Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Krugtron The Invincible

Economists aren't supposed to have personalities - not the good ones anyway.  Paul Krugman is one of those genius-level guys who can take something as ridiculously complicated as economics and explain it in a way that makes it more or less understandable for a dope like me.

Knaves, Fools, and Me (Meta)

One criticism I face fairly often is the assertion that I must be dishonest — I must be cherry-picking my evidence, or something — because the way I describe it, I’m always right while the people who disagree with me are always wrong. And not just wrong, they’re often knaves or fools. How likely is that?

But may I suggest, respectfully, that there’s another possibility? Maybe I actually am right, and maybe the other side actually does contain a remarkable number of knaves and fools.

The first point to notice is that I do, in fact, perform a kind of cherry-picking — not of facts, but of issues to write about. There are many issues on which I see legitimate debate, from the long-run trend of housing prices to the effects of immigration on wages. And in happier times I would probably write more about such issues than I do, and the tone of my column and blog would be a lot more genteel. But right now I believe that we’re failing miserably in responding to economic disaster, so I focus my writing on attacking the doctrines and, to some extent, the people responsible for this wrong-headed response.

But can the debate really be as one-sided as I portray it? Well, look at the results: again and again, people on the opposite side prove to have used bad logic, bad data, the wrong historical analogies, or all of the above. I’m Krugtron the Invincible!

Am I (and others on my side of the issue) that much smarter than everyone else? No. The key to understanding this is that the anti-Keynesian position is, in essence, political. It’s driven by hostility to active government policy and, in many cases, hostility to any intellectual approach that might make room for government policy. Too many influential people just don’t want to believe that we’re facing the kind of economic crisis we are actually facing.

And so you have the spectacle of famous economists retreading 80-year-old fallacies, or misunderstanding basic concepts like Ricardian equivalence; of powerful officials instantly canonizing research papers that turn out to be garbage in, garbage out; and so on down the line.

I know, the critics will respond that I’m the one who’s being political — but again, look at how the debate has run so far.

The point is not that I have an uncanny ability to be right; it’s that the other guys have an intense desire to be wrong. And they’ve achieved their goal.

Monday, April 29, 2013


Y'are What Ya Eat

...so knowing what you're shoveling into your gob every day is kinda the key to the whole "Know thyself" / "To thine own self be true" thing, ain't it?

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One of the things we have to get done is to take the FDA back from the Big Ag and Big Pharma mega-corporations that own it now.

Today's Numbers

The most recent WingNut Fuck-Around is North Carolina.  Kornacki spent most of his show yesterday highlighting the horror stories that always pop up whenever one political entity has too much power.

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Here's the brightest shiniest fact from the discussion of what the Repubs are up to all over the place - not just in North Carolina - Voter ID and the rigging of the election process:

In the 12 years from 2000 to 2011, there were 18,000,000 votes cast in NC elections.  

During that same time, there were 22 cases of voter fraud.  

For the benefit of all my fellow math-challenged history majors, I have it on good authority that it works out to .000122222%.

It's a horrible huge pressing problem with just over 1 Ten-Thousandths of one percent of the votes cast in a single state in 12 fucking years.

And yes - it's about the power - the GOP just happens to be the most convenient vehicle for this kind of coup right now.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Well, If It's Sunday

...then it must be time for Sunday School, so here's your homework.

(Christians who don't like questions should move on past this one quickly - this guy does not play nice and doesn't much care for your delicate sensibilities)


And try not to think about what goes on when you try to engage your more "conservative" friends in a real discussion on anything that matters.

Every fucking time.

And damn if it wouldn't be great for the cops to come in and arrest the whole bunch.  Or even better if the fuckin' thing just ended with a

hat tip = Crooks & Liars


They called it a prank call, but when what she's saying is pretty much the gods' own truth, how exactly is it a prank?

hat tip = Democratic Underground

What's Wrong - Explained part deux

Here's David Stockman on NewsMax TV.

The money shot hits at about the 4:00 mark, when Stockman is asked about what's up with the GOP.

"The Republican Party is not really a party...it's a coalition of gangs."

Rhetorical Inflation

Louis CK is definitely not for everybody, but there's almost always the requisite kernel of truth in his whacked out bits.

