning: The Michelle Malkin site is NSFAWASOD (Not Safe For Anyone With a Shred of Dignity).

But could any of you lacking in said dignity take a peek and take a guess at just what the hell the good Ms. Malkin is trying to do here? Because I can't figure it out. Honestly, I can't. But I'm sure douchebaggery is involved, because it's Michelle Fucking Malkin.

(Elephantine Douchebaggery is really just a subset of "What the Fucking Fuck?!")

EDIT: Malkin's priorities are pretty clearly evident in the post "Once in 70 Days".

Let's review:

1. Bringing a century-old symbol of international harmony (the Olympics) into the United States is corrupt because it happens to benefit the President's hometown (Chicago).

2. This is even worse because Obama is spending all of his time to bring us the Olympics instead of working with the Managers of the Global Beatdown Machine (my term for "military commanders.")

Yes, you are pretty goddamn awesome, Michelle. In much the same way that Josef Stalin was awesome.

WTFF. ix. You had it comin', babykillers. And more is comin'.

Judy Thomas in the Kansas City Star: Letter criticizes church for allowing George Tiller to serve as an usher

A Virginia anti-abortion activist has sent a scathing letter to the church of slain Wichita abortion provider George Tiller, telling pastors they “brought damnation” onto themselves for failing to rebuke the “babykilling.”


“If Reformation Lutheran Church had done its job and brought George Tiller to repentance, he would be alive and the babies he killed would be alive,” Spitz said in a phone interview. “But George Tiller received his just reward, and Reformation Lutheran Church is to blame for his blood, and the blood of the children he murdered is on their hands.”


The Rev. Lowell Michelson, senior pastor at Reformation Lutheran Church, confirmed receiving the letter. He said he didn’t intend to respond.

Rev. Michelson is smart. As Gavin de Becker tells us in The Gift of Fear, responding to crazy people who write you letters is a good way to get killed.

Let's just hope that someone in the government informs "Rev." Spitz that if something happens to anyone else in that church, it's his ass as well.

Or maybe even someone not in the government, nodeuhmean?

Hat Tip: Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, of all people, who has finally totally lost the favor of the idiotic right and has now started returning to his roots as a Democrat. Well done, man. If we could ever convince you that killing people in the name of globalism is a bad idea, I'd consider you an important ally. But, then again, the enemy of my enemy is often my friend, too.

Monday, September 28, 2009

ED: iii. Not so fast, Liz Cheney

Adam Serwer at TAPPED (American Prospect): The Irony of Liz Cheney.

Gosh, I wish I had stood up more firmly against our use of torture. I feel quite embarrassed about it. Oh well, at least I can say I never defended the indefensible. I think.

Anyway, the choicest bits:

For the GOP, torture is no longer a "necessary evil." It is a rally cry, a "values" issue like same-sex marriage or abortion. They don't "grudgingly" support torture, they applaud it. They celebrate it. Liz Cheney's unequivocal support for torture methods gleaned from communist China has people begging her to run for office.
Over the past couple of months, events have conspired to prove the Cheneys wrong. The recently released documents Dick Cheney said would unequivocally prove that torture saved American lives did not. While professional interrogators and military leaders have argued against torture, the apologists have had to rely on anonymous pleadings filtered through the same people who brought us Saddam Hussein's connection to al-Qaeda. A scientific survey recently proved that torture is counterproductive. Despite the fact that Cheney and his daughter have been claiming the Obama administration's abandonment of torture has made America less safe, the past month or so has seen the U.S. eliminate al-Qaeda leader Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan in Somalia and Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in Afghanistan. In the past week alone, the FBI foiled three bombings, one of which appears to have been a very serious threat.

Wow. Do read the whole thing, of course.

While I agree with Adam that having the support of torture proposed as awesome by a major political party is not such a great development, this gives those of us who are not Republican douchebags a great opportunity to constantly call them out on it. Though, I think we might think strategically as well and wait until the election season next year to spring it on them so it does the most political damage.

