*

*
Surfer, Encinitas

Friday, August 31, 2012

Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong



I don't know why I love Bloomfield so much, could it be the mere reason that we have the same hair? I consider him the gold standard for blues guitar. I was reading some guitar maven who wrote that Bloomfield set the until Clapton came along, who was "so much more lyrical." I don't agree. City blues is spare, a bit drier, Michael's musical integrity just bursts forth on all of his recordings.  In a way and authenticity that Clapton doesn't touch. American player playing American music. With a perfect tone. At least for me.

I saw him after the comeback at the tribal stomp, once earlier in the park. He was revered by both whites and blacks and had credibility in the black community. Great story of him in a book I read about chastising a black guy exhibiting poor behavior and disrespect, in the line at the Apollo no less. Serious huevos.

This is the way I would play blues if I could. Throw a dash of Albert Collins in too for seasoning. Of course as I heard last year, nowadays only forty plus jewish accountants listen to the blues...

Last breakfast


Our sunday ritual is brunch at Le Bistro with friends. Owner isn't feeling all that great and not enough others joined us for the best meal in town. Sadly got word yesterday, no more sunday brunches. Major bummer.

The Good Humor Man, he sees everything like this

Ice Cream Kid

Ice Cream Kid © Stanley Mouse
I have this love, hate thing with Google. Love the free blogging platform, love the let's not be too evil philosophy, love the voice recognition technology on Android, love many of their products, their original populist streak. But there are many things I can't stand.

Google, and more to the point Larry Page in his new cost cutting quest for the bottom line and efficiency, doesn't seem to have a lot of regard and loyalty to the consumer and end user. He builds great innovative programs, some that I actually pay for like Picnik and then kills them without batting an eye, leaving the user frantically waving our arms in space as we come crashing to the ground. I visited this page and counted 68 programs either expunged or slated for demolition.

There is no such thing as customer service in Google land, the practitioner urged to visit a chat room and hopefully find another person who is possibly less misinformed than he is.

I bring this all up because I would like to talk about my phone. My Motorola Bionic. I know I bitch and moan a lot about Verizon and some of this might be their fault. But here goes: After my LG Lucid died its miserable and premature death, some Verizon troubleshooter in Nebraska said that he wanted to make me happy and while he couldn't hook me up with an iphone, I was going to get the great phone he uses, the Motorola Bionic. Just to tie this together neatly, Google bought Motorola Mobility, the company that produces the phone, last August.

I just had one question for the guy. Was the phone upgradeable? No problem, man. This phone currently uses the Gingerbread 2.3.4 operating system but soon you will be rocking to the sultry strains of Ice Cream Sandwich! Yippee, I says. How long until the upgrade? A month, tops. I was down with that. I didn't quite understand all these sugary confectioner's terms but the phone sure sounds sweet.

Well, it has been a year this month since the Bionic was released and I still get no ice cream. Lesser phones with lesser pedigrees are giddily motoring around on Ice Cream and now its successor, Jellybean and still no ice cream for me.

It had been supposedly slated for the early third quarter and I am no math whiz but I figure third quarter is July, August and September so that window is now officially closed. Maybe they really meant early late third quarter?

Internet spies now say that it really means November. There are a zillion sights that live and die on this geek stuff like its the crown jewels or Kruschev's shoe we are talking about. I merely wanted a phone without these continual "no data connectivity" messages and one that wouldn't be obsolete soon after I forked over the three hundred dollars. I didn't have a clue as to the significance of the bootloader being ultimately unlocked or not.

Honestly, I wonder if the fact that Google decided to recently fire 4000 workers at Motorola Mobility has anything to do with the delays? The old, sorry, we fired everybody that was working on your device and it sucks to be you.

I went to the Verizon store to try to score an extended battery for this little juice hog yesterday and the guy said that this phone's hardware is incompatible with ICS 4.0 and they should have never even tried to attempt the rewrite. I don't know, this technical stuff is way out of my pay grade. Perhaps Google is more interested in going back to selling Nexus devices?

One thing I do know is that it is getting harder to trust these people with their seeming lack of regard to the consumer. Will be hard to buy another phone from them. Say what you want about Apple but you never have to put up with this crap.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Orwellian Doublespeak

This week's winner has to be the South African government for charging 270 miners for the crime of murdering themselves. The government is using an apartheid era law from 1956 called "common purpose" to charge the striking workers with provoking the police into killing their thirty four comrades.

New reports that the miners were actually killed by police snipers hiding behind boulders, a mass slaughter.

Peter Lang

Rattlesnake Paella

Renée's bounty © Robert Sommers
I am getting ready to hunker down and re-enter the bunker for the coming weeks. I have written three and a half chapters in the new course book I am writing on Adobe Photoshop CS6 and I need to finish it this month, before I leave for Spain. My normal course is to procrastinate as long as I can and then to jump in with both feet, only coming up for air to maintain necessary bodily functions and for more coffee. If all goes well I can finish this thing in two or three more hard pulls. I am using my own photography and the shot setup can be quite time consuming. If you want to learn about a subject I suggest writing a book, it is quite the motivational tool and I can attest that my own proficiency has definitely improved in some of the more esoteric areas of the program.

Anyway today is my last day of indolence before I put the pedal to the medal and git down to bidness. Going to write and maybe get a haircut.

It has of course been the political season, what I call the "ugly season." As hard as I try to remain, ahem, fair and balanced, I am afraid that I have jumped into the partisan fray with both feet as they say, and unmasked myself for the pinko that I am and remain. We can all take heart that it will soon be over and half of the country can be miserable for the next four years. The $64 trillion dollar question is. which half?

Someone actually said that they missed me talking about food of late. The reality is that my culinary conquests of late have been rather mundane and not worth much talking about. Valentino was good, I had the veal chop and the starter a board of house cured cold cuts; lamb, wild boar, iberico pork, duck and guanciale. Leslie had the raviolis stuffed with short ribs, cream and black truffles and she didn't really find it too exciting.

We had a loud and obnoxious table behind us and they couldn't move us so our peaceful and relaxing meal was more like trying to hear each other with a 747 landing. My wife didn't feel that chef Luciano Pellegrini's meal was as good as it was on our other visits. They have definitely scaled back the bread, something our server said was a cutback due to the bad economy.  They used to serve the most delicious bread and cracker assortments.

We washed down the fare with a Barolo that was on sale, last of the bin, quite yummy. I was happy, she less so. Dessert was the, oh so fashionable doughnut with a couple different sauces, no big deal.

