Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Something Someone Else Said

"In a rather curious and confused way, some white people are starting almost to think like a minority, even like a persecuted one. What does it take to believe that Christianity is an endangered religion in America or that the name of Jesus is insufficiently spoken or appreciated? Who wakes up believing that there is no appreciation for our veterans and our armed forces and that without a noisy speech from Sarah Palin, their sacrifice would be scorned? It's not unfair to say that such grievances are purely and simply imaginary, which in turn leads one to ask what the real ones can be. The clue, surely, is furnished by the remainder of the speeches, which deny racial feeling so monotonously and vehemently as to draw attention," -Christopher Hitchens, Slate, commenting upon the cultural insecurity of Beck and Palin followers at the prospect of their soon being outnumbered by immigrants and minorities.

Oh, the persecution a conservative white heterosexual Christian must endure in America today. Victims, victims, victims; always the victims.


127 Hours Trailer

The amazing story of Aron Ralston, a man of more grit, determination and badassery than you and I will ever possess:


Monday, August 30, 2010

American Power And Imaginary Numbers

My conservative counterpart Donald Douglas of American Power breathlessly cuts and pastes the following from FOX News in his recent post "Total Costs of Iraq War Less Than Obama-Democrats' Economic Porkulus Package":

As President Obama prepares to tie a bow on U.S. combat operations in Iraq, Congressional Budget Office numbers show that the total cost of the eight-year war was less than the stimulus bill passed by the Democratic-led Congress in 2009.

According to CBO numbers in its Budget and Economic Outlook published this month, the cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom was $709 billion for military and related activities, including training of Iraqi forces and diplomatic operations.

The projected cost of the stimulus, which passed in February 2009, and is expected to have a shelf life of two years, was $862 billion...
And how's that "stimulus" working out?
Now I've mentioned on several occasions that economics is not my strong suit and that I even find that field of study fairly boring but I do speak English pretty well and I'm no slouch when it comes to basic mathematics so I was able to detect a few flaws in Don's argument here. Ignoring the fact that I automatically take people who use cute little nicknames like "Porkulus" when discussing serious political topics less seriously than those who speak like actual grown ups, the operational word one should really pay attention to in the above article is "projected".

The cost of the Bush administration's war in Iraq is stated flatly and in the past tense, as if the final bill has arrived in the mail and therefore will not increase past the stated $709 billion price tag while the final $862 billion cost of the stimulus is "projected" well into next year. Now this disparity might prompt an honest (or at least curious) person to ask, "Say, is there also a 'projected' final cost for the Iraq war as well?" Interestingly enough, there is:
As of February 2010, around $704 billion has been spent based on estimates of current expenditure rates[1], which range from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) estimate of $2 billion per week to $12 billion a month, an estimate by economist Joseph Stiglitz.[2]...

According to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report published in October 2007, the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost taxpayers a total of $2.4 trillion dollars by 2017 when counting the huge interest costs because combat is being financed with borrowed money. The CBO estimated that of the $2.4 trillion long-term price tag for the war, about $1.9 trillion of that would be spent on Iraq, or $6,300 per U.S. citizen.[9][10]

Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, has stated the total costs of the Iraq War on the US economy will be three trillion dollars in a moderate scenario, and possibly more in the most recent published study, published in March 2008.[11] Stiglitz has stated: "The figure we arrive at is more than $3 trillion. Our calculations are based on conservative assumptions...Needless to say, this number represents the cost only to the United States. It does not reflect the enormous cost to the rest of the world, or to Iraq."[11]

So the projected cost of Bush's war (which he never paid for in any of his budgets because apparently deficits didn't matter back then) is actually conservatively estimated at almost four times that of Obama's stimulus bill, which he passed in order to pull the country out of the economic recession and possible depression he inherited from Bush and company. And it seems that FOX News is having a little trouble with their own research as well. From the AP last week:
WASHINGTON — President Obama’s stimulus measure has created or saved as many as 3.3 million jobs and continues to boost economic growth in the second half of 2010, but it’s come at a higher price tag than originally billed.

Congressional analysts released new figures today estimating that the law enacted in January 2009, when it projected to cost $787 billion over a decade, would cost $814 billion. But that’s still less than the Congressional Budget Office estimated in January, when it said the measure would cost $862 billion.
So FOX's difference was only off by $48 billion or around 6% (maybe their researchers haven't read the news since January) but admittedly the stimulus did go over its projected budget by $27 billion or almost 4%. Now everyone knows that government spending almost always goes over its estimated costs so the 4% run over isn't surprising but noting that the stimulus went over its original projected cost might also prompt an honest (or at least curious) person to ask, "Say, was there also a 'projected' original cost for the Iraq war as well?" Interestingly enough, there was:
WASHINGTON — At the outset of the Iraq war, the Bush administration predicted that it would cost $50 billion to $60 billion to oust Saddam Hussein, restore order and install a new government.

Five years in, the Pentagon tags the cost of the Iraq war at roughly $600 billion and counting. Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and critic of the war, pegs the long-term cost at more than $4 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office and other analysts say that $1 trillion to $2 trillion is more realistic, depending on troop levels and on how long the American occupation continues.
Based on the time periods cited those numbers are from 2 1/2 years ago so they've obviously increased since then but if we use the higher original Bush administration estimate of $60 billion as well as the older CBO estimate of $1.9 trillion (much lower than Stiglitz's own current conservative estimates) the Iraq war will eventually go over its original projected budget by at least 3200%, again estimating extremely conservatively. Not only is this scenario the exact opposite of what Don tried to claim above but it's cost overruns are higher by several orders of magnitude.