It's nice to have choices. On the other hand, if too many Americans agree that torturing people is an awesome idea, we are just simply totally fucked.

[Hat tip: Atrios]

WTFF. viii. Christian nation?

Goldy at HorsesAss: God Bless Our Anti-Christian First Amendment

Gosh, Goldy hits one out of the park again. Just read it.

My take: If sticking guns into the faces of other people so you can grab their resources isn’t a violation of the 10th Commandment, I don’t know what is! Where is that violated? Oh, I don’t know, maybe throughout the entire history of Europeans in the Americas?

Friday, September 25, 2009

WTFF. vii. FED! Or, Is That You, Aldo?

Goldy at HorsesAss: Better Dead than Fed?

I mostly agree with Goldy on most things, including this. This incident is, of course, horrifying. What the Fucking Fuck-level horrifying. However, there's an angle he hasn't considered. I don't want to go into it in too much detail, lest I be misunderstood and attract the wrong kind of scrutiny, but I gently suggest that Goldy and the rest of you reread about Prohibition and Appalachia, more especially the origin of the term "Revuhnoor" (Revenuer, as the responsibility for enforcing Prohibition was placed in the hands of the Treasury Department.)

I think that might be the dynamic at play here rather than anti-Obama racism or typical right-wing anti-government sentiment. That's all I'm saying.

For a quick fix, see the movie Inglourious Basterds. You can probably imagine that Aldo and/or his family had strung up a few Revuhnoors over the years as a necessity of the nature of their family business--that is, smuggling "moonshine," illegal homemade liquor, and the Revuhnoors didn't leave the moonshine boys alone even after the repeal of Prohibition. The only reason Aldo is in France to begin with is that he probably had to choose between the Army and prison. He chose the Army because he decided the Nazis pissed him off even more than the Revuhnoors.

But how did you think Aldo got so goddamned ferocious to begin with? Hm?


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Robert Reich sticks his finger in the eye of the supply-siders.

Robert Reich in Huffington Post: Why the Dow is Hitting 10,000 While Everyone Else Is Cutting Back.

I basically agree, I'll add a couple of things later. For now, just go freaking read it, because it's good.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

HCR. ix. Letter to Adam Smith

I sent the following letter to Representative Adam Smith, who is my Congressman.

Dear Representative Smith--

I'm a little bit behind, but I did find out that you appeared on the show of a local talk-radio host named Dori Monson (noon-3pm, KIRO-FM). I wasn't able to find out exactly what you said on the show, but I have heard a few disturbing things about it.

First, going on Monson's show and being "buddy buddy" is the Wrong Thing to begin with, as Monson is kind of an idiot who uncritically parrots Republican lies. So, unless you are into that sort of thing, you might want to give some more thought about appearing on shows like that.

Secondly, it appears that you are really upset about ACORN. Maybe ACORN is corrupt and maybe it isn't, but given the actual depredation upon this country and the entire planet by nearly every company in the Fortune 500, this shows a disturbing skew of priorities. I'd hate to think you were doing this just to appear "moderate."

Finally, you seem uncomfortable with the idea that we should do something about the 18,000 people who die in this country every year solely because they have no access to health care. That's a 9/11 attack every 2 months, by the way, every single year. To date, 48 times as many people have died from this problem as 9/11, if you don't count the death caused by our *response* to 9/11, of course.

Rep. Smith, you're going to have to decide whose interests you are going to serve. Are you going to decide to serve the interests of the health care industry executives? I mean, I understand, that's the safe choice. They certainly can help you keep your seat safe against relentless assault from Republicans, especially those who live in that area between Puyallup and Olympia. Our district has a difficult demographic to serve, and I can appreciate some of the positions you find yourself in.

On the other hand, you could think about what is right. People in your district and all over the country are dying from treatable diseases because they can't afford the treatment. So, you might consider at least *thinking* about their interests a bit before you do something stupid like appear on Monson's show again.



HCR. viii. Those poor health insurance executives!

