Saturday, October 3, 2009

Regarding Polanski and the Rule of Law

A snippet from El Rude-o:

What's fucking funny is that all of these people who write the lie about how squishy liberals want to set Polanski free get into a righteous froth when liberals say that people who committed torture during interrogations should be investigated and brought to justice. This is not some vague analogy. See, some of us believe in principles, not just politics. One of those is that criminals should pay for their crimes, no matter if they're famous movie directors, CIA agents, or Vice Presidents. We can argue about what the punishment should be. But no one should be excused from answering to the law. It's the right that's always too ready to excuse criminals when it suits their ideological purposes.

Please go read the rest.

"California Snow"

Tom Russell is one of the best Texas singer/songwriters (even though he's from L.A. like me) going. He was on Letterman last night singing a song from his new album and I made it a point to catch it. It was very good, symbolic, eclectic, mysterious, a little dark as is his wont, so I thought I'd check and see what was new from him on YouTube and ran across this one.

He's singing about a mountain range 500 miles south of here, but we've got the extra blanket on, been runnin' the heater the last few nights, and the snow level was 4500' last night, considerably lower down the hill than we are. It didn't snow, but we were thinkin' about it.


Tom Russell ~ California Snow

Thanks to AMSDconcerts.


Update:

While I was watchin' this again after I posted it, it ran long enough that my "My Pictures" screensaver came on. Out of hundreds of pictures, the one that came up was of my driveway with about three feet of snow in it. Is someone out there tryin' ta tell me something? Heh.

Update 2:

Here is Tom Russell performing two songs from Blood and Candle Smoke and discussing the concept behind the album.

The Wizard of Beck

On the theory that even a blind pig finds an acorn sometimes, that pusillanimous puke David Brooks speaks some sense for once. Unless he's sandbagging us.

So what is the theme of our history lesson? It is a story of remarkable volume and utter weakness. It is the story of media mavens who claim to represent a hidden majority but who in fact represent a mere niche — even in the Republican Party. It is a story as old as “The Wizard of Oz,” of grand illusions and small men behind the curtain.

Over the years, I have asked many politicians what happens when Limbaugh and his colleagues attack. The story is always the same. Hundreds of calls come in. The receptionists are miserable. But the numbers back home do not move. There is no effect on the favorability rating or the re-election prospects. In the media world, he is a giant. In the real world, he’s not.

So the myth returns. Just months after the election and the humiliation, everyone is again convinced that Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and the rest possess real power. And the saddest thing is that even Republican politicians come to believe it. They mistake media for reality. They pre-emptively surrender to armies that don’t exist.

They pay more attention to Rush’s imaginary millions than to the real voters down the street. The Republican Party is unpopular because it’s more interested in pleasing Rush’s ghosts than actual people. The party is leaderless right now because nobody has the guts to step outside the rigid parameters enforced by the radio jocks and create a new party identity. The party is losing because it has adopted a radio entertainer’s niche-building strategy, while abandoning the politician’s coalition-building strategy.

The rise of Beck, Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and the rest has correlated almost perfectly with the decline of the G.O.P. But it’s not because the talk jocks have real power. It’s because they have illusory power, because Republicans hear the media mythology and fall for it every time.

Man, they sure fall LOUD!

Marching Backwards: The Spectacle of Fear

Truthout

It may be 2009 but the rhetoric is strictly 1950 when a man held up a sheet of paper and declared, "I have here in my hand a list of names ..."

Glenn Beck is not original, nor was Joe McCarthy. [...]

Each time the "red scare" gets trotted out, new laws are passed that ever so gently and ever so patriotically encroach on the integrity of freedom and individual liberties of our citizens. They bear great names like the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Espionage Act, loyalty oaths and investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee and the Patriot Act. Each labels "the enemies of the state" and warns that our government, our very way of life, is in jeopardy of utter collapse unless we act immediately and act strongly against the influences of liberalism corrupting the very fabric of American life. The Constitution is hanging by a thread.

