Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cue the Tiny Violins

Rush Limbaugh wants our sympathy, folks.

The Rush has a sad because a fellow named Dr. Ben Carson has decided that he might not become the commencement speaker at Johns Hopkins.  Dr. Carson is a neurosurgeon who has lately become the darling of the Right by making statements to the effect that The Gays getting married might lead to pedophilia and bestiality.

So some of the medical students at Johns Hopkins have circulated a petition asking that Dr. Carson reconsider his decision to speak at their commencement.

Now, why does this give Rush a sad?

Rush has already conceded that same-gender marriage is "inevitable" in this country, which is an astounding acknowledgement of reality coming from him.  He expressed astonishment that medical students - medical students - were circulating the petition, and not riffraff like social workers.

Quoth the Rush, "To me that's evidence that... I don't know what it is. We're losing the country or what have you."

Well, Rushie my zeppelin-shaped lad, that just goes to show you that values shift in this country over time.  Let's face it:  If they hadn't, the estimable Dr. Carson wouldn't be a neurosurgeon, and certainly wouldn't be delivering the commencement address at Johns Hopkins.  In fact, he'd be legally equal to only 3/5 of a white person (yes, Doc Carson's African-American).

Rush goes on to say something like "Blahblahblah First Amendment blah blah blah . . . "


Well, Rush, let me lay a bit of wisdom on you about the First Amendment.  The First Amendment gives Americans carte blanche to say whatever they like within certain defined boundaries (like not yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater).  Which means, of course, that a vast amount of nonsense can also be said.

For some strange reason I haven't been able to fathom in all my years upon this weary planet, most ordinary people tend to accept the opinions of celebrities as somehow more important than their own.  In a sense, this makes sense - it saves them the effort of actually thinking about issues, doesn't it?  So any loudmouth with a microphone and a smooth line of patter can get a huge number of people to accept everything said loudmouth might say.

Like Kim Kardashian.

Like  Dr. Ben Carson.

Like  . . . well, you, Rush my lad.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

So, um . . . Guns, Anyone?

One frequent argument against gun control is that gun possession necessarily makes a person safer.

A 2009 study published by the National Institute of Health begs to differ.

I commend it to you, as well as its conclusions. Theories and conclusions are always affected by changes in data (except in creationism/'intelligent design,' which isn't science, it's bullshit), so try to remain objective.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Who Voted for These Idiots?

The capitol building in Tennessee is a fine old building; in fact, it's about 150 years old.  Since it was probably in need of renovations, some improvements to the building were approved by the state's Legislature.

Which has caused me to wonder, "Who voted for these idiots?"

It seems that Tennessee State Senator Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, had a chat with the Senate Clerk "about whether there were religious reasons for the new sink after the issue was raised by Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma," according to an article on The Tennessean's website.

“I just asked the question about what was the intent of that,” Ketron said. “And it satisfied my curiosity after it was presented to me.”

New sink?

Religious reasons?

Tennessee's GOP-controlled Legislature is incredibly worried that Islamic law (or Sharia) might creep into their pristine Judeo-Christian state; so incredibly worried, in fact, that the mere appearance of a mop sink set into the floor in one corner of a renovated restroom is enough to give them the vapors.

The article reasonably explains that, although the practice varies from sect to sect, it's an accepted part of Muslim custom to wash one's feet, hands and face before prayers.  It's actually a rather benign part of the religion.  However, it was still enough to make people get out the fainting couches and the smelling salts.

Of course, when asked about the conversation with State Sen. Ketron, State Rep. Matheny instantly dummied up and denied everything.  Real solidarity there, Judd my lad.

You might think I'm making this up, gentle readers.  Let me tell you something:  I've written and published three science fiction novels; I've been writing a serial online set in an alternate Earth featuring anthropomorphic talking animals for the past (almost) ten years - and there is no way in hell I could make this shit up.

One has to wonder what Matheny and Ketron would have thought if the renovators had installed a bidet.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Thirty-Nine, and Fifty Million

The thirty-nine?

The number of times the Republicans have tried to repeal or defund or in some other way cripple the Affordable Health Care Act.

The fifty million?

An estimate of how much of the American taxpayers' money has been pissed away in the above thirty-nine failed attempts.

And the GOP is accusing who of wasting money?

The Paralysis of the Senate, the Liberum Veto, and A Miscellany

Disturbing Historical Precedents . . . A Very Slow March Back to Reality . . . Jackstraws Made of Money, Not Rifles . . . The Butcher's Bill . . . 

