Thursday, April 26, 2012

Florida's Stand Your Ground Law - The Not-Review

A few months or so ago, a seventeen year old man was shot dead by an older man who dignified himself with the title "neighborhood watch captain" and claimed justification for the shooting under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" or "No Retreat" law.

My opinion of the case against George Zimmerman in re the death of Trayvon Martin is exactly that - opinion; I shall leave it to the courts and shall not embroil myself in the bootless racial arguments.  My bitch is with the law itself.

Thanks to ALEC, the NRA and the members of the Florida Legislature that they hold in fee simple, as long as you can articulate properly the fact that you were in danger of death or great bodily harm, you are completely justified in using a gun or similar instrument to kill anyone you may feel threatened by.

In short, it's Wild West Time, and it's been that way since this idiocy was passed.

Bowing to pressure from the citizens of Florida and various activists, Governor Lex Luthor - er, Rick Scott, that's right, Rick Scott - appointed a blue-ribbon panel of state legislators, headed by the lieutenant governor, to review the law and see if it needs to be either tweaked or done away with.

Don't hold your breath, folks.  The Lt. Gov. voted for the law when she was in the Legislature, and all but one of the panel's members either voted for it or endorsed it.

The one?  He wrote the law, and doesn't see any reason to change a jot or tittle of it.

You might want to watch yourselves when you come down to Florida, or at least make the effort to look as non-threatening as possible.  Maybe dressing up like a fluffy kitten might help.

Not Insane, But ...

On a nice day in July of last year, a truck bomb was set off in the government center of the Norwegian capital of Oslo.

Which, for the benefit of my readers in the USA, is in Norway.

Eight people died in the blast, and more than 500 more were injured to varying degrees.  Since it was summer vacation time in Oslo, the center wasn't as full of people as it usually is, which explains the low casualty rate.  The bomb itself was our good old friend ANFO (ammonium nitrate / fuel oil), the weapon of choice if you want to make a big boom for not a lot of money.

Surveillance videos showed a man walking away from the truck just before it went horribly nasty, and by reading the registration number on the vehicle the police determined that it belonged to a man named Anders Behring Breivik.  An immediate search was mounted.

They were too late.

Breivik had left the area and headed for the island of Utoya, where the ruling party's youth movement was having a summer camp - boating, group activities, just clean fun for kids.  When a man dressed as a police officer and carrying weapons showed up about two hours after the bombing, no one thought much of it.

Until he shot two off-duty cops who were acting as security (one of them the stepbrother of the Crown Princess).

When the smoke had cleared, Breivik had claimed another 69 lives before voluntarily giving up to police.  Over the course of his shooting spree he would call out that the police were here, that everything was all right, and the kids should come out of hiding - whereupon he started shooting again. 

His trial started several days ago, and one of things that surfaced as evidence was his psychological profile.  It said, perhaps not surprisingly, that he was insane.  Breivik immediately repudiated the study, claiming that he was most definitely not insane.

Of course, we remind ourselves that he planned and executed a killing spree, claimed that he was a crusading Knight Templar, and that he was trying to save the country from multiculturalism and "cultural Marxism."  Suggesting that he's insane is a way to put some kind of rational meaning on his acts.  If we can't understand his motives for shooting teenagers and trying to blow up the government, he must be crazy, right?

Not really.

Timothy McVeigh wasn't crazy, and despite whatever we might think Osama bin Laden wasn't crazy either.  While their world-view may seem skewed to us, they act rationally.  They make their plans carefully (Breivik began planning this in the early 2000s, and one of his ideas was to kidnap the former Prime Minister and behead her on internet video), and they carry out those plans without visible rancor - and without pity (McVeigh set off his bomb at the Murrah Federal Building even though he knew that there was a day care center with small children in the structure).

So, as the trial goes on, is Anders Breivik insane?

No.  He is rational according to his worldview.

How should he be punished for his acts?  Well, that's a poser; Norwegian law has no death penalty, and apparently the longest you can stay in prison for any offense is 21 years.  They might get around that by stringing all 77 sentences together consecutively, but even that may not fly.  In this country (depending on which state you live in) he would spend every day of the rest of his life in prison, or spend an average of twenty years on Death Row awaiting execution.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Justice No longer Deferred

Charles Colson died today, at age 80.

Colson was one of the Nixon staff back in the late 60s and early 70s.  While not involved in the direct Watergate scandal that toppled the Nixon Presidency, he was part of the break-in and coverup of the attempt to steal files from Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist.