Fear is the root of hate and bigotry and racism. It drives the mob to build internment camps and free speech zones and segregated facilities. It sets fire to books and thoughts and people who would challenge the darkness. It seeks to paralyze the vision seeker and the dreamer. Fear is the flame that ignites war and genocide and collateral damage. But most of all - fear is the tool of demagogues and tyrants who offer themselves up as our red white and blue champions with the promise of salvation for one easy payment of obedient servitude. Fear is never free.

The GOP is nothing more than the recycled fearmongering of a hundred years ago. [...]

During the coal strikes of 1902, mine owner George Baer, when urged to make concessions to the labor unions, wrote, "the rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for - not by the labor agitators, but by the Christian men to whom God in His infinite wisdom has given the control of the property interests of the country."

Those are familiar words with a familiar sentiment. Is 1902 the same as 2009? The GOP and Glenn Beck and talk radio would have you think so.

Where Franklin Roosevelt took America into his confidence and told us that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself, the GOP whispers in the dark, "Be very afraid."

Where JFK inspired us to ask what we could do for America, the GOP warns us that government must be feared.

Where Edward R. Murrow exhorted us to not walk in fear of one another, the GOP promotes suspicion.

Where Dr. King gave us a dream of diversity, the GOP rips us apart with fear of equal belonging.

Everything old is new again.

The GOP clutches fear in its tiny fists because it is all it has. It is the touchstone. It is not even original. Darkness never is.

So, Democrats, tell me again - what exactly are you afraid of?

Start with their shadows and work outwards.

Go Ahead And Die

We mighta posted this a coupla years ago. If so, here it is again. Even more apropos now.


Austin Lounge Lizards ~ Go Ahead And Die! (Pirates Of The Health Care-ibean)

Thanks to lastangelman.

Biting us...Part deux

Following up on Fixer's post:

Bush Administration’s Tourist Visa Policy May Have Cost America The 2016 Olympics

Shorter:

U.S.: Damn furriners. Hoops. Jump. Pay.

Rest of the world: Blow it out yer ass, Yanks. We'll go where we're wanted.

Thanks again, Georgie.

Saturday Emmylou Blogging


Emmylou Harris ~ Never Be Anyone Else But You

Thanks to 1000Magicians, UK.

Biting us ...

Right in the ass.

As most of you know, the Mrs. and I go to Europe every year and, having just gotten back, this post from Digby is timely. Most of the passengers aboard Queen Mary 2 are European. Naturally, in the evenings after dinner, many folks get together in one of the bars on the ship and talk inevitably goes to politics and international relations. I was sitting with a Brit, an Aussie, a Welshman, and a German one night last week while the Mrs. was at the Blackjack tables and they all told me the same thing over pints of Spitfire.

Paraphrasing: "We love going to America (and Americans) but it's just too big a pain in the ass anymore."

They cite the visa rules and security protocols enacted after September 11th and would rather go to South America or Southeast Asia to spend their money than deal with U.S. Immigration and Customs. If anyone wonders about the "stunning defeat" we suffered yesterday regarding Chicago's Olympic bid, you can bet those rules have a lot to do with it.

There are a lot of American communities who survive on the tourist dollars Europeans and others bring into this country and as long as we make it so difficult to visit, those bucks will go somewhere else on an increasingly more frequent basis. It's time we realize that treating others like pariahs will not make us safer, just poorer.

If Glenn Beck needs help to cry ...

He doesn't have to go to such lengths. I'd be willing to give him a hand ... across the face.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Roman Polanski Case in a Nutshell

1. Roman Polanski fed alcohol to a 13-year-old girl
2. Roman Polanski fed a quaalude to a 13-year-old girl
3. Roman Polanski proceeded to penetrate that same child vaginally and anally.
4. Roman Polanski was arrested.
5. Roman Polanski signed a plea agreement admitting sex with that same 13-year-old girl.
6. Roman Polanski fled the U. S. to avoid sentencing based on that plea.
7. Roman Polanski has been arrested 30 years later and awaits extradition to the U.S. to face those charges.

Why is there any discussion about whether Polanski should face justice for this? What is so confusing about this to otherwise intelligent people?

