Friday, June 27, 2014

Phony Patriots and Ridiculous Rules




Come on. Not another sad old Vet who loves the flag and lives near rich people who hate America:

A veteran could lose his home because of a small American flag he has placed in a flower pot in front of his home.


Larry Murphree explained that his homeowners’ association in the Sweetwater community wants him to remove the flag because it violates home display rules. Furthermore, he is facing $8,000 in fines if he doesn’t take it out of his flower pot.
“I want it to go away. It’s such a minor little thing and they keep coming after me,” Murphree told WAWS. “They just sent me a letter that says I owe them around $8,000 and they put a foreclosure lien on my house.”


Murphree has 30 days to pay the fines and remove the flag or the homeowners’ association will move forward with the foreclosure.


I hate these stories. Buried in there somewhere is usually a telling detail. As in, the dude is a shirtless crank with no money who is mad because they won't let him keep a car with three flat tires in his yard so he put out an American flag just to be difficult.





First of all, Mr. Murphree is being stupid on purpose. When you move into a house in Florida, you are going to encounter the mentality that surrounds exclusionary communities (otherwise known as compounds of scared, semi-wealthy people who fear the hordes outside the gate). They initiate "home display rules" because they don't want anything looking cheap, fake, or stupid to drive the value of their property down in any way, shape or form. When someone sticks the American flag in front of their house, and when they allow it to become tattered and torn and when they display it improperly (like not illuminating it at night), they make the place look run down. Sensible people know that there's nothing wrong with the American flag but there is something wrong with flying it in front of your house in lieu of fixing the siding or keeping the yard looking neat. It drives down property values to have flags and other symbols out in front because it tells the people who come into the neighborhood that there's a VETERAN somewhere around there. And everyone knows that a VETERAN is going to come apart at the seams and start shooting, man, especially if the heroin runs out and a guy named Zeke comes over on a motorcycle to cook meth so you can both buy an electric Harley with a sidecar because your back gives out when you have to put your feet down while riding because your're flipping old.





Second, the fines are a binding aspect of living where there is a homeowner's association so allowing them to climb into the thousands of dollars is immature and foolish. Don't like the rules? Move out. Good luck finding a decent place to live where they want you to fly the flag because then you're going to be all contrary and difficult and assert your free right NOT to fly no damned flag except the Gadsden Flag, which means, when upside down, that Obama is a tyrant and your nephew can't get his pills anymore from the free clinic or something. When you buy a home, you sign a blizzard of papers. Inside of that blizzard is an agreement to accept the rules of a homeowner's association. Good luck fighting that. Just because everyone around you hates flags, symbols, and the cheapening effects of things like a Florida Marlins World Series Victory Banner doesn't mean you can't sit in the privacy of your own home and hum the Battle Hymn of the Republic while watching Bruce Willis movies.





Third, your pride in America does not come from sticking a cheap piece of plastic in a flower pot. It comes from knowing that these phony stories trade on misplaced outrage. Grow up, abide by the rules of your homeowner's association, pay your fines, and stop using cheap local media outlets to draw attention to the fact that you're pathetic and make bad choices. The reporters who write these stories are lazy and can't think of anything to do so they love it when a cantankerous old coot pretends that his dishonorable discharge for going AWOL six times in 1974 when he was stationed in Kansas means he's now a retired Special Forces sniper colonel snake eater bomb expert airborne assassin and HAS TO BE LISTENED TO despite the fact that he marches around with his gut out and can't find his DD 214.





Do you love America? Then love America and stop pretending that it has anything to do with a flag.

Obamacare is a Profound Success




Some disaster.

Paul Krugman has a victory lap column up today, and it's well deserved. Far be it from me to dance around and laugh at people who are stupid, but that's exactly what we should be doing right now--pointing and laughing at how absolutely ridiculous the enemies of the PPACA were just a few short months ago:

What was especially odd about the incessant predictions of health-reform disaster was that we already knew, or should have known, that a program along the lines of the Affordable Care Act was likely to work. Obamacare was closely modeled on Romneycare, which has been working in Massachusetts since 2006, and it bears a strong family resemblance to successful systems abroad, for example in Switzerland. Why should the system have been unworkable for America?