Now I don't blame Don for foolishly stating what is an extremely obvious falsehood about the comparisons between the Bush administration's profligate wartime spending and the Obama administration's relatively modest depression averting spending. I actually had to Google complicated phrases like "original cost iraq war", "original cost stimulus", "projected cost iraq war" and "projected cost stimulus" to gain access to all of this esoteric information. And I don't know if you noticed but those phrases contain several words each, some of them are even multi-syllabic! So I guess Don can be forgiven for lazily cutting and pasting a story from the propaganda media wing of the Republican party rather than doing actual minimal research to make sure that what he's posting isn't an outright partisan lie. The man only has one PhD. after all. Hey, it's hard out here for a hack.

Something Someone Else Said

"Personally I’m not interested in “limited government” as an end in itself, but as a means to greater individual liberty. I’m opposed to government programs that waste taxpayer dollars because higher taxes restrict my freedom. But I’m much more opposed to government programs that use taxpayer dollars to restrict freedom directly. I’m not interested in joining a “limited government” movement that considers the two equivalent. And I’m definitely not interested in being part of a movement that gives torture and preemptive war a free pass under the heading of “national defense” while it focuses instead on fighting the tyranny of SCHIP and unemployment insurance," -Timothy B. Lee, Bottom-Up.

I completely agree with this sentiment. It seems to me that there's a real disconnect between those on the political right who call themselves conservatives and even claim to endorse the philosophy of libertarianism and their simultaneous enthusiastic embrace of the military and security culture of our government. Yes, rising taxes and government waste are problems that I believe we need to address but I hardly find those issues as insidious as our government's relatively recent proclaimed power to tap your phone and read your email without warrants, kick in your front door and ransack your home, lock you away without charging you with a crime or reading you your rights and yes, torturing you to within and even beyond an inch of your life.

I too care about how my tax dollars are spent but I care even more about my personal bodily liberty and civil rights and it appears that those aforementioned "conservatives" are quite happy to cede what I consider to be more than a few personal rights and freedoms in exchange for their nanny state government claiming to protect them from every conceivable danger in the world, even from themselves. To me this world outlook smacks of fear, which would definitely explain the desperate bouts of bravado and jingoism these people so often go through to compenate for it. While on principle I agree with them on several issues of fiscal responsibility their hypocrisy as it pertains to personal liberties unfortunately prevents me from taking them seriously on most other issues.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

This Post Now Has A Title

Apologies for the lack of posting lately, a lot of things have been piling up. I'm happy to say that my NFL fantasy draft went fairly well this morning (even got a few Dallas Cowboys on my team) and my book club meeting earlier this evening was all fundamentalist Mormonism, sushi and martinis; good times and a great combination. Regular posting will resume tomorrow.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Something Wise Someone Else Said

"Write drunk, edit sober," -Ernest Hemingway.

I do enjoy writing much more than I do editing. Salut, Papa.


TDS: The Hurt Talker

I know I've been posting a lot of Daily Show clips lately but these boys have just been on fire the last couple of weeks. Case in point:

I haven't yet commented upon the Laura Schlessinger fracas for two reasons: 1) I've just been too busy and 2) I begrudgingly respect her for having the balls to actually enunciate the word "nigger" in a discussion about the use of that word. Nothing bugs me more than listening to grown adults saying things like "N-word", "F-word" or "C-word" during a discussion with other adults as if there were a bunch of children within earshot. If there are kids in the room with you then yes, don't use these words in front of them but adults should be able to use epithets in discussions with other adults. As Stewart says, context and intent are far more important than the actual words themselves. How does one have a substantive discussion about the use or misuse of the word "nigger" if one is too cowed by political correctness to utter it even innocuously?

Now, as to Schlessinger's use of the word: did I say "having the balls" earlier? Because what I really meant was "lacking the brains". Yes, adults should be able to say "nigger" in a discussion about the use of that word and its effect on our society but an old white woman claiming that she should have the same leeway in its use as black comedians on HBO is just about the dumbest way to go about having that discussion I can think of. I can't count the number of times I've heard white people say, "Well if black people can say the N-word why can't we?" and my answer is always the same: hundreds of years of culturally institutionalized slavery and racial discrimination, that's why. I don't support slavery reparation policies or anything like that but I am OK with this small double standard as it concerns racial disparity. It's the same reason I can say that one of my little sisters is acting like a bitch but I better not hear you say it: it's a right reserved for my family only. On the 300th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington white people should feel free to check in with the black community at that point to see if it's OK to chant "nigger, nigger, nigger" yet but until then idiots like Schlessinger just need to relax on that count or else they'll find themselves in the same situation she does now. Freedom of speech is a great thing but it does have consequences for which one must take responsibility.

