Friday, February 12, 2010

Winter Olympics

Tonight is the opening of the Winter Olympics. If you're like me, and I know I am, you're excited for Curling, which starts Tuesday.

What, you think I'm kidding?

I'm not. I love curling. It is the most delightfully ridiculous sport around. Shuffleboard on ice, with brooms. Tension, drama, and a pace that only Baseball can rival. A beer drinkers ideal sport.

And I know I'm not alone. A number of my friends will be joining me at the local pub to drink beer and cheer on the curlers. We even talked about setting up our own 'sheet' (yes, that's what the course is called) in the alley behind the pub, if we can find someone to loan us a Zamboni. And some brooms.

Not News, But...

I know this isn't news to most of my readers, but the corporate television "news" is overrun with corporate shills who are portrayed as "expert analysts" by the corporate media. There's a Great article in The Nation by Sebastion Jones about this:

Tom Ridge, was on MSNBC's Hardball With Chris Matthews, offering up his own recovery plan. There were "modest things" the White House might try, like cutting taxes or opening up credit for small businesses, but the real answer was for the president to "take his green agenda and blow it out of the box." The first step, Ridge explained, was to "create nuclear power plants."

As Ridge counseled the administration to "put that package together," he sure seemed like an objective commentator. But what viewers weren't told was that since 2005, Ridge has pocketed $530,659 in executive compensation for serving on the board of Exelon, the nation's largest nuclear power company. As of March 2009, he also held an estimated $248,299 in Exelon stock, according to SEC filings.

Moments earlier, retired general and "NBC Military Analyst" Barry McCaffrey told viewers that the war in Afghanistan would require an additional "three- to ten-year effort" and "a lot of money." Unmentioned was the fact that DynCorp paid McCaffrey $182,309 in 2009 alone. The government had just granted DynCorp a five-year deal worth an estimated $5.9 billion to aid American forces in Afghanistan. The first year is locked in at $644 million, but the additional four options are subject to renewal, contingent on military needs and political realities.

(there's a whole lot more examples in the article; well worth reading. But you get the general idea.)

This is how public opinion gets manipulated to the point where a large percentage of the populace will believe something that is flat out false. Remember the run up to the Iraq war? Remember talking to friends or family who absolutely believed the assorted lies about the need for war? I certainly do.
And the manipulation is only going to get worse thanks to the SCOTUS Citizens United decision. Beyond having paid "experts" lobbying as "news" on issues, they will expand directly into lobbying for candidates. Because the disclosure rules are so weak, most of the public will not be savvy or motivated enough to discover who is manipulating them. And more and more lies will become publicly accepted as "facts".

A Fine Boobie

For Friday.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Guess Who's Turning 46 Today?

Today is the 46th birthday (b. 2/11/64) of America's most famous moose hunting, palm reading, ex-governor, the one still writing crib notes on her hand like a junior high student. So the next time someone asks you "could she really be president?", you can answer "yes. She's over 35."

Feel free to add your thoughts.

Musical Chairs

I don't think I've ever seen a political move quite like this one: Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R FL-21) is retiring, and his brother, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R FL-25) will move in to run for his seat. Apparently FL-21 is more staunchly "R" than FL-25; hence the move. Both Diaz-Balart brothers are very popular with Miami's Cuban-American community, and Mario is a likely 'shoe-in' to win the district. The folks in FL-21 don't have to learn a new name, at least. But I don't recall another time when a retirement in one district created an opening in a different district.
More here:

Damn Big Crab

Would make for one heck of an "all-u-can-eat crab legs" buffet.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Things I Enjoy

If someone told me 40 years ago that this would happen, I would have enquired as to the quality of their stash. But really: Bob Dylan last night performing The Times They Are A-Changin' last night at the White House.
I hope you like it, too.

Stopping Subversives in South Carolina

Brilliant! South Carolina now requires "subversives" to register, fill out a form, and pay a $5 fee:

Planning to overthrow the US government? If yes, and you live in South Carolina, you must pay a five-dollar subversive registration fee. (Via The Agitator)

I wonder what happens if you try to overthrow the government without a permit?

Added: From Sweaterman, in the comments:

As I mentioned yesterday, there's suitable irony in the fact that South Carolina is the state pursuing this.

Seems to me that I remember South Carolina, ummm, I don't know, seceded from the Union and began the U.S. Civil War at Fort Sumter?! Isn't that sorta, kinda in the same league as trying to overthrow the government?