This video is an example of why the Republicans are basically screwed in general right now. People have figured how which interests they gleefully serve. It is so bad it has quite literally become a joke.

Democrats serve these interests, too, but at least most of them have the good sense to feel bad about it. Well, sometimes. Unless he's my representative, Adam Smith, who went on the show of the biggest douchebag in local talk radio and bashed on Obama's "outrageous" idea that everyone should have health care coverage. And on Obama in general. But anyway, watch this.

Hat tip: Like, everyone, especially State Rep. Dave Upthegrove (via Facebook).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The rural brain drain.

Patrick J. Carr and Maria J. Kefalas in the Chronicle of Higher Education: The Rural Brain Drain

An interesting article showing that the problems of the cities are nothing compared to the problems of rural America--many small towns across the heartland are quickly becoming ghost towns, because their brightest residents are moving to the cities. There is nothing new about this, but it has gotten so out of hand that rural America itself is becoming a new kind of ghetto of poverty and despair.

And that's not good, because that's where all our freaking food comes from right now.

(Hat tip: Cheryl)

A sub-blog: Now We See The Violence Inherent in the System.

Even though I'm having a lot of fun with this blog discussing current events, I think there are a lot of deeper problems with the world that demand discussion. I have been preparing my...er...mojo to this end over the last few weeks, and I think I now am ready to begin sharing these thoughts with the world.

However, I rebroadcast this blog into my Facebook feed, and the things I post here are combative and controversial enough as they are. I certainly don't want to throw around words like "anarchism" and "global collapse" in my blog, especially if they're going to be retransmitted to something bearing my real name.

So, therefore, I will just give you a pointer to it from here, and you can decide whether or not you can stomach it. You will be disturbed by it, but I promise that it will not be used to actually advocate anything actually illegal.

The blog is: Now We See the Violence Inherent in the System.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Yankee pwnination.

Friday, I was in downtown Seattle running errands, and because I no longer like driving my beat up piece-of-crap car, I was using transit as much as possible. I was boarding Central Link to head back to the South End. It was a sunny day, so I was wearing my Mariners cap to avoid sunburn.

I boarded the train at Westlake, the northern terminus, and walked by a guy in a Yankees T-shirt who sorta stared at me and nodded and said "good luck, buddy." Not realize he was actually trying to be a dick, I smiled back and said, "Yeah, and also to you. Must be nice to back a winning team, right?" The Yankees were apparently in town last weekend, and we have a few Yankees fans in town (I grew up as one), so I thought he was being friendly.

No, he was just being a prick and frankly admitted that he was just trying to get a rise from me. I attempted to engage him in friendly conversation anyway, since I was bored. He said dismissive things about how much the Mariners suck, and I was saying things like, "Oh, sure, we're disappointed that they were not good enough to make the playoffs, but you have to admit a team that has a winning record is much better than a team that lost 100 games." And, "Jeez, we were thinking 88 wins was going to be enough to take the division, and who the hell expected the Angels to be this good?" And stuff like that.

He was so irritated with my friendly ground-standing that he jumped off the train at University Street, one stop from Westlake. AWESOME.

And EVEN MORE AWESOME: The Mariners went on to take two out of three from the Yankees, the team with the best record in baseball.

SWEET. Take that, you Yankee prick!

WTFF: iv. v. vi. Give me trains or give me death, Obama is Hitler, and I <3 Goldy

Parts four, five, and six in a series titled "What the fucking fuck?!"

Not much on my mind lately, but I did pile up some things from last week, so let's clear the backlog:

iv. Back to the "million mullet march" or whatever it was on the 12th, there were apparently lots of people a little upset that the trains were running behind:

WSJ blog: Tea Party Protesters Protest D.C. Metro Service

OK, seriously, WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK? You are going to a protest that is fundamentally ANTI-GOVERNMENT in nature, and you are complaining that the GOVERNMENT-RUN trains are not getting to your protest on time.

Um. Uh. Argh. What?

v. Lots of people are trying to say that Obama is a communist, socialist, fascist, and Nazi at the same time. Someone pointed out that especially with this last, you manage to be an antisemite and racist at the same time, good job.

