Thursday, October 30, 2014

Leave the Damned Owls Alone




How many posts have I had to write about this? Too many:

A Utah man is facing federal charges for allegedly chasing a barn owl with a motorized paraglider.


The United States Attorney's office in Utah on Tuesday charged Dell Schanze, 45, with two misdemeanor counts of "knowingly using an aircraft to harass wildlife" and "pursuing a migratory bird." The alleged incident happened in March, 2011.

The first count alleges that Schanze violated the Airborne Hunting Act, and count two of the document alleges Schanze violated the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Schanze did not return a call to NBC News Thursday.


Schanze is a minor celebrity in Utah who once owned a chain of computer stores and worked as a TV pitchman. As a candidate for Utah governor, he received less than 3 percent of the vote in the 2008 election, according to NBC affiliate KSL. He also failed in a 2009 mayoral campaign.

Do you remember that scene in The Shawshank Redemption where the warden says "I'll pull you out of that one-bunk Hilton and cast you down with the Sodomites?"

That's the part of the jail where owl chasers are sent.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wait for the Backlash






Will Marvel really make all of these films? I guess if they're in the planning stage and can target specific release dates, then it means that there is financing in place to make these films.




What I think will happen is that there will be a backlash against these kinds of films--a readjustment of some kind that will kill off the superhero films or at least cause them to be scaled back in a dramatic fashion.





They used to make a lot of Westerns in Hollywood, and then Sputnik happened, or so they say. There are no films for adults anymore, so what will happen if one or two of these superhero films tanks and goes down in flames next to a billion dollar hit made for a fraction of the cost?





Rest assured, I'm just trolling. Marvel's announcement proves one thing and one thing only--the teenaged boys of China will have films to watch for the next six years and these films will be made specifically for them and for no one else.





If there is a backlash, it will be short-lived because the foreign market for films is where the money is. And Hollywood chases money better than any other industry.

Compassion and American Society




When I look at a story like this, I can see several things at play.

First, we are privatizing institutions that should be under state and local oversight. Privatization shifts money to areas where rampant abuse can be allowed to persist because this involves prisoners, and we don't care about prisoners in this country. At all.

Second, this affects women and minorities. We don't care about them, either, so privatizing their incarceration or their punishment is easier than figuring out how to correct our society's indifference to their situations. These people are less than human, you see. They commit suicide with their hands bound behind their backs. They die in a hail of gunfire of their own making. They are beaten and abused and attacked by corrupt people who operate without fear of reprisal. If there's an outcry, all they have to do is retire.

Third, we are held in the thrall of a right wing rage machine that has a juvenile response to anyone put in jail for anything--serves them right! These same "originalists" and believers in the sage wisdom of our Founders would be shocked to find out how they treated their prisoners and those accused but not convicted of any crimes.

Fourth, let's not forget the wave of people freed from jail by revelations of prosecutorial misconduct, DNA evidence, and people who recanted their testimony. Chances are always good that the local jail in your town has at least one innocent person in it, maybe you some day. Oh, well. Too bad.

Fifth, the law only serves people who have money. If you're broke, you're looking at time. Got cash? You get to go free. Our society is woefully indifferent to the plight of anyone who can't raise bail money.

There is no compassion for anyone anymore. This story won't even raise an eyebrow with people in most cases because they tuned out immediately after learning that this happened in an American jail. Don't want to die of gangrene? Don't go to jail, sucker. Never mind if you were put there by accident, beaten, neglected, or used to work out someone's anger issues.

America used to be a compassionate country where people cared about the rule of law. Now, it's about money and the wrath of God. If we let this take over our society, we'll end up with more jails full of dead people and with absolutely no right to tell anyone how to conduct their affairs.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Astrology and the Reagan Presidency




The historical record has been far to kind to the Reagan presidency. Ronald Reagan has been sainted by the Republican Party which, in its present incarnation, would never admit him as a candidate for anything anywhere. The thing that always stuck with me about Reagan's time in office, which I remember because I lived through it, was the astrology part.

Astrology, for those of you who don't know, is pure, unadulterated bullshit masking itself as made-up nonsense. It has always been bullshit. Astrology will always be bullshit. And, right there on television tonight, ABC News was running a story about astrologers who were bilking people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. But, wait, there's more. ABC News allows an astrologer to peddle her wares on their "health" page.

It's 2014, for God's sake. I mean, honestly. The ridiculousness abounds. So much for "entertainment."