*
Won't get into the Bouchon thing too much, Vegas wasn't about food damnit, it was about me losing money. Bouchon had typically good pastries. I ordered scrambled eggs with boudin and brioche and got a big stomach ache. Then again it could have been the blackjack.

*
Not a whole lot to report on the food front. Stopped off at Fallbrook's Magee's Tavern the other day for a barbecued chicken salad that honestly tasted like cat food, yucky and syrupy sweet. I told one of the owners and he said he would try it himself and get back to me The other owner told me yesterday that my dish hadn't been minced properly but the overly sweet sauce was what they used on their wings and "how they like it."

The problem with the dish was not the minced chicken, it was the inedible chicken but to each his own. The place being close and me not wanting to drive, I stopped there yesterday to try the stilton burger at the bar. I said no onions, twice, and got a burger and salad, of course with onions. No cebollas, man. I don't even want the knife cutting the tomato to touch the onion but just looked at the server and grimly tossed the limp bermuda on her napkin, not saying a word. Burger itself was pretty good, fries excellent.

Same thing happened at Canyon Ranch Spa, my whole wheat (yechh!) bagel and lox had the onions I specifically de-requested but they just slapped another onion cut tomato over the top when I complained. Not wanting to seem like a critical person I decided to just shut up and take out my ire on the tip.

*

Made my third visit to Jasmine this month on sunday. Best dim sum around. Accompanied by Tracy and Stanley, we tore through the cart laden fare like termites attacking a balsa wood airplane factory. Not pretty but very tasty.

*
If you are near Henry's market, the pluots they have right now are out of this world. Organic, I believe that the sticker says Purity brand. Our friend Jean has agreed to make us a pluot pie, bless her heart. Never had one before but I bet it will be out of this world.

She and Bill had us over for paella last night that was excellent and got us all primed for Spain.


They have found the asian psyllid in a couple groves in Rainbow. This bug causes the terrible condition called greening and could be the death of the local citrus industry. It has already decimated large swaths of South America and Florida. Hope we get a pass.

*

Renée's garden is awash in tomatoes and I got a nice bag today.

*
I got a call at the end of dinner from a neighbor. Big fat red rattlesnake in the approach to our driveway. Her daughter tried to do us a favor and run it over but it slithered up into the yard. Now I am not a snake guy but I especially detest buzzworms. This guy has been in and out for weeks. I have shovel and snakeshot ready but his timing has been impeccable. We have a treasured cat to worry about, Nigel and Leslie couldn't get in the front door once or twice when I was in New Mexico. I know they do a lot of positive things for the environment but if he don't vacate, it is him or me. But for now I am tip toeing daintily to and from my vehicle.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tall Order

© Robert Sommers 2012

The bigger the love, the greater the hate

This is how we feed the animals

Two delegates at the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Tuesday reportedly threw nuts at a black camerawoman working for CNN and said “This is how we feed animals” before being removed from the convention. This incident has been confirmed by the network.

The convention released a statement about the Tuesday incident, saying: "Two attendees tonight exhibited deplorable behavior. Their conduct was inexcusable and unacceptable. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated."

This campaign has been one long dog whistle. I am not sure if the Republicans have been running against Obama or FDR with all of the efforts to tear down the New Deal and the safety net. Now I am wondering if it isn't Lincoln they are actually running against. How many are muttering under their breath that it's time to "get the nigger out of the White House?"


viral tea party broadside

The Republican narrative of late is that Obama is an advocate for the welfare state and dependence. The reality is that he has not been any different than any of his predecessors since Roosevelt. It is the GOP that has been preaching for the radical shift in policy, dismembering Medicare and Social Security.

The relaxation of the welfare work requirement kerfuffle is particularly disingenuous. Obama was asked by five senators to grant them waivers and flexibility from the welfare work requirements in the program known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. Romney himself sought greater TANF flexibility in 2005 as Massachusetts’ governor. In fact historically, the majority of the waiver requests came from Republican governors, with 28 members of the Republican Governors Association seeking greater flexibility in implementing the program.

Obama’s had issued a directive in a July 12 letter requires states to more effectively move welfare recipients from welfare to work. The Obama administration announced in July that it would consider waiving certain federal welfare rules if states have ideas for "demonstration projects" they promise can increase welfare employment outcomes by 20 percent (states are required to maintain certain percentages of welfare beneficiaries in work activities or else face penalties). It does not repeal or waive the work requirements enacted by Congress and signed into law in 1996 by then-President Bill Clinton.

Two of the Governors who sought exemptions are Nevada's Brian Sandoval and Utah's Gary Herbert, both Republicans. Now they are dancing around the waiver requests, saying that they were just "exploring" the concept.

How's this from Sandoval's office:

“Nevada hasn’t requested a waiver and has no intention of requesting one,” his spokeswoman Mary-Sarah Kinner told the Las Vegas Sun. “The letter was not a request for a waiver; it was a request to explore the possibilities.”

Boehner has jumped on board, excusing Obama of trying to push more welfare to shore up his (read black) base.

The Republicans know that this whole line of inquiry is bogus and false, not to mention created to spark tensions around racial fault lines.

A Republican operative sniffed when confronted by the falsehoods at the convention yesterday. "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers," Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said at a panel organized by ABC News.

Even representatives from right wing groups like the Heritage Foundation claim that the welfare charges are bogus. But I guarantee that they are sure effective, just like the birther joke, infuriating the nitwit base that doesn't have the time, judgement or inclination to separate fact from fiction and who will just eat this stuff up. Of course not every Republican is a racist, but there certainly seem to be quite a few of them lurking under the big tent.


Obamabucks - brought to you by the Republican Women's Club of San Bernardino County

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dirty Love

Puritanwatch


Those freedom loving, limited government, believers in personal liberty are at it again and have now set their sights on porn. The GOP platform in Tampa contains language that will go after porn in a big way. 

"Current laws on all forms of pornography and obscenity need to be vigorously enforced," the platform says, according to a draft obtained by Reuters. Republicans are planning a Tuesday vote on the platform document.

According to anti porn crusader Patrick Trueman, Mitt Romney promised earlier this year that he would push for "strict enforcement" of obscenity laws, as well as the broader use of blocking software to screen out internet porn.

Which is kind of funny. "According to the Association of Club Executives, which represents 4,000 strip clubs, when it comes to national political conventions, Republicans outspend Democrats three-to-one. The group says members of the so-called family values party -- whose platform calls for vigorous enforcement of anti-pornography and obscenity laws -- plunk down on average $150 per person compared to $50 for Democrats."

