Top Headline Comments 9-30-14
Director of the USSS Julia Pierson will testify today before House Oversight about the recent security breach. WSJ has a timeline describing how the details of the incident have evolved.
Ed Morrissey is covering the Extraordinary Synod from the Vatican. What a cool opportunity.
A U.S. air strike last week almost took out a headquarters of our allies, the Free Syrian Army. Whoops. A lack of coordination with the FSA, which Obama proposes to train and arm, gets blamed.
Hundreds of thousands face the (extended) income- and citizenship-verification deadline today for Obamacare subsidies. "White House officials pointed to the health law's requirement that people who are proven to be ineligible for subsidies have to pay them back, but said additional guidance on how to do that will be provided later." Mmmhmm.
The U.S. and Afghanistan have signed a security pact to allow almost 10,000 U.S. troops to remain in the country.
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Overnight Open Thread -- 9/29/2014: Corpulent RINO Edition
—Damn Dirty RINO
Good evening, 'Rons n' 'Ettes! It's been a spell since I was last permitted to darken the hallowed pages of AoSHQ. But, since your regular ONT provider purportedly has something more important to do, and I called dibs for tonight's iteration, I reckon you'll just have to swallow hard and accept whatever half-assed excuse for infotainment I manage to cobble together in the next couple of hours, or so.
Some of you may recall that I was a bartender the last time I encroached upon this otherwise estimable space. Well, thanks to a shitstorm apocalyptic proportion, I was unceremoniously relieved of those duties a little over a month ago. Since then, I've found employment in a somewhat different industry -- that is, chicken farming. I learned a lot in my first few weeks as a farmhand, first and foremost being that I'm too damned fat and out of shape to be a farmhand. Here's a fair approximation of the physical activity I typically engaged in prior to my unexpected career change.
But, after a few weeks of perseverance through searing agony, my body has adapted to the demands of the job. Yes, I'm still dog-tired at the end of the day, but I can manage a full day of carrying feed buckets the length of eight 520' chicken barns, doubling back several times in each one. And I'm doing it largely without pain. The only problem is, I'm old. And, being old, I didn't seem to be shedding the considerable beer gut I'd developed over years of tending bar. And, frankly, I'm highly skeptical of recent studies showing that the ladies quite dig men sporting the distended abdomen look.
According to a recent study commissioned to mark the DVD release of ďBad Neighbors,Ē starring Zac Efron and Seth Rogen, three in four British women prefer men with a bit of a belly over one rocking washboard abs when it comes to relationships.
The full results of the study are here, but the basic verdict is women prefer relationships with a man who makes them feel confident, not threatened. A man with a bit of a gut is likely not as concerned with appearances as a gym rat may be. Ergo, we feel less judged.
While that may be a comforting thought, experience has taught me otherwise. You don't just stroll up to some babe at the grocery store with a John Goodman physique and expect David Beckham results -- at least not of you're a blue-collar schlub like myself. And, with that in mind, I've decided to make some minor lifestyle adjustments.
Now, let me just stipulate that I'm not angling for the washboard stomach that's all the rage these days. That doesn't strike me as a realistic goal at this point. You see, I'm a man of appetites with an unfortunate tendency toward inertia in my downtime. I'm no Glenn Reynolds; this is about as close to six pack abs as I'm likely to get anytime soon:
But, I do have reasonably good muscle tone for a dude with four-plus decades on the planet -- especially for one who's spent as much time holding down barstools as I have. And I have no plans to eliminate that [in]activity from my admittedly debauched lifestyle. But, I have made some adjustments -- like cutting back on the beer and going back to a couple of old favorites: cheap scotch and gin and tonic. For those of you who may also have a taste for cheap scotch and have yet to try it, allow me to humbly recommend Hankey Bannister.
As I said, I am a man of appetites, and I'm not keen on denying them. And, yes, that does make losing the gut a bit of a challenge. But, some years ago, I came up with a system that worked pretty well for me. Essentially, I stopped all between-meal eating and started eating less fattening foods by cutting back on bread, potatoes [my greatest weakness], and sugar. Not foregoing them completely, mind you, but eating them in smaller quantities while making an effort to eat more of the things I like that are actually pretty good for me. I do this Monday through Saturday. And then, when Sunday comes around, I eat whatever the hell I want to eat, and as much as I want of it.
Obviously, that won't work for everyone. But, it worked for me the last time I tried it, and it seems to be working for me now. But, there are other ways of dropping a few pounds that aren't tantamount to masochism. Some scientist at Cornell thinks he's come up with a few.
ďOne thing that happens with people who are overweight is that they often feel their situation isnít solvable, and they are on the verge of giving up,Ē explains Wansink. ďWhat weíve found over and over is that making one small change, like eating off a smaller plate, leads to a small weight loss, and then that triggers making more changes. Within a year, a personís lost 35 pounds without ever Ďdieting.í Thatís our goal.Ē
ďItís so much easier to be Ďslim by designí than by using willpower,Ē Wansink says. ďYou make one change, itís done. Willpower is a 24/7 unending job.Ē
I have no idea how much weight I've lost. I don't even own a scale. I judge my weight by simply looking down at my waist from time to time, and by which holes in my belt I have to use to keep my pants up. I've cinched my belt up two holes over the past two weeks. That's probably a hundred pounds. Idunno. And all I've had to do is eat more green beans and salads, drink unsweetened tea and water (sometimes with lemon) instead of sweet tea and soft drinks with meals, and not run to the freezer for ice cream just before bedtime.
And, with a little diligence, maybe the next time I find myself on vacation in Panama City Beach, I won't be mortified at the notion of walking around shirtless on the beach. Speaking of which, here are a few shots I grabbed while I was there about a month ago:
Close it up
The World is Stupid - Also MNF
—Dave In Texas
I had to deal with a kid's car today and I got off cheap.
SO I got that goin for me, which is nice.
Patriots. Chiefs. Chiefs is likely the next target.
And Speaking of Major Security Breaches: Al Qaeda Claims Guilt for Rocket Attack on US Embassy in Yemen
Before getting to that, let me link this, which half of you have already mentioned in comments.
The White House insisted Monday that the U.S. counterterrorism strategy in Yemen is a model for the fight against the Islamic State -- despite the country being engulfed by a violent political crisis that last week led the Obama administration to remove some of its diplomats and urge American citizens to leave.
The White House, though, is standing by claims that the country is a "useful model" for dealing with militants elsewhere. Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Monday claimed fighters in Yemen remain under "continual pressure" from the U.S. despite the latest unrest.
Now, as to that rocket attack.
The State Department claimed that US personnel were being evacuated out of an "abundance of caution."
This phrase is usually meant to mean that there is no actual serious threat -- that steps are being taken in the absence of a serious threat, just to be completely, abundantly on the safe side of things.
But common words and phrases do not mean the same thing when spoken by this administration.
When this administration says it's evacuating personnel out of an "abundance of caution," what they mean is that the capital is overrun and Al Qaeda are shooting rockets are our embassy.
This is like saying "My house was on fire, so, out of an abundance of caution, I called the fire department. Just in case the flames did not choose to self-extinguish harmlessly."
An Al Qaeda splinter group launched a rocket attack on the U.S. embassy in Sanaa on Saturday, injuring several guards, to retaliate for what it said on social media was a U.S. drone strike in a northern province the day before.
The rocket landed 200 meters from the heavily fortified embassy, which lies in a compound surrounded by high walls, hitting members of the Yemeni special police force who guard the site. At least two were injured, police said.
The guards injured by the rocket attack were taken to a hospital, out of an abundance of caution.
Five O'Clock Follies have nothing on this crew.
White House Fence Jumper Made It Into the East Room; 2011 Shooting Incident Downplayed by Secret Service Revealed to Have Been More Serious Than Claimed
This 2011 incident was -- well, let me say, as non-provocatively as possible, not reported accurately to the public.
In 2011, a gunman fired a rifle at the White House (when Obama was not present, but members of his family were). Seven bullets hit the White House.
Do you remember reading about that?
Well, if not, there's a reason for that.
A bullet smashed a window on the second floor, just steps from the first familyís formal living room. Another lodged in a window frame, and more pinged off the roof, sending bits of wood and concrete to the ground....
Then came an order that surprised some of the officers. "No shots have been fired. . . . Stand down," a supervisor called over his radio. He said the noise was the backfire from a nearby construction vehicle.
By the end of that Friday night, the agency had confirmed a shooting had occurred but wrongly insisted the gunfire was never aimed at the White House. Instead, Secret Service supervisors theorized, gang members in separate cars got in a gunfight near the White Houseís front lawn -- an unlikely scenario in a relatively quiet, touristy part of the nationís capital.
It took the Secret Service four days to realize that shots had hit the White House residence, a discovery that came about only because a housekeeper noticed broken glass and a chunk of cement on the floor.
It's an important article, with some real reporting going on (for a change).
On the heels of that comes another story in which the Secret Service seems to have seriously downplayed how far an attacker penetrated White House grounds.
Spoiler Alert: The East Room.
The man who jumped the White House fence this month and sprinted through the front door made it much farther into the building than previously known, overpowering one Secret Service officer and running through much of the main floor, according to three people familiar with the incident.
An alarm box near the front entrance of the White House designed to alert guards to an intruder had been muted at what officers believed was a request of the usher's office, said a Secret Service official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The officer posted inside the front door appeared to be delayed in learning that the intruder, Omar Gonzalez, was about to burst through. Officers are trained that, upon learning of an intruder on the grounds, often through the alarm boxes posted around the property, they must immediately lock the front door.
After barreling past the guard immediately inside the door, Gonzalez, who was carrying a knife, dashed past the stairway leading a half-flight up to the first familyís living quarters. He then ran into the 80-foot-long East Room, an ornate space often used for receptions or presidential addresses.
I sort of understand the reason for, um, less than accurate public reports here. The Secret Service is a security and intelligence outfit. Intelligence outfits generally conceal their successes, and their failures, and especially how they succeeded and how they failed.
This is the "methods" part of intelligence which spooks always claim is highest-level tippy-toppiest top secret. Letting your enemies know how you respond when probed or attacked gives your enemies far too much information about how to probe or attack you in the future.
I doubt this is a genuine "political" scandal, because I'm thinking Obama's political interests lay with overselling the danger here, not underselling it. I imagine, to the extent he blessed the Secret Service's course of action of underplaying these threats, he did so for reasons of concern about his personal safety and that of his family, and not due to any political advantage.
I imagine the Secret Service will be likely given the "methods" pass on this as well -- they do have, I think, a plausible case to make about why they choose to conceal/downplay attacks which are semi-successful (in that they result in far too deep a penetration for comfort).
However, on this last point, it's useful to point out something about human nature.
When one has a failure -- an embarrassment -- one has personal, selfish reasons to conceal that.
But people are very good about making up stories for their own consumption about how The Greater Good actually requires the same thing that their personal good requires (here, downplaying the incidents and concealing the Secret Service's failure).
And if someone in the Secret Service found these lapses embarrassing, I think it's entirely plausible that such a person might have made a good case to himself that the best course of action was to conceal the embarrassing lapse -- for the sake of the President's security, you understand.
Not out of any grubby desire to hide the embarrassing lapse.
I'm not saying that's what did happen * -- I'm just saying that when personal advantage can be argued to align with ethical imperative, people are very eager to believe such arguments, and convince themselves that they're right.
People tend to be very willing to agree with their own interests. We're all pretty great at that.
That said, I don't expect these stories to go anywhere. The Secret Service does have a facially-plausible reason for downplaying these stories -- "We don't wish to give future attackers an insight into our response and the gaps in our security" -- and that will probably be enough to shut people up.
It's enough to shut me up, personally, and I'm a loudmouth.
I just hope that they're right about that being the actual best course of action, and they're not letting a desire to conceal their mistakes color their judgment.
* Intelligence services are prone to repeated mistakes because they always have an easy out: "Shut up and stop asking questions, because asking questions will compromise security."