The Reagan Presidency relied on astrology and it has gotten a pass for this fact. I think this sums it all up:

“Virtually every major move and decision the Reagans made during my time as White House chief of staff was cleared in advance with a woman in San Francisco who drew up horoscopes to make certain that the planets were in a favorable alignment for the enterprise,” he wrote in the memoir, “For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington.”


Just so we're clear on how delusional all of this thinking really was:

In an interview with “CBS Evening News” in 1989, after Reagan left office, Miss Quigley said that after reading the horoscope of the Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, she concluded that he was intelligent and open to new ideas and persuaded Mrs. Reagan to press her husband to abandon his view of the Soviet Union as an “evil empire.” Arms control treaties followed.


Let us bear in mind that the Central Intelligence Agency's collective analysis of the Soviet Union was about a hair better than that of Miss Quigley's, which was based on the bullshit practice of astrology. Whenever you hear someone venerate the Reagan record, think of the astrology.

Which is bullshit, by the way.

Friday, October 24, 2014

This is Obama's Fault, Too






Nina Pham didn't get the memo.

She wasn't supposed to survive the Ebola virus and end up being declared free of it. She was supposed to be the face of the Republican Party's concerted effort to say stupid things about the Ebola virus and scare the hell out of everyone.

Now that a healthy young person has survived it, how is the Republican Party supposed to gain seats in November and take control of the Senate?

I mean, as long as we're in a tizzy, let's take it up a notch and do things like this:


NYC Ebola Patient Dr. Craig Spencer Had 100.3 Fever, Not 103


The New York City doctor who tested positive for Ebola had a fever of 100.3 degrees, not 103 degrees, as was first reported, health officials said Friday.
Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, the city health commissioner, gave the new figure on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. Dr. Craig Spencer, who had treated Ebola patients in the West African country of Guinea, was rushed to a New York hospital and isolated after he reported the fever. He later tested positive for the virus.


Aaaah! Aaaah! Cue the ghost of Sam Kinison and his endless screaming.

Shouldn't Pham have put her country first and told everyone that she had a fever of 108 like she was supposed to? How do you think this makes the fear mongers feel?

No one takes a minute to think about them, do they? This is the sort of thing that can ruin your weekend.

Good for Nina Pham, but, really, this is all about how President Obama wants everyone to die from Ebola. She should have gone with the prevailing media narrative and not fought against the virus. We simply cannot have the idea that, yeah, you can SURVIVE having EBOLA get out there. Someone might start thinking that Obama isn't entirely to blame for everything anymore.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

This is Now the Gilded Age






Dear Prudence, 
I live in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, but on one of the more “modest” streets—mostly doctors and lawyers and family business owners. (A few blocks away are billionaires, families with famous last names, media moguls, etc.) I have noticed that on Halloween, what seems like 75 percent of the trick-or-treaters are clearly not from this neighborhood. Kids arrive in overflowing cars from less fortunate areas. I feel this is inappropriate. Halloween isn’t a social service or a charity in which I have to buy candy for less fortunate children. Obviously this makes me feel like a terrible person, because what’s the big deal about making less fortunate kids happy on a holiday? But it just bugs me, because we already pay more than enough taxes toward actual social services. Should Halloween be a neighborhood activity, or is it legitimately a free-for-all in which people hunt down the best candy grounds for their kids?
—Halloween for the 99 Percent

Someone needs to check their privilege at the door and acknowledge that, when you argue that paying more in taxes means you shouldn't have to tolerate the presence of the poor, you're the scum of the Goddamned Earth.

Just so we're clear, lady--your taxes aren't anywhere nearly high enough to compensate for what a parasite you've become.

A Senate Full of Nuts




Are you prepared for the crazies to be in charge of the Congress? You'd better get ready.

As I said before, the fact that Joni Ernst is speaking like an unhinged crazy person will not hurt her one bit with the voters of Iowa. They have checked out. Thirty years ago, she would have been laughed off of the stage, lucky to get 5% of the vote. Now she's well on her way to being Senator Ernst, gun nut and testicle remover.

A statement along the lines of using a gun to defend herself against her own government--that old trope from G. Gordon Liddy where you go for a head shot when ATF agents enter your home--used to mean you weren't leadership material. Now, in Iowa, it means you get to act like Yosemite Sam, only crazier.

If you want to know what's wrong with this country, look at Iowa for a change. It is a highly educated state where the pride and joy of most families is to send their daughter off to a liberal arts college and their son off to receive a Bachelor's Degree in agricultural science (or vice versa, since women have always been our best farmers, by far). It used to be that walking around with a bleary-eyed hankering for guns would be seen as a firm negative and proof that the candidate doesn't have control over their emotions and has no regard for public safety.