My favorite part about this whole brouhaha however is the fact that Sarah Palin has injected herself into the fray and proven once again that she has absolutely no concept of what constitutes First Amendment freedom of speech rights. Ignoring the hypocrisy of her calling for Emmanuel's resignation for using the word "retarded" discussed above I'm reminded of a post I wrote about Palin and the First Amendment a couple of days before the 2008 presidential election:

She's already proven that she has no idea what the job of the vice-president is, so why should we expect her to understand how the first amendment works?
Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama's associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks. Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate's free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations," Palin told host Chris Plante, "then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

Really? Since Chris Plante is a right-wing talk radio host it's no surprise that he didn't call her on her shit but just in case any of you (besides Palin and Plante) have forgotten:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
So according to Sarah Palin (and yes, I know how loaded a phrase that can be) the media and others exercising their free speech rights to refute and/or criticize what she says is the same thing as the United States government passing laws explicitly outlawing what she says. In other words, Palin's idea of free speech is the right to say anything critical about anybody or anything without anyone else criticizing what you've just said; in point of fact, that's the exact opposite of free speech.
At least she's remained consistent in her constitutional ignorance. I wonder if she's had time between speeches and media appearances to learn what the vice-president does yet? I'll say it again, Republicans: run her, please. Hell, put Schlessinger on the ticket as her VP nominee while you're at it. I can certainly use all the laughs I can get.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Something Someone Else Said II

"It is hard in this age of endless memorialization to even express this view without sounding callous: but Londoners did not turn their entire city into a "hallowed ground" or a shrine for the dead or a monument to British victimhood. They rebuilt, they went on, they rightly saw that the truest memorial to the dead was to show the Nazis that their city would rise again as if the Nazis had never existed on the face of the earth. I have always felt a deep discomfort similarly with the entire holocaust-memorial and holocaust-study industry. As a Jew, I hate the idea that the defining fact of my people's entire history should be what the fucking Nazis did to us.

There is a great Spanish proverb: olvidar la injuria es la mejor venganza: to forget an insult is the greatest revenge," -Stephen Budiansky, Stephen Budiansky's Liberal Curmudgeon Blog.

Meanwhile, nine years after the attacks on 9/11 we argue and bicker over whether it's respectful to the victims of those attacks to build a religious community center near the big ugly hole in the ground where they were killed. Our priorities are fucked up.


The Beauty Of Physics, Ctd

More incredible computer rendering:


Something Someone Else Said

"There is almost no downside if you want to make an extreme claim about Barack Obama. You generate outrage from the left but you get attaboys from the conservative base. Is this much different than the rewards that liberals could get for making extreme claims about George W. Bush? I think it is, because the conservative media -- Fox, talk radio, all the way down to forward e-mails -- is a fantastic transmission device whose consumers are ready to believe that the rest of the media is lying to them. There is really no downside for Frank Gaffney when he says that Obama or his nominees are bringing radical Islamic law to America. It gets to the conservative base, which makes it a "controversy," which means that the rest of the media has to cover this Very Important Issue Americans Are Concerned About," -David Weigel, Slate.com.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

TDS: The Parent Company Trap

So it turns out that FOX News is partially funding the so-called "Ground Zero" mosque. No really, they actually are. And the question now becomes: evil or stupid?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Picture Of The Day

Simply amazing:

Many artists have used pencils to create works of art – but Dalton Ghetti creates miniature masterpieces on the tips of pencils.

Dalton, who works as a carpenter, has been making his tiny graphite works for about 25 years...

The 49 year old said: “At school I would carve a friend’s name into the wood of a pencil and then give it to them as a present. Later, when I got into sculpture, I would make these huge pieces from things like wood, but decided I wanted to challenge myself by trying to make things as small as possible. I experimented sculpting with different materials, such as chalk, but one day I had an eureka moment and decided to carve into the graphite of a pencil”.

Dalton uses three basic tools to make his incredible creations – a razor blade, sewing needle and sculpting knife. He even refuses to use a magnifying glass and has never sold any of his work, only given it away to friends. He said: “I use the sewing needle to make holes or dig into the graphite. I scratch and create lines and turn the graphite around slowly in my hand”.
You can view more examples of Ghetti's incredible artwork here.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Friedersdorf Flips The Perspective

Lamenting his apparent failure to convince fellow conservatives that Imam Rauf of the so-called "Ground Zero" mosque is "with us" in the War on Terror (as in, "you're either with us or you're against us..."), Conor Friedersdorf decides to come at this question from another direction:

Perhaps it'll help my case to offer a flip in perspective. Take a look at an imagined conversation between two radical Islamists in Saudi Arabia who are having their own argument about whether Imam Rauf is with them or against them.

Jihadi 1: Maybe he is on our side. He does seem to sympathize with the Palestinians.

Jihadi 2: No more than lots of American liberals. Being pro-Palestine hardly makes him a soldier of Allah.

J1: He is also building a monument to Islam at Ground Zero.

J2: It's two blocks away. And he has publicly promised that he is going to let Jews in.

J1: Really?

J2: Yes, he even reached out to two rabbis before announcing the project.

J1: Even so, he seems critical of America.

J2: Yes, he is mildly critical once every few years, when he's not busy doing the bidding of their State Department, or helping to train their FBI agents.

J1: He cooperates with their FBI?

J2: He is very friendly with them. And he lets his wife go on television too. Without a burka or even a headscarf.

J1: I heard he attended a Hizb ut-Tahrir conference.

J2: It turns out that story is false. In fact, when radicals from the group confronted him, he defended the United States Constitution!

J1: Andy McCarthy thinks that he is a radical.

J2: You fool. Andy McCarthy also thinks that President Obama is allied with radical Islamists in a grand jihad against America.