People enjoy watching porn. Even Republicans. It's a fact. The University of Montreal tried to conduct a study on porn viewing a few years ago and could not find a single man who didn't occasionally partake.
“We started our research seeking men in their 20s who had never consumed pornography,” said Professor Simon Louis Lajeunesse. “We couldn't find any.”
Although hampered in its original aim, the study did examined the habits of those young men who used pornography – which would appear to be all of them.
Prof Lajeunesse interviewed 20 heterosexual male university students who consumed pornography, and found on average, they first watched pornography when they were 10 years old.
Around 90 per cent of consumption was on the internet, while 10 per cent of material came from video stores.
Single men watched pornography for an average of 40 minutes, three times a week, while those in relationships watched it 1.7 times a week for around 20 minutes.
The study found that men watched pornography that matched their own image of sexuality, and quickly discarded material they found offensive or distasteful.
Prof Lajeunesse said pornography did not have a negative effect on men's sexuality.
“Not one subject had a pathological sexuality,” he said. “In fact, all of their sexual practices were quite conventional.
“Pornography hasn't changed their perception of women or their relationship, which they all want to be as harmonious and fulfilling as possible,” he added.

Apparently that isn't enough for the rights' prudish, moralizing hypocrites. This might hit Mitt Romney right in the pocketbook. He is or was on the board of the Marriott Co., a Mormon company that makes quite a bundle on its guests overnight porn viewing habits. The Internet research firm TopTenReviews estimated that adult pornography revenues through magazines, the Internet and video sales and rentals totalled $9.4 billion in 2006 alone.

Now we Democrats may not have the same kinky and sex obsessed appetites as our Republican brethren, we certainly don't spend the same amount of time playing telegraph footsie in airport restrooms, but I will fight for their right to take matters in hand and engage in their own private and non destructive personal sexual behaviors. Because this is America damnit, and we are supposed to be the land of the free!

Bobby Jindal is an ungrateful S.O.B.


We have got the most incompetent President since Jimmy Carter was in the White House. -Governor Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal is an ungrateful s.o.b. With tropical storm Isaac revvin' up to full Category 2 hurricane status, the Governor of Louisiana sent President Obama a request yesterday for federal emergency status and funding as required by the Stafford act.

The President, after speaking to Jindal on the phone, granted the emergency status and offered the help of the federal government.

Obama's emergency declaration activates FEMA and authorizes it to oversee disaster operations and provide federal assistance in 15 parishes. It also states that the federal government will cover 75 percent of the cost of direct federal assistance, with the state responsible for the rest.

Not enough for Jindal. Not wanting to take yes for an answer, he dashes off another letter criticizing the scope of the help and asking the government to reimburse it for its 25% share of the costs.
“Your limited declaration does not provide for reimbursement of expenses that the state is taking to prepare for the storm. As of 5 pm Central time today, the National Weather Service forecast this storm to strengthen to a Category 2 hurricane and squarely impact the State of Louisiana. The increased urgency of the situation necessitates that we re-emphasize the request for full federal assistance for the State,” he wrote. “The speed with which this threat developed has necessitated extraordinary emergency protective measures at the State and local government level,” he said.
“Given the extraordinary developments of this storm and its approaching impact on the State of Louisiana, I ask that you exercise your discretion to approve the State’s pending request for all emergency protective measures,” Jindal said.
“Further, I ask that you consider a cost-share adjustment to eliminate the State’s non-federal share of the costs for this event. When threatened with extraordinary disasters, states depend upon the availability of the full spectrum of assistance available under the Stafford Act."
Bobby Jindal has historically gone out of his way to attack the President and his policies. He has rejected federal monies for medicare, and has continually stressed the need for limiting federal aid. Now he has the hubris to complain that the federal government isn't doing enough and isn't giving enough. He instead lectures Obama about his duty to the citizens of Louisiana.

It is ironic that Obama is offering greater assistance than Bush did with Hurricane Katrina. Bush set a $5 million dollar ceiling for funds without congressional approval, Obama doesn't have an expenditure ceiling in his bequest. Louisiana ended up ponying up about 10% of the costs of the 2008 disaster. Yet Jindal never went after Obama's predecessor. Now he chooses to engage in more political theatrics and spit in the eye of those that would help him. Looking for a free ride and short term political gain.

I know, Bobby. How bout' you Louisianans take some personal responsibility for living in a reptile and bug infested shithole that seems to operate as a hurricane magnet for the whole gulf coast? You want to keep building in swampy lowland, you take the hit. Have you given any consideration to exorcising the storm's demons, like you did with that classmate at Brown? Or is it less effective with natural disasters?

Why not talk to Paul Ryan? His budget cuts funding for emergency agencies including NOAA by over  $182 million dollars. You have a great opportunity to show us that you yourself can operate under that tough love fodder all you have been preaching to the rest of us all these years.

See, we're in a recession and there's only so much money. This isn't the all you can eat buffet at the Bombay Palace on the corner where you can keep coming back for the chicken vindaloo.

Jindal raised the same objections about not getting enough government help during the gulf spill. One of the most ardent advocates of drilling, he bitched about the government's response and then bitched about the drilling moratorium. And then has the nerve to whine about pollution. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

Typical conservative. Talk about fiscal restraint and then start spending money like a drunken sailor when it's your ass in the fire.

By the way, Lousiana is by far the most corrupt state in the Union. From Huey Long, Earl Long, Richard Leche to Edwin Edwards, it has seen its share of Governors in the slammer. Think you can break the streak, Bobby?

According to statistics compiled by the Corporate Crime Reporter, it was No. 1 for the period between 1997 and 2006, with 326 federal corruption convictions. That's a rate of 7.67 per 100,000 residents. In 2001 Jim Brown became the third consecutive insurance commissioner to be convicted. New Orleans Rep. William Jefferson kept large bundles of cash cold in the freezer.

So I would say Louisiana, be careful biting the hand that feeds you. You see what happens with those 'gators. Next time you can go it alone.



Monday, August 27, 2012

Cirque Du D.



It was our privilege to be invited to one of the greatest birthday parties I have ever attended the other night. D of R&D celebrated a nice round number achievement and R created the spectacle, setting the bar so high it may never be eclipsed.


She hired a troupe of Cirque and circus performers, a magician, contortionists, acrobats, juggler, fire twirler. Couple that with a great band, friends, family, food and libations and this one will be in our memory banks forever.


A very joyous and marvelous time with some of our favorite people.