But sometimes that sort of mindset precludes the sort of criticism and motivated response required to cure the original defect.
And so sometimes the cover-up results in a new crime -- or a new failure.
I'm sure that most of the time the CIA says "We're not answering that because it would compromise security," that is true, most of the time.
However, I'm equally sure that when the CIA is probed about a lapse in judgment, and it says, again, "We're not answering that because it would compromise security," that is false, a lot of the time.
Hmmm... wheatie has an interesting claim.
I know nothing at all about White House security, except from what I see on 24. (Best way to smuggle a bomb into the White House: recruit the Vice President into your terrorist cabal).
But wheatie says this:
That thing about the doors not being locked?
The doors have traditionally been left unlocked for security reasons!
That's because the Secret Service agents need to be able to have instant access to all areas...in the event of an emergency situation.
So if they are now going to start locking all the doors, it's going to create an impediment to the SS agents.
That kinda makes a whole lot of sense to me.
The real defense against a threat is not a locked door. It's a Secret Service agent.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Maybe You Can't Find That Anti-Muslim Quote I Claimed Bush Said in Any So-Called "Newspapers" or "Official Records," But I Cite the Highest Authority Possible for It: Me
That's a parody headline, but that's pretty much what he says:
Ignore the written record. My memory is an Awesome Thing that should not be easily contradicted.
Let's move on to the Bush quote, which is where things get really bad. To Seanís request that Tyson verify the quote heís been using against the former president, Tyson notes that September 11th affected him "deeply" and adds:I have explicit memory of those words being spoken by the President. I reacted on the spot, making note for possible later reference in my public discourse. Odd that nobody seems to be able to find the quote anywhere -- surely every word publicly uttered by a President gets logged.
Yes, surely, Doctor Science.
But you say you have an explicit memory! Well my stars and garters, I didn't know you had an explicit memory!
Explicit memories are scientifically proven to be much more reliable than plain ol' memories.
So ignore the evidence -- Take my word for it. I'm a Scientist.
He goes on to say:
FYI: There are two kinds of failures of memory. One is remembering that which has never happened and the other is forgetting that which did. In my case, from life experience, Iím vastly more likely to forget an incident than to remember an incident that never happened. So I assure you, the quote is there somewhere. When you find it, tell me. Then I can offer it to others who have taken as much time as you to explore these things.
I am infallible, so ignore the evidence as documented by thousands of disinterested reporters and transcribers in the government, who write down and publish the president's words every single day.
This is all terribly scientific.
Here's What I Know About Memory: I hate to argue with a Scientist, but what I've gathered from actual science is that "memory" is actually very misconceived. We think of it like the memory of a tape recording or video recording.
It's nothing of the sort. It is certain associations (probably involving some basic keywords, like elemental notions of basic nouns and basic concepts like "direction towards" or "direction away" and "happy" and "scared") networked together in the brain as having been implicated together at one time.
When we "remember," we do not replay a tape of past events in our brain. Instead, what we do is conjure up a new narrative, make a new story for ourselves, from the embedded and networked keywords and associations.
Memory changes over time, as we re-conjure images and experiences. Sometimes new parts get added, and others subtracted.
Sometimes we add new parts that were never part of the actual experience at all and make the "memory" about something that never actually even happened.
Surely Tyson is not so completely ignorant of cognitive science that he thinks an "explicit memory" is infallible...?
Even the way Tyson speaks is anti-scientific.
A long time ago, when I was a kid, I had a very explicit memory that a certain cartoon animal was a certain color.
I actually got in a physical fight with a friend over this animal's color. My friend said the animal was one color; but I had an explicit memory of it being a different color.
He was so stupid with his Wrong Color Naming that I got angry and we got to scrappin'.
A year later I saw the cartoon again.
The animal's color? Precisely the color my friend claimed it to have been.
Precisely not the color I had claimed it to have been.
The problem was that I was remembering part of one cartoon animal -- his type, his name, his basic shape and silhouette -- but then remembering a different cartoon animal's color.
My memory glitched, and put together three correct associations (type, name, shape) with a fourth erroneous association (color).
When did this happen? Why did neurons get crossed here?
Who knows -- maybe one time when I re-conjured the image of the cartoon animal, I forgot the color, and my brain, seeking to fill in the blanks, took the color from another cartoon animal. Having a "void" in the memory bank for color, my brain took its best guess and filled the animal's shape with what seemed a plausible color.
And then, whenever I "remembered" that cartoon animal, I "remembered" the three correct attributes with the one false attribute my brain had conjured up in a pinch.
Anyway, as a six-year-old boy, I learned something about memory that the World's Greatest Scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson is still ignorant of.
So TV Is Pretty Much Just for Women Now, Right?
Just looking at the new TV shows -- Madame Secretary, How to Get Away With Murder, Forever, etc. -- it seems almost of all of them are pitched chiefly to appeal to women.
Something similar happened in the movies. 16-to-25 year old males bought most movie tickets. So studios started making more and more movies targeting 16-to-25 year old males. This led to people outside of this demographic buying even fewer tickets -- which meant that an even greater fraction of tickets were bought by males 16 to 25, making it more important to make movies for males 16 to 25, and so on.
Well, from what I'm seeing on TV, it appears that women watch more TV than men (at least more scripted shows), so TV is pitching itself harder to harder to women, thus making men even less likely to watch, thus making it even more important to appeal to women, etc.
Something like this already happened with print fiction -- women, I think, were always better readers than men, and furthermore enjoyed fiction more. So publishers bought more female-skewing novels, thus making it less likely men would buy novels.
And so on. You know the breakdown of novel purchases by gender? Women buy 80% of novels; men buy 20%.
This isn't really a complaint so much as an observation.
Back when I was a younger man, I didn't complain that a suspiciously large number of films seemed designed to appeal to me. I just accepted my good fortune.
(Well, I don't know if I should call it "good fortune." For every Die Hard, there were eight Erasers and four Hard Targets.)
Now that I'm older, most movies aren't for me (I'm a little tired of the Talented but Rebellious Young Man Must Accept His Destiny of Being Awesome character arc) and very few novels and apparently no TV shows at all.
The only TV shows "for men" seem to be those designed to appeal to both sexes equally -- dumb reality shows like Survivor, procedurals-mixed-with-personal-drama like Elementary, and general-audience sitcoms like Big Bang Theory.
The only single scripted TV show -- a single fiction -- whose intended audience is primarily male I can think of is Game of Thrones. But that wound up appealing to women, and if I were to guess, I'd say that women probably made up the majority of the audience.
Again, I'm not really complaining. This seems to be explainable by operation of market forces (with the addition of a vicious cycle whereby the smaller part of the audience becomes smaller and smaller still as the industries pitch to the larger potential audience).
It's not a conspiracy, and it's not really even "political."
Still, if we live in a world where each and every "Gender Gap" must be shrieked about and endlessly discussed as "problematic" (and we do live in precisely such a world) -- how about doing a little shrieking for the poor underserved male potential TV audience?
Commenters Point Out Additional Male-Skewing Shows-- mostly on cable channels, and mostly on FX (or FXX, whatever). Archer and Always Sunny are definitely male-appealing; commenters say "The League" is too.
But these are on a fairly minor cable channel, and certainly it doesn't look like new shows are being pitched to the male audience.
(Update: Oops, someone pointed out Adam Baldwin's vehicle (ahem), The Last Ship. Okay, that counts as "new." But still, on TNT.
Okay, you can point out a few male-skewing shows -- but not many.)
#GamerGate Angle: While the Social Justice Warriors complain mightily that video games seem to feature many more male heroes than female ones, and seem skewed to male tastes as a general matter -- I don't hear the Social Justice Warriors crusading for male-skewing fictions in print or on TV.
Seems the SJWs gladly take their advantages where they find them (that is, in entertainments designed to appeal to their gender identity) and then cry an awful lot because one particular entertainment niche (video games) is still skewed towards male tastes.
FBI: Oklahoma Beheading of Woman by Jihadist is Obviously Just a Case of Workplace Violence
I wondered last week if the media would completely cover up this story, as they embargoed the Jihadist Serial Killer in Seattle.
I forgot to ask if the FBI would, too.
They're Now Building... Shipping-Container Apartments
The shipping containers are specced out with interior walls and plumbing and such and then they're just stacked on top of each other to form an apartment complex.
In the sci-fi novel Ready Player One, the very poor protagonist lived in a place called "The Stacks," which were just mobile homes stacked one upon the other (to save space, because of overpopulation and the impossibility of poor folks owning any actual property), then laced together with ramshackle fire escapes.
I thought that was a cute attempt to hyperbolize the drama of the poor, but a dumb one. An interesting image, but there's no way that would happen.
Well, something like that is happening. Shows what I know.
The Proper Use of Pronouns, As Demonstrated by Barack Obama
Demonstration One: The Second-Person Singular Pronoun "You."
Barack Obama: "All around the country, wherever I see folks, they always say, oh, Barack, we're praying for you -- boy, you're so great; look, you got all gray hair, you looking tired. (Laughter.) We're praying for you. Which I appreciate..."
Demonstration Two: The Third-Person Plural Pronoun "They."
The United States underestimated the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, President Obama said during an interview, to be broadcast Sunday night, in which he also acknowledged the Iraqi armyís inability to successfully tackle the threat.
According to transcript from Sunday's "60 Minutes" on CBS interview, correspondent Steve Kroft referred to comments by James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, in which he said, "We overestimated the ability and the will of our allies, the Iraqi Army, to fight."
"That's true. That's absolutely true," Obama said. "Jim Clapper has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria."
Demonstration Three -- INCORRECT Usage of the Third-Person Singular Pronoun "He."
Reached by The Daily Beast after Obamaís interview aired, one former senior Pentagon official who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq was flabbergasted. "Either the president doesnít read the intelligence he's getting or he's bull****ing," the former official said...
Kidding aside, Geraghty then (in the second link) demonstrates the various warnings the intelligence committee has made about Iraq and Syria.
Thanks to JustTheTip and @comradearthur.
For Further Consideration:
Historical Demonstration: The Proper Use of The First Person Plural Pronoun "We."
"We got him." -- Barack Obama commenting upon the killing of Osama bin Ladin
Speculating Bloggers: Hong Kong Protesters Are Using "Hands Up" Posture in Conscious Echo of Ferguson, MO
People Who Bother To Do Their Jobs and Ask Questions: No They're Not
Why does this keep happening? Is every single stray thought, twitter speculation, and phantom bridge in Israel breaking news for Vox?
Incidentally, did they really imagine the "hands up" posture was something unknown to the wider world until Ferguson protesters began using this?
Seems very provincial to me -- conceiving of the world as having the same agendas and reference points as American bloggers who either live in Brooklyn or intend to move there ASAP.
Thanks to @benk84. Just a quick one as a slumpbuster.
Updated: This wasn't just Vox claiming this pulled-out-of-the-ass speculation as fact -- it was a lot of the media, including a blogger for the WaPo and, naturally, MSNBC.
And in daylight, painted 9 years later. These two pictures look different because of a problem with viewing art on the internet I brought up a while back. Unless you see it for yourself, there is no way to know which of these is closer to the original.
Close it up
Monday Morning News Dump
- Five Reasons You're Too Dumb To Vote
- The Revolution Will Be Internalized
- The Neil Degrasse Tyson Saga Continues
- Remember, The Left Wants Government Out Of Your Bedroom
- The Khorosan Group Does Not Exist
- New Iraqi Comedy Makes Light Of ISIL
- It's Not The Crime, It's The Cover Up
- How Important Is Your Vote?
- Republican Ersnt Pulls Ahead In Iowa Senate Race
- A New Border Surge Opens Us To A New Wave Of Diseases
- Frances Far Right Grabs First Ever Senate Seats
- This Is A Great Man
- Are There Really 3,000 ISIS Jihadis?
- This Last Weekend Was The End Of Saturday Morning Cartoons Being Aired On Network TV
Top Headline Comments 9-29-14
I missed this great rebuttal last week to Democratic claims that Obamacare is just hunky-dory.