There's no need for gun control in a place like Iowa. Everyone there should be free to own guns. The thing that has gone off the rails is this belief that being an irresponsible gun owner is a positive in a leader.

North Carolina's Foundation of Lies




Unbelievable:

For 18 years, thousands of students at the prestigious University of North Carolina took fake "paper classes," and advisers funneled athletes into the program to keep them eligible, according to a scathing independent report released Wednesday.


"These counselors saw the paper classes and the artificially high grades they yielded as key to helping some student-athletes remain eligible," Kenneth Wainstein wrote in his report. He conducted an eight-month investigation into the scandal, which has plagued the university for nearly five years.


Four employees have been fired and five more disciplined because of their roles. One other former employee had honorary status removed, Chancellor Carol Folt said Wednesday.


Wainstein is the former federal prosecutor hired by UNC to independently investigate the academic fraud brought to light by CNN, the Raleigh News & Observer and other media outlets.


In all, the report estimates, at least 3,100 students took the paper classes, but adds the number "very likely falls far short of the true number."


Given that this was a pervasive, institutional fraud of a magnitude that is difficult to believe, the death penalty is well warranted for Division I athletics at North Carolina. At a minimum, all victories and championships should be invalidated.





That would mean Roy Williams, for example, would have to look elsewhere for a legitimate national championship title. 





If they find the same thing at Duke, I would invalidate everything accomplished in the whole ACC forever. I mean, damn. How do you get away with cheating like this? I expect this sort of thing out of Kentucky. I didn't expect to find out that a degree from the University of North Carolina isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Everyone Should Know the Story of Walter White




I don't pretend to understand how we are still governed by the Puritans. They were, after all, noted for their hatred of Christmas celebrations and their inability to dance.

You see, the Puritans are still running things. They have an undue amount of influence in our society. All it takes is for some mother somewhere to get upset and use the Internet and, voila, we are rolling on down a barely-there country road in New England and the horse is hacking up a lung and the disapproval of the locals is upon us. Whatever our sins, we are wrong, and the Puritans are there to remind us that fun is for sinners and sinners burn forever in Hell.

They have, for the most part, died out. But your moms is still outraged and, when she sees something she doesn't like, it tends to go viral immediately because self-important outrage is the gasoline that runs the Internet. And that's why Facebook is the Devil.

What did you win, lady? You got some toys off of the shelf. What you won was this--you made us think about Breaking Bad and you made people go tsk tsk. That's about it. You did no harm to the culture but you did make a laughingstock out of the idea that people should maybe explain why drugs are bad to their kids. An action figure is a great conversation starter. Oh, you want to talk about Heisenberg? Well, let's put in Season Four and have a look.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out that, if you don't want your dumb kids on drugs, you should show them Breaking Bad. You should acknowledge the show and the central theme it presents and you should make your dopey offspring watch it. You should introduce them to the idea that, yeah, you can do drugs and things will be fine, but if you're not careful, you'll end up like Jesse's girlfriends.

Breaking Bad should be shown in every school in America. We ought to be teaching this to our kids. We ought to use the action figures as props so we can discuss what matters. Does a barrel full of cash matter more than your family? Why not? Does selling drugs make you rich? Why does the decision to "break bad" look foolhardy and how did the show teach us that lesson? Set against the history of America after twenty years of fighting a war on drugs and the collapse of health care insurance  benefits for teachers and the desperation felt by people living in poverty, well. It's the Great American Novel, as told in blocks of TV episodes.

Someone got some phony outrage to play out in the lazy media and we're arguing about some toys? Those overpriced television show tie-in toys that feature characters that will never come out of the box and will end up in that douche's cubicle over there? Really?

As a famous philosopher said, drugs are bad, mmmkay? and Walter White is an essential American character who will end up being part of the academic history of our literature. Instead of Cotton Mather, your idiot kid and his dumb little buddies should go as Heisenberg for Halloween (good luck banning that, Principal Dumbass). They should get out their Gus Fring impression and go to town. Me, personally, I'm more of a Hank but I want to be Mike. You should be Ted Benecke or Tuco, just so everyone can praise you for your taste. Your son is Jesse because Jesse is not Junior. Your daughter can be Skyler but the old hag who pushes an ATM onto her husband is also a good choice. No television show has ever made prostitution look as unsexy as Breaking Bad. Nobody ever took the Fedora and did with it what Frank Sinatra could not. And nobody gets to be Don Eladio, friend.