It's no big secret that the membership of the United States Senate is largely paralyzed and pretty much incapable of taking any real positive actions.  The leadership acts as if it's been infected with syphilitic dementia (yes, I'm talking to you Mitch McConnell, you wattled old fruitbat, you; as well as that Certifiable Moron Harry "Weak" Reid) and the members seem to love the idea of screeching "Filibuster!" or whispering "Secret Hold" whenever they seek to gain political points by jamming a spanner into the machinery.

The sad fact is that the Senate rules allow this.  An even sadder fact is that this, like so much, has happened before.

Back during the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the later Kingdom of Poland, the government was an elective monarchy with a Sejm, or parliament composed of the assembled nobles.  One of the greatest weapons the Sejm had to bar a possible absolute monarch or tyrant was a little thing called the liberum veto.

The veto was originally designed to stop a possible tyrant by requiring unanimous consent for any legislation.  By the start of the 18th Century, it had turned into a way to paralyze the Parliament.  Not surprisingly, many of the vetoes were at the behest of the neighboring Powers (Russia, Prussia and Austria), all of whom wanted a slice of the fat Polish pierogi.  Bribery of Sejm members became the fashion in order to get these members to exercise their veto.

Poland degenerated from the biggest stick in Eastern Europe to a basket case that was eventually consumed by its neighbors in the Three Partitions.

And the reason for this historical sideline?

It'd be rather enlightening to see who's making all the filibusters and secret holds and what-not for political points or just to poke a contemptuous finger in the eye of the majority - and who's paying them under the table to do it.

Just saying.


An interesting trend has been spotted up in Washington lately.

Several Republican members of Congress have actually started talking sense.

Now, I'm not talking about crazies like Michelle Bachmann.  I seriously think she's too far gone for anything but seriously powerful antipsychotic drugs.  That is, if she isn't already on them; if she is, I advocate increasing her dosage.

But several members have actually started drifting a bit, just a teensy bit, toward actually sane positions on such topics as immigration, same-sex marriage and tax increases.  They're treading a very fine line, knowing that if they move too far too fast they'll get primaried by the real whackos in their own Party, as well as being immolated as heretics upon the altar of the Great God Norquist; but if they move too slowly, they risk being left behind by their constituency who might vote them out in favor of - >gasp!< a Democrat.

There are reasons for this, of course.  The majority of Americans are gaining a live and let live attitude toward same-sex marriage (my position has been firm for many years now - why should I deny any segment of the population the right to be just as miserable as I was?)  as well as a liberalizing of the immigration laws to accept the fait accompli.  These people are not going to "self-deport," dear readers; they're here to stay.

Tax increases?  Why, yes - the obscene notion that "families balance their budgets" dies in the face of how real families manage to balance things out; i.e., accruing credit card debt, taking out a loan or mortgage, etc.  To balance the equation, it's not enough to cut spending in an intelligent manner - you have to raise revenue.


The European area known as the Balkans can probably be extended to include the island nation of Cyprus; after all, Greece and Turkey have gone to the mat a few times over the place, and it's always some damn foolish thing in the Balkans that have caused a lot of European angst since about 1910.

Cyprus is the latest part of the European Monetary Zone to be having a lot of trouble with its finances.  See, its loose banking laws and the machinations of the big bankers have managed to cripple its economy.  In order to qualify for a bailout from the Central Bank (i.e., Germany), Cyprus had to basically cut its budget and raise taxes.  One thing it tried to do was levy a one-time tax on individual savings accounts.

The population reacted predictably.  Within hours, every ATM in the country was bone dry and the banks were being stampeded as if they were in Pamplona.  Russia, which has about $15 Billion in exposure in Cypriot banks, hinted darkly that they might reconsider the wisdom of allowing their money to stay in Nicosia.

So, what happens if Cyprus goes bankrupt?

Can it drag the rest of the Eurozone down with it?  Stay tuned, folks, because as Europe goes, so will our economy.

And all of which still begs the question:  When will the actual people who put us into this spiral ever go to jail?


It's been about 100 days since the school shooting at Newtown, Connecticut.

And about 3,000 Americans have died from gunshot wounds in that time.  Either through assault, suicide, suicide by cop, accident, or random stray shots.  Three thousand non-combat deaths.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hmm. Weirdness.

Earlier today, I was out driving along when I ended up behind a guy driving a big pickup truck with Kentucky plates. This is not especially surprising, as this is the time of year when people from Elsewhere drop by America's Afterthought, leave all their money, and then go home.

What was surprising was something I noticed about the pickup truck.

Something . . . Odd.

There was a sandwich on the rear bumper of the pickup truck.

I at first didn't credit what my eyes were telling me, but as we motored along the sandwich obstinately refused to become a figment of my imagination. It just sat there on the rear bumper, on the driver's side of the vehicle.

