Monday, April 28, 2014

The Great Running Shoe Scam




So what?

...there's only one firm that currently comes anywhere close to making a shoe entirely in America: New Balance. (And even they concede that "Made in the USA" doesn't mean what you think it means: "1 out of every 4 pairs of shoes we sold in the USA was made or assembled here. Where domestic value is at least 70%, we label our shoes "'Made in the USA.'")


In other words, the military just made a competitive bidding process into a no-bid, one-shoe-fits-all process. All to support "America." 


Funny thing is, the military didn't want to do this, in part because "Narrowing the recruit's choice to one or two manufacturers, as they select a shoe for rigorous initial entry training will, 'limit the choices available and may result in more injuries,'" according to a DOD spokesman just two months ago. But politics interceded on New Balance's behalf, again. 


If you've been in the military for any amount of time, you know New Balance has long gnashed its teeth on the ample gubmint teat. In addition to the footwear allowance, military recruits (and officer candidates) get issued go-fasters, running suits, and other gear that more often than not comes from the Massachusetts-based sneaker company.


If you've been in the military, the last place you're going to go for information is Gawker, but I digress.





When you go to basic training, there is nothing but confusion and chaos. This is done on purpose in order to weed out panicky, punchy, violent people who cannot conform to military standards. The shoes on your feet don't matter because you're not there to perform at the peak of personal comfort and fitness--you're there because SHIT! Run! OK, now get some food and go to bed and SHIT! do it all over again. This all happens in the back woods of America, and you'll be tired for as long as you can stand it and you'll eat weird food and be on your feet a lot. Boredom is your single greatest enemy in basic training. So, leave it to people who have never been there to get it wrong.

The fact that New Balance is a government contractor doesn't matter--all government contractors are thieving bastards. You must admire them for their cleverness and ignore their ability to screw up your life, otherwise it will just bother you.





If you're a privileged rich person, basic training is the last place you are going to want to be with your $300 running shoes because they'll get wrecked fast. You need a cheap-assed pair of shoes you never want to see again when the 9 weeks or whatever it is are over. You're going to DX your uniforms and boots the first chance you get anyway--that's why you are expected to trash and wear out that basic training gear. 





You don't need anything more than a shitty pair of $35 running shoes. If you go with cross training shoes, all the better. But they could be anything because the boots you wear all day are going to change your feet dramatically. When you get to AIT, you're going to throw away the shitty stuff and buy nice shoes and all that when life settles into more of a routine--that's about when the shock of wearing leather boots changes over to more of a military lifestyle. There is a routine at basic training and it's called SHIT! go stand there for an hour and then RUN! You needed to be there before you could be here and SHIT! those shoes don't matter, private. Because they don't.





The biggest shock to your system isn't going to be centered around a cheap pair of running shoes--it is going to be the boots they give you and the wool socks.





Running shoes are a scam perpetrated by greedy companies on the gullible.





It does not matter what kind of shoe you wear on your feet. Buy a $35 pair and run in them. What matters is that you do not use them past their wear-out point; whether that is 300 miles or six weeks is your choice. No matter what brand or style or cost, a running shoe that is worn out will damage your lower body.





In fact, try running without shoes and see if that works for you. 

Only Sarah Palin Can Save America From Obamacare




Someone has to save us from Obamacare because it's working:

“Evan knows Obamacare is a mess,” said an ad from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which blamed the law for lost jobs, dropped coverage and high premiums. An ad from the group Americans for Prosperity, backed by the conservative billionaires David H. and Charles G. Koch, denounced Mr. Rahall for supporting the law, saying it was “going to hurt a lot of people.”


Many professionals here dispute such claims. “It’s working, and you can show it’s working,” Dr. Becker said.


He and other health care advocates call West Virginia a national success story in terms of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid to more of the working poor. While 24 states have refused to expand Medicaid to those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $23,850 for a family of four, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, decided over Republican objections that the state — with a population older and sicker than the national average — would do so.