There is no question that he should face the rape charges. There is no question that his plea deal should be worth less than the 30 year old paper it is written on. There is no question that he should also face charges of flight to avoid prosecution. It is up to the justice system and, ideally, a jury to decide the price he must pay for those crimes.

JG.

Cross-posted from here

"...energizing, like the second shot of cheap tequila"

The Rude One on our new hero Alan Grayson who is finally calling bullshit on the Repugs in public and I hope he keeps it up. A good read, with links. First and last paragraphs:

It's too soon to tell, but there's a good chance that Representative Alan Grayson, he of the "Die Quickly" Republican health care plan, will end up fucking your shit up. Too rich to be bought off, Grayson's been fucking with the powerful for a few years now. As an attorney, he represented whistleblowers, going after the hundreds of millions of dollars in fraud committed by contractors and others in Iraq. He told CNN in April 2006, "The development fund of Iraq was looted by war profiteers and war whores." Check out the huge ass article on him in Vanity Fair from 2007 (and check out that goatee). He went after Halliburton and KBR; he fucked with Dick Cheney. You think a man whose name is a homophone with "boner" is gonna trouble him?

It was truly something beautiful because Grayson walked into Wolf Blitzer's house, drank his whiskey, and took a giant shit on CNN's floor. The pundits from Carville to Castellanos to Borger didn't know what the fuck to do with this guy who wasn't going to play by the usual rules of suck up and pander and call for bipartisanship like other Democrats. The closest they've gotten is the occasional Barney Frank appearance, but Grayson is something different, a Democrat who not only has his own balls, but is ripping the nuts off others. "They've been dragging their feet. These -- these are foot dragging, knuckle dragging Neanderthals who think they can dictate policy to America by being stubborn. And I think it's -- the time is over. We had an election. That's it. Now we have to move ahead in just the way the president wants us to," Grayson said, and, oh, the sputtering that happened.

James Carville asked Grayson at the end if he was ready for how his life was going to change. What ought to be happening is that Democrats should be using Grayson as their point person, sending him out to take a wrecking ball to the stick houses of arguments Republicans keep constructing. Republicans have never known how to deal with it when someone fights back with the same brutality they use. Grayson just pointed out that motherfuckers fuck their mothers. It's that simple.

Yes, what Grayson said was Repug-like hyperbole. Yes, 'holocaust' was a poor choice of words. Yes, he's using the Repugs own style to deal with them. And, yes, it works.

'Bout fuckin' time.

Mission Accomplished For Conservatives Who Rooted Against America

Think Progress, with video, links.

Although the United States sent a high-powered delegation to make a last-ditch effort to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruled out the Windy City today. Of the final four cities — which also included Madrid, Toyko, and Rio — Chicago received the fewest votes. [...]

Always looking for a way to bring down Obama, conservatives not only criticized the President’s 15-hour trip, but also spent this week denegrating Chicago, downplaying the Olympics, and rooting against America. The criticisms have included mocking “fat people” in Chicago, gushing that Rio is just plain “awesome,” and saying that Chicago is too violent and doesn’t deserve the event.
...

So how will all these conservatives who have been rooting against the United States react now that their rhetoric has become reality? On Twitter, former Bush spokesman Scott Stanzel cautioned Republicans against gloating: “Note to GOP officials/consultants – resist the temptation to pile on about Chicago losing the Olympic bid just because Obama made the pitch.” His message didn’t reach RedState’s Erick Erickson, who immediately wrote:

Hahahahaha. I thought the world would love us more now that Bush was gone. I thought if we whored ourselves out to our enemies, great things would happen. Apparently not.

Bringing the Olympics wasn’t about cronyism. Besides U.S. pride, it was about an event that could have generated $22.5 billion in economic activity and the equivalent of 315,000 new full-time jobs in America.

More wingtard assholery to bring down Obama. I can almost see the bastards' point if he was trying to get the Olympics for those liberal hotbeds Noo Yawk or Smell. A., but Chicago?