It looked like quite the ordinary sandwich one might make in one's kitchen. Two slices of ordinary bread, and I couldn't quite make out what the slices might be concealing. Yes, it was definitely odd. Odder still was the fact that it wasn't wrapped, and didn't have anything between the lower slice of bread and the truck's bumper. Nothing! Not a napkin, a piece of paper towel, or even a paper plate.

It just sat there, clinging to the bumper. For about two miles until I lost sight of the truck.

I briefly contemplated trying to flag down the driver; you know, wave and point out just as a matter of historical fact that this driver who, despite being from Kentucky, seemed rather obstinately normal apart from the luncheon item clinging to the rear bumper of his truck.

Still, who am I to judge what other people might consider normal behavior? According to the license plate, he was from Kentucky. Putting unwrapped sandwiches on truck bumpers might be normative behavior there for all I know.

Still, it was . . . Odd.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Great Fraud, Ten Years On

Ten years ago, the United States hurled its military might against the forces of Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti's Iraq.  Iraq never really had a chance in the contest, it must be admitted; we were simply too strong and too advanced to not prevail against a conscript army with older weaponry and no means of contesting our air superiority.

But it was all based on lies.

With nods and winks, the elected leaders of the time (also known as The Administration That Must Not Be Named, but was actually the Bush-Cheney regime) and their various apparatchiks and media mouthpieces managed to convince a few Americans that Iraq had had something to do with the terrorist attacks in September 2001. 

With not so much nods and winks as bald accusations the elected leaders of the time and their various apparatchiks and media mouthpieces sold Americans on the idea that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that it was planning on using to attack us.  Immediately.  There was much rhetoric about smoking guns and mushroom clouds, and Colin Powell selling his honor to wave a vial of simulated anthrax at the UN Security Council.

The truth in both of these cases?  Iraq had had NOTHING to do with 9/11, and never had.  Al Qaeda and the Baathists loathed each other, after all; one was an ultra-religious cult of personality, and the other was a secularist cult of personality.  Hard to get those two to see eye to eye.  And as for the weapons of mass destruction, we never did find them.  Never did . . . because They Did Not Exist.

In simplest terms, dear readers, a fraud was perpetrated upon the American people.  Of course, a lot of people went along for the ride and bought into the fraud, and those of us who didn't buy what was being sold were roundly vilified or dismissed. 

I hate to say "I told you so," but I will anyway.  To all my detractors - to all those who accused me of being anti-American - I fucking well TOLD you so, assholes.

And what, pray tell, was the cost of this fraud?

Four thousand five hundred dead Americans, with thousands more wounded physically and psychologically.

Eight hundred billion dollars, as a ballpark figure; our economy was bled nearly white to finance an unjust war.

Perhaps a hundred thousand dead Iraqis.

So, you may ask - who won?

We certainly didn't.  The US economy and the American people will be paying the butcher's bill for this fraud for decades to come.  Geopolitically, the only winner in this contest is our current bete noir, the Islamic Republic of Iran.  See, by removing Saddam's Iraq we removed the only regional counterweight to Iran. 

We lost.

They won.

In any sane and just universe, this would never have happened.  The various elected leaders and their apparatchiks would have been laughed out of countenance, or at least marginalized.  But this fraud was perpetrated, to a ruinous cost in lives and treasure, and who stands punished for it?


Again, in any sane and just universe, Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, et. al. would be in prison or at least on trial, charged with one count of fraud and 4500+ counts of negligent homicide.  Sadly, however, we do not live in a sane or just universe, so we see these hucksters making piles of money from speaking fees and book deals and lucrative 'consultant' contracts on various news outlets.

The right people never get hurt.

So that's where we are, ten years after the Great Fraud was sold to us, gentle readers.  Have we learned?  Will we prove a harder sell the next time someone tries to sell us a bill of goods that will sacrifice the lives of our troops needlessly?

So, That Happened

The 266th Successor to the Prince of the Apostles*, Christ's Vicar on Earth, Gloriously Reigning, the new Patriarch of the West Francis I got installed in a hugely ritualistic ceremony at the Vatican City-State today.

*(not counting the various antipopes, of course)

They waited until today for the workers to finish installing him, and you can almost see the cable trailing behind.  The ceremony was all ritual and magic incantations, fitting for the Byzantine/Medieval foundations of the Church.

In his homily, the new Pope talked about protecting the weak and defenseless as part of the Catholic Church's traditional mission.  Well, maybe so; it certainly hasn't been a shining example over the past few decades:

Supporting the military juntas in Argentina, El Salvador and other places;

Supporting and concealing pedophile priests; and so on.

If he thinks his job is to reform the Church, Frankie's got his work cut out for him.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hi There!

Been having a few minor issues that have sapped my desire/ability/ambition to post, but I'm feeling better now.

And NO, I haven't died.  Deal with it.