Greg Orman, the dude running against GOP Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas, is a complete coward. When asked who he would caucus with in the Senate, he now answers, "It's not in the best interests for us to say that." His answers on other issues are as vague.
Pro-democracy demonstrations continue in Hong Kong.
Another former TV property hit it big at the box office.
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Overnight Open Thread 9/28/14 (tmi3rd)
Hi there, Morons and Moronettes. Maetenloch is tied up with other things at the moment, but my understanding is that itís not contagious and the burning sensation should clear up fairly quickly.
Letís get the bad news out of the way firstÖ
Bieber To Voice KITT In New Hasselhoff Film, Confirming Apocalypse
Per Yahoo! and The Insider, this is actually a thing that is happening as part of a quid pro quo between the Biebs and the Hoff. The latter evidently appeared in one of the singer's videos, so now he's calling in the favor, all of which is explained in the Insider segment that you can watch here. Please note that watching it will make you feel as if you were just lobotomized with a pick axe, so consider yourselves warned.
Is This A Thing?
On the left, Dwyane Wade. On the right, Cam Newton. Note the shoes.
Iím just asking, is this a thing? If it is, thatís worse than the short suits that were being pushed earlier this season.
This ONTís Edition OfÖ
Itís podcast pimping night.
The first one is from our buddy UCFGoose, and itís for vapers (folks who are e-cigging to quit smoking)Ö itís titled The RAW DEAL with UCFGOOSE, and it runs on Thursdays from 10 PM-midnight Eastern. Itís delivered from the Moron perspective, so check it out if youíre so inclined.
Two other podcasts of note can be found over at the NewsNinja site... our friends PolitiBunny and Texas Uncle Sam have their podcasts back-to-back on Thursday, at 9 PM and 10 PM Eastern, respectively.
You can fight over who you listen to on whatever given Thursday itís convenient to do so, but please, support our Morons!
Oh, and on a programming note- our friends over at Hookers & Booze are going to be down for a while while they retool their site. Their content (which can be VERY NSFW- youíve been warned) can be found here. Check Ďem out if youíre so inclined.
Disturbing, Disturbing, DisturbingÖ
The Secret Service took five days to realize a gunman had fired several rifle rounds into the White House.
A contract-labor IT worker crippled the Chicago air traffic route center with a knife, a gas can, and a lighter.
Hospitals are largely unprepared to handle Ebola waste
One of the things thatís really concerning about the culture thatís sort of set in over the past few years has been this indifference to incompetence and a lack of attention to detail. Regarding the Secret Service- nobody reading this blog regularly is a fan of TFG, but an attack on him is an attack on all of us. The Secret Service HAS TO BE THE BEST AT WHAT THEY DO, period.
With the air traffic situation- nobody could have seen this coming, but this cat WRECKED Chicago Centerís operations, and thereís a lot of stuff thatís got to be fixed before Chicagoís airspace can get back up to speed. That means that nobodyís adequately securing sensitive gear, and itís not just in Chicago.
Finally, with regards to Ebola- I canít go into detail what all has gone wrong with the Ebola response both overseas and domestically (itíll come out fairly shortly), but issues that should have been resolved in terms of communication and chain of command on the heels of 9/11, Katrina, and a few other incidents are still problematic.
With a contagion as lethal as Ebola is (and there are a few other bugs that are just as nasty out there), indecision and poor communication will get people killed. This has been a hallmark of federal response for well over a decade, and thatís simply not acceptable.
On An Equally Serious and Thoughtful NoteÖ
If you havenít read Aceís take on why the GOP sucks, please go give it a look. While youíre at it, youíll also want to take a look at David Druckerís piece on why Senate races come down to the wire. Finally, Carol Brown points out that being pissed off at the GOP establishment isnít a good reason to stay home.
Iím of this mind about it: I think Ace is right in that the Republican Party is not a conservative party, no matter how it may be portrayed. As such, expecting conservative, or even libertarian, governance out of them is a mistake.
The culture isnít on our side right now, and thatís something that needs to not be overlooked. A potential Senate flip is not happening because our side has effectively sold our point of view, but because the other side has screwed things up so badly that much of the country has nowhere else to go. Losing sight of that is a sure path to defeat in the long term.
Douthatís piece is a good lesson in coalition-building, but the categories it creates are debatable. Druckerís piece is a bit more poignant in that it points out that voter intensity will drive the results much more than polling will.
Republicans are panicking because donations arenít coming in, and they donít seem to realize that nobodyís going to donate to an empty hole just for the sake of donating. A good example is in KansasÖ this should be a safe seat, but due to an indifferent and lazy incumbent, the Democrat running as an independent is playing with a solid lead. For good measure, it would appear that the liberal wing of the Kansas GOP is about to toss Sam Brownback out for the sin of governing as a conservative. What reason would any principled conservative have to give money to the party?
Conversely, Carol Brownís piece begs everyone to get involved and give money. I appreciate her point that Democrats holding the Senate does not help our side at all, and I agree with it. That said, itís hard for me to get excited about helping out a group that seems so openly dismissive of my best interests.
My boy Blackiswhite, Imperial Consigliere and I were talking about this last nightÖ his stance is to starve the beast in terms of finances and in terms of votes, and thatís not an unreasonable stance under the circumstances. I canít get behind that stance because I feel like itíd be abandoning any voice in the state of things. Itís still frustrating, because it does feel futile a lot of the time, but...
At the moment, Iím going to go ahead and pull the lever for our side in the election, but I canít and wonít spend my time and money to help these guys out. I havenít made the decision to openly ignore GOP candidates in elections, but Iím done with people who swear they wonít do that in my mouth.
Tonight's Musical Selection
W.A.S.P. are one of these hair bands that have some talent to go with their hairspray and makeup. Most people do it wrong when they cover The Who, but they got this one dead right.
And Tonight's Cartoon Selection
Old school, yo.
You crazy kids have fun, and play nice! Thanks for reading.
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What A Bargain! - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]
A couple of weeks ago I spotted a $5 cell phone holder which attaches to a car's air conditioning vent. Yesterday I finally got around to opening the package and installing it in the car. It took approximately .5 seconds for me to decide that it had to come out. So, 5 minutes later, pliers in hand, I broke off the clips and tossed the entire device. $5 down the drain.
Marketeers (yes. I call them marketeers) know that there is a break-point at which a customer will make the effort to return a bad product and, for many people, $5 ain't it.
So, think about it. How much money do you suppose you have wasted buying bad products? How's your luck with As-Seen-On-TV products?
Is there anything you've purchased which exceeded your expectations?
Just a curiosity.
Some of my favorite purchases of the non-infomercial variety include, well, besides my handbags and shoes, a 4' scaffold for about $80 and a coffee table I picked up from a thrift store for $25.
What are some of your favorites?
Food Thread: Beerslinger Returns! A Beer Primer[CBD]
Now here I go dropping science about beers; ales and lagers.
Well...maybe we can skip the science, what with all the postulating theorems formulating equations, this is, after all, a primer, and, it's a Sunday.
Ales and lagers are the two broad categories of beer. Each of these categories offer a variety of styles. The basic differences are the yeasts used and the temperatures at which these yeasts are fermented.
The bitterness, sweetness of the beer, colors and alcohol content range in a large spectrum for both, ales and lagers.
Ale yeasts are fermented at warmer temperatures which cause the yeast to ferment on the top of the beer. Lagers are known as bottom fermenters as the cooler temperatures allow the yeasts to ferment at the base. Kind of like crayfish, carp and career politicians. Please, no offense intended to you lager lushes out there and /or career politicians.
Ale flavors tend to express more fruity and spicy notes which are derived from the warmer fermentation of the yeasts. However, lagers can also be fairly full bodied, such as is found in wheat beers with notes of cloves or bananas.
For the most part, lagers are clean, crisp and refreshing.
With lagers your going to taste more of the grains and some hops.
With the ales, your tasting mostly the yeasts and hops.
It's not science, it's just beer (unless you're a brewer).
So, which do you prefer? And, what style of that category does the horde prefer?
This is from Cooks Country, which is a solid, if irritating (they want your credit card #!) site for fail-safe recipes.
For a substantial crust, don't break up the Melba toasts too much, and coat the chops well with mayonnaise. Although an instant-read thermometer takes the guesswork out of determining when the meat is done, you can use the "nick-and-peek" method: Use a paring knife to make a slit in the top of the pork chop and take a look at the meat's interior. The Melba crumbs can be made weeks in advance and stored in the freezer. Applesauce is a natural with these chops.
1 (5-ounce) box Melba toast , broken into rough pieces
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon sugar
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 center-cut boneless pork chops , 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick (each 6 to 7 ounces), patted dry with paper towels
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Place Melba toast pieces, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, thyme, and sugar in heavy-duty zipper-lock freezer bag. Seal bag and pound with heavy blunt object (such as a rolling pin) until Melba toasts are crushed but still have some crumbs the size of small pebbles. Add 2 tablespoons mayonnaise to bag and work mayonnaise evenly into crumb mixture by gently squeezing outside of bag. Transfer Melba crumb mixture to large plate.
2. Using your fingers, coat 1 chop with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise. Transfer to plate with Melba crumbs, sprinkle top of pork chop with some Melba mixture, and press down firmly on chop to adhere crumbs. Flip chop and repeat, making sure that thick layer of crumbs coats both sides and edges. Transfer breaded pork chop to baking rack set over rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chops.
3. Bake pork chops until juices run clear and instant-read thermometer inserted into center of chop registers 145 to 150 degrees, 16 to 22 minutes. Remove chops from oven and let rest on rack for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
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Gaming Thread 9/28/2014
—Gang of Gaming Morons!
Been playing quite a bit of Archeage this past week (level 33). Game is not a looker but it's been a lot of fun and the amount of stuff you can do is pretty good.
So Steam finally unveiled the long talked about updates to the store. And IMO, I wish they could go back as it's a mess of a front page. People thought it had a problem with content finding and they made that worse.
I do like the curated store feature though which I've started to tinker around with and created one for the Ace of Spades HQ. The 152 character limit still sucks though, pain in the ass to say why I think a game is good and worth buying in Twitter speak. Only 10 games so far on it and it's a bit all over the place. I'll be adding more when I have the time. If you think I should throw anything in there, just post it in the comments.
"Current" gen has finally kicked off on the PC as Bethesda is asking for 4GB cards to play The Evil Within
And Warner Brothers is asking for 6GB cards to play Shadow of Mordor with "Ultra" textures.
As for what they will actually require will make benchmarks very interesting
I'm keeping away from the P&P games even though there are some really good ones (Call of Cthulhu,, Vampire The Masquerade and Deadlands being the predominate ones around here) as I was hoping to keep it in a day at most time frame for it's gametime (like I've got a campaign of Call of Cthulhu I'm in that is 12 years running vOv).
Gloom (2 - 4 players, try for 4) - You can play classic fast paced original version (with expansions) which is very casual friendly and makes for a perfect game over drinks or you can go with the Cthulhu version which adds a few wrinkles to it's game play like having to finish a story instead of killing your family and it adds some modifiers to your family members. I think the original version plays better as it's a faster pick up and play but I tend to always be outvoted and stuck playing this. Though I prefer the original, you can't go wrong with either as it's a good little diddy that won't break your pocketbook.
Space Hulk (2 players) - The seminal board game. One plays as the Blood Angels and the other as Genestealers in a really fast paced turnbased action point game. The game play is very tight and like all Games Workshop games, very modular with tons of missions. I hate to have this on the list as it's expensive but Games Workshop has just the 4th edition which you can still pick up for it's retail price of $125 (which is cheap in comparison to how much the other releases cost these days). SPACE HULK!!!