What's Wrong - Explained

In a 2-party system, we kinda need both parties functioning well - especially when we have some pretty big problems to deal with.  Unfortunately, right now, there's something really really wrong with one of 'em.

Coupla points:  First, the GOP used to be my guys.  But then along came Iran/Contra, and Willy Horton and then Pat Buchanan's speech in Houston in '92. And holy fuck, Batman - that's pretty fucked up right there; so I just couldn't get with it any more, and besides, I had Clinton, and he was a pretty good Republican, so yeah.  Anyway...

...Second: In politics there's a rationale (rationalization is more like it) that gets used a lot whenever somebody in office is being pressured by the party bosses to vote in a way that "goes against his principles" - or defies outright the simple common sense god gave a fuckin' gopher.  They may not like what's happening (hell, they may not be all that crazy about what they're doin' their own bad self), but the psycho-trap they fall into is that if they're not in office, there's no way they can do anything about anything - so they gotta stay in office no matter what.

The most recent example is the vote against cloture in the senate when Background Check was up for debate.  Every one of those people was aware of the broad and deep public support for the thing, but "party discipline" required 45 GOP senators to go against the public interest (not to mention their own instincts) just so McConnell's Rat Crap Radicals could keep Obama from winning anything.  And the way it works is exactly what Ornstein and Mann (and a jillion others) have been trying to tell us.  "If you don't vote the way the party bosses tell you to vote, you'll have a very strong primary opponent in your next election blah blah blah".  No more power, no more honoraria, no more after-the-fund-raiser blowjobs in a hot tub, no more perks at all - Political Death.  It scares 'em, and it keeps 'em in line.

OK, so nobody doesn't know that, but isn't it really just a slight variation on ChickenHawkery?  Aren't they saying something very much like, "Yeah wow, the country's in a tight spot, and it looks pretty bad, and somebody'll have to take some pretty huge risks, but c'mon - you don't really expect me to go fight, do ya?  Shit, a guy could get seriously killed doin' that".

I've said it a thousand times - there's no soul and no honor in it any more - and now we get another reminder of why - because too many of these pricks have no real courage.

(hat tip = facebook buddy Doug R)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

With A Bullet

Rocketing up the Alexa Website Rankings.

I'm takin' over the joint - 8 million-three-hundred-sixty-seven-thousand-one-hundred-ninety-fifth place!  Woohoo!

More From Chris Hayes

My new Bro-mance continues:
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It's A Sucker Move

Obama says if Assad uses Chemical Weapons, it's a game-changer.
Intel says somebody's used Sarin in Syria.
John McCain immediately hits TV saying we gotta make a move.

There's a lot to it, and I don't claim to know enough to make the definitive call, but remembering that it's never all about what they say it's all about, here's what I hear some of these guys saying:

The Neo-Cons - and the Neo-Liberals too - (for lack of more accurate identifiers) are pushing hard again for another entanglement in the Middle East.  And one of the benefits of pushing Obama into a war would be that it suddenly becomes a lot easier to play the Equivalency card.

So it starts to sound like, "See? Obama is no different than Bush or any Repub or anybody else - so you should all just throw up your hands, walk away from politics altogether, and be sure to stay home on election day because it's all just too weird.  It's ugly and they're all stupid and you're busy with your own shit anyway.  Just stay away."

That's one thing I hear.

Here's Chris Hayes breakin' it down:

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And here's the next segment:

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Junior Bush Wrap-Up

John Fugelsang recaps the GW Bush massive cluster fuck presidency.

This Can't End Well

Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone:

All of these stories collectively pointed to the same thing: These banks, which already possess enormous power just by virtue of their financial holdings – in the United States, the top six banks, many of them the same names you see on the Libor and ISDAfix panels, own assets equivalent to 60 percent of the nation's GDP – are beginning to realize the awesome possibilities for increased profit and political might that would come with colluding instead of competing. Moreover, it's increasingly clear that both the criminal justice system and the civil courts may be impotent to stop them, even when they do get caught working together to game the system.
We have a few options right now.  We still don't have to let our baser instincts rule over us - not the way these asshole banksters have done anyway.  But we'd better be watching very carefully for the flashpoint.  That special moment when too many people believe there's no chance to break 'em up, so they'll have to shoot 'em down.

