Wednesday, February 11, 2015

ТАСС уполномочен заявить . . .

In a move that could gladden the heart of any conservative supporter of Eternal War (until he learned the source), President Obama is going to ask the Congress for authorization under the War Powers Act to send troops to Syria and Iraq. 

Apparently this is to fight the Daesh troublemakers in that part of the world, but I do wonder what the final outcome of it will be.  We already gave the region to Iran by knocking Iraq down; what's next?

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Fresh from the Asylum

(SFX:  Teletype chattering)

And now, the latest from the asylum that is Modern American Politics.  Poekhali!

The new GOP majorities in both houses of the Congress anticipated doing Great Things.

Things like repealing Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare, and the President's executive action on immigration.

Things like declaring war in all directions.  Bang!

(Hmm, not a sausage.  Hardly worth the journey.)

So far, what have they done?

Well, they passed a bill denying Federal funding for abortion (which has been illegal since the 1980s, but they have no sense of history).

They voted to repeal Obamacare - for the 56th time.  So far, the effort to destroy Obama's signature domestic legislation has cost about $70 million in OUR money, to no result at all.  They're now relying on their hirelings in the Supreme Court to defeat key portions of it, but the legal position is rather shaky despite the horde of lawyers who have been unleashed.

Social Security requires just a tiny tweak to remain solvent until I'm old(er) and gray(er), but the GOP's been trying to kill it with fire since it was passed back in the Thirties.  Way to be humane about the elderly.

In the meanwhile, we've been treated to a wonderful smorgasbord of Stupid, garnished with Hurt Fee-fees.

The Stupid is twofold - the ignorant ravings of criminal lunatics about vaccination against childhood diseases, and the willful ignorance regarding the actual history of Christianity's dealings with people they don't like.

The anti-vaccination yahoos found aid and comfort from such Republican luminaries as Rand Paul and Chris Christie.  See what I meant about criminal lunatics?  With Aqua Buddha and The Zeppelin on their side, they must feel really secure in their frankly insane position.

And sorry Fox 'news' and all the other fatheaded legions of Dumb out there - yes, Christians have, in fact, perpetrated atrocities over their long history.  The Crusades (in the Fourth, a Christian town was sacked, as was the capital of Christian Byzantine Empire), the Inquisition, anti-Semitic pogroms, Southern US lynchings, Christian justifications for slavery, Jim Crow and the KKK, Christians blowing up Christians in Northern Ireland, and the modern US 'Christian Identity' movement.  I won't go on, as I'll get bored and run out of room.

Hurt fee-fees?  Oh, the butt-hurt was thick on the ground when Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) called Texas "crazy" at a Congressional hearing.  Now, I live in Flori-DUH, and any Flori-DUH politician who calls another state crazy deserves a hearty helping of Pot-calling-Kettle-black. 

However, you have to give Hastings some credit for spine - when the Texans demanded he apologize, Hastings brought up an old Texas regulating dildo possession as an example the Crazy in the Lone Star State.  The present Governor in Austin, in fact, defended that law back when he was Attorney General.

Texans believe in little or no regulation of deadly weapons, but believe in regulating friendly weapons, it seems.

And that's the latest from The Asylum.

(SFX:  Teletype chattering eclipsed by shotgun blast; explosion; bits of metal raining down)

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Way to Stake Out a Position, Lads

Measles, or rubeola if you're pedantic, is not the kind of thing you want to get. It's a nasty, easily communicable and contagious virus that killed - yes, killed - 96,000 people worldwide in 2013.

It killed about 545,000 people worldwide in 1990, and still flares up from time to time.

There's a vaccine for measles (known as MMR) that is extremely effective at combating the virus. Once enough people in a given area get the shot, the population develops what's known as herd immunity - outbreaks are small, limited in duration, and result in few deaths with proper care.

(Yes, I'm oversimplifying this, but I'll get to the point.)