J1: Seriously? That bastard Obama just killed an Al Qaeda cousin of mine with one of his drone strikes. At first I thought maybe he's just trying to shore up his domestic political support, but then I realized that his administration is taking pains to keep most of them secret. Still, I hear than the mosque being built will signify the beginning of the United States of Arabia, and that it marks their surrender to us.

J2: That makes no sense. Their voters can't even manage to pass gay marriage bans without them getting struck down and you believe people who say that they're about to submit to sharia law? And how would the construction of a mosque even be a factor in transforming their legal system. I think you're listening to too much of their talk radio.

Insofar as this conversation is unrealistic, it's because every actual radical Islamist would know perfectly well that an imam who works with the FBI, tours on behalf of the State Department, denounces terrorism, defends the US constitution in an Arabic exchange with radicals from Hizb ut-Tahrir, has a good relationship with New York City rabbis, and preaches on behalf of women's rights isn't on their side. In fact, he is exactly the kind of imam that Islamist radicals target and kill when they dare to do these sorts of things in other countries.

Now I'm not saying that Rauf is a saint or that he's never uttered anything controversial but when one takes the time to find out the things he's actually said and done it becomes clear that those who are automatically jumping to the conclusion that his motives are nefarious simply because he's a Muslim are doing so out of either ignorance, bigotry or both. And Friedersdorf's last point is an important one: moderate Muslims like Rauf are exactly who al Qaeda and other radical extremist organizations would like to see us turn against to help facilitate their war on the West. Now I'm also of course not saying that the Republican party is in league with al Qaeda but when your political party's current talking points mirror that organization's stated aims and goals of turning Christianity and Islam against each other, perhaps it's time to reexamine your stance on this particular issue. Sometimes constitutional freedoms and civil rights are more important than people's hurt feelings. Hell, they pretty much always are.

[Update: Jon Stewart connected a few more dots with his highlighter last Thursday:

I too denounced Heston and the NRA for their actions in Colorado several years back and I too was wrong to do so. Just as the NRA was not responsible for the Columbine tragedy, Rauf and his organization were not responsible for the attacks against America on 9/11 and conflating either event with an unrelated group of people is both dishonest and unAmerican. We need to be better than that.]

Friday, August 20, 2010

Father Guido Sarducci's Five Minute University

My middle little sister just sent this to me. I was actually surprised that she even knew who Father Guido Sarducci is because she's not that old (notice that the audience is straight out of the late seventies-early eighties) but her explanation that she had watched it during a staff development meeting (she's a teacher) made more sense:

This reminded me of one of my favorite exchanges from the movie Reality Bites:

Lelaina: Quick, Vicky, what’s your social security?

Vicky: Ahh... eight five one two five nine three five seven.

Troy: Very impressive.

Vicky: It’s the only thing I really learned in college...
(hat tip: Shannon)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

100,000 Hits

If I can just keep up this pace I should get my first million hits in just under a quarter of a century! Yes, yes, meaningless I know but I suppose bloggers are supposed to keep track of this sort of thing. Thanks as always to everyone who visits Brain Rage; the visitor from Whittier, California has 1 hour to collect their prize.

TDS: Stewart And Cooper Look At Gaping Holes

OK, forget what I said about Basil Marceaux.com: Republican Representative and all around fruitcake Louie Gohmert should be given as many opportunities to speak in front of a microphone and/or camera as is humanly possible:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What Else Is Near Ground Zero?

New Yorker Daryl Lang takes some photos of other structures and businesses in his neighborhood, including strip clubs, bars, McDonalds and curbside souvenir hockers, located the same distance from the Ground Zero site as the proposed Muslim community center:

What’s my point? A month ago, I wrote about my support for a group of Muslim New Yorkers—whom I consider my neighbors—and their right to put a religious building on a piece of private property in Lower Manhattan. Since then, the debate over the Park51 community center, inaccurately nicknamed the “Ground Zero Mosque,” has jumped from talk radio to mainstream conversation, and turned nasty in the process. Sarah Palin wrote that, “it would be an intolerable and tragic mistake to allow such a project sponsored by such an individual to go forward on such hallowed ground.”

Look at the photos. This neighborhood is not hallowed. The people who live and work here are not obsessed with 9/11. The blocks around Ground Zero are like every other hard-working neighborhood in New York, where Muslims are just another thread of the city fabric.

At this point the only argument against this project is fear, specifically fear of Muslims, and that’s a bigoted, cowardly and completely indefensible position.
I'm glad that Sarah Palin was able to put aside her disdain for big city liberal elitists long enough to tell them how to run their own town (for their own good, of course). As far as the outrage over the proposed community center located two and a half blocks away from the World Trade Center site being too close I still have three questions that no right-winger can or will answer: 1) How many blocks would then be far enough away to show proper respect for the victims on 9/11? 2) What system or formula did you use to arrive at that number? 3) Why would being even one block closer than the number you chose be so much worse? The reason these questions can't be answered is because this isn't about proximity to Ground Zero or respect for those victims, it's about not liking Muslims and conflating religious tolerance with national weakness to score cheap political points in an election year.

Deleted Scene: Luke Builds His Lightsaber

This short deleted scene from Return of the Jedi was shown at Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando over the weekend. It's not the best quality but Lucasfilm Ltd. is tearing every copy off the Internets as fast as you can say "copyright infringement" so get it while it's hot. For the fanboys, of course:

Monday, August 16, 2010

The "Ground Zero" Mosque

This looks about right but hey, fear can win elections.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Picture Of The Day

Class, class, class:

At Barack Hussein Obama's taxpayer-funded Ramadan dinner last night, not only did the alleged president give the assembled Muslims the tremendous gift of support for building the Ground Zero mosque, but he also gifted them with the multi-purpose "Presidential Seal Boxcutter" which will soon be available in the Cordoba House gift shop.