Seattle Times: Hitler poster provokes Edmonds incident

So, anyway, there's this dude named Henry Gasparian who survived the Holocaust and saw some "Obama = Hitler" signs (a pretty disturbingly stupid idea in its own right), freaked out a little that Hitler was being invoked so casually, and started beating the faces against some of the LaRouche douchebags handing out the flyers. OK, maybe he didn't beat face, but it wouldn't bother me if he did. Read the story for more.

(Hat tip: Cheryl)

vi. I <3 Goldy. Just read this. Seriously.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A post about RFID.

I have slowed down a bit--life has intruded. I have an impressive backlog of things to discuss, though, and I intend to follow through. Until then, though, here is what I posted to an online discussion forum concerning RFID technology. I will follow up later with a more thorough explanation.

My post is part of a discussion concerning the growing trend of governments proposing the placement of RFID transponders in things like inspection stickers and license plates, ostensibly to measure travel down to the mile and tax people on their movement. That's annoying, to be sure, but it doesn't take much imagination to think of even more nefarious uses of these devices.

Well, there's a way to fight back--figure out where the chips are and shield
them so they can't be read. Fairly easy to do, FOR NOW. But we shouldn't even
have to fight back--people should be asking our consent and explaining what the
benefit is *to us*.

FOr instance, I *consent* to having an Enhanced Drivers License so I can go to
Canada with a minimum of hassle. (Of course, few bother to ask why I need
permission to cross a boundary that exists only in people's minds and not in
reality, but asking those sorts of questions is clearly too much for most

I *consent* to having an ORCA pass, because using one allows me to use transit
in order to save money (more unasked questions there, too, but you're tired of
hearing them by now).

I *consent* to having a RFID-readable debit card, because I am both too lazy to
demand a debit card not containing a chip, and I can also see how it might
occasionally save me 30 seconds, which might be important in some cases (don't
even get me started about the questions concerning this).

But I only *consent* to having my chips read *when I want them read*, and at
*no* other time. This is why I want an RFID-shielding wallet so badly (and
hopefully I'll have one soon, it's supposedly en route).

Here's one more unasked question, though: I am educated concerning these
issues, but SO FEW other people are. Walk into a Nordstrom and ask someone if
they sell RFID-shielding wallets. Most of them will be like, "wat?" The
people who make these devices fucking *know* this, too, so what do you think
they're going to do with the pervasive availability of this technology?

Not to mention the increasing frequency in which these devices are foisted
on us against our will. We have very limited ways of fighting back, too, but
there are ways, and I suggest we avail ourselves of them and tell as many
people as possible.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ED: ii. I'm taking your "thinker" card away, fella.

Second in the series called "Elephantine Douchebaggery".

American Thinker: 9/12 demonstration a record DC turnout: National Park Service

You forgot to mention that Dan Bana was talking about Barack Obama's inaguration. I don't think that was the point you were trying to make, there, dude.

I have to give a hat tip to another Charles, the one who runs Little Green Footballs. For obvious reasons, he is not really an ally of mine, but he knows EPIC FAIL when he sees it.

If you want to see the acres of fail that is this misattribution, try this query. Holy failgasm, Batman!

Or, for posterity--

By the way, you might applaud the teabaggers for packing out their litter, but their success is more evidence that THERE JUST WASN'T THAT MANY OF THEM.

Put that tea bag away before you hurt someone.

Glenn Greenwald @ Salon: Who are the undeserving "others" benefiting from government actions?

(That is, if you can handle all the freaking pop-up ads jumping all over your browser. Salon has gotten rather sad. Anyway.)

When you worry about the redistributive aspect of government spending, you might think more carefully about who usually benefits from such spending (4 words of hint: douchewaffle. Wall Street. suit.) And, therefore, pipe down a bit when substantially less money goes to people who, on balance, need your help.

And, then, when that tea bag calls your name again, think this: Are you really willing to throw overboard the people who genuinely need help in the name of not being "taken advantage of" by those who cheat the system?