I took a lot of photographs and look forward to processing them. Very fertile ground, visually. Here I offer a smattering of them for your enjoyment.


There was a bizarre thing that took place that still has those of us who were there, shaking our collective heads. The superb magician and mentalist Kevin Viner was baffling the crowd with his exceptional sleight of hand. He asked Leslie to pick a card and then to think of one of her oldest and dearest friends. She wrote his name on the card, out of view of the prestidigitator. Folded it in four and put it away.

"I see the first word starts with R," he says." "last two letters l." "Is it Randall Genser?" My wife and I were quite astonished. But what was more astounding was that the phone rang a minute later. Who was on the phone from Detroit? A guy we haven't talked to in a year? Of course it was Randall Genser. I think this one might have even flummoxed the magician although Leslie said that he remained nonplussed.

I had a very enjoyable time talking to Bob, the juggler. I used to juggle quite a bit and he showed me some of the new forms that had been developed by mathematicians in the early 1980's that have revolutionized the toss. Very competent juggler and a lot of fun. My juggling partners moved to Thailand and never came back and I sort of dropped my pins somewhere along the way.


I would like to thank our hosts and the fantastic performers on behalf of the both of us. It was amazing! I will send more personal pictures to many of the attendees in the coming weeks. What a hoot of a party!

AMANDA RUTH

Wishful Thinking

President Obama made proclamations the other day that the prospects for a working government would be better after he is elected to a second term because Republicans would be forced to finally deal with the inevitable and come to the table. This would pave way for some bipartisan deal making, something we haven't seen for several decades.

I think that he needs to step away from the presidential bong.

For all of their real and perceived deficiencies, the Republicans are nothing if not resolute and I forecast the same partisan gridlock and stalemate that we have seen in recent times, no matter the victor in the forthcoming election. You don't get into a game of chicken with Mitch McConnell. They have been obstructing for four years. Can do another four years standing on their heads.

Doesn't the President know we're at war? With ourselves, of course. They will just hang up their shingle and prepare to do nothing for another four years, their hatred for this man and the left so palpable that any kind of compromise or way out of our national disfunction is out of the question. Trenches have been dug, provisions have been laid, everyone is hunkered down in their respective camps. Hope for unity is a pipe dream and the malaise reaches far beyond the presidency.

Is this any way to run a nation?

*

I was at a wonderful birthday party the other night and got into a nice discussion with a politically mixed couple from back east who both had extended time on the hill, she in the first Bush administration.

I was decrying the absence of Republican moderates, she Democratic moderates, I guess it all depends on your vantage. But she did say one thing that I have given some thought to and have to challenge. She blamed Obama for the failure to bring bills up for consideration.

Now I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but I can recall this president really going out of his way in the beginning to reach across the line with his proposals and water down anything that might cause the grand old party umbrage. Seem to recall it didn't make a lick of difference, in fact in most cases he failed to get a single republican vote for his proposals. Why should he engage in a Lucy/Charlie Brown come kick the football routine when it is so obviously pointless? Just reinforces the image of an emasculated presidency.

Both candidates are pretty even and either potential outcome is a real possibility. But neither choice will make much of a difference with a population so evenly divided and with so little interest in finding middle ground.

*

It is sort of funny that Romney is now once again bringing up Romneycare, his Massachusetts health care program that Obama used as a template for Obamacare. He ran from it like he was running away from an old ugly girlfriend during the primary. This week it is an example of how well he resonates with women, supposedly one of his achilles heel's this election. He has flip flopped so much you have to bring a scorecard to keep up. It seemed like a pretty good program, he should endorse it or disavow it, we are electing a president, not a weather vane.

My sister in West Palm thinks that one would have to be crazy to vote for anyone in a party dumb enough to hold their convention in Florida during high hurricane season anyway.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress



Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny

Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Equal Time

Not everybody is always happy with the Blue Heron Blast. Jim M sent this letter he received from an ex V.P. at Proctor and Gamble. I checked on Snopes, the guy is legit.

Put this in the news letter. Jim M



Chilling Letter from Proctor & Gamble to Obama
> >>> Who would have thought, and yet many are thinking it.
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> By Lou Pritchett, Procter & Gamble
> >>>
> >>> A LETTER FROM A PROCTER AND GAMBLE EXECUTIVE TO THE PRESIDENT* THE LAST
SENTENCE IS THE MOST CHILLING
> >>> Lou Pritchett is one of corporate America's true living legends- an
> >>> Acclaimed author, dynamic teacher and one of the world's highest
> >>> Rated speakers. Successful corporate executives everywhere recognize him
as the foremost leader in change management..
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> Lou changed the way America does business by creating an audacious concept                          
that came to be known as "partnering."
> >>>
> >>> Pritchett rose from soap salesman to Vice-President, Sales and Customer
Development for Procter and Gamble and over the course of 36 years; made
corporate history.
> >>> AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> Dear President Obama:
> >>>
> >>> You are the thirteenth President under whom I have lived and unlike any of
the others, you truly scare me.
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you.
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because I do not know how you paid for your expensive Ivy
League education and your upscale lifestyle and housing with no visible signs of
support.
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because you did not spend the formative years of youth
growing up in America and culturally you are not an American.
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll.
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because you have never had military experience, thus don't
understand it at its core.
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because you lack humility and 'class', always blaming others.
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself
with radical extremists who hate America and you refuse to publicly denounce
these radicals who wish to see America fail..
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the 'blame America' crowd
and deliver this message abroad.
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because you want to change America to a European style
country where the government sector dominates instead of the private sector.
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because you want to replace our health care system with a                             
government controlled one.
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because you prefer 'wind mills' to responsibly capitalizing
on our own vast oil, coal and shale reserves..
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because you want to kill the American capitalist goose that
lays the golden egg which provides the highest standard of living in the world.
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because you have begun to use 'extortion' tactics against
certain banks and corporations.
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because your own political party shrinks from challenging you
on your wild and irresponsible spending proposals.
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because you will not openly listen to or even consider
opposing points of view from intelligent people.
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent                          
and omniscient.
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because the media gives you a free pass on everything You do.
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because you demonize and want to silence the Limbaugh's,
Hannitys, O'Reillys and Becks who offer opposing, Conservative points of view.
> >>>
> >>> You scare me because you prefer controlling over governing.
> >>>
> >>> Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second term I will probably
not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8 years.
> >>>
> >>> Lou Pritchett
> >>> *
> >>> *
> >>> This letter was sent to the NY Times but they never acknowledged it.
> >>> Big surprise. Since it hit the Internet, however, it has had over 500,000
hits. Keep it going. All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men
to do nothing.. It's happening right now.
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> The CHANGE is here!! 90% of Americans will forward this. WE HAVE HAD
ENOUGH!