There are populations in certain countries that have what's called low vaccine coverage, and there you get endemic measles, meaning that it's entrenched. There are also individuals who, out of fear or rank ignorance, don't get vaccinated or refuse to get their kids vaccinated. Much of their argument against vaccination is based on a discredited study in the British medical journal The Lancet, which was revealed to be based on bad data and faulty methodology. Still people cling to it as one of Skinner's monkeys clung to the terrycloth 'mother,' with very depressingly predictable results.

A Texas megachurch decided to stop vaccinating, and there was a large outbreak of measles. Whooping cough, another really nasty disease, has also broken out despite there being a very effective shot for it, and unless you've been hiding in a doomsday bunker for the past few months you will have heard about the measles outbreak traced to a bunch of unvaccinated kids who visited Disneyland.

So, when appealed to, you would think that our stalwart politicians would chide these parents for being dumb and insensitive to their children's need to avoid these diseases, right?


Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, said that parents should have a right to choose whether or not their kids get their shots. He immediately backed away from the position, which basically reinforced a similar stand against common sense he took back in 2009.

Rand Paul, Senator of Kentucky, basically parroted the discredited Lancet study.

Thom Tillis, Senator of North Carolina, went a step further in a recent conference by saying that it might be nice if restaurants could 'opt out' of requiring their employees to wash their hands after using the restroom. Isn't that nice?

Mo Brooks, Representative of Alabama, has chosen to stake out a position that should be all too familiar to certain people: He's decided to find a scapegoat for the recent Disneyland outbreak. He's an anti-immigrant hawk, so you get three guesses who he's decided to finger. No prize for guessing right.

Now, coming as this does after staking out anti-science positions on such things as evolution, it really shouldn't be surprising. It will become tragic if the kids or adults who contract measles because of stupid or ignorant actions get secondary infections and die. If any do die, there'll be a massive screech of "Why didn't the Government tell us to get our kids vaccinated?"

And so it goes.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Evolution Day!

Yes, on this very day in 1859, Charles Darwin published his seminal work, On the Origin of Species.

And heads have been exploding about it ever since.

Just tell them to get over it; or, in other words, "Evolve."

Reality Bites

Specifically, reality bites the Republicans in the ass.

Back in 2012, a group of malcontents and unwashed troublemakers attacked our diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.  Parts of the place were damaged, and four Americans died.

Naturally, the shit-flinging monkeys of the Right decided that it was all some sort of Nefarious Plot engineered by the Obama Administration.  Conspiracy theories grew like mushrooms on a cow patty, and reprehensible Representatives like Darrell Issa (CACA) and Trey Gowdy (WTF?) decided to make names for themselves by spending huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to find out Just What Happened.

The House Intelligence Committee went after the idea, and released its report yesterday.

The report hit the House Majority, the new Senate Majority, the Tea Party, the Rightist Lunatics and the Conspiracy Theorists like a flaming sack of dog poop.

There was no conspiracy.

There was no Nefarious Plot.

The report served the purpose of putting into writing what everyone else knew all along - that the GOP and their Moronic Fellow Travelers were all full of shit.

The news media are filled with these jerks now, weeping openly that there had to be Something there, and that their own report - upon which they had such hope - thoroughly debunked all their pet theories about Benghazi.

Obviously, this won't stop them from clinging to their pet ideas like limpets.  They are, after all, completely hoo-hah piss-your-drawers insane.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dear Senator Tom Coburn

Dear Dr. Coburn,

Fuck you.

Fuck you and your veiled calls for violence if Obama signs an executive order regarding the current immigration problem.  The Great God Reagan and Bush the Smarter did the same thing Obama's about to do, and you didn't see unrest or riots in the streets.  Far from it.

You, however . . . you are called "Doctor No" with good reason for your obstructionism.  Had you and the rest of your greasy ilk had the testicular fortitude to tell the Crazies in your own god-damned Party to sit down and shut up, you might have gotten a bipartisan solution to this problem, along with many others.