Elder Sign (1 - 8, over 4 players makes the mechanics go a bit sideways) - Yeah, it's not the best game in the series (Eldrich Horror is better than Arkham Horror) but it fits my need of something a bit lighter and as much as I like the more in-depth actions you get in Eldrich, Elder Sign keeps people attention when drinking. It's Clue with an active endgame with a ton of dice rolling. If there is a knock against it, it's that you will quickly need pick up the expansions as there isn't too much
Call of Cthulhu (2 players) - Gameplay wise, it's roots as a standard CCG (collectable card game) is obvious as it's pretty standard in it's resource building but it's all in the flavor of a tightly wrapped telling of Cthulhu mythos. That being said, it's very expansion heavy and they're needed to get the most out of it. That being said, I prefer the LCG (living card game) method of instead of buying packs to build your decks, you just buy the expansions.
Betrayal at House on the Hill (3-6 players) - This game is a pain in the ass to give an quick quip on it's gameplay (less confusing and somewhat stripped down Mansions of Madness). I'm going to leave it to Dice Tower with their review
Last Night on Earth (2 - 6 players, more the better) - If you want a zombie game, this is pretty much it (can't recommend Zombies! this this game out there and I personally didn't like Zombicide). It's a straight up survival game where the last person alive or who completes the missions wins. IMO, the most fun is when you're playing as the zeds. It's fun, it's easy to learn and it's fast paced where you don't lose any interest
Zombie Fluxx (2 - 6, four or five players is the sweet spot IMO) - It's Fluxx, just with a different theme and I'm a big fan of Fluxx over beers with it's fast paced off the wall brand of craziness. Draw cards and play one which will change the rules to the game. There are a ton of themes if you don't want zombies (or Cthulhu), personally the one me and my friends play the most is the Monty Python deck though the Star Fluxx deck is supposed to be pretty good.
Werewolves of Millers Hollow (8-18, bare minimum is 12 with another as moderator IMO) - Straight up, I've only played this four times as you need an insane amount of people for this to work but this game is a serious hoot if you can round up the people. It's a basic whodunit. Give out random roles (townsfolk, werewolves and special people who have abilities). Werewolves kill a person at night and the townsfolk during the day pick a person and kills them. Yeah, that's it to the game and it's some of the most simple fun around with a large group. After playing it, it's quick to understand why this was up for a Spiel des Jahres award.
Munchkin Cthulhu (3 -6 players) - It's Munchkin but cthulhu themed. Is there much else to say, don't know many people who have never played Munchkin before? It's hard not to have fun playing one of the games. I don't know what else to say really, it's Munchkin.
Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft (1 - 5 players, wouldn't play it solitaire though) It's a stripped down version of D&D 4E in a tile laying dungeon crawler without a DM (rules act as DM). I dunno, it's pretty easy to pick up if you've ever played D&D before. The game is pretty damn hard though with it's non-stop waves of encounters. Pretty much every turn your probably going to be fighting something and you will die. That being said, it's a good gateway to proper Pathfinder playing for kids. Not my favorite dungeon crawling game (Loot & Scoot holds that distinction) but it's a damn good one.
And totally not horror related but
And when ever I talk about board/card games, I am always compelled to say that there is never a bad time to bust out the greatest card game ever made, Tichu. It's a 4 player trick taking game built with poker hands and 4 tiered Jokers. And like Spades, it's totally cool to blame your partner if you find yourself down $80 at the end of the night.
Lord of The Rings: Shadow of Mordor (PC, PS4, XBO, 360, PS3) - I didn't expect much from this open world Assassin's Creed/Arkham Asylum game but the reviews are outstanding for it and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be picking this one up.
Forza Horizon 2 (XBO & 360) - Sad that this is the closest we're going to get to a new Project Gotham Racing but it's a good series so far. First game was really good and the demo of the second game was quite a bit of fun for an arcadey racer. That being said, racing really is one of the three genres that needs to be 60FPS (fighting, racing and shmups). At least the soundtrack is great top to bottom.
Super Smash Bros. (3DS) - Also coming to the Wii U (supposed to be right before Black Friday). Early impressions have been good if you like the series (I personally have never liked Super Smash Buttons) and it looks okay graphically. Eh
Crimes & Punishments: Sherlock Holmes (PC, 360, PS3, XBO, PS4) - New game from Frogwares where there is no middle ground on if this Sherlock Holmes game is good (Awakening, Jack The Ripper) or bad (Earring, Baskerville). At least they finally upgraded to UE3 though it's lead to a "gritty" Sherlock Holmes.
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Weekend Travel Thread: Funny Bone Edition [Y-not]
Greetings morons and moronettes!
While we all nervously scan the German newspapers for signs of moronette, HR's, arrest for disorderly conduct at Oktoberfest, how about a few chuckles?
Courtesy of Travel and Leisure, here are some funny signs you might encounter while on your travels. As co-author of the Garden Thread, I like this one:
(I'd hate to see the dogs in that neighborhood!)
Courtesy of NomadicSamuel dot com, here's a list of recommended travel blogs known for their edgy humor. There are some good links there. Here's an excerpt from one of the recommended blogs, Johnny Vagabond, describing a trip to Bangkok:
I think I'm finally adapting to the heat and humidity here. By adapting, I mean that my entire body has transformed itself into a single, massive sweat gland.
Yesterday morning, as I dressed for my visit to the Amulet Market, I made the first mistake. I'd run out of clean underwear and decided to just go commando. I do it all the time at home, right? What could possibly go wrong?
My second mistake was wearing a fancy shirt I'd purchased from REI right before I left home. It was a high-dollar, high-tech, water-resistant short sleeve with an SPF of 30 (huh?). I think it even spoke Spanish. What it did not do, alas, was ventilate. At all. Wandering about the market in 96 degree temps and 100% humidity, I felt like I was wearing a $50 garbage bag.
I was soon drenched, with sweat running down my back and soaking my pants -- I looked like I'd been bobbing for apples with my ass. Eventually making my way onto the grounds of a quiet university, I found a bench in the shade, and sat awhile to cool off -- setting the scene for my third mistake...
Follow the link to read the horrifying rest.
I'm not a big reader. Years in academia may have burnt me out, particularly from long-form reading (novels, biographies). That said, when I read for pleasure I tend to gravitate to anthologies of short stories or writers who write in an episodic style (Wodehouse's "Jeeves & Wooster" books are amongst my favorites). I've noticed that travel books tend to fall in this category, so I tend to gravitate to them. I especially enjoy them when I'm traveling -- their episodic format makes excellent light reading.
Here's CNN's list of the Top 15 Travel Books of all-time (I've edited the content for length):
15. "The Sex Lives of Cannibals" (2004) By J. Maarten Troost
At age 26, Troost leaves the cushy city life and embarks on a two-year stint in the heat-blasted "end of the world" -- in this case, the equatorial Pacific atoll of Tarawa in the Republic of Kiribati.
14. "Vroom with a View" (2006) By Peter Moore
From Milan to Rome on a '61 Vespa nicknamed Sophia. If you understand the "Sophia" reference you'll appreciate not just where the Italy-intoxicated Moore goes, but where he's coming from.
13. "The Lost Continent" (1989) By Bill Bryson
The preeminent bard of genial travel laughs embarks on a 38-state tour in search of the vanishing small town America of his youth ... in his mother's aging Chevy Chevette.
12. "Coasting" (1999) By Dick Flinthart
A swaggering travel guide that takes in the good, the bad and the malignant features of 2,800 kilometers of Australia's East Coast.
11. "Killing Yourself to Live" (2005) By Chuck Klosterman
Extemporaneous pop culture critic Klosterman sets off on a U.S. cross-country road trip with a twin purpose: look up old girlfriends and visit the places where famed rockers, from Buddy Holly to Lynyrd Skynyrd to Kurt Cobain, met their tragic fates.
10. "Out of Sheer Rage" (1997) By Geoff Dyer
Some travel for discovery.
Some travel to for recreation.
Dyer travels for procrastination.
To put off writing a book about D.H. Lawrence, he roams the planet (Rome, Greece, Mexico, United States) in an elaborate stall.
9. "Queenan Country" (2004) By Joe Queenan
Charmed and discombobulated in equal measures, unapologetic Yank Joe Queenan travels through Old Blighty -- homeland of his wife and extended family -- to find out what makes the British tick.
8. "Are You Experienced?" (1997) By William Sutcliffe
The only novel on our list follows Brit gap-year bounder Dave on a hellish (for him) excursion to India, providing the author ample opportunity to spew murderously funny vitriol at unwashed backpackers, high-end package tourists, Intimate Yoga hucksters and over-solicitous locals.
7. "Into the Heart of Borneo" (1984) By Redmond O'Hanlon
True to the title, naturalist O'Hanlon, along with poet pal James Fenton and three native guides, makes his way up exotic jungle rivers into the forbidding interior of Borneo.
6. "Westward Ha!" (1947) By S.J. Perelman
The longtime "New Yorker" columnist's jaunty, round-the-world voyage by sea west from Hollywood to "all the areas celebrated by Kipling, Conrad and Maugham," then to the Middle East and Europe -- in all, 27 countries in nine months.
I've read several of the books on the list, including Bryson's although they overlooked my favorite, "Notes from a Small Island". Here's a brief excerpt from a chapter in which he describes his experiences at a run-down boarding house in Dover:
I'd intended to turn in early, but on the way to my room I noticed a door marked RESIDENT'S LOUNGE and put my head in. It was a large parlour, with easy chairs and a settee, all with starched antimacassars; a bookcase with a modest selection of jigsaw puzzles and paperback books; an occasional table with some well-thumbed magazines; and a large colour television. I switched on the TV and looked through the magazines while I waited for it to warm up. They were all women's magazines, but they weren't like the magazines my mother and sister read. The articles in my mother's and sister's magazines were always about sex and personal gratification. They had titles like `Eat Your Way to Multiple Orgasms', `Office Sex - How to Get it', `Tahiti: The Hot New Place for Sex' and `Those Shrinking Rainforests - Are They Any Good for Sex?' The British magazines addressed more modest aspirations. They had titles like `Knit Your Own Twinset', `Money- Saving Button Offer', `Make This Super Knitted Soap-Saver' and `Summer's Here - It's Time for Mayonnaise!'
The programme that unfolded on the television was called Jason King. If you're of a certain age and lacked a social life on Friday evenings in the early Seventies, you may recall that it involved a ridiculous rake in a poofy kaftan whom women unaccountably appeared to find alluring. I couldn't decide whether to take hope from this or be depressed by it. The most remarkable thing about the programme was that, though I saw it only once more than twenty years ago, I have never lost the desire to work the fellow over with a baseball bat studded with nails.
Towards the end of the programme another resident came in, carrying a bowl of steaming water and a towel. He said, `Oh!' in surprise when he saw me and took a seat by the window. He was thin and red-faced and filled the room with a smell of liniment. He looked like someone with unhealthy sexual ambitions, the sort of person your PE teacher warned that you would turn into if you masturbated too extravagantly (someone, in short, like your PE teacher).
What are your favorite books about travel? Do you have any funny stories to share?
To close things up, here's Monty Python's take on air travel:
Which one is Ace?
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OK Horde, here's your chance to tell me I'm wrong [WeirdDave]
Or right, I dunno, that's why I'm asking. I have this buddy on Facebook. Good guy, good friend, I like him a lot. He's an ex-nuc, if you've ever read Blind Man's Bluff, his boat was the subject of one of the stories in the book (he won't tell me which one, which is how it should be). In spite of the fact that he glows gently in the dark, I respect him a great deal.
Which is why I was surprised when he posted a link to this article and indicated his approval. If you don't want to click the link, the article was published at Talking Points Memo, it's from a group of former service members who work for The Truman Project (A Soros funded non-profit), who are outraged, just outraged, that Greg Gutfield made a pun on The Five. They were discussing the female pilot from the UAE who led one of the airstrikes in Syria. Greg referred to it as "boobs on the ground" and one of his co-commentators made a joke about her having trouble parking the airplane when she got back. This, apparently, is the greatest outrage since the Holocaust. I replied:
Couldn't disagree more. If it was on a newscast? Maybe. The Five is a humorous, satirical commentary show. Notice who is doing the complaining: The Truman Project, one of George Soros' web of non-profits dedicated to advancing left wing causes. This is all part of the coordinated effort to manufacture an imaginary "war on women" leading up to the mid terms, a desperate attempt to distract people from the fact that 6 years of "progressive" governance has been a disaster. I know more than one female member of the armed forces, and any one of them would reply "Goddamn right we needed boobs on the ground, you swinging dicks weren't getting it done".