I could go through it line by line but will, mercifully, spare you. I can, and do, find a lot of fault with Obama but don't think he hates America or capitalism. I don't think he lacks class or worry about who paid for his expensive ivy league education.  I don't know that he thinks that he is omniscient or omnipotent. But I do defend Lou Pritchett's right to believe what he wants to believe, however foolish it may sound. I think that he speaks for a lot of Americans who are sore because they lost the last election and aren't used to not having their own way. I wonder if Bush and Romney's lack of a military background scares him as much as Obama's?

*

I sent the article Romney's Cheap Oil Chimera out to a few conservative friends and Bill L bit and swallowed the bait.

Hi Robert,

Okay, you finally got to me, I can't keep silent anymore!

As opposed to Obama's energy plan?

It is always the lessor to two evils in the political arena.  I was angry with Bush by 2008.  I was hopeful Obama would do some of the things he espoused but all he really did was focus on more Govt., spend huge more sums of money we didn't have based on more false promises and ignore the more mundane, immediate problems of debt and unsustainable entitlements.   If the economy is making slow improvements it seems more related to Corporate efficiencies than any of his policies.  I have now really had it with Obama and the 2008~2010 Democratic Congress.  Too me its time for a change and a big one.  Govt. is way too big, ineffective and burdensome and the present executive leadership is woefully unable to govern.

The energy solution I favor is converting to natural gas for motor vehicles.  It might upset some oil cos. but many are as invested in gas as oil.  We could supply the world with natural gas and it would create a huge new clean energy industry using mere modifications to the existing infrastructure.

Bill

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Perhaps Bill is right that any recovery is more due to the market than any grand keynesian strategy. But isn't it always like that? Who knows what would have happened if we had merely let our financial system implode? Nobody, perhaps things would now be even worse.

I don't know enough to make any comments regarding Natural Gas. No one knows what is in the fracking compounds, the effects on groundwater, it is largely unregulated and there have been ties reported to seismic events. Some of my largest clients are in this field but I say watch the documentary Gasland first and then let's talk.

I am one of the rare few that thought that Obama's push for renewable, wind and solar was on the right track.

Anyway glad that my conservative friends will still read me and hope that we can still have a meaningful and respectful dialogue.

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bogus birther propaganda.


One more from Jim M.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Motorcyclist. Near Baker, CA 8/22/12


Osborne Brothers / Muleskinner Blues



Funky skip at the start but very nice and strong version nonetheless.

Quislings and French Surrender Monkeys


New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, a Republican, is under fire from a member of the Republican National Committee for meeting with a native american group as required by law. In an email released by Progress Now New Mexico, she is accused of dishonoring the memory of General George Armstrong Custer, a man who killed thousands of native americans in the 1800's, by meeting with the Native American conference.

Martinez is required by law to attend the annual state-tribal leaders summit.

The committee member, Pat Rogers, is a high-powered GOP lobbyist, partner and Vice-President of the Modrall law firm of Albuquerque, RNC National Committeeman and recent member of the RNC Executive Committee.   He has represented Presidential candidates George Bush, Ralph Nader as well as Congressman Heather Wilson and the Susana Martinez for Governor Committee. His law firm Modrall Sperling, is a registered lobbyist for some of the nation's largest companies, including Verizon, General Motors, Scientific Gaming, The University of Phoenix, Molina Healthcare and CYRQ Energy.

The email was sent to high powered Albuquerque lawyer Paul Kennedy, currently vying for a State Supreme Court nomination. One would hope that the reference to Custer was made with tongue firmly in cheek, but with all the haters around, who knows these days?

Here is the email:

Quislings, French surrender monkeys, secret supporters (all along) of JAJ [Janice ArnoldPat Rogers Jones]

The state is going to hell.  Col. Weh would not have dishonored Col Custer in this manner.

I hope who ever recommended this is required to read the entire redist [redistricting law suit] transcript and sit through the entire meeting with the Gov.

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee


cellothrash



KerryB sent over this interesting cover of Nirvana's Smells like teen spirit performed by the Croation duo Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser.

The new Amerika - constant surveillance and more derricks



Lancaster launches a plane with a camera system that will store and record everything that is going on in the city. The Mayor defends the system by saying that he always behaves better when he knows somebody is watching. Like the old saying goes, you ain't doing nothing wrong, you got nothing to worry about. We got it all on tape. Here's betting American sheeple won't utter a peep.

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Polluted sky, Salt Lake City

Romney yesterday unveiled what I think might be the scariest proposition yet, that his energy policy will contain a provision that grants drilling oversight to states on federal land. That means the EPA will no longer have any say. Bye Bye, Utah, Alaska and Wyoming. Federal means the land belongs to all of us but locals tend to see it as their's to plunder. If he is elected and this policy is enacted, just wait until you see what the environment looks like in 10 years. A very bad idea.

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TransCanada wants to build their Keystone XL pipeline across Julia Trigg Crawford's property. She's not too keen on the idea. Texas Judge Bill Harris rules for TransCanada yesterday and upheld the condemnation of a fifty foot wide swath across her pasture in Paris, Texas.

The issue hinged on if the pipeline was a common carrier, one open to any oil company willing to pay published rates to use it. This pipeline isn't but in Texas all you have to do is file a one page form with the Texas Railroad Commission and say that you are a common carrier and you are home free. No hearing, no evidence, no title, no investigation, you get to do plumb whatever you are hankering to do.

A prior case, the Denbury decision, had found that a private enterprise can not acquire condemnation power by "checking off boxes on a one page form." The court recommended a set of uniform standards  for carriers and an enforcement body. It was never established and now Ms. Crawford is shit out of luck. You don't cross big oil in Texas.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dirty Talk

Got a letter from Mitt today. I've made all sorts of new friends since I subscribed to Townhall.


I will admit that I am a little bit confused by the Republican Party these days, frankly a little worried about them. Their message is so strangely incongruent.

Ryan believes in no rape or incest exceptions, and sponsored the bill with Akin but says it doesn't matter because he's not the boss, Romney is. The official Republican platform is also against exceptions but Priebus says, not to worry, the platform doesn't matter, what Romney says matters. Romney's not saying, but he has decided to not talk about anything substantive until after the election. Let him surprise you. Anyway, it's all so damn confusing. Does anyone believe in anything and are they willing to step up and take responsibility for it? They said they will answer no more questions about Akin or abortion today, or at least not in Denver.