I think all these anti-O 'tards should go to Chicago immediately and brag about dissin' that fair city to save the country from socialism. Heh.

Well, Rio got the nod.

Don't get me wrong. I like Chicago. My mother, of Polish descent, was from Chicago. I had a girlfriend there once, also of Polish descent with an Irish name to boot*. Nice people, good food, although the same can be said of any big city of diversity. They've even got a U-Boat in one of the museums. I haven't been there since Hurricane Richard was mayor, but I have great memories of that toddlin' town.

*Best of both worlds - she was built like a brick shithouse and could drink like a fish. There is something to be said for the 'melting pot' concept of America.

That said, if I had the choice of going to Chicago or Rio de Janeiro to spend a little time and a lotta money, I think I'd head south too like the IOC people chose, and for about the same reasons:

Senior Australian IOC member Kevan Gosper surmised that Asian voters may have banded together for Tokyo in the first round, at Chicago’s expense.

“I’m shocked,” Gosper said. “The whole thing doesn’t make sense other than there has been a stupid bloc vote.”

Heh. That sneaky little stupid bloc of Asians know what's up: Sun, sand, blue water, beaches, and most of all, tall, brownskinned, big titted beauties. I can't say I blame 'em.

The wingtards are claiming credit for something they had nothing to do with. As usual. And they rooted against America in order not to do it. Great patriots to a man, unless their anti-American regressive agenda calls for something much less.

Montana attorney general probing 'American Police Force' deal

Following up on Wednesday's post:

Raw Story

Montana's attorney general launched an investigation Thursday into a California company that wants to take over an empty jail in the rural city of Hardin, following revelations that the company's lead figure is a convicted felon with a history of fraud.

Citing "significant concerns" about the city's dealings with American Police Force, Attorney General Steve Bullock asked Hardin economic development officials to produce by Oct. 12 all documents related to their dealings with the company.

His office made a similar demand of American Police Force, including information that would back up Hilton's claims of multiple defense contracts with the U.S government and other agencies.

The launch of the investigation came as some Hardin officials began backing away from American Police Force. The city's Two Rivers Authority reached a 10-year deal on the jail with the company last month.

But that was never ratified by US Bank, the trustee on the construction bonds used to pay for the 464-bed facility.

Attorney Becky Convery, who helped negotiate the deal, said Hilton overstepped his bounds when he showed up in Hardin last week with three Mercedes SUVs marked with fictitious "Hardin Police Department" logos.

Wow! Three M-B krautcans! Good score, Hardin! Ya oughta be able to hire a constable with the proceeds from two and let him drive the third!

He pledged to donate the SUVs to the city and also offered to provide law enforcement for Hardin for $250,000 a year. That prospect has stirred suspicion among critics that rural Hardin, population 3,500, could be transformed into a privately run police state.

I've got a sneakin' hunch that those rural Montanans ain't about to let that happen. They're probably better armed than the phony Podunk P.D. and have more attitude about 'government interference' than you can shake a stick at.

Hardin just wants a deal to fill their new $20-something million dollar jail with Gitmo detainees. The guys who got the town into this boondoggle in the first place are probably tired of hearing how they fucked up and were a pretty easy mark for a city slicker with a good story.

Most who knew him described Hilton alternately as an art dealer, cook, restaurant owner, land developer, loan broker and car salesman.

Add 'con man' to that, although it may be redundant. Best of luck, Hardin.

I just gotta put this comment from Wednesday's post in here:

Obama should use the Hardin prison for the Gitmo crowd and send a note to Max Baucus saying "Thanks for all your help on healthcare, Love Barack"

montag

Brilliant!

National Association of Undertakers Backs GOP Health Plan

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) - Congressional Republicans received key backing today for their health care plan, picking up support from the National Association of Undertakers.

The funeral directors' group, which represents undertakers, embalmers and hearse drivers across the country, gave the GOP plan a big thumbs up, saying in a press release, "Finally, a health care plan that works for us."

Home ...

The trip was great but the unpacking begins ... gotta get Shayna in a couple hours. I'll be back when I get in touch with reality.