Hat tip: Cheryl

HCR: vii. Here's what opponents of health-care reform are defending.

I got yer "death panels" right here:

When you fight against a sane, compassionate governmental response, this is what you are defending. Good luck sleeping at night, douchebags.

Hat tip: Goldy at HorsesAss.

The end of 9/11: iii. Oh, yeah, the conclusion.

I was supposed to conclude this Friday, but I never got around to it.

This is not going to be very long like the other two were. This concerns our reaction to 9/11 over the last eight years. I could go on and on about how our reaction did nothing to protect us and in fact made the situation even worse, but instead I'll just leave you with the following.

I read in a book once (forgot which book) that in the early days of the war in Afghanistan, we spent something like $1 billion per day bombing the crud out of the country. If you divided up the $1 billion equally amongst the Afghans whose country we demolished, you'd have the tidy sum of $40--every man, woman, and child, $40. Doesn't sound like a lot, but in Afghanistan, $40 buys roughly what $1800 buys here.

Now, imagine if one fine sunny day, you heard the vague noise of aircraft overhead, and then suddenly your entire neighborhood started blowing up around you. You somehow managed to shelter yourself from the explosions, but you look across the street and see the children of your neighbor destroyed by overpressure waves, their little bodies turned into pink pulp in the blink of an eye. More explosions. You hide.

When you are convinced the bombing has stopped, you emerge from the rubble that used to be your house and look around at the burning ruins of your neighborhood. You hear people screaming--not sure whether they're begging for help, but they're definitely screaming. With what little strength you have, you clench your fists into balls and your face turns purple with rage. Rage at those idiots in the planes that just turned your neighborhood into a smoldering ruin. You don't really care why they did it, only that they did it, and now most of your family, friends and neighbors are dead or dying.

Imagine that, instead of bombs, you see flyers fall to the ground. You pick one up, and it tells you that a foreign power wants to give you a helping hand. Starting tomorrow, they will send you and everyone you know a check for $1800. Every day. For the forseeable future. Spend it however you want--but remember who sent it to you, and think about helping them root out the people responsible for the recent violent attacks on their country.

Sure enough, the next day a plane flies overhead, and a pouch falls to the ground in front of your house. You open the pouch, and inside are hundreds of neat little envelopes, each containing a check for $1800. There's one for you and everyone else in the entire neighborhood. You're like, "Holy shit, no way." You help spread the checks around the neighborhood and take yours to the bank and deposit it right away to see if it actually clears. It does, and now you have $1800 more. But in the meantime, 6 more checks have dropped from the sky. You remember what the flyer said, and come to think of it, you do remember some dude three blocks over talking about how he was training with some strangely dressed men speaking Arabic. . . .

I'm not terribly certain the second scenario is perfect by any means, but at least you can see the madness that is our response to 9/11 and how different it could've been had the money been spent on helping the people of Afghanistan rather than destroying their country. The amount of money spent on humanitarian concerns in Afghanistan the first year amounted to less money than was spent on the first three hours of bombing it.

9/11 was just an excuse to ramp up the beatdown machine, not to think about how the beatdown machine makes people angry enough to destroy our buildings and kill our citizens. I wonder what else is going to blow up in the next 20 years, as the orphans of the war in Afghanistan grow to adulthood and agree that violent jihad against the people of the United States is the best outlet for their rage.

And this is just the war in Afghanistan, the war that nearly everyone in the country feels was justified. The war our new President feels that we should continue--even expand into neighboring Pakistan. Do I really have to say a single word about the madness that was the war in Iraq? No, of course I don't.

(I do have to admit that I never once spoke up about how wrong the war in Iraq was. Not once. Might've even backhandedly justified it on occasion. I guess I'll bear the shame of that for quite some time, but I guess waking up eventually is better than never waking up.)

This is the last I will ever say about 9/11. But do you think I'm going to stop asking the sorts of questions I asked in this post? No, my friends, I'm just getting started.