Nationwide, more people have signed up for private plans than for Medicaid, but the results are the opposite in West Virginia, where about 15 percent of residents — 270,000 of 1.8 million — lacked insurance when the law took effect. Initial sign-ups for Medicaid, about 115,000 since Oct. 1, are nearly double what actuaries projected, and roughly five times the number of people believed to have bought private plans from the one insurer in West Virginia’s marketplace, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 people enrolled in private coverage, fewer than predicted.

When she's not baptizing terrorists, perhaps President Palin can end Obamacare and make it so the American people can be free. It is worth noting (nothing?) that John McCain and Palin won West Virginia by 13 points in 2008. At this rate, West Virginia will vote for a Democrat when Hell's frozen over, thanks to the efforts of Republicans who cannot help but to trash each and every government program that is actually a success.




This thing called Affordable Care Act cannot be allowed to succeed. This represents a massive shift in public policy that won't be undone, ever, because it will eliminate the conservative argument against carrying out complex reforms that help the American people. Sarah Palin is the only person dumb enough to win the Presidency and then convince people to stop Obamacare. When she wins in 2016, all your futures will belong to her and so will your healthcare exchange card.

Michael Grimm Indicted on 20 Federal Criminal Charges





Michael Grimm, New York Congressman, indicted on 20 federal criminal charges | WJLA.com

Bear in mind, Michael Grimm threatened a reporter earlier this year with physical violence and was once an FBI agent. In other words, he's your typical politician of the week. The law is an inconvenience to these people.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Criminal Conspiracy Within the VA Medical System




Horrible:

At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list. 


The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources

How hard is it to be accountable for what's going on? If you're the person in charge of the VA hospital, you raise your hand and say, "we're in trouble and we need help." That doesn't mean that VA in Washington D.C. has to fire that person--just the opposite. It means that resources have to be allocated to help keep veterans alive.

Instead, we have a criminal conspiracy to destroy evidence and hide the problem. The cover-up is worse than the crime, right? No, the crime was that forty veterans died because a handful of people put their careers ahead of what was right and let them die.

How much do you want to bet that monetary bonuses have landed in the checking accounts of everyone involved on a regular basis for years? How much would you put down against the chance that the management was paid exorbitant salaries for years while this went on?

Tell me again why Eric Shinseki still has a job. The VA leadership should be flushed completely out of the system and replaced with people who care and who can be accountable. Not just at his level--immediately below it as well. Whoever supervises the VA hospital system should be cleaning out their office right this minute. The VA cannot tolerate a continuation of failure. And it should seek out people who actually deal with and solve problems like adults. Shredding evidence? What is this, Wall Street? No, it's the VA medical system. People die when careerism takes over.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

James Poulos Does Not Understand the Danger of Inequality






The glib libertarianism of James Poulos is on display today:

So far, so good. But then Hacker and Pierson go off the rails: “another Frenchman with a panoramic vista—and far more precise evidence—wants us to think anew about the progress of equality and democracy. Though an heir to Tocqueville’s tradition of analytic history, Thomas Piketty has a message that could not be more different: Unless we act, inequality will grow much worse, eventually making a mockery of our democratic institutions.” 


The apparent ignorance behind this thesis is so extreme that it causes Hacker and Pierson to see Piketty as the real genius—while even an undergraduate level of engagement withDemocracy in America would reveal, in virtually every chapter, that Piketty is not only wrong but glibly and perilously so.


Poulos is out of his depth, but you already knew that. Praise for Piketty's work is being heard far and wide.

Of course, there's no proof that Piketty is wrong, just snide bullshit operating as rhetoric. It reads better when you can ignore every single indicator that we are entering a new Gilded Age and come up with a jarring bit of Slate-inspired contrarianism. Or something like that. It's as if Poulos hasn't been told that corporations are people and that a billionaire can buy anyone or anything he wants, especially the United States Senate or the governor of Wisconsin.





Poulos, you see, is operating under the impression that it is 1994 and not 2014. We are in the midst of a new Gilded Age, and it's worse than the last one because, well, there is no organized labor movement anymore and political corruption is seen as a character building exercise in getting away with it rather than the shameful, money-grubbing excess it used to be.