Remember Hillbilly Teeth? All you need are meth teeth for the kiddos and then you've got something. The Puritans had terrible teeth. They pulled them out with pliers made out of something found under the bed in a kinky room behind the bad whorehouse outside of town. They made a fetish out of misery, and they lived their lives like the Palins but with fewer snowmobiles.

Seriously, are we that shriveled up and dead as a country? We're talking about toys and we're not talking about the failure of the War on Drugs as it relates to the destruction of at least a million lives if not more? Really?

This is Why We Shouldn't Go to War in Iraq Ever Again


There used to be a thing called a "warblogger."

Mainly, these were folks with a lot of information and little, if any, analytical experience. They knew the military, they knew something about strategy and games, and they figured that was enough to give them credibility when it came to speaking about how America was conducting itself in Iraq before the war was ended by the Obama Administration.

Some of these people went belly up when their wars wound down--there was nothing to blog about. Their audience shrank because they were a one-trick pony and hating Obama was already being done by people with more talent and skill.

This case is a bookend to the Iraq War, a verdict that should resonate for anyone who has ever been criticized by a warblogger or mocked for not knowing that Petraeus would never Betray Us.

How's your war looking now, son? Are you happy for the results? Did we accomplish everything you thought we would? Or did we just manufacture more enemies and create more Veterans than we could ever handle and did we cut loose a generation of mercenaries who simply had too many guns and too many brown skinned people to shoot?

The great blogger Kos actually served in the military, and his response when some Blackwater guards were left dangling off a bridge was to say, in effect, fuck these people. They were mercs and they were out for profit in exchange for sending rounds through bodies. These men inherited the fight, stepped up to the plate, and emptied their weapons into civilians. Fuck them, too,

We will be paying the price for the Iraq War for the next fifty or sixty years, and we will pay dearly for it, and no one will bother to go back and read the ranting and the raving of the cheerleaders for that war, except to have a good laugh and see what could be done about scrubbing the Internet clean of their filth.

Ottawa




Ottawa is under attack:

The Canadian government has informed the United States that one shooter is dead in Ottawa, a senior U.S. official said. So far, there is "no indication the shooter has ties to violent Islamic extremism," but it is still extremely early in the investigation, the source said.


In response to the ongoing situation at Canada's Parliament, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, has increased its alert posture, CNN has learned. That means that it has increased the number of planes on a higher alert status ready to respond if needed. NORAD and Canadian authorities are in contact, an official told CNN.

Never underestimate America's ability to panic and make something worse than it is. The media will go nuts with this until the facts are in. If this is domestic Canadian terrorism, the American opportunists will use this to attack President Obama. It is entirely possible that this attack on Canadian soil will be viewed as an attempt to attack America and panic will take hold in places like New York City or Chicago and you'll see armed men everywhere in response to absolutely no threat whatsoever. This will be done because to be seen doing nothing is politically untenable.

One disaffected loner with a grudge against women can trigger a massive counter-terrorism response. We don't know if there actually are multiple shooters or if this is a Mumbai-styled attack. We don't know anything, other than the fact that this will be "Obama's Katrina."

And no, none of this is supposed to make any sense. Fear is the only partisan tool the Republican Party is eager to use on a regular basis.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nobody Gets to Have an Opinion




Who is entitled to criticize Renee Zellweger for how she looks? There's absolutely nothing wrong with her appearance. Everything else is just hatin' and that's that.

That sort of thing is well outside of the scope of what I normally write about and comment on so I know that I don't have the right to issue an opinion. She can certainly be criticized by people who know fashion and makeup, hair and styling, and I think that this is where the distinction is for celebrity commentary. It's not a world I understand, so the people who do that, and don't do it for nastiness or whatever else can weigh in on seeing Zellweger in public and let you know what they think.

You can see, in this piece from The Daily Beast, a ready admission that imperfection is appreciated but rarely rewarded with actual acceptance in our culture. Yes, Zellweger put on weight to play a character. No, that didn't mean that there weren't media interests who were dignified about that fact.

I see a woman who has been absolutely done wrong by the culture and has modified herself surgically to the point where she doesn't look anything like how she used to look. Everything natural has been stripped away and what's left is very similar to what Nicole Kidman has and that is a taut face that doesn't move anymore. And that's the sad thing here--some invisible pull from the culture at large and some worthless standard of beauty has been applied to someone who, like all the rest of us, has aged and changed and should have moved on.

Something about the movie business has gone wrong for all the terrible reasons we're familiar with--there's no chance that Zellweger could work without doing something to modify her appearance and that's the reason behind the changes. I still don't think there should be a linkage to appearance and talent--if you don't put her in a movie solely because of how she looks, you're missing the best reason to have her there in the first place and that reason is obvious--she's capable of acting at a high level and holding a film together. She has a proven track record of success. She just doesn't look the same way anymore. But, who does? Grow up.