Update:



The Verazzano - Narrows Bridge at 0445 this morning from RMS Queen Mary 2. Click to make really big.


Update Zwei:

I got a post up of our moonlight ride into New York Harbor and also, a few people you might like to meet.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Shopping Day

Over the mountain and through the woods we go. See yas later.

White House Reality Check Blog

It won't matter much to the liars and their stoopids, but the White House is starting to 'call them out'. Good. Also see Raw Story.

Last night Fox News continued its disregard for the facts in an attempt to smear the Administration's efforts to win the Olympics for the United States. In the past, hosting the Olympics has been a source of pride and unity for the country, but once again Fox News' Glenn Beck program has shown that nothing is worthy of respect if it can be used as part of a partisan attack to boost ratings.

RHETORIC: BECK SAID VANCOUVER LOST $1 BILLION WHEN IT "HAD THE OLYMPICS." Glenn Beck said, "Vancouver lost, how much was it? they lost a billion dollars when they had the Olympics." [Transcript, Glenn Beck Show, 9/29/09]

REALITY: VANCOUVER'S OLYMPICS WILL NOT TAKE PLACE UNTIL 2010. Vancouver will host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games from February 12 – 28, 2010 and March 12-21, 2010, [...]

For even more Fox lies, check out the latest "Truth-O-Meter" feature from Politifact that debunks a false claim about a White House staffer that continues to be repeated by Glenn Beck and others on the network.

More. It's almost too bad that the only arrow in their quiver is boring old facts, but, unlike us, the WH has to maintain dignity and decorum. At least they used the term 'Fox lies'. About fuckin' time.

Note to Jesse Lee, the blog poster: Responding to Crazy Becky's lies, not to mention the rest of those lyin' wingtard sacks o' crap, is a full time gig. Congrats on the job security!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Even Better Headline of the Day

People reluctant to book Palin for speaking engagements because ‘they think she is a blithering idiot.’

My sides hurt...

Newsmax Columnist: Military Coup May Be Needed 'To Resolve The Obama Problem'

TPMLiveWire, links at site.

In a column published yesterday, Newsmax's John L. Perry wrote that there is a "gaining" possibility that the military will stage a coup to "resolve the 'Obama problem.'"

Is it just me, or has the wingtard koolaid gotten stronger since the bastards lost?

The coup -- which would be "civilized" and "bloodless," according to Perry -- would consist of a "patriotic general" sitting down with the President and working out a new system in which "skilled, military-trained, nation-builders" would "do the serious business of governing and defending the nation" while Obama would still be allowed to make speeches.

How's that 'trained nation building' thing working out in the other places you wingnuts tried it, asshole?

Go read the rest of the piece. Here's a coupla 'comments':

This is called sedition and treason. It is a federal offense to promote the violent overthrow of our democratic government. I say haul his ass off to jail and stop this nonsense now before it gets out of hand. [...]

Hear, hear!

A federal offense? Where have you been for the last eight years? Didn't you know that Republicans, neo-conservatives, pseudo-conservatives, teabaggers, birthers, deathers and Rightwingers in general are all exempt from the Rule of Law.

It's in the Patriot Act.

As Jon Stewart said, "You lost, it's supposed to taste like a shit taco."

I think the next one was meant to be a joke on one level, but it's not really funny:

Would Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, both highly experienced military men, be leading the charge?

They are. It's much more likely that one of their unhinged listeners will try to do something to Obama than it is that military men will try to unseat their Commander-in-Chief. The U.S. only does military coups well in other countries.

Mercs fleece desperate Montana town

Raw Story and AP, many links.

A mysterious, reportedly unregistered and almost entirely unknown private security firm by the name "American Police Force" is causing a stir in a small Montana town for apparently impersonating local police.

According to a local media report, APF representatives were recently seen in the tiny town of Hardin, Montana, driving black SUV's with a peculiar logo and, inexplicably, "City of Hardin Police Department" stamped on the door.

However, Hardin does not have a police force.