I say it can't end well because even tho' there have been a few notable exceptions just in our own history, it's far more likely that the kind of power Taibbi's trying to warn us about is simply too seductive.

(ed note:  I carp a lot about "silver-spoon-legacy pukes" - Matt Taibbi is definitely not among them)

Today's Toon

From Tom Gauld:
hat tip = MoJo

Friday, April 26, 2013


Taylor Swift can't make it sound like this because Taylor Swift hasn't the requisite soul.  Not yet anyway.

St Ronnie Speaks

This one's making the rounds.  Lotsa "libruls" expect lotsa "conservatives" to...uhmm... to do what, exactly?  Are they gonna lose their shit?  Will their heads explode?  Will they finally get it and change their minds?  Yeah - prob'ly not.

Deny. Ignore. Whatever. Move on.

hat tip = Addicting Info

Credulity Kills

From a friend's facebook post:

Seriously. This is the kinda shit way too many people believe.

There's been a lot said about Deliberate Ignorance in the Age Of Information, so I'll put it a slightly different way:  When you can learn almost anything you wanna know; at almost any time of day or night; just by having a smart phone and a decent cell signal; when it's that easy to look something up - you have to make a special effort to stay stoopid.

I spent maybe 3 minutes just browsing thru the first 20 or so articles (out of the 746 Million hits) that came up on a google search before settling on this one at USA Today:
Most victims of gun violence in 2010 were not on a battlefield or remote hillside in the Middle East fighting in a war. They were, like 6-year-old Brandon Holt, children and teenagers in America, according to the Children's Defense Fund.
Brandon was shot in the head by his friend and neighbor, an unidentified 4-year-old boy, on Monday night. He is now also a statistic of gun violence.

In 2010, 15,576 children and teenagers were injured by firearms — three times more than the number of U.S. soldiers injured in the war in Afghanistan, according to the defense fund.
Nationally, guns still kill twice as many children and young people than cancer, five times as many than heart disease and 15 times more than infection, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.


(not the version you just listened to)

Today's Pix

Why It Is

They were wrong - again.  But guess what.  It won't change a thing.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Jon Stewart vs DumFux News

It'd be nothing short of amazing if DumFux News could be anywhere near as consistent with their opinions as Stewart is with kicking their ass.

Today's Charlie Pierce

Charlie Pierce often posts James Madison quotes:
The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entagled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much soon to forget it. Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? that the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?
-- James Madison, Memorial And Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, 1785.

Today In Good Government

Here's a picture of a meeting of a Joint Committee to talk about Long Term Unemployment in a struggling US economy (a grand total of 4 members managed to show up):

And here's a picture of the seating section reserved for all the fucks these dipwads give about anybody who happens not to be in a position to make large campaign contributions - like maybe, I dunno, somebody who doesn't have a fucking job:

The Krugman Speaks

Copied the whole thing from Paul Krugman's blog:

Evidence and Economic Policy

Henry Blodget says that the economic debate is over; the austerians have lost and whatshisname has won. And it’s definitely true that in sheer intellectual terms, this is looking like an epic rout. The main economic studies that supposedly justified the austerian position have imploded; inflation has stayed low; the bond vigilantes have failed to make an appearance; the actual economic effects of austerity have tracked almost exactly what Keynesians predicted.
But will any of this make a difference? The story of the past three years, after all, is not that Alesina and Ardagna used a bad measure of fiscal policy, or that Reinhart and Rogoff mishandled their data. It is that important people’s will to believe trumped the already ample evidence that austerity would be a terrible mistake; A-A and R-R were just riders on the wave.
The cynic in me therefore says that after a brief period of regrouping, the VSPs will be right back at it — they’ll find new studies to put on pedestals, new economists to tell them what they want to hear, and those who got it right will continue to be considered unsound and unserious.
But maybe I’m wrong; maybe truth will prevail. Here’s hoping.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dead Americans

Between 2000 and 2010:

via: bls/gunpolicy.org

Who Had A Bad Day?

One of the big-time Coin-Operated Politicians says bye-bye.

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The Center is the name we give to the place where power resides.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

John Fugelsang

Fugelsang recaps the gun nuts' filibuster win:

Some great points.