He responded no, he found it offensive, and furthermore, the UAE stuck their necks out by having a woman lead the attack, they are sure to be monitoring American news outlets, and stuff like this wasn't doing us any favors with a much needed diplomatic and military ally. (I'm not quoting him because I don't have permission to, but I am trying to present his arguments honestly as he made them).
I thought about this. I thought about it for a day, as I said, this is a friend and I respect his opinion. Ultimately I came back with:
I've thought long and hard about this. LOL, really, I have, which is why I didn't reply immediately last night. I respect your intelligence and point of view, so I wanted to consider what you're saying seriously. There have been news reports that the pilot's family have disowned her, which is a shame, because by all reports she performed admirably. I'm still going to have to say that in my opinion, you're wrong. There are two issues here.
#1, I stand by my initial assessment, this is all Proggy theater, designed to manipulate emotions for elections and nothing else.. I don't think I could put it better than a currently deployed buddy of mine put it when I asked him about the linked article:
"Tell em to gimme a callback when they REALLY esteem and love our armed forces and don't see them as Nazis and torturing kill-bots, or alternatively as dead-end inner city minority yutes that were too stupid to get a job at the Post Office. Libs give a fuck about military people until(sic-when) they can see them as victims, like here, when they're all for women in combat, but won't tolerate some mean boys being rude to them."
#2, regarding your last post, I have no doubt that UAE officials watched closely, and were probably outraged at Gutfield's joke. To that I say "So what". You seem to be rehashing the Terry Jones argument. One of the core values of being an American is the First Amendment. You, and I, and Greg Gutfield, have the absolute right to say any stupid thing that comes to mind. That statement may be offensive, funny, crude or ridiculous. It doesn't matter. The right to say it is a core principle. If we start censoring or monitoring people for exercising that right, we lose what it means to be Americans. If the UAE wants our might on their side, they have to accept that. They just might to want to take a moment to consider why we have such might, and they don't.
Finally, I would note that while the folks who signed the Soros article you linked did serve in the armed forces (I assume, I'm taking that as a given, although I wouldn't put it past Soros to invent people to suit his needs. A Jew who made his fortune by profiting off sending other Jews to the gas chamber is not exactly an.....unimpeachable source in my book), that doesn't give them any special insight. I honor their service, and thank them for it. That doesn't mean they are immune from being full of shit.
So, that's it. Am I off base here? I might be, Lord knows I'm frequently an idiot. Why, just last winter when I was licking a flagpole, an entire group of people gathered around and castigated me. That was hurtful. In this case, I don't think so, but I might be, as I said, my friend is someone I respect a great deal. When someone like that tells me I'm out of line, I have to consider seriously that they might be right. What say y'all?
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Sunday Football Thread
—Dave In Texas
All the footballs, all day long.
Sunday Morning Book Thread 09-28-2014: Hegemony [OregonMuse]
The interior of the Leuven University Library in Leuven, Belgium.
Good morning morons and moronettes and welcome to AoSHQ's stately, prestigious, and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread. The only AoSHQ thread that
Found: Another Progressive Anti-Text
OK, so I was reading this article here wherein a number of horror enthusiasts were asked what was the scariest book they ever read. I didn't find anything noteworthy to comment on, except for one exception, a book I had never heard of before, Wisconsin Death Trip by historian Michael Lesy:
In the late 1960s, another desperate time, historian Michael Lesy...examin[ed] a collection of several thousand glass plate negatives and historical documents from Jackson County, Wisconsin, he concocted a sprawling treatise on a past that had been willfully forgotten, a brooding rejoinder to Edgar Lee Masters's Spoon River Anthology. First published in 1973, Lesy's Wisconsin Death Trip...became a key text of the counterculture...alongside Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Custer Died for Your Sins--and it sometimes reads like a hip product of its time.
"A hip product of its time." Ugh, that can't be good. So, how did this book come about?
Lesy stumbled across a cache of 30,000 glass plate images made by a local town photographer named Charley Van Schaick and spools of microfilm from the local newspaper - and combined the most compelling of these images and newspaper excerpts to create a vivid examination of Victorian prairie life.
Emphasis mine. So my question is, out of the 30,000 photos he had available, how did Lesy decide which ones were "most compelling"? Let me guess: he picked the absolute worst ones he could find, the ugliest, the most disturbing, the most shocking. And any that conveyed any hint at all of joy or beauty or happiness were not used. I don't know this for a fact, but considering all I've been able to read about this book, I think it's highly probable.
Pre-progressive America, as settled by the descendants of Europeans, must always be presented in the worst possible light. Dee Brown beat this particular horse to death in Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee (as did Howard Zinn in the execrable People's History of the United States), and I think Lesy is doing yeoman's work here.
The Amazon blurb contrasts Wisconsin Death Trip with Spoon River Anthology, another book which I had never heard of, so I had look it up, too. The WDT Amazon review suggests Spoon River is a "everything was great in the good old days" type book, but that turns out not to be true. It's a collection of free-verse poems that, taken all together, describes life in the fictitious small town of Spoon River, the people, their hopes, their dreams, their disappointments and anguish. Many of the poems read like epitaphs. Here's an example:
Have you seen walking through the village
A Man with downcast eyes and haggard face?
That is my husband who, by secret cruelty
Never to be told, robbed me of my youth and my beauty;
Till at last, wrinkled and with yellow teeth,
And with broken pride and shameful humility,
I sank into the grave.
But what think you gnaws at my husband's heart?
The face of what I was, the face of what he made me!
These are driving him to the place where I lie.
In death, therefore, I am avenged.
I don't see anything even remotely pollyannaish about this. And other poems in the anthology are similar, speaking frequently of heartbreak, heartache, and death. Anyway, I bought the 99-cent Kindle edition, and I think it's going to turn out to be a more worthwhile read than WDT. No that I don't think the turn-of-the-century photos from Wisconsin wouldn't be interesting, I think they would, but I am also interesting in looking at some of the other 30,000 photos that didn't get picked. Just sayin'.
What Won't Be Assigned
There are some interesting selections on this list, 5 Satires Your Professor Won't Assign You. I'll mention 2:
depicts "bad Catholic" psychiatrist and philanderer Dr. Tom More trying to save his neck and his soul as civilization shatters into tiny, sharp-edged pieces. Ex-priests turned sex therapists experiment on human souls, while gun-toting fundamentalists shoot it out with black separatist guerrillas in the bayous.
Like another southern writer, Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. He doesn't pull any punches. Mrs. Muse read the sequel to LitR, The Thanatos Syndrome, and she almost didn't finish it, it was so emotionally wrenching and disturbing.
And then there's The Camp of the Saints by French author Jean Raspail, who asked the question, "what would happen if millions of third-word immigrants took seriously all the western rhetoric about tolerance and compassion and the evils of exploitation of the third-world peoples, and all moved to France?" This is quite a remarkable premise for a novel, but that it was written in 1973 is even more remarkable. In this parable Raspail argues that the West "has no soul left" and "it is always the soul that wins the decisive battles." In other words, if western civilization has grown too morally flabby to defend itself, it will be replaced by something else.
Naturally, the cries of "Racism!" directed at this book are many. Conveniently ignored is one of Raspail's other novels, Who Will Remember the People, which is about the extinction of a small tribe of indigenous people who made their home on the extreme southern end of Argentina (Tierra del Fuego) at the hands of European explorers, soldiers, missionaries, and even Charles Darwin. It's a fictionalized account of a real event. It is not shy about showing the depredations inflicted by Europeans on an aboriginal population, which should keep the progressives bubbling with happiness.
I thought this piece about famous authors who started out or spent significant time in other fields was kind of interesting. I had heard, for example, that Arthur Conan Doyle had studied medicine, but not that Kurt Vonnegut had started out as a chem major, or that his brother was the one who discovered that you could seed clouds with silver iodide to make it rain.
Listen Up You Slackers, There's Big Money To Be Had In Writing
Here are the authors who made the most money in 2014. These are the heavyweights who earn as much as pro athletes or movie stars. The careers of some of these authors is amazing. Danielle Steele, for example has published 128 titles that that have sold more than 600 million(!) copies. Her 2014 earnings? $22 million, and she's not even at the top of the list.
So, all you authors and wannabe authors out there, what are you waiting for? Get off your duffs and get to work! And truckloads of money will soon be rolling in to your house.
Are You Ready For Some Football?
Now that football season is here, take a break from the interminable beer and financial planning commercials on Saturday afternoons and read one of the five influential football books, at least according to the guy who compiled the list. My favorite has to be Strange But True Football Stories, which I'm thinking I may have read when I was a kid. Imagine getting beat 222-0.
And this list is by an author who wrote his own football book, Season of Saturdays: A History of College Football in 14 Games.
Moron Recommendation - With A Caveat
Moronette Anna Puma e-mailed this list with a book she thinks might be interesting,
Bridge To The Sun: A Memoir of Love and War by Gwen Terasaki:
Gwen Harold Terasaki, author of Bridge to the Sun, was born in Johnson City, Tennessee. The memoir chronicles her life and marriage to Hidenari Terasaki, a Japanese diplomat who was serving as head of intelligence in the Western Hemisphere for the Empire of Japan when Pearl Harbor was bombed. She accompanied her husband back to Japan, where she lived during the war years and the early occupation period.
An American living in Japan during WWII would certainly have a interesting, and I daresay unique, perspective on that period of history. That alone makes the book worth reading.
Anna suggests that those interested not purchase the 2009 edition because a new forward, written by the the author's daughter (Gwen Teraski died in 1990), is filled with America-hating crap such as:
But the militarists had the upper hand, and that most dangerous amalgam of delusions, uncritical patriotism and nationalist fervor, swept the land. I would live to see many outbreaks of this plague during my lifetime, including the potentially terminal one plaguing my mother's country for the last decade.
Yes, because we were all required to worship George W. Bush as the divine Emperor, just like Hirohito. And it gets worse. But instead of subsidizing this claptrap, Anna recommends you instead purchase a used paperback of the 1961 edition. The link I included for 'Bridge To The Sun' is to the Amazon used listings.
So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.
What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as I keep saying, life is too short to be reading lousy books.
Close it up
Early Morning Open Thread - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]
I have a hankering for a long drive into the woods.
Wondering when the fall leaves will change? Use our interactive prediction map to find out! https://t.co/IlP1F0OUKn— SmokyMountains.com (@vacationhere) August 30, 2014
If you feel the same, a word of caution: Remember to be careful out there.
Overnight Open Thread (27 Sep 2014)
Critics blast authorities for treating Oklahoma beheading as workplace violence. Good luck on that. The victims of the Fort Hood jihadi weren't successful in getting it called an act of terrorism either.
The chemistry of the colors of autumn leaves.
Navy Survival Training
The Washington Post finds that both chambers have been in session only about 40% of the time since 1978óthe first year for which online records are availableóand they've both worked full weeks simultaneously a measly 14% of the time. Taken individually, the Senate has spent 42% of the past 37 years in session, while the House has been in session 39% of the time.
The Piano Guys
50 years of Batman. Not too shabby.
Some good ideas for Halloween from the costume designer from the show Outlander. The show is just OK. Episode 6 was fantastic but then the follow on episode was sooooo looooonng and boring. Pretty much the pattern so far this season.
Gun Of The Week
Can't believe I've never heard of it. A double barreled .45.
Tonight's ONT brought to you by extremely startled cats:
Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp LLC. Please e-mail overnight open thread tips to maet or CDR M. Otherwise send tips to Ace.
Close it up
Saturday Open Thread
This post will be sticky until 8 PM.
New content will be posted below this thread.