According to the news agency, APF was never given permission to assume policing duties. Instead, the firm -- which the Associated Press reported to be unregistered in government databases -- gained its contract with the town on the promise of bringing inmates to an unpopulated prison complex.

Hardin, home to about 3,400 people, is in the state’s poorest county. Its unoccupied, 460-bed prison cost $27 million to construct. The town made national headlines earlier this year when local officials pleaded to have Guantanamo Bay inmates sent to the jail.

But questions are emerging over the legitimacy of the company, American Police Force.

On its elaborate Web site and in interviews with company representatives, American Police Force claims to sell assault rifles and other weapons in Afghanistan on behalf of the U.S. military while providing security, investigative work and other services to clients "in all 50 states and most countries."

The company also boasts to have "rapid response units awaiting our orders worldwide" and that it can field a battalion-sized team of special forces soldiers "within 72 hours."

Representatives of American Police Force said the company presently employs at least 16 and as many as 28 people in the United States and 1,600 contractors worldwide.

Mercs, and illegitimate ones at that. Illegitimate as in 'bastards'.

In Santa Ana, American Police Force occupies a single suite on the second floor of a two-story office building. During a visit to the location Thursday, a reporter for The Associated Press encountered a uniformed man behind a desk who would identify himself only as "Captain Michael."

The company claim of a headquarters address is just up the street from the White House.

The K Street (my em) building houses "virtual offices," where clients pay to use the prestigious Pennsylvania Avenue address and gain access to onsite conference rooms but have no permanent presence.

Note to the citizens of Hardin: These clowns are taking you to the cleaners. I think you should get the Gitmo detainees, but this outfit ain't gonna do it for you.

My advice is to cut your losses. Beat the crap outta these wannabes patrolling your streets, ride 'em outta town on a rail, and sell their guns and their goddam Benz to recoup some of your loss. Shove the 'contract' up their ass. Do the same to your townsperson who got you into this.

This phony 'police force' is making you look like idiots for biting on their scam.

Headline of the Day

Judge weighs whether cows enjoyed ’suckling’ cop’s member

Given my surname, I am somewhat chagrined at the name of the town...

Oh, yeah, almost forgot:

The owner of the cows, the Daily News added, was very upset at the ruling.

I would be too. Bovine pedophilia under color of authority is nothing to laugh at.

Oh, sure it isn't...

The menace of the public option

M.C. Blakeman in the EssEffChron:

Of all the current assaults on our noble republic, perhaps none is more dangerous than the public option - specifically, the public library option.

For far too long, this menace has undermined the very foundations of our economy. While companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble struggle valiantly each day to sell books, these communistic cabals known as libraries undercut the hard work of good corporate citizens by letting people read their books for free. How is the private sector supposed to compete with free? And just what does this public option give us? People can spend hours and hours in these dens of socialism without having to buy so much as a cappuccino. Furthermore, not only can anyone read books for free in the library, they can take them home, too. They get a simple card that can be used at any library in town. No checking on the previous condition of books they've read. No literacy test. Nothing. Yet, do these libertines of literature let you choose any book you want, anytime you want it? No. Have you ever tried to get the latest best-seller at a public library? They put you on a waiting list for that, my friend. And if you do ask these government apparatchiks a question about a book, they start talking your ear off, and pretty soon they're telling you what to read.

Don't be fooled for a minute. Somebody has to pay for these "free" libraries, and I'll tell you who it is, pal. Those good ol' suckers, the American taxpayers, that's who.

Then there's those socialist police and fire departments...

Gore Vidal: ‘We’ll have a dictatorship soon in the US’

Really good interview with the old man at Times Online.

The grand old man of letters Gore Vidal claims America is ‘rotting away’ — and don’t expect Barack Obama to save it

His voice strengthens. “One thing I have hated all my life are LIARS [he says that with bristling anger] and I live in a nation of them. It was not always the case. I don’t demand honour, that can be lies too. I don’t say there was a golden age, but there was an age of general intelligence. We had a watchdog, the media.” The media is too supine? “Would that it was. They’re busy preparing us for an Iranian war.” He retains some optimism about Obama “because he doesn’t lie. We know the fool from Arizona [as he calls John McCain] is a liar. We never got the real story of how McCain crashed his plane [in 1967 near Hanoi, North Vietnam] and was held captive.”