Takin' 'Em Down

I Got Yer Reform Right Here

A great little reminder regarding "Gubmint should be run more like a business":  For every spectacularly successful company like Google, there are thousands of equally spectacular failures - Value America, eToys.com, and on and on and on.  Thousands.  Is that really the model we want schools (eg) to follow?

(via Democratic Underground)

Somebody new to me - using the name jacobbacharach:
The cheating scandals prove that education reform is a wholly fraudulent endeavor. It isn’t the equivalent of a doping scandal in sports; it’s the equivalent of Enron, Madoff, the financial crisis. You think testing has something to do with compensation, hiring, and firing? It doesn’t. Testing is the accounting of the reform movement, and the executives are cooking the books. They’re manipulating the statements so it looks like the venture is turning a profit. Well, actually, it’s got negative cash flow. The gains are phantoms. The enterprise is insolvent. Even by its own standards, reform fails.
The central proposition of so-called education reform is that it endeavors to make schooling more entrepreneurial. Now this is bogus on its face. The most salient fact about entrepreneurialism is that most ventures fail. Is that the proper model for the delivery of a universal service? Consider the question irrespective of your thoughts about the larger questions surrounding the provision of universal education. Ostensible reformers say they want to mimic the dynamism and innovation of the private sector. The first question is: to what end, exactly? The second is: do you know how dynamism and innovation work?
"High-Stakes Testing" is just another good example of an entrepreneurial idea that sounds pretty good, but then fails miserably when we try to shoe-horn certain enterprises into it.

Today's Toons

 (hat tip = Democratic Underground)

Let The System Work

When we follow the plan (as directed in that silly old thing called The US Constitution), it seems like we always end up better off for the effort.

Sometimes, it doesn't feel quite right - we don't always get the exact results we're hoping for - but on average, the system works for us when we let it work.

So, when the news came out that about half of the local Justice System was convened in Jahar Tsarnaev's hospital room yesterday, and they read out the charges against him; and they informed him of his rights; and they made sure he understood them; and that he was properly "lawyered up" - I just felt better.  There was something kinda normal about it, and I'm exceedingly relieved that John (Get-Off-My-Lawn) McCain and Lindsey (Huckleberry Closetcase) Graham didn't get their wish about turning him into a super villain straight out of the comic books.

This guy is nothing special.  We should be looking at how his brother got riled up and a little crazy; and how Jahar got caught up in it, but that's a different thing altogether.  What we don't do - what we must never allow - is for anybody to make him out to be anything more than the punk-ass little shit he chose to be.

Today's Homework

Finally.  I've been chasing this one for a long time.

This is the old PBS series that got me going and thinking in a dozen different ways.

The production values are kinda old and a little overdramatic at times, but this really is the real deal.  Stay with it for at least a few episodes.  It's worth it to learn something about how we got here and what we need to be thinking about if we wanna get where we oughta be going.

Connections with James Burke, Episode 1

Monday, April 22, 2013

Parent Ed

Take a few grams of pot, add 2 or 3 otherwise knuckleheaded teenagers; then stand back and be amazed - instant Design & Engineering Department.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mind Mining

Here's a bit from Sir Ken Robinson at a TED conference.

Those who love to dance are often thought insane by those who cannot hear the music.

(hat tip = facebook friend Carol)

Whoop Di Do

This whole complex of "Guns, Inc" is a ridiculously profitable thing - and it includes "grass roots" joints that can be put together for almost literally a few bucks, which can then be used to fleece the rubes. And all of that is a big reason we'll be hard pressed to do much of anything to cut back on gun violence.


Charlie Pierce at The Atlantic:
The comfort of the ordinary. The comfort of the mundane. Let's just have a trial. Let's just have an open and honest trial, with all the evidence right there in the open, and not whispered piecemeal and half-baked out of Spookworld to Richard Engel or Barbara Starr. Let's have an open and honest trial with no showboating from an embattled U.S. Attorney, and all the evidence laid out there in good, honest cop-speak -- "The suspect said..." "The suspect did..." (One of the most startling examples of this came during the sanity hearing granted serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Milwaukee when, reading from his own notes, one of the arresting officers testified, "The suspect stated it takes about an hour to boil a head.") We can do that here. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Put this on after a few drinks on a warm night, and you still can't get laid?  Well then you'll need to straighten up and just do something about yourself.