You can follow the link and see the other four reasons yourself. I think the fifth one is good enough. What you are paid is indicative of what you own; the ever-increasing gap between now and the time of Alexis de Tocqueville is readily apparent--the equality of early America, where men owned their land because the government gave it to them for improvement has been replaced by a world of renters and urban dwellers. It's one thing to have a nation of yeomen farmers who are building the agricultural infrastructure of early America; it's another to have apartment blocks full of people paying Too Damn High of rent.

This is why I think the comparison to what Piketty is saying to de Tocqueville is not relevant. The transition of America from an agricultural power to a manufacturing power and now to a debt-repackaging power took place while the upper and bottom rungs of society struggled for control over who controlled the government and how it was wielded. Ronald Reagan was the verdict on this struggle, and the American labor movement was destroyed and the power of the CEO was established as a national birthright for the lucky few. A hundred years ago, you could mock the rich and powerful openly and with great gusto (see Finley Peter Dunne, et al). Now, you have inflamed butthurt feelings whenever someone makes a rich man sad by writing down what he actually said in public on purpose.

Poulos is dead wrong if he thinks that American democracy somehow has a remedy for all of this--it does not. It has not prevented this development and now, thanks to the ability of the wealthy to use money as speech, it is now much less likely that politicians will bite the hand that feeds them and cut off the main source of their power, which is not the votes of the populace but the money that allows them to manipulate voters into believing they are living in an actual democracy.




Income inequality is the disaster on the horizon. When the wealthy have everything, society falls into revolution and "distributes" the wealth. Tocqueville, knowing the causes of the French Revolution, would more clearly see this issue and the dangers of concentrating wealth in the hands of a small elite empowered with the permission of the law to buy their power without fear of legal consequences.

Your Modern Republican Party




Erick Erickson on Hillary Clinton:

While guest hosting Rush Limbaugh’s radio show on Tuesday, conservative pundit and Fox News contributor Erick Erickson offered what may ultimately be a preview of what we can expect to hear from the right if Hillary Clinton decides to run for president in 2016.


“I’m willing to admit I’m in the minority,” Erickson said. “I’m willing to admit I could very well be wrong; all of my Democratic friends are salivating [at the prospect of her running in 2016].”


Yet despite his Democratic friends’ saliva, Erickson said he wasn’t buying the idea that Clinton holds the advantage for 2016.


“She’s going to be old!” Erickson noted. “I don’t know how far back they can pull her face!” he added.

Here, you can clearly see that the Republicans have all of the ideas, all of the substance, and a heck of a good opening line for women voters.  With an outreach and a rebranding effort like this, the Democrats will be lucky to win only 40 states in 2016. These guys have ten--ten!--states locked up already for maybe--maybe--a hundred electoral college votes.

Damn, it's going to be a rough ride ahead. How do you counter such a physically gifted, fit, handsome, healthy young man and all of his skills and abilities?

You don't! You just pray that you can survive, I guess.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

This is Normal in a New Gilded Age




This is the new Gilded Age. For a handful of human beings, their existence is vastly different than the rest of humanity. They live in a fantasy world of extreme wealth and a poverty of accountability. Our elites are now so completely and utterly incompetent and bloated with cash that there is no way to reverse the path we're on, not without some sort of violent cataclysm or a really, really good series of Congressional hearings.

I kid. We're doomed. Start a blog, roll in the grass, eat something fattening, pet your dog. You'll be broke in a year like all the rest of us. Enjoy forever.

MH370: Let it Go



There is no easy way to quote the great philosopher of the 21st Century, Queen Elsa of Disney's Frozen, but here goes.

Let it go.

Spending untold millions, and risking the lives of searchers in that inhospitable part of the world, is simply not worth it. To lose one more plane or one more ship and everyone on it would simply compound the tragedy, and that's a very real possibility given how terrible it is to try and operate in the South Indian Ocean.

We have thousands of years of experience with this sort of thing as humans--ships, planes, people, boats, rafts, canoes, caravans--these things vanish. They disappear. They are found again, sometimes, but they do vanish. This is the way of the world.

Accepting that would be healthier than enduring the continued incompetence of the Malaysian authorities and the efforts by the worlds surveillance powers to mask their abilities and let people know what they heard and collected in the wake of the doomed flight.