But, as I said, no man should ever criticize a woman for how she looks.

Asamkirche Balcony




A shot looking up at the ceiling and balcony, Asamkirche, Munich.

I visited the place in the summer of 2011, and it was a spectacular example of the macabre and the gothic and the weird. Atlas Obscura has picked up on that and you can see some more photos here...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bored in Sweden




They must be feeling the need for attention or something along those lines in Sweden right now. How could they be shocked that the Putin-era Navy of the former Soviet Union is incapable of doing anything underwater without losing another submarine or failing to cover up their activities?

It's tough out there for a former superpower with no money and a fading and rusting naval force.

I'm reminded of what happened with the disaster aboard the Kursk, a submarine that sank in shallow waters (if you could have stood the Kursk on its nose, it would have extended up out of the water in which it sank). Russia was dealt a humiliating blow when this happened, forced to decline assistance from numerous NATO countries with the money and technology to do what Russia simply could not do, and that's why I suspect that what's happening near Sweden is a repeat of some sort of blunder, triggered by incompetence and outdated technology.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ensign Coke Head




The war on drugs is absurd beyond comprehension. We are incarcerating people when we should be medically treating their addictions. And then we see something like this:

The Navy Reserve discharged Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter this year after he tested positive for cocaine, U.S. officials confirmed.


The discharge of Biden, a 44-year-old lawyer and managing partner at an investment firm, was first reported by the Wall Street Journalon Thursday. He confirmed the report in a statement to CNN.


"It was the honor of my life to serve in the U.S. Navy, and I deeply regret and am embarrassed that my actions led to my administrative discharge. I respect the Navy's decision. With the love and support of my family, I'm moving forward," he said.

Just so we're clear, Vice President Biden helped create legislation in the 1990s that started to address drug addiction. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 set aside money for things like this:


Drug Treatment
$383 million for prison drug treatment programs, including $270 million
in formula grants for states.

There were also "gang related" aspects to the legislation that fought drug trafficking. Was Hunter Biden a seller as well as a user? Was he using while on duty? How long did the family know of this? Did he use drugs while in proximity to the Vice President?





Joe Biden's embarrassment here is what it is. He's not quite the hypocrite that people are making him out to be. When your adult child does this to their own life, what are you going to do?





Clearly, Hunter Biden should be in prison getting treatment for his addiction to cocaine. That would serve as a wake-up call as to how inadequate things are and what we need to do to deal with people who have addictions. The difference between what a black male would get in terms of punishment for crack is not what a privileged white man would get after testing hot on a drug test while serving in the Navy Reserve. What punitive efforts were undertaken by the Navy are unclear right now. They kicked him out--what else did he do besides admit that, prior to military service, he had used drugs?





Treat everyone the same and let's see how fast we see "modern" legislation that addresses drug addiction in this country.

Everything Will Kill You




We are the most panicky people on the face of the Earth. What happened to being resilient or tough? What happened to not giving a shit? What happened to context and actually having useful information?

I don't know about you, but lightning is way worse than Ebola:





If we treated the flu like we have treated Ebola, we'd have lost our mud long ago:

The number of seasonal influenza-associated (i.e., seasonal flu-related) deaths varies from year to year because flu seasons are unpredictable and often fluctuate in length and severity. Therefore, a single estimate cannot be used to summarize influenza-associated deaths. Instead, a range of estimated deaths is a better way to represent the variability and unpredictability of flu. An August 27, 2010 MMWR report entitled “Thompson MG et al. Updated Estimates of Mortality Associated with Seasonal Influenza through the 2006-2007 Influenza Season. MMWR 2010; 59(33): 1057-1062.," provides updated estimates of the range of flu-associated deaths that occurred in the United States during the three decades prior to 2007. CDC estimates that from the 1976-1977 season to the 2006-2007 flu season, flu-associated deaths ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. Death certificate data and weekly influenza virus surveillance information was used to estimate how many flu-related deaths occurred among people whose underlying cause of death was listed as respiratory or circulatory disease on their death certificate.

And I'm not even going to go into car accidents, cancer, or being near someone with a gun. Good grief. We're the wimpiest of wimps nowadays.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Here's Your Sign




After being told not to, Ralph Colavita's campaign put a campaign sign in my front yard. I have reported him to the Howard County government officials who are charged with destroying these things. Expect updates throughout the year...