Just toss up my heart and see where it lands.

Today's Question

So how exactly would it have turned out better if all the people at the marathon had been carrying lots and lots of guns? 

Today's Pix

Friday, April 19, 2013

Dire Threat To The 2nd Amendment

What Obama originally proposed in January 2013:

Proposed Congressional Actions
  • Requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales, including those by private sellers that currently are exempt.
  • Reinstating and strengthening the ban on assault weapons that was in place from 1994 to 2004.
  • Limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.
  • Banning the possession of armor-piercing bullets by anyone other than members of the military and law enforcement.
  • Increasing criminal penalties for "straw purchasers," people who pass the required background check to buy a gun on behalf of someone else.
  • Acting on a $4 billion administration proposal to help keep 15,000 police officers on the street.
  • Confirming President Obama's nominee for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
  • Eliminating a restriction that requires the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to allow the importation of weapons that are more than 50 years old.
  • Financing programs to train more police officers, first responders and school officials on how to respond to active armed attacks.
  • Provide additional $20 million to help expand the a system that tracks violent deaths across the nation from 18 states to 50 states.
  • Providing $30 million in grants to states to help schools develop emergency response plans.
  • Providing financing to expand mental health programs for young people.
Executive actions
  • Issuing a presidential memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
  • Addressing unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
  • Improving incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
  • Directing the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
  • Proposing a rule making to give law enforcement authorities the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
  • Publishing a letter from the A.T.F. to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
  • Starting a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
  • Reviewing safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
  • Issuing a presidential memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
  • Releasing a report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and making it widely available to law enforcement authorities.
  • Nominating an A.T.F. director.
  • Providing law enforcement authorities, first responders and school officials with proper training for armed attacks situations.
  • Maximizing enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
  • Issuing a presidential memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence.
  • Directing the attorney general to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenging the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
  • Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
  • Releasing a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
  • Providing incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
  • Developing model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
  • Releasing a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
  • Finalizing regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within insurance exchanges.
  • Committing to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
  • Starting a national dialogue on mental health led by Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, and Arne Duncan, the secretary of education.
And this is what the US Senate couldn't bring itself to vote on this past week:
1) Expanding background checks
2) Cracking down on gun trafficking and straw purchasing
3) Reauthorizing and expanding a Justice Department grant program for school safety

That's it - that's what Wayne LaPierre lied about, and couldn't allow his bitches in congress to bring up for a vote.


Dreamin' in a slow groove on a dreary Friday afternoon.

Malkin Blows Another One

And be sure to spend most of your day watching DumFux News - that way you're sure to stay dumb enough to spend most of your day watching DumFux News.

Seriously - what the fuck's wrong with these people?

Hit "Like" If You Don't Like This Shit

I dearly love to hate facebook - and with good reason I think.  Read the whole thing and learn something important about marketing in the age of digits.

From an editorial in a Canadian newspaper:
"Anyone else getting sick of these daft posts?" my "friend" Chardon asked. This was on Facebook a while back.
That's why I put "friend" in quotation marks. She was talking about an annoying trend: posts showing up on Facebook news feeds, saying something like, "Name a city without an 'R' in it. It's harder than it looks!"
It's not hard, of course. Ouagadougou, Vilnius, Montevideo all leap to mind. And Budge Budge in India. I'm sure there are others.
So what's the deal? Why go to the trouble of posting such an easy puzzle on Facebook?
Another "friend" replied, "Maybe someone is testing to see how many posts this rubbish can get."
And he was partly right. The rest of the explanation turns out to be creepy and may affect you even if you're among the dwindling minority of Canadians not on Facebook.
It gets especially creepy when the post is less benign and strikes an emotional chord:
"'Like' if you hate cancer."
"'Like' if you hate bullying."
A Facebook page is created, with an appeal for readers to like, comment or share. The creators, who are working together to build these pages, share it among themselves. They all have big networks, so the pages instantly get into thousands of other people's news feeds.
When those people respond with a "like" or a share, then it reaches their friends. Suddenly, the thing has spread faster than a high-school rumour.