To make matters worse Ryan comes out today attacking the defense sequestration language which is a bit weird since he voted for it, but according to him, not too willingly. Bizarre campaign. Not the first time they have attacked bills they supported. Bash Obama for pulling the 700 million out of the Medicare budget and then pull it out of your own budget. Is anybody keeping notes on all this?

Anyway it's so riveting, the networks have decided not to show most of the convention. Neilson has spoken, the American public has lost interest and we will now continue with your regularly scheduled programming.

*

Of course, Tropical Storm Isaac is also barreling in on the festivities, due to soak the convention if not worse. Waiting for Pat Robertson to explain where god stands in all this, the rain obviously god's vengeance for the drunken tea partiers unauthorized late night dip in the Sea of Gallilee. Smite them, lord. Am I sick because I can't squelch a cruel desire to observe the GOP delegates floating down the streets of Tampa, clutching light poles and strange flotsam as they vainly swim for dry land?

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Both my wife and my mother's birthday today and happy birthday to them both. I officially rescind any proclamations that I have ever made regarding my mother's alleged hypochondria or any intimations I have ever made about my childhood and her child rearing capabilities. She is a brave woman who has fought gamely against maladies that would break a normal person. Think Odysseus lashed to the mast. How's that, Ma?

*

I am getting a clearer understanding of the critical choices beckoning us in the upcoming presidential election. Vote for Mitt and he will show you how you to can one day own numerous offshore accounts in the Caymans. Grow the pie and all that. The party line of the right says that liberals are missing that can do spirit, waiting for government to give them something for nothing. So why is all of California's federal tax revenue supporting these red, southern states again?

Anyway the way I see it is we tried Bush a couple times and the meltdown and resultant large transfer of wealth to the plutocracy turned the whole country on its ear. The GOP wants to blame Obama for his failure to clean up Bush's mess in a expeditious time period as if anyone ever had experience in dealing with such a meltdown before.

renegade macaque monkey, tampa
Personally I usually go with blaming the guy who made the mess over the guy who didn't clean it up fast enough but what the hell do I know?

Fiona Apple - Use Me

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fruits and nuts

Many things I don't understand in this world. Failed algebra a couple times. No handyman skills, can't speak french. Still the notion of gay republicanism is the most foreign thing imaginableable. Log Cabin, GOProud, is this mere self hating or just another example of the stockholm syndrome in action? Why would you link up with the people who want to deny you your most basic rights?

Today GOProud, a gay republican group, endorsed former Governor Tommy Thompson over lesbian candidate Tammy Baldwin for the Wisconsin Senate seat. Baldwin is a seven term incumbent and would become the first openly gay United States Senator.

Thompson on the other hand, supports DOMA, is opposed to same sex marriage and wants employers to have the right to fire their employees merely because they are gay.




Some people deserve what they get, I guess.

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 I was reading the New York Times this morning and they ran pictures of the 2048 United States soldiers killed in Afghanistan, many lately by our ally's soldiers and policemen. Our eleventh year there, corrupt Karzai government and all. Obama was getting us out of the war, remember? Before he got all butch...

I was talking to a Sunni Afghan Pashtun that I met in Santa Fe about the phenomenon recently and he said that when an afghani loses face, he doesn't care who he kills or what happens to him. He said it with a touch of pride. And my thought was, then save yourselves, you bastard. If you don't want a civil society, spill your own blood and I don't care what happens to you. You and your country are not worth american blood. Right your own ship.

The choices in the middle east are all so bad these days. You either support Hezbollah allied Shia or Al Qeada, Saudi allied Sunni. There are no good guys anywhere. Popular movements overthrow monarchies and dictatorships, then bring back fundamentalist wahabists and salafists. Total cesspool.

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Texas judge Tom Head wants the deputies to be ready for civil war in case Obama gets re-elected.
“I’m thinking worst case scenario now,” Head said during an appearance on FOX 34 in Lubbock. “Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war, maybe. And we’re not talking just a few riots here and demonstrations, we’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy.”
The judge spun the elaborate conspiracy theory while calling for a 1.7 cent hike per $100 on property taxes in Lubbock County, a measure being considered by the commission there. He said he feared Obama would hand over sovereignty of the United States to the United Nations and the unrest would naturally follow.
*
Martian overlords spotted in new photographs of Red Planet.

Bad Beat

I was looking on the internet and mildly surprised at the dearth of images available for my search term, ass handed to me on platter. The initial adjectives I had contemplated using for describing the trip were ears pinned back, then gravel mouthwash but as I leave Las Vegas with tail firmly between my legs I think that the only fair description is severe assbeating.

I couldn't catch a card all week. I pride myself at my blackjack acumen and have a pretty stellar record in the game but there are times when you are going to get a beating and the time for me is right now. I have certainly had my wins and if you play the game, you have to expect that there are times that you are going to lose.

I could blame the lummox from Columbus who took an extra card which they would have had to bury, costing me a jack and a big unit swing. I watched the guy sit on fives against face cards for about an hour, like watching an idiot human train wreck. I extricated myself from the doofus but never really found my flow all weekend. Grumpy dealers, bad players, dealers making 21 in the cutest and most unusual ways, time after time. Like Sisyphus, I just never got a tail wind. I felt it early. I play on vibes and flow and should have known better.

My system has an automatic cutoff control in place so the pain is practically tolerable. Robert's primary rule of gambling; "Losing always feels worse than the winning feels good." Besides Kerry always points out that humility does wonders for my art and disposition. Did have a nice meal at Valentino last night and a good breakfast at Bouchon. I was told that Sheldon Adelson, the owner of the Venetian, and fifteenth richest guy in the world, was walking around the hotel but I never saw him. Politics aside, I really sort of like and admire the guy and I would have liked to meet him and thank him for the three day comp at his magnificent hotel. Enjoyed the amenities at the Canyon Ranch Spa every day.

But this is basically my third week on the road and I am certainly ready to get home and stay there for a while. Two more hours and I get to see this town in my rear view mirror, weather permitting. Storming and flooding outside. Leslie is here on business and is almost finished buying for the fall and winter. It is her birthday tomorrow so if you see her wish her a good one.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chaos in the pale blue grass

It is kind of odd. For years people have explained Lorenz's chaos theory by talking about how the minute flapping of a butterfly's wings in Tokyo can cause a hurricane weeks later in Texas. Life took a synchronistic and ironic twist when it was announced this week that the japanese pale grass blue butterfly is now showing genetic mutations as a result of radiation effects from Fukushima.