This handsome and practical souvenir is an exact replica of the one which Barack Hussein Obama uses to direct the flight destinations of Air Force One!
The pattern from the political right starts to become clear after a while: first insist that President Obama is a secret Muslim for a couple years, then proceed with the current theme of conflating Islam and all Muslims with the radical extremists who attacked us on 9/11. He directs Air Force One with a box cutter: get it? The president's a terrorist! And he approves of and arms other terrorists! Do you think they'd be calling him by his middle name all the time if it was "Holden"? Subtle these guys are not.


American Power And "Chunky Vomit"

The next impotent volley from my conservative counterpart Donald Douglas of American Power has been duly served and it barely cleared the net this time with "Brain Rage Chunky Vomit":

I guess I hurt JBW's feelings with my last post repudiating the Brain Rage embrace of death-wish drug abuse:

...my favorite part of this post is Don's continued insistence, albeit indirectly this time, that I should somehow embrace him as some type of mentor based on his 13-14 years seniority of me. I hate to disappoint the guy but I've tried this particular song and dance in the patriarchal sense twice in my life and the results were less than stellar both times: my father ignored me until he was on his death bed and my step-father was a serial dick throughout my childhood, so I'm sure I can be excused for not embracing the intellectual arguments of someone who consistently calls me a loser or worse.
Been there. Done that.

It sucks JBW when no father-figures have been there for you. That's called father-hunger. My heart bleeds for you buddy. And of course your pain helps explain why you'd take cocaine over camaraderie. So I'll be blunt: Drugs suck. They're for losers. If you don't want to be a loser. Don't do drugs.

P.S. Sorry to hurt your feelings, but your post truly reminds me of "chunky vomit." And like the flummoxed muscle-bound macho teacher at the clip, you're hightailing it outta there when it comes to sophisticated engagements. Get some help dude.
First, I'd wager that there are few things you or most anyone else could say or do in this world that would legitimately hurt my feelings, Don. I know your old man was a less than stellar role model as well and I sympathize (I also assume it's why you're so quick to be so confrontational; me too on that count, perhaps...) but contrary to your characterization I don't feel any need to fill any void caused by this: I've only gained strength from it. I wasn't lamenting my upbringing so much as it was merely full disclosure for my readers. I think honesty's a good thing and I try to exemplify that as much as I can when I write.

Again, the conflation of cocaine use within a discussion about the merits of cannabis is a desperate straw man deflection but I'm going to let you in on a little secret that the rest of us adults already know: not everyone who uses drugs does so to alleviate pain. Drugs can be quite fun and stimulating when used responsibly (hell, they even cure some diseases) but you and your nanny state ilk would deny that freedom and responsibility to everyone else because you either can't handle it yourselves or simply can't grasp the grown-up concepts I'm delineating here. You don't need your government to prohibit you from using drugs if you don't like them, Don: just don't use them. That's what adults do.

I understand now why you're so afraid that your sons might try drugs someday: merely telling them that "Drugs are bad. You shouldn't do drugs." might work for a while when they're young and naive but at some point (if you've raised them correctly) they'll start to question such a simplistic world view and they'll soon find that your black or white tropes have ill-prepared them for a complex and dynamic world. They're going to realize after looking around outside your little cocoon that not all drugs are the same and that drug use does not necessarily equal drug abuse and then they'll wonder what else you've been lying to them about. You can and should do better than your old man on this count.

On a lighter note, your homosexual vomit fetish video was quite silly and not at all to my liking. In the future I would prefer any posts about myself to include video of strict school marms disciplining naughty young girls to your depictions of teenage boys eating fake vomit for the benefit of their gay gym coach. I'm not judging you for your proclivities and I similarly don't expect you to judge me for mine (although yours are somewhat gross and pretty damn gay). NTTAWWT!

I'm not sure how I'm "hightailing it outta there when it comes to sophisticated engagements" by constantly challenging you to sack up and honestly debate your side of this argument but I'm sure your cognitive dissonance allows you to somehow believe this and think yourself superior as a result. When you're ready to use your big boy voice I've got a swollen cranium full of clever bon mots to lob at whatever emaciated arguments you'd care to put forth in defense of your side of this discussion. The chance to make your brain my brain's bitch is all the help I need, dude.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Florida Tea Party Candidate's Plan For Illegals

If only most illegal immigrants were also gay Muslims as well, then the political right in this country could really concentrate their vilification and scapegoating on one group of people rather than having to spread it so thin across so many:

It's a good thing there's no unfortunate historical precedent from the 1940's for the government rounding up a minority group and putting them into camps or else this woman might appear a bit callous and ignorant as it concerns her fellow human beings. Oh wait... Of course the federal government only imprisoned 110,000 Japanese during World War II while the current estimates of the number of illegal immigrants currently in country are around 11 million, fully one hundred times that amount. That's a lot of internment camps. If only we had a source of cheap plentiful labor to help us build Ms. Barker's grand vision of detention. Oh wait again...