Then what? Then the people who started it, having quickly acquired tens of thousands of followers, sell the page. Now an advertiser has all those names and Facebook addresses. And that advertiser, who isn't allowed to phone you and whose flyers go straight to your recycling box, is sending you commercial messages on Facebook.

Not That Anybody Noticed

It seems like we're so stuck in "Yay Us" mode, that we can't even acknowledge reality.

And sometimes it's like we don't have the confidence (or maybe the courage?) we need to cut thru the politics to get at the truth.

If I can't trust The Red Team or The Blue Team not to make it about nothing but politics, how are we supposed to hold people in the Junior Bush Administration accountable for the horrors of this last decade?  And how do we demand that Obama's Admin stop whatever they're doing to continue those horrors - making it even harder to put an end to it all?

I dunno - but i think refusing to acknowledge the reality of how fucked up we let ourselves get is actually what keeps us stuck in "Yay Us" mode.  And it appears we'll be there for a while longer.

Careful What You Swallow

The Big Lie works wonders.  And just how big are the NRA's lies?

MoJo breaks it down:


Mr Curtis Stigers - covering Dylan's Things Have Changed

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Today's Featured Website

Just in time for all the bullshitty douchebaggery coming out of Washington, here's a great way to let your favorite Congress Critters know just how much you appreciate all their hard-workin'-kick-ass attempts to fuck us all with our pants on.

hat tip = JG

I have no idea if it's real or not, but what a great idea.

Lotsa Layers

Peel this one like an onion:

Today In Good Government (updated)

And now, a message from the US Senate for the 90% of Americans who want sensible and reasonable regulations for gun ownership:

There is no soul and no honor in American politics anymore - not when the senate can't even scrape together enough courage to vote in favor of voting on the matter of some pretty simple rules about selling guns.

And way too many Press Poodles keep telling us "the measure failed".  The measure didn't fail; the measure was never voted on.

I'll have to take a day or two off, as I try to get the stench of this latest sorry episode out of my nostrils.

It occurs to me though, that some of these Coin-Operated Politicians pull this kinda shit on purpose.  If enough of us are disgusted enough by the way these assholes behave, then maybe enough of us will just throw up our hands and walk away - leaving them to do their shitty little deals without being seen by the people they're supposed to represent.  If I stay too close to this junk, I start feeling like I should be throwing furniture at people's heads.

I'll be back - and I'll be watching.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How We React

...to the event is what's important now.

From Bruce Schneier at The Atlantic:
As the details about the bombings in Boston unfold, it'd be easy to be scared. It'd be easy to feel powerless and demand that our elected leaders do something -- anything -- to keep us safe.

It'd be easy, but it'd be wrong. We need to be angry and empathize with the victims without being scared. Our fears would play right into the perpetrators' hands -- and magnify the power of their victory for whichever goals whatever group behind this, still to be uncovered, has. We don't have to be scared, and we're not powerless. We actually have all the power here, and there's one thing we can do to render terrorism ineffective: Refuse to be terrorized.

It's hard to do, because terrorism is designed precisely to scare people -- far out of proportion to its actual danger. A huge amount of research on fear and the brain teaches us that we exaggerate threats that are rare, spectacular, immediate, random -- in this case involving an innocent child -- senseless, horrific and graphic. Terrorism pushes all of our fear buttons, really hard, and we overreact.

Note to the terrorists/nutballs/wingnuts/whatever:

You're not going to make me close myself off from the world.  I won't be cowering in a Safe Room behind doors and windows sealed up with plastic sheets and duct tape.

I sure as hell don't get everything right every time, but I claim the right to keep trying; to go on stumbling forward; and you're not going get me to strangle myself in a security blanket just because you don't have enough hair on your sack to look me in the eye and call me out on the shit you don't agree with.

I live my life, and I do my little FreedomThing out in the open where everybody can see it.  You don't like it?  Well here I am, asshole.  Come and get me.

And oh yeah - almost forgot - there's 300 million of me, so fuck you.

The Kooch Fails Again

Virginia AG / Repub candidate for Gov, Ken (Kenny The Kooch) Cuccinelli has crashed and burned once again - this time in his attempt to get the Federal Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to consider his petition to affirm and reinstate Virginia's Crimes Against Nature laws.