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The research was published in Scientific Reports, an open-access online journal by the Nature publication group. The butterflies, collected from several areas near the Fukushima plant, showed signs of genetic mutations, such as dented eyes, malformed legs and antennae, and stunted wings.

Experts believe that this research is significant. Butterflies are important bio-indicators and this might presage harm to human beings in the area. The butterflies were deteriorating both physically and genetically, with the share of those showing abnormalities increasing from 12 percent in the first generation to 18 percent in the second and 34 percent in the third.

Lorenz  coined the term butterfly effect for a specific event promulgated by a sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. He may have poached the idea from a Ray Bradbury story first published in 1952, A Sound of Thunder.

Lorenz was using a computer to make weather predictions in 1961 when he first came up with his theory, which he published in 1963 in a study called Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow. A fellow scientist said at that time that if so, a single flap of a seagull wing could change the course of weather forever.

Lorenz needed a title for a lecture at the 139th meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1972, A fellow scientist, Philip Merilees wrote Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas on the board? Much more lyrical than seagulls, in any case.


For the Good Times



Dean is right up there with Elvis with me. My two favorite voices. A beautiful rendition of the popular standard.

Many people have covered this Kris Kristofferson song including the King, Al Green and Johnny Cash. Ray Price is maybe the definitive studio version.


In and Out Urge

smells like...victory!
Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a two to one ruling, reversed Obama' Cross State Air Pollution Rule, the act that would regulates power plant omissions that travel to neighboring states. This is a major victory for air polluters. The EPA estimated that by 2014 the rule would have saved between 13,000 and 34,000 lives a year and provide health benefits for an estimated 240 million americans. The agency predicted that in two years this rule, in concert with others, would have cut sulfur dioxide emissions nationwide by 73 percent, compared with 2005 levels, and reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 54 percent.

The two majority judges, Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Judge Thomas Griffith are both George W. Bush appointees.  A Clinton appointee, Judge Judith Rogers, dissented. Power company lawyers are of course thrilled. They said that the provisions were costly and burdensome and would have forced the shutdown of some of the older coal fired plants.

The dissenter, Judge Judith Rogers, a Clinton appointee, wrote that her two colleagues were "trampling on this court's precedent on which the Environmental Protection Agency was entitled to rely in developing the Transport Rule rather than be blindsided by arguments raised for the first time in this court".

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Casey Anthony is free today, her one year probation over, although she now has to face a lawsuit from Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, a woman whose reputation she besmirched during her trial, and who eventually lost her house and job because of Anthony's prevarication. Anthony said that a babysitter with Gonzalez name had stolen her baby, later recanted and admitted that she had made the whole thing up.

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In a just, perfect world, Appeals Court Judges would have to live downwind of polluting power plants and defense attorneys who are complicit in bullshit stories that get murderers off would be required to let killers who walk live in their homes with them and their families for a year or two after they are set free. Cut the grass and watch the kids.

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Central Valley Meat Co. has a serious public relations problem after this undercover film was shot and sent to the Department of Agriculture. Supposedly the USDA had two inspectors at the Hanford plant at all times but maybe they weren't looking. This is one of the plants that furnishes In and Out it's beef and was a major supplier to the National School Lunch Program. I never liked In and Out burgers, never could figure out why so many people are fanatical about them, even less apt to grab a burger there now.




Another from Jon


Why Don't You Haul Off And Love Me?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fruta abajo

Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin has unleashed a firestorm for his remarks regarding "legitimate" rape and a woman's secret innate power to not conceive when forced into a sex act against her will. According to this June 2001 article in New Scientist, apparently the opposite is actually true:
"A single act of rape may be more than twice as likely to make a woman pregnant as a single act of consensual sex.
That statistic will reopen the hotly contested debate over whether rape can be a successful reproductive strategy in evolutionary terms. It could help to explain why men raping women has been so common throughout history and across cultures, according to two US researchers who presented work at the Human Behaviour and Evolution Conference in London, UK.
Jon Gottschall, a researcher at St Lawrence University in Canton, New York, says the studies failed to answer the crucial question: "What is the evolutionary success of rapists?"
To find out, he and his wife Tiffany Gottschall examined the results of National Violence against Women Survey, a study by the US National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The women studied were phoned at random and interviewed about their experiences.
The Gottschalls focused on 405 women who had suffered a single incidence of penile-vaginal rape at some point between the ages of 12 and 45. Of these, 6.4 per cent became pregnant. But that figure jumped to nearly eight per cent when the researchers allowed for the women who'd been using birth control - US government statistics show that one in five of the women in the sample were likely to have been using the pill or an IUD.
To complete the comparison, the Gottschalls needed to know how many women in that age group get pregnant from one-night stands and other one-off acts of consensual sex. The answer - reported this year in a separate study by Allen Wilcox, head of the epidemiology branch of the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences - was a mere 3.1 per cent.""
Not only is Akin's statement false from a scientific standpoint, the use of the adverb "legitimate" is quite pernicious and suggests that women are basically liars. 32,000 pregnancies from rape a year in our country, how many of those women secretly " wanted" it?

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Julian Assange is well on his way to martyrdom, or at least narcissistic personality disorder, with his self serving call for America to return to its revolutionary roots. The self styled anarchist avenger, who endangered countless lives with his wholesale dissemination of a quarter million secret diplomatic cables, is in hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy while he seeks to evade extradition to Sweden on his own rape charges.

Julian's backers are about to lose a cool $375k in bail money. Way to take care of your friends, Julian.

Now as I have said before, I think that both Manning and Assange should be executed for treason. New information I found at Wired today suggests that he has broken some serious United States espionage and conspiracy laws.
At a preliminary hearing last December against former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, prosecutors revealed that investigators had found evidence on Manning’s computer of a chat log purportedly between Manning and Assange in which Manning allegedly asked Assange for help with cracking a password to help him obtain access to U.S. military documents.
In a chat, dated March 8, 2010, Manning asked “Nathaniel Frank,” believed to be Assange, about help in cracking the main password on his classified SIPRnet computer so that he could log on to it anonymously. He asked “Frank” if he had experience cracking IM NT hashes (presumably it’s a mistype and he meant NTLM for the Microsoft NT LAN Manager). “Frank” replied yes, that they had “rainbow tables” for doing that. Manning then sent him what looked like a hash.
If the U.S. government can prove that Assange aided Manning in cracking the password, it would be evidence of a conspiracy between the two to hack a government computer to obtain unauthorized access.
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I heard an interesting interview with retiring Air Force General Norton Schwartz last week on NPR. Schwartz talked about the large amount of fighting that is now taking place with unmanned drones, remotely piloted by U.S. pilots safely ensconced at bases in rural Nevada, jiggling their joysticks from afar. Video gamers who have finally found gainful employ, I'll bet.