As I have said many times, campaign signs do not matter. What an idiot.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

America Wants Nothing to Do With These Boobs




And, just so we're clear--I'm not talking about the ladies.

What you see above was the incredibly sexist marketing photo designed to get people excited about half-baked opinions and crosstalk. It accomplished nothing. Jon Stewart was right then and he's even more correct now--no one is well served by having a show this monstrous on the air.

Crossfire was a tremendous failure and a reeking pile of disastrous programming decisions. CNN decided that America needed to see Newt Gingrich on the televisions every day or whenever it aired and that was just too much for the people.

How does Gingrich continue? Easy, by showing up somewhere and holding out his hand, there will always be a ready-made bunch of suckers willing to pay him for his Friedman-esque nonsense. Hell, there are alternative history buffs who lose their mud when he's within fifty feet of a lectern and a dollar bill.

What a tragic waste of human endeavor television news is these days.

Gas Prices Plummet




I can still remember Election Day, 2008.

In our little corner of Maryland, I went to the polling place and voted. Some jackass was driving around in the parking lot, obstructing people from voting, and he was campaigning from his car window in violation of the law. On his bumper were two stickers:

Get Ready for $5.00 gal/gas If Obama Wins

Still waiting, asshole. Still waiting.

One of the traditional measures of how a President was doing was centered around the price of a gallon of gas. Nothing affects working people more than what they pay at the pump. You can't just "cut down" on the amount of gas you buy because people use it to get to where they have to be. As in, work, school, and to the store. Nobody buys gas they don't need. And so the impact on our economy is felt when the cost of gas is high because you HAVE to buy gas--you cut back on extras after you buy the gas you have to have. That's what drives down our consumer consumption.

This President can't even campaign for other Democrats because things are so toxic, and there is no shortage of those who believe he has been a tyrant/apologist/sellout/failure. None of those people remember the days when President Bush was clueless about why our endless wars in the Middle East were causing massive disruptions in the oil supply. The same people who apologized for Bush are deranged about Obama, and vice versa.

The best case for voting for Democrats? Cheap gas, baby. Enjoy it while you can.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Antebellum is a Code Word in American History




Gawker Media, which is a big deal and can handle such things, is being told to stop referring to Blake Lively and something called Preserve LLC as fans of slavery.

Specifically, the "antebellum" slavery of the Southern United States before the outbreak of the Civil War. This would be the War of Northern Aggression that wasn't about slavery, of course, because State's Rights are all anyone ever talks about [and I am rolling my eyes].

When you count on the privileged and the wealthy class to have an ignorance of American History a mile wide, you can make money pretending things like slavery didn't happen. You can select periods of history and just copy the clothes and the look of the people. You don't do context when you have cash. You do for yourself, and that means looking your best.

Here's the context of the term "antebellum"

In the South, cotton plantations were very profitable, at least until overplanting leached most of the nutrients from the soil. Advances in processing the fiber, from Eli Whitney’s cotton gin to the development of power looms and the sewing machine, increased demand for cotton to export from the South to England and the mills of New England. Plantation owners were able to obtain large tracts of land for little money, particularly after the Indian Removal Act was passed in 1830. These plantations depended on a large force of slave labor to cultivate and harvest the crop—most white farmers in the 19th century wanted and were able to obtain their own farms as the U.S. expanded south and west, and slaves not only provided a labor source that couldn’t resign or demand higher wages, their progeny insured that labor source would continue for generations.


The demand for slave labor and the U.S. ban on importing more slaves from Africa drove up prices for slaves, making it profitable for smaller farmers in older settled areas such as Virginia to sell their slaves further south and west. Most farmers in the South had small- to medium-sized farms with few slaves, but the large plantation owner’s wealth, often reflected in the number of slaves they owned, afforded them considerable prestige and political power. As the quality of land decreased from over-cultivation, slave owners increasingly found that the majority of their wealth existed in the form of their slaves; they began looking to new lands in Texas and further west, as well as in the Caribbean and Central America, as places where they might expand their holdings and continue their way of life.

Unfortunately, the only history people know nowadays is Hitler Kinda Bad and Flares Are Out. Expecting people to understand that the "antebellum" South created a plantation class that exploited slaves, excluded poor whites, and maintained a great deal of control over the United States by playing obstructionist games in the Congress is a bit much. Look at these hats!

The word "antebellum" is a code word for when things were "right" in the South. Using it to sell clothes is akin to using it to convince people that it is your God-given right and your solemn duty to your heritage to buy and sell other human beings.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Vaccinations and the Wealthy




I took this shot a few weeks ago when visiting the Tyson's Corner mall. This advertisement was prominently displayed and targeted at the wealthy patrons of one of the most high-end malls on the East Coast.