The Fourth Circuit panel rejected Cuccinelli's petition unanimously.

Considering the fact that the SCOTUS decision in Lawrence vs Texas knocked all the stuffing out of every "anti-sodomy" law in every state, nobody but the uber-est of the uber-zealots thought he had any chance at all.  But there he was - our intrepid Culture Warrior King - flailing away; fighting to hold back the tides of change of the mid-20th-fucking-century.

Taxpayers put a fair bit of money in your pocket every month, Ken.  So we're gonna need you to do a little something more than runnin' in circles or just standin' there leanin' on your shovel.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

One Way to Look At It

Yeah - OK.  So maybe this is just too over the top.

Maybe the system's not really rigged in favor of a few very high-level-mover-shaker-hyper-motivated entrepreneurs with lucrative book deals extolling their highly effective habits who just happen to be so well-connected that they get special deals and federal protection, plus they get to name practically anything they want after themselves.

And maybe you really aren't a low-life loser who can't quite figure out how to get out of his own way; somebody who'd be a lot better off if he just went to church like he's supposed to; somebody who needs to learn his lesson about how to act like a proper citizen of the empire...

...but y'know what?  I could sell it that way - I'm pretty fucking good at sellin' shit.

What're you buyin'?

Today's Pix


From her "break out" album - back when she wasn't hung up writing semi-crappy tunes for the suits to put in their mostly-crappy movies.

Today's Music

Soundtrack for a Tuesday.  This has a kind of 70s vibe to it in some ways, but the poetry and the jazz tinges are right tasty.

Today's Plucky American

Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice has about the best angle I've seen regarding the bombing at the Boston Marathon yesterday, talking about the old guy (Bill Iffrig) in the video who got knocked down by the first blast; was helped up; and then not only did he finish his race, but he walked the half mile back to his hotel:
I kid you not: Every local Boston channel showed at least one interview with Mr. Iffrig, pleading for a 'how bad was it? how traumatized are you? do you think you can ever recover from the horror of that life-changing moment?' sound bite, and he just would not take the bait. He got knocked down, scraped his knee, it was pretty scary. Then he got up, and a nice young volunteer made sure he could cross the finish line. Of course he finished the [unspoken expletive] race, he’d just run 26 miles and there was no point in quitting within yards of the goal. When one interviewer pushed him, he added that he’d run last year’s Marathon in the record-breaking heat, “and that was pretty bad, but today I was having a good run, right up until that bit at the end.”
We prob'ly won't know what the deal is on this bombing for a while.  If it follows the pattern, and it turns out to be something from the standard playbook of some asshole terrorist, then we need to focus on guys like Mr Iffrig, and not on some show-horse-congress-critter like Peter King; and definitely not on any of the Press Poodles who seem to believe this is their Great-American-Tragedy moment - their chance to show America what a superb Walter Cronkite impression they can do.

Here's the thing:  Americans are as far from perfect as anybody gets.  And some of us seem hellbent on doing all the things really bad guys do - things that make other really bad guys believe they have perfect justification to respond by killing and maiming hundreds of innocent people who're just trying to get by, same as them and everybody else.

The point is kinda what Patton Oswalt posted on facebook:
I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."
But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me).
This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.
The bad guys among us are not us, and they don't represent us.

hat tip = Addicting Info

Monday, April 15, 2013

Way Off In The Weeds On This One

I guess this is kinda like needing to know what you know before you can know what you don't know - which is how you know that you don't really know much of anything at all.

So the more you learn, the less you know how much or how little you actually know, depending on what you know.

My head hurts.  This shit's worse than math.

hat tip = d r i f t g l a s s

Another One Bites The Dust

Maggie Thatcher died last week in England, and now Bob (Swift Boat Butthead) Perry is dead in Texas.

It would seem god's on a bit of a roll.  And while I really do try not to celebrate anybody's death, well, it could get pretty interesting watching 'em drop like this.  It's not gonna hurt my feelings much anyway.
AUSTIN, Texas -- Republican mega-donor Bob Perry never cared for the spotlight. But writing big checks and financing one of the most famous television ads ever in a presidential campaign made the Texas millionaire famous nonetheless.