I mean, honestly. You have to let it go.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Everything is About Money




It's not like Jameis Winston will be the first NFL prospect to moonlight as a serial rapist, but he is entitled to the presumption of innocence. The problem with granting him that right is that there is no way the cops in Tallahassee, Florida are even remotely capable of properly investigating the rape of a young woman.

Walt Bogdanich isn't going to be invited to any booster activities any time soon:

When The Times asked Mr. Winston for an interview, an Atlanta lawyer advising his family, David Cornwell, responded, “We don’t need an investigation, thorough or otherwise, to know that Jameis did not sexually assault this young lady.” Mr. Cornwell, who has represented major sports figures and the N.F.L., added, “Jameis has never sexually assaulted anybody.”


Mr. Winston has previously acknowledged having sex with his accuser but said it was consensual. His account has been supported by two friends from the football team who were with him that night, Chris Casher, who took the video, and Ronald Darby.


A month before the rape accusation became public, the university’s victim advocate learned that a second woman had sought counseling after a sexual encounter with Mr. Winston, according to the prosecutor’s office. The woman did not call it rape — she did not say “no.” But the encounter, not previously reported, “was of such a nature that she felt violated or felt that she needed to seek some type of counseling for her emotions about the experience,” according to Georgia Cappleman, the chief assistant state attorney, who said she had spoken with the advocate but not with the woman.


The victim advocate was concerned enough about the episode to have alerted Mr. Winston’s first accuser.

There's a lot of money at stake here, and that's the underlying theme of this whole sordid, sickening affair. Money kept Winston from being accused properly and investigated. Money is the reason why a young woman now has to live with the stigma of being raped by a privileged young man.




In a day and age where John Calipari can get away with publishing a book about how he takes care of players, it is easy to understand why the whole culture of sports at the collegiate level in this country has dissolved into nothing more than a racket, a farce, and an excuse to ignore the law and keep making money hand over fist. This is corrupting the country and there isn't a lawmaker around who can do anything about it.

You need to read the whole thing in order to discover for yourself just how horrible the police are down there and how the racket--college football--is just a machine to print money. Jameis Winston has thrived in that machine, and he'll probably thrive in the NFL as well. 




He had better hope that he doesn't play pro football in a city where there actually are cops who take rape seriously.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Herbalife Has Always Been a Ponzi Scheme




Whoa, now you tell me:

The FBI is investigating Herbalife Ltd., the nutrition and weight loss company that hedge fund manager William Ackman has called a pyramid scheme, sources familiar with the investigation said Friday.


The news, first reported by the Financial Times, sent the company's stock price down nearly 14 percent.

My first exposure to Herbalife came 25 years ago. We had relatives who used it and sold it. At one point, they suggested it as a replacement for actual cancer fighting medications.

Yes, as a replacement.

In any event, Herbalife is no different than Amway or whatever crap you get roped into selling. It's always been a Ponzi scheme. If it wasn't a Ponzi scheme, it wouldn't have distributors and sellers and people GODDAMNED DESPERATE to get you to buy it so they can climb one rung higher and breathe a little easier before the whole thing crashes down around them.

It's basically just repackaged edible bullshit. That's all. At this rate, it'll be 2089 before the FBI figures out that Scientology is a cult.

Way to Go, Dumbasses


There's a company in Toronto you don't want to work for.

It's something called askfortask.com and it recently experimented with using a nap room to help their overworked employees cope with being exhausted at work. When they discovered that their exhausted employees were actually, um, exhausted, they call the idea a failure.

News flash--tired people are tired because they're either overworked or don't have any life skills. Which one would you choose if you knew that this company was working people 70 hours a week? And why are we still having a debate over the wisdom of treating people like human beings and respecting their work-life balance? If you treat the people who work for you like cattle, they're going to sabotage your company and leave. Fast.

Run, don't walk away from these Canadians.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Conservative Agenda Dominates American Politics




Before the day is out, Matt Grossmann's bullshit will be eviscerated eight ways to Sunday. Here's what I carved out of his delusional piece:

Conservatives in Congress are the prime suspects in Washington’s dysfunction. Veteran congressional watchdogs Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann called the previous session the “worst Congress ever,” and they did not hold back in assigning blame: “The Republicans are the problem,” they said. After a fruitless government shutdown last fall, even House Speaker John Boehner lashed out at conservative groups and passed bills over the opposition of his caucus.