Thursday, August 12, 2010

American Power And Rhetorical Cowardice

Regular readers may remember my recent post lamenting my conservative counterpart Donald Douglas of American Power's failure, both intellectual and testicular, to even minimally address my arguments in favor of the decriminalization of illicit narcotics, cannabis in particular. I think "loser" and "pile of shit" adequately sum up his entire rebuttal on that count, so I suppose it should come as no surprise that he has once again avoided making any type of intellectual argument in favor of his position in lieu of rhetorical avoidance and tired hyperbole in his post, "Legalizing Cocaine?":

JBW's jonesin' for some kind of debate --- any debate, I guess --- but frankly it seems useless trying to respond to some effete leftist "libertarian" who at most can string together "NANNY STATE", "NANNY STATE", NANNY STATE" until you've had just about enough of that faux intellectualism to last a lifetime. Not only that, JBW's calling for the decriminalization of cocaine, which I can't see how that's going to improve society much. But hey, JBW thinks he knows everything, and apparently that includes all the things I've seen and experienced in my few decades on this Great Green Earth.

That said, just read Sandy Banks' essay at LAT, "
The crack epidemic's toxic legacy." Perhaps reducing some of the harsher criminal sentencing guidelines will ease historical racial disparities (putting aside the causes), but Banks isn't going in for full-blown decriminalization, not by a long shot:

[I've decided not to include the rather long LA Times article Don pastes into his post. It mostly consists of anecdotal stories of drug abuse and addiction and the crime and violence that follow from such behaviour and our government's current drug policy. You can read the whole article at this link.]

Be sure to check
the Times' skid row series as well.

No doubt Mr. "Libertarian" JBW's down with that kind extreme pain, dislocation, and hopelessness as well.

First of all, when have I advocated for the specific legalization of cocaine during our current back and forth about drug legalization? Not in the post Don links to above in which I call him an intellectual coward, nor in the post before that in which I respond to his whining about factory farming of medical cannabis in Oakland, nor even in the year old post in which I refute Don's specific and personal assertion that cannabis is inherently evil and thus destroys every life it touches. Now it is true that I do advocate for a policy of blanket (or nearly so, obviously depending on certain outside societal factors and conditions) drug legalization in the United States but to bring that particular point up now in the face of several posts specifically advocating for the legalization of cannabis smacks of desperation and avoidance.

Also, (and I don't think I need to explain this point to most people reading this but Don might be as well so here it is) calling assertions about an encroaching nanny state philosophy of government "faux intellectualism" without supporting that supposition with any kind of cogent argumentation is the height of literal irony. True, if one were to view the world through the narrow lens of black or white thinking (such as a five-year-old does, for instance) then I can see how Don might think that legalizing cocaine would be bad for society but one would also have to completely ignore all of the negative consequences of our federal government's current war on drugs and the net effect this has on society as well, which Don is of course all too happy to do.

But my favorite part of this post is Don's continued insistence, albeit indirectly this time, that I should somehow embrace him as some type of mentor based on his 13-14 years seniority of me. I hate to disappoint the guy but I've tried this particular song and dance in the patriarchal sense twice in my life and the results were less than stellar both times: my father ignored me until he was on his death bed and my step-father was a serial dick throughout my childhood, so I'm sure I can be excused for not embracing the intellectual arguments of someone who consistently calls me a loser or worse. Plus, when it comes to the topic at hand I usually adhere to the sage advice of comedian and admitted drug user Doug Stanhope:
There's only two types of people who are against drugs: the people who have never done drugs and the people who really sucked at doing drugs.
Based on what I've seen of Don he himself falls squarely within the former category while his arguments against legalization seem to fall squarely within the latter, which means that to my mind all the things he's supposedly seen and experienced in his few decades on this Great Green Earth amount to exactly jack shit when it comes to this particular issue. I'm sorry but merely stating that "drugs are bad" is hardly an intellectual argument, no matter how many idiots you've known who've abused said drugs and ruined their lives in the process and further saying that I'm "down with that kind extreme pain, dislocation, and hopelessness" is just another straw man argument that ignores the mountain of evidence of extreme pain, dislocation and hopelessness that similarly results from our country's continued failed war on drugs.

One of these policy positions on drug legalization advocates for personal freedom and individual responsibility for one's own actions; the other advocates for an oppressive nanny state government that would deny those same freedoms and responsibilities in favor of laws that intrude upon people's personal lives and punish adults for indulging in sometimes personally destructive behaviour in the guise of protecting them and the rest of society from themselves. Guess which type of world view Don endorses. I'll say it again: intellectual coward, and much more, conservative: my white ass.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Advertisement Of The Day

This is a symptom of the "nanny state" mentality, on the political left and right, that I'm constantly decrying:

The forthcoming Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg flick The Other Guys may yet be riddled with pot shots from film critics. Poor Ferrell and Wahlberg -- on Muni, they can't shoot back.

While the official poster for the film features a maniacal Ferrell and the menacing Wahlberg sailing through the air, guns drawn, the version in Muni stations features Ferrell brandishing a vial of pepper spray and Wahlberg relying upon his bare fists. This is not a coincidence.