Schwartz estimates that in 10 years, they will make up 85% of the nation's aerial armada.

I was listening to a retired Pakistani Air Force Colonel seethe about the drone strikes today, which do raise legitimate questions about our respect for that country's sovereignty. Evidently, remote killing from afar runs counter to some mid eastern notions and precepts of fair play. Then again, our relation with Pakistan has to be the most dysfunctional diplomatic marriage on the planet. We fund them and their intelligence groups in turn, fuck us. We are at war with them, but will still go through the motions of drinking afternoon tea.

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Many of you hate it when I talk politics. The conservatives think that I am a communist red, the libs an establishment tool who can't be trusted. If you don't like politics or want to hear my opinion, stop reading now.

Mitt Romney and his boy blunder, Paul Ryan, are running the most intellectually vacuous, cynical and dishonest campaign for the presidency I have ever witnessed. To think that one could run for the highest office of the land, with the promise of providing details for their plans to cut government spending and turn Medicare and Social Security into a private voucher system after the election, strains all credulity. If you plan on balancing the budget you will have to cut something else besides public radio, Planned Parenthood and Sesame Street, maybe even defense. And I think that we are entitled to hear all the gory details, now.

But then again, Americans are stupid and easily fooled and it just might work.

As a 54 year old, double nickels in a few months, I get little solace in knowing that those 55 and and older don't have anything to worry about. Uh, what about the rest of us?

Economists estimate that the Repug's proposed block grants to the states will provide about 65% of today's entitlement coverage. The fallacy is that people won't suffer. The reality is that they will. Last year's primary provided the perfect campaign motto for the GOP. Who can forget the rousing cheer that galvanized the Town Hall meeting? Let them die. We're Republicans, we'll just let 'em die. Krugman has an interesting piece on Ryan today in the NYT.

Paul Ryan deserves credit for raising the entitlements issue. With a mess of baby boomers approaching retirement age, the system is about to crash. We can't pay for it. We are going to have a hard time keeping our promises to the elderly. We need to have a sober discussion. But don't pretend people will not get seriously hurt with your macro machinations. The GOP is back to the old narrative that the safety net is sufficient, the unemployed are shiftless parasites who merely want something for nothing and won't work when the reality is that there is no work for many of them.

Just this morning I was reading about the billions that we are paying farmers not to grow crops, about the ridiculous trillion dollar weapons systems that the Pentagon didn't want but was arm twisted into procuring by pork wallowing legislators wanting to help the old home district.

Surely we can lop off all sorts of corporate welfare before we start risking the very young and the very old. Can't wait until this thing is over.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Blasters - I'm Shakin'

Wages of Sin


Back to the basement for a few days, cozying up to a five deck shoe in 110° heat. Wish me bueno suerte.


A dios.

Rock Salt & Nails

Authorities eleven, people nothing.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Lots of similar news around the globe this week. In Russia, three members of the feminist collective Pussy Riot get two years in the slam for insulting the Russian Orthodox church. They are charged with hooliganism and inciting religious hatred. The real reason is that they were taking shots at Vladimir Putin and he doesn't take kindly to political opposition.

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It's an odd wave or contagion that is increasing the world over; authoritarian regimes and conservative elements increasingly allying themselves with the local brand of fundamentalist religion.  You see it in Russia, where Putin finds himself the protector of the faith, here, in the islamic world, practically the world over. Symbiotically the politicians and the theologists each get something out of the deal. I am reading a book on Spain and during Franco no other creed but Catholicism was allowed to practice openly or post a sign outside their church or synagogue.

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In Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood "reformer" Mohammed Morsi  is going after critics and journalists. State prosecutors filed lawsuits against two journalists this week, and an entire issue of opposition newspaper al-Doustour was pulled by state censors. The government argued that the move was aimed at suppressing media reports that incite violence, lead to a disruption of public order and personally insult the newly-elected president.

The Minister of Information, Salah Abdul Maqsoud, is a Muslim Brotherhood member who has hand picked editors of the state owned media outlets, who are naturally quite sympathetic to the new government.

What is ironic about the Brotherhood's heavy handed attempts to silence dissent is that they seem to have adopted the same tactics that they hated so much when employed by the ruling predecessor, Mubarak.

Foreign Policy has an interesting article about the conflict between the Islamic State and a free press. Appointed editors include an individual who has issued a fatwa to kill jews and another who wants to kill Bahai's, which evidently occurred shortly after his proclamation, in the village of Sharonya.

Many Egyptians are worried that charges can now be brought under against anyone who questions the regime.

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In South Africa, police opened fire with automatic weapons on a large crowd of mine workers armed with sticks and machetes demanding higher wages, killing thirty four protesters and injuring scores more. This is similar to what happened during apartheid, only now it's blacks shooting blacks. South Africa has been under one party rule since 1994 and the miners union N.U.M. is seen to be in league with the ruling A.N.C. against its own workers, who struck without union support.

The mine owner, Lonmin PLC, is the world's third-largest platinum producer. About 3,000 people have walked off the job at the Lonmin mine in the past week due to a pay dispute.  Miners want their monthly salaries, now averaging about $480, to be tripled.

"They can beat us, kill us and kick and trample on us with their feet, do whatever they want to do, we aren't going to go back to work," said one striking worker.

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Twenty bloggers have been convicted in Oman for defaming the sultan.

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Ecuador may be spreading out the welcome mat for Julian Assange but President Correa's government has an awful record of shutting down opposition media, closing 11 radio stations recently that have been critical of the government.

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New revelations that the Hugo Chavez government hired an Argentine hacker, working in Spain, to install a communications network to monitor opposition leaders, journalists and individuals who may “pose a threat to the Bolivarian revolution.”

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A Bahraini activist, Nabeel Rajab has been jailed three years for an insulting tweet regarding the Prime Minister and attending an illegal gathering.

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In Gambia a radio station has just been shut down for the second time for translating news into local languages.

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Journalists are demonstrating in Myanmar to end press censorship after the suspension of two newspapers last week for the innocuous crime of speculating about a cabinet reshuffle.

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An Ethiopian journalist is imprisoned and charged with treason, purportedly for covering protests in Addis Ababa.

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95 journalists are currently behind bars in Turkey.