Colson alleged to have undergone an epiphany while in prison, and became an evangelical Christian and an advocate for prisoner's rights.

However, he also remained a right wing hypocritical scumbag up to the day he died.

Slowly the Reaper does what Justice could not - Haig, Colson, Nixon, Agnew ... Cheney hangs on, sustained by the blood of innocents and fresh organs, and Fred Thompson has basically become a zombie.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dumber Than A Second Coat Of Paint

That's Tennessee.

The Volunteer State - or, in this case, the "Volunteer for Stupidest Bunch of Cretins in Their State Legislature."

Okay, you ask, what's got his nickers in a twist now?

First, the State of Tennessee is now a state where the teachers are practically required to "teach the controversy" regarding such topics as climate change and evolution. Got that? Two subjects about which there should be absolutely zero controversy.

Of course, the evolution "controversy" is simply the resurgence of idiocy known as Intelligent Design, which is actually Creationism, which is actually Religion (specifically Christianity, so don't be bringing any heathen controversies, just good solid Christian ones) - which is, by an amazing set of coincidences, against the law for teachers.

Yes, the state which hosted the Scopes Trial decided to forget the facts that Scopes' conviction was overturned, that the anti-evolution law they had on their books was stricken back in 1968, and that the town of Dover, Pennsylvania had to pay out the ass for failure to rein in the assholes on their own school board.

But it doesn't stop there, no sir! Tennessee's legislature, a concatenation of complete coprophages if ever I've seen one, is also considering a bill that would restrict sex education. Now, they already had a law that requires teachers to tell students that abstinence is the best way to stop teenage pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

But abstinence education doesn't work. How do we know? Look at Tennessee! Abstinence-centered sex education, and one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and STDs in the nation.

Gosh, Cletus, think there might - just might - be a correlation here? Bear in mind that when kids get a shiny new toy (particularly one that stimulates the post-orgasmic production of hormones such as endorphins) they will simply fester to try it out!

The Stupid's so thick on the ground in Tennessee you'd think you were in Mississippi.

So Tennessee's making an effort to make sure that teachers double down on the abstinence crap, by also instructing people on the idea of "gateway sexual behaviors."

"Gateway sexual behaviors."

You hear about gateway drugs, substances that can lead to you taking harder chemicals in an effort to get high. Drink alcohol? That's a gateway. Smoke weed? That's a gateway.

So, what are the fine men and women installed in the State Legislature by the voters of Tennessee (who have no one to blame but themselves) describing as "gateway sexual behaviors?"

Holding hands, and kissing.

You'll notice they say nothing about masturbation, but apparently the progression would be:

1. Holding hands, and kissing.
2. Hugging.
3. Dancing.

And how do you enforce that? Do you accuse every parent who holds a child's hand as they cross the street of being a closet pedophile? Or do you simply brainwash kids that any body contact is so inherently dangerous that they'll spontaneously combust if they do so much as look at the opposite sex?

But never fear; it'll never work. Kids will be taught that you must abstain from sex, and that holding hands and kissing are gateway sexual behaviors that can lead to risky sex and teenage pregnancy. No mention of condoms, or the pill, or abortion, or responsible safe sexual intercourse (and recall that at least one political faction in that state refers to itself as "The Party of Personal Responsibility(tm)").

But kids are raised amid a tsunami of sexual images - TV, music, the Internet - and when the winds of puberty begin to blow and various secondary sexual characteristics develop, young men and women will start to touch themselves Down There.

And they'll decide they'll like it, and want more.

And they'll suddenly realize that they want to share their bodies.

And the Tennessee Legislature will wake up, turn around and realize that they've been, quite literally, dumber than a second coat of paint.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When News Breaks, Get Out The Glue Gun

ABC just broke into their programming with a "Very Important Announcement." So Very Important, in fact, that it rousted Diane Sawyer and George Big Hair out of bed to tell a waiting world that ...

Rich Santorum is suspending his campaign.

Now, in politic-speak, 'suspending' means the same thing as 'finally putting the limping thing out of its misery.' I expect the wannabe Ayatollah to spin it that he's 'suspending' the campaign because his daughter Bella just got out of the hospital.

Why was she in the hospital? I don't care. It could have been the dreaded Knee Lurgi, for all I know.

But if this is his actual reason, 'tis laudable that he apparently does, in fact, have some human feelings, and I wish him and his family all the best.

Now, what do you think they're doing over in the Romney camp?