There are probably nicer malls and malls with more elite clientele, but you would have a hard time outclassing Tyson's Corner. This ad wasn't directed at anyone who doesn't already make a comfortable living, by the way. Given the rules for public schools and the improved access to medical care (thanks to Obamacare and other reforms), those who make less money have more of an incentive and opportunity to vaccinate their children. America still lags behind much of the world, of course. Immigrant children from Guatemala are more likely to be vaccinated against disease than children from Texas.





This sign had me wondering--are we ever going to reach wealthier people who insist on avoiding immunizations against disease? Have we lost the Whole Foods crowd entirely, despite the science and the need for common sense? 





If you're seeing mall ads like this one, then we have lost too many people to the idea that they do not need to participate in the betterment of society. Their status has isolated them from the economic and social realities of modern life. I don't think they are reachable anymore--the idea that parents know what is best for their kids, and that their kids are somehow "too good" for the same immunizations given to "regular" children is an idea like racism. No matter how hard you try, you're not going to convince people that they're not special.

Anyway, I think these ads are useless. Far too many people have caught on to the belief that they are wealthy because they are special and thus do not need to do what everyone else has done. We are looking at a future where fighting diseases that we nearly wiped out is going to look like a bad science fiction movie.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Joe Klein is Too Stupid to Recognize Racism in His Midst




Hey, Joe. That's racist!

I have heard the T-bone steak and orange-soda riff a number of times on road trips in recent years. It is always T-bone steaks. Sometimes it’s dog food too. Is it true? Maybe so; there are food-stamp abuses, no doubt. Or maybe it happened once, someone saw it, and the story spread, sprayed into the atmosphere by talk radio. It is now an urban (and rural) legend. The food-stamp stories mix with more purposeful fantasies spread by interest groups, like the National Rifle Association’s constant spew that the government wants to “take away” your guns rather than merely regulate their use. And then there are the immigrant stories: Kostelka heard about a carload of Mexicans stopped by the local police without driver’s licenses or proof of residency. “And they were given a fine and set free,” he said. True, no doubt, but incomplete: fewer would-be immigrants have been crossing the border in recent years, and the Obama Administration has been sending record numbers back home.


The "Welfare Queen" meme runs through American society like shit through a goose--it's as phony as hell, it stinks, and everyone is convinced that it's true no matter what the facts say.





People on welfare are not rich. People who come here to work do so because wealthy business owners know they can get away with hiring cheap labor and get rid of them when they don't need workers. Those that abuse the system and get caught are punished. The Border Patrol works the southern border of the United States in depth, catching untold numbers of immigrants. The vast majority of Americans who use welfare benefits of some kind do so temporarily. The vast majority of people who come here illegally to work are conservative in their social beliefs and don't break the law. It is much, much easier to accumulate stuff, buy things, and live well by having a job. That's true for everybody. When people don't have jobs, they see how stingy welfare really is and get off it as soon as they can. The Obama Administration has been sending illegal immigrants back to where they came from since day one.





The next time Joe Klein is talking with the people who make all of these claims, he should call bullshit on them and call them racist. That's all this is--racism and ignorance, tribal resentment and the mistaken belief that poor people cause all the problems in America. 

The Puritans Still Rule America




No surprise here. This is the lesson that people in politics never seem to learn--it's not the crime, it's the cover-up. Everything you think had gone away will always come back around and bite you in the ass. And anything that involves sex will be exposed because the American appetite for naughty news is insatiable:

As nearly two dozen Secret Service agents and members of the military were punished or fired following a 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia, Obama administration officials repeatedly denied that anyone from the White House was involved.


But new details drawn from government documents and interviews show that senior White House aides were given information at the time suggesting that a prostitute was an overnight guest in the hotel room of a presidential advance-team member — yet that information was never thoroughly investigated or publicly acknowledged.


The information that the Secret Service shared with the White House included hotel records and firsthand accounts — the same types of evidence the agency and military relied on to determine who in their ranks was involved.


Jack Lew was the White House Chief of Staff when this happened. Covering up the involvement of the White House in this scandal probably went through him. If it did not, then you can plainly see why he did not hold the job for very long.





The Secret Service and the White House are locked in a struggle against one another. No one is well served by this and no one should mistake the impact this will have going forward. The rest of President Obama's turn in office will resemble siege warfare, and, in my opinion, the leaks that will involve this kind of activity will increase.