In response, conservatives make two simple claims: Most policies under debate are liberal, and Republican leaders sacrifice conservative principles when they compromise. History shows they are right on both counts.


Ornstein and Mann have simply identified the tactic of obstructionism; this is how Republicans drive the agenda. They obstruct when they cannot simply destroy something, like the labor movement or the regulatory agencies of the American government. 



The idea that U.S. policy has "gone the liberals' way" is laughable. The agenda that runs American politics is almost entirely a conservative one; liberal ideas are often non-starters.There are--as of yesterday--efforts underway by an anything-but-liberal President who wants to undertake the radical idea of closing gender pay gaps, something that would have been accomplished decades ago if liberals controlled the agenda. We are watching the destruction of voting rights in this country and conservatives are driving this agenda. We have a bloated defense budget and cannot establish a foreign policy initiative in this country without hearing John McCain scream for more war. There are no jobs bills alive anywhere and, hence, there is no initiative within the Federal government that has a chance of passing that would do anything to put people back to work. The oligarchs are in charge, and they are not liberals.

Obamacare? A liberal idea pushed by liberals on a conservative country? Oh my God--give me a break. We need single payer insurance for anyone to be convinced that the "liberals" have won this debate. We're lucky to have anything, period.





What few policies end up being delivered by the government are watered-down to the point where they almost inevitably betray the liberal agenda. I mean, there is no coherent energy policy, a liberal idea and agenda item if there ever was one. There is no way a progressive with a desire to protect the environment or the American worker is ever going to be elected to national office. And what? Go out and try to deliver jobless benefits, and stimulate business hiring in order to deal with our crippling unemployment?

The conservatives have successfully driven abortion providers into hiding in this country if they're even available at all. Despite things like actual democracy and voting--elections, Supreme Court decisions, constitutional amendments--the conservative agenda is one that subjects Americans to relentless attack. They hide behind bringing freedom because going out and actively saying, "we're here to force things into your vagina" only play in certain rural areas.They don't care about privacy, and what little they do pretend to care about will vanish as soon as a Republican wins the White House. 





Grossmann wants you to think the liberal agenda is one of handouts. It is not. The liberal agenda evens the playing field for working people. Ask your local oligarch how that's working out for him.

Monday, April 7, 2014

It's Not Controversial Because It's Dumb




The damage that bullshit does to our society is evident all around us. Witness the decision by Chili's to cancel a fundraiser for Autism because the people they partnered with persist in spreading bullshit far and wide:


In recent decades the decision of whether or not parents should vaccinate their children has become controversial because some have linked vaccinations to autism. Many opponents of vaccinations base their beliefs on a 1998 study that was declared fraudulent by a leading British medical journal. 


The NAA says the link between autism and vaccination mentioned on its site is based on "parent reports." 


"Though published mainstream science fails to acknowledge a causal link to any of these specific exposures, it's important that parental accounts be carefully considered," says the NAA on its website. 



It is not controversial. It's anti-intellectualism that ignores basic science and plays into the idea that people are "elite and special" and "care more than other parents" when they withhold vaccines from their kids. There really and truly are people who, by virtue of the fact that they make a little more money than everyone else, think that their own participation in the gene pool is an accident and that they have been bred to be superior than the lower class people who end up going to the same schools their special and talented and wonderful kids go to. 





They shop at Whole Foods and pay more for the same groceries that come from the same distribution centers in California and Florida that everyone else's groceries come from. They form their own self-deluding block of know-nothings who do not understand the basic history of science and medicine. They're dumbasses and they don't realize the danger they're putting everyone else in by believing their own lies.


The NAA site also mentions that unvaccinated children have been diagnosed with autism.


Which also means nothing because, you know, science and whatnot. If people actually cared about kids and stopped trying to make themselves appear to be smarter and more concerned than the imaginary people they compete with on a daily basis, you wouldn't have a resurgence of measles and whooping cough. You'd have properly vaccinated children living free and clear of the ravages of childhood diseases.