I think they're all like

at the prospect of shrugging aside the threat posed by Dumbass Rick so they can finish the Romney Terminator Magical Mystery Tour to Tampa. Gingrich and Paul can now be quite safely ignored at this point.

So there is no joy in Santorumville, because Limp Ricky is striking out.

There is dancing in the streets (in the most decorous and restrained Mormon fashion) in Romneytown.

It's going to be a crazy seven months.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Mister Inevitable and Crunching Numbers

The Rise of Mittens ... Santorum Stays the Course As the Band Plays Nearer, My God, To Thee ... Gingrich's Sugar Daddy Blues ... Paul Who? ... Obamacare and the Ryan Budget: Both Better and Worse Than You Think ...

The polls had barely closed in Maryland and the District of Columbia tonight when the media declared the races for Mittens "Put Another Dog on the Car Roof" Romney. Wisconsin took a bit longer, as there is that pesky time zone difference. The upshot of it is that Mittens pulled a hat-trick.

I can hear you sighing from here. "So what?" I hear you say, gentle reader. "I mean, seriously? So effing what? Everyone knows that Romney's going to be the nominee; why do you keep on torturing us?"

Hey, I reply, I feel your pain. But I watch this dreck so you don't have to, then sanitize it, whip it into a fondue and serve it to you lovingly garnished with lark's vomit.

Romney is inching closer and closer to the Magic Number he might need to get the Great Green Weenie of Nomination in Tampa, as well as picking up more and more tepid endorsements from such authoritarian Conservative luminaries as Martin Bormann and Rush Limbaugh. But what are the others doing? Have they, like Rick Perry, sobered up from their doses of painkillers?

Not a chance, people.

Ayatollah Rick Santorum (R-Gilead) is determined to stay in the race, despite coming in a poor second in tonight's races (he wasn't on the ballot in DC, I believe). His main money man has said that he'll keep on cutting the checks in hopes that Santorum will win and force every virgin to hold an aspirin between her legs. You know, to prevent pregnancy.

Newton Gingrich's sugar daddy, Sheldon Adelson, has stopped cutting checks. Gingrich would logically drop out, right?


Logic is not part of the Republican agenda this cycle, so Newton is staying in the race. He economized by getting rid of a third of the lower-echelon campaign workers (they will probably be rendered into 'pink slime' for barbecued pork), his campaign manager, and is charging everyone who wants a picture with him $50. I'm waiting for him to start pimping Callista to keep the campaign bus gassed up.

Gingrich was stuck with Ron Paul in either third or fourth place in all three contests, a position in which they should feel quite comfortable. Matter of fact, Ron Paul is staying in; as he put it in a Sunday appearance on Bullshit the Nation, he's trying to save the Republican Party.

That actually cheered me up. I, too, want to destroy the Party in order to save it.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Obamacare v Freedom, and may be resolved to strike down the individual mandate portion of the law. There's no Plan B to bring it back, although the GAO has determined that our debt as a percentage of GDP may exceed the historical maximum of 109% set back in 1946 if the Affordable Care Act is negated. However, taking out the mandate might not cripple the rest of the law.

A historical parallel can be drawn from the 1930s, where the Supreme Court struck down the National Recovery Act (the linchpin of FDR's New Deal). FDR retaliated by trying to pack the Court, raising it from nine to sixteen. I'm not sure Obama even considered that route, but he might campaign on it - something like, "This was an originally conservative and Republican idea, and my de facto opponent (who put together the same thing in Massachusetts) has nothing to replace it with."

Crippling the health care system is small potatoes, though, compared to the hideous abortion known as the GOP budget plan for the fiscal year 2013. It's appropriate that the hatchet-faced Whiny Ass Titty Baby Paul Ryan (R-WAHHH!) brought this out in 2012, as it's little short of apocalyptic.

Pretty basically, it fixes all government spending at 3.25% of GDP. The 3 is for Defense; the 0.25 is everything else - Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. etc. etc.

His plan sets the top tax rate for the richest Americans at 25%, which is lower than at any year since Hoover was President (not a President the GOP should point at with pride). It also sets up a Medicare voucher program, and would change Medicaid into block grants given directly to the states to mismanage as they see fit.

But, I hear you ask, what about Education? Job Training? Research and Development?

Sorry. The Ryan Budget doesn't give you shit for any of that.

A Chinese analyst told the New York Times recently that China already views the United States as a superpower in decline - declining politically, militarily, economically and socially.

The Ryan budget will only reinforce that, which makes you wonder which members of the GOP caucus are paid agents of the People's Republic of China.