There is also an undercurrent of a cultural clash here. When you send Americans abroad, no matter how sophisticated they pretend to be, there is simply no way they can handle the customs and the practices found in other countries. We are still a Puritanical society and we bear the imprint made by a long-dead religious sect that flourished in New England on American customs and morals. This is why the Old West shocked people back east--it resembled the way the world still works in many places, with sex between adults treated like a retail transaction and with little regard for what made preachers uneasy.





The direct link to Puritanical values can be found when you laugh at the idea that the actor, Stephen Collins, should be the face of conservative family values. He once had the gall to criticize Jessica Biel for trying to have a viable career in Hollywood. He will likely never work again and the media elements at the level of TMZ will attempt to make the same buck that the Colombian prostitutes made when it was known that they were able to use the law to embarrass the government of the United States.





Everything can be traced back to hypocrisy and Puritan values that are outdated. No wonder the French still laugh at us.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Yep, That's Rape




George Will has no idea what "rape" actually is and he can prove it for you:

Consider the supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. “sexual assault.” Herewith, a Philadelphia magazine report about Swarthmore College, where in 2013 a student “was in her room with a guy with whom she’d been hooking up for three months”:


“They’d now decided — mutually, she thought — just to be friends. When he ended up falling asleep on her bed, she changed into pajamas and climbed in next to him. Soon, he was putting his arm around her and taking off her clothes. ‘I basically said, “No, I don’t want to have sex with you.” And then he said, “OK, that’s fine” and stopped. . . . And then he started again a few minutes later, taking off my panties, taking off his boxers. I just kind of laid there and didn’t do anything — I had already said no. I was just tired and wanted to go to bed. I let him finish. I pulled my panties back on and went to sleep.’”


Six weeks later, the woman reported that she had been raped. Now the Obama administration is riding to the rescue of “sexual assault” victims. It vows to excavate equities from the ambiguities of the hookup culture, this cocktail of hormones, alcohol and the faux sophistication of today’s prolonged adolescence of especially privileged young adults.


Now, I'm not an editor, but I play one on TV. And if I was the editor of this piece, and if George Will had submitted it to me, I would have written, in red ink across the part that I just quoted, "Mr. Will, this is rape. Plain and simple."





I mean, "dude. THAT'S RAPE." It really is.





Holy jeebus. How can you read that and not slap your forehead?





It does not matter if they had a previous relationship--forced sex is rape.





It certainly does matter that they mutually ended their relationship--his forced sex on her was rape because they had mutually determined that there was no existing relationship.





It does not matter if they had gotten in bed together--forced sex is rape.





It does not matter if she did not fight back--forced sex is rape.





What was outlined above was sex that was forced onto a woman by a man who was told "no." That is rape.





If the Washington Post still employs George Will--who clings to definitions and ideas that have been overtaken by events and who acts as if his medieval understanding of the current culture is relevant in any way--by the end of today, they are complicit in the mistaken notion that it's not rape if you only force it on her a little or once saw her bathroom area during happier times. By keeping this man gainfully employed, they endorse a creepy old man's outdated understanding of sex between two adults and have no credibility to engage on anything.

ABC News and the WaPo give this man a sinecure and allow him unfettered access to the political process as it is being butchered by the media. They should be shamed and hounded for allowing this creepy old futz to show up and obsess about college rape culture again and again.

Hey, bro. THAT WAS RAPE YOU JUST DESCRIBED ABOVE OMG! I mean, honestly. Wow.





George Will represents addled and confused thinking that demonizes victims and says that, hey, rape's okay by me when she has it coming.





What a disgrace this man has showered upon himself.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Clintons Drive Them Crazy




What do you do when an otherwise reasonable adult with a prominent media job loses their ever loving mind?

Well, the pithy response is, he never had his wits about him in the first place. David Frum reveals his inner child here, and you can't fault the man for being racist--with conservatives, that's a feature and not a bug.

And the larger reality is that the Clintons will always drive conservatives around the bend. The Clintons bring out the worst in people who lived through that era and considered themselves Republicans. That whole era was one of such superficial insanity that no one should welcome a return to it, no matter what.

As tired as I am of the Clintons, modern conservatism has gone so far off the deep end that if we were to elect a Democrat to the presidency in 2016 who had never said anything stupid, who saved the lives of a hundred soldiers and a thousand puppies, who had the Medal of Honor, who was named Smith and was from the whitest part of Iowa, and who was gracious and polite, they would still call him a murdering psychopath who fucked animals and ate baboon hearts and wasn't a real American.

They are crazy, all of them, and there's no reasoning with them anymore. Might as well hope for something else.