Old And Busted: Chinless Attorney General; The New Hotness: Tri-Chinned AG [Y-not]
Well, here's something to chew on...
It's oddly fitting that Attorney General Eric Holder -- a stubbornly independent career prosecutor ridiculed by Barack Obama's advisers for having lousy political instincts -- would nail his dismount.
But Holder, who began his stormy five-plus-year tenure at the Justice Department with his controversial "Nation of Cowards" speech, has chosen what seems to be the ideal (and maybe the only) moment to call it quits after more than 18 months of musing privately about leaving with the president and senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, a trio bound by friendship, progressive ideology and shared African-American ancestry.
It was now or never, several current and former administration officials say, and Holder -- under pressure to retire from a physician wife worried about a recent health scare, checked the "now" box.
Have no fear! Fearless Reader is apparently considering this person as Holder's replacement:
*smacks head against wall*
Some are predicting that Obama's next Attorney General nominee will have a difficult confirmation process. That argument is based on historical trends:
Most nominees outside of attorney general glide through the Senate. No other position has a median number of "no" votes greater than one. In fact, most have a median of zero.
And most of the truly contentious Senate confirmation votes for attorney general have come in the past 15 years. From the Carter to the Clinton administrations, there were only two AG confirmation votes (Griffin Bell and Edwin Meese III) in which the nominee received more than one "no" vote. Since then, it's been a different ballgame.
All four nominees in the post-Bill Clinton era received at least 21 "no" votes. All three of George H.W. Bushís nominees had at least 36 "no's."
Holder, with just 21 senators opposing him in 2009, was the most easily confirmed attorney general in the past 15 years.
I dunno. I have a hard time envisioning Team Turtle putting up much resistance.
Close it up
Saturday Gardening Thread: Bugs [Y-not and WeirdDave]
Greetings Gardeners! Welcome to your Saturday gardening thread.
Today's thread is brought to you by the RHINOCEROS BEETLE:
I have no idea why I decided to post that video... lol!
Earlier this week a friend and I went to the Red Butte Gardens at the University of Utah's campus. It was a gorgeous day and while we were there I spotted this guy buzzing around some Syrian oregano flowers:
I'd never seen anything quite like this wasp before, so I snapped a bunch of pictures and when I got home discovered that he was most likely a Great Golden Digger Wasp, which is a beneficial insect. (So is the rhinoceros beetle and its relatives, by the way.) 'Seemed like a good topic for the gardening thread so here we go!
GREAT GOLDEN DIGGER WASP
This is a type of predatory wasp that preys on grasshoppers and katydids. They are not particularly aggressive. (I can attest to this as I had to really hover over the wasp I was trying to photograph, something I would not have risked with a hornet or yellow jacket.) As far as I can tell, they only eat insects, but the one I spotted was hanging around flowers behaving as if it was foraging. I'm not sure how to interpret that.
Cognitive scientists are interested in studying these insects because of their genetically-programmed behavior:
Upon capturing a suitable prey, the female Great Golden will paralyze it with toxins in her sting. If the prey is small, she flies it directly to the nest. If prey is too large to transport aerially, the wasp will walk with it across the ground. The prey is clasped beneath her body by grasping its antennas with her mandibles.
Once the Great Golden reaches the opening of her nest, she sets the paralyzed insect down. Leaving the prey outside, she goes into the tunnel for inspection. When satisfied that all is well, she comes partially out from the nest and again grasps the prey's antennas pulling it backwards into the nest's interior where it is deposited in a cell with its head turned to the bottom.
Though the prey is permanently paralyzed, it is able to eliminate feces and slightly move its antennas and mouthparts. Great Golden females close the nest each time prey is placed inside. When she re-enters for egg laying, she emits a set of buzzing sounds as she compacts the earth closing the entrance.
There are several behavioral aspects to this "self-programmed" wasp that continue to fascinate as humans tend to think such rote habits denote forethought and logic. Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett, two professors of Cognitive Science, created a controlled environment to study the Sphex routines more closely.
After the Great Golden dropped her prey and was inspecting her nest's interior, the professors moved the prey a few inches away from the opening. When the wasp emerged ready to drag the prey in, she found it missing. Quickly locating the prey, the professors believe her "behavioral program had been reset" as they found that, once again, she dragged the prey back to the threshold of the nest, dropped it and repeated the nest inspection procedure.
During one study, this was done 40 times, always with the same result. This test can be replicated again and again, with the Sphex never seeming to notice what is going on, never able to escape from its genetically programmed sequence of behaviors.** The wasp never "thinks" of pulling the prey straight in, but continually drops it outside until she is done with her nest inspection.
**Hmmm, reminds me of the RNC.
LADY BUG (officially called a "Lady Beetle")
I think most people realize that lady bugs are "good" insects to have in your garden. Your local garden center may even sell them. If not, you can buy them online. (I did this a couple of years ago to rescue a flowering plum tree that was inundated with aphids and they did a great job.)
Lady Beetles belong to the family Coccinelladae and their good reputation is well-earned. Most of the 450 native and introduced North American species are voracious predators of destructive plant-eating insects such as aphids and scales. In fact, their habitat is determined by what they eat.
Lady Beetles can be found on any crop that is susceptible to aphids: vegetables, grains, legumes, strawberries and tree crops. Females even lay their eggs as close as possible to aphid colonies. Lady Beetles will also consume mites, moth and beetle eggs, thrips, pollen and nectar.
Various species of Coccinellidae share many characteristics. Most are dome-shaped and quite small (1mm to 10mm or 0.63/16 to 6.30/16 inch). While color and patterns vary from species to species, most tend to be variations of red, orange, or yellow with black. Some are simply black.
The life cycles are quite similar, too. Most Lady Beetles begin life as one of a small cluster of tiny (1mm or 0.63/16 inch) spindle-shaped cream, yellow, or orange eggs laid in protected sites on stems and leaves. In about a week, the eggs hatch into alligator-like larvae with 3 pairs of prominent legs.
The larvae are often gray or black with yellow or orange bands or spots. After 20-30 days, the larvae pupate, then emerge as adults in another 3-12 days, depending on temperatures and species. Adults may live only a few months to more than one year.
Just how effective are Lady Beetles with pest control? The Convergent Lady Beetle eats its own weight in aphids as a larvae and consumes up to 50 a day as an adult. Its cousin, the Seven-spotted Lady Beetle adult dines on several hundred aphids daily, while the larval form eat may 200-300 as it develops.
If you want to attract lady bugs to your garden, there are some plants that you can keep that the little gals like, including marigold, sweet alyssum, and yarrow. Although lady bugs are best-known as aphid-eaters, it turns out that the adults must eat some pollen in order to be able to reproduce.
These are my favorite insects by far. Seriously, I would keep them as pets if it were considered acceptable behavior! I'm pretty sure when I was little I saw some nature show about praying mantises and was completely hooked on these creatures. Here are some things you may or may not know about them:
Mature adults usually live from spring to fall at which time they mate. Within a few weeks after copulation, a female praying mantis usually die. The male literally loses his head during the mating process for the female simply bites it off and eats it. While this behavior is routinely observed in the laboratory, researchers think it is much rarer in the wild. Maybe these cannibalistic actions help explain why mantids are territorial loners.
Mother Nature has gifted the mature praying mantis with a number of adaptations that make it a fearsome hunter. Very unusual in the insect world, the mantid's elongated thorax functions like a neck, enabling the triangular head to turn almost 360 degrees. This feature combined with its two huge compound eyes and three single eyes, give the praying mantis a real advantage in spotting its next dinner. Each foreleg is modified to fold back like a pocket knife, with serrated, spiny edges that end with sharp hooks: all the better to catch and hold a squirmy lunch desperate to get away.
Another advantage for the praying mantis is its coloring. Not only does the mantid's green to grayish-brown offer excellent camouflage in the plant foliage where it prefers to hunt, this color can be somewhat altered by an individual to better match its specific surroundings. The praying mantis will sit and wait or very slowly stalk its prey, sometimes swaying back and forth to mimic plants moving in a breeze, only to become lightning fast when it snares its unfortunate target.
It immediately uses its strong mouthparts to start chewing the still-living prey. Sometimes, the mantid will bite its victim on the neck first, thus paralyzing the insect and avoiding its escape. It is the only predator that feeds at night on moths and is fast enough to catch flies and mosquitoes that venture within its grasp.
All of these characteristics combine to make mantids formidable and almost perfect predators. Why the "almost" qualification? One problem is that the entire family is indiscriminate in what they eat.
While they consume pests such as flies, crickets, moths and mosquitoes, they also devour other beneficial insects, including each other. Larger species (especially those in tropical areas) will chow down on lizards, small mammals and even hummingbirds.
Of course, there are many other beneficial insects. The folks at Texas A & M have compiled an extensive set of web pages describing the ones found here in the U.S.
In addition, there are commercial sources for beneficial insects and many botanic gardens hold classes on how to integrate them into your gardening plan.
What are your favorite garden "bugs?"
And now, here's your scintillating co-host, Weirddave...
This is the guy who needs to be doing the garden thread:
Seems to me that this is definitely "for the love of gardening". This seems like an awful lot of work for something that sells for a dollar a pound at Giant.
Maybe carrots aren't your thing. Perhaps you'd prefer onions. I managed to fail at growing onions this year, it doesn't help that the video starts by saying its almost impossible to not grow onions. It's probably because I failed to water my tiller (3:36).
Ahh, screw it, I'm not having luck with any of this stuff. Next year I'm going to plant rabbits.
Y-not: Thanks for those videos, WeirdDave!
To close things up, how about a survey? I'd like to know what you'd like to see happen with the gardening thread during the winter months:
As always, send suggestions, complaints, pictures, questions, and kegs of beer to me on Twitter at MoxieMom or to my gee ma il account, bailesworth.
What's happening in YOUR garden right now?
Close it up
Open Thread: KABOOM Edition [Y-not]
It's been a couple of hours, so here's a fresh thread for you corgis, brought to you by The Other Kaboom:
In case you missed it, a few days ago Israel shot down a Syrian jet that had violated Israel's air space:
The Israeli military shot down a Syrian fighter jet that infiltrated its airspace over the Golan Heights on Tuesday morning -- the first such downing in decades, heightening tensions in the volatile plateau.
The military said a "Syrian aircraft infiltrated into Israeli air space" in the morning hours and that the military "intercepted the aircraft in mid-flight, using the Patriot air defense system."
And, speaking of "kaboom," we're sending over some warthogs to provide close air support for the troops we do not have on the ground. Here's some Warthog pron to warm the cockles of your evil conservative hearts:
Close it up
Saturday College Football Thread
—Dave In Texas
It's almost October, best time of the year! Everybody down in Texas is looking forward to winter and everybody north of the Red River is not.
Top ten games today all times EASTERN
Wyoming at Michigan St (9), noon
Florida St (1) at North Carolina St, 3:30pm
Arkansas at Texas A&M (6), 3:30pm
La. Tech at Auburn (5), 4pm
Memphis at Ole Miss (10), 7:30pm
Notre Dame (8) at Syracuse, 8pm
Baylor (7) at Iowa State, 8:20pm (they won by 64 points last year, largest conf margin of victory ever for BU)
(6) (3) and Oklahoma (4) are idle (oops, thanks whoever corrected me)
Just like me this weekend. Have a great one.
OT Thread - In Defense of Crony Capitalism [WeirdDave]
Well, that's a title that ought to generate a few raised eyebrows at least. To be fair, this is not a defense of crony capitalism, but rather an attempt to take a closer look at the phenomenon and understand it a little better.
First, we need to look at the language we're using. I despise the term crony capitalism, because it's inaccurate. There is nothing capitalistic at all about a business model that depends on government handouts or contracts or regulation to succeed (and all three are different, as we shall see). The reason that it's popularly called crony capitalism is to discredit capitalism. We need to call it what it is, which is corporatism, or, to be more bluntly accurate, fascism (I would recommend avoiding this term unless you have about an hour to explain the difference between fascism as practiced by Nazi Germany from that of Italy in the 20s and progressive America's Bête noire of the same time period. If you want to learn more about this I recommend reading- no joke- Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism).