"Well, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency does have an advertising policy that states ads should not appear to promote the use of firearms or advocate any violent action," explains spokesman Paul Rose. You can read the stipulations against promoting "the use of firearms" and "imminent lawlessness or violent actions" right here.
Do we as Americans really need the agency in San Francisco that makes the trains and buses run on time deciding for us what exposure we should have to depictions of firearm use and violence? I love living in Northern California and The City's great but it does wear on my nerves at times. Be it instances like this or prohibition of illicit drugs or prostitution or gambling or even unpopular/offensive speech it all amounts to one thing: PC bullshit espoused by those who would tell you how to live your life because they supposedly know better than you what's good for you. Well, they don't (and this movie actually looks like it isn't half bad).


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Picture Of The Day

An "Impeach Obama" van found on the streets of Chicago. Part of some "grassroots" citizen uprising concerned about communism or Hitler or some such equally horrifying historical happening coupled with a nonconcurrent fear based in total reality, no doubt. Straws are now being grasped at...


Monday, August 9, 2010

Are You Ready For Some Football?

OK, it was only the first preseason game and it wasn't even that exciting but it was football! Real live American football, with pads and helmets and shit! It's been a long five months, I don't mind telling you...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Football Player Celebrates By Playing Soccer

I have a buddy from Croatia who always says, "You call it 'football' but you carry it in your hands the whole time". Maybe this will appease him (even if it's Canadian):

(hat tip: one L bill)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Homemade Caprese

I've never made one of these myself before but a friend recently gave me some tomatoes from his garden so I decided to give it a shot. Man, so tasty and so easy. I paired it with a rather light Pinot Grigio, they really went well together. This is going to become a regular staple at my house.

Basil Marceaux.com Won't Be Next TN Governor

The Volunteer state Republican party blew a golden opportunity yesterday when they failed to nominate Basil Marceaux.com as their candidate for governor. Marceaux.com only garnered 0.5% of the primary vote, getting beat by every other candidate including the one guy who withdrew from the race almost two months ago. How does someone with this kind of charisma not win?

You know what I like about this guy? He's real. There aren't many politicians out there these days who promise to murder their constituencies if they break the law; that takes guts no matter how you slice it. I'd like to see Basil Marceaux.com somehow teamed up with Sarah Palin in any way possible, preferably in a mismatched buddy cop flick. "She's a rogue hockey mom with a Twitter account and a devil may care 'yeah sure, you betcha' attitude. He's an incoherent man-child with a rambling website and an affinity for sausages. Together they're: Folksy and Husky." Coming soon to a theatre in my dreams.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

TDS: I Give Up - 9/11 Responders Bill

What he said:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

American Power And Intellectual Impotence

My conservative counterpart Donald Douglas of American Power recently flexed some serious grey matter rebutting my post decrying the criminalization of cannabis and his need to have the government protect him from it in his post "One Big Pile":

That would be Brain Rage's argument for drug decriminalization, although Charles Johnson comes to mind as well:

Yeah, that's it. This guy is a teacher and my taxes pay his salary. The debates in his classroom must be scintillating displays of wordplay, what with calling someone "loser" and saying that their assertions are full of shit being acceptable lines of argument. I'll say it again: intellectual coward.

Something Someone Else Said

"I think you're on to why the 'Tea Party' was created, i.e. to give conservatives a way to rally with the Republican brand name in ruins, nothing more. They're the Altria of politics," –A commenter at Talking Points Memo.

Well, yeah. Think about it: the Republican party long ago abandoned any pretense of fiscal responsibility, which has always been their cudgel when opposing the "tax and spend" Democrats but George W. Bush put an end to all that. So now you have a vocal "grassroots" movement of Republicans who have stopped calling themselves Republicans yet they agree with the Republican party on pretty much every issue except for fiscal responsibility (which the Republican party has also miraculously rediscovered now that they're out of power and no longer control any government purse strings).

But when asked to give specific examples of ways they would reduce out of control spending by the government both groups still give the same answers: vague anti-government platitudes about reducing waste and bureaucracy and of course tax cuts (which 95% of Americans actually did receive last year but don't tell them that because it clashes with the ever-present anti-Obama narrative which forms the third leg of their ideology). In this sense the Altria metaphor is an apt one because most of what they produce toward that end is pure poison using a process perfected by the Republican party they claim to now reject. This is why I can't take their movement seriously.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Picture Of The Day

The cover of Sarah Palin's second and newest book, coming out this November. Now I'm no marketing genius but I think they should have put a big American flag up behind her. I mean, how else are people going to know how totally patriotic she is and stuff? Except for the flag on her sweater, the two flags on her wrist and the word "flag" in the book's subtitle, of course. Do you think she could have chosen a more awkward position for her wrist or what? Can ya see 'em? Can ya see 'em?! Flags! Buy my book, 'cause flags!

Reagan's Son Pimps His Father's Corpse

The idolization/fetishization of Ronald Reagan by the Republican party has been running rampant for years and now one of his sons (the conservative one, natch) has decided to try sucking even more cash out of his old man's memory by attempting to prey upon the gullibility of the political right:

Conservative talk radio host Michael Reagan, eldest son of former president Ronald Reagan, is selling @Reagan.com e-mail addresses on his website with an appeal to conservatives to stop giving their money to companies he casts as tied to liberalism.
Writes Reagan: "People who believe in true Reagan Conservative Values are unwittingly supporting the Obama, Pelosi and Reid liberal agenda! What do I mean? Well, every time you use your email from companies like Google, AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, Apple and others, you are helping the liberals. These companies are, and will continue, to be huge supporters financially and with technology of those that are hurting our country."
"Is that where you want your money to go? I didn't so I changed things," he continues. "I came up with the very first conservative email service provider. You now can put your name next to the name of the Greatest Conservative of all, my father Ronald Reagan." ...
@Reagan.com e-mail addresses cost $34.95 per year (through tomorrow, after which prices go up). Reagan says those who purchase the e-mail addresses will also get a DVD of his father's famous 1987 "Tear Down This Wall" speech at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
So let me see if I have this straight: for only 35 bucks a year you can buy something that dozens of other companies give away for free and as a bonus you get a DVD that... you can watch online for free. I suppose it makes as much sense as voodoo economics, although I have to admit that it'd be pretty funny to have lancethundercock@Reagan.com on all my business cards. Too bad I support the Obama, Pelosi and Reid liberal agenda, huh? Well, the Obama liberal agenda anyway. I relegate Pelosi and Reid to the same category I do condoms: necessary evils, at best.


Colbert's WØRD - Ownership Society

Stephen Colbert laments the expiration of the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy and explains why supply side economics is still important even though it doesn't work:

Monday, August 2, 2010

American Power And Nanny Statism

So it seems that my conservative counterpart Donald Douglas of American Power has once again declared his ignorance opposition to cannabis via California's Proposition 19, a ballot initiative that would legalize individual amounts of cannabis here in the Golden State, in his newest post "Oakland Pot Factory Sham is Shame of a Nation":

After the budget and jobs, drug decriminalization's likely the most important issue on the ballot in November's elections, and Oakland's at the forefront of the fight for sanity. (Note here that I'm always amused at JBW's childish arguments about getting the "nanny state" out of our lives, even more hilarious as he's down with Obama's uber-nanny nationalized socialism in every other area of the economy — but more on that later.) It turns out LAT has a piece on the "Walmartization" of Oakland's "medical" marijuana industry, and get a load out of that picture at the screencap. Looks like a bunch brothas from de 'hood be cruisin' down for some phat sweet-stick smokas, yo!
It's a scam, obviously
... Unbelievable, really. But that's what the nihilist left wants in today's America.
Ignoring the fact that Don seemingly lost his own fight for sanity years ago, I'm always similarly amused at his own personal reefer madness when it comes to the issue of adults deciding for themselves what they can and can not put into their own bodies. Recall that I wrote my post "American Power And Hypocrisy" over a year ago as a direct rebuttal to Don's empty declaration at the time that cannabis is somehow inherently evil and he has yet to even attempt to refute me. Instead he prefers to deploy devastating rhetoric like calling people who disagree with him "losers" for doing so. Ouch.

But let's quickly unpack this latest post, shall we? First, the slang: as always it's as embarrassing as it is hilarious. Is it possible that being unhip is a chronic condition? This guy makes Michael Steele look like Jay-Z. Next, the hyperbole: notice that supporting President Obama in certain policy areas automatically means that I'm "down with Obama's uber-nanny nationalized socialism in every other area of the economy", whatever the hell that's supposed to mean. Apparently my desire for every American to have access to affordable health care is a much more oppressive policy position to take than is Don's own desire for every American adult who uses cannabis to be arrested, fined and imprisoned as a result.

That's just where we disagree about the role of government, I guess: I believe that the purpose of the government is to do for the people what they cannot individually do for themselves while Don believes that purpose is to protect people from themselves by punishing private personal behaviour that he finds distasteful. This is also why Don believes that adults should be arrested for frequenting prostitutes, that the government has the right to listen in to our phone conversations and monitor our email and even disappear American citizens terror suspects obvious terrorists who require no legal protections off of American streets and torture them to death overseas, all in the name of protecting the American people from those who would torture us overseas.

You see, neocons fear many dangers in the world today and they have no qualms about ceding a vast swathe of their personal liberties to a powerful government in order to feel all protected and safe in their beds at night. This is how Don can at times claim to be a libertarian out of one side of his mouth whilst simultaneously calling for the imprisonment of consenting adults participating in victimless crimes out of the other. Cannabis legalization in California obviously isn't going to destroy society and we could actually really use the additional tax revenue that it would generate (although from looking at the polls I doubt that Prop. 19 will pass this November but perhaps I'm wrong on that count) but Don can't afford to take that chance. His fear requires governmental nanny statism to protect him and the rest of us from anything and everything that scares him, our own liberties and freedoms be damned. That's the type of "free" society that cowards like Don would create with American power.

[Update: Don answers the above post by not answering at all:
Heh ...

Yo, JBW, 'nuff said:
Yeah, that's what I thought. Intellectual coward.]

Something Familiar Someone Else Said

"The New York Times front page story today on opposition to the mosque near Ground Zero has the following comments:

--The mosque would be an "unnecessary provocation." (Sarah Palin)

--"It’s not about religion, and is clearly an aggressive act that is offensive.” (Newt Gingrich)

--Abe Foxman said in an interview on Friday that the organization came to the conclusion that the location was offensive to families of victims of Sept. 11.

Are these not the exact same sentiments that were voiced by people who thought that Salman Rushdie should not have published The Satanic Verses, and that Danish newspapers should not have run cartoons featuring The Prophet Muhammad? The idea that people have some sort of right not to be offended is one the many silly and pernicious things about these arguments." -Isaac Chotiner, The New Republic.

"Nobody in this world has a right not to be offended." -yours truly, in defense of my participation in Everybody Draw Mohammed Day earlier this year. And I still stand by it.