Actually, McCain has admitted it was his own fault, but of course the press didn't pick up on it very much. Whether even that was the truth is a matter for speculation as is everything he says.

"[...] Obama believes the Republican Party is a party when in fact it’s a mindset, like Hitler Youth, based on hatred — religious hatred, racial hatred. When you foreigners hear the word ‘conservative’ you think of kindly old men hunting foxes. They’re not, they’re fascists.”

Word.

Another notable Obama mis-step has been on healthcare reform. “He f***ed it up. I don’t know how because the country wanted it. We’ll never see it happen.” As for his wider vision: “Maybe he doesn’t have one, not to imply he is a fraud. He loves quoting Lincoln and there’s a great Lincoln quote from a letter he wrote to one of his generals in the South after the Civil War. ‘I am President of the United States. I have full overall power and never forget it, because I will exercise it’. That’s what Obama needs — a bit of Lincoln’s chill.” Has he met Obama? “No,” he says quietly, “I’ve had my time with presidents.” Vidal raises his fingers to signify a gun and mutters: “Bang bang.” He is referring to the possibility of Obama being assassinated. “Just a mysterious lone gunman lurking in the shadows of the capital,” he says in a wry, dreamy way.

Much, much more. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Afternoon Easy Listenin'

It's been hotter'n usual around here for this time of year and I've been enjoying it, knowing it wouldn't last, and today dawned chillier and blustery. And then I ran across this tune from Termite58.

This goes out to all my peer age group who may nod their heads in understanding of the lyrics. For folks who may not know who Herb Pedersen is, here's Termite58's notes:

Herb Pedersen (born April 27, 1944 in Berkeley, California) is an American musician, guitarist, banjo player, and singer-songwriter who has played a variety of musical styles over the past forty years including Country, Bluegrass, Progressive bluegrass, Folk, Folk rock, Country rock, and has worked with numerous musicians in many different bands.

Pedersen often performs with Chris Hillman, and both were once members of the Desert Rose Band. Pedersen also fronted his own band called the Laurel Canyon Ramblers. Besides this, Pedersen has also worked with the following musicians and groups: Pine Valley Boys, Earl Scruggs, The Dillards, Smokey Grass Boys, Old and in the Way, David Grisman, Peter Rowan, Vassar Clements, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Tony Rice, Dan Fogelberg, Stephen Stills, Linda Ronstadt, Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, Jackson Browne, John Denver, John Jorgenson, and Leland Sklar, among others.

Enjoy.


Herb Pedersen ~ Hey, Boys

Yo, Barry...

I just sent President Obama this email:

[Dear President Obama

I offer a suggestion in the wake of Iran shooting off its missiles. I believe it will send a clear message to Iran that we can turn them into a self-lighting glass-surfaced parking lot in an instant should it become necessary and a chance for the world to have some fun at Iran's expense.

Have every nation that has missiles capable of reaching Iran fire a Time-On-Target (Jim Jones can explain that to you) mission at Teheran, set to go off at about 50,000 feet. The warheads should contain fireworks which spell out, in Farsi and English and whatever other languages are desired:

"Ahmadinejad sucks wet monkey ass"

Let me know how this works out and come by for coffee anytime.

Your pal
Gordon
Semper Fi]

I asked for a response. Watch the news. Heh.

Drone Wars

Interesting article about the Air Force in Newsweek.

Now that congress has killed the F-22, the Air Force is facing another shock to the system: planes without pilots.

For more than 60 years, the Air Force has trumpeted itself as the service of glamour, its pilots ruling the skies, soaring, diving, bombing, and strafing from far above—yet still commanding the clash of armies on the ground. In movies, they wore white scarves and set the girls' hearts aflutter.

But all that is changing in ways that few outsiders understand. A fierce fight is on for the mission, culture, and identity of the Air Force, and the Top Guns are losing. This is the real story behind a passionate political struggle this past summer over a major weapons system, the F-22 Raptor, the world's most sophisticated fighter plane.