There are three main types of corporatism:
Handouts: Companies that depend on government handouts to survive. Solindra is the classic case. There was nothing of value there, it was just a scheme to funnel tax money to favored people.
Contracts: This may or may not be considered corporatism, depending on how broad a definition one cares to use. No one can deny that even a government functioning withing it's proper, limited, enumerated powers needs to buy stuff. Defense is an enumerated power, and soldiers need equipment to fight. Since we are far beyond the point where a militia is all that's needed for defense (not that many people are going to be able to bring their own F-22s when called out, for example), the government has a role in procuring equipment for the armed forces. It's a very fine line, one that is crossed very easily, to go from that necessity to pure corporatism, however. When contracts are awarded not to efficiently procure said equipment but instead to shovel pork to favored districts, well, then you're in the realm of corporatism.
Regulation: Using the regulatory power of government to either gain an advantage over compensator or to retard their ability to compete. A few years back when one kid got sick because of lead paint from a Chinese toy, big toy manufactures were all in behind new regulations requiring lead screening to be done on site at toy factories. They could afford such facilities, but smaller, independent companies couldn't. These regulations effectively put the little guys out of business, leaving a lot less competition for consumer's toy buying buck.
As conservatives, we theoretically oppose all types of corporatism because it distorts the free market (I say theoretically because so many supposed "conservatives" forget the principle once they are elected and they can use Uncle Sam's purse to their personal benefit). Almost all of us, at some time or another, have railed against such and so corporation sucking off of the political tit, but there's one big elephant in the room that nobody ever talks about, and that's really the heart of this post.
Look, the first one, handouts, is easy. That's pure graft, corruption, theft, whatever you want to call it. Forget that one, there is no argument in favor of handouts from a,limited government POV. (Outside that POV, the argument goes like this: Handouts either serve the purpose of guiding social change (Solindra) or jump starting technological advances (Tesla). I reject the first as an improper function of government and the second as unnecessary in a functioning free market).
I contend that the other two forms of corporatism, however, are legitimate free market responses to an environment of high regulation and/or profligate government spending. The one and only job of a corporation is to generate a profit for it's shareholders. There is nothing wrong with that at all. It's the grease that makes the whole economy move. As we've discussed, the idea of government contracts is legitimate, a plant that makes jet fighters has to sell those to someone, and government is the only option. Regulation is needed as well, a company could probably turn a profit dumping waste oil into the Chesapeake Bay, but I live here and I don't want wade through that kind of pollution when I go to the beach, it's not like we're Cleveland for God's sake! The problem arises when the government spends too much money and it becomes more profitable for corporations to spend their time and resources chasing that money rather than competing on the open market. It's the same with over regulation. When regulations stop simply leveling the playing field and instead start to shape it, if I'm a corporation I'm going to do my damnedest to make sure that shape is to my advantage. Both reactions are completely logical, and completely in line with free market principles.
Look, it's easy to bitch when a company turns to corporatism instead of competition. I do it too. However, as conservatives, it is important to keep in mind the root cause, and that's something that we as conservatives also believe strongly. Corporatism is a symptom of a deeper problem, and that problem is a government operating waaaaaay outside it's proper boundaries. The cure for corporatism is limited constitutional government. We always need to remember that our ultimate goal is to remove the cause, and not to waste all of our time treating the symptoms. That's bad in medicine, and it's bad in politics too.
Close it up
Saturday Politics Thread: RINO Diablo Edition [Y-not]
OK, I've stalled long enough. I simply must do a thread on Jeb Bush and Chris Christie because, let's face it, one of them (or both of them) is bound to run. We, and by "we" I mean those of us unable to fully embrace the Let It Burn lifestyle, are going to have to decide if we could possibly vote for one of these turds should The Worst Happen and one of them be the nominee.
Let's pray this won't be necessary.
To lighten things up from what promises to be a horrible no-good gawdawful discussion, and in the interest of symmetry, I'll toss in Jon Huntsman to complete the Trio of RINOs this week. At least we'll have someone to mock between the wailing and gnashing of teeth over Christie and Bush.
Let the games begin!
As usual, let's have a pre-discussion poll:
OK, with that over, here's a BRIEF backgrounder on this week's trio of prospective candidates, relying largely on Ballotpedia for the information. (Usual caveats apply about edits for length and their spin on the candidates' records.) Because I anticipate this discussion to be largely negative, I am going to put in some sort of "accomplishments" section for each of these men so we have some fodder for discussion about any possible saving graces they might have. I would appreciate hearing from any of you, especially those of you from New Jersey, Florida, or Utah, who want to chime in on each candidate's biggest accomplishments (or failings) while they were in office.
A Republican, Christie was first elected to his current office in 2009 when he defeated Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine. Christie won re-election to a second term as governor in the 2013 election.
[Education: BA, Political Science, University of Delaware, 1984; J.D., Seton Hall University School of Law, 1987]
Christie began his political career as a Morris County freeholder [an elected county board]. After losing his 1995 bid for State Assembly, Christie did not run for office again until the 2009 gubernatorial race. He worked as a lobbyist for energy companies until he was nominated by George W. Bush to serve as United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, a position he held from 2002-2008...
An analysis of Republican governors by Nate Silver of the New York Times in April 2013 ranked Christie as the least conservative GOP governor in the country.
Unsurprisingly, The Federalist painted a grim view of New Jersey's economic situation and lays much of the blame at Christie's feet for not improving things. In fairness to Christie, he has a Democrat legislature opposing him. But has he accomplished anything positive while governor?
Although he certainly has his supporters, my sense is that they are primarily attracted to his political style (and success) more than to his record. Here is the Star-Ledger's endorsement of Christie for re-election last year:
The property tax burden has grown sharply on his watch. He is hostile to low-income families, raising their tax burden and sabotaging efforts to build affordable housing. He's been a catastrophe on the environment, draining $1 billion from clean energy funds and calling a cease-fire in the state's fight against climate change.
The governor's claim to have fixed the state's budget is fraudulent. New Jersey's credit rating has dropped during his term, reflecting Wall Street's judgment that he has dug the hole even deeper. He has no plan to finance transit projects and open space purchases now that he has nearly drained the dedicated funds he inherited from Gov. Jon Corzine.
Shortcomings aside, Christie pummeled his Democrat opponent in 2013, winning a second term with over 60% of the vote.
Here's Christie's entry in On the Issues. If you scroll to the bottom, you'll see the VoteMatch responses used to generate the graphic above. In addition, they provide a graphical "score" of the candidate's ideology:
Prior to serving as governor, Bush founded a non-profit, served as Florida's commerce secretary and worked in real estate development...
Below is an abbreviated outline of Bush's academic, professional and political career:
1987-1988: Florida Commerce Secretary
1988: Resigned post to help on George H.W. Bush presidential campaign
1994: Lost in the general election to be governor of Florida
1995-Present: Founder and chair of Foundation for Florida's Future
1999-2007: Governor of Florida
2007: Founded Jeb Bush & Associates consulting group
2013: Co-authored book Immigration Wars released
According to the Washington Policy Center, Jeb Bush cut taxes, trimmed the size of government (by over 6% in terms of number of employees), and vetoed over $2 billion in new spending. He also was reportedly a champion of school choice and reformed Medicaid in his state, putting more choice in the hands of patients.
For some reason, there is not a table of Jeb Bush's positions, so here's a link to the "On the Issues" summary of his record:
Huntsman is the son of billionaire businessman and philanthropist Jon Huntsman, Sr. of Huntsman Corporation. He attended the University of Utah, where he was a Sigma Chi. He received a Bachelor's degree in business from the University of Pennsylvania after transferring to that school...
After college, Huntsman served as a White House staff assistant in the Reagan Administration, U.S. ambassador to Singapore in the administration of President George H.W. Bush, and a deputy United States trade representative in the George W. Bush Administration.
In addition to his public service, Huntsman served as an executive for the Huntsman Corporation, the Huntsman Cancer Foundation and Huntsman Family Holdings Company. Other organizations he has served include the Utah Opera, Envision Utah, the Coalition for Utah's Future, and KSL-TV's Family Now campaign.
This Outside the Beltway article from 2011 provides a decent review of Huntsman's accomplishments. They credit him with joining the state legislature in flattening Utah's state taxes (CATO gave Huntsman high praise for that back in 2008 ) and signed several aggressively pro-life measures while in office.
Ballotpedia provides this chart summarizing his positions:
And here's a link to the "On the Issues" graphical display of his record:
OK, now here's where the rubber meets the road. It seems to me that the primary argument for any of these dudes is their supposed appeal to Independents. Aka, the old "electability" canard.
Now, I want to win. I really do. But we went with Mr. Electable last time, he even won Independents, yet he still lost. And, when I dug into the Pew post-mortem it was really clear that the Democrats' voters were more enthusiastic than the Republicans'. It wasn't that Evangelicals didn't vote for Mitt. The data do not support that (they refute it, actually). But people who did vote for Romney were just not as enthusiastic about it. They were more likely than their counterparts to be voting against the opponent.
Obama is not going to run again.
It may be Hillary. She's a schmuck, but her husband's administration is remembered as a time of prosperity. So I'm not sure the intensity of voting against Hillary is going to be a big factor. If we couldn't mobilize sane people to vote against Obama after his disastrous first term, how will we mobilize them to vote against Hillary or - even worse - some unknown with a slick marketing team and a nice logo?
I gotta think we're going to be in serious trouble if we nominate someone who turns off the base voters. We (base voters) may only have one vote, but our grass-roots enthusiasm is what persuades low information voters and sometime voters to actually pull the lever FOR the Republican candidate.
I think it would be a grave mistake for the GOP to nominate someone who turns off the base to the extent that these guys do. We need to get conservatives and conservative leaners to the polls. Which leads me to this depressing graphic:
What the heck happened with turnout last time? Even UTAH didn't turn out for Romney. That has got to change if we're going to win back this country.
On that cheery note, let's poll all twelve potential candidates that we've talked about thus far. Pick your top FIVE out of these twelve to go up against whatever horrible person the Democrats nominate in the 2016 General Election:
Finally, I'd like to hear from you who else we should discuss in upcoming weeks. Consider this a Draft My Gal or Guy poll:
Close it up
Early Morning Open Thread - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]
I'm still gagging over this first item:
but the second item makes me feel a bit better:
Overnight Open Thread (26 Sep 2014)
Are high heels really women's sexiest wardrobe accessory?
Cocktails By State
The most popular cocktails by state.
Some more drinking stats.
The top 10% of adult US drinkers consume an average of 74 alcoholic beverages per weekóthat's more than 10 drinks a day each. How many such drinkers are there? Some 24 million of them.
More than half of the alcohol consumed in a year is thanks to this top 10%. As for the rest of America, 30% of adults don't drink, and another 30% drink an average of less than one drink each week. If you drink one glass of wine a day, you're in the top 30% of US drinkers; two glasses a day and you're in the top 20%.
Drones And Taxes
I'm sure the IRS is already on this with the EPA close to follow. Argentina uses drones to root out wealthy tax evaders.
Technology Market Experimentation In Regulated Industries
Are administrative pilot projects bad for retail markets? Good question.
Since 2008, multiple smart grid pilot projects have been occurring in the US, funded jointly through regulated utility investments and taxpayer-funded Department of Energy cost sharing. In this bureaucratic market environment, market experimentation takes the form of the large-scale, multi-year pilot project. The regulated utility (after approval from the state public utility commission) publishes a request for proposals from smart grid technology vendors to sell devices and systems that provide a pre-determined range of services specified in the RFP. The regulated utility, not the end user, is thus the vendorís primary customer.
This gives a whole new meaning to Keystone Pipeline (do they still have Keystone beer?). Probably the one pipeline the White House would support.
Not that we need any excuses to drink beer, but here are some supposed health benefits of beer.