But a firm conviction that the government can’t do anything useful — a dogmatic belief in public-sector incompetence — is now a central part of American conservatism, and the incompetence dogma has evidently made rational analysis of policy issues impossible.


It wasn’t always thus. If you go back two decades, to the last great fight over health reform, conservatives seem to have been relatively clearheaded about the policy prospects, albeit deeply cynical. For example, William Kristol’s famous 1993 memo urging Republicans to kill the Clinton health plan warned explicitly that Clintoncare, if implemented, might well be perceived as successful, which would, in turn, “strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government.” So it was crucial to make sure that reform never happened. In effect, Mr. Kristol was telling insiders that tales of government incompetence are something you peddle to voters to get them to support tax cuts and deregulation, not something you necessarily believe yourself.


This would be same William Kristol who championed the Iraq War and has been going around telling everyone that we should re-invade Iraq. Seriously, though--if Kristol is your intellectual guide, you've spent over twenty years being wrong about everything in America. With a track record like Kristol's--and with all of the hysterical predictions about how the PPACA was supposed to fail--how could anyone seriously believe there is a conservative intellect anymore?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Heritage Foundation is a Hate Group



Awfully nice of the folks at the Heritage Foundation to firmly establish their ties to the most virulently racist and bigoted elements of American society. It would be a shame if the media forgot to start referring to them as a hate group.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Another Neoconservative Gift to the World










Iraq is a failed state, in case you are keeping score at home:


Militants seized control of the airport, TV stations and the governor's offices in Iraq's second-largest city as police and soldiers ran away from their posts in Mosul on Tuesday, a stunning collapse of the security forces that has raised questions about Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's ability to hold the country together.


In perhaps a sign of just how serious the threat is to Iraq's stability, al-Maliki took to the airwaves to call on all men to volunteer to fight, promising to provide weapons and equipment.


"We will not allow for the remainder of the ... province and the city to fall," he said in a live broadcast carried on Iraqi state television.


The militants are believed to be members of the extremist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, an al Qaeda splinter group also known by its acronym ISIS. Many foreign fighters are believed to be among their number, senior police officials said.



Joe Biden's idea was to partition Iraq into three distinct states--one Sunni, one Shia, and one for the Kurds up north. If we had gone with that plan, Iraq would be less of a failed state than it is now, but it would still be a brittle, violent place. This region will be fought over again and again until someone can play the part of strongman and slaughter the weaker groups opposed to a centralized power.





Large tracts of Iraq will soon be in the hands of groups crazier than al Qaeda and meaner than a snake on LSD in a petting zoo. Once the country gets around to electing Rand Paul the next president, get ready for Iraq War III, starring Sylvester Stallone and the Texas National Guard.





Not a single neoconservative will ever be held accountable for Iraq. My guess is that it's all Obama's fault, now and forever.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Guess Who Is Shrinking and Irrelevant?




Just in time for summer, another lazy media meme that will constantly be recycled for as long as there are Democrats who get elected President:

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.


Less than two years after voters gave President Barack Obama a strong mandate for a second term, the White House is struggling against perceptions that it is losing its grip.


At home, the bungled rollout of the Obamacare website and the shocking revelations about an entrenched culture of incompetence and fraud in the VA have undercut faith in the President’s managerial competency.

The central reason for the President's "shrinkage" is Obamacare's website? That's old news, my friends. Old news. Millions have cheaper health care and no one cares if a website ran slow months ago. 




The actuality of the PPACA is this--Americans are getting health care that they can afford. People who had to work to keep health care coverage can now retire and do other things. Bankruptcy because of a health care issue is rapidly becoming a thing of the past for many Americans. Women are getting health care they need. And the President is shrinking because of that?