38 Days Until Spring

But only 19 days until the start of baseball spring training, thank your chosen deity. We're getting a little more snow today, and I am personally quite sick of it. I wish there were a practical way to ship some of my excess snow to Vancouver, B.C., as they need it for the Winter Olympics. As, I'm sure, the east coast would be happy to do. Back east, they're getting so much snow that the TV weather people are running out of cliches.
I really wish February were even shorter.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Complaining About Younger People

I'm kind of repeating myself,but every time I want to complain about the choices Obama makes, I remember that he's young...well, younger than I am. I found a certain discomfort when he entered office with the concept that the "President" is younger than I am; I know how immature I am. I want my "President" to be smarter and wiser than I am (and I have a pretty big ego).

I don't want to sound like my father, but I remember his main complaint about Bill Clinton was, that for the first time in his life, the "President" was younger than he was. Now I know what Dad was feeling.

And I have a theory: part of Barack's problem with the Senate is that the majority of the members are older than he is. And have more seniority. Senators have large egos, and most of them think they should be "President" someday. Obama was a "newbie" and a "kid", so he has very little "cred" with the "good ol' boys" who might have crossed party lines otherwise. So far, age and treachery have beaten youth and speed.

Congratulations, President Chinchilla!

(pic from Phydeaux Speaks, who's actually there, warm and happy)
That would be Laura Chinchilla, elected as Costa Rica's first female President on Sunday.
I'm guessing that there are a number of diplomats at the state department working on being able to say "President Chinchilla" with a straight face.
(I meant to post this yesterday, but I got...umm...distracted.)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Repealing DADT

It really seems obvious to me that it's a bad policy, and needs to be repealed, so here's one of the most cogent arguments that I've read. Not to be frivolous, but I did love this comment:

It is my long- and deeply-held belief not only that baseball is more important than religion, but also that it is an abomination to support the Red Sox. I am not alone, either. In fact I think that is the majority view in the armed forces.

And yet, I still am required to serve with those openly supporting the Red Sox. I have to write their FitReps with a completely blind eye to what I see as a glaring lack of judgment and morals. I am forced to share living quarters and shower facilities with them, even though I find “Red Sox Nation” tattoos to be patently offensive. I don’t want the government to tell my children it’s OK to be a Red Sox fan.

This is a real morale and unit cohesion issue. My beliefs are constantly being steamrolled and ignored to accommodate a slim minority of service members. But I still show the tolerance that I am required to by law.

I'd substitute the Dodgers for the Red Sox, but the point is that discrimination based on "beliefs" is flat out wrong. We all have to share parts of our world with people who have different beliefs, and most of us deal with it without resorting to hatred. Heck, some (well, one) of my best friends is a Dodgers fan.
(BTW, the comment is from a MilBlog on the debate; there's a lot of arguments based on religion in the debate, which is why I so enjoyed the Baseball analogy)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Observing the National Ritual

Ah, the Super Bowl. The great national ritual. An unofficial national holiday.
As an American, I will, of course, participate. I enjoy watching football, and my favorite pub is having a large party with an even larger buffet. And beer. Must include beer.
The bets are in, the pools are picked. I'm rooting for the Saints, as my beloved 49ers aren't anywhere near the game. I figure New Orleans might (just maybe) throw a better party than Indianapolis, so I'm on that bandwagon.
Super Bowl XLIV...I've always wondered why they're counted in 'Roman' numerals...the Romans never won the Super Bowl. They never even played in one.
Besides, we all need a break from politics sometimes.

Mind-Numbingly Stupid

Sometimes, I do things that I really shouldn't do.
Like watching last night's Palin speech. I'm sure that exposing myself to such mind numbing stupidity cost me some brain cells. But I couldn't resist the temptation.
My immediate reaction (posted below) was "meaner than Nixon and dumber than Quayle", which would be a historically bad combination.
The "Tea Party" crowd loved the empty platitudes. Attacking 'liberals' in general and Obama in particular, Palin got standing ovations. It's a tactic that will work for her. Her rhetoric stuck with the safe generalizations, and avoided any specifics, like "tax cuts" and "spending cuts" and the obligatory "war on terror" tough talk. "Common sense" jingoism about love of "god" and "country", and such, delivered with a wink and a folksy accent aimed at "real" Americans, don'tcha know.
And it worked for her. The anti-intellectual tone played perfectly to her dumbed down audience.
What scares me is that she is actually politically viable. Never underestimate the amount of mass stupidity in the electorate. There's a chunk of the public that dislikes, even resents, Obama's "intellectualism". You know, the "elitism" of seeming smarter than they are.
Myself, I prefer a president who's smarter than I am (as opposed to the last one, who was dumber than I am), even when I disagree with that president. Given the complexity of the world, I appreciate a certain amount of subtlety and nuance. That's not what appeals to the "Palin people"; they want "simple" answers. They really prefer stupid.
What's truly scary is that, after watching last night's speech, I think she might win.
Added: and the crib notes on her left hand...that's so presidential.