Obit Of The Day
Good stuff. Obit of the day.
Tonight's ONT brought to you by stuff Bush didn't do: illustrated:
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Close it up
Kim Jong-un Is Very Very Sick/Mystery Lyric Thread
So Kim Jong-un is sick, which I'm going to completely speculate means "sick of all the poison he's been given."
You can also play soothsayer's and toby's game and post lyrics and see who can guess the song.
Here's an easy one (with the answer right below):
Bereft in deathly bloom
Alone in a darkened room
I mean, that's pretty easy. Well, it's easy if you've ever heard it. If you've ever heard it, those lyrics point you to the song pretty obviously.
I dedicate it to Kim Jong-un.
Why the GOP Sucks
Just kidding on the headline; I just don't know what to call this.
In doing so, he links this analysis of the GOP and its nominating behavior. Henry Olsen says there are four -- not two -- factions in the GOP: Very conservative religious voters, very conservative secular voters, somewhat conservative voters (of, I guess, either secular or religious outlook), and, actually, liberal-to-moderate voters. (??? -- well, it's what he says, anyway.)
His basic take is that the conservative voters always back the winning candidate (or, turning that around: the winning candidate always gets the moderately conservative voters behind him).
The pathway to success is to win the moderately conservative voters while poaching and picking off some voters from other groups, while not actually alienating any of the others. (That is, without becoming flat-out unacceptable to them.)
The weird thing is his claims of each faction's strength. He says the somewhat conservative voters (not squishes, but not very conservative) are the most numerous, making up 35-40 % of the Republican primary vote.
Next come -- if you can believe this -- liberal-to-moderate voters, which make up 25-30% of the primary vote.
Third are very conservative religious voters, making up around 20% of the primary vote.
Finally, the smallest group of all is "very conservative secular voters," making up 5-10% of the primary vote.
Note his groupings are kind of arbitrary -- he lumps all "somewhat conservative voters" into the same group whether religious or secular, thus making that group appear bigger than it would be if it were split, like the Very Conservative voters, into two cohorts, religious and secular. He also notes that the more religious of the somewhat conservative voters are (as you might expect) more supportive of expressly religious candidates -- thus there is a difference in how the two halves of this group behave, and thus it is questionable that they should be grouped together as a single bloc.
Anyway, though, it is interesting on a lot of levels.
For one thing, if you're one of the guys saying "The less-conservative people almost always get their preference!," you're right.
And I guess it also explains, sort of, why this is so: The party is just not as conservative as some people seem to believe it is (or believe it should be).
Interesting. Not sure I believe all of it, but interesting.
I'm not sure if I'd be called a "Somewhat Conservative" voter in this scheme or a "Very Conservative Secular Voter." *
Turns out the Very Conservative Secular Voters supported Rick Perry last time around -- until he embarrassed himself in the debates.
* I guess I might also be a "liberal to moderate" voter in this scheme, as I do exhibit that cohort's defining characteristic: supporting the less openly-religious candidate over the more openly-religious candidate, almost always.
I'm not saying that's a Good Thing and You Should Do It Too; I'm just saying I do do that.
I like guys like Perry, Bush, or Romney, who talk about God in contexts I consider appropriate (when asked about it, when making a larger point about meaning and metaphysics, when solemnizing a thought, or when discussing points (abortion, marriage) in which religious thought is especially presented), and I definitely don't like guys who bring up God a lot in contexts I would consider inappropriate and mere matters of legislative preference.
NYT Reporter: Hillary Clinton's Minders Followed Me Into the Bathroom Every Single Time I Had to Go
Apparently -- this seems to me to be the only explanation -- they were determined to know the reporter's every movement (take that as you like) while she was covering a conference.
Matthew Continetti writes of a NYT reporter, Amy Chozick, who covers Clinton for the NYT. Chozick seems to be actually doing her job, and occasionally reporting things that Ready for Hillary! would prefer she didn't.
Chozick's latest piece concerned, mostly, her bathroom visits, or rather the attendance at her bathroom visits, which turned out to have a higher attendance than her usual crowd of One.
It seems Amy Chozick could not break away to relieve herself without being "escorted" to and from the bathroom, and sometimes, into the bathroom itself.
Every time she felt the urge [to go to the bathroom], a representative of the Clintons would accompany her to the ladies' room. Every time. And not only would the "friendly 20-something press aide" stroll with Chozick to the entrance of the john. She also "waited outside the stall." As though Chozick were a little girl.
It is creepy, embarrassing, and invasive to have a political minder eavesdropping on one's bodily evacuations.
If it was not embarrassing enough to be chaperoned to the water closet by a recent college graduate no doubt beaming with righteousness and an entirely undeserved and illusory sense of self-importance, some earnest and vacant and desperate-to-be-hip Millennial whose affiliation with the Clintons, whose involvement in their various schemes, consists of nothing more than her uniform of white shirt and silk scarf--if this was not on its own an indignity and an insult for a correspondent of the New York Times, when Chozick asked for comment on the bathroom police, she received the following response:Craig Minassian, a spokesman for the initiative, directed me to a press release about American Standard's Flush for Good campaign to improve sanitation for three million people in the developing world. "Since you are so interested in bathrooms and [the Clinton Global Initiative],' Mr. Minassian said.
Oh, how adorable. The woman asked why she was being followed into the bathroom, and the spokesman said she was the one excessively interested in toilets.
She asked why she was being followed into the bathroom like an inmate on suicide watch at a psychiatric prison, and in response she got a snarky F**k You response.
Continetti notes that Choznick cannot do more here than report -- she cannot opine about what's going on here -- so Continetti steps up to do what Choznick's job forbids.
Corrected: The original headline suggested that Amy Choznick reported the motive for the bathroom-monitoring (to keep track of her every move).
In fact, this was my own gloss, not hers.
I have re-written to make it clear that this is my interpretation, not necessarily hers.
Though I don't know what contrary interpretation she could have.
Jeb Bush Stumps for Tillis in North Carolina, and Prompts Tillis to Distance Himself From Bush
We were told he was smart. We were told he had the right kind of political skills.
Does he? (See Note at bottom.)
A lot of us were very annoyed with Chris Christie's selfish RNC speech. Rather than promoting the nominee, he spent most of his time promoting himself, at the expense of the nominee.
There is a time for self-promotion. It is not during a speech ostensibly in service of someone else's electoral bid.
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- In one of his first public appearances of the 2014 campaign, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida had a vivid preview Wednesday of the challenges he would face with his partyís conservative base should he seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016.
Standing alongside Thom Tillis, the North Carolina House speaker and Republican Senate candidate, Mr. Bush outlined his views on two of the issues he cares most passionately about: immigration policy and education standards. But as Mr. Bush made the case for an immigration overhaul and the Common Core standards, Mr. Tillis gently put distance between himself and his guest of honor, who had flown here from Florida on a dreary day to offer his endorsement in a race that could decide which party controls the Senate.
On the Common Core, the educational standards first devised by a bipartisan group of governors, which have become deeply unpopular among conservative activists, Mr. Tillis also sounded far more conservative than Mr. Bush. The North Carolina House approved the standards in 2011, but, facing primary challengers from the right earlier this year, Mr. Tillis backed away from them.
"I'm not willing to settle just for a national standard if we think we can find things to set a new standard and a best practice," Mr. Tillis said, pivoting to an attack on the federal Education Department...
So in the context of a Senate race in which the topics of Common Core and immigration are crucial, Jeb Bush went out to plump a more liberal opinion at odds with that claimed by the candidate himself.
And Tillis, if I understand this right, is already facing skepticism from conservative voters on his (perceived) soft position on immigration.
So what did Jeb Bush have to say about amnesty?
Even though Republicans may take back the Senate by running against amnesty, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush pushed amnesty legislation while stumping for North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis on Wednesday.
Bush, according to the New York Times, reportedly said that comprehensive immigration reform "will restore and sustain economic growth for this country." And even though a recent Gallup poll found that illegal immigration is now the top concern among Republicans, Bush said that if immigration reform is "framed in that way, I donít think thereís a big debate in the Republican Party about the need to do this."
If you click on the link (to the NYT), you'll see Tillis looking none too happy with Jeb.
I don't mind some heterodox opinions in the party. I think it's healthy. Groupthink is Non-Think.
However, we are less than seven weeks away from an election. It is not the time to pick a fight, yet again, with the base about their preferred position on "comprehensive immigration reform."
Jeb can pick this fight if he likes -- during his actual speeches in support of himself and his own preferred agenda.
Seven weeks out from an election, with Tillis trailing Hagan as it is.
Is this smart? Is this in the party's best interests?
Hell, I don't even think it was in Jeb's best interests.
Note: An assumption I made here, without realizing it, as that Jeb went off-script with remarks that were not approved by Tillis.
I don't know if that's a strong assumption. After all, Tillis would presumably want to see Jeb's script, or he's at least heard Jeb's stump speech before.
Who knows, perhaps this was all approved. Maybe Tillis just made an error. Or maybe Tillis wants some moderate votes.
Or maybe he wanted Jeb to play Weak Cop so he could posture as Strong Cop.
I don't know. I shouldn't have assumed that Jeb surprised him with this. The NYT's account suggests that, without actually saying it.
Whatever the understanding or the plan, it just doesn't seem very smart to me.
Agendas get cooked up and ironed out before election season. I just don't see the seven weeks before the election as the time to trot out unpopular or novel ideas.
Update: I should mention we discussed this on the podcast. John (I think) made the point that Republicans are doing well in states where they've united their base, and conservative voters have, as they say, "come home."
This doesn't seem likely to unite people. This seems likely to start up old fights that really have to be papered over at least until the election.
Is The GOP Stupid Enough To Agree To This?
No way, right? There's no possible way they couldn't recognize what would happen here. Too obvious.
.........I give up. They're simply incapable of learning.
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Update: Alton Nolen Was in the "Process of Being Terminated"
As Allah notes, this is a classic trigger for workplace murders, having nothing to do with religion.
When I say "the process of being terminated," I mean that in specific present tense: He was actually being fired in the very minutes before his rampage.
That doesn't mean religion doesn't have anything to do with this -- Why was he being fired? Was it due to his attempts to convert co-workers while on the job?
And his choice of manner of murder is suggestive.
However, it should be said that the motive here is not clear. I suspect a mixture of motives -- sudden distress plus certain thoughts already lurking around his brain -- but we don't know that yet.
Signature: Why behead the woman?
Beheading, I imagine, is a fairly long process, requiring a lot of muscular effort.
It is harder and takes longer than stabbing.
It does seem to be message-sending. Or a signature.
Profilers distinguish between M.O. and signature. M.O. are the steps taken to perform the crime -- and are needed to perform the crime.
But "signatures" (in ritualistic murders) aren't needed to do the crime. They are done because they are important to the killer for emotional, ritual purposes.
Cutting off a lock of the victim's hair, for example, is a signature.
Binding a victim is usually just an M.O., if the killer wants to carry the victim off. To do so, he must tie her up.
But tying her up with specific knots, like maybe those used in S&M stuff, is a signature. Not actually necessary to carry the crime out, but important to the perp for reasons that don't have to do with mere utility.
The beheading seems to be that kind of thing.
The crime was murder. That was easily accomplished by stabbing.
The beheading was unnecessary, but obviously something important to Alton Nolen, or else why spend the time and muscle-power to do it?
That seems to be a clear signature, and so the obvious question is: Why was this signature important to him?
Reminder: I'm not just being an anti-Muslim Islamophobe in asking these questions.
IS recently called upon the faithful to rise up and begin butchering people in America and France.
In Algeria, a French national named Herve Gourdel was kidnapped and then beheaded.
Now, in America, an American woman is beheaded in a frenzy-attack.
Different methods -- the Algerian beheading was a group effort, and was coordinated, whereas the American beheading seems to have been what the FBI would call a "disorganized" type of attack, and seemingly impromptu -- but nevertheless, one Frenchman and one American woman beheaded, just as IS asked.
These are not idle questions and they're not asked without reason.