Because the website was slow? 





Well, this President got rid of Kathleen Sebelius. He cashed in Eric Shinseki and I would be willing to bet you that corrupt VA hospital administrators everywhere have stopped counting on their bullshit bonuses. He has fired people and issued orders. How is that "shrinking" in any way, shape or form?





I mean, damn. This ain't my first rodeo:







Time Magazine, circa 1993





Bill Clinton went on to give everyone peace and prosperity. Let's hope that President Obama can do the same before he shrinks away into nothing.

Armed and Armed Some More




The militarization of the police continues unabated:


During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.


The equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units. Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs.Masked, heavily armed police officers in Louisiana raided a nightclub in 2006 as part of a liquor inspection. In Florida in 2010, officers in SWAT gear and with guns drawn carried out raids on barbershops that mostly led only to charges of “barbering without a license.”



What was high satire thirty years ago with Lt. Hunter getting a tank to use against criminals on Hill Street Blues has become commonplace reality for podunk police departments all across the land. At some point, the police will be as well armed as any military unit. At some point, we will not see police but a de facto military presence everywhere and we're seeing it more and more. There's no rolling back on this--once you give the police military equipment, you have to keep giving it to them because that's what they will train with and that's what they will respond with. 





Guns drawn while carrying out raids on establishments that are barbering without a license? What the hell is that but a complete and utter militarization of the police gone horribly wrong. Policing is about a measured response to crime that serves the needs of the community. Body armor is something I completely understand but tanks and drones and SWAT teams converging on permit violators? Come on.





Camouflage, by the way? Really? I thought you had to announce the presence of law enforcement. I thought that a police officer had to identify themselves. Apparently not if they're wearing military grade camouflage.

Look What Happens When You Ruin the Economy






We have not recovered from the financial crisis of the late 2000s because nobody has any money:

U.S. fertility is not recovering from the financial crisis — and demographers aren’t sure why.


The fertility rate fell to a record low 62.9 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in 2013, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.


The total number of births, at 3.96 million, inched up by a mere 4,000 from 2012, the first increase since the financial crisis. But the total fertility rate, or TFR, the average number of children a woman would have during her child-bearing years, fell to just 1.86, the lowest rate in 27 years. TFR is considered the best metric of fertility. A TFR of 2.1 represents a stable population, with children replacing parents as they die off.


Demographers expected the fertility rate to fall during recession, as financially strapped families put off childbearing. But what has surprised some demographers is both the depth of the decline and the fact that fertility has continued to drop even over the course of the country's five years of slow but steady recovery. The rate has fallen steadily each year since 2007, when it stood at 2.1 percent.


Wages have not kept up with this soft "recovery" and we still have far too many people who are unemployed. Couple that with the fact that your average job is rapidly becoming a two year temp-to-hire position paying less than what you made before and you have the recipe for a sharp demographic shift. Women would have more children if this were a more secure economy, and it isn't secure enough right now.





The very same people terrified of a foreign invasion of anchor babies have perpetrated this situation by ruining the economy, confiscating the wealth and assets of the Middle Class, and paying CEOs ridiculous amounts of money. Thomas Piketty scared the crap out of them because he was right--we have far too much inequality in America.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Let Someone With a Real Life Write About Being on Drugs




The failure here is not that Maureen Dowd cannot write; the failure is that, when Maureen Dowd writes, her ridiculously privileged life as a working member of the punditry gets in the way of common sense.

If you go to Colorado and do drugs, you will not come up with anything worth writing about it you've already made up your mind to warn kids of the dangers. Real people with a real life can tell you what drugs do and they don't need an old media bag of nuts to tell them otherwise. Ask a grandma on meth in rural West Virginia if she thinks being on a little weed in a hotel room is a bad thing and you might not like the answer. Kids don't care, kids don't follow, kids just wanna get high.

Idiot.