But no.  Had Obama been the tyrant, dictator or monarch that your minions and associates continue to bleat about, neither you nor your caucus would have won a Senate majority.  Hell, none of you would be at liberty now, and never mind the tepid squalling of the Tea Party.  All the shotguns and aftermarket AK-47s in the world are useless when faced with a drone wielding a Hellfire missile.

Pray we never actually get a tyrant in this country.

In the meanwhile, for your attempts to whip up the frothingly rabid Taliban base of your Party, Senator Coburn:

Fuck you. 

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

So. That Happened.

(Yeah, I know, I've been busy.)

What's next?

Before I attempt to answer that question, credit where it's due.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Anthem of the Republican Party of the United States:

Okay, that's out of the way.

Yes, the GOP won majority control of the US Senate, as well as several state governorships. There are more than a few members of the Chattering Class asking what happens next. Here's my take on that:

1. I anticipate at least two attempts to impeach Obama before he leaves office in January 2017 (and at least one after he leaves). I do not expect either attempt to succeed, as you require 2/3 of the Senate to convict.

2. I expect at least another 50 votes to repeal or emasculate the Affordable Care Act, all of which will be vetoed. These vetoes will provide another justification for #1 above.

3. I expect that all of the regulatory mechanisms put in place after the economic collapse of 2007 to be repealed, watered down or declawed, because nothing must stand in the way of mulcting the poor. Nothing.

4. I do not expect a leadership struggle between Senators Rafael Cruz and Mitch McConnell, despite Cruz's past rhetorical stylings.

5. I do expect that the current Hell-bent march into ignorance on the part of the Congress will continue. The popularity of the Congress has sunk to all-time lows, with the popularity of the Congressional GOP even lower than that. That won't change, and despite voter's apparent discontent with the GOP, they appear to have decided to give them another go at proving that government doesn't work.

6. I expect at least three more government shutdowns, largely the work of the aforementioned Senator Cruz, in order to do away with Obamacare and provide further fodder for #1 above.

7. There is NO #7.

8. I expect that things will not improve. Period, full stop, and the ancient adage that "people get the government they deserve" will be perfectly, exactly, and horrifyingly justified.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Two Shots

That's all it took, really.

One hundred years ago yesterday, the heir to an empire and his morganatic wife visited the capital of the province of Bosnia-Hercegovina, Sarajevo.  The timing could have been better, as it was also the anniversary of a great Serbian military disaster, so the Serbs (who heartily resented Austria's annexation of Bosnia) were pissed off.

Certain Serbs had already decided to do something about it. 

As the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie rode along the boulevard, someone threw a bomb.  It missed, but injured a few members of the official party.  After berating the Mayor of Sarajevo and visiting the wounded, Franz and Sophie were riding back.  The chauffeur, unused to the route, took a wrong turn and stopped to back up.

It was arguably the wrongest turn in history.

Miffed at not getting his shot at killing the Archduke, a seventeen-year-old Bosnian Serb named Gavrilo Princip was having a brandy when his targets suddenly appeared right in front of him.  He'd been mocked as a poor shot during his training, but at this range there was possibility he'd miss.

Bang.  Bang.

Franz Ferdinand and Sophie died of their wounds.  Because she wasn't of royal blood, none of the crowned heads of Europe (many of whom were related to each other) attended the funeral.  That meeting could have avoided the stupidity that followed.

Ethnic and nationalist urges had been convulsing the Balkans and the rest of Europe for, on some cases, sixty years.  The major powers in Europe polarized into two huge blocs, with the diplomats unable or unwilling to find an acceptable formula to get themselves out of the fix.  Coupled with the military alliances and arms races, all it would take would be a single incident to start the entire avalanche crashing down on the world.

Bang.  Bang.

Two shots, fired by a teenaged terrorist, that led to the deaths of nearly twenty million people and the redrawing of the maps of the world.  We live with the unforeseen consequences of World War One - in Africa, in Southwest Asia, and we saw it in the 1990s in - where else? - the Balkans.

It's been a hundred years since those shots.  We can't forget, and mustn't.