A 'sea change', you should pardon the expression:

[...] From 1947 to 1982, all 10 generals who served as Air Force chief of staff were bomber pilots. From 1982 until last year, all nine generals who occupied that position were fighter pilots. In 2008, a new era in warfare was beginning, and Secretary Gates asked President Bush to appoint a different kind of chief of staff: Gen. Norton Schwartz. He came up through the ranks flying neither bombers nor fighters but C-130s, the bulky cargo planes that haul troops, weapons, and supplies from bases and supply depots to the battlefront. "Airlift," as this duty is called, is a vital mission; the Army, Marines, and Special Forces couldn't mobilize swiftly without it. But it's unglamorous. The Air Force brass had never valued it as highly as missions that involve fast combat planes or bombing targets deep behind enemy lines — until now.

Iraq and Afghanistan are very different wars from the war the F-22 Raptor was designed to fight. (Not one of the advanced aircraft has flown a single mission over either theater.) The enemy isn't a foreign government, but an insurgency; there are few "strategic" targets to bomb and no opposing air force to go after. So the main Air Force role is to support American and allied troops on the ground. This means two things: first, airlifting supplies (General Schwartz's specialty); second, helping the troops find and kill bad guys.

For this second mission, the Air Force has been relying more and more on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with names like Predator, Reaper, Global Hawk, and Warrior Alpha. Joystick pilots located halfway around the world operate these ghost planes. They pinpoint their targets by watching streams of real-time video, taken by cameras strapped to the bellies of the UAVs. Many of the aircraft also carry super-accurate smart bombs, which the joystick pilots can fire with the push of a button once they've spotted the targets on their video screens.

In 2007, the year before Schwartz became chief, UAVs were performing 21 combat air patrols at any one time, for a total of just over 100,000 hours. By 2011, they'll reach 54 patrols and almost 350,000 hours. For now, the joystick pilots have to be certified fighter pilots as well.

But Schwartz says this requirement will be dropped, mainly because there aren't enough fighter pilots to fill the growing demand for UAV crews. "There's no need for them to be pilots," one senior Pentagon official says. "It's sort of like a union regulation."

This year, the Air Force will train more joystick pilots than new fighter and bomber pilots. [...]

Off we go
Into the video arcade...


It looks more and more like "Ender's Game" was prophetic.

Much more in the article.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cassandras of Climate

Paul Krugman in an op-ed on climate change:

Every once in a while I feel despair over the fate of the planet. If you’ve been following climate science, you know what I mean: the sense that we’re hurtling toward catastrophe but nobody wants to hear about it or do anything to avert it.

Goddamit, Paul, it ain't the planet that's in danger. The Earth won't be in danger until the Sun winks out and fries it to a crisp in about 5 billion years or so.

The danger is to LIFE on the planet as we're accustomed to it. It's going to change and probably not to our benefit.

But the larger reason we’re ignoring climate change is that Al Gore was right: This truth is just too inconvenient. Responding to climate change with the vigor that the threat deserves would not, contrary to legend, be devastating for the economy as a whole. But it would shuffle the economic deck, hurting some powerful vested interests even as it created new economic opportunities. And the industries of the past have armies of lobbyists in place right now; the industries of the future don’t.

Yeesh. Lobbyists. They can always lobby later to get the money they're so desperate for printed on asbestos, I guess.

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Administration Scrambles as Gitmo Shutdown Deadline Nears
Best idea so far: give each prisoner a cab and a map of Manhattan.

Study: Teens With Own Cars Have More Crashes
Parents: best study ever.

Uninsured 40% More Likely to Die
"More likely to die" now considered pre-existing condition.

More Simultaneously Watch TV, Use Internet
Text, eat, masturbate while driving.

I don't wanna know how they steer the thing...

Don't drink the Bath water ...

We were in Bath, England on Saturday. Right now, we're somewhere in the North Atlantic just south of the Greenland/Iceland gap.